Sept. 14, 2010
Press Conference Video: Tedford | Riley | Holt | Mohamed Named Lott IMPACT POW
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Head football coach Jeff Tedford, senior quarterback Kevin Riley and junior linebacker D.J. Holt spoke with the media at the weekly press conference on campus prior to Cal's first road game of the 2010 season, with the Bears visiting Nevada on Friday, Sept. 17, for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Following are selected quotes of what they had to say.
On whether he sees this as a bigger game for either Cal or Nevada, and the matchup of Cal's nationally No. 1-ranked defense against the Wolf Pack's top-ranked offense
"I think that matchup is going to be very challenging Their offense is very potent, led the country in rushing last year - 3,000-yard rushers. They're very, very good at what they do, very precise, very disciplined, and have the guys to do it. Their quarterback does an excellent job of running that offense and they're very explosive. If you don't stay in your gap and you don't tackle well in the open field, they can - you look at their scores from last year, there's a 70, there's a couple of 60s, there's a couple 50s on there. They can explode on offense very quickly, so it's going to be a major challenge for us to slow those guys down a little bit. As far as the game is concerned, I can only speak for us. It's a big game for us because it's this week's game. Every time we take the field it's a big. For them, I'm sure it's a big deal as well. Anytime you go like on a Thursday or Friday night, you watch TV on ESPN, you see how cranked up the campuses are and things like, so I'm sure it's going to be a pretty hostile environment."
On Nevada's defense and the challenges it presents
On the status of LB Mike Mohamed
"They do a nice job on defense. They run to the ball very well, very well coached, very disciplined, don't give up a lot of big plays, and they do a nice job of keeping everything in front of them and make you earn what you get. So they're very solid and have been for two weeks now, and so we're going to have to play well and execute in order to be able to sustain some drives."
"He's got a sprained toe, so we've just needed to let that rest. Being a short week, and let it rest for a couple of days here. I foresee it being fine to play in the game."
On whether there is danger of his team taking Nevada for granted and assuming a victory
"I don't see how that you could take this team for granted. You watch the tape and it's evident that these guys can get after you. Our team so far has done a real nice job of staying focused and I don't see this week being any different. Going on the road, obviously, it's our first time this year with this team, but in the preparation for the first two games, I've been pleased with their preparation and their focus, so I anticipate that we're going to go there with a business attitude to go there and play our best."
On TB Shane Vereen, who has five touchdowns scored in two games, and his mindset whether or not he is the star every week
"Last week, we had such great field position, there was a lot of short drives, so there wasn't a lot of yardage either in the passing game or in the running game. But as long as we're efficient in the red zone, that's what matters, and Shane is a 100-percent team player, and he's going to do his part to do what he can to help us win, be it pass protect or catch the football or run it. Made a great catch on the touchdown, the first touchdown of the game. That was a back-shoulder throw that he did a nice job opening his hips and getting the ball. So he's going to do whatever it takes and he's our lead tailback, there's no question about that. As long as we're moving the football and doing the things, staying balanced, he's going to play a major role in what we're doing."
On the workload of second-team players considering they simulate the opposition in practice while also maintaining their readiness within Cal's playbook
"Well actually, it's good for them. They're getting some physical, they getting some reps. And you know, football's football. A zone blocking scheme is a zone blocking scheme. Reno runs a zone blocking scheme, but they just do a little different thing in the backfield, with like a triple-option type thing, but those are blocks that, pass protection, if it's a man block deal and things like that, it really, I think, is benefitting our second team and I think it's helping our defense because we play a lot faster. So I mthink we're getting really good work with the format of practice right now."
On the status of WR/KR Keenan Allen
"He's all right. He's fine."
On the status of DB Steve Williams
"[Thumb surgery] was this morning. I just got off the field. He went in there at 7, I think he had an 8 o'clock surgery, so I haven't heard exactly yet what's going on with Steve."
On the continuing importance to him of turnover margin and red zone efficiency, both of which the Bears are currently leading the Pac-10 in after two games
"It hasn't changed. That's really football, of making sure we protect the football. Ball security is something we preach all the time and coming up with the ball of defense, creating some turnovers. Creating some turnovers will either keep them out of the end zone or sometimes sets up nice field position for you. And then when you get the field position in the red zone - and special teams has a lot to do with the field position as well. Like last week, I felt like we did a great job of winning the field-position battle early in the game and when we got down in the red zone, we were efficient. That hasn't changed. It's still critical to come away with points, preferably touchdowns. But no change in that. It's something that we still preach and work on."
On whether he reads anything into Cal's mixed success when ranked in the Top 25, and if it needs to be discussed with the teamKEVIN RILEY
On Nevada's defense
"No. It's not something we talk about. I feel good about this team. We haven't talked about that once this week, nor have I heard it somewhere - somebody told it to me. It's not something we look for or we talk about or anything like that. I think it's been a made a big deal of, of course, because we didn't finish the season very well last year. I'm not sure that, or even the beginning [of last year], that's because of rankings. You know, we didn't play well enough to win and we just happened to ranked where we were ranked when we didn't play very well. It's not something that we talk about. Each game has its own challenges. This week is a big challenge for us for a lot of reasons, but it's not because we're ranked wherever we're ranked."
"They're a good defense, no question about it. They gave up six points last weekend, but also Colorado State's offense hasn't really been producing points this year. But, they're a solid defense; they haven't really allowed people to get too many first downs during the game and, you know, red zone trips. I think our offense; I think we should be able to put up some points and we're going to have to, obviously, with their offense scoring as many points as they have."
