Oct. 16, 2007
BERKELEY - The University of California football team lost its first game of the season last Saturday against Oregon State, 31-28. The Golden Bears (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10) are currently ranked No. 9 in the nation and travel south this week to take on Pac-10 opponent UCLA at the Rose Bowl. California hosted its eighth weekly press conference Tuesday at the Hall of Fame Room at historic Memorial Stadium.
Head coach Jeff Tedford and numerous players attended to speak with the press. Here are Tedford's comments:
On the last play in the OSU game:
First of all, I apologize for being so emotional about that, I kind of just got caught in the game. It was one of those things where guys laid it on the line and really wanted to have a chance to get it done obviously, and it didn't happen. Really thought the guys played hard on both sides of the ball and never gave up. I thought Kevin did a great job to put us in a position to be able to be in that situation in the first place. I don't regret going for it with 14 seconds to play. There are a lot of opinions on that. I thought Kevin did an excellent job going down the field with understanding of what was going on with the clock -- threw the ball away a lot of times, spiked the ball a lot of times -- really those were our timeouts because we needed to utilize our timeouts to get the ball back. I thought he did a great job with time management and throwing the football away to conserve time. I don't think it was a question on what was the situation of the game. I felt like we had good protection called, and I felt like we had the right play called, that's why we chose to do it, try to win the game right there, and if not, kick a field goal. It didn't work out that way. But looking back on it, of course you sit and wonder, should you have done this or should you have done that. I've thought about that a lot and really feel like no, we made the right decision to do it, it just didn't work out.
On Riley getting caught up in the moment:
That's exactly right. It was a situation where we had great protection, we knew what coverage we were going to be in and felt like we had a good play called. I think that when [Kevin Riley] stepped up in the pocket, he saw some green grass and felt like he could make it to the end zone, and just got caught halfway in between. That's unfortunate, but it's not his fault. It's a situation where if I had to second guess anything, I wish I could have got to him to say, "Do this or do that," that's would be the thing I wish I could have done with him. But there were a lot of things going on at that time.
On Riley's positive future:
There's no question about it. The balls that he threw coming down the stretch were great -- accurate, a lot of zip on the ball, felt like he just started getting more and more comfortable as the game went on. I think he proved a lot to a lot of people that he's a very good player. To come in, your first game ever, against that defense, as a redshirt freshman, and play like he did, was very encouraging.
On his post-game feedback to the team:
That I was proud of them, because I always am because of how hard they play. There's one thing that I don't think that this team is ever going to be questioned on and that's effort and they way they fly around and play and never giving up on anything. And the only thing for sure now is that we're not undefeated, there's no chance of going undefeated, that's the only thing for sure. It's a week-to-week deal now and we need to bounce back now and prepare for UCLA. I think their mindset is definitely in that same frame of mind.
On current college football upsets:
I'm not surprised. It is very hard to win. It's very hard week-in and week-out with all the parity that's throughout. It's such a game of winning certain situations--turnover battles, the way the ball bounces. There's a lot of good teams, a lot of good preparation that's going on, a lot of good players. There are no easy weeks, and anything can happen. I can't explain it to you, I don't know why, I just know it is. I just know when I watch tape and when we try to prepare, it's never easy. You never go in thinking, "Wow this is going to be easy." Every game is hard.
On beating Oregon and losing to Oregon State:
We didn't turn the football over against Oregon, turned the football over four times against Oregon State. It doesn't matter who you play, I think they may have turned it over once. Same thing happened when we played them here two years ago or whatever it was, same thing happened when we fumbled the ball twice down inside the red zone, and they won the game. We fumbled the ball twice, or, no, we had one fumble down around the 15-yard-line I think or 10, and another interception when we got hit from behind that went down around the 18, so you have two balls inside the 20-yardline, and then we fumbled a kickoff return as well. If you do that against our conference, you would be lucky to win.
On ability to rebound:
I don't really think that the rebounding off a tough loss is the issue. I think who we play is the issue, and how we play. UCLA's a very good football team, they're a great defense. There have been a lot of stats, number one in third-down conversions, I think they've given up one scoring drive in the last several quarters and that was only a two-yard scoring drive. The Notre Dame game, even though they lost, they only gave up 140 total yards or something like that. They're a very strong defense. Each week, it's not about what happened last week, it's about going into this week and how we match up and how we prepare and the things we do to play this game. Going into this game has nothing to do with last week.
