Oct. 28, 2008
Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford and several Cal players from the team's weekly press conference. The Golden Bears host Oregon Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. For tickets, clink on the Tickets link at CalBears.com or call (800) GO BEARS.
Can you talk about Oregon's offense, especially their running game?
Very explosive, no question about it. The two tailbacks that they have are great players. One is a big physical guy. Jeremiah Johnson is a guy that can make you miss with great speed. Then, Jeremiah Masoli really is like another running back, back there playing quarterback. They do an excellent job with their scheme. They can come at you from sideline to sideline and create a lot of openings.
What are the advantages of a 3-4 defense against this offense?
I don't know that you are just going to say that being in a 3-4 is going to stop it. You have to make plays, but I think naturally a 3-4 puts more speed on the field than a 4-3 does.
What challenges does Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli present?
They put him in space a lot. They do a lot of reading with him, just like running the option. If you come down and take one part of it away, he pulls it and he is out in open space. Even when he gets in open space, if you have a guy there one on one with him, I have seen more than instance where they have two guys for him and he makes them miss. His is physical. He is fast. He is elusive. He is a really good player.
How is his passing game?
He throws the ball accurately. If they have guys open, he'll hit them. He really does a nice job. He is really a dangerous guy out there.
Are making open field tackles a key to success?
Absolutely, anytime that you have guys in space like Oregon puts you in space. They spread you from sideline to sideline to where you're going to have to be running to get someplace. There is not a lot of straight downhill stuff. You're moving laterally then they will make a cut and you better be in position and you need to be a sure tackler because if they make you miss, it can go a long way.
Can you talk about Oregon's defensive ends?
Will Tukaufu and Nick Reed are both quick. I think Reed really comes off the edge well. Tukaufu, a little heavier and probably a little stronger. They are guys that do a real good job of using their hands with good speed and the ability to change direction. No question they are going to pose a challenge for us.
Do you see any problems with Oregon's pass defense or has it been more due to game situations?
I think some of it is that teams are behind by so much that they have to throw the ball. They have had a lot of big scores where teams fall behind and have to throw the ball. I think that is probably just an indication of people trying to play catch up on them.
What is your impression of Oregon safety T.J. Ward?
Good player. Very sure tackler. He is a very physical player. He can come up and bang you high but he also runs the alley very well and is athletic. He has good speed. I think their whole secondary is very good.
Do you believe there are advantages of having played on special teams before moving to defense like T.J. Ward has at Oregon?
I think so. I think that is true because when a guy is a young player that is typically where their contribution is made. Mostly on special teams tackling in the open field. I would tend agree with that.
What can you do to help jumpstart the offense?
Well we can stop making mistakes. That is the thing I keep saying about our offense. I have probably been overly critical of our offense. There are a lot of good things happening out there. But we have taken turns at times, with things like pass protection breakdown - with the back one time, with the guard the next time, with the tackle the other time. A good throw and a dropped ball, those are things that are going on as well. While we are always looking for perfection, I think we can be overly critical of things. There are a lot of good things going on. We just need to be more consistent and stay out of long yarded situations with penalties. Penalties really hurt us last week. We went backwards with penalties and we can't put ourselves in those situations.
What did you see on film from Kevin Riley during the UCLA game?
Actually I thought Kevin played pretty well. I thought the difference in the game was decision-making. They had four turnovers, we had zero. Kevin was harassed a little bit but held onto the ball and pulled it down when he needed to. He didn't make any poor decisions with the football and that becomes critical in a close game. I thought he made some really good throws as well. Throws with tight coverage that were right there that either they made a good defensive play or we maybe dropped a ball. I think the play of the game for Kevin was the flea flicker. On that play, we had a lot of penetration off our right guard as the guy was pitching the ball. Kevin is waiting for the ball and is kind of moving sideways as he gets it. He steps up in there and makes a good throw. I thought that was a key play. That was a great play by Kevin. Looking at it, I say again we are always probably too critical and expecting guys to complete every pass. That is not going to happen. As I am watching tape, every quarterback misses throws. I think we are kind of used to Aaron Rodgers and those type of things. It is a little too easy to be critical of a very tough position. Kevin is playing fine. Is he going to miss a guy every now and then? Sure, everybody does. I thought Kevin played a good game last week.
Has Kevin Riley developed more patience recently?
