Quarterback Competition Still Tight After Similar Showings in Scrimmage

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Coach Jeff Tedford

Coach Tedford reflects on his team's first scrimmage and gives a brief evaluation of the quarterbacks.

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Jeff Tedford acknowledged on Tuesday evening that it would be nice if one of the Cal football team's two quarterbacks-Nate Longshore or Kevin Riley-would establish himself as the clear-cut starter before the season begins on August 30, but that it "just hasn't happened yet."

And in case anybody was hoping that a revelation might occur under the cover of the Bears' first full-contact scrimmage on Thursday, don't worry. It didn't.

Longshore and Riley were both good but not great in a series of situationals Thursday evening at Memorial Stadium, leading to more of the same answers from Cal's head coach.

"Pretty solid," Tedford said when asked to evaluate the quarterbacks. "There's a couple things there as far as mechanics are concerned. Both of them missed a couple balls that you'd hope they complete. They didn't have a chance to do a ton of things, but again that's a lot of what you evaluate on this kind of day is the mechanics of running the show, and a lot of it was good."

Longshore and Riley each played six possessions in a number of different live-action situations designed to test their huddle and time management. Their numbers were virtually identical--Longshore completing eight of 17 passes for 78 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and Riley looking slightly more accurate while going 10-for-16 for 70 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

Longshore quarterbacked the first series with the first-team offense and led a 47-yard drive from his own 30-yard line to the defense's 23. An overthrow of wideout Jeremy Ross on third and six set up a 41-yard field goal for kicker Jorday Kay, who hooked the attempt wide left.

Riley followed that up by marching the second team on a 13-play drive--aided by two calls of defensive pass interference--that ended with a touchdown pass on a fade to LaReyelle Cunningham.

"I thought there were some good things and some bad things," Riley said. "I made solid reads throughout the day. I felt pretty strong about today, but I think things could've gone better."

Each quarterback looked comfortable in only one of the two different no-huddle situations. On a drive starting from midfield, Longshore went 4-for-6 for 43 yards and hit senior wideout Sean Young over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown pass.

Two possessions later, with 54 seconds on the clock and the offense stationed on the defense's 19-yard line, Longshore threw three incomplete passes before floating a pass toward the corner of the endzone that was easily intercepted by Chris Conte.

In the same situation, Riley weathered two sacks and, with one second remaining, found Marvin Jones on a slant for his second touchdown pass of the day.

Riley said afterward that although the competition with Longshore does enter his mind at times when he's on the field, it's beneficial to keep those thoughts at bay.

"I mean, you think about it a little bit," he said. "It's more going out there and playing, because if you think about that then you're not thinking about the offense."

In fact, Riley has been trying to think as little as possible while on the field and, apparently, it's working.

"There were a few days where I was just overthinking everything," Riley said. "Then I just started playing football again.

"When I didn't think as much, I made better reads. I was like, if I keep thinking so much I'm not going to be able to play. I felt like I was missing a lot of throws earlier, and I'm still missing some, but I feel like it's been getting a lot better."

Also still on the mend is tailback Shane Vereen, who carried the ball 11 times for 70 yards on Thursday despite not being fully recovered from a lower leg bruise.

"I thought he did a nice job, but I can still see he's got a little extra," Tedford said. "He's got another gear there that he can't really get to."

Vereen agreed, deferring much of the credit for his production to his blockers.

"The O-line was working hard," Vereen said. "They opened up some holes, fullbacks protecting, lead blocking. They did a great job showing me the way.

"I was close to (100 percent). Still think there's a step and a half that I'm missing. It makes it easy when your O-line and fullbacks are blocking well. The lack of speed that I'm having right now doesn't really show when they're opening up holes."

Vereen split most of the carries with Tracy Slocum, who rushed 10 times for 67 yards, and Covaughn DeBoskie, who had five carries for 10 yards and a touchdown.

Absent from his second consecutive practice was Jahvid Best, who Tedford said is "still resting."


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]

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