BERKELEY, Calif. – California quarterback Kevin Riley has become adept at ignoring criticism about the way he plays. Even as an increasingly frustrated fan base has called for coach Jeff Tedford to make a change, Riley has remained resolute.
It paid off Saturday.
Riley passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns, Shane Vereen continued his march up California’s career scoring charts, and the Golden Bears bounced back from their most lopsided loss of the season to beat Arizona State, 50-17, on Saturday.
“I’ve grown pretty strong over the past few years just ignoring everything, good or bad,” Riley said. “But coach told us last night that there’s Cal alumni, Cal people, questioning our heart. That’s the biggest criticism you can have. We just wanted to go out and play and show everybody that we do.”
None of the Bears have taken as much heat as Riley.
He came under fire after throwing two costly interceptions in Cal’s 48-14 defeat at USC a week ago and didn’t do much early against Arizona State to change things. He twice overthrew open receivers deep and threw two short passes behind his intended targets.
Riley eventually found his rhythm, throwing a 4-yard score to Keenan Allen and a 52-yarder to Marvin Jones.
Tedford stood by his senior quarterback after the USC game and said Riley would remain the starter the remainder of the season.
The strategy worked against the Sun Devils, who hadn’t played since beating Washington on Oct. 9, 24-14. Riley completed 19 of 28 passes and did not throw an interception for the third time in four games.