Sunday, April 23, 2006

Oakland Tribune: Tedford will wait to pick Cal's starting QB

Longshore, Levy and Ayoob all have looked good in spring drills

By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER

BERKELEY — Jeff Tedford announced a few weeks ago that he'd have his Cal quarterback rotation set by the end of spring practice. Well, that time arrived Saturday, but he pinned a notation to that rotation: not yet.   "It really hasn't changed," he said. "The top three have the experience, and that would be Nate (Longshore), Steve (Levy) and Joe (Ayoob) in no particular order."  Which means redshirt freshman Kyle Reed will be fourth in the rotation when fall camp gets under way in three months.  Tedford emphasized that summer workouts and fall camp matter more than spring practice. He said Longshore would take the first snaps in fall camp, but that doesn't guarantee his starting Saturday, Sept.2, at Tennessee.  "Nate needs to get his feet a lot quicker, which he hasn't been able to do because he's coming off the broken leg," Tedford said. "But I have confidence that he will work real hard on that."  With Cal merging a new spread offense with its regular pro set, would a mobile quarterback, which Longshore isn't, be a consideration?  "That helps," Tedford said.  Saturday's crowd of 3,000 at Memorial Stadium watched Longshore, Levy and Reed throw the ball with some success.

Ayoob's week-old high-ankle sprain restricted him to holding for placekicks in the final spring scrimmage.  "Joe has done a great job this spring," Tedford said. "I'm definitely encouraged by what Joe has done, and he's definitely in the mix in competing for the (No. 1) spot."  And Levy?

"Same thing," the coach said.  Longshore, Ayoob and Levy all started for Cal last year. Longshore broke his ankle in the opener against Sacramento State. Ayoob then went 5-4 before Levy quarterbacked Big Game and Las Vegas Bowl victories.  "That doesn't really matter to me," Longshore said of his not yet being named a permanent No.1. "What the three other guys do doesn't affect me. I just need to get better for myself. I've never really been a runner in the offenses I've been in, but with some work it can be more natural."

"That's a good sign," Levy said of the extended competition. "I've thrown the ball well the last week and a half, and opened some eyes. I'm getting things done with my feet and my arm, and trying to prove people wrong who don't think I have an arm like the rest of these guys. I feel confident."  Ayoob excelled in a spread offense at City College of San Francisco.  "I didn't expect much," he said of this spring. "I think they saw my comfort level in this (spread) offense, and I think I performed well. Anybody could have the job at this point. It's going to be a battle."


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