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Spelled Backward, It's 'Boo Ya'

Cal quarterback Ayoob hears about it from fans after a 98-yard passing day in loss to USC.

November 13, 2005|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

BERKELEY — His resume says Quarterback Maker, but California Coach Jeff Tedford's current building project isn't going so great, which wasn't the only reason the Golden Bears got blown out, 35-10, by USC, but might have been the most noticeable.

Look at the quarterbacks Tedford has produced, either at Cal or as offensive coordinator at Oregon and Fresno State: Kyle Boller, Aaron Rodgers, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Trent Dilfer.

Joe Ayoob might have a chance to join their ranks, but he has a long way to go, judging by the boos that rained down on him from many of the blue-clad Cal fans in the crowd of 72,981 Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

And Ayoob, who was yanked halfway through the fourth quarter after four of his passes had been intercepted, admitted he was hurt by the adverse reaction.

"The hardest part is the fans booing you," he said. "That comes with the territory. They love you or they hate you."

Mostly they hated him, judging harshly his nine-for-19 passing performance that added up to only 98 yards, 43 of them in the second half after USC had jumped out to a 21-3 lead.

Ayoob, a transfer from San Francisco City College, has attracted a lot of negative vibes recently as Cal has lost four of its last five games. He has completed less than 50% of his attempts this year, with 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Tedford isn't sure of his next move, with Cal playing archrival Stanford this Saturday. He could stick with Ayoob or go to backup Steve Levy, whose 19-yard run set up Cal's only touchdown against USC.

"We're going to have to think about it," Tedford said.

One thing is for sure, Tedford said: Ayoob's mental state is fragile right now, and they're going to have to go back to the basics in practice.

"He didn't throw the ball with any confidence," Tedford said. "... Real tentative, and we have to somehow find a way to instill his confidence. He needs to set his feet a little bit better....

"Is he shellshocked? Quite possible. I mean, I don't care how tough you are, at some point it's only human nature to be a little bit shook up because of this type of thing."

Ayoob was the state junior college player of the year in 2004 after he passed for 3,679 yards and 35 touchdowns, but this is a far more difficult level at which to succeed, and Ayoob's adjustment has slowed to a crawl. Ayoob said he was feeling the heat and was out of his comfort zone, something he can usually find if he completes a few passes early. That didn't happen Saturday.

"There's no excuse for a bad game at all," he said. "You miss passes early, you come back. The guys are really positive. They have confidence in me, I just have to get my own confidence back in myself. I can control it. I guess it has been a little down."

Freshman receiver DeSean Jackson said he and his teammates have no problem with Ayoob, even if the fans might have other ideas.

"We're not going to blame nothing on Joe," he said. "The biggest thing for Joe, or whoever the quarterback is, is getting confidence back."

Said Levy, the other quarterback: "I don't think this team has any confidence issues."

Clearly, the other quarterback feels differently.

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