Nov. 3, 2009
BERKELEY - California head coach Jeff Tedford, junior quarterback Kevin Riley and other Cal players addressed the media during the weekly Cal football media luncheon held Tuesday in the Hall of Fame Room at Memorial Stadium prior to the Golden Bears' game vs. Oregon State this Saturday, Nov. 7 (4 p.m. PT). Following are selected comments of what Tedford and Riley had to say.
HEAD COACH JEFF TEDFORD
On his birthday November 2
"Just another day."
On the Oregon State Beavers
"They're an excellent football team. It never seems to change with them. Offensively, they're as explosive as anyone. With the Rodgers brothers [RB Jacquizz and WR James], they do such a great job. Their offensive line is always so well coached and so physical and create gaps for Jacquizz to run in, and then James, they do so many good things with him with screens and flys, and now he's at receiver. And [QB Sean] Canfield's playing very well, very accurate throwing the ball. So, tough group to stop. I don't know that you're ever going to stop them completely. You just hope to limit them because they are very explosive. Jacquizz is a tough guy to tackle. And then on defense they're as stingy as they have been in the run game. They're doing a great job there. Like I said, the picture never really changes with those guys. They're doing a great job."
On whether he has seen such a combination of a playmaking back and receiver as the Rodgers brothers in another opponent
"No, I don't know. I don't know what the teams on our schedule left have. They do such a great job by utilizing those guys' talents. They're so versatile in what they do. They catch the ball well, they run well with the ball after they get it in their hands. And it's not just those two, they have other guys that do a fine job as well. And Canfield is playing very well, like I said, spreading the ball around, doing a nice job. They're doing a nice job protecting him. It's a tough offense."
On what may account for the Rodgers brothers' ascension to a higher level of play this season
"I think [with] Jacquizz, [what they do is] very similar, but I think James is the one who it seems they're putting in different areas. Last year I thought he was a big fly, sweep runner and reverse runner and throwing little bubble screens and things like that, and now you see him down the field catching balls at different levels. Seems like he's just become more of a part of their offense in everything that they do besides just a role player."
On whether Jacquizz Rodgers is catching more balls coming out of the backfield
"He does, yeah, he catches balls out of the backfield with screens and swings and not too many downfield, but there's a lot of little things that he does."
On whether stopping the Beavers' kick return game is an emphasis in practice this week
On why kick return coverage has been a problem at times this year
"There's different reasons. Sometimes it's where the kick is, sometimes it's getting out of our lanes, getting blocked, not getting off blocks. It's not just one thing. We just need to improve. Kick the ball where we need to kick it. It's not an effort issue, I don't think. It's just a matter of improving and recognizing where the return's going and then defeating the return."
On whether he is concerned about any lull that could allow an opponent back into the game after building a lead, such as when ASU came back last Saturday during the second quarter after Cal led 14-0
"I don't know that that's a lull. We fumbled the ball inside the 5-yard line. Anytime you do that, that's problems. And then they did a play-action, hit a nice big ball for a touchdown and it's a one-play deal. I don't know that you'd say that's a lull. You give them ball inside the 5[-yard line] with a turnover, it's bound to result in some points, and then they make a big play, but besides that, I don't know that you'd characterize that as a lull."
On the team's growing confidence following its third straight win last Saturday at Arizona State
"Yeah, I think you take a lot out of a game like that, that goes back and forth and you stick together and there's adversity throughout the game. It really kind of gave us the opportunity to kind of exercise some of the things we talk about, about overcoming adversity, temporary setbacks, continue to play, play for each other, all those type of things. And this is the first game [that was decided late]... we hadn't been in one of those games yet ... We ended up having one and I thought they responded well to it. By no means was it a perfect game. Way too many penalties, which is uncharacteristic. Can't have that. Can't turn the football over inside the 5-yard line. There's still a lot of improvement to be done for us."
On whether he has figured out what caused the high number of penalties Cal committed against ASU (12-115)
"No. I think there was a lot of penalties by both teams in that game [ASU: 11-123]. It's little things, either false start or using poor judgment blocking in the back on a return. I thought one of the personal fouls was not really a personal foul at all. The one they called on [Aaron] Tipoti wasn't at all. The official didn't see that properly. The guy tried to block him and he was just running to the ball, and that guy ended up getting knocked down so he called it on us, but that wasn't anything that Aaron did wrong. But we need to tighten that up. There's no question about that."
On the facemask penalty against Marvin Jones on the team's final game-winning drive
"You can't really tell on tape. You can't tell if he's got him by the facemask or if his hand's just kind of up. You can't tell on tape, but the official was right there so obviously he saw something."
