Sept. 30, 2008
BERKELEY - The University of California football team returns to pac-10 action this weekend, hosting Arizona State for Homecoming on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Tickets remain available for the game by calling (800) GO BEARS or by visiting CalBears.com. Cal hosted its fifth weekly press conference on 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:
How is tailback Jahvid Best and when is he expected back?
Jahvid is coming along very well. A lot of encouraging news with him. He did dislocate his left elbow. There is no facture there as we knew on game day. After the MRI, they saw that there were some capsule issues, of course, when you dislocate anything [there will be damage]. Nothing is torn so there is no need for a surgical procedure. We feel like there is a possibility he may be back by the Arizona game. No guarantees, but a possibility.
Can you comment on the QB situation?
Both of them [sophomore Kevin Riley and senior Nate Longshore] are going to get equal reps this week. We will make a decision before the game.
What led to the change of heart with the quarterbacks since Saturday?
I feel like we need to start a little bit faster. Offensively we have started kind of slow in our games. We need a little boost there. We cannot afford to continue to wait and wait and wait for things to happen. We need to find out who is the guy that puts us in the best situation to start a little bit faster.
Have you talked Kevin Riley about this and what was his reaction?
Yes. He understands that we have started a little bit slow and he has missed a couple of balls. But, I told him that you don't get down about it, you compete and continue to do what you're doing. He could be the starter or not. Like I said in the beginning it may take both of them for us to get to where we need to go. We will evaluate it this week in practice. It's no different than any other position. It's no different than the safety position or anything else that gets evaluated on a weekly basis.
Given Kevin's limited experience, are you worried about him losing his confidence?
Well, I think that's always a concern at that position. That position is so, I don't want to say mental, but there is a lot with it. Especially when you're the starter there is a little more pressure on you. Kevin is young. Nate is an experienced guy. He has had good. He has had bad. Back and forth and Nate is a very strong guy and puts it all in perspective and is very mature about it. Kevin is a little bit younger and he is going to have to learn that everything isn't always going to be good. With that position there are going to be some rough days. It's important that you respond well and you continue to compete. That is something that he has got to do.
Is it easier to make a switch with an experienced backup?
Absolutely, it does. Yes.
Has it been tough to evaluate QB performance because of the flow of your games?
Yeah, it has been. Like this last week. It is a little bit difficult to get into a flow because just when you're ready to go on the field you have a blocked kick for a touchdown. Then you're going to go back on the field and there is an interception for a touchdown. Those are all series that you're standing on the side. Now, I'm not complaining about that. That's great to put points on the board, but there taking away opportunities to evaluate and to have plays. We only had 50-some plays last week. We're used to getting 80 plays, but we're only getting 50 plays in a game when that happens.
What's the backfield going to look like?
It's going to be Shane [Vereen] and Tracy [Slocum]. We will bring [true freshman] Covaughn DeBoskie down to our end [not with scout team] and have him prepared to play. Only use him if need be, knowing that Jahvid is going to be back as soon as he is. Where it may be only one week that he is out as far as games our concerned. So you don't want to burn a redshirt year for Covaughn if it's not needed.
What are Covaughn's skills?
Covaughn's fast. He's got good hands. He is a very good back but he is a true freshman. He just lacks experience. There are a lot of areas of experience - pass protection, running the ball between the tackles, and all those type of things. The transition to the speed that happens right now is always something new to a true freshman. But he's gifted. He is a talented guy. He can run, he can catch. He has talent.
Can you talk about Shane's skill set?
He really has it all. He can run in between the tackles. He's got the speed when he gets into open areas, that we saw against Michigan State, to take it the distance. He catches the ball as well as receivers catch the ball. He is physical. He competes in pass protection. He's a great all around back.
Can you talk about bringing both Jahvid and Shane in during the same year?
We have been fortunate here to always have two good backs. To have the one-two punch with J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch, with Marshawn and Justin Forsett, with Justin and Jahvid, with Jahvid and Shane. It takes more than one back. To recruit two really good backs, I think we have proven that two backs are going to play here and make a really strong contribution to this team. The one year we had Marshawn with over a 1,000 yards and Justin had 999. It's not the first time in this offense that we have had two 1,000 yard rushers, we also did it at Oregon. So you need two backs. They are going to get enough touches to do that, to contribute.
Can you talk about ASU?
