Football: Big Game week quotables (so far)

A lot has been said this week about the Big Game. First, here is a link to what Jeff Tedford said at the podium of Monday’s Big Game luncheon, followed by selected quotes from linebacker Mike Mohamed and center Chris Guarnero. Then what follows are transcriptions of individual interviews I’ve done with Tedford, Mohamed and Guarnero and others this week.


 On defending Stanford’s offense when most of team’s success has come defending spread offenses:

“I think our defense has played better against spread teams so it’s very challenging this week. You know what’s coming and they’re still going to run right at you, and they’re very successful doing it. That’s going to be a challenge for us.”


On whether last year’s defensive success against Stanford can help this year:

“We’ll look at some of the things we did well last year to see how we can incorporate them into our defense now. You’re always looking to gather information on tape. That’s part of preparation during the week.”


On getting over the Oregon loss:

“It stings for a couple days. We talked a bout it, we talked about moving forward now. That’s what we have to do. We can’t have a hangover from last week. This is a huge football game. They’re a great football team that we have a lot of respect for. I think our team is mature enough to move forward, and that’s what we’re going to do.”


On receivers’ dropped passes:

“It’s going to come down to making plays. We’ll just keep working on it at practice. We make some great catches, too. We’re capable of doing it.”


On Marvin Jones’ recent problems with drops:

“He’s made some great catches and dropped some others. But Marv is a hard-working guy and a guy we trust and depend on. That won’t change this week.”


On quarterback Brock Mansion adjusting to the speed of the game:

“The speed of the game is something that comes with experience. You know how long you have in the pocket. That comes with experience. There’s not thing magical about creating experience. You’re not going to play live during practice. You practice very fast but it’s still not a game.”


On the team’s mindset after the Oregon loss:

“Their mindset is always bruised. When you lose a tough game like that, I wouldn’t expect it any different. You have to give them a chance both in victory and defeat to be able to experience what it is, figure it out, whether it’s to enjoy a victory or mourn over a loss. But then it comes time to focus on something else.”


On Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck:

“He’s very accurate with the ball. He has a great understanding of what they’re doing. He has a lot of composure in the pocket. He’s very strong, he can run. He can manufacture throws. He can shake people off and throw the ball downfield. He can throw on the run. He can move the pocket well. He’ can run people over or he can make you miss. He can do it all. My opinion is Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the country because of everything he does.”


On whether he’d like to see Luck go to the NFL next season:

“I think there’s a team that would like his services. That’s a decision he has to make, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if he did.”


On whether wide receivers are getting open consistently:

“From time to time. There are good defenses in the conference. We’ve had some open guys. It’s not man coverage every time. They’re in zones and things like that. The receivers have done an adequate job of route running. There have been some plays left on the field that we can catch. And there have been some plays left on the field that we can throw better. And there’s plays on the field where we could have protected better. It’s football.”



On facing a power team rather than a spread team:

“Last year, I thought we did a pretty good job. Definitely, there’s going to be a different mentality this week. Basically, we’re going from a track meet to playing some power football.”


On the Oregon game giving the team confidence:

“There’s definitely some confidence. They are the No. 6 team in the country (in the BCS). Just knowing that this is the Big Game and knowing that we can hang with the top teams in the country. … It’s going to be a fight, but as long as we put our heart into it and stay together, we have a chance.”


On talking to the team:

“I’ll definitely have something to say to try to get them fired up, try to get them ready. I have a little something planned. I’ll have some words of wisdom, just being a senior. I’ll try to be a leader for them. It’s my last Big Game. You’d be crazy not to. I’ll have a little something planned for the whole team.”


On his game-clinching interception in last year’s Big Game:

“It was crazy. I’m glad that it happened. There were some times somebody would notice me just going down the street and they would say something. I got a lot of praise for that. But that was last year. If the opportunity presents itself, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But hopefully it doesn’t come down to the wire like that. That was a little nervewracking. It was definitely pretty stressful.”


On re-evaluating goals this season:

“The season hasn’t gone completely the way we wanted it to up to this point. This could be a turning point for us. If we can win this game, then we can be bowl-eligible and then well have Washington. Hopefully we can reel off a few wins. 8-5 isn’t too bad of a record. But it’s going to take total focus this week and hopefully we can make this the turning point.”


