One thing coach Jeff Tedford was asked was if Kevin Riley should have thrown the ball away Saturday even after he crossed the line of scrimmage. Riley said after the game he feared there would be a clock run-off, but that wouldn’t have been the case. Tedford said there would have been a five-yard penalty but the clock would have stopped until it was placed back in play.
Another thing that may have got lost is the mobility that Riley exhibited on a few plays that allowed him to avoid a sack or buy some time to find a receiver. The highlight, of course, was his reality-defying pass completion to tight end Craig Stevens in the third quarter. With OSU defensive end Dorian Smith dragging him to the turf, Riley threw sideways into double coverage but still somehow completed it to Stevens for a 23-yard gain.
“I knew he had some mobility,” Tedford said. “The one to Craig, you’re not sure anybody has that ability. He had the guy hanging all over him, he’s falling down sideways and throws the ball. You don’t want to live on those type of plays. It worked out that time.”
Cornerback Brandon Hampton had a funny response when I asked him what effect losing the starting quarterback right before kickoff might have on the team’s psyche. He said he didn’t even know Riley was starting until the Bears took the field for the first play from scrimmage.
Hampton and Worrell Williams, the two defensive players I talked to Sunday night, both gushed about Riley’s performance.
“He’s here for a reason,” Hampton said. “I know in practice he shows signs of being good. He played pretty well. I was proud of him for his first game. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Whether you’re a veteran or it’s your first start, you’re going to make bad choices. (The final play) wasn’t necessarily a bad choice. It just wasn’t the right choice.”
Williams: “Kevin Riley did an awesome job. I can’t say enough about what he did. I think if he ever gets in another game, he’ll look like a much better Kevin Riley. And he looked awesome in that game. I got a whole bunch of calls from people saying that they loved him. They loved his reads, his gutsiness, and his mobility.
“We turned the ball over or something and I looked him in the face and said, ‘you’re not doing anything wrong. Just keep doing what you’re doing. We believe in you. The defense is going to rally behind you.’ I thought he went out there and did an awesome job.”