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A definitive Nate Longshore post

By Jonathan Okanes
Thursday, December 6th, 2007 at 4:22 pm in Mid-week.

OK, there obviously has been a lot of discussion about Nate Longshore lately. I’ve received a lot of e-mails about him and there have been a lot of comments on the blog. So I thought I would just kind of throw everything out there to hopefully answer some questions and let you know where I stand.

I haven’t felt as strongly as some of you that Longshore should be replaced. Granted, he hasn’t played as well as most expected this season, but I also don’t believe he’s been as bad as some people make him out to be.

The most frequent question I get is how Jeff Tedford can continue to play Longshore when he’s injured. First of all, some of you seem to believe the media hasn’t asked this question. But we have. His answer has been consistent. He believes although Longshore may not be 100 percent, he is moving well enough and his experience and grasp of the offense makes up for his lack of mobility. As I’ve stated before, you may not agree with this answer, but the question was asked.

So just how much has the injury affected Longshore’s play? There’s no question it’s been a factor. But it’s not always that simple in some cases. Let’s take the UCLA loss, for example. Don’t forget Longshore was 16-for-19 for 173 yards and two touchdowns at halftime of that game. Some believe the reason why he wasn’t effective in the second half was because he wore down on his ankle. That’s certainly possible. But I felt like the playcalling put Longshore in a bad position. The Bears were moving the ball through the air very effectively in the first half and even in the third quarter, but seemed to go away from it down the stretch. That resulted in too many unmanageable third downs, the last of which resulted in the interception that sealed the win.

That’s not to say Longshore is off the hook for throwing the interception. Of course, it was a very untimely turnover. But perhaps had the Bears stuck with the passing game, in which Longshore clearly had found a good rhythmn, they wouldn’t have been in that position.

Longshore also couldn’t be blamed for the Washington loss. Obviously, the defense was mostly the culprit. Yes, the Bears’ offense couldn’t get going in the second half, but that wasn’t Longshore’s fault. He threw a 42-yard pass to Robert Jordan to the 3-yard line, but Justin Forsett couldn’t punch it in. A personal foul on another possession gave Cal unmanageable second and third downs. A penalty and big loss on a running play gave the Bears a 3rd-and-22 on yet another drive.

Longshore aggravated the injury in the Arizona State loss and he clearly was affected by it. Tedford was asked after this game whether he considered taking him out, and again he felt as though Longshore was moving well enough to execute the offense. Granted, Longshore didn’t play well in this game, but nobody did. The Bears simply played poorly all across the board, on both sides of the ball, with mistakes and penalties haunting them (and yes, I realize Longshore contributed to the mistakes).

There was some question whether Longshore would play against Washington State because he aggravated the previous week against ASU. I recall him actually looking pretty healthy in practice. I’d say he played OK against the Cougars. It seemed like the Bears were really conservative on offense in that game, as they had two really long drives where they nickel-and-dimed their way downt he field.

That brings us to USC. Don’t forget that by this time, nobody really was talking about Longshore’s ankle anymore. It seems like everyone is saying Longshore has been hurt all season. But I think the couple of games before re-injuring it against Stanford, his health wasn’t really an issue. Perhaps this is a reaction to Tedford’s comment recently that Longshore has a chip in his ankle (more on that later).

There’s no question Longshore didn’t play his best against the Trojans and took all the blame for the loss after the game. Again, I’ve never said Longshore has been great. The debate is whether he has been bad as some believe, whether he should be replaced with an inexperienced backup or whether he has been healthy enough to play.

This brings us to the crux of the matter. Should Longshore been benched in favor of Kevin Riley? If Longshore was not healthy enough to execute the offense, then yes. Some might argue that Longshore hasn’t executed the offense well enough, healthy or not. The question is whether Riley would have given Cal a better chance to win. Let’s not forget that Riley has played in one college game and played well for about a quarter-and-a-half. His fourth quarter comeback efforts certainly were impressive, especially for a rookie, but in general he is an uncertainty.

Some may believe that Riley should have been given a chance once the losses started piling up. I can see that a little bit more once the BCS and Rose Bowl were out of the picture. But Tedford still was trying to win every game, and he still felt Longshore gave him the best chance to do so.

