Sept. 17, 2002
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into the Bears' next game against Air Force. Cal will host the Falcons at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Memorial Stadium.
On the increased media coverage
It's not really a pain, it's just a little more time consuming for me. I understand that it's my obligation to do that where it wasn't my job as a coordinator at Oregon. There were times in the bowl games where it approached something like this in terms of media coverage, but I don't think it's a pain at all. I think it's great that you guys are here and I appreciate the coverage for our team more than anything ... that our guys are getting the recognition that they deserve.
You're going into week 4 and you're team really hasn't been tested in terms of a close game yet. Can you comment?
Last week, I felt like it was a close game the whole way until LaShaun Ward went on that long pass play. It was tight all the way through, but I felt that our team responded well in the second half when they came out with two touchdowns right away. We didn't fold, we responded well with a couple drives, and the defense responded well. The score might not have indicated it, but we always felt like it was a really tight game. Air Force is going to be our toughest game so far. The option creates so many problems. You just can't simulate the speed in practice. It's so unorthodox, and it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. The other problem that it creates is that it uses the clock. I think they've thrown the ball 21 times total in two games. The ball is on the ground a lot and they don't stop the clock. It really cuts down your opportunities as an offense. So when we have the ball on offense, we have to make sure that we're being efficient with it. Air Force is a great team in all three phases of their game. It's going to be a battle.
On Cal's option vs. Air Force's option
The option that we run is totally different from what they do. They do it with such speed and precision on everything they do, you really have to have all of your bases covered. They do a great job with it and if you're stopping one phase of it, they know exactly why you're stopping it and they'll go back to something that counters it very well. They really know what they're doing with it, and they've been successful with it for a very long time.
Does their offense resemble a wishbone?
It does a little bit except for those wings. The wings are in a little better position to crack block people to secure the inside, where in the wishbone those guys are coming out of the backfield. They have the ability to lead block a little bit better - to get the inside linebackers pinned back. They do it very quickly, they're on you right now. The option is the same as the wishbone in terms of getting the ball in and reading it, but I think the wings create more problems because they can become receivers from that position as well. They create a lot of problems that way. They'll be different ways for us to take care of it. You have to take care of the dive back first and then do a good job of trying to slow the play - don't let them make the quick decision.
On Air Force's gadget plays
They'll throw it back to the quarterback. They'll bring the wingback in motion and throw a reverse to him, give him a reverse and then bring a double reverse back around. They have a lot of gadget plays, so you have to be really disciplined with what you're doing in the secondary and on the backside. If you don't flow fast, they'll get you with the option. If you do flow fast, they'll get you with the misdirection and the counters. If you're flowing from the secondary, they'll pull it out and hit you with the deep one. It's tough to defend.
How big a deal is the No. 23 national ranking to the team and university?
To tell you the truth, I don't know that it phased the team very much. I told them congratulations on the win and being ranked 23rd, but there was no real reaction from them. I think they understand what it takes to prepare and we're not going to get too excited about something after the third game of the year. It really doesn't mean anything. It's nice that they're getting a little bit of recognition and its great for the university, the alumni and the city. I'm very pleased that people are coming back and being more supportive. As far as the team is concerned, we can't get caught up on that. In practice yesterday there was no evidence at all of a letdown effect.
On the diversity of the offenses that the Bears have faced so far this season
I think that it will make our defense a little more well-rounded. Most of the offenses in the Pac-10 are more traditional. One of the good things about our defensive/offensive schemes is that it makes you prepare for a little bit of everything. They've pretty much seen it all in so far as formations and motions are concerned. I think it's a great match in so far as our two schemes are concerned, it really forces you to prepare for a lot of things.
How far is Kyle Boller from playing the kind of game he is capable of playing?
I think he is still a little ways away. I am happy that he's making good decisions. He has been playing very efficiently, but I still think that he can play better. But I am one of those guys that, unless he completes every pass, I feel that there is room for improvement. He's missed a couple of open guys, but I am most pleased that he is really doing a nice job of protecting the football and running the offense. He's studying and preparing very hard, but I still don't think you've seen the best of him yet. The key is to protect Kyle. If we can protect him and shake some guys free, we feel like he'll be able to hit the open guys. We can't have him on his back all the time.
Do you practice creating turnovers?
We did through camp, but we don't do it now because we really don't practice against each other anymore. We called it Ball Hog. If the defense got three turnovers, they wouldn't have to condition (run). If the offense had no turnovers, then they wouldn't have to run. If there was 1-2 turnovers, they all had to run. I think that only happened one time ... I think the defense one time got three turnovers, but they ran anyway.
Concerning the stats, is there anything that you are particularly pleased with?
Turnovers. Turnovers I am pleased with in all three phases of the game. I don't really look at the stats that much but I have heard about the turnover ratio. You don't need to really look at the numbers, you just know that we have been successful because of the turnovers.
What concerns you about Air Force's defense?
They are very unorthodox. You never know where they're coming from. They play a three-man front and they have a 3-5 type of look and you never know which one is coming. They're never in one spot, there's always movement up front. The confusion factor is really there. There might be times where they are going to make plays when we turn somebody lose because of the deception that they've had. Hopefully that doesn't happen too often. Their defensive line ranges anywhere from 240 pounds to 260 pounds, so by the standards of college football today, they're not big at all. But they are very quick and they play with great intensity. They rely on their quickness more than their size.
On the versatility of Cal's offense
Joe Igber is very versatile. He's done a nice job of blocking, he's run with the ball wall, he's protected it, and he's a good receiver. We're able to do some things with him ... the only thing that he's not really great at is throwing the ball. We'll try to teach him to do that down the road. Besides that, he does a great job. He's very smart and makes very few mental mistakes. MVP ... I wouldn't even name one. It's a total team effort and I think that was every evident last week against Michigan State. We talk about trusting one another and that's what it came down to in all three phases of the game. I would not even mention a MVP.
On Cal's special teams
Dave Ungerer does an excellent job. He spends a lot of time and works very hard in preparing gameplans for them. We're going to get a real test this week with Air Force because they are very unorthodox with a lot of moving around. I heard a stat the other day that they've blocked more kicks in the '90's than anyone in college football - even more than Virginia Tech. They will come after you.
On Cal's effectiveness in the red zone
We're pretty pleased ... we would like to have more touchdowns and less field goals. That comes with not turning the ball over in the red zone and Mark Jensen has kicked the ball well. We've been doing a fair job so far. In the pregame, Mark (Jensen) was kicking the ball very well, I watched where he was kicking from and I felt like he had enough distance to hit the long one in the game. I don't know if it was the Midwest air or he was just feeling good that day, but he was really hitting it well in pregame that day. I had confidence that he would be fine from that range.