On the experience and confidence Kevin Riley gained by leading a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter at ASU last Saturday
"I think anytime you can have an experience like that, it kind of lays the foundation to draw from that experience and that confidence that it's been done. And I thought he handled it really well. I thought coach [Andy] Ludwig did a great job of calling that series and everybody played a role in making that possible. But I don't think that that's anything new for Kevin. I think Kevin has all the confidence in the world to do that. It just gave him an opportunity to do that, and it's something we can draw from as far as a team, that experience."
On whether he considered replacing Giorgio Tavecchio with Vince D'Amato for the final field-goal attempt at ASU after Tavecchio had missed two field goals earlier in the game
"We talked about it but decided to stay with Giorgio."
On whether he holds his breath watching tape of Shane Vereen's passing attempt at ASU, and if in hindsight that was too risky a play call
"[I hold my breath] a little bit. When it bounced off that guy's helmet, it could have bounced back in or it could have bounced out, and luckily it bounced out. But no, because if it's not open he's going to pull it down and run with it. [TE Anthony Miller] was open quick and the ball just hung a little bit. I don't regret that. I thought Anthony was going to be wide open at the back of the end zone, because they were pretty aggressive at that time, coming downhill out of that formation and what we had done. Scoring a touchdown right there, we still had a timeout. It was only second down so we could center the ball still and put the ball in a position for the kicker. It made them use their timeout - they only had one left at the time. ... we were going to take it all the way down to three [seconds] and then call our timeout, but it made them use theirs."
On whether QB Kevin Riley demonstrated poise in his 2007 game against the Beavers, his first career start, even though it didn't end successfully
"Kevin's always been a great competitor, no question about that. [He] has a lot of confidence in his abilities. The other day [at ASU], that wasn't a complete shock, that Kevin's able to hold his composure and keep it going. He's done that a lot. I've seen that a lot from him. Because he's played in some tough games where he's had a lot of pressure on him and things like that, and he's always handled it well. The mental part of it and the emotional part of it, I've never seen Kevin crack or succumb to the pressure of what's going on. Everyone around him hasn't always given him the best opportunity to succeed, and that's a team thing just like this was a team thing. Everyone had a part in that drive."
On other ways Riley has matured
"The maturity and preparation, and what it takes to prepare, he does a great job of that, the understanding that he has. Anytime you're a young quarterback and you come in, there's a lot of learning you need to do, just the amount of preparation that goes into game-planning week in and week out, and understanding what we're trying to get done, he does that a lot faster now. It's natural to kind of grow that way. Playing quarterback, there's a lot to it besides just throwing the football - making sure the formations are right and managing the clock and so on and so forth, getting in and out of the huddle and getting the signals and communicating the play clear and concise, and all those type of things. He's really turned into a great leader."
On how much Riley grew from the Oregon State game in 2007
"I felt like he handled it well right away. It was a situation where he did a great job throughout the game and it was one play [time running out after he was tackled on a run on the OSU 10-yard line with the Bears trailing 31-28 and in field goal range]. I thought his team stayed behind him really well, and I thought he put it in proper perspective and moved on from it and didn't let it affect him negatively. But that's kind of the growth maturity of any player, especially a quarterback. There's going to be situations that you experience that really kind of challenge you. As a quarterback, a lot of times you either get too much credit or too much blame, and I think as Kevin has matured, just playing more, that he can kind of put that in perspective and just focus on the job at hand and not let all the external things weigh on him."
On whether the long period following the 2007 loss to Oregon State (Oct. 13) and the next time he played at the Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 31) was hard on Riley and his desire to redeem himself
"I don't know. I'm sure he would have liked to have been back on the field again, but when he came back, he played about as well as you can play in the bowl game."
On what may account for Oregon State's difficulties in pass defense
"I've seen where [OSU's opponents are] pretty well covered, but guys making great plays. Like UCLA, I think they had like a 50-yard touchdown pass last week. The guy's covered like a blanket and UCLA's receiver reaches up with one hand and makes a great catch and then finishes off the play. People have competed for the ball and made some plays against them. It's not because you see guys running wide open all over the place."
On whether anything has changed with his process of selecting the starting kicker for the Oregon State game and what he can do to strive for better consistency in that phase of the game
"We're going to evaluate again through the week, as we did. It was a pregame decision [at Arizona State]. It wasn't the day before the game, it was who kicked it better in pregame was going to kick. And so we'll continue to evaluate through this week and see how they practice throughout the week."
On what might have contributed to Tavecchio's two missed field goals
"It was just kicked wide."
On whether there are advantages to waiting until pregame to select the starting kicker
"It may. The thing about it is, every phase of the kicking game happens throughout the week. There's field goals one day and then there's kickoffs the next day, and then field goals again, and so it's a process throughout the week. It's not just a one-day evaluation. Sometimes it might be somebody is the field goal kicker and somebody is the kickoff guy. We're always going to have both [Tavecchio and Vince D'Amato] ready and travel both of them, just to make sure that - we don't ever want to get stuck in a situation like the UCLA game, where Vince got hurt and all of a sudden you're in a situation where if the game's on the line for a field goal, you don't have a field goal kicker, so we're going to travel both of them always."
