Sept. 8, 2009
BERKELEY - California head coach Jeff Tedford spoke with Bay Area media Sept. 8 at a media luncheon prior to the Golden Bears' Sept. 12 game vs. Eastern Washington (2:30 p.m.).
On whether he was surprised by how well his team played against Maryland:
I wasn't surprised but I was happy. I was happy that we didn't put the football on the ground. Every time you come out for the opener, you never know. Just the quarterback-center exchange can be an adventure. So I was really pleased at our ball security and I was pleased at our effort. So yeah, for the opening game, I was happy. That's not to say that we don't have areas to improve on, but I was pleased with our performance.
On the performance from quarterback Kevin Reilly:
Kevin played really well. I was happy with his decision-making, the way he ran the offense, utilized the clock well, ran the 2-minute drill real well before halftime, threw the ball away, took sacks when he needed to, so I thought he was very efficient.
On the athleticism of the Bears defense:
Being in the 3-4, we have a lot of depth at linebacker, and we may be more athletic and more deep than we were last year. Last year we played a lot of those guys. A lot of people think we lost those three guys last year [Zach Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder], which were great players, but we also played a lot of guys - Mychal Kendricks, Devin Bishop, D.J. Holt - all those guys played last year and now their experience is showing up and we do have some depth there as well. And they are very athletic, they can run.
On the new corps of linebackers coming off their first game:
They played well. There are areas where they can improve, with their fits and the discipline and things like that, but they played hard and they ran well, and I think they're going to just keep improving every week.
On whether this group of linebackers is faster than those of previous years:
We are, I think, [faster] overall. Our speed has improved there. All four guys can do a nice job of getting to the football and they have good instincts. I just think as they see things more and more, and their experiences there, that they have the ability put themselves in position to make a lot of plays.
On sophomore defensive lineman Ernest Owusu, who recorded two sacks vs. the Terrapins:
Ernie's really improved, even since camp started. The first week through camp, Ernie was still getting it figured out, then the latter part of camp, he really made a strong move. I think he's doing a great job with his hands. Coach [Tosh] Lupoi's done a real nice job with the whole D-line as far as being able to get into blockers and shed blockers. Ernie's playing a lot faster now. I think he was a little bit paralyzed in the beginning, maybe with over-analyzing things or whatever, but now he's playing fast and he's physically got all the tools. It's just a matter of him figuring it out and playing fast.
On Owusu's weightlifting prowess:
I haven't been in there to look at the board lately, but I do know that he was way up in the 500s when he was squatting, so he's very strong.
On whether the wide receiver position is the most improved on the team this year:
It is definitely improved, yeah. I think the experience, their work ethic, their attitude, their knowledge in the offense has really helped them to play fast in every area. You look in the run game how they're hustling down the field. The first run of Jahvid's [a 73-yard touchdown], you have [Verran] Tucker leading the way, and that's 60 yards away, and he was on the backside of the run. Coach [Kevin] Daft has done a really nice job of getting those guys ready to play, preparing them fundamentally as well as what their alignments and assignments are.
On whether the receivers are feeding off of each other:
They are. They're having a lot fun and that's great to see. They're excited for one another. It's not all about me, me, me. It's about team. I was happy that everyone had a little bit to do with the game. A lot of people contributed this week - I think we had 10 different guys catch a ball, something like that [nine players caught at least one pass]. So it's nice when that can happen. But they're playing hard and doing a nice job.
On any concern for a letdown against Eastern Washington:
We definitely talk about it. Our preparation has to be a lot about us and not so much who we play. How do we improve? How do we take the things that we didn't do well last week and improve them? That's really our goal no matter who we play. We respect all of our opponents, so this is mainly about us, about each week trying to reach our full potential and preparing that way throughout the week, and then going and cutting it loose on the weekend.
On what can be learned against an opponent like Eastern Washington:
Every opportunity is a learning experience. There's going to be something that comes up in this game, whether it be execution, whether it be alignment/assignment, whether it be balls on the ground or not, or opportunities to create turnovers - every game, every play, there's a learning experience. Every time we take the field, that's what's happening.
On the type of game he anticipates this weekend:
Don't really know. It's a situation where they have a really good receiver [Aaron Boyce , really good quarterback [Matt Nichols], good running back [Taiwan Jones], so as always, it's going to be important for us to stop the run and pressure the quarterback and try to create some turnovers. That's what we always try do defensively. And offensively, the same thing. We need to establish the run, protect the passer and make plays in the passing game. And protect the football, have ball security. Those are things we go in every week trying to get done. How they play out, I don't know until after the game.
