Oct. 4, 2005
Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his weekly press conference Oct. 4. The Golden Bears travel to UCLA Saturday, with kickoff set for 4:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl. The game will be televised nationally by TBS and can be heard on the Cal Football Radio Network (Flagship: KGO AM 810, San Francisco).
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Talk about this year's UCLA team.
"They are very good and are very explosive. They have a big time tight end Marcedes Lewis a great tailback Maurice Drew, a quarterback who makes good decisions and a big, physical offensive line. You can tell they are much more comfortable this year with their system."
Discuss the Bruin's star tight end Marcedes Lewis.
"Down the stretch they will chuck the ball to him on the screen plays. He is a big part of their screen game. He catches the ball very, very well. Then once he catches the ball and gets into open space, he is very difficult to tackle one-on-one. He is strong with great lower body strength. He also has excellent speed and great agility. If you can keep him corralled inside he is tough enough to tackle, but if he gets in the open field he is exceptionally tough to handle. When you have a tight end that can get down the field and who can break away from linebackers, it creates a great match-up for them. If you drop down safeties to be on him to try to get better match-ups, that can leave you vulnerable in other places. When you have to put special attention on tight ends it opens up things elsewhere."
Where you at all skeptical when Justin Forsett's tape was presented to you so late in the recruiting process?
"No question. When we saw the tape, we thought there had to be something wrong here. I told coach (Ron) Gould to call the principle, call everyone at the school to find out what this kid is all about. There has to be something missing because he is too good on tape to not be highly recruited. As we did our investigation everyone loved him. He is an unbelievably great young man. He is so respectful and such a great kid. He is a diamond in the rough, someone who slipped through the cracks. We are very, very fortunate we were able to find him."
What has he shown you as a runner?
"He has unbelievable balance. He can run full speed and spin without missing a stride. He runs so low to the ground and always keeps his feet moving. He is tough and works so hard every day. If there is anyone who he reminds me of him it would be Barry Sanders."
Will his success affect how you handle the running game?
"We are just going to try to keep them fresh. If Marshawn (Lynch) is in there and gets a little gassed, we will get him out and put Justin in. It just reaffirms that our depth at running back is pretty strong and there is not a lot of drop off when anyone comes out."
Talk about UCLA running back Maurice Drew and his ability on kickoffs.
"When you bottle Maurice up, he is hard enough to handle between the tackles, but now when you get him in open space, when people are trying to cover lanes and one-on-one in the open field, it is almost impossible to tackle that guy. He can make you miss and he will find the crease. He has such great speed and will not go down with arm tackles. You have got to put your body on him in order to bring him down. To tackle someone on special teams is a little more difficult because you are spread all over the field. That is why he is so dangerous."
Why has Tim Mixon performed so well on punt returns?
"Tim has very good vision and quickness. His first few steps are very, very quick. He may not have the overall speed of a Reggie Bush or a Maurice Drew, but he is very quick and can accelerate. A lot of it is, if you can break the first wall then you have something going, and he has a knack of utilizing his blockers well. Anytime you have a return that is successful, you have to give a lot credit to the people who are blocking. Our guys have done a good job of being in position and using good judgment."
With UCLA averaging 42 points and having an explosive offense, what are the key things you have to do defensively?
"Eliminate the big play. Make them earn everything they get. Coach (Bob) Gregory always talks to our defense about limiting the explosion plays. Whether it is big runs or big passes, it is important that we limit that."
Has the team reached its potential defensively?
"I would probably say no to that because we can always get better. There are things we can always improve, but I think they are playing very, very well. There is no question about it. They haven't allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters and are really hustling to the ball. The secondary is playing well, our linebackers are flying around and our defensive line is playing physical. There is always room for improvement, but they are doing a good job."
How does UCLA's defense look?
"They're an experienced defense that has been together for a few years. They have a lot of talent with two very good, veteran linebackers. It seems like (Spencer) Havner and (Justin) London have been there forever. (Jarrad) Page at safety is real physical. Dennis Keys is also a great athlete. They have a lot of confidence in their corners as well. They are very, very well coached and do a lot of multiple formations to keep you guessing. It is a good group."
How well did the Washington game prepare Joe Ayoob for a hostile environment?
"I think Joe has grown into being used to that now. I think going to Washington and being on ABC, that type of stuff, was a great experience for him. We have played in front of big crowds at home, so that has been good. I think in the beginning that was something he had to get used to. I think he is now more comfortable, but this will step it up a notch. From what I understand the game is close to being sold out, so there is going to be a great crowd there. It is going to be one of those games. I told the team this when we met on Monday, 'This is why we play this game.' It doesn't get any better than this - two Top 20 teams playing one another in the Rose Bowl in front of a near-capacity crowd. It is pretty exciting."