Oct. 14, 2008
After a bye week, California returns to action when the Golden Bears visit Arizona Saturday at 7 p.m. Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford and several players from Cal's weekly press conference.
Head Coach Jeff Tedford
Going into game number six, can you give us a midseason report card for the offense, defense, special teams and overall?
I don't think that we have played a complete game yet in all phases. It is really important that we strive to get that done. Defensively, I think it goes week to week, but I think we are getting better defensively. We are going to be tested a lot this week. Offensively, we have been up and down. We need to be more consistent. We have been fairly efficient. I think we need to improve on third down. We are doing well on turnover ratio, which is big. Special teams is improving every week. Our cover teams have done a better job as of late. I think we are improving each week in all areas. I think that is really important that we continue to develop and improve in all areas each and every week. Obviously, the opponent has something to do with that. We are really going to be tested this week against Arizona.
What challenges does Arizona's defense present?
They run and play very hard. They are good players and athletic. They have always done a real nice job against us. Last time we were there, we struggled. They are good players.
Have you talked about the last trip to Arizona with the team and is that motivation for Saturday?
Well, I think that it is absolutely something that is on our mind. This is a new team. It is different, but I think the experience last time we were there was a pretty devastating experience. It is very hard to get that type of thing out of your mind. This is the first time we are going back there, and it is going to be very important for us to focus and pay attention to details and execute properly for us to be successful. It is a tough place to play.
What makes Arizona's pass defense so good?
They have good cover guys. They don't give up a lot of big plays. They are coached very well.
Arizona gave up a lot of running yards to Stanford last week. Do you see something there that you can exploit or was it a one game letdown?
I think that is a one game thing. Teams have not run the ball real effectively on them. Last week was not a scheme issue, they just missed some tackles, guys breaking tackles at the point of attack. Scheme-wise they are real solid to stop the run.
On Arizona's offense:
Their whole offensive group is probably the best that we have played. When you take into consideration a veteran quarterback, explosive, talented receivers, a very good running back, and a big-play tight end - that can play at the line of scrimmage and get down the field vertically. This is a very explosive offense. I would say yes this is the best offense we have played so far.
How is Willie Tuitama different from Rudy Carpenter?
Rudy (Carpenter) is more of a scrambler. He is kind of a gunslinger, a player who will run around and make things happen. Willie (Tuitama) doesn't live off of that. He is very disciplined and knows where he is going with the ball. He is very accurate throwing the football. He gets the ball out really quickly. He is pretty dangerous that way.
Can you defend Willie Tuitama the same way you defended Rudy Carpenter?
Two different offenses. Completely different offenses. It's not that you are defending him you are defending the offense that you are playing.
Are you happy with how the team has defended the spread?
We have had experience playing against it. This is not really the spread as some teams run the spread. Oregon's spread and Arizona's spread are two different things. When the quarterback becomes a runner in the spread offense, he has to do a lot of zone reads and that type of stuff. Willie (Tuitama) isn't a big runner. They do a lot of other things. They take advantage of all the other weapons around him.
Can you comment on why it seems like a ranked team losses in Tucson every year?
It is a tough place to play. They are fired up. They play well at home. It's a hostile environment. It is a tough place to play. The crowd really gets going there. But they play well, it's not just the crowd. They play well, they play hard. If you go in there and you make mistakes, you're not going to be successful. You need to make sure that you're very efficient in what you do in all three phases of the game.
Can you talk a little more about Willie Tuitama?
You can really see that his comfort level has grown. He was always really talented. Early on, there was some indecision on where he was going, but right now he has great control of what they are doing. He gets the ball out very quickly. If you try to blitz him, he knows how to beat the blitz. He has great command of that offense.
What is the difference between the third down play calling versus the first and second down play calling?
Third down really comes down to how well you did on first and second down, if that makes sense. If you can stay out of third and long, then you are going to be a little bit more productive on third down. You have a chance to be, at least. When you are living in third and long, your percentages are pretty low. How you get in third and long is by not being productive on first or second down.
