Oct. 20, 2009
BERKELEY - California head coach Jeff Tedford and junior quarterback Kevin Riley addressed the media during the weekly Cal football media luncheon held Tuesday in the Hall of Fame Room at Memorial Stadium prior to the Golden Bears' game against Washington State this Saturday, Oct. 24 (1:30 p.m. PT). Following are selected comments of what each had to say.
HEAD COACH JEFF TEDFORD
On the teams and student-athletes honored during National Championship Week, starting with Tuesday's newly unveiled display case
"I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the national champions. Be it individual or teams, we all know how difficult that is, to win a national championship and I want to express our congratulations for all those people who have accomplished such a great thing. They deserve it."
On the boost the team received from beating UCLA last week
"No question, it's nice to get back in the winning column. The way we did it, the way the guys played hard and prepared very well and were really focused on the game - it was a back-and-forth game, it was a tough football game - and I was really pleased with how we competed throughout the game. It was a good win."
On whether their last game and practices leading up to it signaled a return to how the Bears believe they can play
"Absolutely. You have to believe in the mission and I think our kids believe in the mission and they worked at and they prepared well and like I said, they were focused on playing well, and we did, in all phases of the game. It's not perfect by any means. There's a lot that we can get better with and we'll continue to work each and every week - that's the focus, is working every week to become better, collectively and individually. We'll continue to do that."
On the Cal defense, which allowed UCLA into the red zone three times but twice held the Bruins to field goals
"That's something that we definitely have to try not to bend so much. It is about points, but it's also about field position and it's important that we create field position. Thankfully Bryan Anger had a huge day for us and swung position back in our favor a couple of times. But yeah, we need to be a little more stiff and not wait until they get to the red zone to get it done for that main reason. Pleased with keeping them out the end zone, obviously, but field position is critical.
On what film study revealed as to why the Bruins gained as many yards as they did
"They made some nice plays and we're one gap out of position here on the long run. There's probably five times in that game where we have guys blanket covered and they throw it up and they make great plays on it. [Darian] Hagan had a guy covered down the sideline, the ball's high and behind and the guy jumps up - you can't cover a guy any better. A guy running down the sideline, covered, throw it behind him, low and in back, and he catches it. [Devin] Bishop's running with the tight end down the middle of the field, they've got a guy in the quarterback's face, he throws it up, perfect throw. They made plays as well. They're a good football team and you can't take anything away from them, so from time to time, they're going to make their plays."
On DB Darian Hagan
"Hagan played really well the other day. I thought he played well in coverage and then I thought he tackled really well. There's a couple of times in the open field that he's one-on-one with guys and he did a great job of coming up and making a really sure tackle, so I'm really pleased to see Darian play well last week."
On Washington State and whether they have improved since their last meeting with Cal
"They're much better. They play hard, really run to the football, create a lot of turnovers. They had six turnovers against ASU and anytime that you're creating that many turnovers or coming up with that many turnovers, you're in position to make those plays. So they're in position to strip the ball from people, they're in position to make interceptions and they're really playing hard. I think coach [Paul] Wulff's done a great job with that team. Looks like they believe in what they're doing. They're playing hard and playing fast. Schematically, they're very sound and after a week off, I understand they're going to be a little more healthy with some of the guys they've been missing on the offensive line, and so I'm sure they're going to be prepared to play."
On the schemes used by Washington State
"On offense they're a little bit more single-back stuff. They'll spread you out with four wides, they'll play two tights, so they have some different things that they do on offense. [Dwight] Tardy's a good running back. They can close it in with two tight ends or they can spread you out and do a nice job. They can read the zone play and pull it out and throw, and make you cover the whole field. So that's kind of what they are offensively. I think their quarterback [Jeff Tuel] is very athletic. I've been impressed with him. When he's had a chance to make plays, he's done so. In the USC game I thought he did a real nice job at the end of the game there of using his legs. He's very athletic, very competitive, can make the throws, he's accurate throwing the ball, so I think he has a real chance at any given time to make you pay for things. So it's going to be important we get some pressure on him. And then defensively, they're multiple. They play about everything - cover four, cover two Tampa, man, blitz - they do a little bit of everything."
On whether the Bears are getting enough pressure on opposing QBs
"From time to time, we do, probably not enough. Probably need some more of it, but it depends on who we're playing and what they're doing. If they're getting the ball out quick and you're not going to get to him anyway, then you try to cover the field. So we've been rushing three and dropping eight from time to time, just trying to mix that up. Down the stretch last week we got some pressure on him a couple of times."
