Oct. 26, 2004
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into Cal's match-up with Arizona State. The Bears and Sun Devils kick off at 7 p.m. PT Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
How do you feel you matchup with Arizona State?
The match-ups are very similar. They have a very good offense, a very explosive offense on their side. (ASU quarterback) Andrew Walter is a quality quarterback who can make all of the throws. He's very explosive. Defensively, they fly around, they're very athletic, and they're physical up front. They have a very good linebacking core. Very good tacklers. It's a good matchup.
Can you talk about how far your secondary's come this season?
They've done a good job. (DB coach J.D.) Williams has done a very good job of preparing the secondary. Our safeties have really matured and come into their own. I think a lot of that has to do with just understanding the system and the schemes and being in it for two years now. So they have some experience in it. I think that helps. The corners understand where their help is. And their fundamentals and techniques have improved, not to mention they've improved physically as far as speed.
Harrison Smith was getting beat up a couple years ago, not only by the players but maybe by the fans, as well. He's come a long way hasn't he?
Yes, he has. That's what corners have to do. When you're left out there, from time to time, there's going to be times when you get beat and you're subject to criticism. But you have to have thick skin and confidence in your abilities, which he does.
Do you expect this to be a high-scoring game like the UCLA game just because their offense is so explosive?
Well, you hope not. You hope going in you don't run into that. You never know. (Arizona State) is very explosive. If we can limit their big plays, it would help us ... make them move the ball and drive the football. They're very good at getting the ball down the field and (Walter) is very good at getting the ball deep. That's critical for the game, to limit the big plays.
On the importance of freshmen WR Robert Jordan, Noah Smith and Sam DeSa. Will they be used a lot more?
Absolutely, those are our guys. That's our receiving corps now. The great thing about it is that they're all excited. Last week, they got in the game and made some plays. You could see a bounce in their step and that they had fun. Now, they got their feet wet a little bit. They're anxious to get back in there.
There's so much talk about, if USC does this and Cal does that the rest of the season ... how do you keep your guys out of the hype?
I think our guys have been pretty good at that. We continue to just talk one week at a time, all the time. We don't ever look forward. I don't know how you hold that stuff away from them. I don't know about that. I just know how we address them. I think that we're mature enough and experienced enough to know that it's one week at a time. If we take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.
With that in mind, this is one of your biggest challenges of the season coming up?
There's no question about it. As I told (the players) Monday in our meeting, each week is just magnified. It's down the stretch here. Every game is critical - as they all are - but as you go through, the games in October and November are the ones that usually stick in your mind. These are the ones that we really have to be ready for down the stretch here, no question.
What's the difference, if any, between Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers and ASU's Andrew Walter?
I think the difference probably is that Aaron is a little bit more mobile. He can pull it down. You rarely see (Walter) pull the ball down and run with it. As far as efficiency in throwing the football, they both have all the throws. Just watching them, Aaron's (throws) probably have a little bit quicker release, Andrew probably a little bit longer motion. Again, they're both very accurate, long-ball guys who can put some heat on it when they need too. They're both very good players.
On the improvement of DE Ryan Riddle
When he came here, he was goal-set to reach his potential. He knew he had sat out for awhile. and he wasn't where he wanted to be. He knew when he got into the weight room and started running and doing those types of things and working with (defensive line coach Ken) Delgado that he would improve. So he's turned into the player now that he wanted to be. He can run pretty well and he's got a high motor. It goes hard and fast and he plays hard every single down.
How does not having offensive coordinator George Cortez (eye surgery) change the alignment of coaches you might have upstairs?
It doesn't change at all, we just have an empty headset up there. We will have our GA up there that talks and watches some fronts. That's the one thing you really miss when coach Cortez is not there - just the communication from the box on what happens, say, if we can't see (a certain play from the sideline), what happened here or there.
On the perception of Cal's offense:
We're going to be as efficient as we can and do what we need to do to move the ball and control the football. Time of possession is key. I think when you work in a system to compliment each other on offense and defense, part of that is ball control and time of possession. If you can keep your defense off the field, that's the best defense there is. To control the football and to move the ball methodically down the field - running it, throwing short, taking shots, whatever. I don't know what the perception of our offense is.
On the play-making and uniqueness of linebacker Wendell Hunter:
Wendell is a very intense guy. He doesn't say a lot, but he's very intense. It's great to see the way he's playing. He flies around the field, does a great job and he's a great competitor. Everyone has tremendous respect for him.