Aug. 28, 2002
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into the Bears' first game against Baylor. Cal will host Baylor at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31.
I've enjoyed everything up to this point. It's been great to assemble a staff of quality people and to get to know this team. I can't wait to see them on the field this Saturday.
About the offense
The injuries through camp did hold some key people out of practice, which was a little concerning in that I trust that they were paying attention. But unless they're getting the reps and doing it, it's just not the same. I trust that the guys who have had the practice reps are ready to play. Guys like LaShaun Ward and John Giesel seem to be mentally ready to play.
About being a head coach for the first time
I don't think I am more nervous ... I am always very nervous no matter what role that I am in. It's not so much nervousness as being anxious. My concern is always that the players are prepared - that we've done a good enough job as coaches that we're preparing them so they can achieve their full potential. As far as being a head coach, I haven't been more nervous about that. The one transition that will be new for me will be being on the sideline. I'm not used to standing on the sideline. I'm used to doing everything from the pressbox. Seeing the game from that angle will be a little new and I'm sure that there will be a transition there. We'll find out on Saturday. The game management as a head coach comes a little more into play than it did as an offensive coordinator. There are more situations of game management that I will have to be aware of.
On the team's confidence going into the season
I believe that it's no secret that when we first got here the confidence was very low ... as well it probably should have been. You don't go through a 1-10 season feeling very good about yourself. There have been a lot of bridges gapped since then and we can get it done. They feel good about themselves and they feel good about the team as a whole. They are working together very well, the attitude is great, and they understand that it's a team game. I think the attitude has changed tremendously from the first day that we arrived.
About the expectations for this season
I really don't look to the long term. I look one day at a time, one week at a time and that's what we're going to focus on. We're going to focus on being as prepared as we can be week in and week out. Playing hard, playing smart, being disciplined and having fun (which you've heard me say a million times). If we take care of the little things, the wins and losses will take care of themselves. The long-term issues have to do more with recruiting, not so much with what we have right now. Recruiting is an ongoing part of the whole situation. But right now, these seniors don't want to hear that we're playing for two years from now. They want to be able to play their best right now and that's our job as coaches to get them prepared to reach their potential every single week.
On the Pac-10 Conference
Each week in the Pac-10 it can go either way. The games are so close, within a touchdown I would think. For us to win back-to-back championships at Oregon, we must have won 10 games in the last minute or less than a touchdown. Playing Cal in the past, I know that we were afraid to play Cal because it could go either way. Before last year, it was pretty much that way. Without a doubt, parity in the league is there and you just have to find a way to get over the hump. When the games are close, you have to believe and be prepared enough to win the close games. If you're a team that believes in what you're doing, believes in one another and all three phases of the game are solid then you can come out on top.
About the wide receiver rotation
Chase Lyman is not ready. He has the finger and the hamstring which are both still affecting him quite a bit. LaSuaun Ward is back. Geoff McArthur, Jonathan Makonnen, Vince Strang, David Gray and Burl Toler will be the top six receivers. Each of these guys will be up and ready to go. The rotation will be our top 3-4 and the other guys will be spot players.
How important are the first two games?
They're huge for a lot of reasons. Our situation is to play our best and to win. I realize the importance of having fans in the seats, but I don't sit around and worry about that's why we have to win the games. We need to win these games because we need to win them for ourselves, our program, our players and the season. These kids deserve some good things to happen to them and that's why we need to win. I think it's important for us to be successful and for us to play well. For us to play to our potential is what I am looking for. Whether that means a win or a loss, I don't know. I'm looking for us to play well, to play smart, not to turn the football over, to get turnovers and not to take needless penalties ... we're looking for execution. To sit around and worry about winning and losing is not something that we do a lot of.
On the cornerback situation
Jemeel (Powell) is back to his old form. He's done a nice job through camp. The big key with Jemeel is if something happens badly that he's going to be able to bounce back from it. There will be setbacks throughout the game. The key is how do we respond to setbacks. The other corner, (James) Bethea, is playing well. Harrison (Smith) is doing a nice job. The defensive scheme allows us to mix things up enough so that the corners are not left out on an island - that they have help. There will be times that they have to cover man-to-man, but it won't be like that the whole game. There will be other times that they're going to receive help.
On team depth
Depth is a concern. Without a doubt, the depth of the defensive line is the strongest spot on our team. I feel like there are good young players that will step up when called upon. They might be young and there might be some growing pains, but there are some good young players. They just haven't had the opportunities or the repetition to become solid players. I don't think that there's a lack of talent. It's just that they're young - we have a lot of freshmen and underclassmen that are being thrust into the fire. Each position is different as far as depth is concerned. The defensive line we feel very good about. Coach (Ken) Delgado has his own philosophy on how he is going to rotate the d-line. He's going to let them play until he feels that they're getting gassed and then he'll make a rotation. He's not going to rotate them every series ... he wants to make sure that they get the feel of the game. He will rotate those guys as he sees fit.
On the play calling
We (George Cortez and I) are going to call plays together. I'm not going to call all the plays, we're going to call plays together. We'll see how it goes but I imagine that we continue to do so all year long.
On the running game
I think our offensive line is doing a great job. Our fullbacks and tight ends have done a nice job in blocking for the run. Our two tailbacks, Joe (Igber) and Terrell (Williams), are solid players. They possess the ability to run, the ability to block and the ability to catch the ball. Size is not an issue with these two. Joe is stout enough to be able to protect. The only thing you worry about with size is if they can take the pounding in the Pac-10 and if they can pass protect when the backers are coming. Joe has enough strength to be able to protect ... coach (Ron) Gould does a great job with him fundamentally.
On the wide receivers
I think that our receiving core right now has as much speed to do the things that we did at Oregon. The tailbacks are the guys that were guys that, when they broke into the secondary, could break the 60-yard run. Our receivers at Oregon weren't any faster than the receivers that we have here right now. We had to sustain drives at Oregon the same that we will have to do here. We have enough speed to get behind people. The issue is making sure that we catch the ball when we do get behind them. If we have to drive the ball, we'll drive the ball. There will be enough times where we can get people deep, and we'll take our shots deep. I'm not concerned about having to put together an extra long drive.
On the offensive line
Some of the schemes have helped them quite a bit. It took them a while to master that, but I think they've done a good job of that now. It hurt a little through camp not having them work together because there is so much communication involved on the offensive line. It really helps to have them practicing every day next to one another so that they can get used to the different looks and they can make gestures or sounds to one another and communicate that way. I think they are very solid. Mark Wilson is one of the best tackles in the league. Scott Tercero is a very talented player. Ryan Jones has gained a lot of weight at center to where he's now more physical inside. Chris Murphy, at the right tackle, has done an excellent job. He's got good feet and can run block. All those guys are very athletic and they can move. I've been pleased with the offensive line.