Cal and Stanford kick off their respective football seasons today free of quarterback controversy.
One reason: Cal coach Jeff Tedford and Stanford's Jim Harbaugh like the look in their starting QBs' eyes.
The look? In football jargon, it is called "eye discipline."
Both Cal's Kevin Riley and Stanford's Andrew Luck apparently are quite adept at shifting their eyes and disguising their intentions. That can only help in a season when they'll be relied on more than ever to fulfill bowl ambitions.
Accuracy, arm strength, footwork, throwing motion and leadership are traits typically touted by coaches about their quarterbacks. So when Harbaugh threw out the "eye discipline" term this week regarding Luck's offseason strides, it triggered an insightful -- that's right, in-sight-ful -- discussion among coaches and quarterbacks on both Bay Area campuses.
As a former NFL quarterback, Harbaugh qualifies as a credible witness in terms of analyzing quarterbacks. In Luck, he so happens to have one of the nation's most touted. Luck led the Pac-10 in passing efficiency as a redshirt freshman last year.
"To my eye, he's throwing the ball better than before his (late-season) finger injury," Harbaugh said. "He's stronger, more accurate, his eye discipline is ..."
What Harbaugh said next is a mystery. Check the Hoover Institution archives. Words followed, but he lost us at the "eye discipline" term. It sounds so Stanford-esque.
Harbaugh defined the term (minus a beer stein) as a quarterback's eyes being where they're supposed to be pre-snap and post-snap.
Translated further, Luck's eyes will not be wandering into the stands to check out coeds today when Stanford hosts Sacramento State. Same goes for Riley when Cal faces UC Davis for the first time since 1939 at the construction zone known as Memorial Stadium.
When Luck sat down at Monday's media round-table chat, he acknowledged his familiarity with iDiscipline, to put it in Apple Computers terminology. He worked on that aspect this spring with Stanford wide receivers coach Pep Hamilton and offensive coordinator David Shaw.
"They put me in position to make my eyes look at the right reads against the right coverages," said Luck, who suffered a broken finger in the regular-season finale against Notre Dame and missed out on Stanford's first bowl game in eight years, a 31-27 loss to Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl.
As for Riley, Tedford said: "Eyes aren't a problem for him. He knows where he's going. He's seen every blitz there is at this point. That's not an issue with him. Where he has really improved are his feet and his throwing fundamentals."
Riley said that when he's played poorly, his eyes stuck too long on his No. 1 receiver while hoping in vain he'd get more open. Thus, if a receiver is running a 12-yard route, don't bother looking at him the first few yards at risk of tipping off the defense.
"Eyes are very important from the get-go. You can't be staring where you're going with the ball," Riley added. "You've got to work on your progression and peripheral vision."
Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed said he first scrutinizes receivers' routes before spying on the quarterbacks' eyes, noting: "The quarterback will take you the final step where you want to go."
Not if those quarterbacks are savvy. Tedford explained that quarterbacks with poor eye discipline will drop their eyes quickly, indicating they're uncomfortable in the pocket or unaware of what they should see.
"Neither one of those (traits) fits Kevin," Tedford added. "Kevin is comfortable in the pocket and he knows what he's looking for. If his eyes come down, it's because he's getting pressure somewhere that he needs to get out of."
Yep, we can relate to that pressure, at least when our wives catch us ogling others from afar. Only quarterbacks are allowed to have wandering eyes. They better be disciplined, too.
UC Davis at Cal, 1 p.m. CSNCA
Sacramento State at Stanford, 3:30 p.m., CSNBA
San Jose State at Alabama, 4 p.m., No TV
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