I think he is more patient. I think he understands and sees the speed of the game. I think one of his tools is his ability to pull the ball down and run. He is not afraid to do that. He will take a sack and get up. He has made good decisions that way if nothing is there. Either it is a coverage sack, the guys up front, the backs, tight ends, or whoever is in charge of that pass protection scheme gets beat and he has made good sound decisions and not turned the ball over. That is critical.
Was Noris Malele 100% last week?
I don't know that he was 100%. He really hobbled through practice last week. When you can't practice full speed, sometimes it hinders you a little bit in the game. But you have to give UCLA's guys credit; those two inside guys are as good of tandem of inside guys that we have played this year.
Are Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore getting enough reps in practice?
I think they are getting enough reps. We run a lot of plays in practice. Think about the times that third stringers, who don't get any reps, have gone and ran a game plan. They take every mental rep. They are always in the mental part of it. They throw all the routs. There is a lot of that, that gets done. I don't think that is an issue at all.
Does it have an impact on the receivers?
No, not really.
Is the switching of quarterbacks this year a change in philosophy or just a situation from this year?
Just happens to be the way it is this season. I have said it all along that I do not believe in the two-quarterback system. I do not want to bounce back and forth if it is not needed. No it is not an evolution to do that. You would like to have a quarterback to be sold on and take it from there.
Can you comment on Jeremy Ross' play?
Very pleased, very pleased. He is practicing well. He is catching the ball more consistently. He is doing something with the ball after he has it in his hands. I think he has really shown some flashes of explosion when the ball is in his hands. Even on kickoff returns, you can tell this. He catches the ball and makes people miss. He is strong. He can break tackles and has speed. He is really starting to mature. As these guys go into the season, they are getting better and better. I have been really pleased at the way some of the guys, be it Nyan Boateng, be it Verran Tucker, be it Jeremy Ross, are maturing as receivers.
Can you talk about the maturity process for the receivers?
I think it is a comfort level that they now have. But it only comes from practicing hard. I think that is the light that has gone on with them. You have to practice hard. It doesn't just happen on Saturday. All those guys practice extremely hard.
How long will Jahvid Best have the brace on his left arm?
He will probably wear the brace the rest of the season during games. They took the brace off of his elbow for everyday activities. That is encouraging. I would foresee that he wears the brace in every game.
How is the brace impacting Jahvid Best?
No, he doesn't complain much. In the Arizona game his arm was sore, but he never complains about the brace to me at least.
Can you talk about Marucs Ezeff's forced fumble at the end of the game last year?
I remember the great hustle and the desire to get there. He got picked on an inside route and it would have been very easy for him to throw his hands up and say I got picked. But he didn't give up on the play. He ran over the top. He sprinted to it and made a huge play. It's the 100% effort that he gave on that play that I will always remember.
Can you talk about the improvement of the safeties?
Absolutely. I think the expectation, the practice, and the bye weeks have helped. I really thought the first bye week after the Maryland game was a difference maker. I thought we improved in that week with tackling with our safeties and our corners. That is where I think we changed a little bit defensively was during that bye week.
Can you talk about Mike Mohamed's play?
You talk about a guy that you can trust. He is a student of the game and always in the right spot. He plays hard. He is physical and can run. He does what his coaches coach him to do with fundamentals and techniques. Coach [Kenwick] Thompson does a good job of coaching him. He is a guy you can always count on. He is a dependable player. You know what you are going to get. You are going to get 100% every play with him.
Is Mike Mohamed's speed important in this game?
Yes, speed is critical in a game like this. You have to be able to cover some ground.
How much do you look forward to this game due to your connections with Oregon?
They have been great games with them. Every game that we have played with them since we have been here has been within a score or overtime. They have all been very tight. They have all been real hostile environments. Again, I would really encourage our fans to bring their "A" game this week. With the no-huddle offense that Oregon runs, we need our fans more than every this week. People should get an extra hour's sleep or have a little bit more tailgate to do whatever they need to do to be loud. We need our crowd this week. I know when we go there we are in a hostile environment. Two years ago, when they came here to play that is the best I have ever seen our crowd. Memorial Stadium was rocking that week. We need that again. It is going to be a competitive, close football game. We need all the help we can get and our fans create a major impact when we play here.
What type of communications do you have with Oregon coach Mike Bellotti?
