Sept. 16, 1997
Press Conference with Cal Head Coach Tom Holmoe
"It's good to be back for an active week. A lot was said about the bye week coming into it -- would it be positive or negative? Time will tell Saturday. We'll see how we play as a result of it. I don't know if that is really going to determine the outcome though. I feel good about it, at least from this point. I think it was a great opportunity for us to spend more time on Oklahoma. They had a very good game last week against Syracuse. De'Mond Parker, their tailback, brings back visions of (Greg) Pruitt, Billy Simms and Joe Washington, the great Oklahoma backs of old.
"Last year, Parker had a fantastic year as a freshman and he started off this year like a house on fire. We really have to be able to slow him down if we are to have success against the Sooners. If they get their running game going, they can chew up the clock in big way and keep our offense off of the field. I'm sure that will be one of their strategies coming into the game since our offense had so much success last week.
"Going into the game injury-wise we are fairing pretty good. (Keith) Miller is the only guy that's definitely out. We'll have an opportunity to see A.J. Kunkle in action at tight end this week. We'll should have an opportunity to see just about everybody else that was in camp in action this week. Rashawn Davis, a defensive lineman who missed all of camp, is coming around. He'll begin running today and we expect to get him back in the next couple of weeks.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity to play a team like Oklahoma, a college football team that has a great history and is one of this nation's traditional powers. When you think of college football you think of names like (Bud) Wilkinson and Barry Switzer and Oklahoma with that big Schooner rolling across the field. They've had some really fantastic teams and I think its a great opportunity for people in this area to see Oklahoma in Memorial Stadium."
Q: "Other than Parker, what are your primary concerns regarding Oklahoma?"
A: "The fact that they try to be so dominant running the ball concerns me. To carry the game 66 time as they did against Syracuse, it's a little bit of a scary proposition. That means that they are moving the chains and controlling the clock. It means that they can do pretty much anything they want to. They didn't throw the ball but six times, and that all came in the second half. For them not to have to throw the ball once in the first half is hard to believe, but it happened. Parker's a very, very good runner. Oklahoma also has a good fullback in (Jermaine) Fazande. They also have the flexibility of going with two quarterbacks. One is a little bit more of a thrower and the other one obviously is the option or running quarterback. Both of them have a unique way of running the team. Oklahoma not only brings them in to change series, but they will bring one of them off the bench to change the tempo in the middle of a series. That can change our game plan here and there, but we want to try to not worry too much about the influx of the quarterbacks."
Q: "Is it difficult to prepare for an option team since you don't see it that often?
A: "Well, it's early in the season, so this is the first chance we'll have to look at it. But they didn't run any option in the first game against Northwestern. So I'm sure they caught Syracuse by surprise when they came out and ran quite a bit of it. Obviously, it'll help us know that they have it in the package and that we've prepared for it. But its our first shot at it. We'll see a lot of teams run the option who aren't considered option teams. UCLA is not known as an option team, but they'll run it once in a while. Arizona will run a little bit of it. But I think it'll be good for us to see it early. I don't know if we'll see a better look at the option than this week."
Q: "What do you see from Parker, what impresses you about him?"
A: "He is very fast and hits the hole very hard. If your defensive people aren't where they're supposed to be on time, it's way to late. Some guys will dance around and can be fast and can pick up some yardage, but he hits the hole very hard and he's pretty durable. He gets hit pretty hard but he's got good balance. He is definitely a north-south runner. He's not jittering around at the line of scrimmage, trying to make things look fancy. He's a straight-ahead kind of guy. It's not like he's going to try to bull people, he just goes straight forward. When he get knocked off balance a little, he usually finds a way to make an extra two or three yards. He catches the ball out of the backfield, too. Overall, he's just a huge part of their offense."
Q: "What have you discovered about the Oklahoma defense?"
A: "They've played better this last week. The first week, against Northwestern, they played very well on the first half, but in the second half they gave up a number of points. But they are very athletic. Before I even saw them, when I knew they were on the schedule, I knew that they were going to have athletes. Now that coach Blake has them on the rise, I think they are coming back and that this season will be a successful season for them. They are beginning to get recruits in there that are very athletic and I think that he has a good thing going."
Q: "It used to be that Oklahoma could walk into a stadium and the other team would be beaten before the game even started. That's probably not the case now though."
A: "No, I don't think that's the case now. They are rebuilding and l like I said they are going to have quite a team this year, but they play in a tough conference and they are going to have a battle like we will. To make it to the top in either conference you have to have a sound program. I know that coach Blake, having played there, is going to try to bring back that tradition. And I'm trying to bring back the tradition of Cal football, so there are some similarities."
Q: "What do you think the key to winning this game is?"
A: "The key is that we have to play a consistent four quarters of football. This is a team against which you can play great for two or three quarters and then they'll get off the hook in a minute. So we have to be consistent throughout the whole game. A great example is De'Mond Parker last year. He was a part-time starter and he came into the Nebraska game and was held in check until the fourth quarter when he had 144 yards. In a quarter. Against Nebraska. That's the kind of team that they are and they can explode at any time. So the key for us is not to just have a great first series, but we have to go and go and go every time we've got the ball and hold them in check."