Football: More on Vereen

Here are transcriptions from interviews I did for the Shane Vereen feature that ran yesterday:




On what makes Ron Gould a good running backs coach:

“He understands that a lot of the running backs that he brings have talent. He takes what you have and makes it better. He critiques the little things. He makes the little things a lot better.”


On the difference now that he is the team’s No. 1 tailback:

“I do feel a little bit different because when the 1s are called, I go in there. I feel different, but it hasn’t changed my outlook or how I work. It changed my role on the team a little bit, but it hasn’t changed me at all personally.”


On how starting in place of Jahvid Best in the past will help him this season:

“It helped because now I know what it’s like to play a full game. It’s different than being the No. 2 in that position.”


On the experience of starting in the past:

“I definitely got hit a lot more. But I liked it a lot because you’re able to get into the rhythm of the game.”


On how his role on the team has changed this season:

“The biggest thing that has changed is my responsibility, my role on the team. I need to step up in certain situations.”


On continuing the recent legacy of elite running backs at Cal:

“It’s a voice in the back of my head. I don’t feel pressure at all. Coach G tells me not to feel pressure. I feel prepared, so therefore I don’t feel pressure. But at the same time, there’s always that voice in the back of my head reminding me of goals that I have and of the tradition of running backs at Cal.”


On personal goals:

“I have that set up. I have a little sheet printed out of different things, different inspirational quotes. I have it on my desk. I have it on my locker. I’m constantly looking at it. Those are little private things that I like to look at.”


On coming to Cal with Jahvid Best and falling behind him on the depth chart:

“I knew Jahvid was coming in. I didn’t look at it as who was No. 1 and who was No. 2. I looked at it as an opportunity for two great running backs to come together and make the team as good as possible. I took it in stride. It was a learning experience. There were other things I needed to work on. It was tough at first, of course, but I had no problems with it. I knew together we could make a great tandem. I was more focused on what the team needed.”


On redshirting his first season:

“That was one of the toughest things, redshirting. I’m happy that I did it now. I’m very happy I had the opportunity to redshirt and get better in areas that I needed to get better at. At the time, I didn’t see it that way. But as the season went on and I started talking to Coach G on multiple occasions, I learned that it was the right move and I have no regrets about it now.”


On his memories of last year’s Big Game:

“What I think about most is how proud I am that we played the way we did. I didn’t’ realize I had 42 carries. I missed a lot of runs. There were a lot of things I could have done better in that game. Looking at the film, there were tons of runs I missed. Who knows how many I could have had if I wouldn’t have hesitated on a couple runs or hit the hole a little harder.”


On how much he was beat up at the end of last season:

“It was tough. The third quarter against Utah, I knew how bad everything was. I had a sprained ankle, a torn meniscus and I broke two ribs. I definitely felt the ribs. But that’s football. It hurt, but there was no way I was going to not play. I love the game too much. I love the team too much. I wasn’t going to take myself out because I was feeling pain.”


On possibly leaving for the NFL after the season:

“I try not to think about that because it will take away from what’s going on right now. It’s not important until that time comes. I haven’t put any thought into it. I know the opportunity is there, but the opportunity was there last season. That’s probably the biggest factor. It really hasn’t crossed my mind at all. I don’t want to know right now. I just want to go play.”





On the differences between Best and Vereen:

“Jahvid’s overall speed is probably a step or so faster, but if Jahvid is a step faster, Shane is probably a hair above in pass receiving with routes down the field and things like that. Jahvid was excellent at doing it, but Shane has a very good feel for it. All backs can pretty much run swings and flats, but Shane probably has a little bit better feel for route running.”


On watching Vereen play this season:

“I’m looking forward seeing him play. I think he’s going to do a fine j ob. He’s been patient. He’s been behind great players. When he redshirted, I know he was a little bit disappointed with that. They came in together and Jahvid played and he didn’t, so there was a little disappointment there. He’s earned his chance to be the guy.”


On Ron Gould:

“He prepares them very, very well. He drills them very well. He’s an attention-to-detail guy so he’s always on top of the details of what they are doing. He definitely makes them the best players they can be.”


On the string of elite running backs coming through the program:

“We’ve had good players and Coach Gould coaches them well. We try to make sure we put together the schemes that are going to give them a chance, and then when they get on safeties and things like that, they have to work their magic at that point. We try to put them in position to be successful, and it’s great to have the talent that they can execute.”






