October 6, 1998
BERKELEY - Weekly Press Conference October 6, 1998
On the week off:
"We needed it for a number of different reasons. First, we were a little banged up coming out of the Washington State game and a couple of guys might not have been able to play in the game if we would have played a game on. Second, we needed to have the time to remedy and cure some of the woes that we were having offensively. And third, any time you have two weeks to prepare for one team, it is beneficial to you. Last year, USC had a bye before they played us, and they had a couple of new wrinkles for us that kind of caught us by surprise. Hopefully, we can return the favor against the Trojans this year."
On playing USC in Los Angeles:
"It is a big game for us, no question about it, and I'm looking forward to going down to LA. Two years ago, there was a lot of hype about Cal not being able to win down there. To get the monkey off our back will help our players (Cal won, 22-15, in 1996). Just being able to have won down there will take a lot off our players' minds. A lot of guys on our team today played in that game, and that will be beneficial and give them confidence that they probably wouldn't have had if it had been 28 years (since Cal's last win at USC)."
On the importance of the USC game:
"Each succeeding game that we play has been the most important game of the season, and I don't think that anybody can argue that. This game now takes on that new mantle of being the most important game. Nebraska and Oklahoma don't really mean anything now, but at the time they were extremely important, and this game now is extremely important to us. It puts us in a beautiful position to win the game."
On Cal's defense:
"What you want to get out of a program is not having to reshuffle after every year, that each year you lose a couple, but a couple of guys are ready to step in. That is what we are trying to do, and I feel good that defensively we are starting to stabilize, and that is important."
On offensive guard Brandon Ludwig:
"Going into this game, Brandon Ludwig will be the starter, and I think he is getting better. He is more acclimated now to being the starter. He's coming off the knee injury, and he is better conditioned and more adaptive to playing the whole game. And that will help us."
Looking ahead to Saturday:
"I think we made small steps in the first three weeks, and then we obviously took a step backwards against Washington State. It is going to be interesting to see how we can perform offensively against USC down there. I think they may be better than Nebraska defensively. They have some very good players, and to play them down in the Coliseum will be a big challenge for our offense, and our whole team."
On seeing both Mike Van Raaphorst and John Fox at quarterback in the game:
"I would anticipate that we would see both of them. I think he (Paul Hackett) has let it be known that Mike Van Raaphorst will start. Both of those guys are young guys and they are going through some growing pains offensively. I expect USC to get better and better offensively as the weeks progress."
On the USC aura:
"They expect so much. And now they are starting to retell the fable down there, and that is the way it is. They're fanning the flames. I'm looking forward to it. This is college football. This is fun."
On the receiving corps:
"I don't think Joel Young is the kind of guy that is going to open a game wide open, but he is definitely a guy that when you get into a situation where you need a big down or a big catch, he'll give it to you. I am confident in that. And now the other guys have to step up. The big touchdown catch that Phillip Pipersburg had in the Houston game, we need that back. Our guys have to ask themselves, why not me, why not now, why not against USC in the coliseum. If you want to start a legend, that is how you do it."