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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.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Oski

    What about Big Will? He didn’t start last week. Why not?

  • Big D

    I’m sorry folks, but I’d sit Longshore for at least one week. He IS injured and everybody knows it. Defenses are like sharks when there is blood in the water! Nate will just get pounded and pounded and pounded until he BREAKS his ankle unless Tedford sits him to get better. The season is already gone, rest him up,give Riley some experience and then Bring back Nate later on in the season and/or open the QB competition in the spring. I know Nate has the experience etc, but “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is insane!

  • R

    I don’t understand this rationale of his record (15-6) accurately represent how he has performed. And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this argument either.

    Last year, I was a big Longshore Fan, and rightfully so because if you looked at not only his numbers but also most of the games (except Tenn, Arizona, USC) he played like a true Pac10 elite QB.

    But lets face it, has he been very effective this year? The first 5 games he had several balls that were under or over thrown. He’s also had all the time in the world to throw the ball (a luxury if you look at the other QBs in the conference). Yet Cal won those first 5 games. Why? Because the team carried them through. We have excellent WRs and Forsett was doing an excellent job. So I think it’s only fair to say that those 5 games shouldn’t be counted in his record and be used to defend his performance. So yes, maybe he’s still 10-3 which is quite good but its evident that he was much better last season.

    Let’s not forget 4th Quarter come back performance either. Riley may be 0-1 but he showed something crucial for BCS-type QBs. If your team is down, you put them in a position to win in 4th quarter (a-la Matt Ryan. Terrible first 48 minutes but the last 12 made up for it and still a heisman candidate.) Now look at Arizona and USC last year’s 4th quarter, UCLA and Arizona State’s 4th quarter. I’ve looked at the play by play and they all look quite familiar. I didn’t include Tennesse because that was a difficult situation for any QB.

    Ultimately I agree that if Longshore is 100% healthy both physically and mentally, then he should get the right to start the game. What I don’t agree with is Tedfords ability to bench him during the game if its evident that he becomes gimpy (most likely in the second half). If he’s taking hits and thats your excuse, then rest him for a bit. It honestly looked like it was bringing the team down and insulting Riley slightly (this latter portion doesn’t really matter because he’s young).

  • Robert

    I just don’t get this “he was moving fine” and “set his feet to throw the ball” stuff. It seems so clear that he was doing neither. Is JT so distracted by looking at his chart and calling plays that he is missing some of what is happening? This stance of his is baffling. I’m behind Longshore but if he’s not fit it’s not fair to the team to stick with him. At the end of the ASU game it seemed clear that he was not healthy enough to lead the team regardless of what Nate told JT about how he felt. Weird season.

  • Anonymous

    back seat drivers…all of you. it’s easy to think we know the right answers from our view from our couches.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Will’s knee acted up again and he couldn’t go. He’s day-to-day for this week.

  • Go Bears82

    Tedford said that Nate is moving well in the pocket. The successful QBs in NCAA D1 are able to move out of the pocket too. That’s the problem. Defenses focus on stopping the run and collapsing the pocket. The majority of the time when Nate is outside the pocket his accuracy is poor.

    Since he is no threat to run, defenses can drop more people into coverage.

  • G Spot1

    I agree generally with Tedford’s approach with Longshore, but I feel like he is missing the fact that whatever Longshore may show in pregame warmups or even the first half, he isn’t handling the pressure well late in the game and is making bad – indeed, very bad – passes. ASU killed us on this. You can’t ignore that we got shut out in the second half of the game. How can Tedford not see there is a problem when our offense doesn’t score for an entire half? Yes, it’s true that ASU made great second half adjustments to shut us down – i.e., they went after Longshore. Longshore is an absolute liability when hurt.

  • Robert

    Hey anonymous, did you not see Nate limping around after plays and flinging the ball off of his back foot in the second half? I don’t think it’s thinking the answer is right as much as simply making an observation.

  • Matt G

    I think some of you are missing Tedford’s point. He said Nate’s poor play was a combination of getting hit (what QB doesn’t look bad when he’s on his butt?) which is on the blockers, and not stepping fully into the pocket when under pressure which is on Nate.

