Oct. 19, 2010
Tuesday Presser: Tedford | Riley | Conte
Monday Post-Practice: Tedford
Game Coverage: TV - FSN/CSN Bay Area | Audio - KGO 810 AM/Cal All-Access | Gametracker
2010 Cal FB: Single-Game Tickets | Group | Road | Schedule | Stats | The Play | Around the Web
BERKELEY - Head Football Coach Jeff Tedford, senior quarterback Kevin Riley and senior defensive back Chris Conte spoke with the media at the weekly press conference on campus prior to Cal's fourth Pac-10 game of the 2010 season, with the Bears hosting Arizona State on Saturday, Oct. 23, for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. Following are selected quotes of what they had to say.
On his assessment of the team at the halfway point of the season
"I like the makeup of this team, I really do. Each week, the matchups are different, each opponent that you play, they're different, and I think our team has the potential if we execute to be a very good football team, to be a competitive football team and win any game that we're in. That being said, if we don't, the conference is so competitive that if you don't play your best that you have a chance not to be successful. So the preparation and the focus is very important, obviously. From week to week, it's just how you match up with the teams and how you play if you're going to be successful or not."
On Cal's mixed success in recent years against Pac-10 opponents and whether that evidences a stronger conference
"I think the conference is without a doubt stronger. If you look around the competitiveness in this conference is at an all-time high. It's a battle each week, so like I said, you have to play your A game every week and do the things necessary to make plays to win and that's kind of the bottom line."
On whether any deficiencies in the game plan might have contributed to the team's loss at USC
"The job is to put your players in position to be successful. There were some things - they did a couple of things that we haven't seen that they got us on in pass protection... And then besides that, gap control and things like that, we have to be disciplined to get it done. We blew a coverage a couple of times, and lack of communication there, so as coaches, we have to make sure that we're working very hard, as we always do, to put our players in position to be successful, and that will never change. We'll continue to work long, hard hours to make sure that we try to get that done. If teams come out and they do something that you're not prepared for, you have to make adjustments on the run."
On his concerns about pass protection and whether personnel changes are possible following two games in which Kevin Riley faced a lot of pressure
"We would always consider that. If someone's not playing well then you do have to evaluate that and make changes if needed. This week, we're not. You know, one of our best offensive linemen, Mitchell Schwartz, got beat pretty clean one time [at USC] - is that a cause to make a change there? It's going to happen from time to time. It's about mentally making sure that we have all our assignments down, and then physically of executing. But against good people you're going to get beat from time to time. You just hope that people just don't take turns, because you know one time it's that and one time it's the next thing and so on and so forth. We have to play together, and especially that group up front has to play as a unit."
On ASU's front seven on defense
"Been game-planning for them the last two or three days and they're very good, they're very physical. [DT] Lawrence Guy is very physical. They're very fast. The linebackers are very physical and fast. [James] Brooks on the edge, the whole front seven that they have are very physical and very fast, very athletic, so they can bull-rush you, so they're very strong, and they can beat you with speed as well. So it's a great group, they always have been, on defense and it really hasn't changed. They're still very solid."
On whether, other than due to an injury factor, he envisions QB Beau Sweeney getting any playing time this season
"No. Kevin is our starting quarterback and gives us our best chance to win. We're not going to make a change there unless something unforeseen happened."
On whether Sweeney and QB Brock Mansion are progressing as he had hoped
"If they were close to being the best quarterback that we have on this football team then they would see time, and that's not the case. Kevin's experienced and Kevin still does some very good things and, like I said, still gives us the best chance to win, and those guys aren't to his level right now."
On how much urgency the team feels to climb in the conference standings and whether it looks ahead at the remaining Pac-10 schedule
"What we've talked about is we're halfway the season and we're 3-3. We take one game at a time and put our heart and soul into everything we do for each week and lay it on the line. Prepare, focus and take one game at time. You can't look at the big picture and start to worry about things like that. It's about focus and preparation for this week, that's all that matters."
On whether he has more concern following a blowout loss compared to close losses
"You are a little bit more concerned with a loss like last week because of how things snowballed and you want to make sure that the mindset of the team is solid and those type of things. But a one-point loss at Arizona hurts quite a bit, too. Any loss hurts. We've never been in a game where something snowballed like the first half the other day. It's important to make sure that we talk about that. Adversity strikes, adversity's going to hit throughout life and how we handle adversity is really key. We talked about that, that yeah, we were up against some adversity, that that game did not go anywhere near what we had anticipated obviously, but now we have to get back to work. We can't keep looking backwards. It can't be all-encompassing where it just weighs you down all the time. We can't let that game turn into something where it's going to affect us for this week. Talk about it, address it and move on."
