After the QB battle between incumbent starter Nate Longshore and redshirt sophomore Kevin Riley had seemingly been slammed shut after Longshore's second interception in the Michigan State opener, the door has been pried open a bit after Saturday's game. Despite an efficient performance against Michigan State, and a stat-popping 4th quarter against Maryland, Kevin Riley has struggled the past number of weeks, and more importantly, has struggled to lead the offense to any level of consistency through the first few weeks of the season.
Riley continued to struggle on Saturday, going only 6-14 for 51 yards and one touchdown. And to be clear, the receivers aren't making Riley's job any easier. Drops by LaReylle Cunningham and a surefire TD drop by Sean Young took away a few of Riley's potential big gains. Coach Tedford has stated though that Saturday's struggles were more on Riley than on the receivers this time around, and made it clear that Riley was benched because he was "missing too many open receivers."
In a reserve role, Longshore came in midway through the third quarter. With the exception of a few errant passes, Longshore was again sharp in mop up duties, and passed 9 for 13 for 100 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
So what to do now?
I for one, believe you still have to have Riley as your starter. While Riley has struggled, he will continue to need game time for this team to see long term success. As a coach, you want to work with him, help him get better, and shore up whatever issues he's having with his receivers, rather than abandon them. Riley is still a young QB, and has shown flashes of brilliance when pushed to put everything on the line.
However, I think the leash on Riley has gotten, and rightfully so, much smaller. Tedford obviously has not been pleased with Cal’s passing game thus far, and has the incredible luxury of having the winningest Cal QB of the last 50 years as his backup, and has a QB he can trust to come in and manage the game should Riley falter. Conventional wisdom states that Riley start in the Arizona State game, and bring in Longshore in the second half if Cal is down by a good chunk AND if they're down because of Riley.
Although…knowing how both QBs play, it might not be a bad idea to flip it. That is, let’s drink some crazy juice, some strange brew if you will. We all know Longshore is efficient, and at times outstanding in the first halves of games. And we all know how much he struggles in the 4th quarter, in crunch time with the game on the line. On the other end, Riley becomes a man possessed when his team is down, and goes on to rip off huge numbers when trying to rally his team from behind.
So…why not try and start Longshore, let him manage the offense in the first half, and if Cal is down, bring in Riley to clean it up? Ridiculous I know. And to be honest with you, I actually wouldn't want to see this. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the current conundrum, and at least have some fun with it.
Oh, and for the record, any conspiracy theories about Coach Tedford and Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti setting Riley up to fail with play calling so that Nate Longshore could win back his starting role is absolutely ridiculous. You think that either would jeopardize their season or the team’s success, just so one player can get back in the spotlight? Please. Don't start.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Posted by Bear with Fangs at 12:35 AM