Riley makes return home with No. 6 Cal
EUGENE — Kevin Riley was quarterback at Beaverton High School when he went to a football combine in the San Francisco Bay area and caught the eye of California coach Jeff Tedford.
Now a junior, Riley returns to his home state as the starter for sixth-ranked California on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
It's been a bumpy ride for Riley, who wasn't on Cal's radar when Tedford noticed him at that combine in 2005.
He had already gotten attention in his home state. The son of Beaverton high's coach, Riley passed for 2,580 yards his senior season.
"He had a lot of zip on the ball," Tedford said.
The coach went back to Cal and looked at film, liking what he saw. And it ultimately led to Riley selecting Cal over both Oregon and Oregon State.
His first two seasons, Riley competed with Nate Longshore — at times successfully, and other times not so much.
Riley was a redshirt freshman in 2007 when he made his first start (Longshore was injured) against Oregon State. Although he completed 20 of 34 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns, he made a judgment error in the final seconds that cost Cal the victory.
With the Bears trailing 31-28, Riley orchestrated a drive that took Cal down to the Oregon State 10. But instead of throwing the ball away to set up a game-tying field goal, Riley was tackled inbounds.
His sophomore year, Riley started nine games but the competition with Longshore continued.
This season Riley is coming into his own as a starter. He has thrown five touchdowns with no interceptions and ranks atop the Pac-10 in passing efficiency.
He admits that Saturday's game against the Ducks is going to be a bit different.
"It's just fun going back there and playing in front of family. A lot of family gets to go to this game, it's just fun getting to see them there," he said.
Cal wide receiver Jeremy Ross said he believes Riley will use the family factor to his advantage.
"I feel like it will make him that much better because he knows all his family and friends will be out there," Ross said. "He'll use it as motivation."
Riley, a junior, has had a shot at Autzen before, back in 2007. It was a brief appearance.
"I think I had two handoffs. I remember it being loud. I was a little nervous, for sure. It was fourth quarter, something like six minutes left, tied up. It was probably the loudest part of the game," he said. "I just remember yelling at the huddle and being a little nervous."
BABY BLOUNT: Suspended running back LeGarrette Blount missed last Saturday's victory over Utah because he had just become a dad. His girlfriend gave birth to a baby boy last Thursday.
Blount returned to the team earlier this week, where he played on the practice squad and was seen wearing the No. 4 jersey — Cal running back Jahvid Best's number.
Blount was suspended for the season for punching Boise State's Byron Hout in the aftermath of Oregon's season-opener. However, he was allowed to remain on scholarship and practice with the team.
EXTRA POINTS: Cal coach Jeff Tedford was offensive coordinator for the Ducks from 1998-2001. He has a 4-2 record against his former team. ... Cal's defense has allowed just 51 yards rushing over two games. ... The Golden Bears have outscored opponents 146-41.
... The Ducks are playing the third of a four-game homestand. They're also playing the third ranked opponent in four games this season. ... Ducks running back LaMichael James made his first career start last weekend against Utah and rushed for 152 yards, breaking the school's single-game record for a freshman.