We don't ever communicate during the season, unless there is something going on with a rule change or something like that. I have a lot of respect for Mike. When we meet in the offseason, we don't talk about football. We talk about families and things like that, more as friends than anything. It's not something where we talk a lot of football.
Can you comment on Tyson Alualu's impact on the defense this year?
There is no question that he has been a mainstay. He has been a force in there both in the run game and the pass rush. He played really well last week. Again, he brings a fire and intensity to almost every down. There are no downs off with him. He has held down that spot quite well and we need him to continue that.
Is it rare for a college team to have someone as committed to his family as Tyson Alualu is?
It is pretty rare. You don't have many of them. Tyson is definitely all about family. There is no question about it that family is the number one priority for him.
Can you comment on Trevor Guyton's role going forward this year?
As of right now his main role is to provide depth and alleviate pressure from the other guys. As he grows and improves you never know, his contribution could grow from week to week. I don't know that any young freshman is going to be able to handle a full-time role; it's more of a spot situation. As they get more comfortable and they improve, then reps get to be more and more. That is what I see for him.
Are you preparing for rain Saturday?
We will do some wet ball drills throughout the week. We have seen the forecast and we could get rain so we will do some things.
Can you comment on Ty Willingham's announcement?
I haven't gotten to know him all that well over the last couple of years. He was at Notre Dame and then Washington. I think that is always a tough situation. You hate to see that for a lot of reasons. It is a difficult business. I know it is difficult on him, his family, and his players. Your really feel for the players to go through things like that. It's never easy and you never wish it upon anyone. Ty is a quality guy from what I know about him and I am sure he will land on his feet and have another opportunity somewhere.
Senior center Alex Mack
On Oregon's defense
I know their offense is really good, so we have to be prepared to put up a lot of points. Their defense is used to practicing against their offense, so they're going to have fast, quick-flowing guys who will present a challenge.
On Oregon center Max Unger
I'm impressed that he can play tackle as well as center.
On Cal offensive tackle Donovan Edwards
He did well [against UCLA]. He came in and played well, and it was an easy transition. You could hardly notice a difference. I didn't really notice when [Matt] Laird came in, and I didn't notice when Donovan came in. They held their own. I'm most impressed with footwork.
On Cal defensive lineman Tyson Alualu
He's fast and powerful, which makes him really hard to handle. He can run by you or bowl you over. He's a hard worker who doesn't give up. You might beat him on the first move, but he'll come back with a second and third. He's pushing people around on every play.
Sophomore defensive lineman Derrick Hill
On Cal's Tyson Alualu
He's means everything to this defense. He has an energy about him that makes everyone else want to practice hard. Our first camp, we pushed each other through it. When he's at 100 percent, no one can stop him.
On playing at home in Memorial Stadium
It's a huge difference. Up at Eugene, it was kind of hectic. I had never heard this crowd like I did my freshman year, and I think they'll bring that same intensity and adrenaline this weekend.
Sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Ross
On his new role returning kicks
I'm a guy who kind of feeds off being part of the game. It's kind of a snowball effect. When I touch the rock and take some hits, I really get going.
On quarterback Kevin Riley
Riley does have a strong arm, so his balls come at a very high velocity. They come with some heat, so you have to have strong hands. A ball is a ball. If you know how to catch, you know how to catch. It doesn't really matter who is throwing the ball, you just have to go up and catch it.
On Cal safety Marcus Ezeff
As the year has gone on, he's gotten tougher to go against. He was always a physical DB, but it's been fun to watch him develop in pass coverage.
Junior safety Marcus Ezeff
On his forced fumble against Oregon last year
Throughout film that whole week, we knew they ran a lot of picks and when I saw the receivers' splits, I knew the pick was coming. There's not much you can do when you get picked, but try to make a play.
On the officials' review of the play
I didn't know he fumbled until I looked at the Jumbotron and saw [Brandon] Hampton trying to fall on the fumble.
On the safeties' development this season
We're just learning every week. I would still say that I'm a very young player, and I think we're growing together and having fun with it.
On Oregon's offense
We're going to have to pay attention to detail, do our assignments and not try to do more. They're doing exactly the same thing as last year, but they might be doing it even better. It's weird because they had Heisman candidates in Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart last year, and they bring in new people who are doing the job.