On the low sack total of the Beavers and whether they do get pressure on the quarterback
"They're getting very close. They harass the quarterback a lot. They do a nice job, they have a nice blitz package, play really hard up front, so they get after it pretty good."
On whether WR Alex Lagemann can be expected to get more playing time against OSU
"Lagemann has been right there. He's been practicing well. There was a role that he played last week and he really showed that he has the capabilities of coming through. He made some big plays last week. He's just been growing more and more, and we have confidence in Alex. It depends what the game plan calls for."
On Oregon State head coach Mike Riley
"He's done a great job. He's a great coach. I know he has the utmost respect from me and I think throughout the conference, he does a great job of putting their players in position to be successful, always has."
JUNIOR QB KEVIN RILEY
On whether he feels different this week having led the team on its game-winning final drive last week at Arizona State
"It just feels good to get a win and continue, get that little winning streak going again. Our goal from the bye week is to finish the season undefeated and we've done a good job so far, so we just want to continue doing that."
On whether three straight wins have created heightened confidence
"Yeah, definitely, and I think a lot of people keep on stepping up and making plays. Especially receivers, I think they're getting more confidence, especially last week with that last drive. I think a lot of people made a lot of plays in clutch situations, so we've just got to continue to get better and win."
On how he felt watching film of the final game-winning drive at Arizona State
"Watched it once and felt good. I mean, I remember it during the game. It's just good to see it on film. Everybody made the right reads for receivers and we were all just on key and ready to go, so it was good to see everybody was ready."
On his reaction to the Oregon-USC game and its outcome
"Surprised, definitely, but I thought Oregon could win. Playing against Oregon, after playing against both those teams, I thought Oregon's 'D', I think they did a better job against us, at least. Game-planning wise, I think they're in better situations. We played bad both games so it doesn't really matter. If you look lately, since our game, Oregon's offense, it looks like it's been on fire and continued that. I didn't really get to see the whole game."
On the Oregon State defense and what he sees
"I see what they've done in the past. They do what they do, and they do it well. They have athletes, lost a couple guys from last year but the guys coming back are good players as well. Bring good pressure on the quarterback, always have. Backers, secondary all good players. They don't do a ton of amount of things but they just run their things and they do it well, and they always have."
On whether he likes the position Cal is in at this point, all things considered
"Yeah, absolutely. It's the best situation we could be in after the bye week. The game on Saturday wasn't pretty in all means, but we won and that's all that matters. I'll take that any week. We just have to fight out. Every game we have left is going to be a fight. Just got to find ways to win. That's what we've got to do."
On how much better, ugly wins aside, Cal needs to play to stay on the winning track
"Definitely. You always can get better. I can do a better job taking care of the ball. I just got caught in some awkward situations. I feel like I usually do a good job of taking care of it, but it's just one of those things where it didn't go my way on a couple of plays. Penalties hurt us, we'll definitely minimize that. We've done a great job all year of not getting very many penalties and putting ourselves in tough situations, but it's going to be a dogfight. Every game left, we play good teams and this week we play a great team. We've got to find a way to win. That's all there is to it."
On what he learned from his first career start, which came against Oregon State in 2007 and ended with him tackled while running the ball on the OSU 10-yard line and not enough time to get the field goal unit onto the field
"Big mistake, that's all there is to it. New situation, but when the play developed, I just kind of forgot about trying to move up in the pocket and make a play. It just didn't work out. If it was now in that situation I just would have thrown the ball out of bounds right away, in the pocket. It's just something you learn from, and I've learned from it and gotten better."
On whether it was tough to wait for his next opportunity following that 2007 loss vs. OSU
"It was tough. They were doing a great job up 'till then, and I think it was harder more when we started losing games, just watching that. It was definitely tough because we started a losing streak and that was the first game we lost and went from there."
On whether there is extra motivation facing Oregon State
"Haven't beat them when I've played, so I'd like to beat them, that's for sure. Both years we've had chances to beat them and we haven't, and we've just got to win."
On how much he has heard about the 2007 game against Oregon State since that difficult ending
"It was a big highlight on ESPN ... After a while, I was cool with it. You'd see it on TV like a week after, and I remember everyone was staring and not saying anything, and I go, `Hey everybody, I'm on TV!' You've got to try and lighten up the mood a little bit. It was a mistake but you've got to learn from it. You can't dwell on it. I think 20 No. 2 teams lost that year, every week. I went to the bowl game and they showed it like five times there, too ... It's all part of the deal."