Aug. 19, 2003
Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into the Cal's game vs. Kansas State. The Bears face the Wildcats at 4:45 p.m. PT on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.
On expectations of players
I have real confidence in my players, but you'll always see how they respond in the arena. This is a big time college football atmosphere, it is going to be a hostile environment, and I am anxious to see how they will perform in these situations.
I am sure from time to time they'll make mistakes, but I am tremendously confident that when they make them, they'll make them full speed, and they'll bounce back and they will not let it get them down.
There are going to be setbacks from time to time. I want to see the young guys and new guys feel comfortable in a game situation. It will be a learning experience, there's no doubt. When we walk down that tunnel into that environment, I am sure that that is going to be a little different for them. Some of them aren't use to playing in that type of setting. It is going to be key that we fly around, play from snap to whistle, and if we make mistakes, we make them full speed. I don't know what to expect until we get out there. I know we have worked very hard. The work ethic has been great, so I would not expect anything different come gameday.
On Kansas State's running game
There is no question that the key to victory is stopping the run. That is what our defense is predicated on no matter who we play. But they pose a problem because their quarterback is such a tremendous athlete. They can spread you out and use him as a running back inside. On the option, he always poses an issue. But where he is really dangerous is in the passing game, not necessarily with his arm, but if things breakdown, he can scramble for big plays and make things happen with his legs. There is no question that we have to slow down the run game. I don't think we can necessarily stop their run game, but we definitely need to slow it down.
On new players affecting game
I think they are going to be in the same situation. They (Kansas State) are playing some new guys, too. They lost some guys also, so I think it is a good time to play them.
On the overall talent level of Kansas State
They are a great football team. They are big and physical on the offensive line. They are very fast and athletic at key positions - tailback and quarterback. On defense they have quite a few returners that are very gifted players, Their two linebackers have tremendous speed. Their defensive end played quite a bit last year. They are not playing with freshmen. They are playing with guys that have been there for awhile and saw some action. They are one of the top defenses in the country. One of the things that impresses me the most about them is how they tackle. They are so fast and once they get there they don't miss tackles.
We will definitely preach to hydrate, so that we'll stay away from cramping and stuff like that. We have been fortunate, in some ways, that we have had some pretty warm practices the last week or so. We even took the team off campus to get use to the heat. Today and tomorrow, I am a little bit concerned that it may be too cool here, but it is what it is and we have to prepare the best we can, and that's by making sure we stay hydrated.
On how Cal matches up vs. Kansas State
I have to wait and see in person, but on tape they look like they are very fast in all positions. Overall, based on the guys that are actually playing, they have a little bit more team speed than we have. It's in a lot of our new guys where our speed really lies. While some of those guys are contributing now, most of that speed is redshirting. But in comparison, at linebacker - our linebackers are just as fast as their linebackers, probably.
On a big game so early in the season
I think we're fine, it is good to get right into it. One of the main reasons why this game was so appealing was that we are able to take all the young guys back there. It is treated like a bowl game. Even if they are not going to play, they can experience what the expectation level is and the high level we aspire to play at - in a hostile environment. It is going to give us five conference games before we get to conference play. But I think playing the best right away is fine.
I don't know about every position. For example, last year we had five guys rotating at defensive end. This year, we are not that deep at defensive end. At tailback we have more depth. At quarterback - I had no problem using Reggie last year, so I don't feel that we are any different there really. We are probably deeper at tight end and at linebacker. It's definitely by position some places we are deep and some places we are not.
On talent level compared to last year's team
I think we will be more talented. I think we have the potential to be, however it hasn't been proven yet. I think on paper, and when you look at some of the things they do in practice, you can say that the potential is there for us to be more talented. I think it maybe reflected in our speed.
On building a winning program
That is our goal, that is our vision. We want to get on the level to where we are competing for the Pac-10 championship on a yearly basis and competing on the national level, is well. That's what Kansas State seems to do.
On the keys to victory
We have to be able to win the turnover ratio. Also third down conversion - we have to convert to keep the football. And finally we need to eliminate big plays. If we do these things, the game will be very competitive.
On the offensive line
We have four guys, two of which started every game last year, the other two rotated and got a good amount of playing time. The only guy that is really new is Nolan Bluntzer, our center, and he has done a great job through camp.
I felt like our o-line had a good camp. We were able to run the football a little bit, and I thought that they have been fairly solid. They've stayed healthy - we really have not had any offensive linemen miss practice in camp. It is so important to have those five, six or seven guys working in a rotation as far as communication and things like that.