Cal's Offense Prepares For Life Without Riley
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Category: Sports > Fall > Football
Shane Vereen sat before the media during Tuesday's press conference, fielding the first question of the day. Naturally, it was about quarterback Kevin Riley, who suffered a career-ending knee injury against Oregon State Saturday.
"A lot of feelings and best wishes go out to him and his family," the Cal football team's star tailback said. "He was a - He's always been a tough player for us."
Vereen caught himself before he continued in past tense.
Past tense, because the present - and perhaps the future - belongs to Brock Mansion.
When Riley was taken down by Beavers defensive tackle Brennan Olander, it tore about 60 percent of the calf just below his knee. While he also has two-grade ligament tears, it's that rare injury which will require three months to heal.
That leaves Mansion, a junior who had only seen garbage time until this past weekend, with the keys to the offense for Cal's last four games - five if they can manage a bowl invitation.
The first test should be the easiest in a rough slate: a Saturday trip to Washington State, which hasn't won a Pac-10 game since 2008.
"Me and Brock came here together along with a lot of the other guys on the team," Vereen said. "We've known Brock for a while. We know his capabilities. We know the quarterback he can be."
Coach Jeff Tedford also praised the quarterback's early returns in practice so far, saying that he "really let it rip."
The team will hope that Mansion, after throwing mostly screen passes in Corvallis, Ore., will be able to handle more of the playbook soon.
"I think he will be able to cut it loose," Vereen said. "We kind of did shrink the offense down a little bit the last game but we're opening it right back up this week. Not many changes."
Listed at 6-foot-5, 232 pounds, Mansion also has a significant physical advantage over Riley, something that could potentially help him adjust more quickly as a starter.
"I think Brock's size gives him an advantage just in his vision," Tedford said. "He stands pretty tall in the pocket ... He's an adequate runner. I wouldn't say he's great, but he can run with the football and he's big, strong."
Odds and Ends
-The Bears will also face off against former running back James Montgomery this Saturday, who transferred to Washington State after a redshirt freshman season at Cal.
The starter suffered a career-threatening acute compartment syndrome in his left calf last season, restricting blood flow to the muscle. A foot-long piece of his leg was removed in surgery.
"James looks like James," Tedford said. "Good player. He's got a good balance. He's strong, he's thick.
"I'm happy for James that he's able to come back and play, because when he had his injury and I saw pictures of that, it was a pretty bad deal."
The senior - who once roomed with Tedford's son, Quinn - is the Cougars' leading rusher with 37 yards per game. He had the team's only 100-yard rushing game this season against Hawaii.
-Mansion, a native of Dallas, Texas, offered his take on the Rangers run to the World Series.
"I'm not going to lie. I hopped on the bandwagon," he said. "It was hard to be a huge Texas Rangers fan growing up, because they were never great. I do have my favorites like Juan Gonzalez and "Pudge" (Ivan Rodriguez), but after a few years they left."
Jack Wang covers football. Contact him at [email protected]
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