Aug. 31, 2010
Video: Jeff Tedford | Mike Mohamed | Kevin Riley
Head Football Coach Jeff Tedford, senior quarterback Kevin Riley and senior linebacker Mike Mohamed spoke with the media at the first weekly press conference on campus prior to the start of the 2010 season, with the opener on Saturday, Sept. 4, vs. UC Davis at Memorial Stadium. Following are selected quotes of what they had to say.
On whether he has any particular concerns going into the 2010 season opener
"I don't know that I have any concerns. I'm anxious to see how we play. I think any first game, once you've hit each other for so long and there's been a lot of good things, you want to see when you cut it loose, because there's going to be some things of course after the first game that you're going to want to improve on. Each week you want to improve. So you go into the first game hoping that you don't have a lot of mistakes, illegal procedures, so on and so forth, things like that. I'm anxious to see us get on the field and get after it. I don't have any glaring concerns right now.
On what he's interested to see from his two new coordinators, Clancy Pendergast (defense) and Jeff Genyk
"Same thing: how they act. We've tried to simulate many gameday situations, being off the field and getting things called and trying to hit every situation we can, but games are different. No matter how much you try to simulate a game, things come up, timing becomes a major issue on how quick things get communicated and so, again, you hope going in, we've tried to have as much gameday with headsets on, communication, coaches, things like that. Until you do it for real, you just don't know. But they're both experience coaches and have been in those positions before. It's not like they're going to get overwhelmed. Clancy was in the Super Bowl, so I think he's probably pretty used to that type of thing."
On his expectations for Kevin Riley in his final college season
"I love Kevin. Kevin really has done a nice job. His growth and development as a person, as a player, as a leader, is awesome. Being the active quarterback with the most touchdowns and wins than anyone in the Pac-10 right now, I think his excpereince is really going to pay dividends for us. He's done a great job with his fundamentals, his mechanics, has a great grasp of the offense and is a great leader for the offense. So, he's had the best camp I've ever seen him here and I think he's going into the season very confident. He's not going to be perfect, no quarterback is perfect, but he's doing a great job and I have a lot of trust in him, a lot of confidence in him."
On Riley's benefitting from having TB Shane Vereen behind him
Of course [he benefits]. You never want to be one-dimensional and so, if you have quality running backs and are able to establish a run game, that always helps with play action and so on and so forth. So Shane, and Isi [Sofele] is our backup back and he's done a nice job through camp, and so, anxious to see him play for real as well."
On Vereen's health going into the season opener (hamstring)
"Shane's doing fine. He's had a little over a week of practice now. He feels good, he's bursting, everything's fine. I think if there was any rust when he came back from his hamstring, it's gone now."
On how productive he feels the offense can be this year
"I think it has potential. It's still about execution. I think our receiving corps, being a little inexperienced, I think it's talented. Young guys like Keenan Allen and Michael Calvin are obviously getting their first - Keenan obviously more than Michael; Michael's at least been in a game before - but those guys are talented. They can run and I think the potential there to make big plays, I think they have that. Offensively, it still comes down to blocking, pass protecting and being able to do the work up front. At tight end, I think Anthony [Miller] is a very good player and some of those guys behind him have really come along, so, while they'd be young, they have potential to be very good."
On what WR Michael Calvin has done to become the projected second-stringer at the X receiver position instead of Coleman Edmond, who had been listed ahead of Calvin in a recent depth chart
"Nothing over the past couple of day. Because he's healthy. When that depth chart came out ... that's because Michael was hurt and wasn't practicing. Now he's healthy and he's the backup X."
On what impact Coleman Edmond can have when he gets on the field
"Again, he's one of those young guys that is gifted. He can catch the ball and he can run really, really well. It's just a matter now of it's all going to be new to him: alignment, assignment, tempo of the game, so on and so forth. He's really done some nice things in camp so we know he can do it."
On whether Keenan Allen is mentally prepared and has personality to start on day one as a true freshman
"Keenan is so happy-go-lucky that I don't even think he knows where he's at right now. He is just a guy who loves playing football, and it doesn't matter who it's against or anything like that. He's a great athlete who has a lot of confidence in the right way in his ability. He's done a great job of picking things up mentally, because that's the biggest thing, the learning curve for a true freshman to come in, so he's done a great job. Coach [Kevin] Daft has done a great job with his preparation. Keenan was a little nervous for the talent show that we had at the end of camp, but I think anything on the football field, he's fine with."
