Kevin Riley will tell you: Autzen Stadium in the fourth quarter of a tied game isn't the breeziest locale for making your second-ever college football appearance. "I was a little nervous at the time, for sure," Riley said. "I think it was probably the loudest part of the game and I remember yelling at the huddle, just being a little nervous." As a redshirt freshman, Riley quarterbacked an offensive series late in the Cal football team's win over Oregon in 2007. With Nate Longshore on the sideline because of an ankle injury, Riley handed the ball off twice and didn't attempt a pass.
"If I threw it deep it probably would've gone like 70 yards, though," he said with a laugh during Tuesday's media conference. "Should've opened it up." The now-junior quarterback should have plenty of opportunities to throw the ball and a chance to (somewhat) quiet the Autzen crowd on Saturday, when he leads the Cal football team in its Pac-10 opener against Oregon. An Oregon native, Riley will be playing in front of friends and family-about 60 people, he guessed.
Much has happened in Riley's career since that short stint in Eugene. He threw for nearly 300 yards two weeks later in the fateful loss to Oregon State, then didn't play again until the Armed Forces Bowl, where he was named MVP after rallying the Bears from a 21-0 deficit. He struggled with inconsistency while platooning with Longshore throughout the 2008 season.