    As to the injury, JT doesn’t think Nate is “clearly gimpy” in a way that ruins his performance. Some armchair QB’s think Nate is. Hmmm… I’ll stick with the opinion of the dude who does this for a living, spends more time with Nate than anyone, and has access to a full training staff.

    As to the pressure, Riley would get the same since it’s the same O Line and backs blocking.

    As to the stepping into the pocket to throw better, yes that’s on Nate. But that alone is no reason to replace all of his veteran leadership with a kid who has 1 D-1 game under his belt.

    And as to Nate’s ankle being blood in the water for sharky defenses… what, you don’t think a green freshman QB with no experience isn’t blood in the water!?!?

    Get real Cal fans. Nate’s pereformance is as disappointing to me as it is to anyone, and I’ll be the first to say I expect more from him as a Junior. However, JT still thinks Nate gives us out best chance to win, and I’m inclined to agree with the pro.

  • AB

    JT may be the pro, but we’ve seen this before. It was clear in 05 that Levy gave Cal the best chance to win and JT stuck with Ayoob too long, costing Cal a couple of wins. You don’t have to be a coach to see what is obvious: Longshore is not healthy enough and not playing well enough for Cal to be successful.

    Maybe Riley will be better and maybe he won’t, but at least he will get valuable experience for next year when Cal is trying to make another BCS run. You don’t want him getting that experience when every game is critical, so get it now. Additionally, more experience for Riley gives him a chance to beat Nate out for the job next year – and healthy competition will make the whole team better.

    If nothing else, this program needs something to get excited about and rally around…Riley offers that possibility.

  • Sad

    I don’t think people here are professing to know more than JT. He is the “pro.” Being the “pro” does not mean all your decisions are right. Maybe Riley would come in and flop. Who knows? Maybe Longshore is the better QB still. The point is that Nate IS injured. You can see it as he hobbles around and you can see it when he underthrows DJ by 10 yards. I don’t get why JT does not at least acknowledge that he is less than 100%. To say he is moving fine I thinks frustrates those watching.

  • Cal Alum ’63

    I have been a Cal fan and alum for years. As a True Blue, I don’t require that the Bears win every game. I do expect that they play smart. And playing injured players when there are adequate backups is not only stupid but also dangerous and detrimental to the student athletes.

    My frustrations are with the highly paid coaches, not the hard working and dedicated student athletes. Rulon Davis is a case in point. He was out four games with a sprained foot. He practices one week and his first game back he plays almost four quarters, way too much, and now he has a knee injury.

    Another case is Nate Longshore. Dedicated and hardworking… and injured. He looked like he was out there with leg irons during the UCLA and Arizona State games. A sitting duck taking big shots from the pass rush. Not to negate his stellar effort and some shining moments, but his passing was inaccurate and erratic when the Bears needed it the most (mainly on 3rd down) and the results were momentum breaking. Tedford said he asked Nate how he was feeling and he got an “OK” from a guy who was toughing it out. What else could Nate say? Was Mr. Tedford even watching the game? A casual glance screamed that the guy should not be on the field.

    To make matters worse, playing Longshore is not the only option. Kevin Riley is the most exciting Cal QB I have seen in decades. He is smart, quick, tenacious, accurate, strong and consistent. I expect he will be the best QB in Cal history if he is not ignored out of the program first. I attribute his few problems during the Oregon State game to coaching, or the lack therof. First of all, it was his first game (one cannot count the few meaningless snaps in the previous games) as Jeff “Throw them in there to see what happens” Tedford seems unwilling to cross train backup QBs with actual game experience (e.g. Ayoob, Levy). Second, when it comes to clock management under pressure, it is the coach’s job to communicate (and Tedford admitted failing to do just that).

    Finally, do we notice a pattern here? Last year mid-season Cal made only 1 offensive touchdown during each of the Wash, UCLA, Arizona, and USC games… Are mid-season melt-downs built into the program? Over training, leaving the game day energy back on the practice field? Or under preparation? It is the coaching staff’s job to give thoughtful attention to this problem, not lay it onto the players with the newspaper reporters like they have in the last two weeks.

