Jeff Tedford Reviews Team as Bears Head into Spring Practice
March 10, 2009
BERKELEY - California head coach Jeff Tedford sat down with several members of the Bay Area media Tuesday to discuss his team as it prepares to start spring practice March 14. The Bears will work out in Memorial Stadium through April 18, when they will host an open scrimmage.
Cal returns 17 starters from last year's club that finished with a 9-4 record, including a 24-17 victory over Miami in the Emerald Bowl. After earning a No. 25 final ranking in the final USA Today poll, the Bears are receiving Top 25 mention from most preseason publications.
Season tickets for the 2009 campaign that features home games against Maryland, USC and Oregon State, among others, are now on sale. To order, visit the Tickets Link at CalBears.com or call 800-GO BEARS.
The April 18 scrimmage begins at 12 noon in Memorial Stadium and is part of the campus-wide Cal Day celebration.
Head Coach Jeff Tedford Quotes
On the integration of new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig
Obviously, it's moving pretty fast and furious because of the timing of spring ball, but I've been working very hard with the rest of the offensive staff to get him up to speed. One of the things that has been very natural transition for Andy Ludwig is that he's familiar with all the terminology, because we use the same terminology here that is used at Oregon. It hasn't been starting from scratch. We haven't had to explain what it's called and why it's called this. He is well ahead of the curve as far as that is concerned.
On the decision to hire Ludwig
I think it's something that we came close to doing a year ago. We talked about it, and the timing wasn't right. I think it's a pretty natural fit for him here. His family is local, from San Ramon. There wasn't a lot of convincing done; I think this is a place where Andy can see himself staying for awhile and really getting entrenched here.
On integrating Ludwig's plays into Cal's offense
There will be certain things that we'll dabble with. But anytime you're in the shotgun, the run game comes from spread concepts, which we've had. So it's not that big of a deal. We had some of that when [former offensive coordinator] Mike Dunbar was here. Some of those things aren't completely new.
On how Ludwig is working in the system
It's been great. Because of the familiar terminology, you're speaking the same language. Sometimes when no one knows anything about your terminology, you have to start from the very bottom and explain why the number system is what it is, and he understands it already. It's very easy to communicate. Now, the conversations are more philosophy driven than terminology and basics. It's more about what we want to do as an offense and how do we want to get that done with our personnel. Obviously, as he goes through the spring, he needs to learn our personnel. I'm going to give him the ability to implement things as he sees fit. I have a lot of confidence and trust in him. I don't think it would be wise to bring someone in here with such a wealth of knowledge and then to put a stranglehold on him. I think it's important to give people the ability to share their ideas and see how it fits us. Same goes for [new offensive line] coach Jim Marshall.
On how Ludwig will impact the quarterback position
For the quarterback, things haven't really changed because the terminology has stayed the same. The only difference for the quarterbacks is coaching style. There may be three ways to say the same thing depending on three different people. But it all means the same. So, I don't think it's that big of a transition. I think that this was as smooth of a transition as it possibly could have been with Coach Ludwig here. I think the quarterbacks should be very comfortable with it.
On working with Ludwig
He's very calm, poised, and organized. He is an 'attention-to-detail' type guy. But he is very demanding on the field. I haven't yet been on the field to work with him, other than to do our circuits and to run our conditioning drills. I'll see how that goes through the spring. He's had a lot of success at a lot of places. I have a lot of confidence in him, and I think he's going to be good for the offense and bring everything to together and communicate with the players very well.
On the status of the offensive line
I like the group a lot because, even though we lost a couple players, we still have a lot of experience. Last year's injuries forced us to create some depth. Chris Guarnero had won the starting spot at left guard and now will move to center and compete at center. Dominic Galas, because of our situation last year, practiced with the offense, he wasn't on the scout team, all year. Though he didn't play in games, it was very beneficial for him. Then you have guys like Mike Tepper coming back, who not only brings you talent but a great level of experience. He's a returning starter. Then you have Mitchell Schwartz, who played all season last year and moved back and forth from left to right tackle. We'll put Tepper at left tackle and Schwartz at right tackle. But then you have guys like Donovan Edwards, Matt Summers-Gavin, Chet Teofilo and Justin Cheadle who have all played and practiced with the first team and are all ready to go. So, there's actually quite a bit of depth there. The key is going to be finding the top eight guys that will give you the flexibility of moving them all around. It's a good group, and I'm looking forward to seeing them gel. There will be a lot of competition.
On Donovan Edwards
He can run and he's bigger. Really, he got thrown into the mix last year before he was ready physically. He competed very hard but he was a little bit light. After a full year in the weight room, he'll be a 290-pound guy that has some experience and a lot of athleticism. I think he brings a lot of flexibility to us.