On any traps that may lurk in the matchup with WSU
"It's more about us. It's about our focus and our preparation to do the things we need to do to improve, like I said, individually and collectively, by units and by individual play as well. But execution, the execution part of it is very important. It's about us, it's not about the other team that's playing. It's about what we do on the field, how we prepare and how we practice, and then the focus that we take into the game."
On the advantage of having a rangy receiver like WR Marvin Jones
"You always talk about range of a receiver, what their receiving range is. UCLA had a really tall receiver last week that went up real high for the ball, and Marvin did a great job on [his second touchdown catch]. That ball was really put the only place it could have been put, and Marv went up high. When you talk about the range that he has, already being tall and long-armed, as a quarterback you can have confidence that if you put it in the right spot that he's going to make a play on it. So you give him a chance sometimes on shorter DBs to put it up and let him go ahead and go get it, as opposed to someone who didn't have the same range."
JUNIOR QB KEVIN RILEY
On what the UCLA win does for the team's confidence and perspective, rebounding from two straight losses
"We just kind of regained what we started with. Like I said the weeks before, our offense knew we were going to score, just had to get that first one in and we went from there and we did a good job throughout the game. We've just got to continue to work and get better this week and continue the great offensive performance [at UCLA] on Saturday."
On whether playing well in the game validated the confidence he felt building in practice during the bye week
"Absolutely. UCLA had a good defense and we did a good job. Little things that we weren't doing the weeks before, we just took advantage of, and everybody was doing their job and it worked out."
On what specifically contributed to the winning result against the Bruins
"We just made the plays that we weren't doing. I threw the ball better. People were catching the ball, making plays. O-line did a lot better job run blocking and pass blocking. They did a good job - I think I got hit like once all day. It just makes the game easier. Not as many miscues across the board. All 11 guys doing the same thing, doing their job."
On whether his downfield block during Jahvid Best's 93-yard TD run earned him a skull-and-crossbones sticker
"I did. That was my favorite play of my life so far. It's a category where you get a cut block and you get something on your binder. It's a little sticker. I think I'm just going to post it up in our meeting room. I don't know if I'll get many more."
On whether it really ranks among his favorite plays ever
"Maybe. I felt like I was moving pretty fast on that play. Got in front of him, got him, it was just a great play. Jahvid did everything on his own and hopefully that helped out a little bit."
On how pivotal the UCLA win is
"The previous two weeks we got smoked both games. We had to do something. We knew this was a big game and it's a game that we needed to win. Losing that game, that would have really hurt this team in general. It's a big win. I guess it's been a while since we won down in L.A. and so you got that out the way. And just getting a win, getting our confidence back up and continue to for going undefeated the rest of the season."
On WR Marvin Jones and his ability to out-jump defenders to get balls
"It helps. He does that a lot during practice, he did it a lot during fall ball. I just need to put the ball in a place where he can have a chance to make a play. He uses his body well. On that second touchdown he kind of shielded off the guy while he went up in the air and held on to it. He has strong hands where he holds on to the ball well. I've just got to give him more opportunities to make plays like that."
On the swing of momentum last week's win gives the team, with three of the next four games at home
"It feels a lot better. I didn't want to think about what it would have been in the other situation. Three out of four games back home, we just have to take them one game at a time. Our goal is to go undefeated after the bye week, which is very possible for this team. We've just got to continue that this week."
On how a designed QB running play can help the offense
"It kind of just keeps the defense a little more honest. A lot of those, they were dropping seven people in coverage and having spots filled, and if I can just run just even for a few yards, I think it makes people's drops not as deep. It makes them have to game plan in a different way. I like running the ball."
On his impressions of the WSU defense
"A lot better than last year, that's for sure. It's a different team. They're playing with more confidence and they're playing a lot harder than they did last year. They're not quitting at all. They mix it up quite a bit. They do a ton of different things. A little bit of everything - man, zone, bring pressure, don't bring pressure - so we're going to have to prepare for everything they do and just get ready ... Personnel-wise, they're playing better ... They play hard all four quarters, every game. They have more confidence and are not giving up as many big plays, that's for sure."
On how big plays help the offense
"I think that's when our offense is rolling, is when we make big plays. I think that's the type of offense we have. We have big playmakers and if we're going to be winning games, you've got to make big plays, and that's what we did. [We've] got to continue to do that. I just think that's our style of offense as well, take a couple shots downfield."