Oct. 13, 2009
BERKELEY - California head coach Jeff Tedford and junior quarterback Kevin Riley addressed the press during the weekly Cal football media luncheon held Tuesday in the Hall of Fame Room at Memorial Stadium prior to the Golden Bears' Oct. 17 game against UCLA at the Rose Bowl (12:30 p.m. PT). Following are selected comments of what each had to say.
HEAD COACH JEFF TEDFORD
On the rainy and windy weather's effect on practice this week
"Thankfully we practiced on Sunday so we got a lot of stuff done, especially in the kicking game. We'll cut practice down a little bit. We're still going to go out and get our team stuff done, things like that, but a lot of the individual - some of the kicking game that we'll normally take 20 minutes, we'll go 10 because we practiced it a lot on Sunday, so that's already in. So we'll have 19 periods today, but yeah, we're going to go out and have a practice."
On whether wet, windy conditions for practice limit what can be done in preparation for an expected sunny Saturday at the Rose Bowl
"We're going to practice [everything in the rain]; now, how it looks, I'm not sure. It's pouring outside and it looks like it's windy, but we have to go and make sure that we're assignment-perfect and we get all that down. As far as what happens to the ball - whether the ball's perfectly thrown or whatever - we're not going to get too frustrated if that's not the case. I think it's assignment-type things is what we're looking for.
On concerns for injuries in bad practice conditions
"I hope we don't get hurt. We aerated that field a couple of weeks ago, so I was hoping that the drainage would be a little bit better. I haven't seen it yet, but we have to practice, we can't not practice and we don't have anywhere else to practice, so we're going to practice."
On the team's bus departure Thursday evening and whether rain could affect the travel itinerary
"I heard it's supposed to rain today and tomorrow. I didn't think Thursday was an issue. It is what it is. We're going to do what we're going to do. You can't control the weather, so we're going to get through it, we're going to practice as best we can, we're going to travel as best we can and we're not going to worry about it."
On how traveling to Pasadena by bus affects the Bears' preparation and recapping how the plan to bus came about
"I don't think it affects our preparation negatively whatsoever or we wouldn't do it. Coming off a bye week we've had preparation. How it came about was, we all understand the financial constraints that we're in, and anything we can do to help out the department, and it was a decision made by us all. It wasn't something that was forced down our throat by any means. It felt like it was something that we could help do our part with it. It wasn't going to affect our preparation negatively in any way, and the kids will still go to school on Thursday, so academics is not an issue. We'll practice Thursday the same time that we always practice on Thursday. It's not really any different."
On whether he has ever traveled by bus to a game other than to Stanford in his career
"I'm sure we have - I can't remember. I think at Fresno State we took a bus a couple of times. I don't think so at Cal, besides Stanford."
On whether the team did the things he hoped they would get done during the bye week
"Yeah, we did. We had a really good week of practice. We practiced Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and typically on Thursday that's just set aside for our young guys' scrimmage, but we didn't do that this last week. We had a full practice on Thursday, with 1's-on-1's and things like that, and I thought it was really good. Fast, upbeat - I think the guys left here last week knowing that they'd put in a good work week."
On the UCLA defense, especially its front, and the challenge it presents
"It's another great defense. One of the best players in the conference in [DT Brian] Price - he's really a special player. But it's not just him. They have very good linebackers - the Bosworth brothers [DE Korey and LB Kyle] play very hard and very well. Akeem Ayers is a great, very athletic linebacker. They're a really good defense. [Alterraun] Verner is a great corner. Again, they're one of the top defenses in the conference and they're going to make their plays. I think Oregon scored one offensive touchdown last week, so they're a good defense and we're going to have to execute, we're going to have to be patient, we're going to have to make sure we protect the football and not turn the football over. Again, very good defense."
On whether the Bruins will make stopping the run their top priority
"They are what they are and they've done a pretty good job of stopping the run doing what they do. I don't know that they're going to do anything out of the ordinary. They do a nice job with how they play."
On whether any changes on offense have been made in philosophy or personnel to address production and execution problems the past two games
"None personnel-wise. Each week is different as far as philosophy is concerned. It depends on who you play. If that didn't change, you'd just take the same game plan from last week, you wouldn't have to show up and you just go and practice. You wouldn't have to meet or watch tape or everything. But every week is different, so when you talk about philosophy, philosophy changes from week to week on the schemes that you're going to play and the personnel that you're playing against."
