Oct. 5, 2004
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into Cal's against No. 1 USC. The Bears and Trojans kick off at 12:30 p.m. PT Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Is it business as usual this week?
Yeah, it's business as usual. We're not going to change anything we're doing in preparation. I've said before, if there's a reason to change a preparation, we should be doing it every week. I've made that point to the players, and I'm always comfortable and confident that our players do a good job in preparation anyways. It is business as usual.
How different is USC this year from last year?
They look great. They have a lot of talent on that team, there's no question about it. Defensively, no holes, very talented, physical team, very well coached. Offensively, if you had to say there was a difference, then that would probably be that Cary Colbert and Mike Williams aren't there. They may be a little bit younger at receiver, but they're still very gifted, and they're getting better each and every week. There's no question they have plenty of weapons running around the field.
On whether Tedford is pleased with this season so far; So far, it's gone well. This week is going to absolutely be a different story. I'm interested to see our team have to put four quarters together. I thought we fell into a lull a little bit last week in the second half for a couple of series. That's something we can't do against great football teams. I'm really anxious to see our team try to put four quarters together.
On the magnitude of the game and its effect on Cal's players:
Anytime you play the No. 1 team in the country, it's always big. They're a tremendous football team. It's going to be a great atmosphere. They're going to be excited for it. I think we've played in enough big games, the bowl game last year, the Kansas State game last year, for our players to understand what the big stage is all about. I think there is a little bit extra this week only because it's USC, it's in Southern California, a lot of our players are from Southern California, family, friends, playing the defending national champions and No. 1 team in the country. That does alert your body chemistry a little bit to what's going on. Our players have played in enough games to understand that we will be fine if we just continue to do what we're doing.
On the problems USC's Reggie Bush presents to opposing teams:
Some of the problems surrounding Reggie Bush is that they put him everywhere. You can't focus in on where he is. They put him at receiver, they put him in the backfield, they motion him out of the backfield, they line him up there and bring him out of the backfield. He's in a lot of different places. They can create some match-up issues for you, if they get him in the right spot. If they get him on a linebacker, he can do some damage. You try to stay out of very many one-on-one situations with him, the best you can. He is so talented that any one-on-one situation, he is going to win. You have to pay attention to where he is. He's the best player we've faced.
Is Reggie Bush the best player in the country?
I think if he's not the best player in the country, he's one of the top two or three. I really believe that that's the type of talent he has.
Have your young players progressed further than you thought they would this early in the season?
We're really not playing with a lot of young players. Most of our team are guys, with the exception of a couple, like Marshawn Lynch (true freshman) and Craig Stevens (redshirt freshman), but besides that, most of our guys that are playing have been in the arena before. Luckily right now at this stage, we're healthy enough to continue playing them, not having to use a lot of the young guys.
On whether Cal's talent matches USC's:
No, I wouldn't say that. I would say that we have good players. They have blue-chip players every single place on their team. I'm not knocking our players or boo-hooing about our players because we have a tremendous group of young men - great character kids who play hard and are intense. I love our kids and wouldn't trade them for anything. I think it's very well documented that SC is one of the most, if not the most, talented team in the country. They have many weapons. They do a nice job of utilizing them. They put them all in different places, and it makes it very difficult to defend.
On safety Matt Giordano:
He's put in a position to play more. Last year, Donnie (McCleskey) and (Ryan) Gutierrez were our guys playing. Giordano was coming in during nickel situations mainly. Now, as a starter, he's talented. He can run around and make plays. I think just given the opportunity is cause for production.
On Tedford's personal highlights from last year's Cal victory over USC:
Just that our players never stopped believing in what was happening. We jumped out to an early lead, and then when they came back to tie it up, our players never even blinked an eye. It was just, "O.K., what's next?" They were always ready for any situation that came up in the game. That was a rollercoaster. Their were a lot of situations, a lot of ups and downs in that game, and the belief and confidence that our players had is what I would take away from that game more than anything else.
On what Cal needs to do to be successful against USC:
We're still working on that; we're in the process of trying to figure that out. We need to protect the passer - in any game you need to protect the passer. I think it's very well known that just with four guys they can get to you. They do have a very wide variety of blitzes to bring people out of the secondary to come after you. Preparation is going to be key so that we don't let any free hitters come loose. We need to be able to run the football in some way, shape or form. I think that helped us last year a little bit when Joe (Echemandu) broke a couple runs. It gave us some field position, and we didn't have to rely on throwing the ball every down.
On last year's win against USC carrying over to this year:
I think so. I think anytime in anything that you have a success, success breeds confidence. They will take some confidence out of last year's game, that we've done this before. That being said, they have tremendous respect for USC, you'd be foolish not to. They know what they're about to get into. I do think that while they know this is going to be a battle, I do think that they have confidence in that they're capable of getting it done if we play well and do all the right things.
On PK Tom Schneider:
I have confidence in him. I would have liked to have seen him kick a field goal before we get into the SC game. All he's done is kick extra points so far, which I guess you can't complain about. I think Tom will be fine. He's up for the challenge. In practice every day, he kicks very well. I don't see any reason not to trust that he wouldn't do the same Saturday.
What stands out in your mind about the way Pete Carroll's teams are prepared?
They bring more diversity than any other college football team brings to the table. Their package on defense is not only diverse, it's very sound. That's a sign of teams that are very well coached. I think that Pete's NFL background - he was in on the ground floor of all the zone blitzing. They do a tremendous amount of that, and they do it from everywhere. A lot of teams just do it from one side, and bring the same one all the time. Not with him, they bring it from everywhere. They always keep someone in the middle of the field so there not susceptible to the big play, but they can still put pressure on you from a lot of areas. They're just very well coached and have a tremendous scheme and plan.
On this year's game coming down to the very end:
You never can tell. Hopefully, it's a very good football game and it's very close and we'll see what happens. You're never going to run away with a game against SC. They're capable of totally shutting you down. You have to pretty much do everything right, make a lot of plays. Hopefully, you'll make a big play here and there to keep you going. You're never going to run away with it, the game's always going to be close.
On USC quarterback Matt Leinart:
Leinart is a great quarterback. He's very efficient, very accurate and understands what they're doing. He has a tremendous cast around him, and they do a very nice job of protecting him. It's evident that he's a student of the game, because he's going to the right guy with the ball and understands what they're doing. I think he's a great quarterback.
On USC's bye week prior to the Cal game:
I don't know if it puts us at a disadvantage. Absolutely, it gives them more time to prepare for us. There's no question about that, anybody that they had injured, it gives them time to heal. I think anytime you have a bye before a game, it gives the team an advantage with more time to prepare.
On Cal's program getting more notice from the media and public:
I think this room is evident of that. I think the first week we sat in here (in 2002), we maybe had five or six people. I think the magnitude of this game probably has a lot to do with it. I have overall seen a little bit of change, like with the attendance of our games. I think rightfully so, when you move up and you're ranked, everyone wants to support a winner and follow a winner. I think absolutely I can notice a change in what is going on.
On the depth of Cal's offense:
I think it's one of the deepest (I have coached). The Oregon team that went to the Fiesta Bowl was very similar. You had (Joey) Harrington at quarterback, you had Onterrio Smith and Maurice Morris at tailback. You had a very good group of receivers and tight ends. I think offensively, this group, they're comparable.
How much of the offense have we seen this year?
Not much. We had a huge ready list for last week. We always go in with way too many plays. You can't call it all, but at least it's ready to go if we need certain things. We really haven't. Our package is so big, we try to do the things that are going to attack the certain styles of defenses we see.