On whether a psychological challenge exists to get the team ready for Eastern Washington compared to Maryland:
I hope not. We talked about this on Sunday in the meeting and I don't think so. I think we're mature enough, we've been down this road before and there's enough examples out there of, when you're not ready to play, what can happen. I told our team on Sunday that we need to be mature enough to understand that it's not who we play, it's how we play, and we have to go out every day, every week to play our best. There's enough motivation there to do that. I have a lot of confidence in this team that it is mature enough and experienced enough to realize that.
On his impressions of Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones, a sophomore from Antioch, Calif.:
Just by what I saw on the film. He had a big run last week [87-yard TD on his first carry]... and then he ended up with 123 yards after that. He's a solid player. He catches the ball well, has good balance, he's a solid player. So we're going to have to gang-tackle him.
On evaluating kickoffs, which were below expectations last weekend:
We will re-evaluate that. Number one is we need to help get Giorgio [Tavecchio] better. We need to look at his fundamentals and his mechanics, and try to improve him for games. We know he has the ability to do it because we see it in practice all the time. He's been kicking the ball three yards deep in the end zone, and then we get in the game and it goes to the 15. So there's something there that we need to help him with. We will evaluate that, plus we will bring the other kickers into the mix as far as evaluation's concerned there.
On Vince D'Amato, who made his first collegiate field-goal attempt along with all seven PATs vs. Maryland:
He's solid. Vince is very solid, he's very poised. All his kicks are very true. They're high, they're straight. I was really happy with his mindset in the game and his execution.
On other targeted areas for improvement:
Every area. I think you need to go into every area. There's not one person that played perfect. We need to continue to evaluate that. We debrief afterwards, we have our meetings and we look at them with open eyes and open ears, and make sure that we're paying attention to the things we need to improve on. Each and every player can get better with something that they need to do. Everyone, not just one group or just one player or just one phase of the game, but everything needs to improve.
On the short-yardage capability of fullback Brian Holley:
I thought he did a real nice job [against Maryland]. But Will [Kapp] was like that, too. I think we've been fortunate with our fullbacks over the last few years of having guys that could carry the football in short-yardage situations and block well and catch the ball out of the backfield, and I thought Brian Holley played a real solid game for his first time starting.
On Jahvid's Best performance and whether it lived up to its billing:
Yeah, Jahvid played well. I thought the offensive line blocked real well and Jahvid was Jahvid. He got in the open field and did some nice things, hit the holes with a lot of confidence. The first play right there, there's a crease, he put his foot on the ground and he hit it. That's the thing about him: you give him just a little crease and he's got the ability to get through it. He played solid and Shane played solid, so again, having those two guys, being able to complement each other, I think it helps keep them fresh and we're very fortunate to have those two guys.
On Best's health following the game:
On the play of left tackle Mike Tepper following a year away from football:
He played well. I wasn't concerned about it at all. He's an experienced guy, he's done a nice job of keeping himself in shape and understands what we're trying to get done. He's a great leader out there for us. He played real well, [Mitchell] Schwartz played real well, both tackles played real well and Matt] Summers-Gavin, for his first start at the left guard, did a great job as well. But again, everybody needs to improve something and we need to continue to work toward that, but Tepper played solid.
On the status of Spencer Ladner (patella) and Sean Cattouse (concsussion):
Cattouse we expect to clear in the next day or two and Ladner got an MRI this morning. I'm waiting for results to find out what's wrong with him.
On running backs coach Ron Gould and his influence on Cal's success at the position:
Ron is consistent, first and foremost. Ron coaches everyone the same. He coaches them hard. The expectation level is very high. The attention to detail is very high. He has them very prepared mentally and physically. He drills them on everything. He leaves no stone unturned when it comes to getting those guys prepared. Every single one of them - I don't care if you're a Heisman Trophy candidate or fourth guy on the depth chart - you're going to practice the same way. You're going to run to the end zone every time, you're going to finish, you're going to secure the football or you're not going to play. He's done a great job of creating a lot of expectation at that position, high-level play at that position.
On how good Shane Vereen could be if he got the majority of the workload at running back:
He'd be as good as you see him. He's a good player. He catches the ball, pass protects well, can run between the tackles, has the speed to get outside. Shane's solid and that's what I mean - to have those two guys [Best and Vereen] back there, the way they complement each other, we don't fall off when Shane comes in the game. We've been very fortunate over the years to have a tandem of tailbacks and we have the same thing this year.