Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cal's QB competition back in full swing

Cal quarterback Kevin Riley's hold on the starting job is getting looser by the hour. At least that's the way it seems after listening to coach Jeff Tedford at his weekly news conference Tuesday.

Tedford pulled Riley midway through the third quarter of Cal's victory over Colorado State and replaced him with Nate Longshore. After the game, he said he might make a change at quarterback.

During his weekly news conference, Tedford certainly didn't back away from that possibility.

Here's what Tedford had to say about a potential quarterback shuffle:

Q: You talked after the game that you might switch quarterbacks. Have you rethought that?

A: “Both of them are going to get equal reps this week, and then we’ll make a decision before the game.”

Q: Why the change of heart?

A: “Just because I think we need to start a little faster. I think offensively we started kind of slow in our games. We need a little boost there. We cannot afford to continue to wait and wait and wait for things to happen. We need to find out who’s the guy that puts is in the best situation to start a little bit faster.”

Q: Have you talked to Kevin directly about this, and what was his reaction?

A: “Yeah. He’s fine He understands. He understands that we’ve started a little bit slow and he’s missed a couple balls. I told him, you don’t get down about it. You compete and continue to do what you’re doing. He could be a starter or not. Like I said in the beginning, it may take both of them for us to get where we need to go. But we’ll evaluate it through the week of practice. It’s no different than any other position. It’s no different that the safety position or anything else that gets evaluated on a weekly basis.”

Q: Of the two, would you be concerned that Kevin would maybe lose his confidence a little more than Nate because has the experience, or not? Do you worry about that?

A: “That position is so, I don’t want to say mental, but there’s a lot with it, you know? Especially when you’re the starter there’s a little more pressure on you. And Kevin’s young. Nate’s an experienced guy. Nate’s had good, he’s had bad, back and forth. And Nate’s a very strong guy and puts it all in perspective and is very mature about it. Kevin’s a little bit younger and so, he’s going to have to learn that everything’s not always going to be good. At that position, there’s going to be some bad days, there’s going to be some rough days, and it’s important that you respond and you continue to compete. And so that’s something he needs to do.”

Q: Is it a little easier to do this when the backup is so experienced? Last year the roles were reversed.

A: “Absolutely it does.”

Q: Is there anything wrong with Riley’s arm?

A: “There’s nothing wrong with his arm. He’s fine.”

Q: Is confidence an issue with Kevin? Is that something you need to really work at to pump him up?

A: “I don’t know. We’ll see how it works this week. Obviously in this game it seemed like he was pressing a little bit and he was missing – we’ve missed a few open guys for the last few weeks, for whatever reason. Is it mechanical? Are we pressing a little bit? Those are the type of things that we have to evaluate with him and just make sure he gets through them. Absolutely, do you want to instill confidence in the guy, yes. There’s no question about it. You want him to get over the hump, you want him to overcome the bad times, and confidence is really a major issue with everybody. But he’s a strong competitor. So I don’t think that he’s going to have a confidence issue. He’s a very strong competitor, and he’ll get through it.”

Q: Is it tough to evaluate games just because of the way they’ve gone? At Washington State you were up so big early. At Maryland you had to throw so much late.

A: “Yeah. Like this last week, it’s a little bit difficult to get into a flow, because just when you’re to go on the field you have a blocked kick for a touchdown. And you’re going to go back on the field and you have an interception for a touchdown. Those are all series that you’re standing on the side – I’m not complaining about that, that’s great to put points on the board – but they’re taking away opportunities to evaluate and have plays. We only had 57 plays last week. You’re used to getting 80 plays. Now we’re getting 50 plays when that happens.”

On another issue, Tedford gave an update on running back Jahvid Best, who dislocated his left elbow on Saturday.

“Jahvid is coming along very well," Tedford said. "A lot of encouraging news with him. He did dislocate his left elbow. There’s no fracture there, as we knew on game day. After the MRI, they saw that there were some capsule issues of course, when you dislocate anything, but nothing is torn. There’s no surgical procedure that needs to be done. And so we feel that by the Arizona game, there’s a possibility he may be back for the Arizona game. No guarantee, but a possibility.”

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