On how Allen's involvement in the offense might compare to how DeSean Jackson was used as a freshman
"No limitations. He's starting in pretty much all the personnel groups. He's done a nice job of handling it."
On who will calls plays on offense
On whether UC Davis has a big drop-off athletically and competitively compared to Cal
"They're very competitive. They're picked again to win their conference. They have 14 starters back and they do a great job. They're very well coached. It probably wouldn't be truthful if I said from top to bottom they're as athletic as us. That's probably not the case, but, that being said, you don't play with individual, you play with team. They do a great job of playing together as a team. They run well, they play hard, they're tough, they don't make mistakes, and so you take a look at their victory over Stanford years ago, you take a look at how they played Boise State last year, at Boise - it was 27-16 with about a minute to play in the game. And so they do a great job there."
On the status of OL Matt Summers-Gavin (leg)
"Summers-Gavin practiced this morning and took some reps, and so we'll see how is tomorrow after those reps and try to keep him going throughout the week. He won't start but we hope to get him in the game."
On whether Summers-Gavin's is projected at right tackle rather than left guard
On whether there is any downside to the shuffling in the personnel and position assignments on the offensive line the past two weeks
"No, that's how the season goes. There's going to be time to time when you're going to need - some guy goes out and some guy needs to be inserted in there to play, and I think that's a good thing. I think different combinations, because you never knows what's going to come up, they need to play different positions from time to time. So you can't just let them get so used to one position and then all of a sudden, here comes game time, and you try to move them. No, you have create some depth and you have to create some experience in different situations."
On LB Mike Mohamed's maturation going into this season
"Mike is obviously the conference's leading tackler last year. He's a great player, great leader, just solid in all areas. Brings a lot of stability to that group. Very smart guy who understands everything he's doing and I think he's a calming force. He can be both: he can be a calming force out there and he can also light a fire under people, and so obviously, going into his senior year, he's one of the mainstays there on defense. He's done a nice job for us."
On his expectations for DB Darian Hagan compared to last year
"Darian has really dedicated himself. He came back 10 pounds heavier. I think he dedicated himself in the weight room, I think he's dedicated himself in the meeting room to understand what he's doing, and so he's won the right corner job as of right now. But it's all been through hard work and his attitude toward it. I think that when there was a change of defensive coordinator, not to put anything on the old coordinator - it wasn't - but it just gave Darian a new start, a breath of fresh air where he could start from scratch and he could just kind of turn over a new leaf, and he's really done that. So, I've been pleased again with his growth and development not just as a player but as a person."
On why he made changes in attitude and approach for this year, vowing to have a little more fun
"I haven't completely changed, I don't think. I'm trying, though. Really, as you evaluate the long season, and the stresses that are everyone - coaches, players, everyone - we've changed our schedule to practice in the morning, to try to help create a little bit of discretionary time for the kids at night, where they don't just try to squeeze everything into the night and they get burned out. With academics and football, it's always a grind. That was the reason for the schedule change, which I think is working out really well so far. And then same thing with me. It's very hard to keep a high level every day, all year long, just grind, grind, grind. I think you have to try to pick and choose your times. We're very focused when it's time to go and play, and concentrate on what we're doing, but besides that I think we have to enjoy the process a little bit, and so I'm trying to turn a new leaf over for that and just make sure that when it's time, as you go through process through the week, when it gets to game time, we're able to gear it up, because we haven't been burned out so long all week.
On whether there were any issues with lateness with the morning schedule through camp
"No, I think the kids responded to it very well. We tried to acclimatize their bodies in camp to 5:45 or a 5:30 wakeup to have some things like that, and we also simulated a week of practice to make sure that if there was any kinks, that we could get those out before game week. And I think most of the kids are used to it. I keep asking, hey, how is the schedule going? And it seems like they like it. I'm really pleased with the energy in the morning practice and then I think it helps them be awake and lively to move on to class. At night, that's their downtime and they can get to bed early. But I think that the morning schedule has helped in a lot of ways."
On whether current new first stringers on defense, including S Josh Hill, CB Marc Anthony and DE Ernest Owusu, are locks to start on game day
"We'll see. We still have a couple of days of practice left. Right now, they're slated to be there. Like I said, anything can happen. Derrick [Hill, NG] is always kind of fighting the injury bug, and so we have to see. We have one more real hard day of practice tomorrow and then on Thursday we kind of gear it back a little bit, but see how everyone came out of practice today. We just got off the field so I haven't got an update from our trainer yet on how everyone came out of practice today. But every day's a new day."