On the rest of the offensive line candidates
Mark Boskovich started a lot of the year at left guard for us, so he is competing. Richard Fisher was our backup center; we'll probably move him to guard, which is more of his natural position. He played center last year because we lost Guarnero and didn't want to lose Galas' redshirt. Fisher is in the mix. There's probably 10 guys right there who all have the ability to contribute.
On the ability to replace Alex Mack's line calls from the center position
Alex had great experience and knowledge of the offense, so there was definitely an advantage to having him there. I'm not going to say that these guys can't fill his shoes, I haven't seen it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if these guys step up and make the same sort of pre-snap calls that he was last year.
On the hiring of offensive line coach Jim Marshall
He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. You talk about how to attack things, he can give you five different ways to do it. With his experience, not only at the college level but at the NFL, he is very knowledgeable and a very good technician. He coaches with a lot of energy and communicates very well with the players. I am very pleased with what he is going to bring to the team.
On the receiving corps
Those guys really matured through the year. When you look at Verran Tucker, Nyan Boateng, Jeremy Ross, Marvin Jones will return for injury, Alex Lagemann will also return from injury, Charles Satchel is a big, physical guy who will get some chances, and with Michael Calvin you now have 7-8 guys that have the ability to compete and do some things for us. It would be nice if Calvin was ready now, but he'll have to wait until the fall. I see it being a rotation right now, unless some people can really separate themselves. You could make a case for either a top three or the rotation, but I think keeping the guys fresh and motivated is the way that we would like to approach it. If you take seven guys that are about equal as far as talent is concerned, and then you try and personnel it so that you have each one doing what he is best at, you can utilize them all. It's important to get the guys involved in the game. Those guys want the ball in their hands and they're pretty unselfish in that they'll do whatever we ask them to do. But they're receivers and playmakers, and they want the ball. It's important to try to get them all involved.
On Verran Tucker
I think early on when he was here he was a little discouraged because he wasn't here for the summer, just got here for camp, and he had to learn the whole offense and he wasn't in very good shape. I think in the beginning he just wanted a redshirt, and we told him no, you're going to compete. It was a long season last year. We had some byes in the beginning of the year. There were still seven games left after the first seven weeks. That was all time that he was learning on the fly every day at practice. Once he learned the terminology and the offense and he got in shape, then he could compete. Then he started feeling better about himself and his contribution to the team.
On the tight ends
I'm excited to see some of these young guys. Tad Smith is returning and will be better. He made the switch from defensive end and it was a work in progress. I think he's a lot more comfortable now. Anthony Miller is a guy who got some playing time, so he's familiar with the offense. I'm also excited to see Spencer Ladner step up. He's gained some weight and he's very athletic and catches everything. Now it's just about his growth and development at the line of scrimmage. Skylar Curran is another one who is a senior now and it's his time to contribute. So you have some guys there, but I'm really excited to see the young guys' growth and development, like Miller and Ladner.
On Anthony Miller
He needs to just gain some experience, which is what practice is going to be about. He'll be a line of scrimmage guy.
On Jarrett Sparks
It did not take much convincing to get him to switch to tight end. It made sense to him. He's another guy who has to transform his body. He was getting to big to play receiver, so it was easier for him to put on a little bit more weight and play tight end. I think that's where he'll be more comfortable.
On the running backs
The one-two punch is pretty good. Jahvid Best obviously won't play in the spring. Shane Vereen will be limited; we don't want to beat him up. Covaughn DeBoskie is a guy who will get a lot of turns in spring ball. We released Tracy Slocum from the team for violating team rules, so he won't be there. So, those two and Peter Guerts will get the time at tailback. Kevin Lewis moved from cornerback to tailback, as well.
On Shane Vereen competing with the track team
As long as we communicate well, it's fine. Shane is the type of kid who keeps up with his academics and our programs. We've been able to balance and coordinate with the track coach and our strength and conditioning program to make sure we aren't overworking him. I'm OK with it as long as he is getting everything that he needs.
On getting Vereen playing time
I think the way we used him last year was pretty good. I thought [running backs] coach [Ron] Gould did a good job of substituting him and getting him playing time. They both had a big impact on the offense.
On Jahvid Best's health
He's out of his wheelchair now, so he can finally walk. Tomorrow, he will get back in the weight room and start progressions on lifting with his elbow, but he won't be on the field this spring. He's still walking around with a boot on.
