Below are quotes from head coach Jeff Tedford from his weekly press conference Nov. 8. The Golden Bears host USC Saturday, with kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised regionally by ABC and can be heard on the Cal Football Radio Network (Flagship: KGO AM 810, San Francisco).
Have you ever seen as explosive of an offense in college football as USC? How do you stop them?
"No, we have not, and I don't think you can stop them. You just really hope to slow them down a little bit. They have so many weapons. There is a lot made of their skill players, their offensive line is so physical, they do a great job at the running game and in pass protection. When you get a group together that has played together like these guys have, it's unbelievable to watch. You can't afford to focus on one person because they are experienced, they know where to go with the ball, and they know what to do. It's just an unbelievably talented group. Not only on offense - there is a lot made of their offense - but their defense is the best I have seen when it comes to talent and athleticism. There is a reason why they are No. 1 in the nation."
You were the last team to beat them in 2003. Do you use that at all in the preparation?
"Not really. I think some of our guys who were here then can maybe draw on that a little bit, but we are such a young team and most of our team was not here then. Until you have played against a team like USC, you don't know what kind of firepower they really have. Two years ago, we were fortunate enough to win that game, but we had a lot of veterans on that team. Last year, we had a lot of guys, as well, that were veterans and that had played together. Our team is a little different now, so I don't know how much you can talk about what happened two years ago with this group."
What are the important things playing against USC?
"You cannot turn the football over - that is key because you can't give them a short field. You need to try to make them earn what they get, because if you give them a short field, I think you've probably seen a few games where they have created turnovers down deep and then the score just gets crazy early in the game. Then you have to get out of your game plan, you have to try and score points because they score so quickly. The key is to not turn the football over, not put yourself where you are in a lot of third-and-long situations. You will hopefully have some ball control and stay out of long-yardage situations, where you can make first downs and keep drives alive."
On being able to control USC's Reggie Bush
"The key there is to be able to tackle, and that is easier said than done. You could have one, maybe two people there to have him wrapped up, and there he goes. He's not just a quick guy, he's very strong. He can pull out of a lot of things and reverse his field and go. He hits seams a 100 miles an hour. He'll be running full speed sideways and put his foot in the ground and - bang - hit a seam. He doesn't go down by arm tackles. That is both on offense and in the kicking game."
Can you get through USC's offensive line? Do you have to change blitz style and tactics?
"I don't think you can live on the blitz because normally what that means is that you leave somebody one-on-one at times. You have to bring different kinds of blitzes, whether man blitzes or zone pressures. That is why I said a lot of the skill guys get a lot of recognition, but their offensive line - you watch (Matt) Leinart back there and he just looks so poised and so under control because his line is giving him that luxury to stand back there and look around."
What are the positives that you pull out of the last four games that tells your team that they are on the right track?
"Well there are a lot of positives. You look at the games that we have not been successful in this year and we have had the chance to win every game. It's not like we have been out of a game. There are lessons in all of them, penalties, turnovers, making a play when you have an opportunity. You can go through each one of the games and pull things out. We have always talked about winning the turnover ratio and we are -3 in the turnover ratio. We turned the ball over four times last week and they turned it over once. Normally when that happens you are not going to be successful. We had a chance to win the game last week and didn't come through. There are a lot of things that go into it."
How far back on tape do you go to analyze USC?
"We have watched just about everything that they have done. We have spent a lot of hours analyzing those tapes. You are not going to find a lot of consistency anywhere, the only consistent thing is they do a great job on offense and they call great plays. Any time someone has been successful against them it is because somebody has jumped over the top of a corner and made a great play. You haven't ever seen anybody run wide open against their defense. They get after the quarterback; they hit the quarterback hard a lot of times, very physical. We go back and watch all of it, which is how you game plan. We do that for everyone, not just USC."