Best's Return Obscured by Emergence Of Antolin

Photo: Cal tailback Jahvid Best racked up 140 all-purpose yards and a touchdown on an electrifying 67-yard run in his first game back since dislocating his elbow on Sept. 27.
Nick Fradkin/File
Cal tailback Jahvid Best racked up 140 all-purpose yards and a touchdown on an electrifying 67-yard run in his first game back since dislocating his elbow on Sept. 27.

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Antolin Honored as Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week

If Keola Antolin was even a blip on the Cal football team's radar prior to introducing himself in a big way on Saturday, nobody associated with the Bears seemed to show it.

"Haven't seen much of him," Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said of Antolin after the Bears' 42-27 loss to Arizona.

Coach Jeff Tedford's reaction was similarly puzzled.

"Usually (Nic) Grigsby's the guy," he said. "I don't know what was wrong with Grigsby tonight, but the other guy did just fine, obviously."

Antolin-a true freshman from Las Vegas, Nev., and Arizona's second-string tailback-entered Saturday's game after Grigsby fumbled on his second carry and proceeded to run rampant on Cal's defense to the tune of 149 yards and three touchdowns. He also tacked on nine yards receiving and 79 yards returning kickoffs, finishing with a total of 237 all-purpose yards that came up just short of the combined total from his first five games (248).

On Monday, Antolin was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

Bears linebacker Anthony Felder didn't even know Antolin's name immediately after the game-needing to clarify that he wore No. 2-but he did offer some insight as to why the 5-foot-8, 180-pound freshman was so elusive.

"He's just a little bit harder to find," Felder said. "The guy's a little small and their linemen are pretty big, so that happened to me a couple times. You lose him in the shuffle and he kind of snuck through a small gap, made things happen that way."

Best-Case Scenario

Jahvid Best made his return to the Cal backfield Saturday, after missing the Arizona State game on Oct. 4, and looked close to his normal self, carrying 16 times for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Playing with a large brace on his left arm, Best displayed his trademark explosiveness on a 67-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. But he left the game late in the third, and did not return for the rest of the half.

"I don't know that he reinjured himself, but he was sore," Tedford said. "I know how tough he is and I asked him if he was hurt. He shook his head, 'Yes.'"

After the game, Best said that he felt the elbow "held up pretty well," and that he was expecting some pain in the elbow that he dislocated on Sept. 27.

"Just over time it got more sore," Best said. "It just got too much for me."

Quarterback Shuffle Continues

In explaining his rationale for pulling Nate Longshore after the third quarter, Tedford employed the same reasoning as he did several weeks ago for his decision to start Longshore against Arizona State over opening-day starter Kevin Riley.

"I felt like we needed a spark in there," Tedford said.

Longshore had a solid first half, but wound up stalling in the third quarter, completing just two of 12 passes for 46 yards.

"I'm not putting this loss on Nate by any means," Tedford said. "He did some good things in the game, but we were a little bit stagnant offensively a couple series where we bogged down, and I felt like we needed to get something going.

Riley entered the game to begin the fourth, but was unable to lead a comeback, going 7-for-19 with an interception off a tipped pass. With the Bears trailing by 15 points and in an obvious passing situation, Riley was often throwing into heavy Arizona pass coverage.

"Near the end I saw some matchups, tried to just throw a couple jump balls when there was 1:30 left or something like that," Riley said. "I wasn't in the zone and it just didn't happen."

The sophomore admitted to being a little surprised when his number was called, but said that he was ready to play upon entering the game.

"You come out there, haven't thrown a ball all day, but you know what you're supposed to do," he said. "You've just got to go out there and execute."


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]

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