Sept. 23, 2008
BERKELEY - Coming off its first bye week of the season, the University of California football team hosts Colorado State this Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be televised by Comcast SportsNet-West. Cal hosted its fourth weekly press conference on Tuesday at the Hall of Fame Room at historic Memorial Stadium.
Head coach Jeff Tedford and numerous players attended to speak with the press. Here are Tedford's comments:
Can you give us a preview of CSU?
They are a good football team with a lot of confidence. Big play offense. They can throw the ball down the field. Good quarterback. Very physical tailback, big, great balance, strong. Big offensive line. On defense, they are flying around pretty well. They are coming up with some big plays. So very sound, very well-coached.
CSU defense hasn't given up any big plays this year. Can you talk about that?
Well, they keep everything in front of them. I think they are doing a good job of eliminating the big play. They are running hard to the ball and playing with a lot of confidence. They are putting themselves in the position to make plays. I have noticed that they haven't given up a lot of big plays after looking at the tape.
CSU's running backs are statistically similar. Are they the same style of back?
Both of them are pretty physical. They run hard. They wrap the ball up. Hard runners, break tackles, good balance. Both of them kind of have the same characteristics in that way.
Can you talk the leadership on the team in response to the Maryland loss?
I thought we had a good week of practice. We were very physical, very focused. We are trying to get better with the details that we need to improve on. It's totally different from last year. We were 5-0 and No. 2 in the country. This year it's not that way. A totally different situation. That being said, I think the leadership and chemistry is a little bit different than last year. I have been pleased with how they have responded at least through the week of practice last week.
Do pressure and expectations this year make it easier to recover from the Maryland loss?
No, it's never easy. There are always expectations. The expectation is internal. We expect to do well and reach our full potential, which we didn't last week. But, we get another chance this week. The bad part about the bye week was that we had to sit on that loss for two weeks and didn't get a chance to play this weekend.
After throwing it 58 times against Maryland, is your confidence growing in the young wide receiver group to open it up a little more?
That was the positive that came out of the Maryland game. Our receivers got a chance to get their hands on the ball and make some plays down the field. You could tell that a couple of the guys after their first or second catch gained confidence as the game went on. They have had a good week of practice this past week. I think if there was a positive that came out of that game was that we had to throw 58 times which gave those guys some good experience.
How is the offensive line playing as a unit?
Pretty good. We have had our ups and downs but on offense it takes everybody, all 11 guys to get the job done. Last week we had some break downs. We had to throw the ball a lot and with that your going to get pressured a little bit more. For the most part the offensive line has been solid.
Can you talk about the play of offensive guard Chris Guarnero?
Chris has played very well both in the run game and in pass protection. I want to say two weeks ago, he was player of the game. He has done a very nice job in there.
Can you talk about CSU's offense?
They are good. They get the ball down the field. They stretch the defense very well. They double move you a lot. They keep you off balance. Their quarterback throws the ball down the field well. Given that they have a big offensive line, a very solid run game, the quarterback can get the ball down the field. The receivers are doing well. There is a lot to deal with there. They have the ability to score some points no question about it.
Has CSU coach Steve Fairchild's NFL experience shown through at CSU?
I think so. The [St. Louis] Rams were that type of team where they threw the ball down the field, deep digs, deep comebacks. They run some routes that take a long time. You can see where there is some carry over from what he did while in the NFL.
Can you talk about your secondary versus CSU's wide receivers?
I am anxious to see it. I think our secondary has done a pretty fair job. I am anxious to see how we match up with routes that are further down the field.
Can you talk about the growth in [sophomore defensive back] Darian Hagan since last year's CSU game?
Well, quite a bit. I think that was a huge lesson for Darian last year. He went to sleep on a couple of plays and got beat on some big plays. This year he has played very solidly in the passing game. But he has to be a complete player both in the run game and passing game. He gave up some leverage a little bit last week, which cost us but Darian is playing much more disciplined and much better especially in pass coverage.
Can you talk about Tyson Alualu's impact this year?
