The best thing about today’s weekly press luncheon is that it was indoors. As we sat inside the Hall of Fame Room, the rain came down at a 45-degree angle outside us. Not surprisingly, the Memorial Stadium field was battered. It looked a lot like the Oregon game last year.
When Jeff Tedford came to speak to us at around noon, he hadn’t yet gone out to the field to check its condition. Apparently, he didn’t like what he saw because he moved Tuesday afternoon’s practice indoors. That’s right, the Bears practiced at the RSF today after Tedford determined the condition of the field wouldn’t allow for a productive practice.
“We have a lot of work to get in for the UCLA game and practicing on our field today was going to make it very difficult to have a productive workout,” Tedford said.
The good news for the Bears is that if practicing indoors limited what they could usually do, they already had a leg up on the work week because of the last week’s bye. Cal started game planning for UCLA last Thursday and put in more of the plan on Sunday night, so Tedford felt like he could afford to cut back on practice a bit.
The Bears actually wanted to practice some on the Witter Rugby Field this week in order to prepare for the natural grass at the Rose Bowl. The rain is supposed to let up Wednesday so they may be able to get that done at least one day this week.
The most lively part of the press luncheon came courtesy of linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who came across as almost defiant that the Bears are going to be fine and haven’t lost any confidence after two lopsided losses in a row. In fact, he virtually guaranteed that Cal will beat UCLA on Saturday.
“We have to win every game for now on,” Kendricks said. “We can’t lose again. I don’t think we are, either. Actually, I know we’re not.”
When asked about the team’s confidence this week against UCLA, he said: “We’re going to win this week.” When a reporter asked if he wanted to guarantee that, Kendricks simply repeated: “We’re going to win this week.”
Kendricks spoke with a confidence that seems to be a new side of him, at least with the media. He’s been pretty soft-spoken during his first 1 1/2 years at Cal. Even early on this season, he didn’t say much and didn’t appear to be terribly comfortable dealing with the press.
But Tuesday was a different story. Kendricks displayed a brash side, speaking definitively about his team as though nobody should doubt what the Bears are capable of.
When asked about the USC loss, Kendricks said: “It was just us. It wasn’t anything they were doing. “Everything that we did was on us. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed.”
When asked if the defense gets frustrated when the offense is struggling, Kendricks said: “I feel like we play better. The defensive guys rally up when that stuff happens. We kind of put the game on our shoulders. If one side of the ball isn’t going to get it done at the time, then we have to take it upon ourselves to do it. I think we come together and play a little better.”
When asked what makes him so confident the team will win, Kendricks said: “That’s going to be my answer every game. I don’t think we’re going to lose. Tha’ts going to be my answer forever.”
On the injury front, Tedford called wide receiver Verran Tucker day-to-day. Tucker saw a doctor on Sunday night and Tedford said Tucker has a “pretty deep bruise” in his calf. He will get treatment and the team will monitor him throughout the week.
Tedford reiterated that left guard Matt Summers-Gavin and wide receiver Nyan Boateng are on track to play Saturday, barring any setbacks.
Here’s the transcript to Tedford and Kevin Riley’s comments Tuesday. I will have more transcriptions from the other players to appear at the luncheon on Wednesday.