Nov. 12, 2002
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into the Bears' game vs. Arizona. The Bears face the Wildcats at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Comments on QB Kyle Boller's development: He's done an excellent job of preparation. He really studies hard and is playing very unselfishly in that he is not worried about his stats. He gets rid of the football and puts the team in good situations. He has thrown a lot of good balls and has had some dropped balls, so his stats should probably be better. He's doing a great job of preparation during the week both mentally and physically so it is great to see him have some success.
It's a situation where I think he has rededicated himself. We've done some things with his mechanics that has helped him be more efficient as a passer. With the mental part of the game we've tried to help him understand what the concepts are and how to be a quarterback. When you see him now, he slides instead of taking hits and throws the ball away when he needs to. He has become a smarter quarterback and I think that has helped the team stay in positive situations.
Are you more confidants in the rushing game now?: I believe that we weren't patient enough with the rushing game in previous weeks. If things weren't going well we just kind of abandoned it. Arizona is going to make plays and we are going to have to be patient with the run game. Joe (Igber) did a nice job with it last week and the offensive line did an excellent job of opening holes. We just need to be more patient with the run, if we don't get a yard or two, we just need to keep banging away.
If you win the next two games it would be one of the best turnarounds in the history of the NCAA. Is there any appreciation for that at this point?: When all of that is said and done we'll see what happens, but right now it's just about Arizona. That's all that matters to us. They will be coming in here very hungry and we're going to have to play our best to be successful and that is all that we really care about right now. My main thing is to make sure the players are happy and that they are having fun playing football again. It's a great thing to know that they have accomplished so much and that the seniors that are leaving here can go out on a positive note. That is the most fulfilling thing in my eyes.
Is Arizona a little scary in that they haven't won a Pac-10 game yet?: They have been close and they are very explosive on offense and can make plays on defense. We are going to have to be on top of it. Bobby Wade is a great player who can beat you on special teams also, so our special teams will have to come to play. We need to concentrate on just worrying about us. We've talked about it all year, worrying not so much about who we are playing, but how we play as a team. We have to continue to strive to play our best and we still haven't done that yet.
Have you always liked to spread the offense around?: We've tried to incorporate everyone and find some match-ups and formations that can kind of shake guys free a bit. Tom Swoboda has had a very good season. He is probably our most improved player. I think the most catches he'd had in the past were probably six or eight, but he is somewhere in the 30s right now with six or seven touchdowns. He has really stepped up big for us and that has helped the offensive production.
The running backs are incorporated into the passing games, the tight ends aren't just going to be used to protect, and the fullbacks catch balls out of the backfield. We try to use everyone and not just let them focus and double-cover one guy. We try to spread it out a little bit.
What has Swoboda done to make himself a better player?: It just has to be hard work. He caught a lot of balls over the summer, through the spring. I think probably the practice reps of actually throwing him the ball in practice and the route running have been the biggest things. He understands better on how to run routes, which is the proper foot to cut off of, and how to hold his hands to catch a ball. Those types of things that have helped him, and his route running has really become much more efficient in separating him from the defenders.
Has the team realized its goals with its sixth win, ensuring at least a .500 season?: I don't remember ever saying that was a record (6-6) we would shoot for. I think we've discussed that we are going to take one game at a time and take care of the little things and then the big things would take care of themselves. Am I happy that we have six wins? Yes. I am happy that we have six wins, but the season is not over. We can't be satisfied with six wins by any means. Our biggest goal now is to take care of the game this week and win our seventh.
Do you worry about your pass defense at all going up against Arizona and Bobby Wade?: Any time that you get a receiver like that, like Shaun McDonald, or any of the big time guys in the conference, you just have to contain them. It's very rare that you are going to stop them completely. They got loose a few times the other night on some big plays against us and Bobby Wade has the ability to do the same things. We're going to have to do our best to contain him and double-cover him and change up the coverage schemes on him. They are going to do things to get him open. With those great receivers, they put them in positions and motions and formations to get them open. They don't just stand around and run routes. They manufacture ways to get them the ball and they are guys that, once they get the ball, they are very dangerous. Bobby Wade has the ability to make some big plays.
On how to play Arizona QB Jason Johnson: I think the key anytime is to put pressure on the passer. You can't be fooled by their run game because as soon as you pin your ears back and get up the field they are going to run draws on you. You still have to be disciplined and take care of your assignments. The key to stopping Arizona is to contain the passing game.
Comments on Jonathan Makonnen's contributions: He really has given us a third receiver on our three-receiver sets, which helps us be fairly balanced. His ability to come in and learn the offense right away, each week he is getting a better feel for things. It was unfortunate that he dropped a few balls last week because that is unlike him, but he came back and made some catches in the end. He has allowed us and given us the ability to have a very competitive wide receiver group. He's done a very nice job of being the inside receiver for us. He is physical and he blocks well and he has played injured all year long. He is really, really tough and a great addition for us in the passing game.
On McArthur's play lately: He has been playing in our three-receiver sets. It's just that the coverage hasn't really allowed for him to catch certain balls. With the two-receiver stuff it's been Jonathan (Makonnen) and LaShaun (Ward) and McArthur comes into the three-receiver game. It hasn't been a factor of whether we need to get him the ball or not. Sometimes he is a primary receiver and sometimes he is not, depending on what the routes are. It's just worked out that he hasn't had a lot of balls go his way.
On the consistency of the offensive line: I have to attribute that to Coach K for strength and conditioning. When you look at how Scott Tercero has made strength improvements all through the season. That is almost unheard of as most people are just maintaining. The strength and conditioning have been there. I think we have just been very fortunate because sometimes things happen where no matter how big, or fast or strong you are there are certain accidents that can happen. Jonathan Giesel is really the only one that has had to miss some games, so we've been very fortunate.
On how much fun this team has had this season: I truly believe they have. Maybe I'm naive, but I see our team as a team that doesn't get too caught up in wins or losses. One way or the other they really enjoy competing. I think they enjoy one another, I think they are enjoying playing as a team. Obviously success helps that, but I think they are really looking forward to the Arizona game and then the Stanford game. I think that they realize that the opportunities are limited. There are 24 seniors on the team and I think they realize that their time is short and that they enjoy every opportunity that they get. They practice that way and play that way.