After Nate Longshore took every first team rep at practice Tuesday, Kevin Riley took every first team rep on Wednesday. Longshore still got in some work, but coach Jeff Tedford said that Longshore needed a day of rest. Thursday’s practice could be a little more telling with regard to what to expect Saturday, but there’s no reason to believe it still won’t be a gametime decision.

Wide receiver Robert Jordan (shoulder) missed practice once again.

Linebacker Anthony Felder practiced in limited fashion, but that’s nothing new. Felder always seems to be battling some aches and pains. He should be fine for Saturday.

Here’s a story from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier in the week that examines Washington State coach Bill Doba’s job security, among other things.


Tuesday update

Cal held its usual Tuesday press luncheon and the main themes were how the Bears can get back on track, and how the players are dealing with the adversity of their three-game losing streak.

Here’s an update on a few things going on with the team:

–Defensive end Rulon Davis has what is believed to be a sprained MCL in his right knee. Coach Jeff Tedford said he’s probably out a couple of weeks, “this week for sure.” All Tedford said was it was an MCL. I’m hypothesizing it’s a sprain and not something worse since he only thinks Davis will be out a couple of weeks.

This obviously is a frustrating loss for Cal. Davis had just come back from a four-game absence because of a sprained foot and made an immediate impact in the first half against Arizona State.

–Tedford said he is going to evaluate quarterback Nate Longshore throughout the week. He said Longshore’s right ankle was pretty stiff on Sunday, but I watched him at practice Tuesday and he appeared to be moving OK. You can see that it is not 100 percent, but it actually was better than I thought based on last Saturday. I figured there was a chance Longshore might be limited in practice Tuesday, but he actually practiced in a full capacity and took almost all the snaps with the first team.

I know there has been some debate whether Tedford should sit Longshore down. Based on what Tedford said at the press luncheon and the fact that Longshore was the first-team quarterback at practice, it’s clear that Longshore is still the man. I said it before and I’ll give you my take again: I think it would be foolish for Tedford to bench Longshore, unless it’s clear he’s not healthy enough to play. Kevin Riley has played in one college game, at home, and was effective for a half. Longshore is 15-6 as a starter at Cal (not counting the Sacramento State game in 2005) and is much more comfortable leading the team. Granted, Longshore has thrown a couple of crucial interceptions the past two weeks, but he’s also made some plays to help the Bears get in position to win, especially against UCLA.

Now, if Longshore isn’t healthy enough to competently execute the game plan, then he shouldn’t play. And that’s basically what Tedford has said. On Tuesday, he said “the decision generally is based on whether he can protect himself and run the offense and do the things we need him to do.”

Other comments from Tedford on Tuesday, regarding Longshore:

“Nate brings so much leadership and experience to what’s going on. I watched him very closely. I thought he moved fine in the pocket, but he was taking a lot of hits. They were getting to him and hitting him low and things like that. I think he was hurrying a couple of things there.”

“He was moving fine. Protection is the key, to make sure he can set his feet to throw the ball, to make sure that people aren’t at him all the time. A couple of plays that weren’t his best plays was because of pressure. He can do a better job of stepping up in the pocket as well and utilizing the pocket.”

“He wasn’t any different last week than he was when he was completely healthy. He was moving just fine, working the pocket with his feet just fine.”

–Another injury note: Tedford said wide receiver Robert Jordan was sore after Saturday’s game. He appeared to aggravate his sprained shoulder but played through it and played well. Jordan didn’t practice Tuesday.


Time to catch our breath

Well, obviously a lot has happened over the past three games that has changed Cal’s season dramatically. After each of the first two losses, there was a sense that although players were down, there was still hope that a big prize at the end of the season was still in reach. You can’t say that anymore.

I’ll be interested to see what players have to say at tomorrow’s weekly press luncheon. Nobody on this team has ever lost three in a row. How well will the Bears stay motivated? What’s the most realistic bowl game they can get to?

I know there are a lot of questions and concerns. Let’s start off with the quarterback situation. Several people have asked why Jeff Tedford didn’t replace Nate Longshore with Kevin Riley on Saturday. My take is that Tedford believed Longshore, even with his gimpy ankle, still gave Cal the best chance to win. Yes, Riley showed flashes during his performance against Oregon State, but let’s not forget that Longshore is a veteran quarterback who has won his share of games at Cal. And this game was on the road. Riley played his game at home.

There’s no question that Longshore’s interceptions in the fourth quarter were pivotal. Were they a product of his bad ankle? Possibly. He was being pressured on both plays and it seemed to effect his throwing mechanics. Tedford speculated that since Arizona St. was doing a good job pressuring him in the second half, Longshore may have been in a hurry to get rid of the ball.

