Nov. 13, 1999
BERKELEY - Below are comments from players and coaches from both Cal and Oregon following Oregon's 24-19 victory Saturday.
Cal head coach Tom Holmoe
General comments on the game:
"That was some game. It was a tough one to swallow. We has a great opportunity late, and we just weren't able to punch it in."
"It is just too bad that we always seem to need to come back at the end, instead of playing good solid football early in the game. I don't know what it is about the team, but somehow when they get into a real battle and their backs to the wall, they seem to turn it up a notch. We've got to work on that, this next week, this next year, and the rest of the time in the program. We are going to have to come back and play four quarters of football, which we really don't do."
"Defensively we had a great effort, but obviously it was not enough."
"Kyle is hurt, and he'll undoubtedly miss the Stanford game. I think other than that, injury wise we got out of it relatively OK."
"If people are wondering if Oregon blew out the candle on Cal's season, Yeah we are not going to go to a bowl game. That's a fact. But I don't think you can count this team out in 'The Big Game'. They still have a lot to play for."
On Cal's final play of the game
"We ran this play in practice and it was designed for a two-point play or when we were in the red zone. It was third down and this was the time to run it. It was a pretty safe third-down play, we were looking for mismatches. We had a couple out there. We had three different options: one to the left flank, one to the right flank and the third was to Surgener. Oregon didn't know what was going on. When he came off the ball they grabbed him, which they can't do, but obviously they weren't aware of that. We gave Wes instructions before the play if it is not there to throw it away and we have a fourth down. But he thought he had Surge (Surgener). He chucked it in there, and they picked it off."
On coaching Deltha O'Neal
"I don't coach him. I can't take the credit. That is just a guy who is phenomenal. I don't know if there is another big timer like that around here. For your information, he broke a NCAA record. When he intercepted that pass, you just knew he was going to go all the way. It is hard to put into words what he means to this team. He is our best player by far. He just sealed himself a first-team All-American bid."
On the play of backup walk-on QB Wes Dalton
"I thought he played great. I am so proud of him because early in the season when we had the three guys before him, Wes just stood and watched for months and kind of mentally picked it up. Then Sam gets hurt and the next thing you know, he is number two, and he is starting to get a few reps. He went in there today and it looked like he has been running our offense for five years. He put us in a position to win the game today, and I have to tip my hat off to him. The great thing about it for him is that he'll be the QB in the Big Game."
QUARTERBACK WES DALTON
On the final play, in which he threw an interception
"In that certain situation, I felt that there was no one prepared to cover (Brian) Surgener and as I took the snap, you don't really have time to change your mind after the ball is snapped to you. So I saw Surg(ener) kind of get bumped to the side and he was floating around in there. He was one-on-one...so I tried to give him a high ball that he could maybe go up for and make a play on. Unfortunately, I just didn't get it close enough to him and throw it high enough for him."
On coming in after not seeing much playing time previously
"I've been here five years. I've gone through more offenses than most NFL players. So I knew exactly what to read and what to look for...For the most part, I thought we were very successful moving the football."
"I've taken more practice snaps than probably any quarterback in this program. So I feel very comfortable in the center. I think I see the field pretty well for the most part. Unfortunately today, I just didn't see it quite well enough."
On offensive coordinator Steve Hagen
"Coach Hagen's play calling in the second half was unbelievable. We were very efficient and we protected the ball fairly well. The one interception I threw, it looked like a pretty good play by the safety...I thought it was a good play call."
On the interception
"Basically, I was one-on-one with the tight end...When he broke out I was already on his hip, his inside hip, and all I did was look for the ball. The ball was there and I just made the catch."
On his pass completion
"I used to be the ace quarterback in high school, so we've been working on that play the last couple weeks. I was supposed to throw it back to the quarterback but the coach said if the quarterback's not open or if they blitzed, just to take off and run."
On Wes Dalton
"When Kyle went down, the first person I went looking for was Wes, the backup quarterback. I went to him and I said, 'This is your shot?just be prepared and lead us to victory.' I just wanted to give him confidence and let him know I'd be behind him one hundred percent. He performed well. I give him a lot of credit for his efforts. He stepped up and brought us back."
