March 21, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. - California football head coach Jeff Tedford spoke to the media on Monday, the first day of spring practice for the Golden Bears.
Do you approach your fifth season any differently than your first? Do you feel more comfortable and confident at Cal now?
"It's pretty much the same. Each year, I've found, is a new challenge. It always brings a new adventure, a new situation. It's no different this year. Of course to try to make sure we've got new players coming who can fill the void in certain areas. As far as the program is concerned, I'm comfortable with our program and the direction we're going, and obviously I know a little bit more about it than I did the first year. The way we do things and what we stand for on a day-to-day basis are still the same, though."
Is this a rebuilding year or are you just reloading?
"In recruiting, we're able to put together some two, three solid recruiting classes together - which we've been fortunate to be able to do. Hopefully those young guys can move into those main roles. I think that that's where we are right now with some of our positions and can count on some leadership to surface through the ranks and provide that through spring football, through the summer and into the fall. I feel like we haven't really had to rebuild. We've been able to plug guys in and feel very good about all of our guys' potential."
Which team leaders right now stepping up right now?
"You look at the Byron Storers, the Timmy Mixons, the Daymeion Hughes', the Brandon Mebanes', the Craig Stevens' - there are a lot of them out there. Desmond Bishop, Erik Robertson - there are a lot of them who have the leadership qualities. And there are a lot of different ways, there are a lot of different styles of leadership. There's quite a bit of experience out there, guys who have been here quite a while who understand what it takes to get to where we need to be. Those guys are the ones providing leadership.
"There are not a lot of vocal leaders on our team, but there are many more that lead by example and understand what it takes to be successful. There are a lot of guys with experience who - Robert Jordan, even though it seems like he's very young, it's his third year playing and he provides a lot of leadership to that group."
Do you ever take your team leaders aside and tell them, `This is what we want to show to the young guys?
"There are a lot of things we do team-bonding wise. We've probably had three meetings already on that. I met with the whole senior class already and talked with them about their leadership goals and why they're important. We had a unity meeting with the whole team about why that's important. The difference between the first year and now is you can't take anything for granted, because different people are playing different roles. It's very important to remind them each year what our goals are, what's important and those types of things. You can't take it for granted that all those guys moving through the ranks are going to understand it. We're going to have to re-assess it every year."
Are you having fun?
"Absolutely. This offseason has been very, very busy. It's been a challenge. It's been exciting. A couple new coaches on the staff, sharing ideas, and getting some things on offense put together. It's been very exciting to do so. That's what makes it very fun."
What impact will new offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar have on this program?
"Well, I think a very positive one. He brings a lot of experience, knowledge not only in his knowledge and his expertise in the spread offense, but he's a great motivator. Obviously he's been around a lot of high-powered offenses, so I think he will bring some knowledge about that. That's what I think will be a challenge for us - to put both offenses together - and that will continue to be something we work on throughout the spring. It's obvious he's been around places where they move the ball around very, very well."
What are you the most eager to see about quarterback Nate Longshore this spring?
"Really everything. Going into last season, I was very comfortable with where he was in his development. But obviously there's going to be a bit of rust there from not being behind the center. You can go out there and throw seven-on-seven as much as you want, but until you're able to get behind the center and see things coming at you and have your timing down - he's going to have to break into that a little bit. But just how he handles the offense, I think he throws the ball fine.
The way Nate picked up the offense last year, is that going to be an advantage to him this year?
"One of the reasons why was because he had been here the year before when Joe was not. He is a guy who sat in on every meeting with Aaron [Rodgers] and Reggie [Robertson]. He traveled with us, was in every gameplan meeting, knew all the signals, those kinds of things. So that gave him an advantage over Joe from the get-go, just in terms of the experience he had from that one year. A lot of the terminology is the same. There are going to be new concepts, but they'll be on the same level with all the new things. Nate won't have an advantage there. But Joe was our starting quarterback for whatever it was - seven, eight games last year - so he gained a lot of knowledge. Where he has an advantage is he has the most game time of any quarterback on our team right now. Joe is still going to compete very strongly for the position as well."
How's offensive lineman Mike Tepper doing?
"Mike Tepper's doing fine. He's running around. He did squats the other day for the first time, so he has a sore back. He's been on the field, moving around, and it doesn't seem like he has any ill affects from his surgery, and so it's going to be a big spring for him to get back into the swing of things as well. We're really looking forward to seeing him reach a level that we thought he was going to reach last year for us. We're really looking forward to seeing him contribute for us."
Talk about your schedule for next fall.
"We've got a very strong schedule, there's no question about it, when you open up with Tennessee and go home to play Minnesota. I would assume both of those teams are going to be Top 20 teams. Traditionally they are. I don't think there's going to be any surprise that Tennessee is going to be looking forward to the season after having a season considered by a lot of people not up to their standards. I really expect that it's going to be a hostile environment when we go in there, and they're going to be very motivated, as will we. No question the start of the season is going to be very difficult, very challenging for us, and we're looking forward to that. And of course league play is always - there is no week off in the Pac-10. It's very balanced throughout the league. You always have to bring your `A' game if you're going to be successful in the conference."
Is learning more about the spread offense and different offensive ideas from coach Dunbar fun for you?
"It is, yeah. And trying to put it together is the real challenging part. The spread-type offense, I was a part of that in the CFL. That's all you really do in the CFL, really. With the knowledge that he brings, that's all they really did at Northwestern was the spread. We are not going to be solely the spread. We are still going to do a lot of the things we've done. We're going to be personnel oriented, with two backs, two tight ends, four wide receivers and on and on and on. It's very interesting when you bring a coach in like coach Dunbar, it makes you re-adjust everything, because not only are you learning some of the stuff that he's bringing, but you're also teaching our offense to him. So it forces you to re-address everything and maybe ask yourself questions that maybe you haven't asked yourself in a long time: why do we call it this? Why is that? And so its' been interesting in the offseason. It's been a lot of fun to compare ideas and try to see where they all fit together."
How will your role change, or will it change, because it seems like coach Dunbar will be more involved in the offense than past assistant coaches have been?
"We will see through the spring. I have a lot of confidence in coach Dunbar. I've always been impressed with the offenses he's run. They've always been real potent offenses. As we go through it, that's a work in progress, to find out exactly what the right combination is. We'll have that figured out by fall. We'll go through the spring and summer camp. We'll both still be very involved in game planning and play calling and things like that."
In hiring assistant coaches, did you look at people who were compatible in experience or had certain personal qualities that you wanted?
"Personal qualities are No. 1. Those are the things we look at first and foremost. Those are quality people who are great coaches and teachers but very good people, who teach kids in the right way, who are good fits for the staff, those types of things. That's first and foremost.
"Hopefully the same from last year. One more year of experience. Marshawn, I thought, was coming on very strong at the end of the year. He was running with very good pad level, running through people a little bit more. To have a better feel for that this year. With him and Forsett and Marcus O'Keith - all three played well when they were in the game - we feel very fortunate to have three backs who are gifted players. But it's the same thing; it's not going to change. All those guys can catch the football; they can all run with it. So we're still going to have them be a major part of what we're doing on offense: handing them the football...They're all really good receivers. How much we use them in the spread, in the passing game, has yet to be determined."