October 20, 1998
BERKELEY - California Head Coach Tom Holmoe
Tuesday Press Conference
October 20, 1998
On the UCLA offense:
"Offensively, I have a great deal of respect for the way that they play and the things that they do. Their coordinator (Al Borges) does a great job mixing up the plays. They have a quarterback that can really run that offense to near perfection. And they have skilled players that can execute the game plan. So those things all tie into having you a little bit anxious about going into the game."
On the UCLA defense:
"Last year, they had this unconventional defense that you don't see anywhere else in the country except the time when you play UCLA. And they had some great players that got that thing going and made it a very exciting and electric defense. This year, they still have pretty good players, they lost some fine ones, but they're starting to develop some new names and faces, and they have a new coordinator (Nick Aliotti) who has had a lot of success as a coordinator. He was the guy who designed Oregon's defense when they went to the Rose Bowl. So, it's not like you're getting a break in a year, they are still very good."
On UCLA's confidence coming into Berkeley:
"I think a lot of success of the team is based on the fact that they have a 15-game win streak. They had a great 10 games to end last season, capping it off with a great bowl game, and now they are undefeated and unblemished this year. So, their confidence level is very high. You can see the effect of in the Bay Area of us going 4-1 and the confidence level of our team, so you can imagine how confident you'd be being No. 2 in the country."
On Cal's offense and running game:
"We have had success in the running game intermittently during the games. The thing that we could do is to be more consistent through the course of a given game. I think that you'll see Marcus Fields, Marcus Oliver, Mike Freeman and Saleem Muhammad get a chance to make some plays. If we give them a hole, they are going to get some yardage. If we mix up our plays and keep a good balance of offensive power coming at them, then we will have more success. We've just kind of had teams jump on us and keep us off balance on offense, and really the USC game was the only time that we turned the tables and took control of the offensive game. We will need to take control of it, and how we do that is being worked on right now. We have an idea of what we can do to be successful offensively."
On freshman fullback Saleem Muhammad:
"He could play some tailback. Really, the way we run our offensive sets, he'll carry the ball from a split-back formation, and it really wouldn't matter if he was the tailback or the fullback. He has shown that he is a tough runner and that he's committed to being a heck of a player. One of the things is that he was supposedly going to redshirt. That was the plan. But we'd always told him that if we had an injury of significance before the fifth or sixth game, he'd have to come out. So, he was kind of on ice, so to speak. He's still thawing out a little bit, as far as knowing the whole system and all that he can do. He's still learning, but we are really pleased with the progress that he has made."
On predicting UCLA's offensive plans:
"They are very consistent with what they do. They don't take a lot of chances because they are pretty skilled. Some teams will just roll the dice a lot - they don't. So, I would imagine that based on what Washington did against our offense last week that they would pick up their blitz game. We will be thinking that big time."
On UCLA quarterback Cade McNown:
"I don't really see that big of a change (from 1997). His numbers might have been better last year based on what I've been hearing and seeing, but as you look at the film, he's just a very confident quarterback. He has complete control of the offense. He has a great idea of what coach Borges wants to accomplish, and they have something good going. Their offense keeps the defense off-balance at all times, and I know that coach Borges is always out trying to out-guess you or trying to trick you into thinking they are going to do something and then deceiving you. He just runs that offense to perfection."
On the UCLA offense and Cal defense squaring off:
"The fact is that both units are at the top of their respective sides of the ball in the conference. It is a great challenge for both units. I think that maybe the bigger part of the game will be how our offense does against their defense and how the special teams match-up goes. I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves because basically it comes down to perfection. Both teams have capabilities of executing great, and both teams have had success this year, and it's a matter of which team shows up."
On the competition for the starting PK position:
"We'll continue to have competition in practice. Maybe put a little more heat on them in practice this week to determine who will be the place kicker. We'll do that and decide the kicker by the end of the week. As frustrating as this may be, there are some other position players that are struggling too, and it is a matter of correcting their mistakes and getting them ready to come in and be effective. I'm not doing it to be a psychological monster or anything, it is just that I go with what I feel is right."