Glenn Dickey wrote a piece yesterday on Cal’s fall from grace last season and the changes made to address that fall. For the most part, Dickey seems to agree that Cal addressed those causes for concerns I spelled out in my first post, particularly the arrival of Cignetti and the new receivers. The most interesting part was about the QB1 controversy:
“I wish people would think of Nate as a warrior who was trying to do everything he could to help us win, but instead, it seemed everybody was blaming him when we lost,” said Tedford. “He’d be on campus and some pimple-faced freshman would come up to him and tell him he was a bum. Nate probably would have liked to haul off and hit him but he knew he couldn’t do that.”
Tedford is correct in calling the criticism by some segment of Cal fans as over-the-top. That same treatment did in fact end Joe Ayoob’s career. (Though, he still got his Cal degree.) But, what Tedford doesn’t seem to recognize is the criticism of his stubbornness.
Twice now Tedford stuck with a quarterback that was clearly performing below par (.e. Ayoob and Longshore). He certainly had no problem pulling Reggie Robertson for Aaron Rodgers in 2003. And, vice-versa in the upset of USC that year. Since then, in perhaps an emotional attachment to his recruits, Tedford has latched onto his annointed leaders too long.
What’s most puzzling about this go-around is Tedford does not seem to recognize Riley’s superior play last year and Nate’s poor second-half performances:
“Writers kept throwing up statistics like the number of touchdowns thrown in the fourth quarter and the number of interceptions, but there was more to it than that. Against UCLA, Nate was throwing very well against just about the best defense in the country when he threw that bad interception in the fourth quarter (returned for a touchdown). After that, he was intercepted twice more but those were just long passes he was hoping might connect.”
Coach, I would accept that explanation if it wasn’t for Longshore’s TRENDLINE. It wasn’t just one game where Nate disappeared in the second-half, Nate has struggled after halftime more often than not over his entire career at Cal. Maybe he tries to do too much. Maybe it’s just a matter of receiver’s running the wrong routes. Maybe it’s karma for not going on his Mormom mission. Or, perhaps there is fire where there’s smoke.
I am not saying definitively that Cal has to start Kevin Riley. And, I understand that Tedford is not going to throw Longshore under the bus publicly. But, I do think Coach has misinterpreted Nate’s second-half statistics. And, it doesn’t seem like Riley has received enough praise for what he did accomplish, even if it was in a loss to Oregon State and a comeback bowl win over Air Force.