On whether he is expecting a high-scoring game
"I'm expecting we're going to have score some points to win. And, you know, we'll see how their defense can react. If we can get a lead on them early, we'll see how they play defense. Because this whole season, they've had a lead early, and they've had a big lead and that kind of changes how you play defense. So hopefully, we can get a lead early and change up their offense and defense rhythm."
On Shane Vereen
"He's a worker. That's all there is to it. He comes every day, works hard, studies the game hard and knows what he has to do protection-wise. Like I've always said, he's a great receiving back, as you can see he has two touchdowns receiving already. He had a great catch on Saturday, on that back shoulder. And that's all you can say, he's works hard. He's breaking tackles up there, and pretty soon he's going to bust one loose. He's just got to keep grinding."
On when he last played a game on a Friday night
"High school, so it's been a while. But, I'm excited. You always think about Friday night games. It is different though having one less day to prepare. So people really have to be focused on their film study having that less day getting ready for this opponent."
On how things have changed with the second-stringers on the scout team in practice
"I think what we're doing is good. We're playing real football during the week. We used to go against scouts, where they're told to do one thing and if they don't do it they're getting yelled at. It's different football. It's not full live speed, but now going against the defense -- you're never going to get the defense perfectly, what we're doing -- but they've done a great job. And the guys who are running the other team's scouts are doing a good job of staying focused on what we're doing as well. And that helps with like -- we have one scout period at the end which really helps them stay in tune, but when you look at those guys when they're not in, they're all focused on what we're doing and what we're trying to get ready for on Friday."
On whether it will be a bigger game for Cal or Nevada
"I mean, I think it's both. If you look, defensively, we're one of the top teams in the country so far and offensively, they're one of the top teams in the country so far. So, I mean, this is going to be a game. Having that less day to prepare is different really for everybody and, you know, we've done a good job just getting ready, coming out yesterday and practicing and watching film. We're going to have to be ready for this game. I think for both teams, both 2-0, it's a big win. Especially if you look at it from their standpoint, not a BCS conference, this would be a gigantic win for them. And if we win, that's what we're supposed to do. We just got to go out there and play our game."
On what film study has shown about Nevada's defense
"I mean, everybody does a little bit of the same. You know, they're a 4-3-based defense, running some quarters, things like that. But, also on third downs, they've been bringing some pressure like most teams. I'm thinking they're going to bring more pressure this week and just try to slow down our offense. And that's what I'm expecting, going to be expecting pressure this week and we've just got to watch film and make sure we're getting all of our points and readjust right and getting ready."
On what he makes of Cal's struggles when it plays as a ranked team
"Iit's just a statistical fluke. I mean, you go out there in the game and if you're ranked it doesn't matter. You just go out there and play. I wish we weren't ranked, actually. I was liking not being ranked, but it doesn't matter at all."
On Nevada's offense and Colin Kaepernick, Nevada's quarterbackD.J. HOLT
On the matchup between Cal's No. 1 defense and Nevada's No. 1 offense
"I've seen them on games, because they play a lot of those Thursday-Friday games. I mean, you see him play and he's a great athlete. He runs really well. From what I've seen he's not really one of those runners that's really, like a Masoli-type runner, he's kind of a strider; get him in an open field and he's going to get some open yards. He's got a really strong arm, from what I've seen, but I haven't really seen their offense at all."
"It definitely will be a great game. We've been game-planning this week and definitely exciting to play a good team as Nevada. They have a great quarterback, great running back, just a great offense, so it's definitely a challenge for us, see if we can stop the run and see where we fit in the nation. We're trying to be one of the best teams as well as one of the best defenses in the country, so this will be a great stepping stone for us to overcome."
On Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick and the challenges he presents
"Tackling. We have to execute and tackle. A lot of the plays get to the perimeter and he makes a lot of guys miss, so we have to swarm to the ball. Everybody has to do their job and give great effort. He might make one guy miss but he can't make the whole defense miss. If we just run to the ball, do our job and be physical when we get there, we should be fine."
On whether he is surprised by how well the team is playing and the amount of fun he's having
"We're definitely having a lot fun. We expect this from ourselves, that we were going to have a great season. First two games were really good for us as a defense. We jumped out early, fast. It's just really fun, really exciting. We have what, 10, 11 more games left. It's still early but as of right now, we're having a lot of fun and we're enjoying ourselves. Everything's good so far."
On how aware the team is that Nevada is a very good opponent
"They're one of the top offenses in the country. I definitely remember them playing Boise State last year. They keep, they're really close to Boise State every year, Fresno State. They're definitely not a team to sleep on - like I said, number one offense in the country. So you definitely can't take an offense of that caliber, high of a caliber, lightly. You have to really execute the game plan and do your job so you don't get exposed."
On the problems that the Wolf Pack's "Pistol" offense presents
"Their backfield can all run. Most teams, the quarterback is a pocket passer. Now, we have to contain not only the running back and the receivers - the skill positions - but they also have a talented quarterback that can also run just as like last week, as Colorado. It's a great challenge for us as a defense. He's a different type of athlete. He's bigger, he's fast, he makes a lot guys miss, he can also throw the ball. He's a great leader, so this is a great challenge for us and we'll see how things go on Friday."
On how the second-teamers' acting in the role of the opposition in practice has helped in the starters' preparation
"That definitely helps a lot. The speed is almost close to what the game speed would be like. The twos are not that far from the ones. A lot of the guys who are twos also get into the game as well, so understand the game speed. That's a great look. Scout team, they're, most of them are freshmen, so they don't really have the skills or the speed yet to give us a good look, but going against the twos - I also heard in the NFL, that's what they do, so it's definitely good in that point."