Nov. 23, 2004
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference Nov. 23. The No. 4 Bears take on Southern Mississippi at 4:30 p.m. PT Dec. 4 in Hattiesburg. The game can be seen live on ESPN and heard on KGO Radio (810 AM).
On tailback J.J. Arrington being named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award:
That's awesome. J.J. really deserves that. He's been such a consistent, great player all year long. He's one of the main reasons why we are where we are today. It's nice to see that he's getting some attention because he deserves that.
Thoughts on the South Carolina-Clemson game:
It shows absolutely no control or discipline. I don't know those two programs or coaches but I would be willing to bet that neither one of those coaches condone that type of action. It was disappointing to see something like that happen. I would tend to agree that the thing that happened with the (Pistons-Pacers NBA game) the night before probably had an impact on that situation. I know a lot of our players were watching that on TV the night before the (Stanford) game and talking about it. So, it's very unfortunate.
Did you talk to your players before the game about behavior?
I did not talk to them the night before because I did not anticipate something like that coming about. As the game wore on though, I could tell in the fourth quarter that there was frustration and it started getting a little chippy. The reason I was so upset at that point was because before (the reserve) group went on the field, I told them under no circumstances do you retaliate, and that you make sure you play with class and character. When (the penalties) happened, I was very upset. We pulled (the Cal offender) out of the game and had to put our starter back in the game.
About players, such as quarterback Aaron Rodgers' name not being mentioned on any postseason awards lists:
Aaron's played great for us. He's been very efficient. We've done what it takes to win football games. We have two very good running backs who both have rushed for 100 yards in the last two games. And Aaron is a team-above-self person and we're not in this to promote an individual. It's not about getting numbers for individuals or anything else. It's a team game. It's all about doing what it takes to be victorious and that's what we have done. If we have to throw the ball 14 times a game and rush for 40 times a game, if that's the formula that's going to win that game, then that's what it is. Because there will be other games that we throw the ball 35 times for 400 yards and rush for 150. It's whatever it takes to win games. I don't feel bad about it. He's done a great job with this team.
Did you intentionally put back-up quarterback Reggie Robertson into the game to get a little glory for him on that final touchdown?
Yes, we intentionally put him in the game because the game dictated that it was his time to go in. When we got down inside the 5-yard line, yes, it was absolutely a planned thing to get him into the end zone, whether it be with a quarterback sneak or with a quarterback draw. Reggie is probably the most well-respected person on this football team so everyone was fired up when Reggie got into the end zone.
Why is it that he's the most well-respected guy on the team?
Because when you do talk about team-above-self, he's the perfect example: a guy who never complains about anything, who is so supportive of Aaron and the rest of the teammates, who stays very motivated, who stays very into his teammates and is always happy for his teammates. He is just a tremendous young man who could start at most any other place. And we're very, very fortunate to have him. So I think everyone appreciates what Reggie does for this football team. It's not so much statistics on the field; it's more the leadership and the qualities he brings as a young man.
How did you come out of the Stanford game, health-wise?
We're fine. (Wide receiver) Geoff McArthur's shoulder is still bruised up; he bruised his shoulder again, this time in a different spot. He'll be fine; nothing serious there. Everyone else just has the normal wear-and-tear from this time of year. But nothing serious where they're going to miss any amount of time.
Did wide receiver Burl Toler come through OK?
He came out of it a little bit better than he thought, because normally on Mondays he's very stiff and sore. But he ran around a bit yesterday. We're going to have some time off. We practiced yesterday; we'll practice today and tomorrow and they'll have Thursday, Friday and Saturday off. Hopefully, they'll get some rest. I don't think the whole thing with Burl is due to rest because he's been resting for a long time. But hopefully that will help a little bit for one more push here.
How close is WR Jonathan Makonnen to being back?
He's making progress. He has another doctor's appointment on Monday. So we're keeping our fingers crossed for good news there. He has made progress there. The spot has gotten smaller and that's good news. Hopefully, given another week here, as he goes back, it will hopefully get to the point where they allow him to play.
On having Burl Toler in the lineup against Stanford:
It kills him not to be on the football field. Friday night, before the game, when the seniors spoke to the team, Burl made mention of how bad it hurts him not to be able to be out there with his teammates playing. He's the guy in the locker room that leads the chant before we go on to the field. It means a lot to him to be out there with his teammates. It was nice to see the excitement that Burl had after that touchdown. For him and Reggie, two guys that mean so much to us aside from their abilities. To score a touchdown in their last game at home as seniors was nice to see.
On special "senior moments" at the Big Game:
J.J. Arrington breaking the single-season rushing record was one. Standing in the huddle with Geoff (McArthur) before we took the field, saying this is going to be for the record, that's always nice to see the smile on his face. But besides the game, the special moments really came before in the tunnel when you're able to greet each one of them as they run on the field and tell them thank you before the last time the enter Memorial Stadium. That's the most special part of the day.
Is there any one player that epitomizes this senior class?
No, I don't think there's one. I think it's so indicative of our team though. Even though we have guys with good numbers, we don't have anyone who is put on a pedestal as a star. They all play so well together as team. That's the way I feel about the senior class. Some have been through more than others - like the ones who were here through the 1-10 times. But, I'm very proud of those guys, not only because of the leadership they provided but for allowing the new guys, like the junior college players, who are a big part of our success the last few years, to allow them to come in and be part of a team and have the camaraderie that they have. Sometimes it's not easy to allow a whole class of junior college players to come in and welcome them and know that they're going to help you. It takes a lot of character to be able to allow that to happen. It's a great group.
Going into this season, do you think your players expected to be in the position they're in or is this something that's a dream for them?
I believe that that was their expectation. I think the way we ended the season last year was great for them, winning a lot of games down the stretch. Then the Insight Bowl victory over a great program like Virginia Tech instilled a lot of confidence and expectation in our guys. Then from there, their work in spring ball and through the summer instilled a lot of expectation in them. So I don't think they're surprised right now by where they are because, I think, they believe they were capable of this all year long.