Present is Past is Future

Posted by: Avinash on Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Regardless of all the games on the field, I sense that the big battle this year is about something more than just mere games. The battle most of our fans will have is internal, one about grappling identities between what they think is possible and what they believe is possible.

Fans that haven’t tasted ultimate victory for decades (or ever) are like desperate housewives–they can’t quite come to grips with what they have now and always look toward the promises on the horizon. What gives promise to what is new is what comes next. Always looking to the future we are, ready to reward the impatient and the reckless.

After the sobering experience of last season, Kevin Riley provides fans with the sunny optimism they so necessitate from their football world at its very end. In a university known for its rebellious nature, Riley seems to embody Blue and Gold through and through. Even that play had tinges of “screw it, if I get this done I’m going down in Cal history”. It’s something that endears people to his ability to quarterback because he didn’t shrink from the moment, something that Longshore has been accused of doing.

We were able to forgive him for that play, because not many of us watching thought we’d have been in that position ten minutes ago. It was a rookie mistake, a player lost in the moment, Charlie Brown trying to steal home. And although we called him a blockhead at the time, it was hard not to feel sorry for him. But Charlie Brown had lost 930 ball games before that. For Riley, this was numero uno.

Watching Nate Longshore, on the other hand, provided fans with a sense of impending fatalism. Fans know his numbers, they’ve had two years of him, we already expect things to happen with him and to him. While we’d like to stand by him, we find ourselves anxious by the possibilities he offers and the questions he leaves unanswered. Is he capable of more than what he’s showing? Where’s the consistency?

The sad thing is that Longshore is often only as good as his teammates. When everyone is harmonizing, when everyone is working toward victory, then Nate looks like one of the top six quarterbacks. But like a computer, a college football team requires every part to function, and a system quarterback is bound to the constructs. If something isn’t programmed properly, things begin to malfunction, and the solutions take forever to debug. Whether it be an injured ankle or missed assignments or turnovers.

We’ve only seen Riley in flashes, but you get the sense that he elevates his teammates with his plays. What Longshore does is plug into the system like the most efficient component you; Riley transcends the system with his ability to spread his confidence to the teammates around him. Both are efficient parts to the Cal quarterbacking situation, with one’s smarts and the other’s guts. Each will be playing a role, which could turn the controversy into pleasantry by the time this season is done.

Uncertainty looms over everything. But it isn’t tenuous or burdening, it’s legitimately exciting. One can only contemplate the possibilities.

EDIT: I actually wrote about this before Tedford named his starting QB. The words still ring truer than ever as we enter the last weekend of the college football offseason. This is one weekend buzzing with opportunities.

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