Tedford wasn’t asked directly if he thought of putting in Riley (don’t forget that the game ended very late and there wasn’t much time for the press to ask questions because of deadlines). But Tedford did say that he asked Longshore how he was feeling and Longshore said he was OK. Obviously, we all could see that Longshore was hurt to some extent. His definition of “OK” must have meant he was well enough to play.

The maddening thing about Saturday’s game was that Cal got off to such a strong start on both sides of the ball and then had it all go downhill midway through the second quarter. The Bears blitzed on third down on each of the Sun Devils’ first two possessions and each time it resulted in a sack of quarterback Rudy Carpenter, the second time causing a fumble which Cameron Jordan returned for a touchdown. Cal blitzed on another third down late in the first quarter and it forced an incompletion by Carpenter.

But after that the Bears couldn’t get as much heat on the quarterback. There were a few times they came close, but Carpenter either eluded the pressure or got a pass off in time. Cal’s defense also appeared to wear down late in the game, probably a product of being on the field too long. It resulted in several missed tackles and some good running by Arizona St. running backs Keegan Herring and Dmitri Nance.

Tomorrow should provide an update on the health of Longshore and defensive end Rulon Davis. Davis looked strong early on in his return from a four-game absence because of a sprained foot, but went down again in the second half. He was wheeled to the locker room on a cart after the game.



Because of the game’s late start, I won’t be able to post once the first half comes to an end. Gotta get cracking on my story for tomorrow’s paper. Enjoy the rest of the game.



Well, the return of Rulon Davis certainly seems to be making an impact. 1 1/2 sacks during ASU’s first two possessions, including the big play to force the fumble on Rudy Carpenter, resulting in a touchdown.


Coming up: Kickoff

Just a few minutes before kickoff now. The reports here are that this game is a sellout, which means over 70,000 fans are expected. Fans are still streaming in but it looks to be filling up quickly. Arizona State football is really catching on around here.

Cal captains for today are Nate Longshore, Craig Stevens, Thomas DeCoud and Syd’Quan Thompson.

One thing to look for tonight is if Mark Boskovich gets any playing time at right guard. He took some reps in place of Noris Malele during practice this week. All coach Jeff Tedford would say about it is that Boskovich is the backup right guard.

It also will be interesting to see how much Cal uses Rulon Davis on defense. The Bears have been in need of a pass rush lately, and that’s an element Davis can provide. But he’s missed the past four games with a sprained foot. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said he’d like to use Davis in passing situations, which would make sense.

And don’t forget. If and when Robert Jordan catches a pass, he will set the Cal record for consecutive games with a reception with 36.

Enjoy the game!


Greetings from Tempe

Got settled in just a while ago here at Sun Devil Stadium. It’s fairly warm but should be a nice temperature by the time the game begins. This is the first game in a couple of weeks where the focus won’t be on the quarterbacks warming up before the game. Nate Longshore appears to be close to fully recovered from his ankle injury and there’s no question who the starter is going to be.

We could have a three-way tie for first place in the Pac-10 standings by the end of the night. USC’s loss to Oregon knocked it out of a chance to share the top spot. If Cal wins tonight and UCLA loses to Washington State, ASU, UCLA and Oregon all will be 4-1 atop the conference and Cal and USC will be 3-2. That will set up a crazy final four games of the Pac-10 season.

I’ll check back in as we get closer to game time.


Rudy Carpenter

Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter said he’s been waiting to get another shot at Cal for awhile. He had an abymsal performance last year against the Bears, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble.

“It will be a little bit of motivation for me, I will not lie about that,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, for every player there are some games they circle on their schedule every year. For me, I didn’t play too well at Cal last year and they beat us pretty good. This is a game I’ve been looking forward to, a little over a year now, waiting to get a second chance at them.”

Carpenter went on to have a tough season last year but is second in the Pac-10 in passing effiency this season. He’s tied for second in the conference with 16 touchdown passes and has seven interceptions.

“His decision-making is better,” Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. “The guy just makes plays.”


What will see see?

I’m really interested to see what kind of mental state the Bears are in when they take the field tomorrow. Of course, they have said all the right things and believe they still are in the conference race. And they are, although there obviously are other teams in better position of power.

Still, it has to take something out of you to be served a dose of reality. The Bears were on top of the college football world and took a long, hard and fast fall. It’s not easy to recover from that.

There’s also the view that since some of the pressure is off now, the Bears will just let loose and play even better. I actually buy that theory. But the opposing viewpoint is that if they still think they are in the conference race, then they can’t afford another loss. Knowing that you HAVE to win is the ultimate kind of pressure.

My hunch is that Cal will play well. I think they will relax and get back to having fun. And coach Jeff Tedford stressed getting back to basics this week, something that may have escaped the Bears during their two losses.