Nov. 11, 2008
BERKELEY - Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford and selected players from Cal's weekly press conference. The Golden Bears next visit Oregon State Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Head Coach Jeff Tedford
What kind of atmosphere do you expect in Corvallis?
The last time we were there, I know it was one of the more hostile places that we have played. It ranks right up there with the Coliseum (USC) and Autzen Stadium (Oregon). I hear it is going to be a record crowd, and I expect that they will be amped up and ready to go. We are going to expect a hostile environment. Last week, we had pretty good training with it as we played in a pretty wild place. Hopefully, we can take some of the lessons and experiences from playing in that atmosphere last week into this week.
How do you think the team handled the atmosphere at USC?
Well, there were a couple of issues with the noise. You don't know whether it was the noise or you were jumping offsides because the guy across from you is getting ready to get off the ball; you better be ready or he is going to run you over. But the noise did have a factor as in the touchdown that was called back. They were trying to communicate with each other on who is on and off the ball and they can't hear each other and they are standing 10 yards away from each other. So it was very loud.
Mike Riley has not named a starting quarterback for the game yet, can you talk about both Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield?
I think that Moevao is a little bit better of a runner than Canfield is. I think they both run the offense efficiently. Moevao is a guy that can scramble a little bit more. I don't who is going to play. Canfield played last week, obviously. You just don't know if Moevao is going to get the work in practice this week to be ready to play.
You said on the conference call this week that Kevin Riley is going to start this week. Can you talk about the reasons for that?
His escape dimension and athletic ability give us a few more options on offense.
Can you talk about Kevin Riley's mental toughness after the OSU game last year?
I think that was very disappointing last year when that happened, obviously. But I thought he shook that off very well. As a quarterback, you are going to run into those things. There are going to be times where you wish you had a play back here or there. That is not the first and it's not going to be the last that he is going to encounter as a quarterback of, `hey, I wish I would have done this or wish I would have done that differently.' I know there was a lot riding on that play, but I think he did a nice job of putting that behind him. I know I am going to have that question a lot this week, but I think that it is pretty much in his past as far as I know.
Kevin Riley said that he has not thought about last year's game until this week, do you think that is possible?
I do. Yeah, I think that is possible.
Can you talk about how Kevin Riley has matured in the last year?
A lot. That position does that to you. There is a lot of learning that goes on with each game. Right now, we have a lot of guys learning on the run as far as new guys on the offensive line. If you really look, we have a lot of freshman playing on the offensive line. So each game is a very valuable experience for everybody playing. It is no different for Kevin. Kevin has got game time but he pretty much played two games last year so I wouldn't call that a lot of experience. Each time out he is going to continue to improve and learn things. But with that is the development of `I wish I would have done that' or I wish I would have done this a little bit differently next time' type of thing.
Is there something about this week that allowed you to make the decision about the starting quarterback earlier than in past weeks?
Last week, Kevin Riley had a concussion, so it was hard to evaluate. We didn't know from day to day how he was going to be. It was pretty difficult last week.
Since Kevin Riley is healthy this week does it make it easier?
Can you talk about what it will be like for Kevin Riley to return to Oregon this weekend and did you talk to him at all about controlling his emotions?
We definitely will. I think that it is a given that anytime you go home to a place with a lot of people there and a place where you grew up, it probably has a special meaning. He needs to stay focused on his job as a quarterback and running the offense to keep his emotions in check.
How much of Kevin Riley's struggles last week was Kevin versus the USC defense?
A little bit of both. I thought he did a good job of standing in there. Sometimes, you tend to rush things more than you would if you felt really, really comfortable in the pocket. So maybe you throw the ball just a bit before you're ready, so you have to anticipate where a guy is going to be. If you are off just a little bit, it could result in a missed throw. I think he wishes he had a couple of balls back, that he would like to have over. I think that there are a lot of factors that go into that. Things are happening really fast out there and there is some leakage from time to time. I thought he did a really good job of hanging in there and protecting the football. The ball that he threw that got intercepted in the end zone was not a careless throw. He threw that with a lot of confidence and zing on the ball. It just happened to get tipped. If that ball is not tipped, I think that ball is a touchdown. He wasn't careless with the football even when he was getting pressured. He was eating the ball or pulling it down and running. I thought he did a pretty good job under some extreme circumstances.
