Oct. 9, 2007
BERKELEY - The University of California football team, sitting at a perfect 5-0, has risen to No. 2 in the nation - its highest ranking since the 1951 season. The Golden Bears are back in action this Saturday, playing Oregon State at home on Oct. 13 for Homecoming. Tickets for the game are still available by visiting www.CalBears.com or by calling 1-800-GO-BEARS. California hosted its seventh weekly press conference 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:
On Oregon State's rushing game:
You watch these guys on tape, not only the rush defense but the pass rush, they're really, really good up front--very good front four, great linebackers. They play with a lot effort, a lot of energy. They play really, really hard. There's no question that this is the best group that we've played. We have a lot of respect for them. They've done a great job. They really get after you and they get after the quarterback. They've done a really nice job--they give up 43 yards a game rushing and I think whatever they have, 25 sacks or something like that, both might lead the nation, and I know it does for sure the conference. You watch the tape and you can tell that these guys are for real.
On defending against the pass rush:
It's something we're going to have to do. We have our work cut out for us. There's no question that it's key for us to keep the quarterback standing and stay out of long-yardage situations.
On the USC-Stanford game:
We didn't talk much about it, but I'm sure they all saw it [the score]. We have talked about it all the time though--that we have to be prepared. It's really about us, that we have to get better everyday, to get better everyday at practice to reach our full potential, and that's what we focus on. I saw some of the game. Everything kind of went Stanford's way, it seemed like. You have to take your hat off to them for that quarterback to come in, he did a really nice job. You have to be pretty impressed with Stanford's defense, they really played well. I wasn't thinking anything except for it's typical. In this conference, anything can happen, every team in our conference is good so nothing surprises me.
On Oregon State's running back Yvenson Bernard:
He's solid, he always is. He's a very hard runner, great vision, kind of a flasher and has great balance. He's just a very, very good player.
On backup quarterback Kevin Riley:
Kevin has done a good job in meetings and understands the offense so we're impressed with that. Obviously he hasn't been in any football games, that's the issue, [experience].. He's had a lot of reps the past couple weeks and a lot of reps in camp. He understands the offense perfectly well. Kevin's a mentally tough guy so there's a lot of confidence. He throws the ball very, very well. I see a comfort zone there, I see a comfort level because obviously with more snaps you get more comfortable--the team gets more comfortable with him, he gets more comfortable with the offense--and that will continue. It's been good for him to get most of the reps last week.
On running back Justin Forsett:
Justin runs very hard, and the offensive line has done pretty well. He's challenged this week but we have no questions about Justin's toughness or ability to run with the football.
On linebacker Zack Follett:
The guys who have filled in have done a nice job, but Zack brings a little something special, flying around the field and coming off the edge on pass rush, things like that. So it's nice to see him back out there, running around.
On linebacker Worrell Williams:
He's done well, he's done fine. He's made a lot of plays there and I think he gets more comfortable each and every week and he's a leader out there.
On receiver DeSean Jackson's thumb:
DeSean's fine. His thumb's a little swollen still, a little sore, but it hasn't hindered him catching the football at all. He's catching with his hands very well.
On Oregon State:
Schematically they're very good. They move a lot, they twist a lot. They have some different schemes that they show you. They come very, very hard. Their guys are relentless in the rush and they're very athletic. They're very good at what they do. Very athletic, tough, fast guys. Schematically, they're very good at what they do, they do a lot of moving. They pick people off but they do it full speed. You have some teams that have those schemes but aren't able to pull them off because they don't have the speed to get there but these guys have the speed and athleticism to get there and do what they do. A lot of the teams, you don't see a lot of the twisting because it takes them too long to get around the corner, or what have you, but these guys can get it done, they're really good at what they do.
On OSU's defensive injuries:
That won't affect them. They have very good back-ups in those positions. The front seven is very, very good and those guys are all healthy and ready to go. Their back-up corners are good players, they've been on tape enough to see them, and they're very good players as well.