Will Jahvid Best play this week?
We will know better in the next day or two. He is going to practice today. His rehab has come along very well. We are going to see what he can do today.
Is there any reason Tracy Slocum did not get any carries against Arizona State?
Not really. It wasn't planed that way, it just kind of worked out that way. We didn't have the ball a ton. It wasn't planned that he wasn't going to carry the ball. When he was in there we threw the ball mostly.
Have you decided on a starting quarterback?
We have not made that decision yet. They will both practice this week and we will evaluate that as the week goes on.
Can you talk about the job that Bryan Anger is doing punting the ball and can he become an All-American?
I don't think there is any doubt that Bryan (Anger) can become an All-American punter. The only thing with him is consistency. He is just a redshirt freshman. He has only played five games. I am sure that he is going to get more comfortable as we go. He is extremely talented. We see what he can do in practice. If he is consistent with that, he has it all going. He can kick it deep, he can kick it high, he can spot kick it. There is no question in my mind he is as good of punter as I have ever been around.
Can you hear the reaction from the crowd when Bryan (Anger) punts the ball?
I can't hear it in the game because I have double headsets on so I don't hear much. During spring practice, you hear it. You hear the "ohs" and "ahs." Even our team. They are amazed. We showed the 72-yarder the other day on tape and the whole team was electric. It was a "wow" type of thing. You see the returner just look and it keeps going and going and going. It fires the guys up that are covering the kick. You should have seen those guys jumping up and down. It gets everybody pumped up.
Do Byran's (Anger) punts help you on defense?
No question. You talk about field position and what that does for our defense. Whether it is punting three of them inside the 10-yard-line and giving the other team a long field or when you can punt backed up like we did and you're stilling getting it down inside the 15-yard-line when you're punting it from your own 15, that is something.
What are the best things to come out of the bye week?
The best thing coming out of the bye week was our productivity. I thought we did a good job of continuing to improve. I thought we got a little bit healthier. Some of the guys who were banged up got a chance to rest a little bit. As always, getting the young guys an opportunity to scrimmage on Thursday to see what they can do and to evaluate them and let them be a part of it. I have been pleased with both bye weeks. The production, the focus, the work that we have gotten done and then letting the young guys have an opportunity has been big as well.
Center Alex Mack
On Arizona's defense
Every year Arizona has worked very well together as a group. There isn't that one big standout player. But no matter what happens to one guy, they have another one right there backing him up. There are no weak spots on their defense.
Tight End Cameron Morrah
You can never take them lightly. They've always had big expectations every season because they get so many great players down there, so we are not going to take them lightly at all. It really comes down to us. We have to play great team ball and we should be OK.
On weather issues in Tucson
It was a challenge for us [referring to the temperature at the Maryland game, but this game will be at night, so we should be able to handle the weather OK. It was hard on me [dealing with asthma] in that heat [at Maryland]. It just killed me; I was not ready for that. So this game, I don't think will be an issue because we are playing at night.
Cornerback Darian Hagan
On his play at CB this season
I told my teammates that they can count on me to get the job done, and I wasn't going to let things that happened in Maryland happen again.
On facing a talented and dangerous Arizona WR corps
I love challenges like that. I'm always ready for anybody at anytime, and I'll be ready for this game. I can't wait. They have really tall receivers, and they have an outstanding shorter half back/receiver - Mike Thomas - who is fast, so it's going to be a challenge to contain him.
Safety Sean Cattouse
Arizona general thoughts
I've seen a lot of film on them, and they are really good team, and I think statistically we are evenly matched. They are not a team we can underestimate. We have to bring our "A" game because they are a great team.
On Arizona WRs
They have some real athletic guys with great speed and great hands. They will be some of the best receivers we will have faced thus far into the season. Like I said before, we're going to have to bring our "A" game. I'm looking forward to that challenge of facing them.