Sept. 1, 2009
BERKELEY - California head coach Jeff Tedford spoke with Bay Area media Sept. 1 at a media luncheon prior to the Golden Bears' Sept. 5 season opener vs. Maryland (7 p.m.).
On the sense of excitement his team feels with game week underway for the season opener
"Sunday was very spirited, without a doubt. Yesterday we didn't practice, but there was definitely an electricity in the air. They were pumped up, very excited, and I assume the same will be true today when we hit the field."
On the changes anticipated in Maryland for this second all-time meeting, including a change in the Terps' defensive coordinator
"From what we know, it's very different, just going on the history of their [new] defensive coordinator. In reading about them, they're much different than last year. Last year they were a big cover-2 zone team, really kept everything in front of them. From what we understand, they're a big pressure team now, so the philosophy is much different than it was last year."
On how Maryland's changes may affect the Bears' approach to this game
"Anytime you go into something like this, it's unsettling not to have some history on tape of them with their people, their personnel. It'd be nice to have at least one game [on tape] on them from this year, but we don't, and so there's going to some things, some adjustments that need to be made during the game. So we'll be very focused on what's going on and how much carryover there is from what they've done in the past."
On whether this will be a tough test for Cal's offensive line against the Terps' blitzes
"Absolutely, yeah, no question about it. That's going to pose a huge challenge for us, you know - big-pressure team and a couple of young guys up there [on Cal's offensive line]. I have a lot of confidence in our guys as far as their talent level is concerned, but there's going to probably be an adjustment period to figure out what are they doing, what are the adjustments that need to be made with those guys up front."
On Maryland's offense, which scored early on Cal last season and has a lot of returning players for 2009
"Their running back [Da'Rel Scott] obviously is a very good player, played well against us last year, and their quarterback [Chris Turner], I think that's the first time that he started last year against us, and really assumed the role as a starter, and played great against us. So yeah, I think they're very dangerous. Obviously you have to get up in there and stop their run with that running back, and then the quarterback is talented enough to pull it out and get over the top on you, so we're going to have to be very disciplined."
On whether this is a "revenge game" for Cal
"Revenge is a pretty strong word, but I think redemption may be a little bit better, just because we didn't play very well last year. It's the revenge from what they did to us, it's the redemption of what we did to ourselves. We can play better than we played last year at their place, and so that's kind of what we're looking to do. It still comes down to us. It comes down to how we've prepared, how we execute, how we hang onto the football, those type of things is what it's going to come down to. It's not so much about last year as how we're going to play this year."
On whether a starting kicker has been decided yet
Not yet. We're still evaluating that. We'll go through a very strong evaluating process today and maybe into tomorrow."
On whether he feels comfortable enough with Jahvid Best's health to have him return kicks Saturday
On whether placekicker is the only uncertain spot among the projected starters
On the health of Marcus Ezeff
He's fine. He practiced on Sunday and he's full go today.
On whether he is satisfied with the wide receivers
Yeah, I'm pleased with the growth and development of our receivers in a lot of ways, not just on the football field as far as their fundamentals and catching the football and route running. I think they've really matured as people. Their work ethic, their demeanor, their attitude on a daily basis has really improved, so yeah, I'm very happy. I think [wide receivers coach Kevin] Daft has done a great job of bringing that group together and working very hard. They're obviously more experienced this year than they were last year, but the amount of mental mistakes has reduced by a lot. So it's great to get lined up in the correct formations and run the correct routes and be disciplined, attention to detail and coach Daft's done a really nice job with that group."
On whether he has noticed a change in Kevin Riley since he was named the starting quarterback last week
"No. I think Kevin kind of assumed that role after the season last year through spring practice, through summer workouts. I don`t see any difference with him as far as just since naming him the starter. I noticed a difference in him after he worked hard on his mechanics. I think his skill level has gone up, I think his consistency, his accuracy has improved, and I think that's brought on a lot of confidence for him. But I think even though we've been very competitive with the quarterback position, I think his knowledge, his experience both in the offense and on game day and in preparation-type things - managing the huddle, the clock, so on and so forth, the things we ask our quarterbacks to do - I think because he has a great deal of confidence with all that, that's made him grow up. So not just on the field, but off the field, I think he's really just matured and become much more of a stable person of understanding the situation and having a lot of confidence in himself."
On the effect of Riley's growing confidence on his leadership:
"I think it's done a lot for it. Last year, when you have Nate [Longshore] and him here and it's kind of going back and forth, I think it's really hard for someone to take the reins completely and take it over. Now I think he feels like he's enabled himself to assume those reins."
On the 7:00 p.m. start against Maryland and the late kickoff's effects
"It shouldn't affect us. It'd be different for them, I'm sure. But for us, we practiced on Sunday night and it was a great environment to play in. The guys were excited about it. It's a lot of sitting around on Saturday, but we've played night games before so we'll make sure that we utilize the time properly and we'll be ready to play. We'll utilize it with meeting time, getting them up, walking around and stretching, things like that. It's not that big of a deal."
On the success at home in recent years
"I think it's the environment that you come to play in here. There's a lot of familiarity with what we do here. Our players are comfortable here. We practice on that field every day. But I think it's the environment we've created here, that the fans have created. This has turned into a tough place to play. I used to say our first year here, when we had 28,000 fans in the stands, that we played better on the road than we played at home, just because with the electricity, the guys were able to get up for it on the road, it seemed, a little bit better. But it turned into a home-field advantage here because of the crowd and the environment. They've done a nice job here."
On the offensive line
"We'll see how it goes. Because you have [Mark] Boskovich, who's played a lot, and Chet's [Teofilo] played a lot, and Donovan Edwards has played quite a bit, so those guys are able to keep people fresh. [Offensive line coach Steve] Marshall will kind of play that by ear. There's not a prescribed this-series-that-series right now. The starters are going to start and play, and we'll see how it goes from there."
On the decision to move linebacker Mike Mohamed to the outside this year
"I felt like that's where it suits him the best. He's very productive out there. He can cover, he can rush, he can do quite a few things out there. He'll go inside, he'll go outside - that's one thing about Mike is he did the same thing last year, he was inside and outside, both, so wherever we needed him, depending on the nickel packages or base packages, he's very flexible and understands the defense, and is athletic enough to play both positions."