Sept. 3, 2002
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into the Bears' next game against New Mexico State. Cal will host the Aggies at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7.
I was very proud of our team this weekend. They worked very hard through the spring, summertime and fall camp. They really have bought into the system, they trust one another, they play very well together and made a lot of big plays. I'm very happy for them.
On the first play of the Baylor game
Being a true freshman with the first play out of the chutes, he (David Gray) said the ball felt like it was in the air for like 15 minutes. He almost stumbled and fell, but he caught his balance and when he got into the endzone he didn't know what to do with himself ... he was so excited. I was happy that he made a big play, and he's going to be a great receiver for us for a long time to come.
What were you most excited about from the Baylor game?
I think our defense's ability to fly to the ball, to rally, to create turnovers and put our offense in good field position. The offense was 6-for-6 in the red zone, so we were able to capitalize on that and we didn't turn the ball over. As long as we don't turn the ball over and the defense creates turnovers, you'll always have a chance to win.
How was it being on the sideline as a head coach?
It was great. I really enjoyed being around the players and the emotion of the game. It was great to look in their eyes and see how exciting and intense they were.
What do you do to guard against a big letdown in game 2?
We'll make sure that we focus and work very hard in practice this week. We are playing a very good team, and it's important that our team understands that New Mexico State is very well coached, has a lot of talent and is very hungry. They played South Carolina very close last week and had an opportunity to win. This is going to be a much stiffer test for us.
On quarterback Kyle Boller
I was pleased that Kyle handled the offensive huddle very well. We had a huge game plan going in, but we didn't use very much of it. He was able to run the offense very efficiently on the field. He missed some throws that he should make, but I don't know that he is used to standing on his feet as much as he was on Saturday, so he was a little bit quick in trying to get rid of the ball. He needs to get used to being able to stand in there and deliver the ball.
On playing against New Mexico State's huge offensive line
We've played against Texas and Colorado ... huge offensive lines in the other places that I've been. New Mexico State has a lot of big people up front that play very well. They are very well coached, and it's going to be a challenge for us to stop the run. The key to the game is stopping the run this week.
On the win over Baylor
I'm happy for our staff - they worked very hard - for all of us to come together and do all the little things that it takes to get a team turned around and going in the right direction. It's not just about X's and O's, it's about attitude and discipline that we need to instill in the players. Our coaching staff has spent a lot of time on all of those issues ... recruiting, academics etc... I am happy for the staff that all of the hard work that they put in has paid off for them as well as the team.
On creating a positive atmosphere
When we first got here, it was very evident that anytime there was a mistake made, you could really see their body language go down. A lot of confidence needed to be pumped back into them because they had lost a lot of self-esteem. Creating the positive environment has helped them quite a bit. Relax and play and have fun. We don't need to be so tense. I felt good about our preparation - they weren't too tight and too tense, but they were prepared, focused and ready to play.
On the pass protection
I was happy with the pass protection. The one sack that we had was a blown assignment. For the most part, the offensive line protected the passer very well. Kyle (Boller) only got knocked down that one time, so I was happy with it. We need to continue to protect in different ways, move the pocket and get rid of the ball quickly. All of those things that keep Kyle on his feet and keep defenses off balance are something that we will continue to utilize.
On the team unity
We discussed with the team that we are going to win with class, we're never going to downgrade our opponents and act like we've been in the endzone before when we get there. That was something that I was proud of with our guys ... when they got into the endzone, they handed the ball to the officials right away and got with their teammates. It's all about celebrating with your teammates. We're a team, we're a family and you celebrate with your teammates - you don't need to single out yourself. There's a great feeling of family and camaraderie on the team right now. They are happy for each other and we want to make sure that we do everything with class.
On wide receiver Geoff McArthur
I thought he played very well. He made some big catches. The long ball he came back for was underthrown a little bit and he did a nice job of catching it. He adds dimension to our team. Our receiving core right now (LaShaun Ward, Jonathan Makonnen and Geoff McArthur) gives us three weapons to make us very solid at receiver. Geoff hustled and blocked very hard. You expect him to run the routes hard and catch the balls, but he hustled and blocked very well when we handed the ball off to the backs. It was a total team effort in all phases. I did talk with Geoff, we've sat down and discussed what happened last year. He is a very volatile person and he gets very hyped, but he needs to be able to control himself to a certain degree.
What is your philosophy on the gadget/trick plays?
There will always be gadget plays in the game plan. Whether we use them or not ... maybe or maybe not. We will go into the game prepared with them all the time.
On the special teams
The special teams played very well. We protected the punter very well. Tyler Fredrickson punted the ball for almost a 40-yard average. Our cover teams did an excellent job of covering. Mike McGrath played excellent on the kickoff coverage team. We kicked the ball off 11 times and our kickoff coverage team did an excellent job. Our kickoff return did an excellent job as well. Mark Jensen hit the pole on the missed field goal but he hit it well, it was just offline a little bit. That was really the only flaw in the kicking game.
How has the team responded after the win?
I looked at that yesterday in practice to see how our team responded. We didn't respond any differently than a team like Oregon does. I was looking to see if they would be a little bit giddy and happy-go-lucky, but they weren't. They were business as usual. Football is such a roller coaster and if we can stay even with our temperament, we need to try to keep it that way. It's a game of ups and downs, and we can't get too high or too low during the game. When we had that huge lead over Baylor, the guys were excited, but they weren't too emotional to where they lost focus of what was going on.
On the fullback situation
Chris Manderino has done an excellent job. He's very tough, he's very smart and he catches the ball very well. He did an excellent job, had a great game and he's very dependable. He makes very few mental mistakes, blocks very well and he catches the ball well ... and our fullbacks are going to catch the football.
On the running backs
We'll probably stick with the top two as far as tailbacks are concerned. Depending on the game, we might play the other ones. I think it was important to get Marcus O'Keith into the game, to get a little feel for what he can do and to get him some game experience. He did a nice job. He's our fourth tailback, and he did a nice job preparing himself mentally for the game. I was happy with his assignments.
Assessing the New Mexico State secondary
Their safeties are very good. They like to play very aggressive with the safeties. They protect their corners a little bit with zone coverage and a lot of off-man when they play man. They don't get up and bump very often when it comes to man coverage. Their safety, Siddeeeq Shabazz, is a very good player.
On team slogans and mottos
There's a few of them that I think is within the team. One of them is called, 'Hold the Rope.' When we talk about being there to hold the rope ... if your off the cliff that you're going to hold the rope, even if your hands are bleeding, for your teammate. They are there to back their teammates and be accountable and responsible for their teammates in all aspects of what's going on ... socially, athletically and academically. The 'March to Victory' slogan is our motto. I think it would be great as the players got off the bus on gamedays, that we could get some fan support. We are going to park the bus at the end of Maxwell Family Field (formerly Kleeberger Field) and walk down the Fun Zone to the stadium. I think it would be great if we could have a great fan turnout to show their support for the players. I know that they would appreciate that quite a bit. This normally happens two hours and 10 minutes before the game (Saturday, Sept. 7 at 1:20 p.m.).