By Jon Wilner
It didn’t occur to me until Jim Harbaugh made mention of Stanford’s tailback situation following the Spring Game: Not only do the locals have quarterback questions; they also have backfield questions. The Bears, Cardinal and Spartans are all looking for No. 1 quarterbacks and No. 1 tailbacks.
Quarterback: My feeling at the end of the ‘07 season was that Nate Longshore might bolt for a Mormon Church Mission rather than compete for the starting job with bowl sensation Kevin Riley. Instead, he opted to compete — creating the possibility that their duel would last through training camp and possibly stretch into the season, with neither establishing himself as the clear-cut No. 1. And now Longshore’s out with a torn pectoral muscle, leaving most of the spring snaps to Riley, who obviously needs them more given the disparity in experience.
Best guess: Longshore works his butt off over the summer and looks very good in August, so good that Coach Jeff Tedford can’t give Riley the job.
Tailback: My feeling at the end of ‘07 was that Jahvid Best’s career might be over because of the hip injury, and I’m glad I was wrong — you hate to see players retire in college because of injury. But there’s no telling how effective Best will be in training camp, and without Shane Vereen (hamstring) and James Montgomery (transfer), Cal has been light on experience in spring ball.
Best guess: Tracy Slocum and Covaughn DeBoskie are getting most of the reps now, but look for a tailback-by-committee approach, at least early in the season. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking this will be, by far, the most wide open tailback situation of the Tedford era.