On whether S Sean Cattouse is not starting due to health issues or because of Josh Hill's play
"Hill's done a nice job. He's kind of ther quarterback on defense back there. He gets everyone aligned properly and Cattouse missed a couple of days with injury and Hill kind of took it over at that point."
On the status of LB David Wilkerson (hand) and whether he can be expected to be in the playing rotation Saturday
"We're hoping that he plays on Saturday. He got cleared to practice, now he needs to get cleared for competition. We're hoping to hear maybe something today. He should be in the rotation for Saturday. We're in a tough situation because if he doesn't get cleared in time, how many reps do you give him through the week? We're acting like he is going to be cleared, so it's sometimes, the clearing house is so cluttered and crowded, it could be any day that we hear what's happening."
More on QB Kevin Riley's development and the importance of eye discipline
"It is very important for quarterbacks with eye discipline, and that comes with experience and knowing what you're doing, knowledge and being comfortable in the pocket. Because you can tell, quarterbacks that aren't real comfortable and a couple of different things, if their eyes come down quickly, usually two things: they're not comfortable in the pocket or they don't know what they're looking for. And neither one of those fits Kevin. Kevin is comfortable in the pocket and he knows what he's looking for. If his eyes come down, it's because he's getting pressure somewhere that he needs to get out of. Eyes aren't a problem for him. He knows where he's going. He's seen every blitz there is at this point. That's not an issue with him. Where he has really improved are his feet and his throwing fundamentals. He keeps light feet all the time. And part of Kevin's problem before, it's sequential movement from the feet all the way up, and is his feet weren't light enough, his arm could be off. And so he shortened his throwing motion, and that goes together with his feet being quick and his release is much quicker. He's got much more zip on the ball. His ball finishes now, so he's really done a nice job of working on all those things."
On his attendance at some defensive meetings and whether that is a difference this year
"Yeah, it is. I tried to sit in on a couple of meetings. There's too many meeting going on for me to be in every one of them but I want to get to every meeting just to see how things how things are going, make sure that our new facility here was what we needed it to be and just kind of watch the coaches coach and teach, and watch the players respond to it, and just get a little feel for what's going on in all the different meetings."
On whether the temporary surge facilities, in place as renovations continue in Memorial Stadium, have been disruptive to preparations
On his feelings coming into this, his final college season, compared to past years
"I've loved it. I think the facilities are better than what we had before. It's awesome. There's a bathroom in the building, there's air conditioning, there's a meeting room for everyone. It's great. The only thing maybe is the walk, but that's not a big deal. When we first got here [in 2002] we used to practice out here [on Witter Rugby Field] all the time. And so we walked every day from over there [at the old team facilities within the stadium] up here. It's been very convenient, ample space to have your meetings, and now this [area] has turned into our dining facility, which we just took over a couple of days ago, so everything's right here for us. If there's any inconvenience, it's for the players. The walk from campus up here, if you're at the other end of campus, the walk to get here, it's a pretty good hike. So, mainly it's a little bit of inconvenience there. Parking, you know, with all the construction and stuff like that, there's inconvenience there. But besides that, as far as meeting space and practice space, the weight room is bigger now than it was at least on one level so we can have more people in there lifting. So I think it's been great. The people who put it together did a great job. Steve Holton and Scott Schuhmann and those people who put that together and all their staff, did an excellent job putting that all together."
"Just playing-level-wise, I'm a lot more comfortable, just going out there every day, feeling great, throwing the ball and having a great time. It's just easier watching film, especially with the defense we went against in fall camp this year, it's hard to figure out at times. You seea lot of looks and watching film just makes it easier, just kind of breaking things down. But in terms of the game, getting ready, it's the same thing. Every opponent, you can't take lightly. The Boise State game last year with UC Davis, they scored in the last two minutes but it was a pretty tight game the whole game. And Boise State's a good team, obviously."
On how much confidence he has in his experienced offensive line
"A lot. Especially, like I said, what we went up against in fall camp and how they got better every day. They're communicating really well, which is probably the biggest thing, passing things off. Davis brings a couple of looks that we're definitely going to have to pick up, and when you have a year experience playing well together, makes me a lot more comfortable back there playing."
