Nov. 2, 2004
BERKELEY - Below are selected quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference heading into No. 4 Cal's match-up with Oregon. The Bears and Ducks kick off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
On returning to Oregon and facing head coach Mike Bellotti
I would think that their staff knows more about how we think than anyone else would. It's pretty obvious. As many times as you practice spring football against one another; not so much Bellotti, but coach Aliotti would probably have a pretty good feel about how we've attacked them before, what we've done, patterns of play-calling. We worked very close together in game-planning. Absolutely, they are more familiar than anyone else.
On comparing Oregon to Arizona State
You hadn't heard too much about them (Oregon). I think their early losses probably set them back against Oklahoma and Indiana. But if you look at them, they're playing great football. They're 4-1 in conference - we're tied; they're a great football team. If you look at any of the stats, offensive stats, defensive stats, they're all up there near the top. It's just another week of another great conference match-up coming to town. It's going to be a great game.
On Oregon's defense
My perception of them is they have always been fairly good on defense. Coach Aliotti has done a great job with them. I have tremendous respect for them. I can tell you that in the years that we played some great teams in bowl games, when we played Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, our defense shut them down. They were the most powerful team in the country at that time, and our defense did an awesome job against them. When we played Minnesota in the Sun Bowl, and Minnesota was a great offensive football team, and that defense shut them down. I have tremendous respect for what they do schematically, and they have great players. Their two inside guys are as physical as anybody in the conference.
On defensive coordinator Bob Gregory
I think more than anything, when you look back at it, and I remember saying this before the year, people kept saying, `What are you going to do about the defense?' It must have been they only watched one game last year, and that must have been the Virginia Tech game. Besides that, our defense played very well. You look at the games last year that we weren't successful in, they were games that we held opponents to 23, 24 points, and we lost 24-20, or something like that. It was a very young team. I think with the familiarity of the schemes, some of the experience that we have now on defense, they understand what we're trying to get done. You look at all the junior college players we had last year that are now on their second year. With (Joe) Maningo and (Matt) Giordano and (Ryan) Riddle, those type of guys, they're much more experienced now, they understand what we are doing.
On Cal's running game
I think most teams probably go into their game planning trying to stop the run. As much success that we've had running the ball, and I know that that's Oregon's first - I don't know about anybody else - but I know that always Oregon's first priority is to stop the run. They stack a lot of guys up there to do it. It's going to be tough sledding running the ball this week.
On Cal's game plan
We're going to have to be diverse. We're going to have to be balanced. There's not one phase we're going to be able to rely on. We're going to continue giving it a shot running the ball, but we're going to have to mix it up. It's something we always strive to do, to be balanced on offense. It's been a tribute to the great running backs we've had; we've always been fortunate to have backs that did a nice job, and offensive lines that could block for the run. We try to stay balanced. We scheme runs; it's not like we run the same three runs every week. We spend a lot of time, and coach (Jim) Michalczik does a nice job with coaching the offensive line. Coach (Ron) Gould does a nice job with the running backs. It's not something that happens by accident, it's something we spend time on. It's important to stay balanced, and we will continue to strive for that.
On Cal's BCS ranking
They (the players) never talk about it around here. When they're out somewhere else, they might. I think that would only be natural. I'm not so naïve to not think that when they're sitting around together at their house and they see it at the bottom of the ESPN ticker, it catches their eye. I'm not that naïve. But on the other hand, we have addressed that while that is there, we cannot lose focus, we cannot lost track of what's really important, and that's weekly preparation and daily preparation, as we've discussed all along from the beginning of the year about expectation and rankings and so forth. I think they understand what our message is as a team. As they're walking around campus, I'm sure people are talking to them about it. I've tried to remind them not to get caught up in that, that it really means nothing until the end of the year and to keep working towards our goals.
Can Oregon be the toughest opponent you've faced since USC?
Yes, absolutely. I thought Arizona State was a very good football team last week. I thought they played very well on defense and they were very explosive on defense. But I think that Oregon is definitely the toughest opponent that we'll have played since USC.
Is it more significant to play Oregon because of the time that you spent up there and some of the connections that you have there?
No, not really. To tell you the truth, it's just another game on the schedule. While there are people on the other sideline that I've had a lot of great experiences with and spent a lot of time with and still are very friendly with, it's another football game. I will tell you, last season, going back to Autzen and standing on the other sideline was a different experience. That being over with now, I've had plenty of time to get away and now it's all blue and gold. Nor do I have any added incentive to beat them because I used to work for them. It has nothing to do with it. It's about two very good football programs that are going to face off on Saturday. It's going to be a great football game, a very evenly-matched game.
Oregon has won the last seven games against Cal. What gives Cal a better chance now at ending that streak?
Year-to-year, all that stuff is really trivial. It doesn't matter what happened seven years ago, or even last year. It's a new team. I don't know what gives us a better chance, or if we have a better chance. I can't even say that we do have a better chance. I do know that we are a bit more experienced now, and I think they are very evenly matched teams. I really believe it is going to be a game of teams that capitalize on turnovers or the lack of turnovers.
On coach George Cortez
George came back to the office this morning. I hope everything goes well. So far, so good. He was cleared yesterday to come back to work in a limited capacity. I entrust that he will be fine for the game and be in the press box and resume his normal duties by then. I don't know that he will be on the field today. He has to be careful not to get hit with a ball. He's anxious to be back to work, I'll tell you that. He was really happy yesterday. He's been bored to death being back at home for the last couple of weeks. He's very happy to be back and we're very happy to have him back. It's great to have that chair filled again.
On freshman WR Robert Jordan
To think that three weeks ago he was on the scout team, then all of a sudden he's starting for us at receiver and having a 100-yard game, he deserves a lot of credit for his work ethic - that doesn't happen easily - as well as coach (Eric) Kiesau, for getting him prepared and ready to play with all the things we do. Formations and things that we put him in, understanding all the fundamentals and techniques and certain details of his assignments. He's put in a lot of time; coach Kiesau has too. I think it's a tribute to Robert's work ethic. He's a terrific young man who has a lot of skills. Right now, he'll mature and get bigger, but there's no fear in him whatsoever. He's not a guy who goes in there and is nervous about playing. He has tremendous confidence and the ability to go with that confidence.