Here’s the article from the Daily Cal.
A few facts to point out before I begin: (1) Tedford knew of the true injury when it happened, (2) Tedford admitted that he realized that Longshore’s injury affected his ability to move around in the pocket, (3) Tedford asked Longshore many times if the injury affected his 4th quarter performance and Longshore said that it didn’t, and (4) Tedford still started Longshore despite Tedford acknowledging that Longshore’s injury affected his immobility.
Alright, what does this all mean?
Let’s start with #1. JT knew of the injury when it first happened but lied. Okay, so what? Coaches lie all the time. Why’d he lie? So that if Longshore played, then other teams wouldn’t realize the extent of the injury. Yup. It’s that simple. That’s why they also tape up both ankles, so the defense (if they can’t remember) can’t tell which ankle is messed up. So when Longshore is in a pile, the defensive players have a 50/50 chance of choosing the right ankle to twist and contort in a purposeful effort to further injure Longshore. I know it sounds malicious and mean, but it happens. All types of crazy stuff goes on in piles. Remember in 2003 when we played U$C? Remember Echemandu saying to the refs and the media after the game that the $C players were grabbing his balls and stuff in the pile? On one particular play you can see Ech coming out of the pile holding his crotch in pain and going to the refs to complain. Don’t remember that? Trust me, it happened. So the point to take away here: JT lied to protect Longshore’s health should Longshore play again.
Okay, #2. JT acknowledged that the injury affected NL’s mobility. Well, at least we know that JT wasn’t blind. We all knew that Longshore was less mobile because of the injury. A few bold Cal fans began proposing that perhaps JT didn’t realize that. Well, if you thought that, you were mistaken. So the answer that JT knew it affected NL’s mobility yet NL still started begins the obvious question… which we’ll get to in #4.
But #3, Tedford asked Longshore if his 4th Quarter slump was a result of his injury, Longshore said no, Tedford concurred and that was that. This fact has multiple issues to discuss: (a) Was Longshore’s 4th Quarter slump the result of his injury and (b) shouldn’t Tedford make the decision himself and not just ask Longshore’s opinion (which might have been biased)?
So (a) - was NL’s 4th Quarter slump the result of his injury? Longshore said no. Tedford agreed. In fact, Tedford said “I think it’s more a case of a guy trying to be too perfect, a guy trying to get things done and maybe trying too hard.” I have to agree with JT. If you watched the games closely, you could sort of see that Longshore was taking bigger gambles by throwing to covered WRs. In games when we were down, and had to pass to score and win, the game was on Longshore’s shoulders. He knew this, and tried to come through when needed. The thing is, when you know that the game rests on your shoulders you begin to do too much. You begin to think the others can’t do it, and only you can. You have to take big chances to win. This is what Longshore seems to have felt. It’s very similar to Brett Favre. In fact, maybe they should call it Brett Favre syndrome. As good as that guy is, he throws wayyy too many INTs because he tries too hard. Same deal with Longshore. Obviously, the ankle affects his mobility but I think if you carefully watch the 4th quarter of the past few games, you’ll see the Longshore mistakes are more a product of him trying too hard against tough circumstances (QB pressure and blitzing) than Longshore merely throwing a bad ball because he can’t push off his right ankle.
This sort leads me another subtle point. A lot of people have immediate concluded that Longshore’s injury has affected his performance because the two have coincided with each other. Coincidence doesn’t always mean causation. And in this case I don’t think the injury was the majority of the cause.
Okay, and (b) - shouldn’t Tedford make the decision regardless of Longshore’s opinion? Yes.
But just because Tedford asked Longshore for his opinion, doesn’t mean Tedford used that information to make his decision. If you think that he did you’re making assumptions. Maybe did Tedford did ask Longshore, but Tedford already knew the answer. But asking your QB is picking their mind. You want to see how they feel about things. It’s about respect. Giving him the chance to see the truth. And if he doesn’t, then you can come in and set them straight. In this instance, Longshore’s statements matched what Tedford thought so no biggie. No big deal that Tedford asked Longshore if his slump was a result of the injury because Tedford could have (and more than likely) already knew the reason.