On whether OL Matt Summers-Gavin is expected to return for this game
"Hope to. He's going to do some things today."
On WR Verran Tucker's injury
"Verran has a calf issue, a pretty deep bruise. We're going to have to see how he responds to treatment. Verran is day-to-day."
On the status of WR Nyan Boateng
"Nyan practiced on Sunday and we're going to increase his participation as the week goes on, but he ran some routes on there and he ran a couple of one-on-ones, and today we'll get him going a little bit more. As of right now, it looks like he may be ready to play unless he has a setback."
On P Bryan Anger, who is currently ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in punting
"He hasn't been as consistent as we would like. We all know that he has great potential. It was real windy at Oregon and ... he kind of shanked one that day. And then one against USC, he punted right down the middle of the field, low, that got returned on us. Bryan will keep working at it and get back to the consistency that we need him to play with. He's healthy."
On the UCLA offense, which has had injury and quarterback issues
"I think [QB Kevin] Prince is their guy and I can see why. I think he's a good player - he's very competitive, he's athletic, he pulls the ball down, seems to have a pretty good grasp of what they're doing, so I think he's going to be the guy, at least from all indications. They do a lot on offense - they have a nice package, they have good players, they have two really good tight ends, I think their offensive line is solid. They do a nice job. They can hurt you on offense if you're not real disciplined with what you're doing."
On his team's emotional and psychological state now, more than a week after the USC loss
"There was a lot of disappointment, but the main thing was not to be discouraged. I felt good about our week of practice that we were able to move past it. After the game, of course they were disappointed. But as the week went on, I felt like the momentum built and we were back to ourselves in a couple of days after that."
On whether he has followed fans' negative reaction to Cal's two straight losses
"I try not to read it because I don't think that's beneficial in any way, to tell you the truth. I don't think it's beneficial for our players. I know there's a lot opinions and there's going to be naysayers and there's going to be critics, but it doesn't help anything. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. I don't read it and I hope our players don't read it. It seems like in this day and age - opinions are something that people have had forever as far as sports are concerned, but the availability to get your opinion out there now is so different and so accessible. Everybody is human. If you got the emails that are out there about yourself or whatever, you're human and it's going to affect you in some way, so you try not to read it. I know I try not to and I think it's important that we stay supportive of our players so they can keep their confidence and self-esteem, and not get caught up on everybody's opinion all the time."
On whether he was shocked by the manner in which Cal lost the past two games
"One of the problems was that the first three games, everybody seemed to think it was pretty easy, because of scoring 50 points and so on so forth, things like that. Well, it's not going to be that easy all the time. You're not going to just run through people. You get to conference play, you're playing good teams. You have your opportunity against USC, it's never changed as far as, at least recently, over the last five years, with USC. When you have opportunities in the red zone, you have to make them count. If they don't turn the football over and you don't take advantage of your opportunities, that's a typical USC game. It's not just with us, it's with everyone that plays them. They score a late touchdown, they return a punt for a touchdown, that's 14 points, and we're in the red zone five times and only get three points out of it. When that happens and they don't turn the football over, I'm not surprised because it's not going to be easy. It's going to be a struggle. The first three games had the feel of 'Wow,' [but] it's not going to happen like that every week. There's just teams that are really good and they're going to make their plays, but we have to hang in there. When we have our opportunities, we have to make our plays. We have to make them count."
On who seemed to think things were easy in Cal's first three wins
"I'm talking more about the fans. In the second quarter of our USC game, I felt like our stadium kind of went dead a little bit too, in a tough game. It's important to know that games are going to be very competitive and there's going to be ebbs and flows. We all need to hang in there and we all need to stay focused on what we're doing and stay enthusiastic about what we're doing. That's important."
On whether the bye week came at a good time
"I think it was [a good time]. Time kind of heals some of the wounds and I think it gave us a little bit of time to go back and practice and get our thoughts together and get ourselves back together again before just jumping back into another game preparation-type things. It goes both ways. Sometime you jump into preparation, it forces you to forget about the last game, but I think last week worked really well for us, that we were able to have three really good, hard practices and put a little bit of space between last week's game and get ready for this one."