Perhaps Tedford was doing what I think I’ve been doing: Giving Longshore a little bit of the benefit of the doubt. This is my first year around the program and all I can base it on is observation, but Longshore had a good year last year. Perhaps Tedford believes that game is still in Longshore somewhere, and each week he believes it’s going to come out.

There is still much more that can be discussed on this topic, and I welcome your comments and questions. I will have more to say about Longshore and other issues with the team as we work our way up to the bowl game.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Kevin

    Jonathan, great post that really summarizes the last several games and Longshore’s play. Even with Nate not playing his best, we were still so close in so many games.

  • http://www.lross.net Lawrence Ross

    Personally, I think Tedford would have been wise to rotate Riley in when it was clear that Longshore was either limping or skipping passes on the ground. It doesn’t mean that Riley had to start the game, but it would have been nice to see a “Riley package”. It would have prepped Riley for next season and the pressure would have been off Longshore.

  • Tucson Bill–Class of ’66

    I agree with your analysis, and I also give credence to Coach Tedford’s analyses and judgments during the season. I think that Longshore was not the reason for the meltdown, but that it was due to a series of unfortunate circumstances (including Longshore’s injury) that continued to multiply and get worse as the Bears high expectations were thwarted and their disappointment, angst, and media-and-fan criticism snowballed. I think that Tedford’s comments at the beginning of the meltdown were the most accurate, which essentially were his observations regarding the difficulty of winning games at this level of competition. You and/or others have accuarately oberserved that as the turnover battle goes, so go the Bears. And I believe that this is also true regarding all games between competitive teams. Many turnovers are unfortunate events that cannot be explained by the effort of the athlete or the quality of the coaching. Also, the absence of injured players or the diminished performance of players with chronic, minor injuries can have a dramatic influence on the outcome. Even with all of their problems, any of the Bears’ defeats could have been a victory had one or two plays gone the other way. (E.g., I thought that the Bears played a great game against USC and that the USC game was, overall, a great college football game to witness, notwithstanding its disappointing outcome for Cal fans.) Aside from second guessing an occasional individual play call, I believe that Coach Tedford made only three mistakes that require rectification in future seasons. One. Selecting an individual player for a Heisman candidate is both presumptious and contrary to the team nature of football. It is, at best, a distraction and it inherently detracts from team cohesion. Two. Abandoning his pronouncement near the beginning of meltdown that he need not abandon his tried-and-true coaching methods that have brought such incredible success to Bears’ football. Some of the Bears’ problems toward the end of the meltdown seemed to me the result of the coaches’ and the players’ attempt to respond to the (mostly unwarranted) criticism of the media and fans when the Bears unforgivably lost some games (to worthy opponents). Three. The apparent attempt by the coaching staff during the Washington game to shake the team up, which was somewhat of an affront to Coach Tedford’s wonderful style of analysis, professionalism,and excellence by example that has been the hallmark of his prior leadership. I hope that Coach Tedford stays forever as the leader of Cal football and that Cal fans return to enjoyment of fair competition and the joy of victory (and concommitant agony of defeat) as the focus of students and alums rather than the demand for winning at all costs.

  • Cal fan

    JO,
    I agree with the thinking you stated above but I have a few questions you did not address in your analysis.
    1) Why does it seem like the tempo of the offense has been getting worse and worse? If not for that great Holiday Bowl victory over Texas A&M, and the TN and Oregon wins the O’s problems have gone back a season and a half (Even during those wins it was not as smooth and crisp as our O from mid 03-04 with AR at QB). I don’t know if JT is not getting the play in in time, or if others on O are slowing it down but something sure stinks when a veteran QB is getting to the line late and lots of penalties are occuring. I don’t know if it’s Nate’s fault or not but can you please ask the coach this question? Why is the tempo so bad and why are so many unnecessary penalties occuring?
    2) Why was Nate and his WR crew not on the same page so many times this year? It seems like wrong routes or wrong reads were occuring way to much. This goes into the tempo or lack their of on the Cal offense, not crisp.
    3) Does JT really think Nate can make all the throws? While he sure appears to be a smart hard working kid, who is a pretty good QB he does not seem to have the arm that QB’s of his limited agility need to have to be successful. Throws are to often off the mark, or don’t even get there.
    If you could provide answers or ask JT I would appreciate it. Go Bears vs. Air Force! Whoever the QB is, I just want the team to win.
    Thanks!

