Sept. 28, 2004
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into Cal's Pac-10 opener at Oregon State. The Bears and Beavers kick off at 1 p.m. PT Saturday at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.
On the three weeks Cal has had off between the New Mexico State and Oregon State games:
Anytime you can have that type of break, it will freshen your guys up a little bit. We do practice very hard and physical against each other, so it wasn't like we were sitting around getting completely healthy. We have a few new injuries, actually. But we had to do that so we didn't lose the edge, the physical part of the game.
Last year, you had 52 passing yards against Oregon State. Is that a sticking point for you for this game?
I don't really look at the yards as much as anything. After looking at last year's game, I thought there were a couple things. We didn't play very well, on one hand. On the other hand, we didn't do a good enough job as coaches of putting our guys in position to make plays. So we will try to improve on both. We'll try to improve upon the plan and we will try to improve our execution of the other things.
Is that one of the few times since you've been here that you feel you've shot a blank?
As I look back at it, I was very annoyed at myself, not my staff. I take the heat for offensive game plans, so there were some things I thought we could have done better. I overestimated our receivers and underestimated their corners. I thought we could have done some more things to help our receivers. They were very good in the secondary, as well. We also didn't execute the things we did have there. It's a little bit of both. When we're not successful offensively, the first place I'm going to look is in the mirror and find out what we could have done better for the kids to put them in a better position.
Last year's Oregon State game was probably the worst game quarterback Aaron Rodgers had. Was that a turning point for him? Is he chomping at the bit to get back at them?
I don't think he looks at it as a revenge factor, that he needs to get back at them. It wasn't really about them. The things Aaron learned about in that game were more about leadership and maturity than any physical skills. Aaron hadn't faced much adversity until then. There was plenty of adversity that day. I think we came away from that game as a quarterback and as a coach understanding what needs to happen from that position as far as leadership, confidence, how he portrays himself to the team. So that was more than a physical thing, it was mental thing.
On whether Cal is looking past OSU to the USC game:
Absolutely not. I know the last two years we've lost to Oregon State. I heard somewhere it's been the last five years. I'm not really concerned with what happened before the last two years. I think our team understands that this is a great football team. Oregon State is very dangerous. They're great on defense. Offensively, if they get it rolling, get hot and don't turn the football over, they can be very dangerous. This is coupled with going into a hostile environment, it's very loud. Absolutely, it's not a game our guys would overlook.
Can you talk about the challenge their defense presents, especially the way their secondary plays?
They get up in your face and challenge you. Their corners are physical, fast, good technicians. Their safeties are physical and can run, and they do a nice job of covering. And when you take those four out of the equation, then they have a physical front and linebackers who can run. They're talented. And (defensive end) Bill Swancutt is one of the top defensive ends in the country. That guy can wreak havoc. He's strong, powerful, fast and he plays with great intensity.
On Cal's three-week layoff between games:
It's been tough, to tell you the truth. After you get going after the first two games, you like to stay after it. The first week wasn't so bad. But last week, you start getting a little anxious. We've been very anxious, and I know our players want to get back on the game field and compete.
On Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson:
While they have turned the ball over, a lot of those balls have been tipped balls, and I'm not sure they're Derek's fault a lot of the times. I think Derek has really, really improved, and his fundamentals and mechanics are improved. And he's throwing the ball well. He has the ability to get really hot on you, as he did last year. I thought he played very well against us last year. He put the ball where it needed to be, and the receivers made the catches. So, if he gets hot, he can make it a long day for you. He's very talented.
Do you have any personal feelings going into a game like this having played for OSU head coach Mike Rile)? You're 0-2 against him. Does it bring out anything in you?
No, not really. Not at all. I haven't thought about that. And to say I played for Mike, I really didn't. I was there for three games or so. I played for his dad more than him. His dad, Bud Riley, was my first coach in the CFL. I have respect for Mike and Mike's been successful everywhere he's been. But this isn't about me or Mike or anything like this. It's about preparing a team to go into a hostile environment and try to compete the best we can to be successful.
How will you change your game plan for Oregon State from last year now that they don't have running back Steven Jackson?
We really won't. We still need to stop the run. Sure, Steven Jackson's a great player, but the back they have now is no slouch and he can hurt you if you're not in there stopping the run and being physical. As in every game, our first objection is to stop the run.
When you don't play in the amount of time you have, what do you lose?
I don't know. We're probably going to find out. I hope not much. I hope that this layoff hasn't caused us to lose any momentum. For a minute, you lose focus, I think, because it's been so long. I'm not going to be naïve enough to say that we've stayed focused for three weeks here, because that's too difficult. I wouldn't expect our guys to be emotionally into this game for three weeks. We didn't even try to be. We practiced against one another, ran our offense and defense against each other and didn't game plan until the latter part of last week. We got in the scouts maybe one day at the end of last week and then this week. It's too difficult to try and stay emotionally involved to play an opponent for that long. I have tremendous trust that our players will get more emotionally involved as we go through this week.
On why the team would be anxious for this week's game.
Not playing a game. You can only practice so much. It's kind of like camp, through the summer time they practice against each other, training and lifting, and there's only so much running and lifting you can do before you need to start practicing and playing. Then you get to camp and you bang against each other for two and half, three weeks, and they get anxious to do something different, to get into competition. So now that we've started competition, we had to revert a little bit to playing against each other again, so I think they're anxious to get to that next phase, which is competition.
Did you get the chance to do anything personal yourself with the downtime?
No, no, we took the time, the free time, to recruit. The last two weekends we went recruiting, that was a positive for us to be able to get out and see some players. Typically through the season, I never get out to recruit because I'm always with the team each and every week. The last two weekends I was able to go watch some high school games.