Sept. 18, 2007
BERKELEY - The University of California football team closed out its nonconference schedule with a victory over visiting Louisiana Tech last Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The No. 6 ranked Golden Bears kick off their Pac-10 schedule this weekend against visiting Arizona. Tickets for the game are available by visiting www.Calbears.com or by calling 1-800-GO-BEARS. Saturday's game will be televised live by Versus. The Golden Bears hosted their fourth 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 Cal's defense against Louisiana Tech:
I thought they played well. Early in the game, they really did a nice job of being physical against the run. I don't know about a statement game, it's just a game, just to play defense and play hard-nose defense, I was pleased the way we shut down the run early in the game.
On Arizona's defense struggling:
I don't think they're slowing down at all; they're really good on defense. They've giving up 80 yards a game rushing; they're doing a really good job. They're tough, they're physical up front, they have very good corners, their safeties are very good tacklers, they have one of the best linebacking corps that we've seen; they're very, very solid on defense, and very stingy. You have to take advantage of big plays when you get them against these guys because you're not just going to march the ball on them series-in and series-out, it's not going to happen, they're just too solid. You really have to take advantage of your opportunities when you get them.
On Arizona's Antoine Cason:
He's a great corner, he's kind of a lock-down guy. They can leave him alone, one-on-one with people and he does a really good job. He has a lot of experience, he's been the forever, it seems like. Their whole defense has, to tell you the truth. You look at them and say, "That guy's still there, they've been there for as long as I can remember." But Antoine is a very good corner and so is the other guy and both safeties are really good players--very physical, good tacklers. A good looking team, no question about it.
On last year's loss to Arizona:
It's not something that we're going to talk about every day. I addressed it to the players on Sunday when we had our team meeting, just to remember that feeling of last year. That we did some things in that game to beat ourselves a little bit that we don't allow ourselves to do that this year--be it penalties or having a touchdown called back or a pass interference in the end zone, throwing an interception for a touchdown--there were a lot of things that could have prevented that loss, so we're just try to remember what it felt like last year. We're starting conference play, it's not so much about Arizona, again it's still about us; it's not a revenge factor against Arizona. It's one of the teams in our conference, they're a very good football team and we have got to really focus and play at our best to be successful against these guys.
On the approach to this week's game:
I don't think that we look at games any differently, week to week. The message is always the same and hopefully we can come out and execute because we're going to need to, there's no question. They're explosive on offense too, [Willie] Tuitama is a very good quarterback and he has some weapons there. If he catches fire, they can get rolling. We're going to need to play as close to our potential as we possibly can to be successful.
On preparing for Arizona:
We have to look at what they've done so far and look at some of the stuff that their coordinator did in the past and those types of things. We can only go off of what we see and obviously we can't go back to what they've done last year, it's something that's totally new. It's not the first time we've played against this type of scheme, we've played against these schemes before.
On the Pac-10 Conference:
The Pac-10 is so competitive, you've got to be on top of your game every single week and there's so many good players and all the teams are very well coached, anything can happen every week. It's a tough, tough conference right now.
On Arizona's quarterback Willie Tuitama:
Anytime you get experience like he's retained from last year, he feels the timing of the game, he'll stand in there until the very last second and deliver the ball. He's got a lot of confidence in his arm, no question about that. I think that with the experience, comes a feeling of comfort in the pocket a little bit more. You may be a little bit antsy when you first start out and then you start feeling the timing and what that pocket feels like, you can tell that he feels pretty good back there.
On DeSean Jackson's role in practice this week:
We'll see how it is today but we probably won't expect him to catch any balls for sure today, let his thumb settle down a little bit, he'll have a cast on in practice today. But he practiced all week long with the cast last week as well but we need to let that thing settle down a little bit, stop irritating it through practice. As long as he runs his routes and gets timing and things like that, where he can catch with one hand and where he can't, it's not a big deal in practice right now. The most important thing right now is to get his thumb to settle down so that he can feel comfortable using it. I think he's been real frustrating for him because it's something he counts on, it's his thumb, to grasp and catch the ball. DeSean's not a body catcher, DeSean relies on his hands. He's got great hands and he relies on his hands so he's very natural catching the ball with his hands. He doesn't like catching the ball with his body and that's something that is frustrating to him. It's a [sprained] thumb, it's not a break, it's just a nagging thing for him so it is a little bit frustrating.
On wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins:
Our passing game, we go where coverage dictates we go. I think all the guys that have had balls go their way; it seems he's had more success catching it. If they're going to play outside and double the outside guys then yes, he's the guy that's inside that can work inside very effectively. He has a better understanding [this year] of what's going on. The thing you have to understand about Lavelle is he plays R and Z, he plays both positions. Depending on the personnel group that's in, he probably gets more reps. DeSean always plays X, but when we're in a certain personnel group, Lavelle switches with [junior wide receiver Robert Jordan]. When we're in a three wideout, they're all in, so that's probably why Lavelle gets more looks because he's playing an inside receiver in the three wides and another receiver in our two-wide set. He's taking advantage of it, he's doing a nice job, he's making big plays and he's worked very hard over the summer.
Senior OL Brian De La Puente
We're going to prepare for this game [vs. Arizona] like we would any other game. [The loss last season] did leave a bad taste for the guys who played [in that game] and it is one of those games that we have in the back of our mind. This week we need to just focus on the little things and eliminate the mental errors.
Junior DT Mika Kane
I think everybody feels that we could have done a little better [after the first three games of this season]. There is a sense of wanting to get better. Maybe we got a little complacent after the Tennessee game, but we need to get better.
These past two games we've had a lot of people step up Derrick Hill, Cody Jones. So whatever the case is with Rulon, [referring to injury to Rulon Davis] I think they are ready to step in and take some reps for the team.
Sophomore DE Tad Smith
I think we had something to prove [referring to replacing veterans on the defensive line]. We definitely took it as a challenge to be a solid unit.
We're focused a lot on that [pass rush] this year, and we've wanted to improve our technique and being able to get around blockers.
Senior S Thomas DeCoud
That game [Arizona loss] was something that really hurt what we wanted to accomplish at the end of the season. As a player myself, its something extra that makes me want to win this game.
They [Arizona] have started to [implement] the spread offense this season so it's something we haven't seen from them with the personnel they have, so we have to adjust to that. We go against the spread offense every day [referring to Cal's offense], but now it's going up against different personnel.
Letting that game [Arizona loss] slip away from us was tough. Just knowing that something wasn't working quite right and knowing that we weren't quite the same team that we knew we were was tough for me personally.