On the team being affected by who starts:
We've always had the mentality here that we don't talk about who's playing or who's hurt. The next guy steps up and you go play. We don't talk about, "We have to do this because this guy's playing or that guy's playing." We don't. The next guy steps up and we go play, that's the way we've always done it. It was no different last week. I don't think anybody had any different feeling about the game depending on who was playing the position. I don't think our guys think about that. They're not in the huddle thinking, "Oh shoot, our quarterback's a freshman," they're not thinking about that. They're thinking about their job, what they need to do, what the snap count is, their assignment, so on and so forth. They shouldn't play any different, any harder, any less hard because of who's at a different position. They all have jobs to do and they try to carry out their jobs no matter who's at different positions. No, I don't think anybody says, "I have to give an extra effort here because of a guy playing a different position," because then they should always give that effort. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with it.
On UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis:
Bruce is very athletic, very fast. He can cause a lot of problems, no doubt about it. He's a guy who can really come off the edge, can really take things down sideline to sideline. He's a really good player.
On UCLA's questionable starting quarterback:
Don't really know who we're going to face. But we're going to prepare for their offense, what they do schematically on offense. I don't know that they run any different offense depending on who their quarterback is.
On UCLA's defense:
They're one of the best, no question about it. They were a great defense last year and they're a great defense again this year. There's no question about it. They're one of the top in our conference and one of the top in the nation.
On the OSU loss lingering for himself:
Any loss is very difficult to get out of my system. It just hangs with you. It really helps to get onto the next opponent, to start watching tape of the next opponent and start preparing that way. Saturday nights and Sundays are always pretty difficult until you really start getting into the next opponent, that kind of helps you get your mind off of it a little bit. I take those pretty hard. [I've been thinking about] it all hours of the day and night, in the middle of the night and things like that. I think you need to. Even when we win, win or lose, the first thing is you kind of look in the mirror and say what could you have done to be better in a victory or what could you have done to be better when you're not successful. There's no question about it, there's a lot of opinions that fly around about the last play. I'd be foolish to say I haven't debated if it was right or it was wrong, yes, I've debated that. I've come up with the answer that we would do the same thing again. The thing is that you have to understand the play. If there was any play that we would have had the chance to throw it hot or having to throw a side adjustment, or anything that could have come up short of the goal line, we wouldn't have run it. But we felt like we had great protection, that we had a great play, that matched up to what they were doing. Still, you're going to kick the field goal, you're still going to make the field goal, still going to win in overtime and all that. I guess a lot of people could go either way with it. It felt like the way that matched up, it felt like it was a good thing. I think most of the skepticism is probably when you have a young quarterback and that should make the difference. I thought the young quarterback handled those last two drives as well as anybody could handled those last two drives: with clock management, marched all the way down the field without a timeout, spiking the ball, throwing the ball out of bounds and making really good decisions.
On if the offense is more explosive with DeSean Jackson getting the more touches:
I think it could go either way. I think the other guys are really capable. If the other guys are the ones that are open, I think the offense is still very productive. Sure, can [DeSean] make plays? Yes, definitely he can make plays. Can [Lavelle] Hawkins make plays? Yes, he can make plays. Can [Robert] Jordan make plays? Yes, he can make plays. It's not a situation that for our offense to be effective, we have to put DeSean in this spot or that spot for us to be effective because all those guys are very effective.
On Kevin Riley's post-game reaction:
I thought Kevin was in pretty good spirits on Sunday. He stopped by yesterday to pick up his computer and stuff and seemed like he was in very good spirits. He's a pretty level-headed guy. I think he took a lot out of this game, more positives than negatives, to tell you the truth. Sure, it was a learning experience on one play. But besides that, he played his butt off and he made some plays. I think he's going to draw a lot of confidence from that performance that he made. Would he like to play this week? Yes, he always wants to play. Whether it's to get the bad taste out of his mouth from last week or just to have the opportunity to compete, I think it's to have the opportunity to compete. I don't think he's going to live his career around that last play, or at least he shouldn't. He should be proud of the way he played and I'm sure he will draw a lot of confidence from it.
