Head coach discusses Saturday's Sacramento State game
BERKELEY - Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his press conference leading into Saturday's season-opener. The Golden Bears host Sacramento State at 2 p.m. Sept. 3 in Memorial Stadium.
On the starting quarterback choice:
"Nate Longshore is going to start the game for us. He has done an excellent job for us, not only through the spring, but it's evident that he worked really hard through the summer. He has really done a nice job of understanding what we are doing schematically with our offense, has really been consistent and accurate with throwing the ball, so I feel that he has really performed well. Joe (Ayoob), very pleased with what he has done as well as far as his retention from the spring through the summer. It's very similar to the situation where Aaron (Rodgers) came in; it's hard to make the strides you need to make in a short period of time when it comes to game planning. We will continue working both of them. We hope that both of them will play in the first game and we'll see what happens from there - how they handle game situations and continue the competition. Right now Nate (Longshore) is the guy."
On in a situation like this, if Longshore will be on a short leash and if he struggles, will you go with Ayoob:
"No, it's not going to be about that as of now. For anyone to get better, they are going to have to go through some adversity, that's why we're not going to be a two-quarterback system. Once we find the guy that we think is our guy, then he's going to be our guy. If he struggles a little bit, he's going to play through it, he's going to learn to build confidence and work thorough adversity and not look over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake (thinking) he's going to get pulled out of the game."
On having a conference game a week from Saturday and how that changes things as opposed to in the past when Reggie Robertson and Aaron Rodgers were here and there were four non-conference games in the beginning of the season:
"I don't think it's going to go four games. We will see what happens this game, and then go from there. You're right, we do have a conference game, very, very important, as is the first game. They are all important no doubt about it, but this is a little different because both guys are coming in with lack of experience in game time situations. Aaron was new not only to the system but to this level, the speed of the game. Reggie was not, Reggie had played, he had confidence, and he had poise. So Reggie was very solid at that time. This is different; these two guys are kind of on the same playing field right now. We are going to make an earlier decision because not one has the earlier advantage over another with the experience factor."
On his friendship with Sacramento State's head coach influencing the schedule:
"It just kind of worked out that way, because it felt like there is a lot of support in the Sacramento area, a lot of Cal people. I have done a lot of functions in Sacramento, so I know we are very well represented there and they were one of the choices that were brought to me when San Jose State got out of the contract to play."
On the new starters and if he is more excited to watch them play or concerned with how they will react:
"I'm anxious. Anxiety can work two ways. But I am very anxious to see how these guys respond to game time situations. You can only practice so much, and now it's time to get in the game. It's time to see how our young guys respond to some adversity. It's time to see how the new faces step up in their new role. I'm very excited to see them cut it loose on Saturday and get to play against someone else besides them selves."
On the new starters on defense and if there is concern:
"I don't really have a concern. The two areas that we really haven't seen play in a game situation are the defensive ends. I think when you look at (Brandon) Mebane and (Matthew) Malele inside, they were in the rotation last year. So, we've seen those guys play in game time situations. When you look at (Tosh) Lupoi, who has been hurt for the past couple of years, we know pretty much what he can do, but when you look at (Nu'u) Tafisi, Fahim (Mujaahid Abd Allah) and Phillip Mbakogu, those are guys that it's their first time to get after it in a game setting. So we are anxious to see those guys.
The linebackers have all played before, (Greg) Van Hoesen sparingly, Desmond Bishop - we feel really strong about him - but again what's it going to be like at this level. (Ryan) Foltz obviously has had a lot of starts and a lot of plays for us. Our secondary are veterans, they have all played in games before. Really, we are looking at the front to see how they respond."
On the secondary:
"I'm excited about the secondary. I think they are very solid, they are experienced, they communicate very well together. I look for them to be very solid."
On what he hopes to see from Joe Ayoob come game-time that he hasn't seen in practice:
"How he handles the offense. There is so much more to it then seeing him throw the ball. It's running the huddle, getting the right personnel group, getting the play called correctly, managing the 25-second clock, understanding the situations. All that happens before the ball is even snapped. After that, then how does he perform, but there is a lot that has to be done. We don't have the luxury of having those microphones in our helmets. We signal plays, you have to call it correctly; all those type of things put our offense in a position to be successful. So that is something that we need to find out from all of our quarterbacks how they respond to that."
On what makes Tosh Lupoi an effective football player:
"Experience, obviously, but the passion that he has to play the game. I think when you have it flashed in front of you, you may not play again and then you have another opportunity to play, I think he has brought a renewed passion. He has always been a very intense person, but I think this year he has an even greater passion to play the game. So he is very excited to play and compete."
On players who haven't received much media attention that will step up and have a really big year:
"I think you have to look at our offensive line as guys besides Marvin (Philip), Marvin got a lot of pub. You look at (Ryan) O'Callaghan who is a dominant player, you look at Andrew Cameron who has the ability to be a dominant player. Those guys all had some sort of postseason recognition. I would even look to those guys to be even stronger this year. Brandon Mebane I think is a guy who can step up and be a guy who is one of the dominating players in the conference. Craig Stevens at tight end is a guy who has the ability to get recognized, as well. But I don't know about postseason awards, I just think those guys are just guys that have been really solid through camp so far and I think are really poised to have great seasons."
On the offensive line setting the tone for this game:
"We expect the offensive line to set the tone in every game. I think you can set your identity right there at the offensive line, at the tight end position, at the fullback position by how physical we play. Our offensive line has always played very physical, so I wouldn't expect anything different if we were playing the No. 1 team in the country or who we are playing. That is the mind set that we like to go in to every game with, is that we are going to be very physical at the line of scrimmage."
On the running game:
"We're going to stay balanced; we're not going to shy away from throwing the football. We feel confident enough with our quarterbacks and our receiving corps that we can stay balanced, we can be diverse. We are not going to lock in on one thing. Obviously, it's nice to have a run game that has the potential to be a very good one, to put you in situations where there are not a lot of third-and-10 situations. If you can get to third and short, third and medium, the advantage goes to the offense. It's still a situational game, so whether it's throwing the ball or running the ball, it's still about getting in the right situations."
On Marshawn Lynch feeling like he has to carry the offense this year:
"I don't think so. I really believe that he has gone into this with the right perspective of yeah there are a lot of people looking at me, but there are a lot of other people on this team that can get this done, as well as the other running backs. I think when you have a corps of running backs like we have that takes the pressure off Marshawn. I don't think Marshawn feels like he has to be back there, if he's exhausted he doesn't have to be back there. He can take a break because we have guys that have just as much potential to play. I really believe that is how Marshawn's mindset is. He's not the kind of guy who is going to go in with the weight of this team on his shoulders."