I'm convinced that if Cal got more consistent QB production the last couple of years, it would have put the Bears into a few Rose Bowl conversations. Has "QB Guru" Jeff Tedford lost his touch?
-- Ted, Oakland, Calif.
Good question. It does seem like Cal's program took a strange turn in the middle of the 2007 season when an injured Nate Longshore inexplicably lost his mojo. Longshore, you may recall, led the Bears to a 10-win season as a sophomore in '06 and had Cal off to a 5-0 start and No. 2 ranking in '07 before spraining his ankle. Though he missed just one game, he was clearly compromised the rest of the year, throwing 11 interceptions against nine touchdowns as the Bears lost six of their last eight. Neither he nor Kevin Riley wowed too many people last year.
Let's look at some numbers.
As you can see, Cal had its worst passing season under Tedford last season yet still managed to win nine games, thanks in large part to star RB Jahvid Best's emergence. (Throw in J.J. Arrington, Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett, and it would appear Tedford has become more of a "running back guru.") If he'd had Boller or Rodgers last year, maybe Cal could have challenged USC in the Pac-10.
Heading into '09, Cal is widely viewed as a top 20 team and Best as a Heisman candidate. The defense should be solid. Perhaps with no QB controversy for the first time in three years, Riley will step up and perform like an old Tedford signal-caller. If not ... Las Vegas is a great destination in December.