Today was the first weekly press luncheon in a while that Cal didn’t have to revisit a disaster from the previous Saturday. The Bears weren’t beating their chests in triumph over Saturday’s win over UCLA, but there seemed to be a quiet confidence that indicated they felt they are back on track.
Here’s a sampling of what was said at Tuesday’s weekly press luncheon
LINEBACKER MYCHAL KENDRICKS:
On taking busses to UCLA
It’s going to be fun. I’m going to enjoy it. More sleep time, more time to study plays. I always like busses and train rides. I don’t really like planes because you don’t really know what’s going to happen up there.
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.
Cal held its weekly press luncheon today and, as expected, most of the talk was about recovering from the Oregon nightmare and moving on to USC. A full transcript of quotes is below, but a few points to highlight:
The following is a sampling of what was said at Tuesday’s weekly media luncheon:
–Check out a full transcript of Jeff Tedford and Kevin Riley here.
LINEBACKER MIKE MOHAMED:
Describe what it’s like playing weakside outside linebacker:
It’s actually kind of tough sometimes, because when the ball goes away a lot of times you’re the unblocked guy. And it’s your job to do the surf technique – keep your shoulders square, close off the end next to the tackle in case of a big cutback. A lot of times you get antsy and you want to just go chase the ball. Once you do that, that’s when they bring a reverse or cut it back. Then you’re in trouble, because there’s no one else out there. So you don’t always get to hit somebody every play, but you have to be real disciplined out there.
How different is it playing one spot?
I really enjoy it. I get to anchor down and really concentrate on that one position, learning all the different looks I can possibly get at that one position. It helps me react a lot faster.
How will experience playing in Autzen help this time?
That was my first start. I know what to expect. It’s a hostile crowd, very loud. I know just to weather the storm. They’re probably going to get a big play, they’re probably going to score. The thing is to stick in there and keep fighting and we can come out on top.
What’s the toughest thing about playing at Autzen Stadium?
The fans and the field is really pitched. I think that helps the type of offense they run – everything is really horizontal, trying to beat you with speed.
Is it similar to what you faced at Minnesota?
Especially when they tied the game – every little thing they did good, they had the crowd backing them up. We sat in there strong and we fought through it. That was a big test. We’re probably going to see even more of that this weekend.
What do you think of Oregon’s offense?
Masoli is almost like having another running back out there. He’s real stocky, hard runner, he’ll break tackles. He’s not your typical quarterback. Just with the speed they run it, there’s a lot of misdirection. You really have to be disciplined against these guys.
Is Cal in the driver’s seat now with USC losing?
There may be even a little more of a target, but the biggest thing is block it out. Just take it week by week. If you start listening to all that, start looking ahead to games, that’s when it can come back and bite you and you’re going to get in trouble. In our minds, USC has been and still is the king of the crop until somebody knocks them off. But we’re not really worried about that.
Team more serious this week?
We feel we have something good going on here. We know if we prepare right, we can really capitalize on it. It started on Sunday with the practice, so we’re getting ready to go for Saturday and hopefully continue our road to winning this thing.
WIDE RECEIVER JEREMY ROSS:
Have you been getting a lot of positive reaction from Saturday’s game?
I got a lot of reaction — a lot of people hitting me up on Facebook or on campus. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from friends and family. They were really excited for me.
How much are you looking forward to increased playing time?
I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been kind of just waiting for my time, just trying to prepare myself to be ready when the opportunity does come. I’m definitely excited about getting the opportunity to play more on the field. I’m just hoping to make plays for the team.
Is having one year of experience helping you this year?
It helps out a lot. Last year, we were really young and didn’t have too much experience under out belt. We made some mistakes. This year, coming in having a year under our belt, I feel like we’ve developed our craft. I think we’ve limited those mistakes and worked really hard out there. It’s helped us out a whole lot on the field.
Do you like having the toughest conference games early on?
