Thursday, April 20, 2006

Contra Costa Times: Ayoob makes his case

Quarterback looks sharp in scrimmage, possibly earning him snaps in summer camp

Cal football notes

BERKELEY -- After a year in which he completed just 49.2 percent of his passes and threw 14 interceptions, Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob easily could have either transferred or simply faded into the woodwork. Instead, the guy making the plays during Saturday's scrimmage at Memorial Stadium was none other than -- Ayoob.

"What can I lose by going out and doing the best I can?" Ayoob said after his sharp practice effort on a wet, cold day.   Ayoob, who will be a senior next season, is making it tough on coach Jeff Tedford, who is trying to somewhat sort out the quarterback competition in spring camp. Tedford said he hopes to identify the top two prospects anyway, because he won't be able to give four quarterbacks equal snaps once summer camp begins. Tedford said that sophomore Nate Longshore will continue to take first team snaps in the final four practices of spring ball. But Ayoob's improvement definitely has caught his eye.

"Joe has played extremely well," Tedford said. "His experience has helped him and he is throwing the ball sharper." Of the four quarterbacks vying for the job, Longshore, Ayoob and Steve Levy all have produced some solid moments during the spring. Red-shirt freshman Kyle Reed has displayed his excellent athletic skills; however, he has the most work to do. "Kyle is further away because of his lack of experience and his knowledge of the offense," Tedford said. However, even if Ayoob does edge in front of Longshore going into summer camp, Tedford said, it won't mean much in terms of selecting a quarterback to face host Tennessee in the season opener on Sept. 2. Tedford said the guy with the hot hand during summer camp will win the job. Longshore, coming off a rehabilitation following his broken leg against Sacramento State in last season's opener, could well regain his timing that has been somewhat off during the spring. "Working through the summer," Tedford said, "he is going to get his footwork back."

Ayoob's footwork has looked solid during the spring and part of that has to do with Cal implementing some spread offense philosophies under new coordinator Mike Dunbar. Ayoob took snaps out of the shotgun formation at City College of San Francisco. "I feel more comfortable in this kind of offense," Ayoob said. "It definitely helps my confidence."

End run

Junior linebacker Worrell Williams had another standout practice, indicating that the 6-foot, 255-pounder is headed toward a big year. "He's got his weight down, he's moving well and he's got a great attitude," Tedford said. ... Tedford said junior place-kicker Tom Schneider had been kicking very well in the spring. Schneider is being pushed by walk-on Jordan Kay. ...Left offensive tackle Mike Tepper missed the scrimmage due to a concussion. Tedford said he should be back at practice on Monday or Wednesday. ... Junior linebacker Justin Moye has made a huge push in the spring. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said the former walk-on is one of the favorites to earn starting time.


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