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July 26, 2011
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
COACH TEDFORD: Good morning. Great to see you all. Excited about the season to get started. First off I'd like to thank all of you for everything that you do for college football, for our conference. The coverage, the exposure that you give our teams, our players. We really appreciate everything that you guys do.
Greatest time of year right now. This is always a favorite time of year because the players have been working hard all summer long, and now it's time to get back to work the first day when they check in is just an awesome time to be able to see all the excitement surrounding our program, surrounding the hard work that they've been doing all summer long.
The chemistry, I'm really excited about this team with the leadership, the work ethic, the team chemistry. I'm really pleased with how they've come together and their work ethic. Very eager to compete.
Last season -- we have created a standard and expectation at Cal over the last nine years. Last season we fell short of that, and we're not hiding from that. We understand that there is a very fine line between winning and losing, and we're six points away from being 8-4 last year.
So there is a very fine line. And we understand that we need to improve and get back to the standard and fulfilling the expectation that our fans and alumni have for our football program.
Some coaching staff changes that we've had that I feel very, very good about, very excited to have Jim Michalczik coming back to coach our offensive line. Eric Kiesau to coach our receivers. Ashley Ambrose is our new secondary coach, and Marcus Arroyo will coach the quarterbacks. Really excited about that chemistry.
Eric Kiesau and Jim Michalczik get their second stint coming back to Cal. So that provides a great foundation for what we need to do with communication, and some of the history that we've had with our program. They completely understand.
As far as our team is concerned, besides the leadership and work ethic and chemistry, I feel like we have the opportunity to be very strong on defense. We rank first in a couple of categories last year. First in total defense, first in pass defense, and I think we have, even though we lost some terrific players in Cameron Jordan, Mike Mohamed, Chris Conte, we feel like there are some guys that will step in.
Really excited about Clancy Pendergast, our defensive coordinator. This is his second year controlling the defense, and I think we'll be much better because of that experience, and his experience in college football, because he came from the NFL.
I think as you prepare from week to week, there is a challenge there when you're used to really just the NFL. So I think he's much more comfortable, our players are much more comfortable in the defense going into the second season there.
Offensively, we need to improve. We were not close to the consistency that we need to compete at a high level. That generally starts at the quarterback position, and we weren't consistent enough there last year. When Kevin Riley went down last year, we were averaging 37 points a game, and after that we averaged 13, and you're not going to win many games in the Pac-10 or Pac-12 now with that type of offensive production.
So quarterback is an issue. Not an issue, but somewhere where we really need to pay strong attention to.
Zach Maynard has been named the starter after spring football, who earned it, and there will be strong competition with Allan Bridgford and Brock Mansion as the back-up there.
One of the other areas to focus on going into camp will be our tailback position. We have been very fortunate over the years, as many of you know, to have very productive tailbacks. Typically coming back for their senior season or junior season with Shane Vereen leaving early, we have, we have good backs, but they'll have the experience of the production. So we're eager to see what they can do.
I think the strength of our offense lies in our offensive line and our wide receiving corps led by Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen. I think those guys are going to provide great leadership and production for the offense.
I feel like our kicking game is going to be very solid with an All-American punter Bryan Anger, and Giorgio Tavecchio handling the kickoffs and field goals.
Can't wait to get to camp. We have a lot of work to do, but I think our players are completely refocused. I will tell you the last meeting that we had when the season ended after we lost that heartbreaker to Washington and it became a reality we weren't going to a bowl game for the first time in our time there, it hit us all very hard.
So that's when the focus began to make sure that we get back and never have that feeling again. I know our players are very excited about it. We're really looking forward to it.
Our kids are doing a great job academically over the last nine years we've had 94 academic All-Americans which is second in the conference, so they continue to perform academically very, very well, which I'm very proud of. And they're doing a great job off the field of representing our institution, their families, themselves, the team and their teammates are making great decisions off the field. I'm really proud of our team for that.