  • wearecb4life

    Best post you’ve had all year, JO. Nice to hear some support for Tedford and Longshore for once.

  • http://n/a Paul Workman

    Jonathan — First of all, great job. I’m down in LA and have relied on you for my Bear inside coverage the entire season. You’ve really done a nice job. The reason for the email is my concern about Jeff leaving for the Michigan job. I know through friends here who know Jeff through Fresno State that Michigan really wants him. Do you have any sense as to whether he’s interested?

  • Anthony DiBianca

    Thank you for this report. You clearly state the situation. I still feel that especially after the UCLA game that Longshore could not execute enough in order for us to get back on track. At his best, I believe you need an awful lot of M.Lynch…D. Bishop, etc….types to compensate for defense’s knowing that there is no way on any broken play, that this guy can go anywhere. Now we got an even less LS. HELP!

    Because the team did quit after realizing the true implication of his physical condition. That’s why we would avoided this if Riely had at least be given the opportunity to cover…at least until LS was better able to push off that right foot!

    With Riely….I honestly believe, we win no less than 3 of the remaing 5 games…no less.

    I can no longer stand to watch a LS offense in play. It would be great if he went on his mission.

  • Go Bears82

    Great post J.O. I’m still a huge supporter of Tedford and I think he has the best interests of his players. But I also think he takes a more cautious approach with his quarterbacks. Whatever the reason, Longshore had some poor performances and did just enough to lose the game. Last year the Bears would wear the defense down with their running attack and they would bust off huge runs late in the game. This was particularly the case whenever they had a lead. Whenever they have been behind in the last two years, they’ve never come back to win it. That along with the 4th quarter TD to interception ratio suggest that there is something wrong. Furthermore, with two years under Tedford, Nate shouldn’t be telegraphing passes and misreading routes. I think he’s good kid and what he needs is stiff competition to keep his starting job. For that reason alone Tedford should demonstrate that he’s willing to look at his other QB option.

  • Dixon Bear

    Let me see: We supposedly have the best wide receiver corps in the country, a 1000-yard rusher, a tough-as-nails fullback and tight end, and an outstanding offensive line. What’s missing? We haven’t averaged 20 points per game over the last 6 that Nate has started. How can this situation not warrant a change?

    What coach in the country would have stuck with a QB in the same situation?

  • gobearsssss

    I didnt forget Riley only played one game. But thats the problem. The way Cal has played warranted Riley some reps. he doesnt have to start but give him something. Is he an uncertainty? Yes. but why is he uncertain? Because he hasnt gotten reps!!! Tedford should have given Riley some playing time to see if people should even have a Longshore vs. Riley argument. If he doesnt perform well, then we have two QBs who cant perform, but at least we will know.

  • Tucson Bill–Class of ’66

    Response to Dixon Bear: How about Tennessee sticking with Ainge? Longshore is clearly better, outplayed Ainge, and was playing hurt for much of the season. Longshore isn’t mobile, which will always be a drawback, but because of the Bears offensive line, we still led the league in fewest sacks. Longshore is not perfect, but I believe that Coach Tedford makes choices calculated to be in the short and long-term best interests and success of the players, team, and program.

  • Berkeley Bill

    Platooning QB’s – can be done (See: 2007 Big Game) and should be done (when QB wears down too much in the middle of the game) – it’s also a win-win – give the guy healing a better chance over time; give the new guy experience. Try it and if it doesn’t work, drop it. But at least try it! Another thought – perhpas Riley is not believed to be the heir apparent, perhaps Brock Mansion is (after Longshore graduates in ’09). Last – who is the team leader of the three – who will fire up the team? Last last – Jeff T. choose to look over his shoulder as a senior QB – maybe he is going overboard in protecting Longshore from that distraction.

  • Big D

    I can’t wait until the 2009 season when Longshore is gone. Hopefully Riley or Mansion will be ready!

  • Custer

    Jonathan O. – I heard that Kyle Reed is going to transfer back to CAL after this year. Can he do this? Is this true?

