BERKELEY — Quarterback Kevin Riley made some pretty good reads Thursday during Cal's first scrimmage of the fall. That's because he didn't think about making good reads.
After an uneven start to fall camp, Riley has been coming on, and he says much of that is because he stopped thinking so much.
"There were a few days when I was just overthinking everything," he said. "I was in a funk, and I had to get out of it. I just started playing football again. The past few days have been a lot better."
Riley and Nate Longshore alternated taking snaps with the first-two units, as well as with units that had a mix of different players. Riley was 10-for-16 for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Longshore was 8-for-17 for 78 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"Both of them missed a couple balls you hope they complete," coach Jeff Tedford said. "They didn't have a chance to do a ton of things. A lot of what you evaluate on this day is the mechanics of running the show."
Riley threw a 3-yard TD pass to LaReylle Cunningham on a fade route and added an 8-yard scoring pass to true freshman Marvin Jones. Longshore connected on a 13-yard scoring pass to Sean Young to culminate a two-minute drill. He also was picked off by cornerback Chris Conte on a ball that appeared to slip out of his hands.
Longshore had been outplaying Riley in the competition for the starting job for much of camp, but Riley appears to be closing the gap. Riley said one of his problems early on was perhaps he was focusing a little too much about the battle for the first-team nod.
"I might have been thinking about it a little bit, thinking I had to make a play and may have been forcing it," Riley said. "It's more about just going out there and playing. I've been getting better about that."
Tedford held starting tailback Jahvid Best out of the scrimmage as part of his designed rest this fall, and redshirt freshman Shane Vereen capitalized on the extra snaps. He rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries, while also returning punts and kickoffs.
"Anyway I can help out, that's what I want to do," Vereen said.
Vereen has been hampered by sprained right ankle this fall and re-aggravated it during the scrimmage but was able to return. He said he still feels like "a step and a half is missing" from his speed.
"I can still see there's another gear he can't get to right now," Tedford said. "But I thought he moved pretty well and ran pretty hard."
Vereen also was crushed by Covaughn DeBoskie as he tried to return a punt. DeBoskie drew a flag for hitting Vereen too early and some scolding from Tedford.
"If I was sleeping, it would have woke me up," Vereen said.
Linebackers Worrell Williams (abdominal strain) and Devin Bishop (thumb) and nose guard Mika Kane (ankle) sat out the scrimmage. Cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson suffered a sprained shoulder during the scrimmage, and nose guard Derrick Hill sprained an ankle. Hill was able to return. ... Cal announced the Big Game against Stanford on Nov. 22 will start at 12:30 p.m. TV coverage has yet to be determined.
— Jonathan Okanes