Tedford Names Riley Starter for Season Opener

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Coach Jeff Tedford and Quarterback Kevin Riley

Tedford Announces his starter; Riley reacts.

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Following Thursday's practice, Cal coach Jeff Tedford announced that he has named sophomore Kevin Riley as the Bears' starting quarterback for the season opener on Aug. 30 against Michigan State.

Still on the field, he was quick to address the elephant in the room as he met with media members.

"Kevin is going to start, might as well cut to the chase," Tedford said. "Kevin's going to start the first game. We feel like both of them have had great camps. Kevin's going to take the first snaps, and we'll see how it goes from there."

Tedford, however, also asserted that further evaluations will be made on a week-by-week basis and that Longshore will see playing time against the Spartans as well. Today's announcement didn't seem to preclude the possibility of Longshore reclaiming his job at some point in the future.

"Nate will play (against Michigan State)," Tedford said. "I don't know exactly when."

Riley, meanwhile, was told of the decision "around lunchtime" and spent the team's first 11-on-11 drill with the first-team offense.

"It's an honor to be named starter, especially after what Nate's done at Cal," Riley said. "We're in good hands having two great quarterbacks here, so I've just got to prepare, watch film and get ready for this game."

Both Riley and senior Nate Longshore had been receiving reps with the 1's, allowing the anticipation to grow from as far back as spring ball. Tedford has now put a tentative end to arguably the most intriguing story of fall camp in handing the keys to Riley, who was last seen in his 16-of-19 (269 yards), three-touchdown performance at the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl.

Still, Riley's route to winning the job wasn't exactly paved with red carpet. Tedford had mentioned that Riley's performance in the bowl game didn't exactly give him an edge entering fall camp. And with a 50-50 chance pitted up against the incumbent Longshore, the sophomore went through his share of growing pains early on.

"My first day with the 1's was probably my worst practice at camp," Riley said. "After that, I calmed down, stopped thinking so much and played football ... I can't say exactly there is a moment (that he felt like he had clinched the job), but as camp went on, I was making good reads, and I was hitting receivers. I was completing the ball and making first downs in situationals, so I felt like I had a strong chance."

Riley appeared to regain his focus around the beginning of week two, and his recent showing in practice was the clincher.

Tedford stressed the sophomore's abilities to make plays and downfield throws as some of his strengths. Again, the decision has Riley's name scribbled in pencil rather than set in stone as far as the rest of the season goes. But if there's one difference between tomorrow and the past few months of practice, it's the knowledge that Riley will take the first snaps on August 30, and that the starting quarterback slot is his to lose.

"We felt like we want to see with their roles reversed, how that works," Tedford said. "We're looking for the best chance to be successful."


Contact Andrew Kim at [email protected]

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