On whether he got frustrated with the offense last week:

“Anytime you pour your heart and soul into something like that and walk away with a loss, it is tough. It’s a team game. We win together and we lose together. All we can do is go out there and try to play our best. Hopefully, we make plays as a whole and win.”


On not being in the national picture the past few seasons:

“It’s been really tough. We went from knowing that we’re going to a bowl game for sure to we might not go to a bowl game. That’s tough. We’re just focusing on finishing strong. As a senior, it’s gong to take some leadership. We just want to finish strong and keep that Axe.”


On Stanford’s offense:

“I think they’re a lot more balanced this year. That has to do with Luck having a whole another year of experience. They’re a pretty complete offense. We’re going to have our hands full.”


On how Jeff Tedford has handled this season:

“Anytime you face adversity like this, it’s tough. What Coach Tedford has tried to do is basically be the rock for the team. He’s the one that everybody looks up to. He’s the one that keeps everybody together. He’s stayed positive through it all. By having him stay positive and believing in us, that definitely keeps the team together, keeps the guys believing. It all starts with him. He’s got our back and we have his. It has been tough. It’s been stressful. But he’s definitely stayed positive and keeps pushing us to keep it going.




On dealing with the Oregon loss:

“Saturday night to Sunday, you kind of feel like you got robbed a little bit. I felt like we had opportunities and we should have won. Give credit to Oregon. They won a close game on the road.


On whether he felt bad the offense couldn’t turn in the same kind of performance as the defense:

“Our defense played lights out. You can’t ask for anything more from them. They scored a touchdown. You can’t fault them for that loss. They stopped the No. 1 scoring team in the nation. It was ridiculous. They had a great plan and they stopped them. I wish we could have executed a little more.”




On Mike Mohamed’s game-clinching interception last season:

“They were throwing to my guy. I swear up and down if he wouldn’t have got it, I would have knocked it down. I was on him. It looked like a possibility. I know I would have lunged. He was just about on the goal line. If he hadn’t caught it, I’m pretty sure I would have got a PBU on that thing.”


On the emotional swing after Mohamed’s interception:

“It was definitely a tense game. It was getting down to the wire. It was looking scary for us. There was a minute or so left. It was definitely a huge, huge, huge play. It was a sudden change. We were on our heels. Our backs were against the wall. We were ready for anything. When he got the pick and went down, it was just a release. It was a breath of fresh air. We could breathe again.”


On playing a power offense compared with a spread offense:

“Anytime we can just match up and play football, we feel like we can have success against whoever is across from us. We always look forward to that. We want to line up and play ball.”


On how Cal’s defense matches up with Stanford’s offense:

“We have a really good front seven. It’s tough to run the ball on us. Our D-line gets nasty. They move guys around down there in those trenches. Hats off to those guys. Anytime it’s a game where I know they will have to play a big part, I have the utmost confidence I’ll just be cleaning up things. I think this will be that type of game. That’s what Stanford does.”


On having some mediocre seasons after the program was so highly ranked when he arrived at Cal:

“It’s been a test of our character as a team.  We’ve been at the top. It’s a test of our character to just keep playing. We’re not going to go to the national title game or the Rose Bowl. You’re playing for each other, the school, the fans, everybody that is a part of us. We all stick together. We’re playing for everyone who represents Cal and us.”




On Mike Mohamed’s game-clinching interception in last season’s Big Game:

“I turned around and he already had the ball. Then it was time to look for who to hit. But Mike Mo did the smart thing and took a knee. I’m never satisfied until I get to hit somebody. Mikey Mo is the Golden Boy. That’s what he does. He comes through in the clutch.”

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.

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    I just saw a replay video of that play posted by a Stanford fan. Your #97 should have been flagged on that play for taking a shot to the QBs head. See it for yourself. I am just an objective evaluator and football fan.

  • GldnBear71

    “I am just an objective evaluator and football fan.” Now that’s funny.

    Amy send me an email to my scout account. Let’s catch up.