Football: Riley speaks

The obvious biggest development today was interviewing Kevin Riley, who was back at practice on crutches. Riley talked at length about Saturday’s injury, his plans moving forward and his thoughts on replacement Brock Mansion.

Riley also said his injury actually was a lot better than it could have been. Doctors  told him he was “super lucky.” He said after watching the hit, doctors thought for sure he had at least torn his PCL. As it turns out, he sprained ligaments in his knee but had no major structural damage. He also hyper extended it.

But the most damaging part of the injury is a torn calf muscle. Riley said without that, he probably would have only been out about a month. As it is, Riley said it will take him about three months to recover.

Riley isn’t a strong NFL prospect, but he still could get a look. He has a ton of experience, which always helps. And a lot of times at Cal, he wasn’t put in the best  situations. Then again, there certainly times where he simply didn’t play well. But if a team like his arm, footwork, etc., he could at least get an invitation to an NFL camp next fall.

Riley is on pace  to graduate at the end of this semester with a degree in American Studies. He said now he will probably spread it out over two semesters and  graduate in the spring because he will have to put in a lot of time rehabbing.

Here’s a sampling of what Riley said today:

  • On his NFL chances: “I always thought I’d get a chance. Everybody gets a chance. I’ve played enough where I’ll get a look.  I have a lot of film, a lot of footwork in the pocket.”
  • On his immediate reaction after going down Saturday: “I knew something wasn’t right, obviously — the instant pain. You just start thinking about every different thought. Right when it happened, I was thinking this is my last play of football. That’s the first thing that popped into my head. A wave of emotion came over me. I’m done. I kind of knew it. I knew it wasn’t a regular thing.”
  • When he got to the sideline?: “Coming off, I was like, ‘Let me walk. I’m fine. I can go back in the game.’ I put a little bit of pressure on it and I was like, ‘No way.’ I tried to walk again. Obviously, I couldn’t stand up. Any time I put my leg straight it just crumbled.”
  • On what he expects from Brock Mansion: “I think Brock will play well. Going in last week, I think he composed himself pretty well. That’s a tough situation to go into.”
  • On how he can help Mansion: “You have a different demeanor going into a game knowing you’re starting. I’ll be here helping him out. He’s already asked me if he could watch film with me tonight. I’m just here to help the team now.”
  • Reflecting on his career: “I’ve done a good job overall. Obviously, there are things I am not happy about. I wish I had a couple more games to play. It happens. I have to look at the positives. Like the doctor said, I’m super lucky. It could be way worse than it is. It’s only three months.”
  • Unfinished buisness?: “It would have been nice to complete that game, see how it turned out. Playing those last few games, seeing how I could have done and the team could have done. Obviously, I’m going to miss it. There’s nothing I can do now.”
  • On it sinking in: “It’s not an easy time but I don’t regret anything. I’m trying to look at it in a positive light and not get down.”
  • On spending Saturday night in Portland with his family: “I didn’t want to be away from family that night — Just drove home, watched the end of a football game like it was any other night. My family and good freiends were very supportive, which definitely helped because that first night would have been very tough if I was by myself.”
  • On how much he plans on being around the rest of the season: “I’ll try to make most of the meetings and I’ll be at every practice. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do.”
  • On what advice he would give to Mansion: “Don’t think at all. Go out there and play. Brock is a super talented kid. Like most QBs, when you start thinking too much, that’s when you start to question your game.”
  • On Jeff Tedford: “I appreciate everything Coach has done. He’s been hard on me, but as a quarterback, he expected the most of me and I expected t he most out of him and me together. We’ve been through a lot. He’s defended me when people criticize me. A lot of people don’t really know what’s going on besides the people playing it.”
  • On sharing an emotional moment with Tedford when he got to the sideline: “When I came off, I knew I was probably done. That’s why I got pretty emotional. I’m a pretty tough kid. I think he knew when he saw me, he knew that I knew that I was done. I felt it was kind of like a thank you, but at the time I was hoping to get back into the game. But I kind of knew.”

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.

  • Bobby

    Classy guy in good times and bad. Wonder how the “fans” that booed him feel now

  • Juancho

    This kid will be successful in whatever path he pursues. He has a pretty mature demeanor which is good.

    I think the lack of press coverage at practices puts me in a position to be confused. On the one hand we hear that Tedford’s playbook and game plan is super complex, and then here Riley’s advice to Brock Obama Mansion is “Don’t think at all”. I hope Tedford changes the crappy closed practices rule. It really is a disservice to alumni and folks like JO.

  • Juancho

    Let me know if you need a hand getting down from your high horse Bobby. Nothing classier than questioning another fan’s fandom. Since you are the official arbiter of fans.

