Dec. 17, 2009
BERKELEY - California head coach Jeff Tedford addressed the media during a teleconference held Thursday. Cal is in the midst of preparing to face Utah in the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 23 (5:00 p.m. PT). The contest will be televised live television on ESPN and also air online at ESPN360.com. Following are selected comments of what coach Tedford had to say.
HEAD COACH JEFF TEDFORD
On Utah freshman QB Jordan Wynn
"Jordan throws the ball well, does a good job with their offense. [JC transfer QB Terrance] Cain is a guy who's a little bit more athletic, but Jordan seems to be the more consistent passer, but runs their offense very well."
On whether he has noticed improvement by Wynn, game by game, in film study
"Yeah, I think he has. Being a true freshman, there's a big learning curve, and he's been very solid for them. He has guys around him that make a lot of plays. Eddie Wide, the [running] back, is a good player. His receiver David Reed is a big-time player, so he's got a good group around him. Strong offensive line, but he's a solid player."
On Utah's defense and its strengths
"Really, there's no weakness on their defense. Very schematically sound, very well coached, very physical. Linebackers are solid. All those guys are experienced. Their SAM linebacker, Kepa [Gaison] - all these guys played last year and did an excellent job. There's three seniors there. Their secondary is very solid, great man-to-man cover guys. Physical up front. Defensive end, No. 41, [Koa] Misi, is an excellent player. I don't see any holes in their defense. They're very solid."
On the matchup and rivalry between the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences
"I think it's a healthy rivalry. There have been competitive games every year as you cross over into the Mountain West. The Mountain West is as strong as there is. I have a lot of respect for everybody in their conference. Utah happens to be one that is at the top of their conference. Utah, BYU, TCU - those are great football teams. We have a lot of respect for them. I don't know that we look at it as a rivalry-type thing because we don't get a chance to play them all that often, but when we do, they're athletic, they're very sound in everything that they do. They're great football teams. We go and play any team that we play in the Mountain West with a great deal of respect."
On whether Utah's performance in last year's Sugar Bowl contributes to the MWC's strong reputation
"That plays a huge part but I think that over the years, all of them have played very well. All these guys are ranked. Utah, very solid last year all season long, obviously, going undefeated. We played BYU before in bowl games and it's been very competitive and hard-fought games. At least as far as the Pac-10 is concerned, when we cross over into the Mountain West, there's a lot of respect there."
On how the absence of TB Jahvid Best at the Poinsettia Bowl affects plans and preparations for the game
"We haven't had him for four games now, so it really doesn't change much as far as what we've been doing. Obviously, maybe the only difference is, when he was there, him and Shane [Vereen] kind of rotated a little bit more than Shane's been rotating lately. Shane gets a huge portion of the plan, so when Jahvid was available, they switched off a little bit more."
On whether TB Shane Vereen's capacity to carry the workload has been a surprise
"No. We all know what Shane's about here. We know he's a solid, dependable player who's very versatile. He can do it all as far as catching the ball, running the ball between the tackles, got the speed to break the big one, good pass protector. There's no surprise about how Shane has played. He's been productive every time he gets in the game, even when Jahvid was healthy."
On whether he has discussed the status of Best's return next season
"We really haven't. I'm sure it's something that as the season ends, that we'll sit down and gather all the information so that he can make an educated decision on what he's doing, but I have no idea where that stands right now."
On his concerns facing the Utes
"There's a lot of them. They're explosive on offense. Their defense is experienced and physical and athletic. They're solid on special teams. They're a great football team. They've lost three games that were all - TCU, that one got away from them, but besides that, they've been very close against very good football teams, against really top-10 football teams, I think. TCU, BYU and Oregon, all very good football teams, and so we're going to have to play our best to be successful. There's no doubt about that. You can't make mistakes against these guys and expect to be successful."
On the tenor of his team in practice and preparations, and whether the Bears appear to be motivated
"Yeah, big time. They had some energetic practices, just kind of against each other. As we've got into game planning and things like that, there's been a lot of excitement to practice and play. It's kind of a balancing act because they're in the middle of finals right now. That's taken a lot of their time and focus. But when we get on the practice field I sense eagerness to have another opportunity to play."
On Utah WR David Reed and whether Cal DB Syd'Quan Thompson will draw that coverage assignment
"That's a good question because [Reed] goes and gets the football. The ball's in the air and that's the guy that they depend on and who's a great player. Not every coverage is man to man, so you're not locking people up on him, but I'm sure that if Syd's healthy to play, that Syd will have a little bit of that duty. But like I said, there's a lot variation in coverages that you need to do."
On Syd'Quan Thompson's status (ankle)
"He's practicing and looks like he's going to be ready to go for the game, barring anything that happens between now and then."