Cal coach Tedford lightening up on QB Riley Print
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Tuesday, 28 October 2008 21:16
NCAAF Headline News

 BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -Even California coach Jeff Tedford is starting to wonder whether he's being too hard on Kevin Riley.
The sophomore quarterback will start Saturday's key home game against No. 23 Oregon ``as of right now,'' Tedford said Tuesday. Yet Riley, who reclaimed the starting job last week, will share first-team practice snaps for another week with senior Nate Longshore, the former starter who reclaimed the job himself for two games in October.
Tedford's weekly flip-flopping at the Golden Bears' (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) most important position has been disconcerting to both passers and disheartening to fans, and it also goes against Tedford's long-standing distaste for two-quarterback systems. He improbably benched Riley after a 42-7 victory last month, only to change his mind again after pulling Longshore during a loss at Arizona two weeks ago.
e's wondering if it's fair to his team, which is averaging 37.9 points and 409.7 yards per game while ranking in the top half of the Pac-10 in both rushing and passing.
``I've probably been overly critical of our offense,'' Tedford said. ``There's a lot of good things that are happening out there.''
Tedford still believes his weekly quarterback evaluations are necessary, but he finally acknowledges the Bears' season-long uncertainty might have contributed to Riley's inconsistency in the first place. Longshore's struggles last season were a main cause of Cal's memorable collapse from a No. 2 national ranking to a 7-6 record, and Tedford seems hyper-vigilant against any such slippages from his passers this year.
``We're in a position where we need to make decisions each week until this thing separates itself,'' Tedford said. ``It's something we're always evaluating.''
Riley isn't yet worthy of comparison with the best quarterbacks in Cal's recent history, but he seems to possess the arm strength, athleticism and smarts to get there. He has completed more than 53 percent of his passes this season for 985 yards and nine touchdowns with just two interceptions in 150 attempts, compared to four in 91 attempts for Longshore, who has a higher completion percentage (59.3).
d about his recent play, the quarterback wasn't exactly brimming with confidence.
``After I watched the film, I felt a little better about the UCLA game,'' Riley said. ``There's still some throws I wish I could take back, but overall, I thought it was OK. Needs to be better, of course.''
Riley went 11-of-22 for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Cal's 41-20 victory over UCLA, but he made plays that don't stick out on a stat sheet. Tedford's favorite moment was Riley's poise in the pocket on his 53-yard TD pass to Nyan Boateng on a flea-flicker, when Riley adeptly avoided the rush while catching the pitchback from Jahvid Best.
``Expecting guys to complete every pass, that's not going to happen,'' Tedford said. ``As I'm watching tape, every quarterback misses throws, but I think we're kind of used to Aaron Rodgers. I think it's a little too easy to be critical of a very tough position. Kevin is playing fine. Is he going to miss a guy now and then? Everybody does.''
Riley also has an edge over Longshore against the Ducks because of his superior mobility. Riley is shorter yet more athletic than the stiff-legged Longshore, and Tedford realizes Cal's quarterback could be on the run for much of the afternoon against Oregon's defensive line.
ility. With just two months left in Longshore's college career, Tedford could invest in his future by putting Riley in charge.
But the coach isn't yet ready to give up on his weekly audition for the job, even though he claims he would love to do it.
``I don't believe in the two-quarterback system,'' Tedford said. ``I do not want to bounce back and forth if not need be. You'd like to have a quarterback and be settled on him and go from there.''
 

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