On the elite running backs in recent years:

“They were all different in their own way. We’ve been very blessed. Each one of those guys has been very successful. They embraced what we do here. They allowed me to change them. They trusted me and that’s a good deal.


On the legacy being established:

“There is a level of expectation you have to play at, and anything less is unacceptable. And those guys embrace that. They do get excited when they get an opportunity to represent the University of California’s tailbacks. I’d be disappointed if they didn’t’ have high expectations of themselves. We talk about that every day.”


On Vereen’s role through the years:

“I never view Shane as a backup. Shane has never been a backup. The only reason why Shane redshirted is because he tore his quad in high school. He wasn’t physically ready.”


On talking to Vereen about redshirting:

“I told Shane if he ever isn’t feeling good about redshirting, to come in and talk to me about it. There were days when his mom was a little upset at me, his dad was a little upset at me. I told them, ‘Trust me, you will thank me later.’ Shane came in as a very, very mature person, but he told me that he hated redshirting. I thanked him profusely for being mature.”


On how Vereen handled playing behind Best:

“The following year, he and Jahvid played well together. I didn’t see Shane as a backup. Shane understood his role. He was always mentally, physically and emotionally prepared to play the game whenever I asked him to go into the game.”


On playing Vereen as a true freshman if he would have been fully healthy:

“We would have found a way. Shane is a great pass catcher. We can move Shane around.”


On Vereen playing through injuries last season:

“He had a torn meniscus. I told him that he wasn’t going to play and he said he was playing. He practiced through that, didn’t say a word. He pushed himself, he got the treatment that he needed and he came out ready to play.”

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • covinared

    We are lucky to have a back like Shane Vereen. His only weakness appears to be blocking. Hopefully he’ll work on that. Look at film of the Riley sacks last year. How many times did the sacker(s) get by him? I remember when the Rams cut Russell White, one of the reasons cited was his poor blocking. For his own good and the good of the Bears, a player of his ability should learn to square up, plant and hit a defender with his head across the body. Blocking is a matter of desire and does not take alot of coaching. If he could block like Riley, he’d go very high in the draft. BTW: I don’t see KR very high in any of the preseason QB rankings, but if blocking were a measure, he’d have to be amongst the very best.

  • covinared

    Qualification: comptetnet coaching is essential for good blocking, but superior athletic ability is not.

  • charlie

    First time I read (in the reponses) that Vereen is bad blocker.

  • covinared

    did you ever read that he was a good blocker?

  • Rollonubears

    He didn’t block at all last year. Best was a bad blocker too. Hopefully he steps that up. It’s kind of a big deal.

  • Bobby

    Actually Michael Lombardi–he formerly of the raiders and now with NFL Outsiders–commented on how well Jahvid pass blocked during pre-season.

  • I’ve read a Tedford quote stating that “Vereen could do it all”; that Vereen is a “complete” back…if he couldn’t block the head coach wouldn’t say this about Vereen. Tedford is not known for hyperbole.

  • milo

    What are you guys talking about? Vereen’s job isn’t to block, it’s to run (minus an occasional downfield block). Same as Best, Forsett, Lynch and every TB. You’re wasting talent using Vereen as a blocker.

    That said, I think the kid is a gamer and if assigned to a block he would execute. He ran the ball 42x against Stanfurd. He’s a gamer. Wasn’t he also the gunner on kick-offs as a RS frosh?

  • Larry

    No Vereen was not a gunner last season. That was the other #34 JP Hurrell.

  • covinared

    My primary criticism goes to pass blocking. He’s not always going to be a receiver or decoy when we pass, and when he isn’t, he has just as much responsibility to protect the qb as a lineman.

  • BlueNGold

    Covina- perhaps when the play called needs a blocking back, a player other than Vereen will be used?

  • covinared

    wouldn’t that be a tip off to the other teams after a short while?

  • BlueNGold

    I would think that would depend on how you go about it. I am not suggesting the same player be used every time a blocking situation is called for. But, to follow your logic, having Vereen in the game certainly is a tip off that the play will be a hand off or pass to the the running back, so I don’t know how that problem is avoided all together.

  • covinared

    Shane just works on being a better blocker, that’s all. He can do it, and may have already gotten there.