Photo Credits: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Longshore completed eight of 11 passes before the injury, including a sweet 31-yarder to true freshman DeSean Jackson that sounded the canon on Tightwad Hill for the first time in the 2005 season. Longshore went down late in the 2nd quarter with Cal clinging to a 7-3 lead over the pesky Hornets.
|Lonshore on the Wagon|
“Nate broke his fibula,” Coach Tedford reported after the game. “It is extremely unfortunate because he was playing very well. He will be out for a long time.” Team officials announced that Longshore would miss at least three months.
Making matters worse, Tedford’s other top signal caller, highly touted junior college transfer Joe Ayoob, failed to complete a single pass in his debut. It would be hard to imagine a more inauspicious start to a Cal career than what Ayoob produced on Saturday.
His first pass – into triple coverage – fluttered in the Bay Area breeze like a battered old bird before falling to the turf. He proceeded to airmail and undershoot wide-open Cal receivers on his next nine passes, ending the day with a big fat bagel in 10 attempts. Ouch.
“He could have had some first-game jitters,” Tedford said. “We certainly had some open receivers and he missed them. More importantly, he did not throw the ball with any confidence or with anything on it. He was floating balls out there. You can get away with that in high school but not at this level.”
With a little over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Tedford had seen enough and sat Ayoob down. Cal finished the season opener with third-string Steve Levy who played fullback last season.
What did Tedford say to Ayoob before replacing him? “I told him ‘Steve is going in,’” the coach said. “We didn’t have a long conversation. I am sure he is disappointed but he has to hang in there. He has to learn from it and bounce back. We are not giving up on him by any stretch. Joe is very resilient and now is the time for him to overcome this challenge.”
Sparking a potential quarterback controversy heading into Cal’s Pac-10 opener next week at Washington, Levy released a perfectly tight spiral that wideout Noah Smith hauled in on the dead run for a 46-yard touchdown to end the third quarter. Tedford plans to announce his starting quarterback on Monday after practice.
Despite the fact that Tedford’s status as the top quarterback guru in the country will be tested, there were some bright spots in the Bears lopsided victory.
|Marshawn Lynch TD|
Sophomore stud Marshawn Lynch racked up 147 yards on 24 carries in his first college start, including several shimmy-shake runs off tackle in which he channeled the late, great Walter Payton.
And in a new development since last season, the Golden Bears special teams earned praise after the game, and rightfully so. In addition to his TD catch, Jackson blazed by the Hornets on a 49-yard punt return “to the house” in the fourth quarter. Tom Schneider legged a 49-yard field goal. Punter/kickoff man David Lonie pinned the Hornets deep all day with booming balls. And Justin Forsett delivered a bone-crushing crack-back block to spring Tim Mixon for twenty extra yards on his 39-yard punt return.
Cal’s defense held the Hornets to one field goal. The 65,398 fans that attended marked the biggest season-opener crowd in school history. And as Tedford said after the game, any win is a good one this early in the season.
Making the Grade:
Offense: Longshore and Levy delivered, Ayoob was awful. Lynch, young receiving corps, and O-Line played solidly. Grade: B+
Defense: Only gave up one field goal; flew to the ball all day. Grade: A
Special Teams: Hitting on all cylinders in best overall performance of Tedford era. Grade: A+
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