BERKELEY — Cal coach Jeff Tedford spent part of his first weekly press luncheon of the season praising the manner in which fifth-year senior Nate Longshore has handled his loss of the starting quarterback competition to sophomore Kevin Riley.
"Nate has been awesome," Tedford said. "Obviously, the first meeting I had with him, was very disappointing to him. But there is no other person on this team that is dedicated like Nate to team success. He still provides great leadership for Kevin and the offense.
"He has a great attitude. It's really impressive to see a guy take the approach of not going into the tank and feeling sorry for himself but really, really dedicated to the success of this football team."
Longshore is a two-year incumbent as the Bears' starter. In 2006, he became just the second Cal quarterback ever to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season. But he was inconsistent last season, and Riley was terrific in Cal's win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Tedford named Riley the starter last week but said both quarterbacks will play in Saturday's season opener against Michigan State.
"You never want to disappoint somebody," Tedford said. "It's hard when you disappoint somebody. It's emotional for them. It's not easy to do. But he understood what I was saying."
Perhaps nobody is more eager to start the season than tailback Jahvid Best, who was forced to sit out the last three games of last season and spring practice because of a hip injury. Best, who sparkled in a reserve role as a freshman last year, now is the Bears' starting running back and will return kicks as well.
"I'm anxious, a little bit nervous," Best said. "I'm ready."
The Bears were cautious with Best during training camp, holding him out of several practices in an effort to keep him fresh. Best wanted to do more and tried to sneak reps in when he could.
"It bothered me," Best said. "They're looking out for my best interest, but I feel like I need the reps, and I need the drills to make myself better. So I tried to get in there as much as possible."
The Bears will get an immediate test of how the 3-4 defense stacks up against the run when they try to stop Michigan State tailback Javon Ringer on Saturday. Ringer is the third-leading returning rusher in the country after gaining 1,447 yards last season. "He's a great back," Cal linebacker Worrell Williams said. "He has all the physical tools to get the job done. We have a huge task."
The Bears voted center Alex Mack, fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou and linebackers Zack Follett and Anthony Felder as team captains this season. Tedford said other top vote-getters will rotate in as captains for certain games. ... Cornerback Darian Hagan and nose guard Derrick Hill have won starting jobs.
— Jonathan Okanes