Sept. 9, 2008
BERKELEY - The University of California football team improved to 2-0 last weekend with a 66-3 victory at Washington State in Pac-10 action. The Golden bears now return to their non-league slate, traveling across the country for a first-ever meeting with Maryland on Saturday. That game will kickoff at 9 a.m. Pacific and will be televised by ESPN. Cal hosted its third 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 how complete the WSU win was:
It was [complete] but we still made a lot of mistakes. That was the major emphasis as we met as a team on Sunday were all the details we need to improve on if we expect to be a contender. We just didn't play well enough. Sure the game turned out in our favor but there is a lot of detail we still need to pay attention to.
On if Jahvid Best's performance on Saturday was a surprise:
Well, I'm not surprised. You see it every day in practice. Last year as a true freshman in camp you saw glimpses of him making huge plays. He was just getting acclimated to the offense last year when he got hurt. So now that he is an every down back, it doesn't surprise me. He is the type of guy that can get in the open field and when he does, he can go the distance. I think one of the key things, that gets overlooked a little bit maybe, is the willingness and physicalness of our receivers [to block] downfield. Combined with Jahvid's speed to break long runs, our secondary blocking that our receivers are providing [has allowed the big plays].
On Best improving as he gets more experience:
Yeah, you would think with every play. There are certain times when he gets tripped up in the hole where he could read his block a little differently. But I would say there is no question he is going to continue to improve.
On Best handling national attention:
I don't really think that is an issue with Jahvid. Jahvid is a very down to earth guy and he focuses on getting better every day. He is all about team. He is not about individual recognitions. I really don't believe that is an issue with him.
On preparing for the Maryland game:
Well, there are challenges, no question. They have changed some things schematically, especially on defense. Flying across the country provides challenges. But we're going to try to get acclimated, get our body chemistry acclimated to East Coast. We are going to do it while we stay here. We're playing on grass, we're going to practice on grass. There are a few things that we have to pay attention to no question.
On what he learned from playing Illinois in 2003 in a 9 a.m. game:
We have to get our body clock going a couple of days early to make sure that when we wake up it's not something new for us. So same type of schedule pretty much. We're going to change a little bit on Thursday night this year but besides that it's pretty much the same as when we played Illinois.
On Maryland's team:
Offensively, [they have] a big time running back, a big time receiver and a very physical offensive line. Their running back is physical. He is fast. He is one of those guys that if he can get to the secondary, he can go the distance. Their receiver is a big physical guy that's fast as well with big play potential. Defensively, the scheme is a little different this year than it was last year. They play a three-man front now and we're still trying to learn a little about that. There is not a lot of history of it there with them, in terms of that. They have good players. Good defensive line, very good linebacking core. One of their safeties is outstanding. For the most part they are a good football team. I know they are going to be ready to play. They kind of stubbed their toe a little bit last week and they are going to be very motivated to play us for sure.
On keys for the team after two games:
That we continue to develop. That is the key. Walking away from the game, I was very disappointed with our kickoff coverage team. But after looking at the tape, on one of those we had the guy stopped between the 20 and 25 year line. He just reversed field. It was kind of a broken play, he broke out and reversed his field. On the very last one, we just didn't cover very well. We did a little bit better this week covering. We need to continue to improve the tackling on defense. We need to catch the ball better on offense. We have got to have more production out of our passing game. There is a lot to improve on. A lot of it is detail. Just foot placement, hand placement, head placement. You name it there is a lot to improve on.
On any surprise regarding cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson's performance:
No, I'm not surprised. He is a veteran. Not only is he a good athlete but he is a great tackler. He is a student of the game. He takes a lot of pride in studying his opponent. So, I'm not surprised. He is a quality corner, no doubt.
On Thompson as a leader:
Syd is a leader by example. Syd's not going to say much. He is a pretty quiet guy but he is a hard worker. Again he's focused on the team. Syd's not about himself. He's about doing whatever it takes to make this team successful. He's one of those guys that's pretty quiet but I think that everybody respects what Syd does.
