Kyle Reed: Quarterback in Waiting

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Sophomore quarterback Kyle Reed is competing with redshirt freshman Kevin Riley for the key backup spot behind starting quarterback Nate Longshore. We spoke with Kyle Thursday to get his assessment of his progress.

Reed graduated from McClymonds High School in Oakland where he was coached by Alonzo Carter and led an offense that was heavily dependent on the running game. Nevertheless, Reed came into the Cal program with enormous physical talents, able to throw passes with both velocity and accuracy - and to handle the ball very smoothly in handoffs to running backs.

The complexity of the Cal offense has been a challenge for him, however, especially learning to read defenses and to make the quick decisions that are required. In this effort he has been helped by his very quick release - he seems to only have to flick the ball in order to put in on a line 15 to 20 yards downfield.

He is listed on Cal's 2007 roster at 6-3, 205, down from 220 last year - and is now an inch taller. With another year of maturity, this very athletic quarterback will be very effective when mobility is called for. As the photograph of Reed and his father accompanying this article makes clear, Reed is increasingly intent and focused on achieving his ambition to eventually be the lead quarterback at Cal.

We spoke to him after practice last Thursday.

How do you feel about your reps today?

I feel pretty good today though I made some minor mistakes, but we can work those out. I was confident in my abilities, and it came together for me today.

You led the second drive of the day with the second team (against the second team defense), mixing passing and running in a 14-play effort for a touchdown.

Yes, that was nice, but I still have a lot of work to do, there's a lot of stuff to improve on. I can't be content with this; I have to keep working.

What has changed for you since last year?

I'm just more dedicated, you know what I mean? I've been going through a lot with this process and I've just stuck to what I had to do, staying focused. Coach Daft is the key to my situation, you know he sat down this summer and worked with me for endless hours.

Endless hours?

Yeah, honestly, honestly. Even on his time off he would come to the office and sit down and play checkers (*) with me and go over different things. I feel like I owe it all to him, he's really done a wonderful job with me and Kev (QB Kevin Riley), in terms of our knowledge of the game, and learning this stuff, so we have a good grasp of it. I owe a lot to coach Daft and the whole coaching staff for standing behind me. I just keep on pluggin' away, I have just not ever given up, and I hope it pays off in the end.

Coach Tedford will soon be making a decision on the #2 quarterback slot - it will be a tough decision.

Yes, a tough decision. Hopefully what I did today will help that along.

You have not yet had a chance this fall to practice football at full speed.

Yes, this my first scrimmage where I got a lot of reps and I felt like I was pretty well prepared for it in terms of knowing what was going on out there. I felt like it came together for me.

It seemed you were working last year to learn to read defenses - is that aspect of your game improving?

Of course, and like I said, sitting down with Coach Daft and going over different things and just plugging away mentally like I have ever since I've been here - that's been my biggest challenge and I'm trying to make that my biggest strength.

How's your weight and speed doing?

Actually, I lost a lot of weight this year to bring down my 40 time. Compared to last year I was about 220-225, now I'm down to like 212 and I ran a 4.5 this summer, so I've been trying to improve my game both mentally and physically.

We saw a couple of very nice passes from you today to downfield receivers moving toward the sidelines - thrown while you were running long rollouts.

Those (kinds of passes) are just some things they feel like I bring to the offense and I feel like I am good at - I can throw the ball on the run, I'm a mobile guy. But I feel like I can also make good decision in the pocket - and I hope people don't (no stereotypes?) - yes, exactly, no stereotypes. I think I've got good pocket presence and I can play the mobile game, so - it's just coming together for me and I hope it pays off.

What one area would you say is your biggest challenge?

Like I said, it's always going to be the mental, you can never stop learning in this game, especially in Coach Tedford's offense. You can always have the God given talents like throwing and running, but in terms of understanding the concepts that they present to me, that's what I'll continue working on.

Are you getting good support from your dad (who was hovering nearby as this interview was conducted)?

(With a big grin at his dad) - Oh yes! Both my dad and my mother too - and my coaches - they believe in me.

Are you staying in touch with Coach Carter?

Oh, yes, of course, I talked to him before the scrimmage today; he brought his guys (the BHS football team) over to watch. He's at Berkeley High right now, and I wish him the best of luck.

Thanks, Kyle, we'll look forward to seeing you on the field this season.

(*) Playing checkers: Coach Tedford has famously used a checkerboard to teach quarterbacks to recognize defensive backfield formations - and to learn to audible to new plays when those players shift positions as the team comes to the line of scrimmage. Coach Daft has evidently picked up that technology from Tedford.

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