  • Tahoe Bear

    Jonathan,

    Other than the coaches and players, you’re the only one who can answer this pivotal question: From what you’ve seen in practice, has Riley mastered Tedford’s offense or is he a step behind Nate in knowing what he should do?

    If Riley hasn’t mastered the offense, then there’s no question that Nate should play if he can move around enough to protect himself. Not only would it not be fair to the team, but it would be detrimental to Riley as well. The worst thing you can do to a QB is trial by fire because it forms bad habits.

    On the otherhand, if Riley seems just as capable of running the offense as Nate, then Tedford made a mistake staying with Nate. All season, Nate couldn’t put it together for a full 60 minutes, and it only got worse with the injury. So, if you’re already loosing and your shaky QB is battling an injury, you have to at least try a healthy Riley for another game.

  • Albert da BERKELEY KID

    Agree, that Longshore gave the team the best chance to win because even at about 75% his knowledge of the playbook super-seeded Riley’s inexperience. I went to all the home games and I felt Tedford was at fault for perhaps one thing consistently throughout the campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fresno guy whose known Tedford since back in the day & I love his play-calling but he made one mistake all year long. NOT GETTING THE BALL in DESEAN JACKSON’s hands 15x a game. He was the big-time threat who rarely got balls handed or thrown to him. Get him on the outside with reverses, quick sweeps, and inside screens. WE NEEDED TO SEND him on GO ROUTES about 5x’s a GAME but we failed to do so consistently. I LOVE DA BEARS i’ll be there in the spring ready to watch them get started. GOOD JOB jonathan I wish I could have your job. I bet it’s the greatest in the world. Getting to go everyday to Memorial Stadium and endeavor into team atmosphere. Wow! I get so eneregized going up to Berkeley for my 6 games a year. So what’s it like being in the bowels of Memorial Stadium and going to practice everyday?

  • Albert da BERKELEY KID

    email me back with what it’s like. I want to go to some practices during this bowl season. I was wondering what would be the best time, this or next week, to go to a practice to get a few pictuers autographed. Thanks email me back, Albert.

  • Jim B

    Good one. Thanks. I think you have done a very nice job reporting on the Bears all season long. I thought Heat was terrific, and so are you.

    Happy Holidays.

  • Jason Sherr

    Nice synopisis. I like Nate. I think he is a great kid and is working hard.

    Howver, if you look at 2006 and 2007, he has yet to have a decisive drive at the end of the game to seal the win or take the lead for the final time. We all know his career 4th qtr stats (18 picks and 1 TD, I believe). That is an unfortunate trend, injured or not.

    At some point, you need to make a change just to mix things up. When Riley did get going in the latter half of the Oregon St. game, there was an energy in the huddle that I had not seen in a long time. Other then his brain freeze at the end, I liked the excitement he seemed to bring to the team.

    Nate’s presnap reads tend to be poor and he takes too long in his progressions. Worst example was int he ASU game. They went press coverage with ni safety help against Desean. He immediately was open by several steps. Nate did not recongze the coverage, saw the opportunity late then underthrew Desean by 6 yards. Absolute game changer. The score was 24-20 at the time. If he makes that simple throw then we are ahead 27-20.

    If you bring in Riley and he stinks it up then bring Nate back in.

    The definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    Coach T needs to open up the QB competition. When you win a starting job, it is not for life.

  • Robert

    J.O. I have some questions and comments after reading your latest. This idea of Nate giving the Bears the best chance to win. Well the offense has averaged 5 points a game in the second half of games during this slide and the team has lost 6 or 7. That either speaks really poorly of Tedford’s trust in Riley or it’s an indictment of how complex Tedford’s offense is that a quarterback around for 2 years doesn’t know it well enough to play or be trusted. You stated that the offense has been very conservative in games especially in the second half of some games. Is that because of Nate’s injury? Was that fair to the rest of the team? It can be argued that that did not give the team the best opportunity to win. When a coach acknowledges that an injury affects a quarterback’s mobility and as a result what he does, is it right to put him out there for half a season regardless of whether the injury gets worse or not. Is it fair to Nate and the rest of the team? The abuse that Nate took, is that really helpful to him? Tedford’s comments seemed to have unleashed more negativity towards Nate. How about looking at some big picture issues.