EDIT: Okay, I missed a point in the Daily Cal article. Tedford DID let Longshore make the decision on whether he should start or not. Okay. This I will admit, in my opinion is a mistake. Surely you can ask your QB his opinion, but as many other writers have pointed out, most guys would say anything to continue starting because it hurts to ride pine, and they think they can do better and succeed. Tedford should have made the decision on who to start himself, and not have left it up to Longshore. I think Jon Wilner wrote that this shows JT’s loyalty to his players. Which is his greatest asset and maybe also his worst. I would more or less agree with that statement. But let’s also get another thing straight. While Tedford did allow Longshore to make the decision, Tedford was okay with having Longshore start. If Tedford truly thought that Longshore wasn’t capable of starting, then he wouldn’t have asked Longshore and would have started Riley. Right? So what does this mean? We’ll get to it below.
Finally, the biggie, #4 - Tedford still started Longshore despite knowing that Longshore’s injury affected his mobility. Most fans are really upset about this one. It’s understandable, but I think most fans are sort of overlooking a big possibility.
Most Cal fans who wanted Riley would say: "it’s obvious that Longshore’s injury is the result of his 4th Quarter slump (not entirely true), and Riley gives us a better chance to win." Hmm… really? Riley gives us a better chance to win?
Okane has a big time gold nugget on his blog, here’s what he conveyed: "Tedford went on to reiterate what he has said all year, that although the injury may have an effect on Longshore’s mobility, it’s not enough to knock him out of the lineup because of his intangibles and grasp of the offense."
What does this mean? It means this: Longshore with bum ankle > healthy Riley.
So for all the Riley lovers out there… sorry, gonna have to wait another year unless Longshore leaves.
As we all know, or should know, "grasp of the offense" = experience. Tedford loves having experienced QBs in his system. The playbook is huge, the defenses are complex, defenses mask coverages, experience slows the game down. Longshore has much more experience, a better grasp of the offense, and calmer nerves because of his experience. That’s why Longshore still played instead of Riley.
And about Riley. I’m about to say some stuff, and don’t get me wrong, I like Riley and I think he has big time potential to be as good as Aaron Rodgers but let’s get a few things straight. As a friend of mine once pointed out, our opinion on Riley is based off of essentially two escaped sacks, one short TD throw, and four deep throws (which included the long TD pass to Hawk). Period. People remember this deep huge clutch throws against Oregon State but forget that Riley wasn’t quite "in the zone" for everything prior to that. He was very hit and miss. More miss than hit to start the game. So my point here is this: we’ve only seen Riley for 1 game, and he only had one good quarter. We all love him. We all think he’s the next Aaron Rodgers. BUT, our opinions of him are very much biased and overly focused on that last drive. So let’s come back down to Earth a little bit on Riley.
And a lot of people have been criticizing Tedford for saying he doesn’t have the foresight to see that Longshore isn’t the QB to lead us to an undisputed Pac-10 Championship or a BCS game. Maybe Longshore isn’t the guy, but do you really want to criticize Tedford? Face it. We’re all couch QBs and coaches. Even me. We don’t know horse manure compared to Tedford. And do we really want to say that Tedford is mistaken? Maybe Tedford realizes that Longshore isn’t the guy, but realizes Longshore still gives us a better chance than Riley. I think most people fail to make that realization.
Remember what Tedford’s quote means? Here’s the quote again: "Tedford went on to reiterate what he has said all year, that although the injury may have an effect on Longshore’s mobility, it’s not enough to knock him out of the lineup because of his intangibles and grasp of the offense."
It means: Longshore with bum ankle > healthy Riley. It means although Riley beats Longshore in the physical attributes department, Longshore beats Riley in the mental attributes department and does so by a bigger margin than he loses to Riley in the physical attributes. Longshore with bum ankle > healthy Riley
Learn to live with it. Let’s not question Tedford. As much as he’s a God, he can also make mistakes, but I don’t think this is one of his mistakes. A friend of mine reminded me that Tedford is a guy who has put multiple college QBs into the NFL (how they perform in the NFL is another matter and hardly any fault of Tedford’s). Tedford KNOWS what he’s doing when it comes to QBs. He knows who has it and who doesn’t. He knows who gives us the best chances at winning. We’re just fans. We only see the QBs in games. We don’t see the QBs in practice 4 times a week. Let’s stop thinking we know more than Tedford. Trust the man. In Tedford we trust. If Tedford thinks Longshore with bum ankle gives us a better chance to win than Riley, then let’s go with it.