Oct. 14, 2003
BERKELEY - Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into Cal's game at UCLA. The Bears visit the Bruins on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 12:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl. The contest can be heard on KGO Radio (810 AM) and will be televised regionally by ABC.
On the bye week
The bye week did give us a chance to recoup a little bit. Donnie McCleskey, who wouldn't have played had we played last week, practiced yesterday (Monday) in a limited capacity, so I think he's on the mend. We'll move (Jonathan) Giesel around a little bit today. He didn't do much yesterday, but we'll move him around a little bit today. So, I do think it gave some of our guys a chance to heal.
Their defense is tremendous. They are very multiple in what they do - a lot of zone blitzes, a lot of three-man rush. They get a lot of interceptions from their linebackers when they're dropping out into coverage, disguising things. It's been big for them. They've got 14 interceptions in six games, so they've done a tremendous job of creating field position for their offense.
On being patient with the offense
We just can't force the ball, we just have to be patient, because even when they bring a three-man rush and drop eight, they get a nice push. The Ball brothers do a nice job of coming off the edge and getting a nice push and pressuring the quarterback. We will have to be patient and take what they give us, and not force things.
On the progress of this year's team
Up and down. I'm pleased in certain areas. I've always been pleased in the way they play, how hard they play and the effort that they give. I've been pleased with how the young corners have responded in the last few weeks. I've been pleased by (Adimchinobe) Echemandu's running. It goes back and forth each week, but there is always one thing that I'm happy about, and that's the effort that our team gives, and the work ethic that they have and the preparation.
On the possibility of being rusty after the bye week
We will practice full speed against one another. We're going to have some crossover drills today and tomorrow in full gear where the offense and defense will go full speed against one another to try to simulate the game speed. I was looking yesterday for us to maybe be a little rusty, but I thought we were very sharp yesterday in practice. We threw the ball well, we caught the ball well, we hustled well. I was pleased yesterday, coming back after the weekend off, that they practiced hard and they were sharp.
On quarterback Aaron Rodgers' disappointment and comments after last week's loss to Oregon State
He's all right. That's natural. It's natural when you have a tough game like that. He's a competitor. He's not going to be happy after that type of game, and neither am I. But you have to bounce back, and move on to the next week. He practiced very well yesterday and threw the ball very well, so I'm sure he's anxious to get back on the field.
On UCLA's defense compared to Oregon State
Oregon State and UCLA are two different styles. Oregon State is a lot of bump-man stuff, where UCLA is not really a bump-man team. They're more of a pressure zone team, a cover two zone team. They don't live on a lot of man-to-man coverage. It's more pressure with zone blitzes, and rushing three and dropping eight and covering all the holes. That's where they've gotten most of their interceptions, by their three-man rush and dropping people where you have really nowhere to go with the football. They are two different styles of defense, as far as separation is concerned. You don't get the every down pressure that you get with Oregon State.
On starting a "second season"
We are halfway through the season right now, and we've had our share of injuries and things to where some other guys have to step up, but I think it feels like a new season right now after the weekend off. It gave the players some time to get away, and get more than just physically refreshed, but get mentally refreshed.
Each week is different. Each week brings new challenges. UCLA will bring new challenges that other teams haven't brought. There will be some learning experiences going on there with people. Mistakes are bound to happen, but the guys that are playing now are not new anymore. They have had some experience. Does that mean they aren't going to make any mistakes? No. People do different things offensively and defensively, give you new looks and things like that. But at least they understand the speed of the game now.
On wide receiver David Gray
David Gray has done well. You'll see him play more this week. He has been practicing well. I think he understands the tempo that he needs to play at to be successful or to compete. In practice, he's done a nice job, caught some nice balls, hustling. I think he's coming on.
On the Pac-10
I think it is unpredictable. On any given week, anything can happen. I have respect for all the teams in our conference. I haven't seen Washington State play on tape yet, but obviously they are playing very well. I have seen Oregon State, and they are playing very well. USC is playing very well. Everybody else, it seems like they are up and down where anything can happen. They are all lumped into one group. UCLA is 4-2, and they've played Oklahoma and have been doing enough to win. Any time you are as solid as they are on defense, it gives you a chance to win.
On the advantage or disadvantage of playing so many games
Well, I go back and forth over that, because that was a decision that we made. I think that it was good for us, as young players, to gain that experience. We will see after the bye if we were able to get refreshed. I think we will. The first seven games were tough. They were physical, and we lost some guys to injuries, but I think we matured as a team, which is the positive part.
On quarterback Aaron Rodgers potential
He's very intelligent - great arm strength. He can make any throw on the field. He's got a very quick release. He runs well enough to have an escape dimension. I just think he's going to get better each and every time out. He's a very special guy, and with experience he's going to get better each week.
On the bye week's effect on Rodgers
I think it made him healthier. Hopefully, he's got last week out of his mind. Sometimes, time can heal those types of things. Other times, you want to go out and play and get those things out of your mind. I think that time has let it wear off, and he's looking forward to getting back out there.