Oct. 21, 2008
Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford and several players from the team's Tuesday press conference. The Bears next host UCLA Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.
Head coach Jeff Tedford
Can you describe the morale level of the team after the Arizona game?
Well, I think the team was very focused. We had a good team meeting. Obviously, I'll know more today (Tuesday) on the first day of practice after the game. Sunday when they came out there, they were obviously disappointed but we talked about what we need to do to improve and get better and develop every week. I would fully expect them to come out with a great attitude today and look forward to getting better.
When you watched the tape of the Arizona game, did anything standout about the 3rd quarter?
They made plays and we didn't. That's what happens when they have three plays that totaled over 150 yards. They had three explosion plays, perfect examples of explosion plays. Those are big plays and we didn't have any explosion plays. We were three-and-out or four-and-out. We were not answering with any plays of our own. Even though we answered in the first half and had a lead, you have to sustain that for four quarters. You have to be able to answer when they are making plays and we weren't able to do that.
Arizona is the first team that matched up against Cal well, can you talk about what happened?
They blocked us better. We didn't get off blocks. We missed a couple tackles. They ran hard. You have to give them some credit too, they executed real well.
How difficult is it to fix missed tackles without an off week?
Well, I think our guys understand what needs to be done. It's not like we're starting from scratch. We have been working on that all year. There weren't a lot of missed tackles. There were a couple. [For] the better player, the more athletic a player in the open field, like Michael Thomas, tackling is not as easy as some other guy running out there. Again, you have to give those guys some credit. Michael Thomas makes a lot of people miss. He steps out of a lot of tackles.
Can you talk about what you saw on film for evaluating quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley?
A little bit of both. On offense, it is so important that all 11 guys are doing their job. We had a lot of balls go off people's hands. They weren't perfect throws. We could improve on accuracy. We could improve on making some plays around us. Everybody kind of has to do that. Sometimes throws aren't real accurate because here comes a guy free up the middle on a twist that's in your face right away and you have to throw the ball before you have to. That happened with Nate a couple of times. We have to be more accurate there. Kevin has to be more accurate as well. They were both kind of in the same thing of needing to be more accurate with the football. Obviously, the interception for a touchdown is a chance that you just don't take. If you feel like it's close, you just throw it out-of-bounds. That was that. I thought Nate did some real good things in the first half. Not perfect by any means. I thought Kevin did a couple of good things when he was in there. Again, not perfect by any means. The ball going off Cameron's (Morrah) hands that gets intercepted when we have a chance to go down in there and answer; we need to improve there. We need to be more consistent at the quarterback position. Not one of them, both of them.
With the inconsistency of both Longshore and Riley, have you considered giving them playing time and developing the younger guys on the team?
No. We are not playing for the coming years. No way. This is about this year. This is about being productive right now. Doing what we have to do to win games right now. We are 4-2, we are not going to start playing for the future. We are still in the hunt big time. We are going to do everything we can right now to be successful this Saturday. That's the way it is.
Last year Kevin's (Riley) trademark was accuracy, what have you seen this year that has thrown him off?
Anytime someone is off you have to evaluate is it their feet, is it balance, things like that. You're always coaching and evaluating that. But really what can you go off of to say that he was real accurate, one game - the Armed Forces Bowl. One game that he was really accurate. I don't really think he had a trademark besides one game. Sure, he had a great game in the bowl game, but he need to continue to improve as does Nate (Longshore). We are going to keep practicing it, keep teaching fundamentals, keep talking about feet and balance and everything else.
Have they been sharing repetitions in practice?
How can the receivers improve to make more plays?
Just keep working. I don't know that there is any magical thing to say that, "ah, I am now a playmaker." I think they have the ability to make the tough catch, but we need to improve with the throws. We need to get the throws in a better position. But every now and then, it's not because there is someone in my face or whatever, you would hope we could come up with a play here or there. They have the ability to. It just didn't happen on Saturday. We had a lot of balls going off hands. Sometimes when it goes off hands that is a bad thing because now it's a case of tipped balls up in the air and they are intercepted.
What stock do you put in players that practice well versus play in games well?
I think it has something to do with practice, but I also understand that the game is a different situation than practice. It really kind of is what the game plan is all about, what they do best, those type of things.
You mentioned earlier that you're still in the hunt, have you mentioned that to the team?
