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QB, news from Fort Worth

Posted by Eric | December 30, 2007 at 6:03 pm | In Offense, Players/Alumni, Quarterback | 32 Comments

First thing: Coach Jeff Tedford made it clear that all positions will be open come spring, specifically the quarterback position (including freshman Brock Mansion).  Tedford said this about the competition:

Asked to define compete, Tedford said: “It’s going to be wide open to compete for all positions.”  Junior Nate Longshore is the two-year incumbent - and would be a three-year starter if not for a broken ankle in the 2005 season-opener - but he has struggled in comparison to his sophomore numbers. …

“Oh yeah, there’s going to be competition (at quarterback),” Tedford said. “Last year, (the young quarterbacks) really hadn’t been in our system. Now, there are guys in the system, and they’ll all get a chance to play in the springtime.”

Though Tedford hadn’t said publicly that any position would be open in the spring, he apparently announced the decision to the team after its loss to Stanford in the regular-season finale.

He had these words to say about Mansion:

“He has a lot of talent and has a bright future,” Tedford said. “He’ll compete, there’s no question about it. He’ll have an opportunity to compete in the springtime.”

In other news, WR DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan, and FS Thomas DeCoud will not start the bowl game due to a violation of team rules.  Jon Okanes reports:

Tedford didn’t elaborate but said it wasn’t a major violation. He said the three players still will play but didn’t know how long they would stay on the bench at the beginning of the game.

This doesn’t sound very serious, but I thought it might be worth mentioning.

Best: good news

Posted by Eric | December 27, 2007 at 11:00 pm | In Offense, Players/Alumni | No Comments

Freshman RB Jahvid Best’s hip injury is not as serious or career-threatening as previously speculated.  The Chronicle reports:

Dr. Cindy Chang on Thursday spoke positively about the freshman tailback’s recovery.  “Most people equate crutches to a bad injury, but actually, (Best) is doing very well, clinically,” said Chang, the head physician of Cal’s 27 athletic teams since 1995. “We haven’t seen anything that we have to go in and fix. There’s no reason to be invasive and operate at this point.”  …

There have been all kind of mysterious theories or worst-case scenarios for Best, the player viewed as the centerpiece of the Bears’ future. “It’s the unknown that makes people start to second-guess,” Chang said. “We’ve been in very clear communication with Jahvid, his parents and the three hip specialists we’ve consulted nationally. Everyone agrees with us on our diagnosis and on the plan we’ve set.”

As Cal coach Jeff Tedford originally said, Chang called Best’s injury a bruised hip bone.

This is great news for Best and the team, but he will not play in the bowl game nor participate in track this spring.

Recruiting Update

Posted by Alex | December 20, 2007 at 1:10 am | In Recruiting | 6 Comments

After 2L finals, it’s time to start looking back at some football. Cal picked up a few new recruits after nearly a dozen Cal commits or prospects visited campus last weekend. All three of the prospects should add quite a bit to Cal’s class.

Jarrett Sparks is a WR from Merced who measures in at 6′3″ and 215 lbs with a 4.5 40. Big, tall, and fast. Should be good for us. Sparks is rated as a 3 star recruit by scout.com and a 4 star recruit by rivals.com.

L.J. Washington is a WR from Stockton who measures in at 6′0″ and 180 lbs with a 4.45 40. Also a bigger receiver, though also a bit lighter than Sparks. Washington is rated as a 2 star recruit by scout.com. Apparently Washington and Sparks competed for the most receiving yards this past year in the Central Section. It should be exciting to watch these two WRs play together in the coming years.

Kamaron Yancy is a CB coming out of Pierce College, originally from Fairfax High School. He measures 5′11″ and 185 lbs with a 4.4 40. He is a bit of an older guy, having graduated high school in 2002. At that time, he played in the Cali-Florida Bowl showing that he had a promising career in front of him. However, he chose to stay at home and work for a few years while his parents went through marital problems. This to me shows lots of maturity which will hopefully carry over to the playing field. He has 3 years to play 3 years.

