Having had a day to digest the team's lackluster showing in Salt Lake City, Coach Tedford was asked on Sunday if he saw anything new in his film review.
“No,” he said. “You guys all touched on it. Field position early. Kickoff returns. Scoop fumble for touchdown. Costly.”
“There are different things each week…it's definitely frustrating because we invest so much time and energy and hard work in it...it's definitely not fun.”
“It's been different things. I'm not going to put the blame on one thing.”
“I don't question one bit the attitude or mindset or the competitive instincts of this team.” he said. “The only thing you can make sure to do is to come to practice with great attitude, great intensity, and great focus to execute the game plan.”
Tedford did note that he was happy with the improvement in the run game on Saturday, as well as with the play of Zach Maynard.
“I was really pleased with the way Zach played, for the most part. The first four times we threw the ball, he was sacked. He didn't panic. I think he's really grown. He didn't panic; he didn't start throwing the ball into coverage or doing things like that. He hung in there and threw a lot of nice balls.”
Even though the Bears have been forced to play many backups and reserves this season, Tedford refused to blame injuries, saying that, “I know we're going to get a great effort every week. The effort is not an issue.”
With only three games left in the season, Tedford also said that he didn't think he was under any more pressure than usual.
“There's pressure all the time. I have a knot in my stomach each and every week, whether we're winning nine games or not. Every single week, the knot's in my stomach. Every day. We need to be doing the things we need to do to be successful. Pressure comes with each and every day.”
“I care about what happens here. Deeply. I have a lot invested here. I care about these kids, and the work and the investment everybody's put in…it goes with the job.”
One storyline that figures to be hashed and rehashed again over the next week will be the return (to Memorial Stadium) of ex-defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi, who left for the same position at the University of Washington. Tedford spoke at length about Lupoi, but said he didn't think that would be a factor on Friday.
“This is motivation for us to win a football game. That's enough motivation. The reality is that Kiesau did a good job. Tosh did a good job. Both did a lot of good things here. Things like that happen. This is more about us now, getting a win.”
“I don't know that there's a vendetta there from our players. I'm not going to turn this game into that. This game is about us. This game is about doing the things we need to do to win a football game. Tosh isn't going to be out there wearing a helmet or pads or anything.”
“He chose to move on for his own personal reasons, so I don't begrudge him that. It happens in football, in this profession. This game's not about that. This game's about us, getting a win.”
The first kickoff return (by Utah for a touchdown), Tedford said, was due to poor tackling. “We had him pretty well hemmed up. We had two guys that got in, and spun in to make the tackle, but he spun out of it. The second one was just poor technique, running down the field to try to blow it up, instead of funneling and using our hands.”
Regarding sophomore speedster Brendan Bigelow, Tedford said, “He's playing more and more each week. Each week, he's becoming more and more comfortable with things.” Tedford also praised him for his balance and surprising power in the open field, both of which were on display against Utah.
“He hasn't run the ball inside very much…he's a good back. He's a very good back,” he said. Tedford stopped short of promising he would get more touches, though, adding that, “some of our other backs do things better than he does, and he can do things better than they do. That's the balancing act – to utilize each of their skill sets in a way they're comfortable with.”
On the team's constantly growing injury list, Tedford remarked that “we're a very banged up football team right now.”
Tedford's updates on specific players follow:
Defensive tackle Viliami Moala should be back full time from his sprained ankle this week, while linebackers Jalen Jefferson (concussion), Chris McCain (ankle) and Brennan Scarlett (hand) remain day to day.
Dominic Galas had an emergency appendectomy on Saturday, and will be out 2-4 weeks. There is an outside possibility of him returning for the Oregon State game. As far as a sixth year of eligibility goes, Tedford said that the team was looking into it, but it did not seem likely he would be granted one.
Mustafa Jalil is out for the season, and will have knee surgery tomorrow.
C.J. Anderson didn't practice all week and felt okay at pregame, but Tedford anticipates he will be at full strength for Washington, following his knee injury.
Bryce Treggs suffered a sprained ankle on Saturday, but is feeling better. His availability is yet to be determined. Marc Anthony also was injured against the Utes, and is day to day with a head injury.