Bears Look Forward to Columbus Day

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By Michael Duca, Staff Writer
Posted Sep 13, 2012
If by BearInsider Staff or Contributor, this article is Copyright © 2014 BearInsider.com


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Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford

The Bear Insider caught up with the top three Cal coaches as they came off the field following the Golden Bears’ final practice before traveling to Ohio State this weekend. Questions were asked by a variety of Bay Area media.

First up was Offensive Coordinator Jim Michalczik

Can you tell us what you are seeing in the Buckeyes’ Defense?

Real talented defense, very athletic. They’ve got good size up front, real fast, athletic linebackers. Good, solid team, they play smart, bring some pressure. Good challenge for us.

Without Matt (Summers-Gavin) again, can you talk about how the chemistry of your offensive line is developing?

You know, that’s always an issue when you’re rotating guys through, and you just have to push through it.† It’s kind of interesting; I thought Bill kind of grew up in the last game. He started off a little slow in some things, you could see he was thinking and not even playing as fast as he needs to be. As the game went on, you could see he was playing better.

Does that group have a lot on its shoulders this week?

Oh, yeah. I think they are a very good team, they have an outstanding defensive end (Simons) who just keeps playing and playing. They’ve got some big guys up front; it’s a very good test for us, he’s a very good player.

The Central Florida coach was raving about him after their game.

Yeah, you know, he’s a high-motor guy, a good athlete who keeps making plays.

How important is it for the running game to establish something early and take the pressure off these guys?

Again, I always say, you know, the best thing is when the defense doesn’t know what’s coming. We need to establish the run, which opens up the pass, and vice-versa. Really, in our case, it’s going in and executing on all cylinders. Then we are multi-dimensional and we look pretty good.

Jeff has talked about getting a fast start, cutting the mistakes out, cutting out the penalties, is that the kind of thing you have to do in practice every day?

Yeah, we’ve put an emphasis on it, obviously -- which you always do. Sometimes, things happen. But, the penalties, those things should never happen. Sometimes, guys get a little too excited.

You’ve seen that’s been better in practice?

Oh, yeah. We’ve had a better week with that, and we hold them accountable to it. It HAS to be better. It’s not acceptable.

Have you been back there, played in that stadium?

I’ve visited back there one time, just walked through the stadium.

Do you have a sense of that?† It’s obviously going to have 105,000 people, but I’ve heard it’s not necessarily louder than some other places you’ve played…

If it’s a close game at the end, it’s going to be loud. It doesn’t matter where you play, you have to deal with the crowd noise.

The defense doesn’t have to deal with that so much, but YOU do.

It’s a lot of communication. That’s been one of our emphases – good communication, both verbal and non-verbal communication when it gets loud.

A lot of what you do as far as sending in plays is hand signals ---

And that will help us a lot. We’ve been preparing for this for a long time. We have a lot of games on the road, and we have to be prepared for crowd noise.

How important is it to get the tight end game going – it seems like it’s been stalled…

It’s been up and down. I look at it as the whole offense. I think it’s important for us to†click on every facet of it and make them honor 11 guys.

Is that a factor of Zach being comfortable looking to that part of his progressions?

I don’t think so. I think he’s had some throws to him. I think – you know, you go back to the first game and Jake (Davis?) caught a big pass on an over on a bootleg. I think sometimes it a little bit about how it falls by what the defense gives you.

Jeff says that Richard’s ( Rogers ?) going to play. Is he ready to go?

Seems to be. We’ll go out there and see where we’re at.

You guys have been wanting to try to exploit him.

Like I’ve said, he’s a young guy, he’s got a lot of games ahead of him. I think he’s going to have a very good future and make a lot of good plays. I wouldn’t say we’re impatient waiting for something to happen. It’s going to happen, and he’s going to be a very good player.

* * * * * *

Next up was Head Coach Jeff Tedford.

Well, the emphasis is on starting fast and eliminating mistakes. What have you seen in practice that gives you confidence on that?

We’ve had a good week, in practice it’s been a focal point. Guys have worked hard on it.

It’s not like we’ve practiced slow in the past, we’ve practiced fast. It’s a matter of dealing with the game environment, and just being poised and focused and not being too amped.

Is it hard to see whether you’ve achieved what you want in practice?

It is, yes.

It’s a gameday thing?

A gameday, thing, right. You go out there with confidence from good practice, you go out there with poise and composure on what’s happening. I think that’s key, you can play through it then.