On the fullbacks
The starting job will be an open competition. We have a lot of young guys there. Brian Holley probably has the most experience as far as understanding what is going on. Eric Stevens, Craig's brother, made the move from linebacker to there and he has a lot of potential. We have John Tyndall, and it's his turn to show what he can do. Matt Russi also moved from linebacker to fullback, so he will compete as well. Peter Guerts will probably play both tailback and fullback. Will Kapp will also get some time. It's a committee right now, and it will be about who separates themselves.
On the transition for Matt Russi
He's going to have to pick some stuff up, no question, like terminology and a feel for the position. But the great thing about Matt is that he has great instincts to play the game, which was why he was good at linebacker. We feel like he has a chance at fullback to use his experience to make a contribution. It's a whole different game at the fullback position because you have to read blocking schemes. If I'm going to block you I can't always run right at you, there are people in front and you have to gauge which way to go to get him, there's a feel to it that can only be learned through experience. All of them will have to get that in the springtime.
On the quarterbacks
It will be very competitive through the spring. I am excited to see Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney have a chance to do their thing. They have a lot of tools. They are competitive, smart, and talented and they can run. It's going to be a wide open competition in the spring. I'm not expecting to have the one guy by the end of spring ball. Because the other guys are young, you have to let the progression happen and see how they compete in fall camp.
On Beau Sweeney
He was on the scout team last year so he is a little behind. He would sit in on game plan meetings though, so he isn't totally oblivious. But he never had to comprehend it like Brock had to, because he knew he may have to go into the game. There was never a chance for that for Beau, so even though he was listening, now he has to step it up more. But he is a very intelligent guy and through his time here in camp, when he was running our offense, he made very few mistakes and showed a great ability to grasp a lot of things. I have no question that he is a good learner and I'm fine with that. All three of the quarterbacks will see first-team reps in the spring.
On the defensive line
It is great having Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan back. Those two guys are a force at defensive end. Ernest Owusu is there to create some depth. Keith Browner made a bit of a stride last year so it would be great to see him continue in that positive direction. Trevor Guyton and Aaron Tipoti are two young guys that we feel really good about. Guyton got some time last year, so that will help. At nose, Kendrick Payne will be back which is nice, because he showed a lot of promise early in the year. Derrick Hill won't play this spring because he had some arthroscopic surgery on his knee. There's going to be some competition after that. Michael Costanzo and Kevin Bemoll and some of those guys at nose will see time. But the first two noses will be Hill and Payne.
On Aaron Tipoti
He's explosive. He plays hard and does a real nice job. I'm excited to see him against the first team and see him cut it loose. Sometimes on the scout team you have to play a certain speed because you're just giving a look, but now its time to let him cut it loose.
On the linebackers
I feel really good about the spot. I think we have some guys again with experience. We have Mike Mohamed, who pretty much was a starter. We have Eddie Young, who was a starter. D.J. Holt got a lot of playing time. Mychal Kendricks got a lot of playing time as a true freshman. I feel like we're doing well there. Devin Bishop played, so you take him, Holt, Mike and all these guys and add to them the JC guys in the fall, who have a lot of ability as well.
On Mychal Kendricks
He can be a force, no doubt about it. He can run and he plays with great leverage. He hustles, he's tough, and he is very athletic. So there is no doubt that he is going to be a better player this year and things are going to smooth out for him a little bit.
On the secondary
Everybody is back, except of course Bernard Hicks. Syd'Quan Thompson, Darian Hagan, Chris Conte, Marcus Ezeff, Brett Johnson, Sean Cattouse and Jesse Brooks are all back and then the young corners should be in the mix as well. Marc Anthony and Josh Hill are really good players, and now they're going to get a chance to compete, as well. It's going to give us some flexibility and move some guys the safety position as well. Charles Amadi is back, he's played some. Bryant Nnabuife is back, too.
On the freshman contribution
Syd'Quan Thompson has a pretty good lock on his position. He works hard and he's a great player. He has turned into a good leader on the team. Marc Antony and Josh Hill are really good players. They've become good friends and have a friendly competition where they tease each other. This is the deepest unit on the team with experience.
On the special teams
We have a really good punter coming back in Bryan Anger. Matt Rios is one of the guys that goes a bit unnoticed, but we made sure we scholarshipped him a year ago for this time. He will take the place of Nick Sundberg. There will be strong competition for kicker between Georgio Tavecchio, David Seawright and Vince D'Amato.
On the kickoff team
We have to let Seawright get healthy. He tore a muscle last year, and wasn't kicking to his potential, so we have to see how he grows. Georgio will be better after a year. He got thrown right into the fire. He is working really hard and I think his confidence is going to be up. He has the potential to do some good things. We're going to have to see how the new guy is going to be, because he's got a big leg, so it will be a very competitive spot.