Aug. 21, 2008
BERKELEY - California head football coach Jeff Tedford has named sophomore Kevin Riley as the Golden Bears' starting quarterback for their opener against Michigan State on Saturday, Aug. 30 at Memorial Stadium. Tedford made the announcement following Thursday afternoon's preseason practice and said that senior Nate Longshore will also play in the opener.
"Kevin is going to start the first game," Tedford said. "We feel like both of them have had great camps, but Kevin's going to take the first snaps and we'll see how it goes from there. Nate will play in the game; I don't know exactly when, but Kevin will start.
"We feel Kevin has had a good camp; they both have, we're confident with both of them. We feel like Kevin has the ability to make plays; we feel great about Nate's experience and knowledge and his play-making ability as well. We want to see with the roles reversed, how that works. We're looking for the best chance to be successful.
"It's so close, it's going to continual evaluation."
Riley saw action in four games last year as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 563 yards and five touchdowns. In the Armed Forces Bowl last season, Riley played the final three quarters and helped the Golden Bears erase a 21-0 deficit en route to a 42-36 victory. He connected on 16-of-19 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns to earn game MVP honors.
"I'm just getting ready for Michigan State," Riley said. "It's an honor to be named the starter, especially after what Nate's done at Cal. We're in good hands having two good quarterbacks here. I just have to prepare, watch film and get ready for this game.
While both quarterbacks alternated opportunities working with the first-string offense throughout camp, Tedford agreed that Riley became more comfortable as camp went on.
"My first day with the one's was probably my worst practice at camp," Riley said. "After that, I just calmed down and stopped thinking so much and just played football. It's continued through camp and every day I feel like I'm getting better and better."
Longshore ranks fourth all-time at Cal in passing efficiency (133.1), sixth in passing touchdowns (62) and seventh in passing yardage (5,732). He is also second all-time at Cal with 18 victories as a starting quarterback.
Cal is one of just four teams in the Pac-10 with two quarterbacks returning who have started games - UCLA (with three), USC and Oregon State are the others. However, two of UCLA's quarterbacks are injured and one of USC's has been out of action due to injury.
The Bears have Friday off from practice and will officially wrap up camp on Saturday morning. Following Saturday's practice, from 12 noon to 2 p.m., Cal will host its annual Contra Costa Times Fan Appreciation Day. The day will include a chance for fans to interact with players and coaches from the Cal football team.
In addition, Cal will be working to support Project Michelle (ProjectMichelle.com) a group formed to help Michelle Maykin, a Cal graduate and season ticket holder who was diagnosed with leukemia in February of 2007. Members of the Cal football team, its coaching staff and the University athletic department staff will be registering to be potential donors at the marrow drive being held at Saturday's event. The team encourages all fans to register as well on Saturday.
Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford
"When [Kevin] first went with the ones, he was a little uncomfortable, but as time went on, he did get a little more comfortable."
On team reaction:
"We're talking to the team tonight about it. Today was a day of guys going on the scout team and redshirting so there were a lot of meetings and talking, so tonight at our team meeting, we'll talk about the whole situation, not just with the quarterbacks, but with everybody's role. It's important that everybody plays their role to the best of their ability."
On the starting receivers are:
"We probably won't know that until game time. See how they practice with game-planning and that type of thing. See what the game plan turns out to be to see how to use them. We feel like we have good depth at receiver and there's going to be a rotation, probably a broader rotation than we've ever had at receiver, because it's been pretty close with a lot of them. There's probably six or seven guys there competing for playing time."
On the starting placekicker:
"[David] Seawright's the kicker, for field goals. We'll continue to evaluate for kickoffs. We felt like Seawright has a great upside. We will continue to evaluate, it's going to be a day-to-day thing, but as of right now, Seawright's the No. 1 kicker. I feel like there's a great upside there, leg strength. He struggled early in camp, but once he got his bearings, he was very consistent kicking the ball. He gives us a little bit more range."
Cal sophomore quarterback Kevin Riley
On the fact that the evaluation will continue:
"I think that's going to keep us on top of it, keep us working hard. Our goal is to make this time the best possible, so that's what we're trying to do, help this team win as many games as possible."
On when he found out:
"They told me right around lunch time [today]. Like I said, I'm excited to play. It's a dream come true to play in the Pac-10 and start. I just have to take advantage of it and play well."
Reaction of teammates:
"Our teammates will back up whoever wins the job. They want to win. That's what it's about. They'd be behind anybody who's going to play quarterback and they're giving me support. It's another thing to keep on working for, winning for everybody."
On handling the continuing competition:
"I just have to play well. I just have to out there and play football. If I'm thinking about that, I'm not going to be able to play. If you make a mistake, you just have to bounce back and play football."
On speaking to his parents:
"My dad [high school coach in Oregon] was at practice so I gave him a quick word, I'll call him after this. I'm pretty sure he'll be pretty excited."
On Tedford's message about the ongoing competition:
"He told me to just play football. I can't be looking over my shoulder and thinking if I made a mistake. I'm going to take that approach and just play football. Make the right reads."
On the depth at receiver:
"We switched [quarterbacks playing with one's and two's] every day. You can how everybody's getting comfortable with everybody. We're starting to get everybody on the same page and I think we'll be fine. They're all great players, they can all make plays so I have to get them the ball."
On a moment he thought he won the job:
"I can't say exactly if there was a moment. As the camp went on, I was making good reads and I was hitting receivers. I was completing the ball and getting first downs in situations, so I felt I had a strong chance. Like I said, Nate was doing a good job too. He's a great quarterback. I thought I definitely had a chance because I was doing my job and that's what I wanted to do."
On if he has talked with Longshore and if there is any awkwardness:
[We talked] a little bit. Nate and I are here to support each other. I have the utmost respect for that guy. The way he prepares for a game; I'm going to look up to that and try to prepare the same way he does so I'm that ready to be in the game. I'm going to look for his help and he'll look for my help if he's in the game. It's all about making the team better."