Bears Prepare for Tricky Tilt in Tucson

Photo: Kevin Riley threw a career-high three interceptions in Cal's 52-31 loss to Nevada. The senior quarterback will face one of the conference's strongest secondaries this weekend.
Lara Brucker/Staff
Kevin Riley threw a career-high three interceptions in Cal's 52-31 loss to Nevada. The senior quarterback will face one of the conference's strongest secondaries this weekend.

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Correction Appended

Last Friday, the Cal football team's defense was ravaged in Reno, Nev., as All-Pac-10 linebacker Mike Mohamed was sidelined with a sprained toe.

Three days later, coach Jeff Tedford announced that he would no longer disclose injuries to the media.

It's not an unprecedented move; Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has been similarly taciturn about his players' health, and is currently not saying a word about Cardinal receiver Ryan Whalen's elbow injury.

But the competitive advantage Tedford cites certainly didn't help much against Nevada in the 52-31 loss.

Predictably, the Bears (2-1) were dead silent on the trip back, but their Pac-10 opener against Arizona this Saturday gives them some hope in starting anew.

"I think if we would've won, it still would've been starting off as a clean slate ... " junior wide receiver Marvin Jones said. "But it is an opportunity to start fresh because obviously these Pac-10 games are vital to the direction that we go for the rest of the season."

In the public eye, Cal's slate still won't be as blank as its injury report.

Attention will veer again to quarterback Kevin Riley. After calling himself the conference's best at the position during fall camp, the Wolf Pack defense forced him back into the same sort of inconsistency that has plagued his entire college career.

The fifth-year senior will hope it's not too late for him to wipe awat a few bad memories either.

"This is a new week, a new opponent," he said. "I still have plenty of confidence in myself and this offense. We'll be fine, we've just got to execute."

Keenan Allen's sprained ankle last week certainly didn't help. He was sidelined for a surprising amount of the game, with the injury still under wraps, leaving Michael Calvin and Alex Lagemann with a few more reps than they would've otherwise seen.

The freshman caught just one pass and had another bounce off his hands for Riley's first interception of the night. The latter looked like a sure touchdown, but he's reportedly 100 percent now.

Health aside, both he and Jones must line up Saturday opposite the best secondary they've faced this season. Wildcats cornerback Trevin Wade logged his 10th career takeaway with an 85-yard pick-six against Iowa.

"They're strong," Jones said. "And they're definitely quick and fast. They're good players ... We've definitely went against bigger corners, but they are physical."

Stat Snacks

-While Jahvid Best piles up stats in in the pros, running back Shane Vereen has been picking up right where the former Cal star left off.

Vereen's career-high 198 yards on the ground last Friday made him the top rusher in the Pac-10 with an average of 108 per game.

With eight touchdowns, the Valencia, Calif., native is also tied with Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez as the country's second-leading scorer.

-Despite his career-high three interceptions against Nevada, Riley is still ranks nationally 13th in pass efficiency, one spot ahead of Arizona's Nick Foles.

-The Wildcats currently have the top conference's top passing attack. They are eighth in rushing offense.

"They're very, very efficient in their passing game, and it's a lot of quick throws," Tedford said. "So their passing game can be their running game because they're so quick and get the ball out fast."


Correction: Friday, September 24, 2010
An earlier version of this article said "Bears Prepare for Tricky Tilt in Tuscon". It should say "Tucson".

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Jack Wang covers football. Contact him at [email protected]

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