Aug. 25, 2009
California head coach Jeff Tedford, quarterback Kevin Riley and wide receiver Marvin Jones addressed the media following practice on Monday after Tedford named Riley the team's starting quarterback for the September 5 season-opener versus Maryland. Following are selected comments of what the three had to say.
On the situational drills in practice
"It wasn't a lot of hitting. Obviously, we didn't bang a lot today, but we did get a lot of situations, substitutions, and things like that. It was very productive."
On the transition from training camp to game-planning
"As we practice, we're still going to have crossover so we can make sure we get speed and some physical part of practice. But, I guess you could say today is officially the end of camp."
On training camp
"I'm very happy with the way it went. I thought every day we came on the field the guys had really good energy, worked really hard and were very physical. I think it was very productive. We played well. I thought the leadership was really good and that afforded us to be able to have the work ethic that we had, because I think they all know what to expect out here."
On the quarterback position
"Kevin's (Riley) going to be the starter. They've all played really well, and we feel very fortunate that we're in a position to have three quality quarterbacks."
More on the quarterback position
On Kevin Riley's improved accuracy
"Kevin's been pretty consistent all the way through, but all of them really have. They've all showed flashes of doing really good things. They all have the abilities. We could play any one of them and feel good about winning football games. There's not a huge separation there. We feel very comfortable and confident with all three quarterbacks, but Kevin has been much more accurate than he has been last year. He's really worked hard on his mechanics and has done a nice job with that."
"Mechanics is number one. I think feet are another thing with his motion from his feet all the way to his arm. He worked really hard at it. It's evident that he's spent a lot of time through the spring and through the summer throwing the ball and has a real command of what's going on. He's very accurate."
On the team's passing game
"The passing game was not all on Kevin last year. We had an offensive line where we had five guys on scholarship lost to season-ending injuries. We had brand new receivers. Whether it was pass protection, whether it was dropped or errant throws, it all kind of comes together. With the accumulation of his mechanics and his footwork, the offensive line being pretty solid, the receivers being experienced, that has a whole lot to do with what goes on. It's not just Kevin that was the problem, just like it's not just Kevin that's the solution. It's a team effort on the offensive side of the ball."
On the team's readiness for the September 5 season-opener versus Maryland
"We're pretty close. The game-planning is really at the forefront right now, but we need to just keep sharpening the things that we've been working on. We still need to work on tackling. We're going to get some live tackling over the next week, because if you don't have a chance to go live a lot in the next week that's a real thing that suffers. We block and get off blocks every day up front, but we don't go live every day to take people to the ground. We will have to simulate and produce some live tackling drills."
On the play of the team's receivers
"I think coach (Kevin) Daft has done a great job of coaching those guys because their work ethic is great. Their attitude is great. Their attention to detail is great. Their effort is much better. That has a lot to do with their maturity, but I think coach Daft has done a really nice job getting those guys prepared."
On backup quarterback Brock Mansion
"Brock is much more accurate throwing the football. He's a big-time player. He looks great in the pocket in there throwing. He's got elusiveness. He's got an escape dimension. He's got all the skills. For him, it's a matter of continuing to learn the offense and continuing to understand game situations. Brock has a bright future ahead. We have 100 percent trust in Brock in handing him the ball."
On a chance to go to the Rose Bowl this season
"It's always something that we aspire to do, but we have to take it one at a time. That's at the end of the season. We have to take it one at a time and try to reach our potential each and every week. If we do that, and stay healthy and reach our potential every week, then we have a chance to win any game that we play. But, it's kind of in our hands. Our destiny is really in our hands. The Rose Bowl is not something we talk about. It's something that down the line is something we'd love to do, but there's a lot of work before you get there."
On setting winning the Pac-10 title as a goal
"Yeah, that's always the goal, but it's not something we talk about every day. We don't talk about winning the Pac-10. We talk about what we're going to do today to prepare to play Maryland, and after Maryland prepare to play Eastern Washington, and after that we'll prepare to go on the road and play Minnesota. That's all we're focused on. We'll take one week at a time. Not one week is going to make or break our season. We have to be consistent."
On being named the starting quarterback
"It definitely feels good. I put in a lot of hard work between when the season ended last year and now. The goal is to improve every day in spring and in fall, and I think I improved a lot throughout the time, including the summer. I worked hard to get here in this spot, and now I am just getting ready to take off with it."
On the quarterback competition being decided
"It is definitely a relief, but I've had some confidence all through camp. When I made a mistake, I would just learn from it and make the play the next time. That's something I've done a good job with and it is something I am going to continue to do."
On why he earned the starting quarterback role
"I think experience and knowing the looks of the defense and how to run the offense. Just being smart with the ball and making plays, not really forcing it down field at all and running the offense."