On the rankings:
I didn't even think about that. Again, it really makes no difference. It's no different for us if we're 2 or 6 or 3 or 12 or whatever. It really doesn't matter until the end of the season, no matter what you're ranked. The target, the bull's eye on us is there no matter what. Teams are going to come in and give you their best shot. You just know that's the way it's going to be no matter what you're ranked.
On Oregon State's last win at Cal:
They put a lot of pressure on our passer and we weren't able to run the football very well. We just didn't make a lot of plays in the passing game and you need to be able to make plays in the passing game. And you need to establish a run game.
On if having a target on Cal is rewarding:
I don't know how rewarding that is. Our teams have played well over the past few years. Going back all the way to when that team beat Virginia Tech in the bowl game , that was a group that played very, very well. Is it gratifying that we win games? Yes, it's great for the kids, and it's great for the fans and all that kind of stuff. I don't really look at how rewarding it is, you never really stop to think about that. We haven't changed the way we practice. You don't go out to practice and say, "Ok we're being hunted this week," or, "OK, we're the hunters." As long as we focus on what we do and trying to do our best, that's all that matters. That's the mindset that we've had since day one and that's the mindset that we still have.
On Cal gaining national attention:
We don't really think about being a national story. I think about Oregon State and how we can be successful this week against Oregon State. All the other things outside are external, they really are. It's not something to get caught up on or think about or anything. It's about our day-to-day preparation and what we can do to hopefully be successful against Oregon State.
On keeping the team focused:
I think it's a very focused group. It's not the first time they've been ranked. It's not the first time that they've been in big games or anything like that. There's enough leadership on this team to know what it's all about. Guys have been here long enough and have been in the top 10 or whatever and know how to handle how we're supposed to take care of our business. I think they understand that focus is the key and that we need to prepare well--that's something that hasn't changed. I have a lot of confidence in our guys to go into practice every day with that mindset.
CAL PLAYER QUOTES:
Junior OL Mike Tepper
[If he watched any college football during bye week] I was camping and had zero contact with any football on Saturday, so I had no idea about USC until Sunday afternoon. I was driving on this gravel road and I got a hint of reception and I must have received about 30 text messages letting me know that USC had lost. It was unbelievable.
[On the significance of the rankings] I think everyone thinks about it. It's pretty amazing to be ranked No. 2 in the nation. But honestly as good as it is to be ranked No. 2, I have so many things to work on as an individual. If we [as on offensive line unit] played to our full potential, we would be unstoppable. So I'm not so much worried about the rankings, but rather worried about my technique [as on an offensive lineman].
[On the importance of a bye week] The bye week was good for the ones [first-team units] to rest up and improve their technique. The twos and threes got some work in at practice and had a couple of scrimmages. But for the most part we got a lot of rest and worked on technique.
Senior LB Greg Van Hoesen
[On Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard] He's a tough runner he's got some good juke moves, he can make a move in the hole and he can go the distance if you don't wrap him up. I could compare him to Justin [Forsett] in terms of size and speed; we'll have our hands full, no doubt.
[On the No. 2 ranking] I think it's a great thing for our school and great for our reputation, but the rankings don't mean much until December. So it's great to see us up that high and great publicity for the school, but in terms of football, we have tough games from here on out and we have to focus every week. We can't afford to look ahead.
Junior LB Worrell Williams
[General] We have had a lot thrown at us this season [in regards to variety of offenses]. We're just getting prepared for the second half of the season. Oregon State is a great opponent and we are not going to take them lightly at all. They came in here [in 2005] and embarrassed us.
Senior RB Justin Forsett
[General] I feel real refreshed. It was a much needed break. Oregon State has a real solid and physical defense. They've only been allowing 43 yards per game [tops in the nation]; they've always been good on defense. They are aggressive, they get off the blocks great and they never stop. I look forward to that challenge [of facing that type of defense]. It's probably the best run defense we've faced all season. Their front seven is really good and they know how to get to the ball.
Senior S Thomas DeCoud
[On Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard] He's a very quick back and very hard to tackle, so we have to corral him so he doesn't get into the open field. We see a guy like that in Justin every day, so it helps us out a little bit.