Aug. 29, 2006
BERKELEY - As the University of California football team continues preparation for its season opener this Saturday at Tennessee, the Golden Bears hosted their first weekly press conference on Tuesday at the Hall of Fame Room at historic Memorial Stadium. Saturday's season-opener in Knoxville will be televised live by ESPN beginning at 2:30 p.m. (PST).
Head coach Jeff Tedford and numerous players attended to speak with the press. Here are Tedford's comments:
On the quarterback situation:
"I have not completely decided. There are too many variables going on this week, depending on Nate's health. It wouldn't be good to name one and then have to change it. I don't want to get into it. Nate felt really good yesterday, feels really good today, and we'll see how practice goes today and I'll evaluate it again after today. He practiced very well and today he feels even better. The trainer told me he's even looser today than he was so we'll just see how it goes day-to-day. I haven't talked to the quarterbacks yet, so I don't really want to say something without talking to them first. I just think it's too early after one day of practice to see, I want to evaluate it again today and then go from there."
On the possibility of Longshore and Ayoob both playing against Tennessee:
"It's quite possible that both guys will play, it depends on the flow of the game. We are not going into a game saying, `you're playing first quarter, second quarter, third quarter.' We're not doing that. The flow of the game will depend on who plays. They both run the offense very efficiently. I'm really proud of Joe's perseverance, how he's bounced back. I have great admiration for him. Both of them have tremendous focus with what's going on with the game plan, both very smart. They're both throwing the ball well right now. They understand what we're doing. Joe, he was a starter for us most of the season last year, he has that comfort level, not to say Nate is uncomfortable, but there's just a comfort level that Joe has about being the guy that's played in the big arenas for eight games last year. If there was any difference it would be the game-type experience factor."
On using the spread offense:
"I feel really good about it. The kids have done a great job of picking things up. There are a lot of concepts that have a lot of carry over. I think our coaches have done a nice job of coaching it and our centers have gotten very efficient with the shotgun snap. In the spring it was a problem, but in the fall, it hasn't been a problem at all. We feel really good about that. Marrying the two has been something that's good for our offense."
On playing in Neyland Stadium:
"The main thing is that we play our game. We worry about the 11 guys between the lines, not worry about the external things, the stadium and all the people. The focus needs to be on the guys right in front of us and execution is critical. From time to time, there's going to be setbacks, we're always going to have to treat all setbacks as temporary and move on and just have confidence in our play, play fast and play hard. I think our kids will do that."
On the Tennessee players:
"They're very physical up front. They have a great defensive tackle and their linebackers are very fast, the defensive ends are very fast. The team speed overall is excellent. They can get to you if you're running side to side. As far as the run game is concerned, they're really stout up front with their inside guys, some of the linebackers are new, so you don't know a ton about them. They're very sound. They have a good defensive group, they're well coached, and they have a lot of variables in their package. They're not going to just line up in one thing and let you run at them all day long. They're going to change looks on you quite a bit, so that keeps you off balance. Their offense is physical, good size up front and good speed at receiver. They have a good package with a tight end package; they like to spread you out a little bit. Their tailback is a little bit of an unknown. Ainge is a guy who can do some things, but he's been up and down through last year with their quarterback controversy. Everything that I read about Ainge is, every year a new year, more experience, so I'm sure he's much approved as well. I think our team speed matches their pretty well. I don't know much about their depth at every position. I know our depth is pretty good and we're going to need to utilize our depth in this game."
On the impact of starting the season with such a big game:
"I don't think you want to live every year on playing not just Tennessee, but Minnesota, those two type teams back-to-back in the preseason. I think this year's team is ready for this challenge, but I don't think you want to do that on a consistent basis. I'd like to think that our team prepares the same way no matter what, but I think in the offseason through the summer, there's definitely a buzz. Yesterday's practice, I felt like there was tremendous focus with what was going on. It's been something these guys have been looking forward to for a long time. We're looking forward to going to play there. It's a great college atmosphere, that's' what college football is all about and our team is excited about it."
On the long travel:
"I think you definitely gain some experience from this type of situation. We're going to stay on our west coast body clock. We're going to act like we're playing a 2:30 game. Wake up call and everything will be just like west coast time. That's how we're approaching it. It's going to be very humid, that's why we're going to have to utilize our depth. I don't think humidity's something you can get used to. We're going to hydrate very well and make sure that's a high priority. We need to keep people fresh. We're going to focus on the people between the lines. We're not worried about the 100,000 people in the stands. We have practiced everyday with crowd noise, so loud that we can't even hear each other talk. I don't think it's possible we could have it any louder than we've had it on the field."
On his feelings about Saturday:
"I'm anxious to see our team cut it loose. They've been hitting each other for a long time and I'm really anxious to see how they get out there and have some fun and let it go. Anything that's on my mind would be some of the rule changes that I really have to be aware of, with clock situations and things like that. I really have to focus on that and make sure that we're trying to keep that all in perspective. With that being new, obviously until you go through it, you don't really know. I'm anxious to find out how the flow of the game goes with these new rules to the clock."
On the preseason hype and ESPN's Lee Corso picking Cal to win the national championship:
"I don't think it really matters. It can be good and bad, but I think it's been a positive for us. I think our kids respect where we are even though they know it means nothing right now. It gives them motivation. Some teams, they go into a season with that high ranking, they get into a comfort zone a little bit. I don't get the sense that our team has acted that way. I think our team uses it more as motivation. We have a lot of work to do; we have a lot of tough teams on our schedule. There's so much that goes into a season. It's nice that our program is looked at like that, but it really means nothing."