Oregon head coach Mike Belotti
Describing the game
"Gut-wrenching. Heart-stopping. All the things you'd think of from these cardiac kids. Give Cal credit. They battled. And Deltha O'Neal's a great player. He brought the crowd back in it. We got lulled into a false sense of security early. That interception (100-yard return for TD) really got his motor running, and we got tentative."
"I'm pleased overall with the win. I'm pleased to escape with a win. It's great for our program. You have to be able to win on the road. It's a great victory for us."
"I thought overall we're a better team, but give Cal credit - they battled."
On the closing moments of the game
"I don't think there was a lot of panic. The ball was on the ground twice and they got it both times. Our kids just battled."
"I considered calling timeout, but I told our defense and our coaches we just had to keep them out (of the endzone), and they did. If I didn't think we could keep them out, we'd have called timeout."
On Cal's trick play at the end of the game
"We'd never seen that particular set. I talked to our coaches about lining up to that kind of set. Now maybe they'll listen to me."
On Cal's defense
"I've said all year they're the best defense we'd play all year and they lived up to that."
On Cal QB Kyle Boller
"I hope Kyle Boller is not hurt too bad. He's a great quarterback and an impressive individual."
On hearing UCLA defeated Washington
"I'm proud and pleased with our team. I said all along we need to take care of ourselves. We need to be in a position to take advantage in case someone faltered. Now we're rooting for whoever plays Stanford."
SENIOR ROVER MICHAEL FLETCHER ~
On Cal's last offensive play:
"They came out in a wacky formation. I looked to the sideline to see if we wanted a timeout. Everybody just played their man. Brian saw the tight end sneaking out and made a good play."
On the game in general:
"It was an emotional roller coaster. I like playing games like this. We've been playing tough games like this all year, so that pretty much favored us today. We're in a bowl game for sure now. We don't know where, but I think this is the biggest victory of the year for us and we're going to ride the momentum into the civil war next week. Next year, down the road, Cal is going to be a great offensive team. They just have a lot of young guys who need to get used to the system. I think they'll be a team to deal with in the future."
On hitting Cal quarterback Kyle Boller:
"I was kind of shocked. It didn't look like he even saw me, so I tried to kill him. He was running right at me and that's a free shot at a quarterback and I took advantage of it."
On Cal cornerback and return specialist Deltha O'Neal:
"Deltha O'Neal is just a ball magnet. That guy just finds a way to get the ball, no matter if he's on offense, defense, or special teams. That guys is dangerous. I enjoy watching him play. I think he's probably one of the first- or second-best athletes in the Pac-10. I just enjoy watching the guy play."
JUNIOR CORNERBACK BRIAN JOHNSON ~
On the Cal offense:
"I saw a good team, a young team, and a great defense. They have a lot of weapons on offense and defense and they make plays. They'll be good in a few years, maybe next year. They need a little more experience at quarterback and in their receivers. They looked a little bit confused at times out there on offense. "
On the Cal defensive unit:
"They're athletes. They're good, they're whole defense. I was sitting there watching those guys play hard and hit hard. They've got good motors."
SENIOR TAILBACK REUBEN DROUGHNS ~
On Cal's defensive line:
"The defensive line was doing a wonderful job. They were pretty much stopping me at the line, allowing me only a one-yard gain here and there, so they were doing a wonderful job. Their front seven are one of the best. There wasn't a lot of room."
On Cal's last offensive play:
"I don't understand it. I know their defensive players were upset about that last play that their offense did run. But that's the way the ball rolls and fortunately we got they victory. I was nervous (watching the play). I think the Cal defense was a little upset by the play calling (on offense) but they can't fault the coaches for that."
On his own play in the game:
"I think this was one of the worst games I've ever played. I didn't do as well as I thought I could or as well as I thought I should have. I'm glad that we got the win. If I can contribute in any way then I'm glad to do that. I wasn't hitting the holes right and I was trying to do extra when I shouldn't have. The fumble, I've got to stop doing that."