BERKELEY — Cal broke into scout teams for the first time this season near the end of Thursday's practice at Memorial Stadium, and redshirt sophomore Kevin Riley walked up behind center Alex Mack to take the snap with the first team offense. With that, the 2008 season began to take shape.
Cal coach Jeff Tedford named Riley the team's starting quarterback Thursday, ending an intensely scrutinized battle with fifth-year senior Nate Longshore. Tedford said Longshore will still play in the Bears' season opener against Michigan State on Aug. 30, but for now Riley is the team's top signal-caller.
"I felt like he's had a good camp," Tedford said. "He has the ability to make plays. We're confident with both of them. We felt like Kevin can make some plays. We feel great about Nate's experience and knowledge and his playmaking ability as well."
Tedford didn't rule out the possibility of playing both quarterbacks in later games.
"It's so close it's going to be a continual evaluation," he said.
Riley won the job by coming on after an inconsistent first week of camp. He got his first opportunity to play with the first team on the fourth day of camp and struggled. But a few days later, Riley appeared to find his groove and has had a slight edge on Longshore ever since.
"My first day with the (first team) was probably my worst practice of camp," Riley said. "After that, I stopped thinking so much and played football. It continued through camp and every day I felt like I just kept getting better and better."
In 2006, Longshore became just the second Cal quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season, leading the Bears to a 10-3 record and a win in the Holiday Bowl. But he was inconsistent last season, partly because of a sprained ankle he suffered midway through the year.
After the regular season, Tedford announced there would be an open competition for the quarterback job for 2008. Riley stated his case by relieving Longshore in the Armed Forces Bowl and completing 16 of 19 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the Bears' 42-36 victory over Air Force.
"It's an honor to be named starter, especially after what Nate has done at Cal," Riley said. "We're in good hands having two great quarterbacks here. It's a dream come true to play Pac-10 football. I have to take advantage of it. I have to play well."
Longshore declined to be interviewed after practice, but Riley said he and Longshore have a good relationship.
"Nate and I are here to support each other," Riley said. "I have so much respect for the guy. I'm going to look for his help and he's going to look for my help when he's in the game. It's all about making the team better."
Notes: Tedford also announced Thursday that walk-on freshman David Seawright had won the kicking job over senior Jordan Kay. Seawright will handle field goals. Kickoffs are yet to be determined. "We felt like Seawright has great upside," Tedford said. "We're going to continue to evaluate it. Once he got his bearings, he was very consistent kicking the ball. It will give us a little more range." ... Tedford said the starting receivers probably won't be decided until the day of the opener. Redshirt freshman Michael Calvin appears to be the only sure thing. Sean Young and LaReylle Cunningham ran with the first team Thursday. ... Freshman defensive backs Marc Anthony and Josh Hill practiced with the second team and either could play as a true freshman, Tedford said.
Contact Jonathan Okanes at firstname.lastname@example.org.