March 6, 2000
Berkeley - Each week before the start of spring football practice, Cal Associate Athletic Director Kevin Reneau is doing an interview with a key member of the Golden Bear Football program. This week, he visited with tailback Joe Igber, the first Cal freshman to ever put together three consecutive 100-yard games.
KEVIN RENEAU: EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW HOW THE SHOULDER YOU HURT LAST YEAR FEELS AND WHETHER THERE ARE ANY RESIDUAL EFFECTS.
JOE IGBER: The shoulder feels fine. It's almost back to where it was. I figure it will be 100 percent by the start of spring ball. I'm doing basically everything in terms of the off-season workouts. I'm not really doing the heavy bench pressing, but I'm doing all the other lifts.
KR: WHAT ARE YOUR OFF-SEASON GOALS?
JI: I'm working on some areas Coach (Ron) Gould has emphasized. I'm working on getting quicker and mainly on getting faster. I want to have the type of breakaway speed where I can make the long runs. Watching films of last year, I looked all right, but I'd like to get more separation when I shake people. I also want to improve on being more aware when I run the football, being calm with the ball in my hands. I'm weighing about 195 to 197. I want to play at 190 next year, maybe 195 if I can maintain my quickness and improve my speed.
KR: WHAT IS YOUR 40 TIME?
JI: I really haven't been timed since my sophomore year in high school and I think I was around 4.5 then. However, I can sense that I'm getting faster during our off-season workouts with Coach (Todd) Rice.
KR: HOW BIG A CHANGE IS IT FOR YOU TO BE IN A FULL-SCALE OFF-SEASON WORKOUT PROGRAM?
JI: It's a big change since I've never worked with weights before. We have to be in the weight room twice a day during the week and that's a lot more than I've ever done before. We're doing some work with the hip flexor, doing the squats and the cleans and doing some resistence work with the sleds. It's all about building the core strength. I can definitely feel myself getting stronger. My legs are getting stronger and I can feel much better horizontal velocity.
KR: WERE YOU SURPRISED BY YOUR SUDDEN EMERGENCE LAST YEAR AS A STARTER AND WITH THE 100-YARD GAMES YOU WERE ABLE TO PRODUCE?
JI: As much as I was surprised by the way last year turned out, since I didn't expect to be a starter, I now realize that I can't be content with what happened. I have some experience now and I want to work hard and get better.
KR: WHAT TYPES OF GOALS DO YOU HAVE FOR 2000?
JI: I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't set some goals. The main thing is I'm hoping to start. It's tough getting into the flow of the game when you're coming off the bench. However, Marcus (Fields) and Saleem (Muhammad) are great players to, so I just want to contribute. We don't know how the chips will fall, in terms of starting and playing time. The individual goals are secondary to helping the team win. As a running back, I just want to help us make first downs and score, something we didn't do enough of last year.
KR: WHAT ABOUT YOUR STYLE? DO YOU COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYBODY?
JI: I really don't get into that. I don't see if I cut like Barry Sanders or put my head down like Emmit Smith or run like Eddie George. I just try to be myself. What I'm doing on the field is instinctual -- basically just trying not to get blasted.
KR: YOU SEEMED TO HAVE IT GOING PRETTY GOOD LAST YEAR BEFORE THE SHOULDER INJURY LATE IN THE WASHINGTON GAME. WHAT TYPE OF SETBACK WAS THAT?
JI: The injury was devastating. Psychologically, when I was trying to come back, I felt like I was trying to protect the shoulder and I was pretty cautious. The last couple games, I felt much better. I don't think it will be a factor this season.
KR: WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST THRILL LAST YEAR?
JI: Every time I got on the field, I felt really privileged. Every game was really exhilerating. It was the whole thing, my first carry against Rutgers, the long run at BYU, the 100-yard gtames, everything. The UCLA game stood out. It was down in Los Angeles, before a big crowd on a nice day at the Rose Bowl and we won.
KR: WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE NUMBER CHANGE, GOING FROM 29 LAST YEAR TO NO. 6 THIS SEASON?
JI: It's just keeping up a tradition. I never had the same number from season to season in high school. I was No. 2, No. 3 and No. 12 during my three years in high school. I really didn't like 29 that much and I wanted to get into a single digit.
KR: DOES THAT MEAN YOU'LL CHANGE AGAIN NEXT YEAR?
JI: We'll have to see how it goes, but I would like to change again. That's something we'll deal with later.
KR: HOW IS SCHOOL GOING THUS FAR?
JI: The first semester went really well as I had a 3.75 GPA, but this semester is much tougher. I'm taking math and physics and a history class. I just hoping to pull a "B" average this semester as these classes are tough.
KR: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
JI: I'd like to major in civil engineering and I'll apply for that school after my sophomore year. I'll also see how far football goes and ride it as far as it goes.
KR: CAN YOU GIVE US A REGULAR DAY FOR YOU THIS SEMESTER?
JI: I usually wake up about 5 a.m. and then we have workouts in the stadium from 6 to 8 a.m. Then I have classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., unless it's Tuesday when I'm in class from 8 until 3. Then I'm back up to the stadium for another workout. After a quick bite at dinner in the dorms, I'm doing homework until 10 or 11 p.m. and then it's back up the next day for the same thing.
KR: WHAT DO YOU DO FOR RELAXATION?
JI: Really, there's not much time for that. When I'm free, I might try to get some extra sleep. Or I might spend time with Joseph (Echema, Igber's teammate and roommate) just talking. Sometimes we'll play video games.
KR: WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A LAID-BACK PERSON?
JI: Oh, yeah, definitely. It may be the environment coming from the Islands or just my personality, probably a little of both. I'm not an argumentative or confrontational type person.
KR: DO YOU MISS HOME AND HOW HAS THE TRANSITION BEEN TO THE BAY AREA?
JI: I do miss it, but the transition has been pretty smooth. I've been lucky to have teammates that have been really nice to me. I do have a friend from high school that is attending San Jose State, so I'll see him from time to time. In many ways, things are pretty much the same as in high school. I spent all my time there either doing classwork or athletics, so the transistion hasn't been all that much different.