More on Longshore; Armed Forces Ticket Information

Posted by Steve | December 5, 2007 at 8:35 pm | In Games, Quarterback | 9 Comments

EDIT [12/18/2007]: Here’s a quick guide to visiting the Armed Forces Bowl, provided by ESPN Travel.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article today with a more complete interview of Jeff Tedford in regards to Nate Longshore. Apparently, the high ankle sprain suffered by Longshore against Oregon was much worse than just an ordinary ankle sprain:

“I didn’t get that it was a broken ankle, but Nate has talked to me about a little chip in the back of his ankle,” Tedford said. “I don’t know what the definition is for sprained, and I don’t know what the exact explanation has been for the injury, but from Day 1, that’s what it has always been.”

“Nate is not the most mobile guy, but one of his attributes has always been his ability to slide and make people miss and move in the pocket,” Tedford said. “There’s no question that the injury has hindered his ability to step up and move around as much as he could.

“I’ve asked him numerous times about whether his ankle bothers him more in the fourth quarter, and that’s not the case,” Tedford said. “It’s a case of a guy trying to be too perfect and trying too hard to get things done. The ankle has limited his mobility, but it hasn’t done anything down the stretch that hasn’t happened in the first quarter.”

“When you talk about the education of quarterback, it’s much more than X’s and O’s,” Tedford said. “It has to do leadership and handling media and criticism because the position is such a focal point. There’s no question that there has been some adversity there, and I’ve been impressed with how Nate’s been able to handle it.

To me, a chipped bone sounds more like a broken or fractured ankle rather than a sprain. It may not require a cast or surgery, but the affects of it I think would a little worse and take longer to heal correctly. If from Day 1, however, this was the case, why is it just coming out now? If Longshore didn’t tell Tedford the full extent of his injury (which I suspect he did), doesn’t that reflect rather poorly on Longshore? Sure, he wants to win, and wants to be the guy to lead the team to victory. But the coach has to know the status of all his players, to make the best decision for the entire team, not just the player. And if Tedford did know, why did he play him after only 2 weeks of rest? With Tedford saying that the “ability to slide and make people miss and move in the pocket” has been one of Longshore’s key attributes, one would think that a broken ankle would have at least partially sidelined him, especially against stronger pass rushes like UCLA and USC.

In regards to the last quote above… maybe the article pulled it out of context, but to me, the “education of the quarterback” isn’t just about “try, try, and try again.” If this were to have occurred in the NFL, Longshore would have been sidelined for at least a few games to give another QB a chance. Just look at Rex Grossman and the other Bears team. If a QB can’t turn things around after a game or two, which by the time we lost to Washington we could tell Longshore couldn’t, they’ve got to learn how to turn things around on the sideline. Anyway, I appreciate the job that Tedford has done since the Holmoe Era, as well as his concentration on each player’s individual growth and integrity, however this whole season he’s been tip-toeing the line between the good of a single player’s growth, and the possible good of the entire team. As he’s already slated Longshore as the definite starter of the Armed Forces Bowl come December 31st, I guess he still hasn’t crossed that line yet. We can always hope, however, that the month will give Longshore’s ankle enough time to finally fully heal, as well as for him to forget this horrible streak and regain some confidence and run through some more intense pressure drills. Otherwise, we’ll just have to hope that if Longshore shows signs of struggling during the game, Tedford will give in and at least go with some form of two quarterback system (even Stanford used a two quarterback system against us) to give our outgoing seniors (and potential early draft jumpers) a chance to end on a bright spot.

For those of you hardcore fans who are still interested in traveling to Fort Worth, Texas (TCU’s campus) for the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force (9-3, 6-2 conference) on December 31st, tickets are now on sale through the Cal Bears website. Currently, all season ticket holders can purchase tickets, and on friday, December 7th at noon, tickets will go on sale to the general public. Tickets are $40 each for reserved seating, and there is no limit to how many tickets you can order. Hopefully those fans that have the opportunity will go, and represent our struggling Bears well no matter how they do, and give our seniors a good send-off.