On whether Kevin Riley can look back and build off of his performance last season against ASU, when he engineered a game-winning drive late in the game
"Absolutely, yeah. There's no question that in preparation you watch that game in your film study and things like that, and Kevin played a great game in that game and had a great drive at the end of the game to win the game, so I don't think that there's any question about that, that he can draw something from that."
On his message to Cal fans entering the second half of the regular season
"We're going to work hard every day, to do the best we possibly can. We can work hard, we can try to put the players in position to make plays and then players have to step up and make plays, and we have to stick together and compete, every down, one week at a time... We're not going to give up... We're going to fight as hard as we can to play our best each and every week."
On ASU QB Steven Threet and whether Cal could bounce back from last week and create some turnovers against him
"Sure, that's important. To be successful, turnovers are a big part of the game. He's done a nice job. They throw it a lot and they're up-tempo offense and they have some athleticism outside and some big-play potential and things like that. It's his first year in the offense and I think they're getting better each week with it, but I think yeah, to be in position to come up with some turnovers would be key and would really help us to be successful, no doubt."
On how players have stepped forward in leadership roles in the face of adversity
"It's not so much that they're real vocal, it's the energy that they bring to practice every day. The big pep talks and things like that as far as, we address the team and made it clear how we need to move forward and the energy we needed to bring and the enthusiasm we need to bring to practice. And so everybody's bouncing around and everybody's energetic and there's not a lot of vocal yelling and screaming or pep talks or anything like that. It's more in how they play and the effort that they give in practice, and that was there today. We had practice yesterday and they ran hard and were energetic and they practiced well. It's more leadership by example than a bunch of people giving pep talks."
On his approach during times of adversity
"If the effort wasn't there and if I was concerned about the effort and the mindset, you start making changes and you start grinding on them and things like that, but I don't really think that that's the case. I think we got beat last week soundly, we got our rears kicked on the first half of the game and things snowballed, very similar to - we played Colorado here and very good field position and things just snowballed on them - things snowballed on us that day. I'm not concerned with the effort, but do we need to make sure to coach hard, to make sure that we have our assignments and we're executing what we need to do and we don't have miscommunications and things like that? Absolutely. Are we coaching them hard? We are coaching them hard."
On how the weekly schedule with morning practices continues to sit with the team
"I think they like it a lot. I think it's been productive. It's been productive for all the things that they need to do, football and with school. It's gone really well and I think they enjoy it."
On the impact ASU LB Vontaze Burfict has on play calling and decisions at the line of scrimmageKEVIN RILEY
On what he has seen on tape reviewing the ASU defense compared to other teams
"He's a guy you have to make sure you keep your eye on, no question about it. He's a great football player and he runs around, he's big, he's physical, very athletic. Because he's the Mike 'backer, a lot of schematics with the run game and pass protection have to do with the Mike 'backer. You hear people all the time, `Re-ID the Mike,' and so on and so forth, so he's the Mike 'backer, so yeah, your eye's on him quite a bit."
"Everybody kind of does a combination of the same things, but they'll line up kind of like UCLA, they kind of just line up and run their stuff. Their secondary has improved since last year, but they've got some big guys up front, good linebackers. Another solid defense we're going to face and I'm thinking [they] will bring a little bit more zone pressure after last weekend because we kind of struggled with it, so we're going to be expecting some more of that."
On evaluating his performance against USC on film and whether his impressions are the same now as those he had after the game
"Pretty much the same as what I said after the game. Besides those two throws, the interceptions. The first one, just a bad spot. Those things happen. It was a good play by the safety. Second one was just a terrible decision. I threw some good balls in there and I thought I did a pretty good job of throwing the ball away for the most part when I was about to sacked and things like that. But like I said, just dug ourselves in a hole and really couldn't do anything about it."
On his thoughts regarding some lopsided losses in conference games the past couple of seasons
"I wasn't really expecting that this year, at all. But like I said, their offense was cruising and we weren't stopping them [last week at USC], and they had good field position, and our offense wasn't doing anything at all. I think it just a combination of those things... I don't really think about last year, but I guess those things happen. I can't really explain it."
