Emerald Bowl Preview: QB Analysis

California and Miami experienced some of the same problems this season at the quarterback position. Miami and Cal needed a quarterback to emerge to add a few more wins to their record. The situations were slightly different because the Bears had a senior in Nate Longshore and a second-year player in Kevin Riley. The Hurricanes had redshirt freshmen Robert Marve and true freshmen Jacory Harris…

Jacory Harris and Kevin Riley will line up behind center in Saturday night's Emerald Bowl. Both will most likely lead their teams for the 2009 season. The Emerald Bowl will be the last college game for Nate Longshore. Robert Marve has been suspended for the second time this season, and he will not participate in the game.

A lot of Cal fans felt that Riley should have been the Bears full-time starter instead of the constant game of musical chairs between him and Longshore. In Miami, for some reason, Marve was the starter even though Harris outplayed him. Hurricane head coach Randy Shannon made it clear at the beginning of the year that Harris and Marve would see a lot of action because the program lacked experience at the position and both players needed to gain in-game experience. Cal head coach Jeff Tedford would have preferred for Longshore or Riley to emerge as the clear starter through their play on the field.

Miami QB Jacory Harris
Photo by CanesTimes.com
Marve threw for 1,293 yards with nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and completed just 54.5% of his passes. Harris threw for 1,001 yards with 10 touchdowns, six interceptions, and completed 60.8% of his passes. Going into this game, Harris will be facing a very good California secondary that creates many turnovers.

He will be relying on freshmen receivers to make plays against an above average cornerback tandem in Syd'Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan. Miami will need their running game to perform at a high level because gaining yards through the air will be hard to accomplish.

Longshore threw for 930 yards with nine touchdowns, four interceptions, and completed 58% of his passes. Kevin Riley threw for 1,360 yards with 14 touchdowns, six interceptions, but completed a paltry 50.7% of his passes. As much as Longshore has been criticized, he has thrown for 50 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in his career.

Many fans cannot stand his bad interceptions, but a lot of programs would have loved his production over the last four years. Cal will be going against one of the fastest defenses they have faced since playing USC. The Bears will learn a lot about their overall team speed in this game. With their inexperience at the receiver position, they will also need a strong ground game to help their passing game get on track.

Miami has experienced some down years lately, but Coach Shannon has a young team with a lot of talent. In two years, the Canes should be ready to once again emerge as a national power. The Bears return their running back combination of Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen and experience at the receiver position. But Riley will be the key to the Bears success.

Riley needs to be one of the top two quarterbacks in the Pac-10 during the next two years for Cal to have a shot at the Pac-10 title. Harris has to be consistent passing threat to opposing defense if the ‘Canes expect to challenge for the ACC title. Saturday night's bowl game will give a glimpse of what may hold for the two young signal callers and their respective programs chances at cracking the top 10 in 2009.

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