You heard right, his name is Star.... STAR! He is a monster. Projected to go early in the first round of this year's NFL draft. We're gonna have our hands full with another good defensive front Saturday (when will it end?!?!)
Let's start with the Tedford Presser
One of the first questions Tedford was asked Tuesday pertained to the run game (or lack thereof) against Stanford. Although Tedford was quick to dismiss any questions regarding last week's lost to Stanford, saying talking about it "puts a knot in my stomach," he did seem to regard Stanford's dominance of the line of scrimmage as more of what Stanford did, and not what Cal didn't do. I don't know if I believe that, considering we ran the ball well against a good Ohio State and UCLA defense. There were a lot of missed blocks on the offensive line Saturday, and this will have to change against Star and company if we stand a chance Saturday.
Also, Bears seem to be bruised up. "Quite a few guys were limited today," Tedford said. He didn't give much insight into who specifically is ailing and from what (the usual suspects in McCain and Anthony are who he was likely referring to). However, the impression was definitely given that the Bears are beat up after a physical loss to Stanford.
On the drop off in redzone performance this season in comparison to last:
"We've kicked a lot of field goals down there."
On Brian Schwenke's ability to handle Utah's dominant nose tackle:
"We'll find out."
Although these short, nondescript, vanilla answers are quintessential Tedford, one does sense a slight element of pessimism in Tedford's demeanor. I think we all knew that the Big Game was the best chance for Tedford to right the ship this season, and in turn buy himself another year. I think that opportunity still exists for Tedford and this year's team, but we will need to have an extremely strong performance this weekend that we can build upon going forward.
Moving onto Jordan Rigsbee's comments.
On Star Lotulelei:
"You know, we watch a lot of film on him, were treating him like a normal guy. We've played a lot of good D lines this year."
I actually like this mentality quite a bit. The Cal offensive line has seen some of the best defensive fronts the country has had to offer. So they definitely have had to learn on the fly these last few weeks. However, I don't think we should be taking this particular player lightly at all (which I doubt we really are). I've watched film on this guy, and this is the kind of player you game plan around. You minimize his impact on the game as much as possible and operate your offense around him. Like last week, I'd love to see more runs to the outside. I'd also like to see a consistent double team on both passing and running downs against this guy.
On some of the breakdowns against Stanford:
"As an offensive line, we need to communicate better as a whole. We had a couple miscommunications in the game. Communicating better upfront, calling out the fronts, and being quick with it. That will help a lot with the overall execution of things."
As someone who has played running back my entire life, behind both really good and really bad offensive lines, Rigsbee hits the issue right on the head. Anyone who has watched our line knows that it hasn't always been guys getting beat one on one (although that has happened a whole lot), but more of blatant missed assignments due to breakdowns in communication. That's an experience issue, and that's why we have struggled so much upfront. Effective communication on the line, starting with Maynard (because he can see the entire defense) is key to getting on the right foot here.
Onto Nick Forbes
Forbes was asked about why Cal's defense seems to always give up one major big play per game. I thought this was a really spot on question; I know everyone remembers the Ohio State nightmare.
"It is disheartening. Throughout the game we made the adjustments and corrected it. And being on the end of the person making those mistakes, its tough because your letting the other 10 guys down."
Not many things more backbreaking than big, momentum swinging plays. However, those big gains wouldn't be so momentous if our offense could score in the redzone.
And lastly, my favorite quote of the entire day maybe. "One game at a time. You're not going to beat Oregon or Oregon State this week."
Right on. I really like Forbes one game at a time mentality here. Although astronomically unlikely at this point, this season can still be fixed with some wins against the schools up north. It's easy to be pessimistic and point fingers as a fan, but I think we all need to appreciate the fact that the team has continued to fight despite what has been an entirely disappointing season. It would have been really easy for this squad to throw in the towel after the 1-3 start.