On comparisons to the 2008 quarterback competition with Nate Longshore
"Last year, when I was named the starter, I was also told that Nate (Longshore) would also be playing in the game. So I felt that it was still kind of open. Because if I started it off well, and Nate played well, Nate would finish the game. I now I feel like, they tell me I'm the guy. I'm going to go with it. I'm ready to play."
On whether he thinks the starting job is permanently his
"I'm going to make it that way (permanent) by playing well. Just try to make this team as best as possible. We've got weapons on offense. We're going to be a tough team to guard. Hopefully, I can just run the offense as best as possible."
On the differences between this season and the past
"I think that not only am I a better player than I was, just looking back at it, I thought about it too much. You can't play that way. If you play that way, you're not going to be confident. You're not going to throw the ball well. If I make a mistake, mistakes happen and coach knows that. You just have to go out there and improve and don't let it happen again."
More on his improvement this season
(It's) knowing the offense, knowing where to go with the ball. I've been watching a lot of film last year and though the spring. I even watched some of the Maryland game last year, part of it today. I'm quicker with my reads and not holding onto the ball as long. I know where I am going with the ball. I know my routes quicker, getting the ball there quicker, being more efficient and getting the ball to better spots for the receivers to make plays. I'd just say that my all-around game is better."
On the trust he has in his offensive teammates
"I'm just putting the ball where receivers can make a play. I think all of our guys, all of our receivers, are going to catch it and make a play. Up front, I think we are going to be way more solid than last year with the new guys on the line. It seems like so far in camp they are more sound. It's just going to be better. There is more experience around the whole offense. If we get going, we could be a scary team to guard."
On improvements in the team's passing game
"It feels a hundred times better. As you play a few games and the season gets going, it's just going to get better and better."
On last year's loss at Maryland
"We just came out flat last year. I think they got up 14-0 in like three minutes, and we never really responded until the fourth quarter. This year, we just have to be ready to play. If something wrong happens, we just have to answer and respond to it, and roll from there. I know I am a better player than I was then. and I know I'll make better plays. Hopefully we are ready to step up and the defense will do their thing. I can't wait. Football is the one sport where you play 14 games in a season and then wait eight months to play another one."
On taking a leadership role with this year's team
"I felt in the summer, I went about it like this was my team. So I am just going to continue from there. I tried to go out in the summer and be a leader."
On a group of receivers that is more experienced than in 2008
"It makes a big difference (to have experienced receivers you trust). You're throwing it to them with accuracy, but when you try to aim a throw, it kind of throws off your motion a little bit. When you just aim for a spot, you don't put everything on it. When you can just put in an area, going deep, you just put some air under it. They're all real fast, so they'll run under it. It's up to me to make good decisions."
On Kevin Riley being named the starting quarterback
"I'm happy for him. He's put a lot of work in this summer trying to get us all together on the same boat. He has done a fairly good job doing that, getting our connection, the connection with the wide receivers just right. I take my hat off to him. He deserves it."
On Kevin Riley's improvement
"He's comfortable in what he is doing. Last year, there was some grey area there. You could tell he really worked hard in the offseason with his throwing motion. We as receivers see that. It's remarkable how good he's become in one year. We're all ready for that."
On Kevin Riley's leadership
"He really shows that he's here and wants to lead this team to a championship. It really shows out there. He'll come to the receivers and talk to us, see how we're feeling. If we both made a bad play, we go to each other (and ask each other) what happened with this or what happened with that. I should have done this; I should have done that. It's the little things like that that show he's ready to take this leadership on and carry this team on his shoulders."
On Kevin Riley's likeability
"He's very well-liked. He's the kind of guy you can hang out with off the football field. He's funny. He adds character. He's the kind of guy that we can rally behind. We have that trust in him."
On the quarterback position
"There are a lot of teams that are comfortable with two quarterbacks, but whatever coach says goes. We just have to adjust to whatever coach says. That's fine. Whatever is present, we're going to go for it. We still have to do our jobs. We're blessed with two really good quarterbacks. Brock is a really good quarterback with good arm strength, but so is Kevin. There was a connection (for me) because Kevin is experienced. He took upon the leadership right after the season ended. All we have to do is be happy with what is happening. We're just glad and ready to start this first game."
On backup quarterback Brock Mansion
"We know that we have another quarterback that we trust and that we have spent a lot of time with. He took some snaps with the ones as well. We are really grateful to have two quarterbacks that are really good. It does give us confidence and doesn't make us worry."
On the team's passing game
"I wouldn't say we're always where we need to be, because we don't want to take on that rep, but we have arrived. We have the potential to be a great offense, to be a great passing team. We just want to keep progressing as practices go on and as the season goes on. We are 100 percent better in the passing game than we were last year. Coach (Andy) Ludwig is a mastermind. It's all fun. We just make it fun. I say we're better than last year. We feel great coming into the fall. Usually it takes a long time to get it clicking as an offense, but we came into the fall strong, like strong, like wow!"