It's week nine so by now most of you can predict that today's headline will be the Tuesday media luncheon. Let's take a look at some highlights from Tedford and Riley.
On the importance of being prepared for short-yardage football while also mixing in the pass against ASU to loosen things up
"It is always, yeah. The thing that we have to remember is, the last couple of weeks there's been some plays, we've had some big plays, especially this last week running the ball, running the ball has seemed - ripping off big chunks, well, you don't do that against these guys. You're going have to stay patient and there's going to be some two-yard gains and so eight-yard gains and some zero-yard gains, and you have to stay patient and hopefully leave yourself in situations where you can convert third downs. It's going to be that type of game. I don't foresee this being where you're just going to rip off huge gains in the run game."
On how to prepare the team for a game to stay patient in a game where it may see offensive yards come in smaller increments
"We have to educate them to that. Make sure we know who we're playing. Know ourselves, know who we're playing, know what these guys are all about. They're going to be watching tape all week long, so it's not going to be a surprise, but it's something we've got make sure, that our mindset is right and that our mindset is that we're playing a very difficult defense."
On QB Kevin Riley and his progress since the bye week
"I think we've been protecting him a little better. He has worked hard through the bye week of trying to make sure that his fundamentals are correct. And he has been very accurate and, again, he's been very smart with the ball. The interception last week was very uncharacteristic of him, to try to force something in there. But he's done a nice job of comprehending the game plan. Coach Ludwig's done a nice job with him of making sure he knows where to go with the ball. His fundamentals with his feet and his arm have improved."
On how Riley will be tested by the Sun Devil defense and its blitzes
"It depends on what we have going on, but we have to do a good job of protecting, and there's going to be a lot of emphasis on pass protection up front with the tight ends, with the running backs, because they're very good pass rushers. They can get after you, which has caused people to throw a lot of interceptions against them, because they pressure the passer very well. So, it's going to have to be a total team effort as far as protection and the receivers making plays on the ball."
On Friday's travel schedule
"We'll travel in the morning, get there around 11:30ish, noonish, something like that."
On whether it is strange to be halfway through the season without having played any close games, and how to prepare the team for one
"That's part of the mindset that we talked about, is to make sure that we understand. But I think UCLA was that type of a game. UCLA was a back-and-forth game and Minnesota became that type of a game, but I think UCLA was probably the closest to a game that was going back and forth for three quarters. That is really, really important, that the mindset is there that, in a close, tight game, you kind of just keeping slugging it out."
On whether he liked playing defense with four down lineman
"Yeah, I think it's something that you're going to mix in and get you some bigger, more physical pass rushers on the field."
Tedford said a lot more about pass, protection, special teams, and more, but I didn't have room for all of it. Riley's quotes are after the jump. Also, we have a ton of good stories today: I look into the suspension of a Pac-10 ref, controversy over Cal Athletics receiving loans from the chancellor's fund, ESPN's livechat with Best tomorrow, an article on Beau Sweeney, some issues ASU faces heading into this weekend, and much, much more.
On the development of the wide receivers and his timing with them
"Marvin Jones keeps on making plays and catching the ball well, and he'll continue to do that. I have a lot of confidence in him. And everybody's kind of stepping it up a little bit. When it comes to do it, we've got to keep on making good pass plays in the game and we'll continue to work on that."
On what accounts for ASU's high number of interceptions (13)
"Sometimes it's the coverage, and a lot of times it's the pressure and the quarterback's kind of throwing the ball when he's not quite ready to. Just making plays. A couple look like they were bad decisions by a QB, but that could be caused by pressure as well."
On how difficult it might be to be patient at ASU and whether big plays are still possible
"I still think we'll some big plays because that's what we do. But I don't think they'll come as often and as easy as they have. We'll just take our turns, be smart with the football like we've done a good job this year, and when the opportunity comes up, we'll make them."
On the significance of this game
"It's the biggest game so far this year, that's for sure, on where we're at and what their defense has done. I don't know much about their offense, how they're doing, but I know their defense is solid. [Cal's] offense is going to have to come there and play their best game of the year ... Facing a better team than we have these past two weeks and we're going to have to play well. Like I said, since the bye week, this will show us how much we've grown as a team."
On whether big plays could deflate a crowd on the road
Absolutely. Big third-down conversions kind of deflates them a little bit, and big plays always do, touchdowns, and just continue to pound them.
On what was learned in the first two road games this year
"Just sticking together. That Oregon game, things started to fall apart and people were pressing. You can't press when things go wrong, you've just got to come back and bounce back and make some plays.
On the crowd he expects at Sun Devil Stadium
"We've been to a lot of places this year. It'll probably be a pretty loud venue. I remember there two years ago, it got pretty loud and I think they were undefeated there at the time ... It's a cool place to play."
On whether Halloween will be a factor
"I don't think so. It's a day game, so it's a little different than being on at nighttime, so it's just another game for us."
- This isn't Cal-related, but the Pac-10 has suspended a yet-to-be named official for a blatant miss of the facemask infraction committed by Taylor Mays against James Rodgers. My guess is that they may suspend referee Jay Stricherz who had a clear line of sight on the play, but called nothing (link is video of the play). I'm glad to see Commissioner Scott is taking poor refereeing very seriously.
- Some professors are displeased that money from the chancellor's fund is being given as loans to Cal Athletics to cover deficits.
- Best and Ross were nominated for Pac-10 offensive player of the week and special teams player of the week, respectively. Both earned College Football Performance Awards for running back of the week and punt returner of the week, respectively. Best will be answering questions in an ESPN live chat tomorrow at 12:30pm.
- Dennis Erickson has a lot of praise for Cal in his weekly press conference. He also emphasizes the need for his defense to limit penalties (specifically Burfict) and to tackle better. QB Danny Sullivan also has some quotes.
- Despite a knee sprain and some uninspiring play, ASU QB Danny Sullivan will start against Cal.
- ASU's inexperienced front seven will have its hands full with Best. They're looking to prove themselves again after being embarrassed by Stanford (237 rushing yards) last week. Injuries have forced ASU to name a new starting center (for the first time in 20 games) and a new starting running back for this week.
- JO talks to Beau Sweeney about his role as backup QB.
- Rob Calonge looks into why Cal is ranked in the latest BCS standings.
- Daily Cal interviews mic man Ian Villanueva.
- Highlights from Rivals.com's Pac-10 basketball preview: Randle picked as Pac-10 player of the year, Randle made the Pac-10 first team and Robertson and Christopher made the second team, Cal is predicted to finish first in the conference.
- SportingNews.com interviews Randle.
- Women's basketball held a media day yesterday. The team's youth (6 of the team's 11 players are freshmen) was a major topic.
- Hana Cutura was named the women's volleyball Pac-10 Player of the Week.
- Field hockey's Megan Shimojima earned NorPac Player of the Week honors.