It’s an opportunity for us to make a statement early. I think it’s great that these games are early. It give us the opportunity to play them while we’re strong, while everybody is healthy. I think it’s a good thing that all these big games are back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I’m not saying that after these games it’s all going to be a cruise and downhill. But we can get on it early and really dominate.
What was your reaction to USC’s loss to Washington?
It was a shock. It was a big shock. We were watching it on Jetblue. It was a big shock. You would never think they would lose to Washington. I am not trying to downplay Washington. They are up and coming and they are hungry and work hard. But it was a big surprise. Everybody was shocked. That happens when you underestimate a team and play down to their level.
How much do you love playing football?
I love it. I’ve been playing since I was young. I love playing with all my friends. I love the excitement of the whole sport. Being able to make plays and score touchdowns, for the crowed, and seeing your teammates and how excited they are. Everybody just pushing toward one goal with blood, sweat and tears together. I enjoy it.
Now that you’re one of the older guys, are you still a jokester?
I still joke around a lot. I’m trying to get better at knowing there is a time for everything. There’s a time to joke around and there’s a time to focus and handle your business. Sometimes I do a good job at that, sometimes I joke around when it’s the time to be serious. I’m definitely working on growing in that area. But I love to have fun. I love to joke around. I love to make things exciting and fun for me.
Sometimes it’s good to have fun and relax. It helps me play better if I’m relaxed and just having fun.
DEFENSIVE END TYSON ALUALU:
On Jeremian Masoli
We see him as a running threat. He’s a real shifty guy who can break tackles. We have to stay disciplined and do our job.
How will the experience of the 2007 game help this year?
It will help, just knowing what to expect. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be hostile. You know that in the back of your mind, but at the same time you just have to keep your technique. The coaches always coach that, keeping your technique under pressure.
Describe the feeling after the win there in 2007?
It was real exciting, beign able to win in that hostile environment. The crowd was yelling a lot of stuff. Being able to keep them quiet at the end of the game was a great feeling. I just remember everybody jumping for joy and being excited in the locker room. It was a great feeling.
A sampling of what was heard at yesterday’s weekly press luncheon:
LINEBACKER D.J. HOLT:
(On Minnesota receiver Eric Decker): From what I’ve seen, he’s a pretty good receiver. They throw the ball to him 80 percent of the time. It’s not anything that we can’t handle. We just have to come out and jump on them fast and see where it takes us.
(How is Minnesota’s running game?): They’re a good running team, but if you get them out of the run, they’re going to start throwing the ball. They like to run behind that big line they have. They have a lot of faith in their O-line.
(On Cal’s problems on the road): We kind of got off track going away. We weren’t really as focused. We’re going to be more ready this time. It’s a hostile environment so you can’t come out lackadaisical. You have to come out like it’s a home game, treat it like a home game.
(On his role on the road now that he’s a starter): I have to be more vocal out there on the field. First away game, I have to get the jitters out. We should be fine. We just have to jump on them fast.
(On fatigue playing a role in last year’s Maryland loss): That was definitely a big factor. When we played Maryland last year, I was tired out there, kind of sluggish. They jumped on us fast, and we weren’t ready until the fourth quarter. It was too late to come back. It felt like I didn’t have that much sleep.
(On manning the middle with Mychal Kendricks): We have a lot to prove. A lot of people say we’re young. We have some big shoes to fill. I think we’re doing fine. It’s a dream come true. It still hasn’t hit me yet that we’re starters and we’re playing in the middle together. We’re coming along.
(On the differences in increased playing time): Definitely got to get more treatment. I’m really sore after the games. Everything else I saw last year, for the most part. I just didn’t see it as many times. Now I see it over and over and over.
LINEBACKER EDDIE YOUNG:
(More equipped to win on the road this year because of experience?): I feel like we’re going to be a lot better on the road this year because we’ve made an extra point this week. We know we did badly on the road last year and we made an extra effort to really get it across to the players how important it is to be a mentally tough team. That’s winning on the road, being mentally tough. We have stuff around the locker room that we have to be mentally tough and be ready for a real tough week of practice.