On whether PK Vince D'Amato is continuing to handle kickoffs
On how much self-esteem the team has lost and how much can be regained with a win on Saturday at UCLA
"There's a lot of football to be played, and to go down and play well this weekend, I think, is important for our team. But again, there's a lot of football to be played. We're 3-2. It's important to go play well and play together, whatever the outcome is of the game. It's important to play well this week."
QB KEVIN RILEY
On the team's demeanor coming out of its bye week
"Optimistic, [ready to] go out there and win a game. Bye week was the most physical bye week I've ever been a part of. We usually have a Thursday where the younger kids get a scrimmage, but this [past] week we practiced against the defense again. Everybody was a little banged up but it was good for us. Going live against the defense, we did a lot of situations, going red zone drills because the last two weeks we haven't been working down there. But just getting ready for the game - we're ready."
On whether he feels they accomplished the things they wanted during the bye week
"Yeah, for sure. Did a lot of throwing. We have more individual time with the receivers and we're going to continue to do that."
On efforts to improve some routes
"Every day we worked on a few routes that are staple routes. We can call them up anytime, we should be able to get a completion on them. The way of route-running and how we were reading it quicker and throwing the ball better on each route was great to see, and it continued even on Sunday's practice. We ran a few of them and it was just real easy and clear."
On whether he has followed the negative comments that haVE arisen during and since the past two losses
"No, I don't, not at all."
On throwing the ball in wet, windy conditions such as those expected for Tuesday's practice
"Grew up in it. I don't think it's going to be raining in L.A. But it's practice, you go out there and play. It'll be fine."
On specific things he worked on during the bye week
"I threw after every day of practice. The balls I am missing, I'm just putting them a little high, but every one is close, I'm just sailing them a little bit. Through that, just becoming more accurate and have receivers make more plays. Worked on it Friday as well during the day off, just putting it in a better spot. Threw the ball well last week and threw the ball well on Sunday."
On what may have caused high throws
"When the pressure is coming and I'd step up in the pocket, I'd release my hand up and it'd come out, just a little too quick."
On whether he must be especially careful against the UCLA secondary
"Veteran secondary, good secondary, but we've faced good secondaries the past two weeks. They're good players all around, but that's not something we're not used to."
On what the Bruins might do to create interception opportunities
"There's some good individual plays made by them. They mix up their secondary but not too much comparable to the last two weeks. This defense doesn't change it up as much. It's more of them making plays and quarterbacks not making the right reads - I don't know that for sure."
On what he feels is the key having watched some of UCLA last week
"We're going to make plays, definitely. We just have to finish and that's what we haven't been doing. Just continue the whole game, make plays, finish, capitalize in the red zone and do what we were doing the first three games."
On whether he feels more pressure than others as the quarterback when defenses stack up against the run and force Cal to win with the pass
"Anytime you have a player like Jahvid [Best] or Shane [Vereen], you're going to have to stop them to win the games. It was like that last year and it's going to be like that forever. It's always been like that for Cal, with the running backs they've had. We ought to make more plays in the passing game, and in the past two games we haven't been doing it."
On any talk on the team about not having won at UCLA recently
"I don't think players really even think about that at all, because all those facts are from previous teams that half the kids on this team weren't even a part of. The last time we played down there I was a redshirt freshman, and I'm one of the older guys on the team."
On what last week was like for him on campus
"I still don't think people recognize me on this campus. It was fine. Definitely more negative because we haven't been playing well, but we'll be fine."
On whether Tedford gives him the flexibility to audible at the line of scrimmage
"Yeah, just depending on looks. It all depends on looks if we're going to change a call or go up to the line of scrimmage with a few calls in mind and I'll make the play call [based] on what the defense is running. I haven't messed up a read yet."
On taking the bus to Pasadena
"We're leaving Thursday. It's just to be extended, kind of like a Minnesota thing, except we're on a bus. It kind of brings people back to high school days, where you have long bus trips. I don't think it will be a problem. I'm going to play some cards probably. That's usually what I do during free time."
On what he got out of a week off from games
"Watched some games again, watched where some things went wrong and worked on that during the week, worked out on Friday. It was just nice going live speed. Usually during bye weeks you don't go full speed all the time. It was nice doing that against the defense. And get a little break, watch some football."