There was a certain measure of calm about quarterback Kevin Riley this spring. Riley worked as hard as he ever has during the spring, but at the same time seems to be at peace with football as much as he ever has.
In the past, there has been a certain brashness to Riley’s personality. Not in an abfasive way, just a confidence or slight cockiness that he could get the job done.
A little older now and a little more mature, Riley has seemed to turn that confidence into contentment — not that he is satisfied with himself as a player but perhaps he is at peace with the fact that he is doing everything he can to be the best player he possibly can, and that the experience he now has — whether it be the good moments or bad moments — makes him more prepared for his final season.
“It’s experience,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. “He’s been at the high and he’s been at the low and I think he’s figured out where the middle ground is — not to get too high and not to get too low. Put it in perspective, take it in stride and know that he’s not going to please everybody. He’s going to do his best to be the best player he can be, be a strong quarterback and a leader of this team. From there, you can’t ride the roller coaster being in that position. I think he’s figured that out.”
From all accounts, Riley had a good spring. During the Saturdays practice was open to the media and the brief stretches we were allowed to watch during the week, Riley seemed to make good decisions and was efficient running Cal’s offense.
Riley regularly put in extra work after practice during the spring.
“I just think I’ve grown up a lot and understand what’s important and what you need to do to get better and become a better football player,” Riley said. “These past few months I took a hard, long look at myself and the games we lost and how we lost them. I want to do everything I can not to let that happen again.”
Tedford said the quarterback spot is “still competititve” but acknowledged that Riley is still taking the first reps. Even though Riley has started 23 games at Cal while Beau Sweeney and Brock Mansion have combined to take zefo meaningful snaps, Riley still approaches it as a legitimate quarterback battle.
“Obviously, it’s open if Coach says it is,” Riley said. “I approach it just like I have in the past. I know with my experience that I have an edge over the other two guys.”