(Fatigue a factor last year against Maryland?): It quite possibly could have been but we don’t really think about that stuff. We are going out a day early this year, to get acclimated to when we’re going to play. I can’t say it hurt us or helped us last year.
(Biggest challenge of an early start time?): Just getting up and going. At the hotel, you don’t have time to hang around and watch the other games and just relax and get your body ready. Right when you hit the floor, it’s time to go. That’s a disadvantage of an early game. But it’s not that bad.
(Importance of proving you can win on the road): Being able to win on the road is very important to us. For us to be the type of team we want to be, we have to win on the road. We didn’t do that last year.
(On Minnesota’s running game): Their guys can get it done. They’re north and south kind of runners, one cut and make you miss kind of guys. From what I’ve watched so far, it’s a little more pass first and then run. But the coaches say they want to establish the run more, so we have to be ready for that as well.
NOSE TACKLE DERRICK HILL:
(Will experience help play on the road?): I think that experience itself is just going to help us drastically on the road when we get to those situations. Normally when we’re at home we have the fans to stand behind us. I think that now, that experience is going to help us on the road — we’re not going to be as mentally weak as we’ve been in the past. We’ll be much more stronger, being able to adapt and adjust to all those hard things.
(Hardest thing about winning on the road?): I think it’s more being mentally strong on the road. I know that when you’re at home, you have the opportunity to look behind you, see your crowd and fans right there, but also know that when you’re away you don’t have that luxury. So just having that mental strength and that ability to stay strong and stay with one another is the biggest issue on the road. Also that true leadership comes up when you’re on the road more than it does when you’re at home.
(On Minnesota’s offensive line): They’re a great O-line. Very big guys. They’re going to bring a lot of physicalness to this game. It’s going to be a big battle up front. I’m looking forward to this big battle we’re going to have.
(Did you feel rushed for last year’s Maryland game?): I got up earlier that morning of the game just to try to make my body wake up sooner, but of course we were rushed. Even though I got up earlier it still was like 4:30 our time. Even though I got up earlier, normally we’d be asleep right there.
(Do you need to prove you can win on the road to be a championship-caliber team?): You always gotta be good on the road. The road itself, that’s what makes good teams great. You have to be able to play in not just your environment but hostile environments and make plays and win games in those environments. One of the best feelings for a player is to go to an opposing crowd and have the crowd quiet cause your team is dominating.
It’s always good for us to go out and battle and compete and make sure at the end of the day we come out with a w. And lately that hasn’t been the case but with this year a lot of maturity and leadership, we hope that that’s something we can get back to.
(Say anything to the younger players about playing on the road?): I always tell them, first things first, don’t go on the road and be all scared, nervous and uptight. Go on the road and relax have fun. I always tell everybody this: when you’re out here on the football field it’s not about sitting here and going at it as a business aspect. Go out and have fun.
If you’re having fun you don’t have to worry about the environment, all those other types of things. I always tell them make sure you’re having fun and the rest of it will play its part.
The focus of Tuesday’s media luncheon was understandably how Cal will deal with what everyone knows is an inferior opponent. Eastern Washington is one of the better teams in the FCS (ranked No. 18 nationally), but they don’t seem to have much of a prayer on the road against the Bears.
Here’s the link to the full transcript of Jeff Tedford’s media session today.
Mike Montgomery said during his press conference Friday that sophomore center Taylor Harrison practiced three times this week, but remains far from being game ready.
Sidelined since the 2006-07 season because of two knee surgeries, Harrison was on the floor Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. He had practiced very little this season until now.
“He probably did more than he or anyone else anticipated him being able to do,” Montgomery said. The knee “started to swell a little bit. So we’ll see how it is (Friday), but he was out there running and playing.”