On Cal's southern California players pressing in the Rose Bowl:
No, I don't think they press, I think they're excited to play. I don't get the whole deal about guys playing a different way in different situations. I think they all play the same way all the time. They all try to play their hardest. Whether it's at home or whether it's away or whether it's anywhere, they go out to play their best every week. I don't think it matters who's playing other positions or whatever, they're all trying to reach their potential every week. I don't think that matters, to tell you the truth. At least I would hope it doesn't matter because then we're doing something wrong if we're playing different ways depending on where or who we're playing.
On Cal's defensive line:
Defensive line has done a pretty fair job. Felt like we needed a little bit more pass rush last week. But the defensive line has done a pretty good job of doing what they're asked to do, what their assignments are. They have played through some injuries; we have a lot of guys out there that have been banged up, a lot of guys that have played through injuries. I think they're playing fine.
On the media reaction:
I don't listen to any of that. I didn't read any of the papers so I don't know what people's opinions are. You get e-mails and you get phone calls that you can't get away from, you open them and they're there. I try not to even do that, if it's from somebody I don't know, I try just to delete it. Everybody has opinions. As long as our team understands why we're doing it and things like that, then that's all that matters. That's the nature of sports, I think, no matter what. People can always second guess things or what have you. I'm sure that's not the only play they second guess. I'm sure in the stands, about every play, somebody thinks you should run or throw, and if you didn't run, you should have done the other thing. "What are you thinking? Why are you running the ball up the middle? You shouldn't run the ball up the middle, you got tackled. Why didn't you run the ball outside? You should have thrown it, see that guy's open over there." That's the way it goes, really. You have to understand that's part of sports. I'm not being naive either about the weight that that the last play carried last week. I know that's not your average first down run up the middle. I understand that people can be skeptical about what went on there. As I work here for 18 hours a day, and watch tape and prepare, that has to be something that's an educated decision on our part. I feel like it was the right decision at that time, given the play and given everything else I've explained. What our coaches and our players understand is what's important because no one really understands everything that goes into that. Only because they have to know what defense, they have to know what coverage you're facing, they have to know all that type of stuff, and felt like we had the right thing going for that time. Maybe a different week, if the only things we had down there were hot throws and there could have been a chance of a blitz keeping us from throwing hot throws into the end zone, not the thing to do probably. It matched up that we felt really good about what that was and it didn't work unfortunately.
On if the team that played the best won the game:
That's true, too. It all comes back down to that. You can look at that last play as much as you want but I would definitely agree with that. We have the ball, first and goal from the two, and we don't punch it in. We fumbled the ball three times. We had three [turnovers] down inside our territory. A lot of those things determine the factors in the game. They punched it in from the one. We didn't punch it in from the one. We fumbled, we got hit in the back and the ball went up in the air, all those things have something to do with it. It's not just that play. That's why to look at Kevin and to second-guess anything or to look at me and second-guess anything or look at me and say, "Ok, you should have done something," ok, that's fine. But to look at the kid and say that it was on him, that's not right. There were so many plays in the game that make the difference in the game. To be in that situation in the first place, they played well, they did a good job. But we didn't play as well as we needed to play.
CAL PLAYER QUOTES
Senior OL Mike Gibson
[On UCLA DE Bruce Davis] He's really quick and really quick off the ball, so we definitely have our hands full trying to block him. Last year as an offensive line we played really well.
[On not being able to get the touchdown on four straight times from the 1-yard line against Oregon State] That's something that should never happen, especially with Cal football. We pride ourselves on knocking people off the ball. Unfortunately we couldn't get it in on four tries; we gave it our best, but it just didn't work out for us.
Senior CB Brandon Hampton
[Is it special playing in Los Angeles as a player from that area?] For me it means something special to play in the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl; it's that extra oomph, to play at home. I'm really anxious to get down there.
Senior WR Lavelle Hawkins
[On Oregon State game] I don't think [we lost because] of the last play of the game. There were a lot of other things like penalties, fumbles, or us not taking advantage of turnovers the defense gave us. We should have taken care of business at the start of the game.
[On difference between Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore] Nate is a little bit older, but Kevin knows the offense too. The only difference is experience. Kevin did a great job for us in the game.
Junior S Bernard Hicks
[On UCLA offense] They have some speedy receivers and they have hard runners in the backfield, so we have to be prepared. We are going to game-plan and prepare like we have been preparing all season for this game.
[On Oregon State loss] It was a tough loss to take, but not to recover from. We don't need to walk around with our heads down. It's over, and we have to come out prepared and be ready to go against UCLA.