Rock bottom: season Longshored

Posted by Eric | December 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm | In Coaches, Games, Quarterback | 33 Comments

Longshore: Deer In Headlights

Cal loses the Axe and goes down 20-13 to Stanford. Unbelievable.

At least in 2005, the season was mitigated by Tedford’s late decision to pull Joe Ayoob for Steve Levy. The Big Game was secured and we found victory in the Las Vegas Bowl.

2007 has turned out much worse than 2005. Indeed, Nate Longshore has performed as poorly as Ayoob did, but he has not been replaced by a healthy and potentially superior backup quarterback waiting on the bench. Cal’s BCS opportunity this season was “Longshored” away by Tedford’s loyalty — as Tedford became loyal to a fault.

Tedford is still the savior of Cal Football. Nate is still a good kid and a Bear. However, there is NO justification for Longshore playing exclusively in the last six games, especially as he struggled mightily and threw game after game away. You could see that he lacked leadership, confidence, and heart, and the whole team followed — they quit and will continue to quit as long as Tedford stubbornly starts a bum quarterback with zero potential to win games.

Today, Cal accepted a bid to play Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, TX on December 31. If you see #9 under center, expect the Bears to lose.

If Tedford doesn’t make the QB position an open competition come Spring, expect another embarrassing disaster in 2008.

Big Game thread

Posted by Eric | December 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm | In Games | 14 Comments

Cal helmetStanford helmet

The Bears must regroup, overcome injuries and inconsistency, and come on the field with inspired energy. I want to see the team determined to wreck havoc after a disappointing season. Blowout the Furd, please. Go Bears.

SF Chronicle: “Saving the season”

For Cal, this season’s version of the Big Game is about more than a 110-game, tradition-filled rivalry.

It’s about making a nationwide statement or the realization that there is no way to salvage a season that started with such promise and could end without a bowl berth. Seemingly, there’s no in-between, and there are starkly differing reactions coming out of the Cal camp this week. …

“We’ve got to clean up the offense and do something about it or the season is going to go to” pot, senior receiver Robert Jordan said. “Early in the season, we were exploding on people. We weren’t just playing to keep it close. We were trying to blow people out of the water. We’ve got to get back to doing that.”

Bruce Feldman: “Picks”

Cal 28, Stanford 10: Coach Jim Harbaugh’s crew is a scrappy bunch, but they don’t have enough athletes to cope with the kind of speed Cal will throw at them. Coach Jeff Tedford is 5-0 against the Cardinal. He’s also covered the spread in four of those five.

SJ Mercury: “These days, Big Game is anything but”

On the silver anniversary of “The Play,” the Big Game has become virtually irrelevant. Sure, it means something to fans of both schools, although not as much as it used to. But beyond its significance to some Old Blues and longtime Cardinal fans, it’s a fading blip on the rivalry radar. …

Basically, the Big Game is caught in rivalry hell: One team is always bad, the other good - but not good enough to have a major bowl bid on the line.

And is the Big Game really the game for Cal these days? My sense is that Old and Young Blues alike would much rather beat USC than Stanford. Stanford is more pest than worthy challenger. The Big Game has lost significance to Cardinal fans in recent years, too, largely because of their school’s awful on-field product.

SF Chronicle: “Big Game not just a passing fancy for QBs”

“I feel like a lot of the team’s disappointments are my fault and are very obvious,” Longshore said. “I feel responsible for the losses. I haven’t played nearly as well as I wanted. I haven’t played nearly as well as I’m capable. At the same time, I’m excited about getting better.” …

In some regards, Longshore has to repair what has transpired this season. After a 3,021-yard, 24-touchdown showing during a 10-win season in 2006, he’s gone for 2,292 yards and 15 scores during this 6-5 season.

Building up a 5-0 start, he completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions. After missing one game with a right ankle sprain, Longshore connected 57.2 percent of the time for 905 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions in his next five starts.

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