By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER
BERKELEY — Joe Ayoob appears healthy enough. Nothing broken, torn or displaced. But Cal coach Jeff Tedford offers a different diagnosis.
"He's paralyzed right now," Tedford said of his deer-in-the-headlights quarterback.
Physically, Ayoob's fine. It's his mental condition that's in a frozen state after one week of heavy cramming on Tedford Offense 101.
Tedford said Ayoob, the highly touted City College of San Francisco transfer who will be a junior in the fall, hasn't lived up to expectations, though it's premature to presume a final grade.
"There's so many things for him to do right now," Tedford said Saturday. "There's all the little things I'm on him about: his foot placement, hand placement, elbow placement, head placement. Then you throw 20 plays a day at him, and ..."
Ayoob's paralyzed. Tedford has one of the most intricate offenses in college football to master, and that gives Nate Longshore one advantage in the quarterback battle — a year's experience.
"It's a learning process," Ayoob said. "They're putting in a lot of new material. Once the learning part is pretty much done, I'll do better in practice. I'm not throwing the ball too well. I'm not just playing, I'm thinking too much. I'm not totally comfortable."
Ayoob noted that the "complexity" of Tedford's system is the biggest difference from junior college football. Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers would advise Ayoob to stay patient, that the fog will lift off Tedford's offense in time, and everything will look clear to him.
Tedford hasn't been totally disappointed in Ayoob. The coach saw the first signs of the finished product Friday when Ayoob rolled out and coolly completed a sideline pass with precision and polish.
"When he's unconscious, when he can cut it loose and let his ability take over, he has the skills," Tedford said.
While Ayoob struggles with the playbook, redshirt freshman Longshore is making huge strides.
"I'm progressing well this spring," he said in his understated manner.
Ayoob is more athletic than Longshore, who is concentrating mainly on foot speed and agility this spring.
"Joe's pretty shifty back there, but that's not my forte," Longshore said. "I'm working on (escape techniques in the pocket). Hopefully, I'll get better and go from there."
Could Longshore beat out Ayoob?
"I think we all have a chance to get playing time," Longshore replied. "I don't think any of us have it locked up, and I don't think any of us are out of the running yet."
Realistically, a coach needs two quarterbacks. Pac-10 fans recall that only half of the conference's teams made it through the 2004 season with only one quarterback.
"It's crucial," Tedford said of having two quarterbacks. "I've really been impressed with the attentiveness of Joe and Nate and their willingness to learn. I have a tendency to be pretty hard on them, to expect perfection, but they're working hard at it."
Does Tedford feel that no matter who starts, he has two quarterbacks he can win with?