Sept. 17, 2003
BERKELEY - Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into the Cal's game at Illinois. The contest will be televised by ESPN Plus - a pay-per-view service on ESPN GamePlan - and can be heard on the radio on KGO Radio (810 AM) in the Bay Area.
On Illinois QB Jon Beutjer
"He is a great competitor. He was banged around last week and kept getting up - that showed me a lot about his character. He is a big guy with good arm strength."
On Illinois' defense
"They do a lot of things defensively to get you one-on-one quite a bit up front. Then they use their linebackers to fill the gaps. They are very physical. Derek Strong is the most physical and really comes off the edge. They get a great push with their front guys and do a commendable job of getting up the field and creating pressure."
On Cal's quarterback situation
"Aaron (Rodgers) will start and play, and we will see how it goes. He did a nice job last week. In no way, shape or form is Reggie (Robertson) a scapegoat for what has happened to us so far this year. He has done a good job. He has done a tremendous job as a leader and has run the offense efficiently. But Aaron can do a little more for us in terms of arm strength - he can get the ball all over the field. But Reggie will have to stay prepared even though we are not going to continue to rotate the quarterbacks. It is time to name a starter now that we going into conference play. I know Reggie is disappointed, but he is a team guy and I know he will stay ready."
On Illinois' mentality
"Their defense is really stingy. The way they played against UCLA showed me that they are a tough team. The offense kept battling back and made plays when they needed it."
On what the Bears have to do to be successful
"When the time comes, we have to make the big play or make the big stop. We need to make plays defensively and get the ball back to offense. We also need to convert on third down so we don't have to settle for field goals."
On Aaron Rodgers' development
"He has surpassed any expectation that I have of a first-year guy learning the offense. He is a student of the game - a real coach on the field. He has a good understanding of what's going on on the field. He has good thoughts and concepts, and he will only get better from the experience of actually doing it in a game situation."
On OG Ryan O'Callaghan
"Ryan O'Callaghan played well. I am happy to see him back healthy playing again. He is big, and does a fine job on run blocking and pass protection. He's very athletic for his size and has great feet. He has the potential to be a very dominating player. He can play both guard and tackle. When he can get in the weight room for a whole off-season, then he could become something special."
On Cal's running game
"It started slow last week, but we got it going. We had a couple plays that could have been bigger plays than what they were. We have the ability to run the ball. We just have to hang on to it. Our backs have actually done a good job of hanging on to the ball so far. They understand, though, that if the ball gets on the ground, they are going to come to the sideline for a while."
On the team's outlook
"I was very impressed with the attitude of the team at practice (Monday). There is strong belief there, and they understand that we have to be disciplined and make plays. No matter who goes down, someone is going to have to step up and play. Now we are going to rally around the young guys and put our belief in them."