Is it harder to evaluate Kevin Riley when you are playing a defense like USC's?
No, I think you evaluate him against the best. I would have to say that USC obviously brings some pretty stringent challenges to the quarterback position. Their cornerbacks got so deep and their safeties are so big and fast that you have to put a little bit of air on the ball from time to time. There just is not a lot of space to do things and a lot of speed on the field so it makes the margin for error very small.
Can you talk about Oregon State's defense?
If you look at the statistical categories, they are right up there in the top three in most of the categories. They play really hard up front. They play with good leverage at the pad level. They run really well. There two defensive ends can run really well. They are kind of undersized but they can run. They move them a lot and do some nice things with them. There linebackers are solid players. Two great corners that will bump you every down pretty much. They are a strong defense. They have eight seniors on defense so they have some experience there.
Can you see the progress in Oregon State's freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers and can you talk about his style?
He is a great player. I do think as the season goes on he continues to get better. I think he just becomes more comfortable each and every week. He does a great job of using his blockers and staying behind his blockers. He is so quick that when he hits it, he is through the hole very quick. He is strong enough to run through arm tackles and you don't bring him down very easy. Even though he is a little shorter, he weighs 190 pounds, so he is very strong. He is built very low to the ground with great balance. He has great quickness and is very elusive. He catches the ball very well and holds up in pass protection very well. He is a great player. I think the numbers speak for themselves there. He is very hard to tackle in the open field, as well.
How rare is it to see a true freshman in that position play as consistently as he has?
It doesn't happen very often. I mean there are some good freshman players, but he has really carried the load for them offensively.
Do you place any stock in Rodgers' height making him a good back or would he be a good back anyway?
I think he is a good back no matter what. I don't know that because he is short that makes him a better back. He is just a good back. I would go the other way and say that you don't have to be big to be a great back. Great backs come in all statures and he just happens to be shorter.
In the USC game Jacquizz Rodgers was a little bit unknown, now that he is known does that make it easier to prepare for him?
You can prepare for him all you want, but you still have to stop him. You still have to tackle the guy. You simulate through the week. They are good up front. They do a good job of staying on their blocks, so you have to shed blocks. They do a good job with the play action pass, so they keep you off balance. If you try to pull everybody to the back, then they pull it out and throw a play action pass against you. They do a really nice job of mixing that up.
What do you remember about your time with Coach Mike Riley in the CFL?
Mike was always a guy that you could easily communicate with. He was a guy that never seemed to get to flustered. He was always very poised. He was a players' coach. It was professional football, so I think there a lot of player's coaches in professional football. It is a lot different than in college I guess. I always thought Mike was easy to communicate with and was always real good to the players.
What is the relationship with Riley like now?
Good. Very good. It is very friendly. I have a lot of respect for Mike. We hang out and talk whenever we have Pac-10 functions or whatever. We talk about his dad, Bud Riley, because his dad is the guy who signed me to my first professional contract as a player. Mike is still real close with his dad.
Does having the young guys getting playing time help in the long run?
No question about it. Those guys getting in there and battling helps. You look at a guy like Donovan Edwards who is really a freshman. He has only been here since camp, he wasn't here for spring. Justin Cheadle is a redshirt-freshman. Mitchell Schwartz is a redshirt-freshman. Mark Boskovich is a walk-on sophomore. I think the growth and development will continue because they all care. They all work hard and I think each week they will continue to improve.
Cal is 1-3 on the road this year, is it a situation of circumstances or does something need to change?
I don't know. I don't foresee that there is a problem on the road. I think it is probably just circumstance. Maryland, Arizona and USC are all pretty good teams. I think that probably has something to do with it. I don't think it's the way we travel. I don't think it's the way we prepare. I think the kids do a good job of staying focused. My initial reaction would be no that there is not anything that we need to change, but obviously, we have had more success at home than we have had on the road so I could see why you would ask that question. I don't foresee that there is a problem with the way we prepare or travel.