On WR Keenan Allen
"He's good. He's a football player. From day one, I remember the first day he came in during the summertime, he caught a pass and I was like, OK, this kid, he's got a chance. You just how people have ball skills. And then he got on the field with pads and he was better with pads on. He has instincts and he's a good football player, great athlete and great football player."
On whether Allen is equipped to be a starter from day one
"Yeah, I think so. I'm pretty sure he was a big-time recruit kid, so he got a lot of media attention that way, which helps coming in. And then right from the get-go, he wanted to play and he got into the starting lineup pretty quickly by his play. He's a young kid but he's mature and he doesn't have any mental mistakes. He runs the right stuff and he's ready.
On his expectations for TB Shane Vereen
"Same as he always does, just solid play. He's going to get big plays with the holes, and get chunk yardage, short yardage. He's a durable back. I don't think we'll be giving him the ball 40 times a game like we did against Stanford. Shane does everything well, pass blocking, catching the ball out on routes, and I just expect him to keep on doing what he did last year, but elevating his game."
On his expectations for himself
"This is going to be a great season, I know it is. I'm very confident in this team. We're having fun and I can't wait to play. This is my last year maybe ever playing football in my life, I'm going to go out with a bang."
On the schemes he expects from UC Davis
"There's things you see. They disguise it pretty well with some pressures in 3rd-down situations and things like that. You've just got to be aware of it. If you don't catch it, it could get ugly, like a lot of things.
On UC Davis' athleticism and whether there is a drop-off between that team's and Cal's
"There's a drop-off but it's not huge. They're a good team predicted to win their conference this year. There is a difference, but they're scholarship players as well and they're a good team. You've got to be ready. If you come out there just thinking you're going to win, not ready to play, it's going to be a fight and you might get yourself into a bad situation just like Michigan and Appalachian State a couple of years back, and there's many stories just like it."
On whether the team has had any trouble sticking to the practice schedules structured for mornings this year
"Maybe a couple late for a special teams meeting, but it's been good. I enjoy it a lot. It gives you a lot more time to concentrate on school and film work as well. You get home in the past at like 8:30 or 9 and you had a whole day of school and football, and you're tired and you're watching film ... it makes the schedule a lot easier [now]. We're up, right now. We have class, time for school, everything. It's a lot better."
On the value of having a returning offensive coordinator, with Andy Ludwig entering his second season
"It's nice. You're on a comfort level with each other, you know each other's strengths and weaknesses, being able about what we see and things like that, we understand what's going on."
On how productive he expects offense to be
"Should be a very productive offense and a lot more consistent than what we were last year. Last year we had some good games and we just had some terrible games, and that's the thing that's going to be consistently a lot better, and it should be. I think a lot of that just comes with me being more mature and running the offense, not trying to do too much."
On whether he sees a different attitude from Tedford this season
You see it sometimes. He's still Coach T, but he definitely is more relaxed, trying to be more relaxed, which relieves a lot of pressure on the players. People are having more fun out there. When you're afraid to mess up and get your butt chewed out, you start to worry about that a little bit. Now, you can just go out there and play, and you mess up, you just move on to the next play and continue to play better. He's done a good job of that and people are having fun."
On specific focuses for himself on Saturday
On whether he has goals such as leading the conference in tackles again this season
"Just run the offense. Not trying to do too much. When a big-play opportunity happens, go for it, and if not, just check it down, move the chains and continue the drive."
"That's definitely a goal of mine. That's something that I would like to do again, but if I don't get 10 tackles in a game, I'm not going to worry about it. The main thing is getting that W."
On whether he has he put on some muscle and how has it affected his play
"It's made me a better player I think, just in terms of having the extra pounds dealing with linemen, dealing with blocks, things like that. It hasn't slowed me down at all. I feel that I'm moving just as well as I ever have. That's the most important thing. If you're going to put on the weight, you've got to able to move it."
On how he is feeling with the installation of a new defense under coordinator Clancy Pendergast
"We finished installing with about a week of camp left, and so now it's just get as good as you can given what we're going to run in each particular week. We've got everything that we want to run against Davis in right now and now it's just repetition, seeing how I'm feeling and just getting as good as I can."
On how the defense overall is feeling comfortable with coach Pendergast's system
"During spring ball it was tough, having to adjust to a new defense, but now, in the fall, I feel like we hit it running pretty well. Just having those six months under our belt, and I think camp's gone pretty smoothly and we're ready to showcase it on Saturday."
