First, let me apologize for any technical difficulties you may be experiencing with this blog. Apparently, some people are not getting the posts until a couple days after I post them, and some are having difficulty posting comments. I looked into it and the word from our technical staff is the problems actually stem from an overload of traffic on this blog. I guess the good news is there are a lot of people coming by here, so you know there is a lot of interest in Cal football. Ive been told they are working to alleviate the problem, and I will do what I can to fix it as well.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we had our weekly press luncheon today and it was one of the more entertaining ones of the season. Coach Jeff Tedford was as effusive as I’ve seen him. He seemed to enjoy engaging in the second guessing that has gone on since he decided to have Kevin Riley take a shot at the end zone before attempting a field goal Saturday against Oregon State.
I wrote a story about this for tomorrow’s paper, so I won’t include too much of what he said here because of the risk of being repetitive. But there were some entertaining moments.
–On fans questioning his decision to delay kicking a field goal: “People can always second-guess things. That’s the nature of sports. I’m sure that’s not the only play they second-guessed. I’m sure in the stands, on every play, somebody thinks you should run or throw. If you didn’t run, you should have done the other thing. ‘What are you thinking? Why are you running the ball up the middle? You shouldn’t run the ball up the middle. He got tackled. Why did you run the ball off the side? You should have threw it. That guy was open over there.’ That’s the way it goes. You have to understand that’s part of sports.”
On how much he pays attention to public opinion: “I don’t listen to any of that and I didn’t read any of the papers, so I don’t know what people’s opinions are. You get e-mails and you get phone calls, which you can’t get away from. They’re just there. You open them and they’re there. If it’s from somebody I don’t know, I try to delete it.”
–On recognizing the magnitude of the play: “I’m not being naive either about the weight that that last play carried. I know that’s not your average first down, up the middle. I understand that people can be skeptical about what went on there. But as I work here for 18 hours a day and watch tape and prepare, that has to be something that is an educated decision on our part. And I feel like it was the right decision at the time, given the play and given everything else I’ve explained.”
Those are just a few examples, and as I said, I’ll have a story with more on this tomorrow. But it was compelling to see Tedford engaging in the second-guessing. Usually, he’s pretty much all business with the media. Not in a impersonal kind of way, but he just answers questions straight-on and simplisticly. He seemed interested in expanding Tuesday, and it was enjoyable.
For the record, as I watched the game, the thought never even crossed my mind that the Bears should have tried the field goal with 14 seconds left. When you’re that close to the end zone, why not take a shot? I know Riley is inexperienced, but he sure wasn’t playing like an inexperienced quarterback down the stretch. The way he led Cal down the field on that final drive, who could blame Tedford for having confidence in him to possibly make a play? The bottom line is Riley simply had a brain cramp. He got caught up in the moment and was overcome with the intensity and made a huge mistake. But frankly, I would have been surprised if Tedford would have trotted the field goal unit on to the field at that time.
Speaking of field goals, Tedford also said today that kicker Tom Schneider will be out for the season with a muscle tear in his leg. Schneider hasn’t played yet this year after suffering the injry while warming up for the season-opener against Tennessee. Schneider has already used his redshirt year, and Tedford said Schneider is planning on petitioning the NCAA for another year of eligibility. As some of you know, Schneider is only 32 points shy of becoming Cal’s all-time leading scorer. He also was on the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top kicker. Looks like Jordan Kay is Cal’s guy for the rest of the year.
In other injury news, Tedford said defensive end Rulon Davis will miss another couple of weeks with his sprained foot. But he did say that rover Marcus Ezeff is feeling better and is day to day. As I reported earlier this week, wide receiver Robert Jordan and tight end Cameron Morrah suffered shoulder injuries against Oregon State and their status is up in the air for this weekend against UCLA.
Left tackle Mike Gibson came by the luncheon. You could tell how frustrated he was that the Bears couldn’t punch it in after having first-and-goal from the OSU 2. “That should never happen,” he said.
Another guy we talked to today was cornerback Chris Conte. Saturday will be a big game for him because he is from Los Angeles and almost went to UCLA. In fact, Conte originally committed to Cal, then changed to UCLA, only to have a change of heart again right before signing day. He said he hasn’t talked to anyone from UCLA since signing with Cal and joked that nobody there probably wants to talk to them. But he said there isn’t any extra motivation because Cal is playing the Bruins on Saturday. He said he’s more excited to play in front of family and friends. His mom went to UCLA but “she’s a convert,” Conte said.