Sept. 25, 2007
BERKELEY - The University of California football team opened its Pac-10 Conference season with a win last Saturday at Memorial Stadium against Arizona. The No. 6 ranked Golden Bears play their second road game of the 2007 campaign, making the trip to Eugene, Ore. to take on the Ducks this Saturday. That game will be one of just two games in the nation between ranked teams this weekend. Saturday's game will be televised live by ABC. The Golden Bears hosted their fifth weekly press conference on 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 quarterback Dennis Dixon:
Not only is he athletic, it looks like he's doing with the offense, he's in his comfort-zone right now, there's no question about it. He has great weapons around him, a great offensive line -- they're running the ball very, very well -- and he has great receivers. He's such a threat because when they have the running game, they can throw the football and then he can pull it down and run; it's a very explosive offense. He really looks comfortable with what he's doing. He makes really good decisions on when to pull it down, he hasn't thrown an interception yet, he's making great decisions. When he does pull it down, he can make you miss and that's the scary part, he's not some five-flat guy who's running with the football, when he pulls it down, he can make a lot of yards. It's a scary group.
On if playing Cal is Oregon's first true test of the season:
They played Michigan, I think that's a pretty good test. Michigan has a lot of good players and Oregon did a nice job against them. They really haven't been slowed down. I don't know that you're going to stop them but hopefully we can contain them a little bit. We're going to have to do a good job on offense to help keep our defense off the field because they are very explosive.
On playing offense against Oregon:
I think people have had some good runs against them and some of it happens late in the game when they make some substitutions because they've had big leads and given up some big plays. Their first-team defense has done a pretty good job and I think some of that is misleading because at the end of the game, some guys can get some big plays on them.
On playing at Autzen Stadium:
It's very tough. The crowd there is unbelievably educated about when to be loud and when to calm down when they have the ball. It's a very, very tough environment with the noise and communicating and things like that. It was kind of different my first year back there to be on the other side. They do a nice job there. We had to play in some bad weather a couple years ago, but it's supposed to be around 70 degrees and sunny on Saturday so weather shouldn't be a factor.
On not having won at Oregon since 1987:
That has nothing to do with us. All we can do is say what's happened in the last five years and it seems like the home team has always won. We've had a chance to win up there both times we've played up there, and we didn't pull it off. Twenty-year streaks have nothing do with these guys. Some of them weren't even born 20 years ago so it has nothing to do with them. It's about this year, that's what counts, that's all the matters.
On any frustration for DeSean Jackson:
DeSean's doing great, I'm really pleased with DeSean's attitude. He was really, really happy to win the game last week, he was really fired up that last series where just had to go in and run the ball out, he was fired up. He's got a great attitude and he wants to win as much as anyone. But for us to be successful, we need to try to get the ball in his hands a little bit more. It's not that we haven't been trying. It's just that sometimes they take it away and you can't be foolish and try to force things just to prove a point. It would be nice to have him a little bit more part of the game plan as we move forward here. Our running game has run it very well and the other guys are catching the ball and doing a nice job. It will probably come back to DeSean at some point because I don't know that they can continue to leave the other guys open like they have been doing.
On tailback Justin Forsett:
He has taken some hits and he's bouncing up. You can tell when he's running in traffic, he's moving the pile. He has great balance already but now he has more strength to go along with that. He doesn't go down very easily, you're going to have to bring him to the ground, you're not just going to be able to bump into him and bring him down.
On Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti:
Mike is a great guy, he's a great coach, and they have a great staff. He does a great job with that team. There's not really any philosophy that he has that I think we can take advantage of or anything like that. He's very sound, always makes good decisions with penalty decisions or situations in games, he's very, very sound that way. He does a great job with that team.
On Tedford's past association with Oregon:
I have great respect for them, I have great friends on that staff that I've worked with and I've known for a long time. I don't have any players on that team that I helped recruit or anything like that anymore. All the people there, the fans and the staff, are people that I have a great deal of respect for.
On the value of Justin Forsett's experience entering this year:
I think a lot. If this would have been Justin's true first year of experience, you may not be able to rely on some of that. But he's had a lot of carries for us over the last three years so he's not a rookie by any means. He understands the game, he understands how to hang onto the football, he understands when to stay in-bounds, when it's time to go down, all those types of things. I think all the experience over the past years has helped with all those things.
On containing Oregon junior running back Jonathan Stewart:
They're running the ball close to the 300 yards per game and I think he's the league's leading rusher now. It's key to be able to slow him down a little bit. He's a great player and they have really good schemes and hopefully we don't let him get too loose to often. He's going to get some, you're not going to stop him completely, but hopefully we can limit him.
On kickoff returns:
We are going have to get better there. I think our average starting point was about the 31-yardline and our goal was the 28 but when they get to the 50-yardline that drives you crazy a little bit. I'm not so sure if [with the new kickoff rule] that's going to happen every now and then. I would be very interested to see the difference in the starting positions since they changed the kickoff line, I would have to bet that it's got to be at least 10-15 yards more. We can be better there, it's not just because they moved the kickoff back, we can be better.
Cal Player Quotes:
Senior S Brandon Hampton
[On Autzen Stadium] I like playing on the road. The last time I played there I had a pretty good game and I thought as a team we had a pretty good game. The fans really are loud and they make it hard for the offense [to get into a rhythm]. It's like the last two games here, [Memorial Stadium] there were some false starts and some delay of games.
[On magnitude of game] This will be definitely the toughest game we've played so far. I feel like that every week is a tough game, but this game is more important because we have that rivalry with Oregon. They have a great team and, I'm sure they will be in the running for the Pac-10 towards the end of the season.
[On Dennis Dixon] He's a good player. I know he will be thinking of us this week. He does have a little more confidence this season -- you can tell by [watching film] the decisions he is making and the plays they have him running. He is playing at a high level right now. He can run, he can throw, and he uses the option; they got the whole nine yards.
Junior OL Noris Malele
[General] We try to focus every week and obviously we have to prepare for a great team this week. We have to execute our assignments properly.
[On Autzen Stadium] It's one of the loudest, if not the loudest, stadium in the Pac-10. It's always a fun place to play. It's going to be a tough task [to get a win] but I believe in my teammates that we can handle it and do what needs to get done.
Senior RB Justin Forsett
[On his performance this season] It's good to see my hard work paying off. It feels good to know that I haven't played my best football yet; I know I can do a lot more. I was disappointed in [my performance] in last week's game [Arizona]. I know I have a lot of room for improvement. I didn't run as well and missed some reads, and I didn't block as well [in the Arizona game].