  • http://Beartalk jack Chamberlain

    Cal reached its zenith under Tedford —-last year..10-2……Cal is not up to the big boys and needs to face it…..Tedford showed bad judgement repeatedly over the years and esp. with his recent treatment of Reilly…he should have started him after his mistake with OSU just to build his future confidence if nothing else..can you imagine making a mistake and then never being allowed to play a single play ever again…he may be out of the loop in ’08..I would transfer immediately..

  • cal85

    J.O., interesting insight about Nate need to keep his rythym in the 2nd half. In a lot of ways, I think the fragile existence that was Cal’s winning formula was exposed and exploited this year. From what I can see, it goes as follows. 1) Keep it close for the 1st half. 2) Put the opposing defense on its heels on the 2nd half with grinding runs. This keeps the opposing offense off the field and makes them more predictible once they do have the ball.

    Where this all spiraled was painfully obvious. 1) Poor run defense. 2) Lack of production from a big back. Opposing teams loved getting the 2nd half kickoff. It seemed to me that winning the toss came down to deferring until 2nd half. Teams ground down the Bears in that initial 3rd qtr drive and gave the Bears a dose of their own medicine. When Cal got the ball, they stuck with this plan, even though they fell behind from this 1st drive. Defenses stuffed Cal’s run attack, just well enough. Without the big back to insure a 3 yard gain, defenses knew that they could bend a little with Forsett runs. As I wrote on a discussion posting, not having Montgomery develop into this back hurt the Bears.

    Still, rythm or not, Nate needed to make those throws. On the other hand, I agree that Tedford needed to do a better job of adapting to the opposing strategies. I also agree that rotating Riley into the mix would have worked as a positive, not a disruption. I think he should be used as a Tebow-type player to disrupt the defensive strategy.

    This leads to my biggest concern, is Tedford getting too predictible? Does he need an OC again? Until last year’s mid-season slump, he has been so fresh and exciting to watch. What happened? Is it the personnel, the players, the coaches, the injuries, the shift in dynamics of being a BCS caliber team. I think it’s a little of yes to all. Actually, I blame the tree sitters!

  • We’llBeOk

    Response to Dixon: You overstate how good our team was talent-wise, and underestimate how much our coaching and scheme has made us think we are better than we are. Let’s look at the offense you tout so highly:

    We had one all Pac-10 linemen. The rest of our o-line are unknown as recruits and a few made honorable mention all conference.

    Forsett: No one wanted him but Cal out of high school, and I don’t think he’ll do much in the NFL. His yardage is a product of hard work, coaching, and the system.

    Taufoou was a walk-on, again more about hard work and coaching. And he would have been better but was injured most of the year.

    Stevens was a great blocker, below average receiver.

    Morrah is only in his second year, and was hurt half the season.

    Jackson, Hawkins, Jordan: Fast but not dominant and not big. You think Hawkins or Jackson will even be starting on an NFL team any time soon? Jordan probably doesn’t even get drafted.

    You talk like Tedford wasted an All American Team. The fact you think we were that good is precisely the result of Tedford’s scheme and coaching (the very thing you criticize), plus some undue media hype. Fact is, Tedford got more out of this team that most coaches.

  • MattC

    “That resulted in too many unmanageable third downs, the last of which resulted in the interception that sealed the win.”

    3rd and 5 is unmanagable? Heck, Cal was only down by 2 points at the time, all they needed to do was NOT HAVE A TURNOVER and kick a field goal and win.

    If you’re referring to the second INT, that doesn’t really count, Cal was behind by 9 (two scores) and the game was already over.

    As Jason pointed out, the real point is this: Longshore has 1 TD and 18? INTs in the 4th quarter over his career. You can argue if that’s due to injury or him being anti-clutch (personally, I think it’s the latter, aggravated this year by the former) but either way, Tedford should’ve thought about platooning his QBs.

  • Harris

    One thing: That “unmanageable” third down against UCLA, at the end of the game that resulted in an interception was 5 yards. Check out: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=272930026&period=4
    Was it Tedford’s playcalling? Did Tedford change his playcalling based on Longshore’s aggravation of his injury on a late hit (which resulted in a penalty) early
    in the third quarter? Sure its half-baked but 3 and 5 is not unmanageable. That game was huge for confidence. I guess it’s wait till next year.

