Ayoob needed something to lift his spirits after his 0-for-10 passing debut at Cal, and that boost of confidence happened Sunday after he drove home to Marin County. Cal coach Jeff Tedford was on the phone.
"He called and said he was going with me against Washington and don't worry about it," Ayoob said. "That's kind of good he let me know right away, that 'we know you can do this.' That was a nice touch."
So Ayoob and not Steve Levy will open at quarterback for the Golden Bears in their Pac-10 opener Saturday at Seattle. Tedford believes Ayoob's dismal beginning against Sacramento State was an aberration.
"I watched the tape, and he made the right reads," Tedford said Monday. "I thought it was a difficult situation to throw him into, a two-minute drill. He didn't play to his potential by any means, but that doesn't mean he can't. Everybody has a day like that from time to time, and it was his first time out of the gate."
Ayoob entered the game without warming up in the second quarter after starter Nate Longshore broke his left leg. Ayoob kept throwing theball deep and overthrowing his receivers by plenty. It got so bad that Tedford yanked Ayoob for Levy, who fared much better.
"I'm better than that," Ayoob said after Monday's practice. "That's not going to happen again. Jeff let me know that all the coaching staff and the players have confidence in me, and that I can do it.
Ayoob emphasized that he will use 0-for-10 as a motivational tool, calling Saturday "the worst game of my life." He intimated there won't be anything near an encore.
"It's kind of a test for myself to show everyone I'm not that kind of a football player," he said. "A lot of things that caused the ball to come out the way they did was missed timing on my part, taking the wrong number of steps, rushing the throws. Fixable things."
Tedford also mentioned Ayoob's footwork as part of his problem.
"Joe will be ready this week, and we look for him to reach his full potential," said the coach. "Nobody likes to go through it, but he's a strong kid, and he's very competitive, and he'll bounce back."
Tedford's plan will be to use Ayoob as long as he's effective. Levy will be his backup, and redshirt freshman Bryan Van Meter, not true freshman Kyle Reed, will suit up as the No.3 quarterback.
"Most people who come from a junior college atmosphere have to learn to practice, and to focus," said Tedford. "Joe's a pretty fun-loving guy. Saturday humbled him a little bit. He's anxious to prove that he's better that that, and I'm 100 percent confident he is."
Aaron Rodgers also was a JC transfer. After he went 9-for-34 for 52 yards against Oregon State in 2003, Tedford said he had the same kind of talk with Rodgers that he had Sunday with Ayoob.
Ayoob said he received many phone calls from teammates after Saturday's game, including center Marvin Philip and wide receiver Robert Jordan.
"I have a great relationship with everyone on the team," said Ayoob. "I want to show them that the coaches aren't making the wrong decision."
But Ayoob absorbed plenty of kidding, too, as fellow Bears called him "0-fer." Things got even worse after he returned home.
"I threw my warm-up jacket on a chair and missed," he said, "and my dad said, '0-for-11.'"
BEAR TRACKS: Longshore wasn't the only Bear to break his leg Saturday. Wide receiver Noah Smith, who caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Levy, also fractured his fibula. It happened while Smith was blocking in the fourth quarter, but the injury wasn't as severe as Longshore, who could miss the entire season. Smith is expected back by midseason, Tedford said. ... Wearing a cast on his lower left leg, Longshore watched Monday's practice on crutches after Sunday's surgery. "I've nothing else to do," he said. "This is my family out here." He added that he's not in pain, and his spirits are high. "It was fun while it lasted," he said.