Wednesday, March 12, 2008 Jeff Tedford Spring Practice Interview

See a video of the interview here.

BERKELEY - California Football Head coach Jeff Tedford met with the media on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium to discuss the upcoming spring practices, which begin on Monday, as well as team program's professional prospects who were working out Tuesday at Cal's Pro Timing Day.  On his change of duties [with hiring of offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti]:  "I'm still going to stay very involved with it. It's the play calling that I'm going to back out of. I feel great about what we're doing on offense. [Coach Frank] Cignetti's been a great addition to our staff and the way he's working together with the rest of the staff. Coach Michalczik has been great to keep him here because he had a great understanding of what's going on. I'm anxious to get into spring and see how it all works out. I'm going to back out of the play calling. I'll still be involved with the offense but I'm not going to call plays. [Cignetti] will call plays. I'll always have my mark or my eye on the offense to see what's going on. This is going to free me up to do a little bit more with the team as a whole.

On the players participating in Pro Day:

[Justin Forsett] has great work ethic, he's very tough, very smart, talented guy. As all these guys out here today are, they're a great group of young men. It's a bittersweet feeling out here today because you see all these guys working and you know they're not going to be with you anymore. I wish them all the best of luck in the future. No question about it. [DeSean Jackson] has gained some weight in the last couple months though, and I think he's in a position that he's going to be very competitive at the next level. Thomas [DeCoud], same way. Thomas does a great job of covering the field, he's a physical guy. I think he's going to do well in the NFL. I think [Forsett's] run faster out here before. I don't know how accurate those times are or what have you. But I do know that he's a very good football player and when they put the pads on, he'll do a real nice job.

On spring practice:

Not a lot of questions, more real anxious to see some of the young guys and how they fit into our program. At all positions, it's going to be very competitive throughout the spring and we have a lot of young guys, it's going to be their first go around and so we're anxious to see how they fit in.

On the quarterback position:

Well, it's going to be competitive, just like all the positions right now. It's very competitive at the quarterback position. They're both [Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley] team players and they want us to win and they're training real hard. I think competition makes everyone their best so it's great to have competition at that position. Nate will take the first snaps and we'll take it from there. And Brock Mansion as well is in the mix. We're anxious to see all those guys to see what they can do. Anytime you play as much as Nate has, there's always an advantage in the experience factor. Kevin gained a little bit of experience last year, but Nate still definitely has the advantage in the experience category.

On what he looks for in a quarterback:

Just running the offense, being smart with the football, putting us in a position to move the football and score on offense. There's a lot of more to it than just throwing the football. The mental part of the game at that position is critical. So you're asking them to do a lot. Whoever puts us in the best position to win, that's what we're looking for. We won't announce the starter until probably the week of the first game.

On the defense:

[We'll get a look at] some of the younger guys sitting in the program. We have some good young defensive linemen that we're going to get a chance to evaluate and get them plugged in with the experience of some guys like Derrick Hill, like Rulon [Davis], Tyson's [Alualu] back. They'll get some experience on the d-line. We're going to have more depth because of the younger guys providing that depth. With last year, we were very limited as far as our depth was concerned because a lot of those guys were redshirted. Our line backing corps, I think we're very deep at linebacker. I think we have some experience at linebacker plus we have some good young guys there as well. We have a lot of depth at linebacker. The secondary, we have Syd [cornerback Syd'Quan Thmpson] and [cornerback Chris] Conte coming back. Conte played as true freshman so that experience should help him. [Bernard] Hicks is back at safety. We have Marcus Ezeff who's back. There's some experience back there. The Darian Hagens, the Charles Amadis, all those guys will fill in as well and compete. That's how the defense is looking.

On the wide receivers:

There's no question, we lost a lot of experience; all three of our wide receivers are gone. We feel like we have some talented guys there. [Redshirt freshman] Michael Calvin, [Sophomore] Jeremy Ross, it's those guys' turn to step up. Then Nyan [Boateng] would be a guy as well. I don't think that there's any doubt that we're going to need to have the young guys, the freshmen coming in, contribute. I don't know which one but which ever one steps up, we're going to have to have those guys contribute as well. LaReylle [Cunningham] may not practice in the spring. He had a knee scope so he may not practice. He won't practice for sure on the first week.

On redshirt freshman quarterback Brock Mansion:

He's made big-time progress. He's a gifted guy, big tall, strong guy who can really run. He throws the ball really well, is smart. We're really anxious to see him in the competition as well. Obviously he doesn't have the experience those other guys have but he's very gifted athletically. It'll be nice to see him get some real action in the spring time. I think he'll push them. I don't know that he has the experience level, but I think he's going to provide some competition there because of the abilities he has physically. As he gets better and better with the mental part of the game, and the more experience and the more reps he gets, he'll definitely be in the mix.

On the off-season:

We've been pushing hard but they've been pushing themselves, which is the great thing to see. There's a lot of motivation there. This is probably the best chemistry we've had on this team since we've been here. I think it's a combination of great leadership at the top combined with great young people who are very receptive to that leadership and are working very hard. They're all doing very, very well. With the workouts, they've been very impressive. Now it's time to cut it loose in the spring and see what they do.

On if they've made improvements:

We're spending more time off the field talking about things, going over some things. We're having full team meetings to be able to go over some things and talk and get some things out there. That's been good. I think the team's been very receptive to those types of things and I think they're getting a lot out of it.

On the new coaches getting to know the players:

We're kind of doing that through our meetings in the off-season. I think when you get out here, the styles - for the new coaches to learn the players. They know [the players] but to actually learn them and the work-ethic and the things that go on on the field, is something different. There's no doubt that that will happen. [Cignetti] is doing a great job. Him combined with the rest of the offensive staff is working very hard. He's got a lot of enthusiasm He's a very smart, enthusiastic guy who has a great feel for the game. He's brought some new ideas. That's what spring is for, for us to kind of put together those ideas and come up with a complete package. He's open-minded, he's a great communicator with the kids and he's got a lot of enthusiasm.

On spring practice schedule:

Typically, we go two [weeks] and then take a week off and then go two more. It just felt like it was too soon [this year]. We needed some more time still. We'll get three practices done [before spring break]. We'll get a foundation laid really. Then when we get back [from spring break] it will be more of the padded stuff and we'll really get into it. It'll give us a foundation early just to get everybody on the same page organizationally with practice. [We're looking to see] if they have a real good feel for the offense, if they're running the offense sufficiently and that type of thing. I don't look at coming out of spring practice as trying to name anybody. That's not my goal. My goal is just to evaluate the whole team and get our young guys into the mix and see how they fit in.

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