On Maryland's RB Da'Rel Scott's similarities to Best:
Well he weighs a little bit more, a little bit more physical this way. He has great speed. I don't know exactly what his speed is but he broke one the other day and took it down the sideline. There is no question he is a great back.
On advantages to having three byes in a season:
It gives you time to heal. It gives you time to get a jumpstart on an opponent after a bye. It gives you time to get your young players involved in what's going on. Normally in a bye week, towards the end of the week you have your young guys scrimmage, which you don't often have chances to do throughout the season.
On the progress on the High Performance Center:
I was amazed at how much they did in one day. We left and in one day all the trees are down. Will it affect our recruiting? I think it will. We can say with confidence and clarity that there is progress being made. We can say that this recruiting class will realize that in their time here. I do think that it will make a difference as we move forward. I am thankful for our student athletes and that they are going to have a new facility. I am grateful for the administration and all the people that have spent the time and money to get this done.
On dealing with the whole tree-sitter situation:
There have definitely been distractions. But I think you get used to it after awhile. All the nuisance, all the gates, all the different parking. When people come from out of town on an unofficial trip you always have to explain what's going on. It's not your normal unofficial visit. You don't just walk up. There are other things going on here. It's something you have to address all the time.
On wide receiver Nyan Boateng:
Nyan knows that he need to improve and wasn't consistent enough to be the starter. I don't think that he was disgruntled and I don't want it to come across that he was. He understood that he needed to improve to get more playing time. He's done that. He is conscience about getting better and being more consistent. He's done that in practice the last few weeks and it was nice to see him get a few catches last week. He is blocking great. He had some great hits against Michigan State. On the broken play against Washington State, Kevin would have never scored if it wasn't for Nyan blocking downfield. He is giving great effort. He is continuing to learn. He has a great attitude. I am really happy with his performance so far.
On the importance of fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou:
Vital. There is no question in our run game the fullback plays such a big part. Will is so smart as to what goes on. He is very physical. Along with the tight end, our linemen and receivers, it's a complete effort and that's why we're breaking those long runs. Will is instrumental at the point of attack.
On remembering Ta'ufo'ou from high school:
Yeah, we were talking about that and how many yards he gained as a high school player. We said that was about 40 pounds ago. He was a walk-on that earned a scholarship. Obviously he has become more physical and he is a great blocker that catches the ball well too. He understands his role. He understands he is a blocker.
On whether he was surprised by Sean Young returning for a sixth year:
Yeah, I was a little surprised by it. He has had some pretty poor luck here as far as he has been injured ever since he has been here. I think that he recognized that there would be an opportunity for him to be a strong contributor. He has always shown signs of being a guy that can make plays but he has never had the chance because of his injuries. It's really gratifying to see that his hard work has paid off and he is contributing to the team. He is our leading receiver right now. He is doing a great job.
On Sean Young as a leader:
I think Sean is providing a very positive leadership at that position. Even though he has been here forever, he goes out to practice and works hard every day. He doesn't take anything for granted. That's part of the whole deal is to have the end of your career at the tip of your nose. To get another chance it kind of revitalizes you a little bit. I think that is where Sean sits right now.
On the three new starters on the O-line:
They are doing an okay job. They can still improve. Alex [Mack] and Noris [Malele] are doing a good job. Who I'm really happy with is [redshirt freshman] Mitchell Schwartz, who is playing well for a first-year player. They all have room to improve. They don't make every block. They make some assignment errors every now and then. Until they play a perfect game they can always improve.
On the excessive celebration call at Washington:
I did show our team [the call] on Sunday, because I want them to understand don't put it in the officials' hands. Just don't do that. It is a judgment call as most calls are judgment calls. I think the intent of the rule is not to call attention to yourself and separate yourself from the team. I don't think that Jake Locker was calling attention to himself whatsoever. I think he was excited to make a big play. He jumped up immediately and celebrated with his teammates. I would have been very upset if they would have called it against us. Now is it the rule by the letter of the law, yes. But I just think that is a judgment. It's unfortunate.
