Sunday, April 24, 2005

Ayoob, Longshore still competing for Rodgers' vacant job at Cal

(04-23) 16:35 PDT Berkeley, Calif. (AP) --
The quarterback who wasn't at Memorial Stadium nearly overshadowed the two quarterbacks who took part in the controlled scrimmage that ended California's spring football camp Saturday.
Approximately 3,000 fans waited almost to the end of the spring game to hear that Aaron Rodgers, who led the Golden Bears to a 10-2 record and the Holiday Bowl last season, had been taken by Green Bay with the 24th overall pick in the NFL draft — much later than he hoped to go after passing up his senior season at Cal.
"I'm sure it was a long day for Aaron, having to sit in the green room that long," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "Once he got past the first five, a lot of teams didn't need a quarterback. If I know Aaron, he'll take this as a motivation. There's probably not a better quarterback to learn from than Brett Favre."
On the field, junior college transfer Joseph Ayoob continued to compete with Nate Longshore for the starting job vacated by Rodgers. Tedford believes Longshore is ahead of Ayoob in the competition, but declined to name a frontrunner until regular practice begins.
Longshore, a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman, completed five of his six passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Ayoob connected on seven of nine attempts for 192 yards and a score on a 70-yard strike to receiver Noah Smith on his first pass.
Ayoob lost only one of 24 games in two years at City College of San Francisco, and was a two-time MVP of the California junior college championship game. If he claims the starting job from Longshore, it would be a similar scenario to Rodgers' move to replace veteran Reggie Robertson in the fifth game of the 2002 season.
"Nate is the incumbent," Tedford said. "If we played tomorrow, Nate would start it off. But we're going to come into fall camp, and it's going to be a competition. We're going to start all over and go into the first game.
"It's going to be a continuing competition. Ayoob was an improvement on what he's done throughout the spring. He looked very comfortable today. He was a little nervous at the beginning, (but) he's getting more comfortable every day. We put in the whole (offensive) package in the spring, so he has a fairly good understanding of 65 percent of what we're trying to do."
Ayoob also feels he has begun to grasp the complexities of Tedford's offense.
"There was so much information thrown in the first couple of weeks, it was almost too much to handle at once," Ayoob said. "After a while, it all settles in."
Smith, one of several players vying for a spot in the Bears' young receiving corps, caught one touchdown pass from each quarterback. Smith also blocked a punt that was picked up by Eric Snell for a touchdown.
"I knew it was the spring game and we needed to play our best," Smith said. "I focused and put my best foot forward."

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