They are a very good team. Very aggressive on defense. Two really good defensive ends that rush the passer. Experienced. Good secondary. They are a solid group. Offensively, they have Rudy Carpenter who has got a lot of experience. Anytime you have a quarterback that has as many starts and as much experience as Rudy has, it is always dangerous. They have two very good receivers. Solid running backs. I don't know if Keegan [Herring] is going to play or not but he's a game breaker. They are a good football team no question about it.
Do you approach Pac-10 games any differently than non-conference games?
You always want to stay consistent with how you prepare. There is definitely an edge in conference play. We have got to be jacked up and ready to play. I am sure we will be. I hope the fans are. That is one thing I would really like to emphasize this week is that we need our fans this week, more than ever. We went there [to ASU] last year, they were very tough on us creating a hostile environment. We need to repay the favor. So I would like to encourage all the fans to come out and make it a very positive environment for our players.
What does Rudy Carpenter bring physically?
He can throw all the balls. I think one of his attributes is that he can make people miss. When he gets pressure on him, he throws from the side. He can scramble and make plays with his legs. He is a very strong competitor. He can pretty much do it all.
Can you comment on the performance of Darian Hagan and the secondary?
Darian played very well last week. I was really pleased by our preparation from the hard work that we had in our bye week. The players could really see a lot of carryover from what we did in the bye week. We were very physical. Especially for Darian, to come up and tackle and make plays. For Brett Johnson to run the alley and make plays. I thought they both really responded well. Darian is not only playing the pass really well but I thought he made some great tackles in the open field last week. The more experience he gets. I think we have two pretty solid corners there.
With the number of injuries to quarterbacks, do you assume you'll need your No. 2 guy to play?
I don't know that you ever want to assume that but I think it's absolutely necessary to have your second guy prepared like he is going to be the starter because it can happen at any time. I don't think you ever want to go in assuming that you're always going to get to your second guy but I think it's important to have two quality guys for sure if not three.
Can you talk about Cameron Jordan's development?
He's bigger and more physical. He can still run. Obviously, the more experience, the smarter player you become. He's a competitive guy. He can run real well. He's become more physical from when he was a freshman.
Can you comment on the difference that [defensive line coach Tosh] Lupoi has made?
Absolutely. I think Coach Lupoi has really helped our defensive line a lot with fundamentals and techniques. He has really created a spark for those guys.
CAL PLAYER QUOTES
DT Derrick Hill
[On last week's win over Colorado State] What made me mad was the fact they had 125 yards rushing on us. I think we did a great job throughout the game holding down the line of scrimmage. That was one of the main things we focused on during the week. We knew they were a good team and like to do shifty plays and confuse you. I thought we did a good job of handling that.
[On giving up only seven points to CSU] It was great mentally, as a defense, to have that type of performance. As a defense, we didn't want to give up those seven points, we wanted that [shutout], so when we gave up seven, we were really disappointed. We know that we still need to focus on the little things that are going to make us better as a group as the season goes along.
LB Zack Follett
[On possibility of preparing for Keegan Herring] We faced him last year, and he's a great running back. But all of their [Arizona State] guys are great backs and run real hard. It doesn't change how we prepare [if he is in there or not].
[On preparing for Rudy Carpenter] We put together a few different packages [in 2006] and that was how we were able to get to him [with a few 3-4 schemes]. I'm sure coach Gregory will put together a new package this time for us to try and put pressure on him.
C Alex Mack
[On last year at Arizona State] We had our ups and downs last year. We really had a good first half, but struggled in the second half. We just didn't play as well as we needed to. We know Arizona State is a good team this year, just like they were last year. It was a close game and we could have won it, but it slipped through our fingers. We know that it's a matter of finishing and making plays and doing well all the time to be successful.
WR Jeremy Ross
[On catching his first career touchdown] We had an audible called on the play. I just saw the ball come to me, and when I secured it, all I heard was screaming and I couldn't believe it. I started to jump up and scream because I was so excited. It was a special moment.
[On QB situation] I'm happy with both quarterbacks. Whoever is in there, I'm confident that both are going to make plays. Nate [Longshore] has the experience, but I know both are capable of making plays.
DL Cameron Jordan
[On defensive line] The d-line is such a cohesive family, it's always really sad when one person goes down. A couple of weeks ago, Kendrick Payne went down and a lot of people stepped up to the challenge - Keith Browner and Ernest [Ouwsu] stepped up. So now with Rulon down, I'm definitely going to have to step my game up in all aspects of the game - the run, especially.