Friday, September 07, 2007

Oregonian: Cal's Riley makes most of injury timeout

Here’s the link.


BERKELEY, Calif. -- Kevin Riley, the guy No. 10 California will turn to Saturday at Colorado State if something happens to starting quarterback Nate Longshore, survived a rollercoaster offseason to beat out sophomore Kyle Reed for the backup spot.  Riley, a redshirt freshman from Beaverton, knew he had a chance to move up the depth chart with a good performance in spring practice. But it wasn't easy.  Because veterans Joe Ayoob and Steve Levy backed up Longshore in 2006, Riley hadn't spent much time working with Cal's offense. Ayoob and Levy were gone after the season, but Reed, a former SuperPrep All-American, appeared to have an edge when spring practice began.  "I was being taught plays at the beginning of the day, and then having to execute them at practice that same day," Riley said. "It was frustrating at times. . . . I was worried I was going to make a mistake, because I didn't know exactly what I was doing."

Then, with a week left in spring practice, Riley broke the index finger on his passing hand when he hit defensive end Cody Jones while following through on a throw.  "The finger was pointing this way," Riley said, pointing to the side with the forefinger on his left hand. "I stayed in for another play, and threw it. The ball came all wobbly. Coach is like, 'Throw the ball.'  "I looked at him and said, 'Coach, my finger.' "  Cal coach Jeff Tedford took a closer look, then hustled Riley to the sideline. It took surgery to repair the damage. Riley wasn't able to throw again until two weeks before preseason camp began.  Instead of moping, he used the downtime to study Tedford's thick playbook. When preseason camp opened, "I understood the offense," Riley said.  "Everything fell into rhythm from there. I was throwing the ball better. I could execute the offense better. I had better huddle management. I felt comfortable. I was playing football again. It wasn't like I was worrying if I made a mistake every play."  Confidence has its rewards. Riley emerged from camp with the No. 2 spot, and Reed left the program.  "I came in here to compete," Riley said. "I did my best, and it worked out for me."


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