Prior to this season starting, I had visions of an electric evening at Memorial Stadium for the Washington game. I envisioned an improved Zach Maynard torching Washington's secondary, making Shaq Thompson and company look silly. I envisioned our offensive line exploding off the ball, pushing Tosh Lupoi's defensive line backwards. I wanted to dominate this Husky team. I wanted to feel retribution for what had occurred this offseason.
A lot has changed these last few weeks. My view of this team and this coaching staff has definitely changed dramatically. That being said, nothing would make me happier than winning this game. It would provide closure for what has been a torturous season.
Here are this week's pressers. Let's start with Coach Tedford.
On practice this week:
"Very lively today, good energy. We practice early in the morning on a foggy morning like this. Sometimes it drags, but today was very energetic. Guys had great attitudes."
This actually made me happy to hear. Hopefully, our team is still as jacked up for this UW game as I am.
Washington has the 11th ranked run defense in the PAC-12. You have run the ball well most of the season. Is that something you want to continue since the Huskies don’t defend the run well?
"It’s part of the game to be successful in the run game. But you can’t just live on one thing, so we got to mix it up. But yeah, that’s definitely part of the plan."
Hey, if we can run the ball on these guys, we better do it. That should have been the case last week. Tedford, the writing is on the wall, you have a premier running back. For the love of God, USE HIM! Even if Bigelow doesn't have a break out game, if Tedford decides to give him the bulk of the carries, I will be at least happy that the young man was given an actual shot to show his stuff.
On Maynard's struggles last week:
"I don’t agree that Zach struggled. He pretty much did everything he could do."
Is the plan to stick with him regardless of how his performance is this week?
"We’ll see how that goes. He was 18-31. I thought he did a good job. He hung in there and didn’t lose his composure. He hung in there and threw a lot of good balls. He’s our quarterback and he’s played pretty well. I’m not going in with that preconceived notion. He’s our quarterback and we expect him to execute and run our offense."
Are we watching the same tape? The balls Zach seems to miss are always the most crucial of passes. For instance, we ran a great play that should have gone for a touchdown. We play actioned to the running back, and then faked a bubble screen out in the flat. Keenan acted like he was setting up to block for the bubble screen, but then broke deep to the endzone. Keenan was wide open, however Zach threw one of his typical super-high passes, making what should have been an easy TD catch an almost impossible fingertap grab that Keenan unfortunately dropped. That was a great play call, but it was rendered ineffective because of Zach's consistent inaccuracy. Playing with Maynard (and our line) literally eliminates the downfield portion of the playbook.
On injuries (Treggs, McCain, Scarlett, Jefferson):
"Everybody’s day to day. So, dependent on how practice goes, you expect them to get better with treatment each and every day as you go forward. So well know more for the end of the week."
I don't think we stand much of a chance this week without the bulk of our linebacking core coming back. We were dominated last week because of that.
You're down to a point now where to get to a bowl game you’ll have to win three in a row. Does that change the mindset of the team?
"There’s been a sense of urgency in every game. And that’s the way we’ll approach this game."
"Each and every game you get motivated, fired up, and you go lay it on the line each and every week. I don’t think that we're gonna play any harder this week than we always play. I have confidence that we always play hard. It’s not like we haven’t been motivated to go into any other game."
Although this is the politically correct thing to say, I would have loved for Tedford to show a little emotion here. Tosh did him and the entire program dirty, so I would have loved for Tedford to show a little fire. Knew it wasn't gonna happen though.
With former Cal coaches coaching in Washington, how does that affect the dynamic for how you're preparing for a game like this?
"They know a little more about us than any other team would because they’ve been here. But, again it’s still about execution. They probably have a little bit of insight on the way we do things. We’re different enough that the players on the field still have to see things and still have to execute. I don’t think there’s any doubt that they have more insight into us than we have into them because they’ve been here."
Not sure how much of a factor this will play out to be. It certainly makes for an interesting storyline though. Do you think this gives Washington a significant leg up in this game?
Onto Robert Mullins.
On Keith Price:
"Keith Price, like a lot of quarterbacks we’ve faced this year, is a scrambling guy. A special thing about Keith Price is that when he’s scrambling, he’s still looking down field. He’s one of the guys who can move and throw at the same time."
"If he tucks the ball and looks down field, wee can’t come out of coverage to bracket him. We have to stay in coverage."
I really like how Keith Price plays and manages the game. I think he's a highly effective quarterback with good mobility. I wish Maynard played more like him to be quite honest. If we don't get pressure on him, he's going to pick us apart.
What are the emotions like going into a Friday night game, especially in light of the Tosh Lupoi scandal?
"It’s definitely business as usual. It’s a Friday night game, it’s gonna be a big game against a very worthy opponent."
"We’re preparing to win the game just like any other game. We’re just gonna go out there and compete. We have to compete."
I'm not buying into what Mullins is saying here. I think these players, especially those who were personally recruited by Lupoi, are just as angry as the fans are. At least I hope. I would love to see some fire from our defensive players.
Onto Richard Rodgers.
What do you think has gone wrong the last couple weeks?
"I think its just execution on both sides of the ball. I think we're always going to try to improve on that. Sometimes the game doesn’t go your way. We had a couple of touchdowns that weren’t on the offense or the defense. We can't really do anything about that."
Is there much dissension with the way the season has gone up to this point?
"Obviously, this is not the way we wanted the season to go. But you gotta roll with the good and the bad and we're obviously looking forward to the next couple games that we have.
Not much to complain about here. Rodgers' play has been a bright spot for us this season. I'm really excited to watch this guy during the rest of his Cal career, especially when Kline starts throwing to him.
On your ability to break first contact:
"I don’t know if I try to work on that. I just never really want to get tackled by one person."
"I gotta work on my breakaway speed because I keep getting caught."
You're doing just fine. I wish we could get you the ball more!
On Washington’s defense:
"Their defense is fast. They like to play physical and fly around. They have a lot of older guys and experience in their secondary. In their secondary they really look to ball-hawk and make big plays, so they’ll be trying to do that the whole game. We just gotta come out and really execute and basically take care of the ball."
Unfortunately, the last thing we need is to face is a really strong secondary. However, I think if we're able to run the ball, which we should be able to do against UW, hopefully that will open up the pass, much like what happened against UCLA.