Dickey: Longshore could hurt Cal

There is no one subject more hotly discussed among Cal football fans than Jeff Tedford’s decision to stick with his beleaguered and injured quarterback Nate Longshore.

And, it’s not just the fans who have been disturbed. I’ve heard from a reliable source that many of the players hoped he’d make the shift to redshirt freshman Kevin Riley. I asked Tedford, in an one-

on-one conversation before Thursday’s media lunch, whether any players had come to him directly.

“No,” he said, “that hasn’t happened, but we [coaches] have talked to the team about this, and we’ve also gone over the videos of games to show them what’s happened.”

As a former quarterback himself, Tedford is aware of the reality: Quarterbacks get more than their share of praise when the team wins and more blame than they deserve when the team loses.

“With the videos, we’ve tried to show our team that it isn’t just the quarterback,” Tedford said. “Sometimes, a receiver will fall down and the quarterback gets blamed when his pass goes long. On the videos, we could see that blocks weren’t made when they should have been, that defensive players didn’t fill the gaps as they should have.”

I’m not a Longshore admirer and I’d have liked Riley to play more, too. Tedford said he hopes to play Riley some in the Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force on Dec. 31.

“We’d like to get him some more game experience,” he said. But Longshore will start and any meaningful competition for the No. 1 job will have to wait for spring drills.

Longshore’s play has declined since he was injured in the win over Oregon, the highpoint of the Bears’ season, but there have been many other problems. The defense has seldom played well and the last two games, when they lost to Washington and Stanford, the two worst teams in the Pac-10 Conference, the Bears’ lack of emotion has been embarrassing. The Washington game was the worst I’ve seen by a Tedford-coached team.

One of the big problems this season has been a lack of player leadership. Last season, the Bears had strong leaders on both sides of the ball, with Marshawn Lynch on offense and Desmond Bishop on defense. Players listened to them because, as the saying goes, they walked the walk and talked the talk.

This year, there’s been nobody who could inspire the players when the season started to go wrong. Those who talk to other players aren’t big contributors themselves, so nobody listens to them. The top playmakers haven’t been players who want to be vocal.

On talent, the Bears should beat Air Force, but that assessment could have been made of at least four of the games the Bears have lost. Unless they regain their spirit, they’ll lose again.

Tedford said at the luncheon that he thought his players had been invigorated by the layoff before preparations resumed for the bowl game. It seemed that way to me, too, at a Tuesday practice I witnessed. Though it was pouring rain, players were playing with enthusiasm, running hard through their routines and often shouting with joy as something went right.

Hopefully they can continue that enthusiasm right through the bowl game, and the quarterback controversy can be momentarily put aside. There will be plenty of time for that in the spring.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

Glenn Dickeysports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Officer Nicholas Buckley, pictured here in 2014, is now working out of Bayview Station. <ins>(Department of Police Accountability records)</ins>
SF police return officer to patrol despite false testimony

A San Francisco police officer accused of fabricating a reason for arresting… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Shamann Walton announced that funding would be diverted from the police budget toward the black community in June 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City directs $60 million toward Black community services and housing support

San Francisco released new details Thursday for how it plans to spend… Continue reading

The Stud, The City’s oldest gay bar which is vacating its longtime home at Ninth and Harrison streets after more than 50 years, on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City’s nightlife recovery fund approved but struggling business owners fear relief may come too late

As San Francisco’s nightlife scene approaches nearly a year of a complete… Continue reading

Riordan Crusaders versus St. Ignatius Wildcats at JB Murphy Field on the St. Ignatius Prepatory High School Campus on September 14, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)
State allows high school sports to resume, but fight is far from over

For the first time since mid-March 2020, there is hope for high… Continue reading

Most Read