Nov. 9, 2004
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into No. 5 Cal's match-up with Washington. The Bears and Huskies kick off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
On offensive coordinator George Cortez:
Coach Cortez is back full time. He was very happy yesterday. He went to the doctor and was cleared to travel. We're very pleased that he is back in full capacity.
How do you look at this game, playing a team that has had a rough season?
When you watch them on tape, they've been snake bitten by turnovers, but their defense is playing very well. Last week, they only gave up 250 yards to Arizona. They're flying around, they're playing hard. There is no evidence of quit anywhere in them. They're playing very hard and they have some skill. It's a tough game. We're going to go into a hostile environment. It's the seniors' last home game. It's going to be very emotional and they're going to be playing very hard. We're going to have to go in and execute to be successful.
On preparing for this week's game:
We talked in our team meeting Monday about the importance of staying focused and staying prepared to go play. It is an emotional game for them. There is no question about it, these guys are good players. They can get hot at the drop of a hat. If they didn't turn the football over, it might be different for them. That could happen at any time.
On remaining focused on this week's game with reports of BCS bowl possibilities:
We don't talk about anything except Washington. We talked to the team about that on Monday. I'm not naïve enough to think that when they're away from here that people aren't talking to them about stuff like that. But it's important that they understand where their focus and preparation needs to be. I fully trust that the leadership on this team will continue to do that. That there is a lot of work left. It's a product of what goes on around here with the Big Game and people starting to talk about it a week early. We've tried to not get caught up in that. We're going to continue to do the same thing. This is a huge game for us this week. We're going on the road in a tough environment. It's very important that we stay focused on this week. It's what we preach every single week, one day at a time, one play at a time, when we get to the game. That's what we will continue to preach until the very end. Maybe when it comes to the last game, we'll say that if this happens, this may happen, but not until then.
On the offensive line:
The offensive line is a little bit typical of, let's say, how our defense is playing. How our defense has so many guys playing well together. I think our offensive line has done the same thing. They're all playing solid. I don't know that there is one standout. They are all playing very solid and, thank goodness, staying fairly healthy. I don't think any of them are even close to 100% being healthy, but they're offensive lineman and I don't think they are ever 100% healthy.
On Geoff McArthur:
His leadership role is very important and valuable to the team right now, with all our young receivers who are playing now. As we get into the game, the communication he provides for those guys is very critical. Instead of having a group of young guys all out there together, with him breaking the huddle, he can help get them lined up and he can communicate with them whether they're on or off the ball. All of these type of things he provides for us. Even though he doesn't practice a lot during the week because of his health issues, he does suck it up and play in the game. It's very important that he's out there. I think the young guys can look up to Geoff to see how he's fighting through his injuries and still being productive for us. I know the young guys appreciate that.
On the turnover of head coaches in football:
It's always very disappointing. Being a coach and knowing what that entails, it's not just that coach. It's 10, 12 other coaches and their families and kids who are enrolled in schools. They'll have to move, too. It's your livelihood, but you're responsible for a lot of people in a lot of different areas, including recruits, who you've made promises to. It reaches so far and wide. Most of all, you're moving families around and people have to find other employment, not by choice, and usually not in the same city. They're not in a profession where they can go work in another corporation right there in the city. They're football coaches, and if they want to stay a Division I football coach, they're going to have to move. It's difficult on families, it's difficult on wives and it's difficult on kids. It's really unfortunate what happens. I never like to see anybody have that happen to them.
On Lorenzo Alexander:
Lorenzo has been so solid for us. His leadership inside is critical. The attention that he demands inside, with double teams, the way he plays double teams, he's been a force inside. At his position, you're not going to have a lot of numbers. He's keeping offensive lineman off of linebackers so they can scrape. Lorenzo does a great job at executing his assignment. He is a force inside, there's no question about it. He's having a great year for us.
On the kicking game:
We're going to take a strong look at it. Each one of them has different skills and attributes. (David) Lonie has a very strong leg. Tom (Schneider) has been, at least in practice, very accurate. It hasn't translated to the game, which is the most important time. If you watch Schneider kick in practice, he's almost automatic. But he hasn't hit the ball solid in the game. That's where it counts. We need to take a strong look at that since David has a stronger leg, try to make him a little more accurate, at least for the longer field goals. That's not to say that we're giving up on Tom. Tom has done a very good job in practice. We don't want to crush Tom, we want to make sure that he can keep his confidence and get it to where he can hit the ball more solidly. I think a couple of times he has kicked the ground. We are not giving up on Tom, but we have to go with guy that is doing the best job. Our kickers are who they are, that's who we have for this year.
As a byproduct of your success, Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Arrington are now mentioned as potential Heisman Trophy candidates. If you're a young kid and you see that, how do you keep them levelheaded about it?
I think those guys have felt that they've been mentioned on and off with that thing. And I think they've done a great job of staying focused with their job. I haven't seen one change in J.J. at all. The guy works so hard in practice and takes every ball to the end zone. He deserves all of the accolades he's getting because that guy has worked tremendously hard to become the player he is. While Aaron is a little bit more noticeable and quotable, I think he still understands that the main focus and goal is to win football games. And if we're successful as a team, all of those other things come.
What are you most proud of in regards to this team?
Probably the mindset and the personality that they have on a weekly and daily basis. They always stay fairly even. I've said many times, that on Monday you couldn't tell whether we won or lost the game. I'm very proud with the way they stick together, the way they believe in each other and the way they play together. I think that was very evident last week. There have been times when we've been down and you never see any doubt or bickering or anything like that. It is such a close team that believes in one another.
On WR David Gray, who played vs. Oregon for the first time this year
David's getting much better. He's been hampered by injury since day one. He now looks like he's getting to the point where he can run full speed. He is a big, physical receiver with a lot of tools and great hands. I think he has the agility and the speed he needs on a consistent basis and to get in there and have some balls thrown to him. But he has tremendous potential to be a big player for us.
On Cal's offensive line in 2004:
They are one of most solid college offensive lines I've had the privilege to be around. When all of those guys are playing together they are big, physical and smart. I think (center) Marvin (Philip) being in the middle of it has really improved our line. He's athletic. Anytime you have a center that can pull when you need to get the linebacker and as athletic as Marvin is, that's a tremendous advantage inside. And he's physical inside. He can hold up with the big nose guards inside and he's athletic enough to pull and get some things on the edge.