On whether he feels urgency to put the rest of the season's schedule on the right course
Yeah, absolutely. You look and we're 1-2 in the Pac-10 and we still play a tone of good teams left. We're going to have to compete and try to win those game just to make a bowl game. We've got to go out there, prepare, and just got to go play and win."
On the importance of shaking off any doubts following the USC game
"We had a good practice today, so that's all you can ask for at this point, but we've done a good at home this year. It's nice to be back home. We've been getting on people early and that's the plan, just get on people early and kind of make them play out of their game. We've just got to continue to roll and offensively we've just got to do something for a whole game. Haven't done that this year so we've just got to stay focused."
On the team's success at home compared to the road and how much more comfortable he feels playing at home
"I actually feel about the same being on the road and away. As an offense for the communication, though, it's a lot easier at home because the crowd's quiet and you can concentrate on your job... It's hard to explain when those things happen. It's almost like every other year you see teams that have a good home record and bad away record, and then sometimes it flips, so it's hard to explain. You can't, really."
On the game-winning drive he and the offense pulled off to win at ASU last yearCHRIS CONTE
On how long it has taken him to recover from his effort last Saturday at USC
Anytime you have success like that at the end of a game in a clutch situation, you definitely feel positive but I think as an offense we feel good in those situations, in the clutch, end-of-half situations. We usually always do a pretty good job with that and luckily that was just a game-winning drive for us. It felt good. Like I said, do we have confidence when it comes down to that? Arizona game, we had confidence that it was going to happen like that, it was just that things didn't happen, but you've just got to work though it and just keep on playing. Hopefully we don't put ourselves in that position for that to happen. Hopefully we have a lead before that."
"I don't think I've ever felt like that after a game before. Really, after the game not too bad, but next day, I couldn't walk the next day, that's for sure. Getting out of bed, my neck, hurt my neck. Legs, I pretty much couldn't walk. Today I'm starting to feel better, still sore, but hopefully by Saturday I'll be feeling 100 percent. It takes definitely at least a few days."
On the mood of the team following the loss at USC
"I think disappointed. A lot of people kind of people kind of questioning what happened but I think a lot of people think that's not who we are, and especially I can speak for the defense. I don't know the offense as well because I'm not in their meetings, but I think a lot tougher coaching this week. Make sure everyone is on top of their responsibilities and really go back to the ins and outs of the defense, because I know we played UCLA we went back to the Pistol and maybe people weren't quite as sharp as the little things on the defense, all the little rules and stuff. So this week we're going to really get back to that and focus on just everyone's fundamentals, their responsibilities and what they have in each coverage and really just be on top of that and play good assignment football again."
On whether he has reviewed what ASU likes to do offensively this season
"I've started to look. We watched some film this morning. I haven't even really seen any of their games yet. They're one of the teams I don't know a whole lot about. Just haven't had a lot opportunity yet to look at them but I know we'll get familiar with them throughout the week. I know that they have athletic wide receivers. I hear Threet's another talented quarterback who can put balls where he wants to. Got some athletic running backs, so they want to get the ball out and get the running game going. Yeah, they have a pretty good passing game again, so it's going to be a challenge for the secondary to stop the pass and like always we're going to have to tackle, because they've got some good backs I think."
On the remainder of the conference schedule on whether he senses urgency among his teammates not to have anymore miscues
"Yeah, I feel that way. Every game in the Pac-10's rough and it can kind of go either way. There's no guaranteed wins. We're not going to have another game where we blow a team out like UC Davis or Colorado... Every game's going to be rough. We're going to have to be on top of our game every single time we step out there and really play our best. It's going to be a grind the rest of the season and I think everyone's prepared for that and knows that's how it's going to be. We'll be ready."
On whether he sensed doubt or loss of confidence on defense following the USC game
"I don't think doubt. I think just really, again, I think that wasn't who feel like we are. I guess you could say people are allowed - I don't really say allowed - a bad game, but if it happens, I would say that's a bad game that we had. It really was just a combination of various things that kind of built up and amounted to, overall, just not a good performance. I think we can't let that get to us and really have to bounce back and respond and say, `That's not us,' and know that's not us and not really question ourselves but really just be confident that we still are a very talented defense and can perform like we did in past weeks."
On the secondary's confidence considering how well it was playing prior to USC
"It speaks a lot about Barkley and SC because they came out there rolling and they were ready to go. Barkley was putting balls on the money. He played a really great game. We were talking about it earlier, Marc Anthony was in good coverage but they make a play, an athletic play, and it's a touchdown. We can't really question that, just remain confident and we will come out confident and ready to go against Arizona State."