Monday, November 14, 2005
Joe Ayoob's day started how it finished Saturday-with an interception. The two picks bookended what was a forgettable outing for the Cal quarterback. Ayoob was benched by coach Jeff Tedford in the fourth quarter of the Bears' 35-10 loss to No. 1 USC after accumulating his second four-turnover game in a row. After the game, Tedford did not announce if Ayoob or Steve Levy, who completed all four of his passes in limited fourth-quarter duty, will start in this Saturday's Big Game at Stanford.
"(Our passing game) was futile, there is no question about it," Tedford said. Ayoob was inaccurate throughout the contest, often delivering his passes off-balance and on the run, much to the displeasure of the capacity crowd at Memorial Stadium.
Tedford said Ayoob's problems were a result of the signal-caller not setting his feet before throwing the ball. "You have to trust your fundamentals in the heat of the game," Tedford said. "How do you simulate a game? A game is a game. That is where it's gotta click." Ayoob did not appear to be solely responsible for three of his four interceptions. A wrong route run by DeSean Jackson, a tipped pass off the hands of Lavelle Hawkins and a failed hail mary accounted for the first three picks.
But the fourth interception, an underthrown ball snatched out of the air in the end zone by Ryan Ting, was clearly all on Ayoob. "I feel like I let my team down and the fans down," Ayoob said. With only the Big Game and a bowl game left in 2005, Ayoob has little time left to make adjustments with his fundamentals. An equally daunting task might be for the junior transfer to get past the mental hurdle of the past two games, where he has failed to throw a touchdown pass. "(My teammates) have confidence in me," Ayoob said. "I just have to get confidence back in myself." "Joe practices well every time," said Hawkins, who played with Ayoob last year at City College of San Francisco. "But things are not clicking for him. It's not all his fault because it seems like we always are having somebody or something that's breaking down. I just told Joe after the game to keep his head up and stay strong.