Marvin Jones has done a phenomenal job. Came in, and he's coming into his senior year, I can't believe it's already here, but doing an excellent job academically, and just providing great leadership. He's become a great representative of our football team and our university.
So with that, I'd like to open it up to questions.
Q. Jeff you said earlier that you'd be more involved in the play calling this season, and calling post if not all, is that still your plan? Can you talk about that a little more at length with your role on calling the plays?
COACH TEDFORD: Yeah, typically we game plan as an offensive staff, which we will continue to do. But I will be a little bit more involved in that.
We'll call them as a staff and always communicate, but I'll be much more involved this year than I was last year.
Q. Coach, this season coming from last season, what are some of the positives that you can take from last season into this season, and you talked about the leadership role that Marvin's going to handle. Why do you feel he's able to handle this leadership role at this time?
MARVIN JONES: Definitely after having a season that we had last season, we want to just basically not change the coaching because we have a strong history with Coach Tedford having those teams that -- having those good teams.
But it's just a different direction as far as me being more outspoken. I lead by example, and things like that. Just making it basically more about the team. We have a new theme going around that we do everything, everything is team oriented. So when we workout, we have shirts that say team matters across the chest. And nobody can take the shirt off no matter if you're hot or whatever. Just basically changing the culture of how the team is. That's what we're doing and that's a big thing that Coach Tedford raised going into this fall.
It's basically having more leaders that are outspoken like myself that are going to lead the team. And one thing Coach Tedford says all the time is we want to keep what happened last year in the back of our minds, but not totally let it bring us down or let us keep thinking about it.
But we want to have it in the back of our mind so we know. We know we didn't go to a Bowl game last year, and we know we have to change that. It starts with me and the other leaders on the team being vocally prepared to approach every game like it's our last.
Q. What is your tailback situation like going into fall camp? Who are you looking at?
COACH TEDFORD: The question is what our tailback situation is going into fall camp. Coming out of spring, Isi Sofele was our starter we have Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson is coming off an injury, we're anxious to see what he can do.
We recruited four tailbacks, so we're really -- I'm excited to see what they can do because I really anticipate that we're going to have a young back or two be in the mix and be strong contributors for us.
So I can't wait to get out there and see what's going on with them. In the past, like I said, we've been fortunate with the tailback, but we've always had freshmen come in that have been strong contributors, Jahvid Best and Marshawn Lynch, played really strong roles as freshmen. And we feel like the guys coming in we recruited a junior college back, C.J. Anderson, and three high school backs.
So those guys will all have an opportunity to compete and see how they're going to fit into the offense.
Q. Marvin, you're going to have a new quarterback this season, an untested quarterback. Based on what you saw during the spring, how much confidence do you have in Zach Maynard to be the leader of the offense?
MARVIN JONES: I definitely have confidence in him. He's only been through one spring, so I can't say that much. But from what I see, he has great anticipation, he's a great leader, and he knows how to place himself in situations to be successful. So those are one of the key things, assets that he has.
But obviously we're going into fall, and whoever the competition, it's still heavy. And whoever makes that transition into being a leader who can manage the game, that's the guy who is going to be on the field. Basically whoever is on the field, I have to trust everybody, and put all of our trust into that person.
We're going to be in a situation to where the best person's going to be on the field, and our team's going to rally up behind that guy.
Q. A question on Thursday Night Football games. You guys are playing USC, both of your thoughts from a coaching standpoint from playing Thursday night, and from a player's standpoint, Thursday night and the fact that it's USC?
COACH TEDFORD: Well, our players really probably don't have an opinion on that because they've never done that before. We have done that in the past. We haven't done it for a while, but we have it scheduled to where we're going to try to treat it as a normal week. We have a bye before one of them, so that's going to help us a little bit.
But, you know, as far as classes are concerned and things like that, it's going to be a little bit different.
