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Football: Training camp storylines — Is there really a quarterback competition?

With training camp set to begin one week from today, I will use the next week to examine the most vital storylines facing Cal this August. One issue each day until next Saturday, when the Bears hit the field for the first time for a helmets-only evening practice.

Let’s begin with the situation at quarterback, where coach Jeff Tedford once again says there will be an earnest competition for the starting job. Of course, Tedford insisted there was a quarterback competition last fall and Kevin Riley received about 80 percent of the first team snaps.

Tedford said the situation is different this season because Beau Sweeney and Brock Mansion have been in the program another year. Tedford said Riley will still start camp with the first snaps, and it remains to be seen how those reps are distributed among the other quarterbacks. But it’s hard to believe anyone but Kevin Riley will be Cal’s starting quarterback when the Bears open the season on Sept. 4 against UC Davis.

Yes, Riley had some low moments last season. But Riley generally played well. Unfortunately for him, two of his poorest performances came in the final two games of the season — the regular season finale against Washington and the Poinsettia Bowl against Utah. But otherwise much of the time his subpar performances were not only his fault. In  fact, ineffective wide receiver play and inconsistent pass protection largely contributed to many of his shortcomings.

Riley has started 23 games at Cal and is 15-8. He is the Pac-10′s active leader with 37 touchdown passes. Sweeney and Mansion have combnied for zero meaningful snaps in their careers.

There is also something different about Riley this year. As I wrote in a post at the end of spring practice, the fifth-year senior seems to be at peace with himself and where is stands in his career. Riley should win the quarterback competition, and if his wide receivers demonstrate more explosiveness and his offensive line improves with experience, this should be his best season at Cal.

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Football: Predictions — No. 1 Oregon

No. 1: Oregon. That a team can lose a Heisman candidate quarterback and still be picked to win the conference says more about the wide-open nature of the Pac-10 than anything else. There’s no question the Ducks are going to miss oustsed quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who was a perfect fit for Oregon’s spread offense. But the Ducks have so much talent and experience in other areas that they still are the favorite to return to the Rose Bowl this season.

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Football: Pac-10 Media Day transcriptions

Here is a transcription of Jeff Tedford and Mike Mohamed at today’s Pac-10 Media Day at the Rose Bowl

Head Coach Jeff Tedford:

Opening statement….

Walking down that tunnel and seeing the green grass really puts you in the mood to play some football. We are ready to get back to camp and get the team back together. The guys have been working very hard here in the offseason. We want to get to work on a new season.

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Football: Whiteside will “probably” grayshirt

Our own Jon Wilner spoke briefly with Jeff Tedford before Pac-10 media day today and asked him about the status of incoming freshman linebacker Cecil Whiteside.

“It looks like he’ll probably grayshirt. We still don’t have the final evaluation (from the NCAA),” Tedford said.

Tedford said if Whiteside does indeed grayshirt, he’ll probably enroll in a junior college for the fall before coming to Cal for the spring.

Tedford also said Whiteside probably would redshirt anyway even if he was eligible. “It would be hard to break in to our linebacking unit,” he said.

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Football: Cal picked 7th

Cal has been chosen to finish seventh in the Pac-10 preseason media poll released at Pac-10 media day today. Oregon was chosen to win the conference in a close vote. Amazingly, seven teams received at least one first-place vote. Here’s the poll:

1. Oregon (15) 314
2. USC (12) 311
3. Oregon State (3) 262
4. Stanford (1) 233
5. Arizona (2) 222
6. Washington (1) 209
7. Cal 175
8. UCLA (1) 134
9. Arizona State 81
10. Washington State 39

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Football: Season-opener at 1 p.m.

Cal announced today that the 2010 season-opener against UC Davis will begin at 1 p.m. and be televised by Comcast SportsNet California. All three of Cal’s nonconference games are now set — Sept. 4 vs. UC Davis (1 p.m., CSNCA), Sept. 11 vs. Colorado (12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net) and Sept. 17 at Nevada (7 p.m., ESPN2).

Cal has two of its Pac-10 games determined — Oct. 16 at USC (12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net) and Nov. 20 vs. Stanford (12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net). There are still seven games not accounted for — some of those will be picked up by ABC/ESPN, Fox Sports Net or Versus either six or 12 days before the game is played.