Yeah, they realize that. It's not so much looking at the big picture. That is not the deal. The deal is this week. Everyday practicing hard, taking care of our assignments, fundamentals, techniques, making plays, those type of things. You have to execute. The big picture means absolutely nothing because it's about one week at a time. It is about UCLA this week. It is about doing our best, reaching our full potential to win a football game. One game.
Can you talk about UCLA's offense?
If Kahlil Bell gets rolling, he is a good runner. Both receivers (Terrence Austin and Taylor Embree) have big-play potential. I think Kevin Craft is improving with experience and knowledge of their offense. He is an athletic guy that can move around. He is a competitive guy. He is tough. He can make the throws. Ryan Moya is a good tight end. I think they have weapons all around. I don't think you can focus on part of their game, you have to be able to stop it all.
Can you talk about the characteristics of a Norm Chow offense?
I think there is a long history with Norm. There are always certain plays you can look at and say that he ran those years ago at BYU. He has evolved, like everyone has. He has evolved into new things here or there. He is very sound at what he does. There are certain things that he does, that you say this is something that he has always done. I don't think you can say that he is running the exact same thing that he did at BYU years ago. He has evolved, like everybody else.
How is Jahvid Best?
Jahvid Best is doing OK. He felt alright on Sunday. I think he felt much better yesterday. I am anxious to see how he is doing today. I haven't heard yet. Very encouraging over the last couple of days. It was just a situation where he had some muscle soreness. Obviously, that was the first time he has used his elbow that much in that type of situation. When I asked him in the game, is your elbow sore. He said, yes. I told him he was done then. I did not want to risk him doing any further damage. He is a real competitive guy. If his elbow was sore, it was time to pull him out.
Was sitting him for part of the game on Saturday the right decision?
Absolutely, no question.
What are your impressions of UCLA's defense?
Very good. Very good. Their two tackles in tandem are probably as good as we have played so far. Both Brigham Harwell and Brian Price are physical guys, who use their hands really, really well. Both are strong and can run. Both those guys are good players. Solid line backing core. Good corners. All around, they are a good group.
On afterthoughts on the Arizona loss
There is always a sense of urgency just for the fact that we're still in it. But everyone is doing well and we have to understand what went wrong [against Arizona]. I addressed the team after the game and just told them that we can't expect to win when we played like we just did. We just need to pay attention to the details and taking care of the small things. Defensively, we need to step up. We hadn't had anybody [all season] run on us like that [in reference to Keola Antolin].
PK Giorgio Tavecchio
On his experience of being the starting PK against Arizona
When I found out I was going to kick, I was very nervous. Once I was in there, I knew I could do it and just settled in and relaxed. I was pretty satisfied with my first performance. Hopefully, I will be calmer next time.
On 50-yard attempt
It's just about being thrown into the fire, and that's how I had to start. It was the farthest field goal I've ever attempted. I think my longest one in high school was 42 yards.
On whether he thought he would be in this position
Not at all, it did not cross my mind, I just wanted to go in, absorb as much as I could, do well in school and try my best in practice and see where that took me, but I didn't expect to do much my first year.
On effects of the Arizona loss
Obviously, we were disappointed with our performance, because we had a good week of practice. We hope to bounce back. Sunday was disappointing, but it's a new day and a new week to look forward to get ready for UCLA. The past is the past.
One being a starter
It's really fun. I can tell you that it's a lot different being in the game than being on the sidelines. It really inspires me to work that much harder. Sitting on the bench wasn't satisfying; I really enjoyed being out there.
It was a hard loss, especially after what happened to us in 2006. But you have to tip your hat to Arizona. They made all the big plays, and we really didn't. We just have to bounce back and we have a great game against UCLA this week and a great back in Kahlil Bell, and I think we'll be ready for the task.
I think we're doing as well as we can be right now, especially after a tough loss. I think after watching the film, we have a better sense of what areas we lost control in. I think we're doing all right.
We slipped on out technique in that third quarter. But like I said after the game, you have to give credit to Arizona and the game plan they had, along with the formations they ran. Our play calls weren't really structured to counter that, so they caught us out of position [a few times].
CB Darian Hagan
On Arizona loss
We had some older guys [on the team] step up and speak after the game that we need to focus a lot harder and focus on the things we need to do. When we do lose, it just comes down to tackling, and not being able to do it. We really have to focus on that. Worrell [Williams] and Zack [Follett] are our team leaders and they spoke up after the loss, and it caught my ear, and I hope it caught the attention of others.