KEN GOE The Oregonian Staff
The numbers are troubling. When California began the season 5-0, averaging 39.4 points, Nate Longshore completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards, threw seven touchdowns and two interceptions. At the end of the fifth game, a 31-24 win at Oregon, Longshore suffered a high ankle sprain. Nothing has been the same since. The Bears are 1-4 since leaving Eugene. In the four games Longshore has played after returning from his ankle injury, Cal has averaged 19.5 points. He has completed 57.3 percent of his passes, thrown five touchdowns and eight interceptions. Many observers think Longshore's ankle still isn't right, and he does appear to favor it late in games.
In the second half of last week's 24-17 loss to USC, Longshore completed 5 of 15 passes for 76 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble. "I ask him how he's doing . . . and that's not a consideration -- that he's hindered by that later on in the game," Cal coach Jeff Tedford told the San Jose Mercury News. "But I did ask him that to find out if that's the case, and he says no." In the meantime, Tedford is standing by his quarterback. The Cal coach bristled when asked about Longshore at his regular Tuesday news conference. "The obvious thing to do is to pile on the quarterback," Tedford said. "Nobody sees missed gap responsibilities or missed blocking assignments. But it's very evident to the eye what the quarterback does. "Nate has done a lot of really good things for us. . . . He did a lot of great things against a great USC defense and in very tough weather conditions."