Nov. 11, 1997
Tom Holmoe Press Conference
Cal at Arizona
This game provides us an opportunity to regain momentum that will take us into the final game of the season against Stanford. Some people have been wondering what we will do in our last two games since we were mathematically eliminated from the bowl picture last week. Now that that has happened, our guys really want to keep playing. I think that it is a testament to them that theyÕve been able to play hard all year and now weÕll see. To finish up by beating Arizona and Stanford would give us some momentum heading into next year. So there are still a lot of things to fight for.
One of the main things we focus on is pride. I try to talk to the team about War Memorial Park where I started playing football. We werenÕt playing for rings or vacations or bowl berth or anything. We just went out and played hard and had fun. So my goal, in these last two games, is to have our guys do just that ... play hard. If there was a Rose Bowl on the line, IÕm sure the last two games would be much more emotional. But I think that this will test our guys to see what they are really all about. IÕm excited. I know that our players will continue to prepare just like they have in the past.
As far as Arizona, I think that they are a very similar team to us. They have a lot of very young players who are exciting, and I think that their best days are ahead of them. I believe that they are mathematically still alive for a bowl berth because if they were to win their last two, that would give them six wins on the season. And I think guys will be fighting hard on both teams.
I respect coach (Dick) Tomey. I was a player at BYU when he was the coach at Hawaii. He coached me in the Hula Bowl. WeÕve known each other for a long time in a lot of difference capacities, and I look forward to competing against him for the first time and IÕm eager to go down there and play against him.
Q & A:
Q: Can you assess the attitude of the team this season compared to last season?
A: The attitude last year when we were 5-0 was tremendous. The hopes and dreams were in everybody. Visions of the Rose Bowl were dancing in everyoneÕs head. That was fun. It was great, it was exciting to be at that point and it was good for Cal football. The struggle that we had was difficult. It was hard on everyone because when your hopes are up high and they fade, it makes it even harder. This year, we started out with two wins and people didnÕt know what to expect. And then we went into that five-game losing streak and people just didnÕt know what to think of the team. But our attitude during that time was good. It was a concern of mine, but our guys came out to practice. The coaching staff preached preparation commitment to the program. We talked about unity and coming together and I think weÕve improved in some areas. ItÕs disappointing that there are certain areas in which we havenÕt improved, and thatÕs where we go back to the drawing board. The bottom line, though, is that I think the attitude is very good, considering the won-loss record. I think they see that some of the commitments that they have made have paid off and that their are some victories that are being achieved outside the wins and losses.
Q: Have you seen individual improvement this season that may not have yet translated into team improvement?
A: Yes, I think so. There have been a lot of games this year where the defense has played very well or the offense has played very well. WeÕve never really put it all together though. But one thing that we focus on is that when it does come and we do put it all together, good things are going to happen.
Q: At the beginning of the year people thought that the offensive line was going to be the strength of the team. Looking back, was that an accurate assessment?
A: Yes, I think it was at the time because a lot of them had played. But as you look at it now, the injuries to that group forced us into a situation where we didnÕt have that starting unit on the field together all that much. Yauger (Williams) missed three games. John Romero missed a couple of games. Brian Shields played hurt all year. Jeremy Newberry played hurt a lot. Kevin Swillis was in and out and now is back in. Caleb (Brown) has had to come in and play. Kevin Doherty was a guy who we thought was going to be able to come in and play, but hasnÕt. So there have been a lot of things that have happened that have caused that statement not to become a reality. But theyÕre going to be the strength of our team next year ... theyÕre all coming back.
Q: What players do you like for Arizona?
A: First you have look at Ortege Jenkins. HeÕs a very exciting, young quarterback who was a third string guy who all of a sudden was thrown into the mix. But the next thing you know, you find out heÕs pretty special and heÕs thrown a lot of touchdown passes. HeÕs got a great arm. I also like wide receiver Dennis Northcutt, who last year did good things against us. HeÕs also an exciting player whoÕs fast and has good size. TheyÕve also got a young running back, Trung Canidate, who was off to a fantastic start and was leading the conference in rushing before getting nicked up a little bit. But I think heÕll be ready to play against us.
On defense, their defensive lineman, Joe SalaveaÕa, is very special. We recruited him out of high school and heÕs a great player. They also have two excellent corners, Chris McAlister and Kelly Malveaux. People talk a lot about USCÕs guys and Arizona StateÕs guys get a lot of credit, but these guys are just as tough.