Monday, April 14, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle: Starting QB job still open question

Rusty Simmons

The most indelible image from a quarterback in Cal's first scrimmage of the spring came Saturday from a fourth-stringer who wasn't even playing quarterback.  Cory Smits, a junior walk-on who was acting as a scout-team gunner, sprinted about 50 yards, fended off a blocker and tackled returner Nyan Boateng as he fielded a punt.  "He may have just won himself a spot on the travel squad," coach Jeff Tedford said. "I'm just kidding. Don't write that."  That isn't much insight into the quarterback competition, and that's because there isn't any. As Tedford hinted at before spring drills, the job probably isn't going to be won in the spring, and, now, it's even less likely.

Incumbent Nate Longshore looked sharp in the first week, but he has a pulled right pectoral muscle that might keep him sidelined for the rest of the spring. With extra snaps, it appeared as though Armed Forces Bowl MVP Kevin Riley and redshirt freshman Brock Mansion could make statements, but the duo combined to attempt only 14 passes Saturday.

"There wasn't much to evaluate really," Tedford said. "There's some work to be done on decision-making and throwing the ball away, which comes with experience. When Kevin did throw the football, he was pretty accurate."  Riley, working strictly with the first-team offense, completed 4 of 7 passes for 30 yards, including a well-thrown 11-yard touchdown to Michael Calvin. Riley consistently got the loudest ovations of the day from the crowd of about 2,000, and he showed off some of his playmaking ability with an 8-yard run on the first called pass play of the day.

In the "situational scrimmage," however, there is no contact on quarterbacks, so other plays were blown dead when defensive players got close to Riley. He's known for making the first guy miss and finding receivers down field, but that couldn't be showcased in this scenario. "I was like, 'No way, I would have broken those (tackles),' " said Riley, who didn't make much of his added opportunity with Longshore out. "I'm just looking at it as a chance to be with the (first team), so I'll be really comfortable when the fall comes around."

Read the rest here.

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