  • Cal Alum 1984

    I agree with your analysis but I’ll add the following:

    1. The Bears all season lacked the intensity on the field. Other than 2 quarters of the Tennessee game, they never payed with the intensity of earier teams. Another example is with 3 minutes left in the half at the Big Game and the offense is taking its sweet time & could have easily gotten another play or two off before the half to possible score a TD. The Bears looked as if they thought they could just show up & win & that doesnt work !

    2. Coaching – Tedford now has his big contract – the coaching of quarterbacks is questionable especially since Longshore will NEVER make it in the NFL (at least start) due to his lack of scrambling mobility in the pocket plus being too inconsistent. I cannot imagine another year of “Long & short” running the offense. The playcalling all year was highly questionable & too conservative at times when the game was on the line. Tedford needs to be less stuborn and I hope the AD discusses this point in the offseason or Cal fans will need to be content with 6 – 6 seasons !

  • Jack Johnson

    All of you guys who proclaim, ‘Longshore has a better grasp of the offense,’ fail to miss a critical issue. The Cal offense has been anemic, the play calling very predictable. This is not some expansive number of plays, we are talking just a few pass plays from what I can tell, with different formations. A vast majority of the plays were quick outs for two or minus five yards. Are you really going to sit here with a straight face and tell me Riley can’t handle that? Pleeeeaaasssseeeeeee!

  • Reality Rog

    I felt that Kevin Riley should have played until Nate Longshore was healthy enough to give him a clear edge over Kevin.

    Kevin made a huge mistake from the 12-yard-line, but earlier in the drive he had made two outstanding plays — first, avoiding the safety on the first play of the drive, and then picking up a snap that was no only bounced to him, but off to his left side, cleanly fielding it, getting his downfield and hitting Lavelle Hawkins for a first down on fourth-and 17.

    As a friend of mine said this morning, up until the bonehead play, that was the best drive he had ever seen Cal put up.

    I remember in Longshore’s first game back, he was struggling and my thought was, “Jeff gave Nate his chance. Now it’s time to bring Kevin in.”

    Another idea would have been to realize that for whatever reason Nate was having trouble in the fourth quarter and either bring in Kevin at that point — or perhaps better yet, alternate the two earlier in the game so that Nate would be fresh for the fourth quarter.

    I got the feeling that teams were able to keep the Bears’ passing game somewhat under control because they could overload against DeSean Jackson and play tight on the other receivers. Nate seemed to really struggle with his long passes, particularly with regard to overthrowing them.

  • Forest Britt Peter

    Jonathan: Is there a post in the press box that obscures your line of sight? From where I sat in the stadium it was obvious that Longshore cost us a couple of games. Riley moved well in the pocket and gained 294 yards before his “skull”. There was a place on the bench for him for the rest of the year. Tedford benched Lynch for fumbling, remember. Why not at least a momentary place on the bench for Longshore after one of his illconsidered interceptions? Tedford used to be a standup guy who had a straightforward answer to even the toughest questions. What happened to his previous “management” style?

  • Brent Robertson

    There is far too much undeserved appreciation for Tedford. A great coach can become a bad coach. The fact is that Tedford did an incredibly terrible job coaching this year. And he should be fiercely challenged for that.

    And I question the notion that Tedford ever was that great of a coach. He never led Cal to the heights that the team was capable of.

  • dball

    What nobody has mentioned yet is that maybe Tedford played Longshore because of something that happened with Riley. With all the players griping and giving up, perhaps Riley was part of the group of players that caused Tedford to blow up after the Washington game.

    Supposedly Tedford is going to reveal some insights after the season is over. For all we know, Riley not playing could be a result of something he said or did, and thus Tedford stuck with Longshore for that reason.

    That would go along with what Berkeley Bill suggested, that Tedford has no plans for Riley as the QB of the future.

    Tedford to Michigan? Haha, I doubt he’s even in the candidate pool.

  • dball

    I should have researched it before I opened my mouth, there are quite a few articles about Tedford as a candidate for Michigan, especially now that the guy from Rutgers turned it down. Ironic….anyone else remember a few years ago when the only team we beat was Rutgers? Pretty funny.