  • Bobby

    Not sure calling out other people for booing a 20-year old means I’m on a high horse. It’s about perspective, which some cal fans unfortunately lack. Do you think booing teenagers and kids in their early 20s is justifiable?

  • Juancho

    You’re booing them during a sporting event. When they are provided with a scholarship to a $40K per year university to play that sport.

    So yes I don’t think it’s the best thing to do. But do I think it’s unacceptable, not really. I guess what bugged me is you taking the opportunity to point “them” and their “fandom” out.

    I think it’s possible to boo Riley during a bad game, with it having nothing to do with him as a human being. I think when people boo the kid they’re actually booing Tedford. Similar to when Braun’s playeres used to get booed in bad losses.

    I’m sure we’ll agree to disagree, but that’s just my stance on it. Like I said there’s nothing to be proud of in booing anyone. But I don’t think it’s something to call someone out on either.

    I always like to remind myself that these kids are on a full scholarship b/c they are elite athletes. Just like some kids are on scholarship b/c they are elite students. If an elite student on a full ride started getting Cs and Ds, I’d boo him whole heartedly.

    My bitterness with the program may be overtaking me and driving me into unreasonableness though. So that is also at play.

  • Juancho

    Actually when you’re on an academic full ride you can’t drop below a 3.0.

  • Bobby

    So booing Riley is justifiable because he only deserves a scholarship if he wins and plays well? And if the point is to show disapproval with tedford, why not just stop paying for season tickets.

  • Juancho

    I did stop paying Bobby.

    I respectfully disagree with you.

  • Bobby

    Still haven’t explained why Riley deserved the treatment some fans gave him. Even considering his inconsistent play, he received an unfair amount of blame for Cal’s struggles the last two years. It takes eleven guys to successfully execute a pass play

  • jabes

    I am glad that Riley cares about Cal Football. Go Bears, beat WSU.

  • Steve W

    Booing may be less acceptable when you are paying $18 for a reserved seat and a club atomosphere exists in a half empty Memorial Stadium. That was Cal football before Tedford arrived.

    The winning tradition he brought to the program also brought higher expectations, $55 reserved ticket prices and a big time atomosphere in the stadium. I heavily booed Riley last year during the USC game and walked out at halftime. I am not really proud of that, but I would also expect that a competitive kid like Riley would have heard those boos and challenged himself to change them. I think that booing can be very carhartic for the fans and sometimes a necessary thing to send a message to the players and coaches.

  • Calduke

    I think Bobby and Juancho need to be booed!!

  • juancho

    I will take the booing as a learning opportunity. And I see that it isn’t a judgement on me as a person but on my performance. Thanks duke.

  • Eric

    Fans rarely “boo” a college player – they boo the coach. When a college player screws up, the fans call for the coach to bench the player. When a play is busted, they boo the coach for stupid play-calling. When an opposing team runs up the score, they don’t boo the players, they boo the coach for lack of class. When a Cal player hits an opposing player hard, we cheer. When we realize the opposing player is hurt, we stop cheering. The initial cheer wasn’t for injuring a player; it was for a good hit.

    Cal fans booed Boller, Ayoob (remember the calls for Steve Levy), Longshore (remember the calls for Riley), and Riley (remember the calls for Sweeney and Mansion). But they weren’t attacking the players (unless your a Philadelphia fan – they boo Santa Claus) but the coaching staff.

    It is pretty obvious.

  • David

    Riley totally sounds like a coach now. Riley for graduate assistant!!

  • thisiscal

    I think it’s great that Brock asked KR to watch film with him.
    There’s no doubt that Riley is a classy kid. I am still a firm believer that Tedford shattered Riley’s confidence. I certainly wish the best for Kevin and I hope that Tedford takes something away from this experience.

  • Kent Wilson

    Booing is not acceptable fan behaviour for college sports IMHO. However, stating that a player is “not very good”, “terrible” and even “sucks” is fair game.

    When I look at Kevin Riley I see a kid who did not reach his full potential as a QB. In fact, he never seemed to improve after his freshman season. While he made a bonehead play during his first start…he also showed flashes of brilliance on that final drive during his first game. He was also displayed some outstanding QB play during the bowl game vs BYU. But his 2nd season was plagued with him constantly looking over his shoulder after each play because Tedford played QB roulette game with Riley and Longshore. Riley’s 3rd season was extremely disappointing because of his inconsistency…either he reached his peak talent level and it just wasn’t that high or the coaching he received was not helpful. Either way, Riley’s performance legacy was one of a below average Pac-10 QB.