Kevin Riley is currently in his second year as starter for the California Golden Bears. To say that he's had an up and down start to his Bear career is an understatement. The USC game coming up maybe the biggest game of his career at Cal, in fact it could be the game that determines whether or not he's the starter for the rest of the season.
In my opinion even last year while he was splitting time with incumbent Nate Longshore, Riley didn't do anything that would exactly "wow" you. In fact he had a very hard time completing a high percentage of his passes.
That is one of the reasons why in the bowl game against Miami, Longshore got the start instead of Riley.
When Riley was a freshman he did show a great deal of promise especially after leading the Bears to a comeback win in their bowl game, but since that time he's been mediocre at best.
So, the question is how do the Bears get Riley rolling and back on track to be an above average quarterback? The answer may surprise you.
The Bears need to take a page out of the Oregon Ducks playbook. No, I'm not saying go to the spread offense, although I would like to see Riley run when he is given the chance to.
What I'm saying is that what beat the Bears was a simple game plan. There wasn't anything fancy about what the Ducks were running in their 42-3 thumping of the Bears and let's face it Jeremiah Masoli had been terrible in his first three games of the season, so much so the Ducks fans were booing him incessantly.
Yet, how did the Ducks then thump the Bears? The answer is simple they allowed Masoli to gain confidence in himself by calling simple plays and rarely did Masoli throw the ball down the field.
The Ducks used short passes to open up their running game. Yes, I realize Cal is an offense predicated on the fact that they have a superb running back in Jahvid Best and backup Shane Vereen.
Teams though are going to be expecting that and play aggressively against the run like the Ducks did and if the Bears cannot open up the passing game then they are going to suffer more lopsided losses against good teams like the game coming up against USC.
What offensive coordinator and Jeff Tedford need to do with Riley is do exactly the same thing that the Ducks did to the Bears. That is throw the short passes and let your receivers gain the yards.
Also, the Bears have a pretty big target with Anthony Miller at tight end, get him involved on offense as well. Ed Dickson the Ducks tight end absolutely destroyed the Bears with 11 catches for 148 and three touchdowns.
If the Bears can think simple against the Trojans they have a chance of getting Riley back on track, which will give the bears the opportunity to beat the Trojans.