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Riley named starter

Posted by Alex | August 21, 2008 at 11:09 pm | In Offense, Quarterback | 3 Comments

Kevin Riley has been named the starter over Nate Longshore for the Michigan State game.  This comes at the end of the fall practices as the Bears begin to prepare for their first game.  Coach Tedford stresses that Longshore will definitely get a chance to play and that there will be a continual competition.  Both quarterbacks played extremely well throughout camp.

Spring open practice report

Posted by Eric | April 13, 2008 at 4:06 pm | In Defense, Offense, Players/Alumni, Quarterback, Special Teams | 2 Comments

Yesterday, Cal fans turned out a sizeable crowd for the Bears’ open practice/scrimmage. Here is a report, courtesy of GFang:

Quarterback

[Kevin] Riley- did not get to show off his arm too much . . . but when he threw, was very crisp and accurate with zip. He would’ve been perfect if Calvin didn’t drop 2 of his passes (that may be Calvin’s weakness). He had great protection, but he did run for 6 yards when under pressure once. Riley’s best pass was a 20 yard TD strike to Calvin deep in the endzone towards the end of practice. That got the biggest pop from the crowd today. Basically, he looked very accurate and was not afraid to thread the needle.

[Brock] Mansion- struggled, even in warm-ups. Misthrew about half of his passes. Does not have the mechanics that Riley does. I think he needs another year to work out the kinks.

Running Back

[Tracy] Slocum got into endzone twice, including a 15 yarder down the right sideline. He is workmanlike. In general he picked up at least 4-5 yards per carry against the 1st team defense. [Covaughn DeBoskie] is slender but tough. Runs very fluidly. He did fumble once after a nice gain, which was recovered by CB [Syd'Quan Thompson].

Defense

DE [Ernest] Owusu- played 2nd team; registered 3 sacks, including 2 in a row on QB Cory Smits. He will contribute this season!

LB [Zach] Follett, LB Charles Johnson, and DL [Jon] Karacozoff got their names called often, also.

Special Teams

[Thompson] is a natural at returning punts. WR Nyan Boateng also returned punts; his chances to return were limited. I’d definitely pick Squid to return punts, even if he’s our no. 1 CB.

P [Bryan] Anger is the real deal. Got big pops from the crowd. Thunderous leg! The 2nd chance he got, he launched it 10 yards over [Thompson]’s head and the offense recovered it. The 3rd time he punted, the returner stood way back lol. Anger will be able to consistently kick 50-55 yard punts with great hangtime. Right now he’s at about 70% consistency. I predict he starts for the next 4 years.

Feel free to chime in with any additional observations or thoughts about the scrimmage.

Montgomery leaves Cal

Posted by Alex | April 8, 2008 at 8:15 am | In Players/Alumni, Quarterback, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Originally posted on March 18: Jonathan Okanes over at BearTalk reports that James Montgomery is leaving Cal. At one point, Montgomery was listed as the starting running back for the 2008 Bears offense. Fortunately, the Bears have plenty of depth at running back though it is highly untested.

EDIT by ERIC 3/27: Walk-on QB Bryan Van Meter has decided to leave the team to try rugby. Van Meter would likely have been a backup behind (in no particular order) Kevin Riley, Nate Longshore, and redshirt freshman Brock Mansion.

EDIT by ERIC 4/1: More on Montgomery’s situation in our Spring update.

EDIT by ERIC 4/8: Sadly, Montgomery’s hopes to become a Florida Gator did not work out — he has decided on the Cougars with a verbal commitment to Washington State. Montgomery will have to sit out one year, according to NCAA transfer rules.

Defense steps up in spring ball

Posted by Eric | April 6, 2008 at 6:45 pm | In Defense, Offense, Players/Alumni | No Comments

On Friday, the offense had trouble moving the ball in the off-season’s first practice in helmets and shoulder pads. As J.Okanes reported, “neither Nate Longshore or Kevin Riley separated himself” on a day when the defense stepped up.

* Secondary

Apparently, Syd’Quan Thompson took only “minimal reps,” with cornerbacks Charles Amadi and Jesse Brooks getting in the rotation on the first team. However, this might just be an effect of Thompson’s suspension earlier this week. When asked about the front-runner to start at cornerback on the other side (see video interview), Thompson said:

I don’t even know, everybody’s out here competing. I mean, I’m even competing to keep my job. Like I said, we’re just out here trying to work to get better as a unit.

The “open competition” mindset seems to be paying off. When pressed about competing to keep his spot:

If I felt comfortable, that would mean I could take days off. I can’t afford to take days off.

Thompson also talked about taking some reps at punt returner — apparently, he was very good at it in high school.

* Defensive Line

On the ends, Rulon Davis and Cameron Jordan are looking very good. J.Okanes mentioned that Davis “stood out” and had this to say about Jordan:

[He] looks like he could be a real force next season. Already blessed with rare athleticism, Jordan looks as though he’s put on a great deal of muscle since the end of the season. He no longer looks like an undersized defensive end, and the extra weight doesn’t seem to have affected his athleticism. When lineman run sprints at the end of practice, he still blows the competition away.

Jordan already made an impact as a true freshman last year, so it will be exciting to see how he will fare with a year of experience and added bulk.

Meanwhile, DL Tyson Alualu shined in one-on-one drills against the OL, “consistently beating his man and getting kudos.”

This is all good news, as the defensive line unit was one of the weaknesses of last season that needed improvement.

* Other notes

(Continue reading “Defense steps up in spring ball”…)

Thompson returns, and more spring updates

Posted by Eric | April 3, 2008 at 1:36 am | In Coaches, Defense, Offense, Players/Alumni | No Comments

* Thompson returns to practice

CB Syd’Quan Thompson returned to practice today (Wednesday), following a one-practice suspension for violating team rules. Coach Jeff Tedford gave Cal fans a scare on Monday when he suggested that the suspension might be indefinite. While the reason for the suspension has not been revealed, Thompson said:

“I’m just glad to be back out here and have a chance to make up for what I missed Monday.”

Thompson didn’t waste any time getting up to speed, as he and CB Chris Conte intercepted QB Kevin Riley on consecutive plays.

* Best takes limited reps

While Tedford indicated that RB Jahvid Best would not be participating in any team practice drills for the spring on Monday, Best already took a few reps with the first team offense today. Of course, he was still wearing a red non-contact jersey, and he is not expected to take any hits for all of spring ball. Tedford said:

“Actually, I think he did sneak in on a couple of plays . . . He’s going to do some ball-handling and he’s going to run some, but we’re not going to bang him.”

* OL Mike Tepper moves to LT

Mike Tepper has been moved back to left tackle, where he played two years ago. There was some speculation that center Alex Mack might be moved to LT following his decision to stay his senior year, but it looks like Tepper will be the guy protecting the QB’s blind side. In general, left tackles are chosen higher in the NFL draft than centers.

* WR Glover, WR/PR? Boateng emerging

(Continue reading “Thompson returns, and more spring updates”…)

Armed Forces Bowl: enter Riley

Posted by Eric | January 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm | In Games, Quarterback | 3 Comments
Kevin Riley
Photo: My Bear Territory

QB Kevin Riley entered the game with the Bears looking hopelessly behind, with 0 points to Air Force’s 21. In the face of adversity, the bowl’s MVP played magnificently and led the Bears to a 42-36 victory.

Riley completed 16 of 19 passes for 269 yards while tossing 3 touchdowns and rushing for another, all with no interceptions or mistakes — racking up a stunning 255.54 passer rating.

Some may suggest a quarterback controversy, but I see no such thing. 2008 should be a great season, as the Riley era has begun.

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.

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.

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