    Stuff about Tedford going to Michigan:

    “Michigan’s list of potential candidates still includes Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe, California’s Jeff Tedford, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, North Carolina State’s Tom O’Brien, Ball State’s Brady Hoke, Michigan offensive coordinator Mike DeBord and Wolverines defensive coordinator Ron English. ”

    A google search revealed a lot of chatter on Michigan blogs about Tedford and the potential fit. I would leave if I were Tedford, Michigan already has a nice stadium with a full accoutrement of newer facilities, no need to deal with the Berkeley City Council and injunctions.

  • Ted Oberlander

    Dball’s observation about Michigan’s stadium and facilities vs the Berkeley City Council do give me pause, in addition to the long-standing problem of getting top players to commit to Cal–going all the way back to O.J. Simpson, whom Coach Ray Willsey thought he had corraled. I concur with those who feel Riley should have gotten more of a look, and that Tedford’s offense has become predictable–especially near the goal line. In all those college games over the Thanksgiving weekend, I saw a zillion ways to score from the one- or two- yd line–while my mind played back that succession of four doomed smashes into the goal line mosh pit in one of our early losses this year. Also, it seemed to me that, from Game One onward, enemy receivers were all alone in the middle of the field way too often. So I think the Bears had problems on both sides of the ball, in both coaching and personnel.

  • FedUpBear

    IMHO it’s not really a question of isolating specific instances where NL did or did not succeed…the major issue is really not about NL, it’s about Tedford. 1 win in the last 7 is clearly not acceptable for any program. Not for Gilbertson. Not for Holmoe. Not for Tedford. It was up to Tedford to shake things up and ONE way was to try another QB, as many opposing coaches did in the conference and around the country. The message that Tedford sent was ‘things aren’t going to change’ and it was *that* message, more than any other problem that doomed the Bears.

    Even IF NL had not played so poorly (and no matter how you pretty it up, his INT’s, missed wide-open receivers, etc. *was* poor play), the fact is that Tedford’s team was consistently losing and he needed to make a *visible* change…if only for awhile.

    If the Ayoob Affair had not occurred, then MAYBE Tedford could be excused for staying with NL. On top of the Ayoob Affair, however, there is simply no excuse for Tedford’s decision-making. This isn’t a one-time thing. Not a “down season”. This is a trend. A very *bad* trend.

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Calfan, I’m not sure if you are referring to delay of game penalties or just penalties in general? I think turnovers and penalties have been the biggest problems the offense has faced. Obviously, the USC game sticks out the most as far as the miscommunication between Longshore and the WRs. Longshore took the blame for it, but I’m not sure it was all his fault. He said sometimes routes have options and the receiver makes the read based on what he sees at the line. Sometimes the receiver and the QB may see things differently. I’m not sure if Tedford has ever said Longshore can “make all the throws.” All he’s said is Nate is their best quarterback right now.

    Paul, not sure about Tedford’s interest in Michigan, but I’m skeptical that they are as interested in him as some might believe. Usually coaches aren’t a hot commodity when their team struggles so much at the end of the season.

    Custer, haven’t heard that.

    Tahoe Bear, Riley definitely has looked more comfortable and confident as the season has progressed, but that’s a tough question to answer because there are things I’m sure I can’t see or tell from sitting in the stands and watching. He seems to make good throws and doesn’t seem confused, but that doesn’t mean he’s making better reads or is grasping things better. To be honest, the coaching staff can answer that question much better than I can (not breaking news, there!)

    Albert, all practices are closed to the public.

  • Evan

    I dunno…I just feel like if you watch a lot of the incomplete passes, especially the big interceptions, they’ve been underthrown or overthrown by longshore. you could see him throwing with all arm, not using his legs, and that definitely compromises the ability to execute an offense. granted, i also think that tedford’s play-calling hasn’t been as it was in years past, but I still think that his decision to stick by longshore is suspect. aside from riley’s lapse in judgment on the last play, he played a terrific game and i want to see him play some more.