We also have a Friday game. At the end of the year we play Arizona State on a Friday. So two Thursdays game and a Friday, but that's kind of going to be what our season's all about. We're in transition anyway, playing all our games at AT&T, with our facilities, it's very exciting. Where our facilities are headed and the progress that's been made with our facilities.
But we're a little bit -- we're a little bit disjointed right now on moving around and doing things like that. I think our players will handle it very well though. So whether it be a Thursday game or playing at AT&T, we had some practice with it at springtime. We went to many different places to practice in the spring, bussed to every practice we had in spring time, so our players handled that really well.
So the key is to make sure we focus on the job at hand and not get caught you up if it's a Thursday game, a Friday game, at AT&T or Candlestick or wherever it may be. We have a job to do, and we're going to focus on wherever those lines are, we're going to focus on what's happening between the lines no matter what day or what venue it's in.
Q. What do you expect from Colorado and Utah present and future? You handled Colorado pretty easily last year?
COACH TEDFORD: Yeah, we have great respect for those programs. We did play Colorado last year. Obviously they have a -- they've had a coaching change, so I'm sure they're going to be very excited about getting that program rolling. They don't count in our conference standings this year.
But we do still play them the second game of the year at their place. So I'm sure they'll be very prepared for that.
Utah it's no secret how good of a football team and football program that Kyle has built there. We played them in a Bowl game a couple of years ago, I think we're 5-2 in Bowl games over our tenure there.
And that is one of them that we lost. So we have a great deal of respect for Utah, and I think they're going to be very competitive in the conference. I know a little bit more about Utah than Colorado. I just know they're very, very solid and do a great job of recruiting.
I'm sure Coach Embree is going to turn that into a positive at Colorado as well.
Q. Can you characterize your relationship with Will Lyles and the recruiting service he has. Does it concern you at this point, and have you reevaluated the financial relationship with him?
COACH TEDFORD: Not at all. I'm not concerned one bit. We deal with probably four or five recruiting service per year. I wouldn't know Lyles if he was in this room right now. That's what he did. He provided us a service be it a list of prospects and game tape and things like that, and that's what we use all our recruiting services for.
I think there are over 250 schools in the Houston area, and the reason we use those services is to make sure that we can be efficient with our time and our resources. I have no concern whatsoever about it.
We have the videos, we have the prospect list, and so I have absolutely no concern about it.
Q. This is a double-pronged question. Coach, do you believe this team can win the Pac-12, and Marvin, do you think the players believe this team can win the Pac-12?
MARVIN JONES: Definitely, you know, definitely. What team would we be if we thought that we couldn't? We have the players and we have the skill set, and we have the potential to rise above the Pac-12 and win the Pac-12.
So I think, you know, we're taking the necessary steps to gaining and reaching that goal. All of our minds are on winning the Pac-12 and being the best team that we can be.
Without a doubt, we believe.
COACH TEDFORD: You know, I think our kids absolutely believe that if we play to our full potential, then we can win any game that we play. We do have a very challenging schedule starting off with Fresno State is obviously a very good football team. Colorado, Presbyterian, then on the road to Washington, Oregon, USC, Utah. It's a very daunting task to start off the season.
But our players have a lot of confidence. We have enough experience to know that if we played to our full potential, pay attention to detail, play together, trust each other, that we have a chance to be successful in any game.
Like I said, there is such a fine line between winning and losing. You have six points between being 8 and 4 last year. It can go either way. We have a very competitive conference. There is no doubt about it. But our kids have a lot of pride. They take a lot of pride in the program. They take responsibility for the expectation and the standards that have been placed on us, and they can't wait to get the season kicked off and to put last season behind us.
So we understand that wasn't the way we needed to perform last year, and they've taken that mindset all through training.
I will tell you one of the other key factors is our new strength and conditioning coach who has created a great environment in the weight room. It's the intensity that's there. Now it's just time to get out and put it on the field, and we can't wait to get that done.
But absolutely, we feel we can win any game we play.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports