Aug. 26, 2008
BERKELEY - As the University of California football team continues preparation for its season opener this Saturday against Michigan State, the Golden Bears hosted their first weekly press conference on Tuesday at the Hall of Fame Room at historic Memorial Stadium. Saturday's season-opener will be televised live by ABC beginning at 5 p.m. PT.
Head coach Jeff Tedford and numerous players attended to speak with the press. Here are Tedford's comments:
On choosing Kevin Riley at quarterback:
They both had great camps. It just felt like Kevin ended up very well last year in the bowl game and had a good camp. We felt like we'd give him the opportunity as the starter to see a little role reversal to see how he handles the starting spot. I think he brings a little more elusiveness to it, being able to make some plays with legs a little bit more. [Riley] was real solid through camp and so was Nate. Maybe the play-making ability, we'd see what we can do with the play-making ability.
On a two-quarterback system:
The first game, both of them are going to play. Nate will play, at which point, I don't know right now. I'm not a huge fan of the two-quarterback system. Even at the first game, I don't want anyone looking over their shoulder. You go out and you play. There's going to be mistakes. No quarterback anywhere is going to be perfect. They're going to make mistakes, they're going to have to play through them, they're going to have to learn to play through them. We're not going to get into that type of thing but Nate will play some in the Michigan State game.
On Michigan State:
They're a physical, athletic team. Great running back, experienced quarterback, very physical up front, they're going to make you stop the run. It's power football. Defensively, they're physical there, they can run well, good cover guys in the secondary, good tacklers in the secondary. They're well coached in all phases of the game. It's a good group. Their losses last year were very close losses, I think, all within a touchdown, so they played a lot of close games. They're very well coached, a very physical team.
On MSU running back Javon Ringer:
He's a guy who has great balance, vision, he's tough. He'll run between the tackles and you better make sure you rack him up or he can bounce out of there and make some great plays. He's an elusive guy. It's going to take gang tackling, it's hard to bring him down with just one guy.
On Cal's preparation:
They've done a nice job. You've got to find out on game day what's going to happen. We're going to get a true test. When you line up, they're not a spread team. You're playing a downhill, physical football team, we better be ready for it.
On starting the year with a difficult opponent:
The schedule is what it is. Obviously the Tennessee game last year was a great experience, the year before, not such a good experience. I think it's great to that tough test early. We're going to figure where we are. It's more about us, how we play. We know Michigan State's a good football team but we need to concentrate on what we do best - eliminate turnovers, create turnovers on defense, eliminate penalties and make plays. If you can do that, you're probably going to be successful, no matter who you play.
On the receiving corps:
I'm happy. I'm happy with the work ethic, with their play-making ability. Again, there are a couple young guys that are going to be in the mix. Most of them haven't had game experience but I'm very confident in their attitudes. I'm very confident in what you're going to get play-in and play-out with them - you're going to get their best effort. There may be a learning curve there and those are the growing pains with being young but we're going to be fine because I know they're going to be back with their best efforts.
On what has changed since playing Michigan State in Tedford's first season at Cal in 2002:
Quite a bit really. I felt like in '02 when were went back there...we've had some big wins here over the years but I think that was one of the biggest because at that point it was a new coaching staff coming in and we had just won two games at home by a pretty good margin and it was pretty good test to go back there to their place. I think they were ranked No. 15 in the nation, something like that. We jumped out to a lead and they responded and came back with a couple touchdowns. And at that point right there, I thought it was very important how are we going to respond to this? Are we going to let them go or are we going to respond to their challenge and we did. I felt like when we left the field that day, there was a different confidence, a difference belief that our guys had. I felt that that was a big, big game in our time here.
On Tedford's first year at Cal:
I wasn't so much trying to send a message about the year before. The year before was not our concern. It was more about what we had done up to that point. I will never forget those kids that first year of believing and trusting in a new coaching staff coming in and the new ideas. We worked very, very hard. There was a lot of great leadership on that team and some very good players. It was great to see that they were rewarded that year with a winning season with what they had been through. It wasn't so much about what had happened the year before. It was more of where we're going in the future.
On Nate Longshore's reaction to not starting:
Nate has been awesome. Obviously the first meeting I had with him was very disappointing to him. There is no other person on this team that is as dedicated as Nate to team success. He still provides great leadership for Kevin and the offense. He's still out there even though he's not in the huddle. He's coaching the guys as they get out of the huddle, this, that and the other thing. He has a great attitude. It's really impressive to see a guy take the approach of not going in the tank and feeling sorry for himself and being really, really dedicated to the success of this football team. You never want to disappoint somebody. It's hard when you disappoint somebody it's very emotional for him. It's tough; that's not easy to do. He understood what I was saying but still, he still continues to stay focused on providing any leadership and the best he can do for this football team.
On when Nate will play:
I'll probably know before kick-off.
On why there are no names on the jerseys:
Just to be more focused on team, to take away the individual part of it. We did that last year in the bowl game for a couple reasons - for that and to pay tribute to the troops because it was about the armed forces. But this year to continue that it's more about team and not about individuals.
On splitting time between Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen:
He's going to be in, him and Shane. As in the past, whether it was JJ [Arrington] and Marshawn [Lynch] or Marshawn and Justin [Forsett] or Justin and Jahvid, it ends up working somewhere 65-35, somewhere around there type of thing. Jahvid is going to get his touches in all phases of the game but Shane will also be in there, he's very versatile as well. In terms of numbers or touches, I don't know. It depends on the game and what comes to us. We're not going to force things to him but obviously it's important to get the ball in his hands. He's a great play maker.
On the kickers:
It felt like this camp went on that [David] Seawright has great potential, gives us more range, has a stronger leg. As camp went on, he became more and more consistent. It felt like he was the guy that we want to go with because of the all-around and distance that he gives us. He became very consistent through any competitive instances that we had with the kicking situations.