He is solid. We talk about playing snap to whistle. He is a guy that plays snap to whistle. He can run. He is physical. Plays with great leverage. He is a very solid force in there for us. He is running a lot better than he did last year. When guys break out of the pocket, he is able to chase them down. I am really pleased with the way Tyson is playing.
Have you used the Mountain West's record against the Pac-10 as a motivational tool?
We have enough to worry about just trying to take care of our stuff. I don't think that we need to say that were trying to carry the torch of anything. There is no question that we always want to be successful. We have enough issues of our own just doing things right and reaching our potential. If we do that then we have a chance to win but if we don't do that then we have a chance to lose.
What is your reaction to the Pac-10's record over the past two weeks in games around the country?
I haven't seen any other Pac-10 teams on tape yet until we get ready to play them. I don't know anything about it. Like I said we have enough concerns of our own. We are just focused on what we are doing.
Are the players using the close CSU game from last year as motivation for this year's game?
Absolutely. If you go back to the history of what goes on, the last time they came here they beat us. Then last year, we beat them, 34-28. They came back and rallied down the stretch. There is no question that they have talent. If you don't play your best then you're not going to be successful. It's really important for us to play our best and execute because anything can happen.
Does the fact that CSU runs a lot of long routes help your defense put pressure on the QB?
Hopefully, pressuring the quarterback is key. Hopefully making him pull the ball down a bit. That's in any passing game. You can't give the quarterback a lot of time to throw the ball. That's obviously very important.
How good is it to be back home after two weeks on the road?
It's great. We love playing at home. Our fans do a great job. We are really excited about coming back home. We are really looking forward to it.
CAL PLAYER QUOTES
WR LaReylle Cunningham
[On how the WR corps is progressing] It is a work in progress as a group right now. We didn't play our best game at Maryland. We have used the bye week to improve our timing and route running. We got a lot of practice in last week, working on the little details like our timing. We were in pads and we went live. It wasn't just a bye week. I don't think we had ever really gone live [simulated game scenarios] before in a bye week.
[On playing right away after a loss or having a bye week] After a loss, I'd rather get back out there and play on Saturday. I don't like losing and it's a bad feeling to go into a bye week with a loss, so we are all ready to get back out there this Saturday. It's also good to be home. Back to a familiar time [zone], and no drastic weather changes.
[On responding after a loss] We definitely responded well [at practice last week] because we knew we didn't play our best game. There were things we needed to address [after the loss], and that's what we used the bye week for. Colorado State is our next opponent. We have to prepare for them and continue to do the things we do and hopefully everything will take care of itself.
OL Noris Malele
[On responding after a loss] I think the guys have responded really well. I think we did some good things at Maryland. It wasn't all bad, but it wasn't all great either. We had a chance to watch film as a team and then in our position groups. We went over things, like what worked and what didn't and then we took that into the bye week with that mindset of getting better as a team and going from there. Progress-wise, we're real close. We need to put in more work, but we're real close to where we want to be.
LB Anthony Felder
[On bye week] It was a lot more physical. We went live a couple of times, we had tackling drills, etc. I think the emphasis from the coaches was on physicality - we needed to get into a physical mentality [on our week off]. It was pretty obvious on film [what went wrong at Maryland]. We made mistakes as a team and we got away from a few things that week. We've responded well, we're bouncing back well and the young guys are energetic and resilient.
QB Kevin Riley
[On the intensity of the bye week] It was a physical bye week. We had some live days. We know we have to get better; we couldn't in the bye week after losing and just take it easy. Everybody's goal last week was to get better and I think we did.
[On getting better timing with receivers] Definitely. You knew it would come more from games and game situations, going live last week also helps. You have to go full speed or it's not going to work out. Going live against our defense is different than going live against the scout team. We improved last week and we have to continue to do that.
[On getting the passing game on track] We need to come out early and get into a rhythm like we did last week in the fourth quarter. Everybody calmed down some while we were throwing the ball every play. We need to start the game that way. We need to find a rhythm early. A lot of it is not converting on third down. We have to do a better job of that.
[On the Pac-10] The Pac-10's going to be competitive no matter what. Teams are going to bounce back, step up for league play.
[On playing at home] It does [feel good to be home]. It's been close to as month. It will be nice to come back.