  • Big D

    I’d rather have a healthy yet green QB, then a gimpy experienced QB. That is MY opinion. We lost 2 games already with a gimpy QB, so that should provide some common sense to try something new and see if you can get a different result, then the same old tired thing and get the same result,loses.
    Plus, the NFL is full of “professional coaches” who lose, so the “JT is a pro, therefore he is right” doesn’t add up. Sorry, no moral victory. Produce wins or step aside.

  • Matt G

    Well, I for one certainly never said “JT is a pro, therefore he is right.” Nor am I interested in “moral victories.” Thanks to JT those days at Cal are gone.

    What I did try to do is point out a couple important things. As a pro who is immersed in the details of the team, including extensive film reviews of every snap, JT has a lot more information than we do. Does that guarantee that he’s right? Of course not. But IMO it casts a dubious shadow on comments that essentially say “I can CLEARLY see ‘x’ from row 56 watching the team one afternoon per week, so why can JT NOT see the same ‘x’ with all that film all week long?” Maybe it’s not so much about what he’s missing that we see – maybe it’s at least partly about how much more he sees than we fans do.

    JT still thinks Nate gives us the best chance to win. It is certainly within fan purview to opine that he is wrong and that Riley gives us a better chance to win. But I think he’s in a better position to make that call, understanding more of what goes into that decision than most of us and being closer to the athletes in question for evaluation. The dude is not above mistakes, but his going-on-six-year track record is positive enough IMO to let him keep driving for a while without demanding big changes tat he doesn;t think will help.

    Besides, too much has gone wrong with this team these past 3 games to hang it all on Nate. Yes, Longshore must shoulder his fair share of the blame – he’s been far from stellar. But so does OL blocking, ST coverages & kicking (in-)effectiveness, and a seive-like defense. 2 of the 3 losses have been close & JT thinks some of it is correctable.

    Attempting the corrections is probably better at this point than sending the signal that the team is bad (when they still have a shot at a 9-3 season) by voluntarily departing wholesale from schemes and/or personnel.

    This is not “doing the same thing over and expecting different results.” It’s simply shoring up a sinking foundation rather than dynamiting it and rebuilding mid-season.

    And given that JT believes the wall needs only some shoring up and not full reconstruction, that makes sense to me. That is my opinion.

  • AB

    There is middle ground between “shoring up” and “dynamiting” – the all or nothing arguments are tiresome.

  • Big D

    Blah Blah blah. You think too much. If it’s broke, fix it. period. Nate can’t set his feet because he is injured, he has demonstrated that for two weeks now. EVERYBODY sees it from the film room, Row 56, TV booth, whatever. It’s not rocket science, it’s COMMON SENSE, either you have it or you don’t.

  • Matt G

    Sorry D, you’re not thinking enough. “Just fix it”? That’s your analysis? As if there’s only one major problem, and JT isn’t fixing it? If JT doesn’t have even That much “common sense,” as you say, then why not fire his incompetent butt and get someone with a functioning brain cell? I think Dorrell will be available next season…

    All this knee-jerk, Tedford-doesn’t-know-crap-and-I-do nonsense is just typical fooball fan backup QB lovefest.

  • Big D

    MATT G,
    PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ ALL OF MY POSTS. I NEVER EVER SAID THE JT DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING, WHAT I DID SAY IS THE MY OPINION IS THAT RILEY SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN THE PAST TWO STARTS AND THIS ONE TOO, SO THAT LONGSHORE CAN HEAL UP BECAUSE EVERYBODY, PROBABLY JT TOO, CAN SEE THAT LONGSHORE IS NOT 100% HEALTHY AND IT IS HURTING THE OFFENSE, WHICH IN TURN IS HURTING THE TEAM. PLEASE DON’T PUT WORDS IN MY MOUTH AND TRY TO MAKE FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT WHAT I SAID. THIS IS A BLOG, THE BLOG IS FOR PEOPLE TO VOICE THEIR OPINIONS. NOBODY IS CLAIMING JT SHOULD BE FIRED. I LIKE JT AS THE CAL COACH AND I SAT THROUGH EVERY SECOND OF TOM HOLMOE AS OUR COACH, YOU CAN’T GET ANY MORE PAINFUL THAN THAT. SO HAVE A BEER, SIT BACK AND RELAX DUDE. WHOEVER PLAYS THIS SATURADY NEEDS TO COME THRU AND GET US A FREAKING WIN.