On what people can expect from Cal defense for 2010
"Tenacity. We're going to be aggressive, we're going to fly to the ball and stop the run. Our weak point was in the pass coverage last year and we're hoping to improve on that."
On UC Davis and its offensive threats
"We've been watching film a little bit. They have a redshirt freshman quarterback. Their starting running back right now is a new guy, we haven't seen him on film. The guy who started last year is actually their No. 3 guy now. So there's going to be some new faces out there on Saturday, but you know, they're a good team. They beat Stanford a few years ago and they played Boise State tough, so we're going to get a good team on Saturday."
On how he would describe the Aggies offense
"They run a lot of single-back and the linemen try to stretch you out, try to get guys out of their gaps and they'll try to cut it back on you."
On how difficult or important it is for him to read the quarterback's eyes
"It's big. The only time you want to read the quarterback's eyes is on pass coverage, but also you want to be aware of the routes going on around you. You use the quarterback as your last read. You want to see all the routes around you and get in position, and the quarterback will take you the final step where you want to go."
On whether taking UC Davis seriously is a focal point for the Bears
"Yeah, definitely ... We don't want to overlook these guys. Like I said, they've played a couple of good games against big opponents in the past few years. We just need to show up and play Cal football, and don't take these guys lightly, because they are going to give us their A game."
On whether it matters who the opponent is on Saturday, considering how eager the Bears are to get started
"I don't care who it is on Saturday, I just want to play, and that goes for the rest of the team, too."
On the feeling of taking the field at home for the season opener
"It's electrifying. There's nothing quite like walking out of the tunnel and seeing all the fans out there and all the noise. It's something special."
On Tedford's attitude in 2010
"He's fiery. He's got a lot of energy. He's out there making sure guys are sprinting from drill to drill and he's doing a good job of being a head coach."
On the biggest adjustments for morning practices
"A lot of guys, including myself, you don't always go to bed before 10 o'clock... But now, 10 o'clock, you've got to go to sleep, because we are up by 6, every morning up here 6:45 or 7 o'clock."
On differences in Tedford compared to years past
"I think the biggest thing is he's more involved. He's actually sat through a couple of defensive meetings this year, which is something new, something I hadn't seen in my four-plus years here. Like I said, he's just trying to be more of a head coach and be all around, not just be offensive-minded Jeff Tedford. He's more of a head coach."
On whether he and the team have adjusted well to the morning schedule
"I had a lot practice this summer with an internship, so I've had a little bit of practice and it's been a good adjustment for me. For the most part we're doing good. There's definitely some sleepy eyes in some of the morning meetings. This morning coach [Kenwick] Thompson cranked up the music right before a meeting just to wake everyone up."
On nostalgic feelings going into his final college year
"I've talked to a lot of the older guys who've kind of been through it, and basically what they've told me is, `Just go out there and have fun. The little things will take care of themselves. Don't worry about all that other stuff. Just focus on having fun during your senior year. You're never going to have another one.' So that's what I'm trying to do."
On whether he is excited to be a leader
"Yeah, definitely. I've been here a long time and put in a lot of work. I'm excited to take that role."
On Pendergast's defensive scheme and whether that offers him opportunities as an edge rusher
"I'm more based in the middle. There will be some opportunities for me to come off the edge but right now, we're just trying to get after people, shut down the run. We feel like if we can shut down the run, that will help us to control the tempo of the game. When it comes to passing situations, when the time calls, we want to be more aggressive, we want to get in the quarterback's face, we want to cause turnovers and just get the ball back for our offense."
On whether the defense is a high risk-and-reward scheme
"Yeah, when the time calls for it. We're not just going to be calling blitzes when it's not smart to do so. But yeah, there's going to be some risky times and also some high reward."
On the lower expectations from external outlets and how that plays into the team's attitude
"From the outside looking in there aren't very high expectations, but for us on the inside, our expectation is to win the Pac-10, go to the Rose Bowl, all of that. So yeah, some teams may be overlooking us this year, we'll find out in the near future. But we're just going to go out there with a chip on our shoulder and work hard and just try to win ballgames."
On whether the secondary is ready to handle the situations created by this new defense
"I think so. This defense, it's not leaving anyone out to dry. Everybody's there to help. Multiple looks, lots of different disguises, and we've been working hard for the last six months on getting it down. But I think our secondary is going to be able to handle it."