CAL PLAYER QUOTES
LB Zack Follett
[On 3-4 defense] I think we really have the athletes that fit this scheme well. It also presents a challenge to opposing offenses trying to figure out what we're going to do. It puts them in an uncomfortable situation and makes them commit unforced errors, which helps us capitalize on it.
[On how the defensive line is adjusting to the 3-4] They've been doing a great job with everything. They are the biggest key to this defense - if you don't have a front three that can get the job done then it's going to allow teams to just run the ball [the entire game]. [But] our guys held Washington State to 1.6 yards per carry last week and [Michigan State's] Javon Ringer to under 100 yards, so I give a lot of credit to them and what they've been doing.
[On taking pride as a defense to stopping the run] I think going into that first game [Michigan State] was going to test our 3-4 and how it would hold up to their power [running game]. And I think we showed we could do that. The defensive line has been working hard on their pass rush skills and they have gotten a lot better. Once they feel a little more comfortable about what they're doing, they'll be able to get to the quarterback.
[On preparing for a long trip to the East Coast] Coach Tedford is going to take care of everything, make sure we go to bed at the right times. It's going to be an early game for us, so we definitely are going to do something to get our bodies ready for it and I'm excited for it. I think it's a big game for California as a whole to have this East Coast-West Coast game for pride.
WR Sean Young
[On preparing for the time difference] I don't think it will be too much of a challenge. I think we will rise to the occasion. We're getting our body clocks right and we'll be well rested throughout the week. It will be a good experience.
[His thoughts of recording his first career TD at Washington State] It was kind of weird. I was looking at the referee to see if I really scored. I didn't celebrate at first to make sure there were no penalty flags on the ground. It didn't register right away until I ran back to the sideline and thought this is what I've always been waiting for. I told my dad and myself that it was going to happen. I was expecting it and I was dreaming it. It was a signature moment to have come this far and to have been through so much, and I always wanted to say before I ended my career that I got to score at least once. Just to have that happen, it was all worth it to come back and really give everything I had to make it happen. I called my dad after the game and told him that [touchdown] was for you.
FB Will Ta'ufo'ou
[On the relationship of the running backs] All of the running backs in our group have a close relationship and we have a lot of fun together. It's a special group. Coach [Ron] Gould is fun to be around and he has his little jokes. I think the atmosphere is real special.
[On being a lead blocker for Jahvid Best] I think the best thing is that when he runs through that hole, he's not going to get caught.
[On the progression of Best and Shane Vereen] They've been developing a lot throughout camp and these two games. They still have a lot to learn, which is good, because there is always room for improvement. They have all of the physical tools. It's learning more about the mental part of the game and understanding what's going on with the offense.
QB Kevin Riley
[On the offensive line] They're doing awesome. They're making huge holes and they're doing they're job. They are prepared every game and I feel they will continue to do that.
[On the importance of Will Ta'ufo'ou] He's probably the one that makes the play go or doesn't. He has the iso(lation) block on the lineman or backer and he's doing his job getting in their way, making them take a different course and even in practice you can see him making plays. He's just unbelievable.
[On traveling to Maryland] I've never gone across the country to play, so we'll see how it goes. We practiced in camp at 8:00 a.m. a couple of times, but it's more of a mental thing - we just have to be mentally prepared. We have to come out ready to play. This is a chance for people around the country to see us play. There aren't a lot of chances for people in the east to see West Coast teams play, so this gives them an opportunity to see what Pac-10 football and Cal are all about.
DL Tyson Alualu
[Thoughts on the defensive line] It's great to have a coach like Tosh Lupoi - [just] learning from him and the techniques he teaches us and how he explains the drills, it makes so much sense and the fact that he played here and he was a great player makes me want to work even harder.
[On Maryland] We are going to start game planning and working our butts off this week. Our scout offensive line does a great job every week preparing us for our opponents. We are not going to take anyone lightly. We've watched a little film on Maryland, and they look like a great team, especially their running back. We want to go there and give our best.
[On 3-4 defense] I've said this before, I love this defense. Especially because we have All-American linebackers - Zack [Follett], Anthony [Felder] and Worrell [Williams]. I wouldn't want any other linebackers in America [on this team].