Did you talk with the team about what is left to accomplish this season?
No, not really. There is still a lot of football to be played. We need to prepare one game and that is Oregon State. We all know that Oregon State is a very good football team. They are first place in the conference right now. It is a difficult place to play. Anything can happen still.
Can you talk about why it is that Cal seems to haves success in Corvallis?
It is hard to explain. There is a reversal there of what is supposed to happen. I think anytime that you have gone in there before and come away successful, I think that it definitely gives you a feeling of confidence that it can be done. We will draw on some of that, but that doesn't mean we are going to just show up and do it. There is still the preparation, attention to detail, focus and making plays that has to be done. This is a different team than last year's team or the team from two years ago. It is a whole new team with different challenges.
Can you talk about the strides Cameron Jordan has made this season?
He has made tremendous strides. He is strong. He is fast. I think he has played very disciplined. He plays extremely hard. I think Coach [Tosh] Lupoi has done a nice job with Cameron to not only teach him the schemes but to help him understand the discipline it takes to do the things he need to do to. He has also helped him understand the fundamentals and techniques it will take to get where he needs to be, as well as instilling the inspiration and the effort. It is obvious that when Cameron plays, he plays with a lot of passion and great effort.
Sophomore LB Mike Mohamed
Thoughts on the USC game: It's a little disappointing because we know we're a better team than that. We had plenty of opportunities to win the game. We just didn't fully execute and we left some things out there on the table.
On last year's Oregon State game: In the offseason, we thought about it a lot, because that loss seemed to be the turning point of the season. We just kind of went on a downward spiral after that. This year, we haven't really thought about it at all, taking it week by week and thinking about our current opponent.
On OSU tailback Jacquizz Rodgers: He's a great back with great vision. He's a little guy, but he's hard to tackle. If you go high on him or don't wrap up, he'll slip through and bust a big one on you. A lot of people get in trouble because you can't see him behind all of the linemen. Then, they jump out of their gap and he bursts through. He always keeps his feet moving. Even as he's falling down, you see his feet churning to get that extra push. He's really relentless.
Freshman TB Shane Vereen
On Cal's young offensive line: I think they've made tremendous strides. They work extremely hard, and they're getting better.
On goals to accomplish this year: I think there's an individual sense that there's still a lot at stake and a lot that we can accomplish.
On playing spoiler: That's in the back, back of our minds. We're more focused on reaching our goals and getting another win.
Junior S Brett Johnson
On positives from USC loss: Despite the loss, there are a lot of positives we can take out of the game. We were able to stop their running game, and we'll take that with us.
On the atmosphere to expect in Corvallis: It's definitely exciting to go into an atmosphere like that, and, obviously, this game has big implications. You have to live for the moment. You walk into the stadium and take it in. Then you have to get back to your focus and remember the mission you have to accomplish.
On goals to accomplish this year: Nobody is abandoning ship. We can still have a long shot at winning the conference, so everyone's hanging on to that glimmer of hope. We're practicing and playing like we're still on top. Nobody is throwing in the towel.
Sophomore OG Mark Boskovich
On the young offensive line: Playing games, like the one we just played at USC, is going to be really, really rewarding in the future. Playing in that kind of game in front of 90,000 fans is really a great learning experience.
On the Oregon State defensive line: They're very quick. I'm not sure they remind me of anyone we've seen, but they work really hard and don't quit. That's the sign of a good defense.
Senior FB Will Ta'ufo'ou
On thoughts from the USC game: It makes no sense to dwell on the past because you can't change it. Any loss is tough, especially a big game like that. You put in a lot of time and energy, so not succeeding is really hard.
On last year's Oregon State game: You think about it when you watch their games on TV, but we've got a completely new team. We're more worried about the present, but it's definitely in the backs of our minds. There probably is a lot more motivation based on last year's game.
On finishing the season well: It's very important to finish strong because you take that confidence into the offseason. If you don't finish on a high note, the offseason and the workouts are kind of down.