  • Tucson Bill–Class of ’66

    Hooray for We’llBeOK (post 23). I appreciate your accurate obervations and your recognition of Coach Tedford’s ability and contributions. You might add that Tedford began to build an amazingly successful program with a bunch of totally discouraged young men who’d been suffering under Holmoe for years, threw in a bunch JC transfers, and proceeded to build a great program around them. You might also add that he runs an honorable program, coaches his players to their potential, insists on good sportsmanship, and models excellence, professionalism, and self-control, etc., etc., but few of the bloggers seem interested in these sorts of qualities in a coach. Go figure.

  • Juan Serrano

    Jonathan,

    Long Time Reader, First Time Writer. Thanks for your great coverage of Cal Sports. I’m an ex-coworker of your wife. I’m also a Haas Grad. Please tell her I say and hi and I wish your family happy holiday’s.

    I’ve been an ardent supporter of Tedford and have rarely doubted his decisions but I have to disagree with you and others on not starting Riley once the BCS/Rose Bowl was gone when Nate wasn’t 100%. I don’t buy Nate gave us the best chance to win argument. I think Tedford can be loyal to a fault with QB’s. I think this was the case. I would’ve rather gotten Riley game time experience and see what he can do. I hate the argument that he’s only played 1 college game and played only well for 1.5 qtrs. That’s a good reason to get him some work. It would put us in a much better position next year. This year proved that you need 2 good qb’s to compete in the Pac 10. See Oregon, UCLA, Stanfurd, etc.

    Take care and look forward to your on-going work.

    Juan

  • CalBearDavid83

    Hi Jonathan,
    I love this blog! Thanks for your excellent coverage this year.

    One thing in your OP that really stood out for me, esp. in context of everyone else’s comments, is “…This is my first year around the program…”.

    Many of the feelings and frustrations that you have seen have come from Bear faithful (alumni) who have been frustrated, disappointed, discouraged and upset at a program that has basically been a failure for 48 years (since our last Rose Bowl appearance). So when we see a complete meltdown like the 2nd half of this season, with such initial high (and as it turned out, totally unwarranted) expectations, then the collective moan you have been hearing is based not just on this season, but on what has been a pattern of mediocrity and failure over not just the last 6-7 games, but over the past 4-5 DECADES!

    We went through horrible teams in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s interrupted only slightly by a decent shot with Snyder, only to have that messed up by an interim AD, followed by more heartbreak with Mariucci, followed by the Holmoe debacle, and now, finally, in Tedford, we have someone who up until this season was given savior-like status. Now for the first time, his decisions have come into question (and rightfully so, IMO).

    So in my mind, the real question becomes, just where do we stand at this moment with the program, that until game #6 of this season seemed to finally be approaching a level of success that we haven’t seen since the Kennedy administration? Was the meltdown a blip on the otherwise upward trend of recent years, or just a reminder that nothing has really changed and when you get right down to it we still are no closer to our ultimate goal than we were 5, 10 or 25 years ago? Because for me, and many, many of my fellow alums and followers of this team, the season ended with the Longshore interception that sealed the loss against ucla. When that happened, I turned to my neighboring fans in our end-zone perch at the Rose Bowl and said “season over”. Because as soon as the Rose Bowl Game appeared to be out of reach, then for us, the season indeed was once again lost. Nothing else matters, and nothing will ever change until we make it back to Pasadena for the elusive prize that has eluded us since January 1st, 1959. A drought that, as we continue to be painfully aware, is longer than any other school in the Pac 10.

  • Dixon Bear

    Facts: Tedford benched JJ Arrington in his first year after a fumble; Lynch was benched several times; entire D-line was benched for a series during this year’s Washington game; Williams and Felder were benched for the Big Game.

    Can somebody please tell me why Nate takes every snap while losing 5 of 6 games? Every snap!

  • Delta Guy

    Tedford, quite simply, did a lousy job the second half of the season. He stubbornly hung in with Longshore, for what ever reason, when he was hurt and still immobileafterwards at the detriment of the team. Riley made one bad play which is typical for a inexperienced QB. Was it really his fault or lack of instruction from the coaches?A good coach, in any sport, when make changes when the team bogs down. the TVcommentators on a number of occasions in the late season noted that the wide receivers and Longshore were out of sync.

    Tedford should clean house on his coaching staff, assign the clipboard to Longshore and let Riley(former Oregon state payer of the year) QB the bears, Start with the Bowl game late December.