Would you like the ball first?† I don’t know what you do on road games?

It depends on different factors, what the weather looks like, what the sun looks like . . .

Supposed to be a nice day there, mid-70s

Mid 70s, but chance of thunderstorms. Early in the week it was a 40% chance, but I think it’s been decreasing each day this week.

So, it just depends on what that looks like.

From a philosophical standpoint, you want to try to quiet the crowd on defense first?

Typically, we defer. But, if there’s really something, you want the ball a certain way in the second half, all those thing, but typically we defer.

Who have you had simulating Braxton Miller this week for the scout team?

Ervin Miller, he’s done a good job.

How hard is it to find someone to simulate Miller – he’s what, 220 pounds?

Ervin’s a little over 200 pounds, he’s fast, he’s a running back, and he played quarterback in high school, so he’s got a good feel for it. He’s nowhere near the passer Miller is, but he gave us a good look this week running around and doing some things. It was pretty natural, because he’s played quarterback before.

I saw Dozier in a white jersey, does that mean he was a receiver on the scout offense?

Yeah.

That’s doesn’t change the fact that he’s going to be a defensive back for you?

No, it doesn’t.

Health status pretty much what it was?

Yep.

They sound pretty optimistic they are getting running back Jordan Hall back from injury this week. What sort of difference will that make?

You’ve got to play whoever’s on the field. You’re not going to do anything much different. You’re going to be disciplined and train your eyes and do what your assignment is and execute your assignment. It doesn’t matter who is lining up where their tailbacks are.

What time will you get there?

I think it’s 8:00 Eastern.† We will have our walk-through tomorrow. Have a little meal when we get there, and have a couple of meetings, and then have our bed check. We will get on their clock tomorrow.

You feel like your guys are in good spirits and ready to go?

Yeah, I do.

* * * * * * *

Finally, it was Clancy Pendergast, the Defensive Coordinator, who stepped into the chilly shadows of the North Concourse.

So, how’s Darren Ervin done doing his Braxton “Ervin” impression?

He’s done a great job. He played that position in high school, he did a great job this week.

Did they run that offense in high school?

He was a wildcat quarterback in high school.

Talk about – what you think you can do against this team and this offense. You’ve had some difficulty against running quarterbacks in the past.

We’ve just got to tackle well.

Is that all it’s been?

Yes.

Did you have a good week of practice?

Felt good about it, yes.

The outside linebackers have kind of been a mixed bag when it comes to defending an offense like this. How have they been about keeping their assignments, staying at home?

It’s been consistent all week.

Is there concern that you’re going to be too focused on stopping the quarterback. They can do other things, too . . .

No, we know they have a lot of different weapons. They have talent on the perimeter, they have a lot of quality backs. Whoever they put in will be a quality back. They’ve got tight ends that can run and catch. It’s definitely an offense that’s very diverse in what it can do.

How would you describe their offensive line, what they do and what they are good at?

I think they are extremely physical. They are big and they are physical and they like to get movement up front. It’s going to be a big challenge for us up front.

Deandre (Coleman) compared them to an Oregon

You’ll have to ask Deandre about that

He said they are long and lean. Is that an accurate appraisal in your eyes?

They are a come-off-the-ball, physical group.

Knowing what Braxton Miller can do if he comes out of the pocket, how do you balance caution versus calling aggressive plays?

He can get out on any play, so it doesn’t matter if you’re being aggressive or playing some sort of zone coverage, he can get out on any play. What your responsibility is within that defense, you just have to read your keys and understand you don’t know where he may end up. He’s very athletic, he can cut back, he can stay front side, he can run right up the middle, he can reverse field, he can reverse field and throw it, he can do a lot of different things. It’s very much a “read your keys” type of game.

How’s he developed as a passer over last year?

I think he’s getting better every week. They spread the field, they do a lot of five receiver sets. They give him a lot of opportunities to throw and he’s been successful. I’ve seen him get better over the past couple of weeks.

Last week, Southern Utah didn’t catch a pass over 15 yards. The dink-and-dunk offense has been used sometimes to great effect against you so far. Is that something you’ve paid attention to this week?

It’s a totally different style of offense than last week.

How about the week before?

That’s closer.

How about how you’ve done on third down?

We need to do better. We need to come out faster and get them off the field on third down. We’ve got to continue the sense of urgency as the game goes on, on third down. We need to get better there, for sure.

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