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Cal Football Post-Practice Pressers: Tedford & Company Talk Utah

Cal coaching staff talks injuries, getting the running game going again, dealing with Utah's hostile environment, and how to stop Star Lotulelei from making our guards go backwards.

Ezra Shaw

There's no denying it. A loss Saturday against a beatable Utah squad would be the final tipping point for what has already been an extremely lackluster 2012 campaign. A blowout loss to the Utes, and dare I say, heads will roll? Very unlikely, but possible. This game presents itself as the last team we play this season who we really should beat.

Let's start with Tedford.

The first set of questions pertained to the injuries plaguing both the offense and defense right now.

Tedford says that Jalen Jefferson will not play, while CJ Anderson is okay and seems good to go for Saturday. Unfortunately, most of our starting linebackers are dealing with some kind of injury as of now. Tedford says that these guys will travel with the team, and will all be game time decisions. Yes, that group does include McCain, who has been fighting through an injuries all season, and went down with an ankle injury last Saturday. Would hate to see #40 not out there on Saturday night.

Despite last week's disappointing performance, the defense has given up 21 points or less in the last three weeks.

"They’ve done a good job. And hopefully this week, it’s much of the same because we're gonna face a good runner and a quarterback who’s getting comfortable. So it’s going to be important that we play real well."

Vanilla answer from Tedford, but he did place a special emphasis on making Travis Wilson exceedingly uncomfortable in the pocket on Saturday. Probably a good idea since he's a freshmen with only a few starts under his belt.

Tedford on whether or not there is a sense of urgency at this point in the season:

"One game at a time. Everybody is very aware of where we are. We can’t talk about big picture, we got to care about what’s at hand. I think our team has been pretty good at focusing on that and trying to stay in that mindset."

A lot to be said on this topic. Have you seen any real urgency in this team or in Tedford's coaching strategy this year?

Supposedly, this is Utah's "Black Out" game. Tedford touched on the environment in Salt Lake. The last time he coached here was when Rodgers was quarterbacking for us:

"It’s very, very loud, and their very into it. There will be ruckus for sure."

"I think it ranks right up there with the Oregons. Their fans are just so into it, and they never stop. Some places go up and down. But this stays at a high pitch."

I could see this sort of environment demoralizing our squad, especially if Utah gets up on us early. I could also see it not have any major impact, similar to the Ohio State game. I really don't know what to expect from this Cal team anymore.

Onto Pendergast.

On Utah's Offense:

"They're very efficient at running the football. They try to keep him (Wilson) in manageable situations. But he’s made a lot of throws for them, and he comes into the red zone and utilizes some quarterback runs."

Pretty straightforward, balanced offense here. If we come to play, I think our defense will do well against these guys. I think it really depends on how much pressure we can get on Wilson.

On the possibility of having to utilize more second team guys at linebacker this weekend:

"We’ve got what we got. The guys who’ve gotten reps are the ones who will get an opportunity to play on Saturday. We’re gonna have to wait and see on a couple guys and see how their health is closer to game time."

Pendergast seems confident in the second unit. He said that those guys had been getting a lot of reps in practice all year due to injuries, as well as the fact that Pendergast likes to rest the 1's during the practices later in the week to ensure that they have fresh legs for Saturday.

Onto Michalczik.

On Star Lotulelei:

"He's a heck of a player. He really is. About every year you see one of these guys and you hear their names for about 4 or 5 years while they’re in the NFL."

Does he occupy 2 guys?

"Yeah, he’s just so big and so strong, he just overpowers guys. You got to try to help guys with him."

When you look at the film on him, you see that "the guards are going backwards."

Don't take his word for it, see for yourself. Check out Star's highlights from the Utes game against USC a few weeks ago.

On how to get the running game going this week:

"We played a good defense last week. But it’s the same, especially in the running game, everybody’s gotta work, everything has gotta click. We’ve proven that when we go run the ball we can be a solid offense. The emphasis there has just been on the execution."

We really should be able to run against these guys as long we stick to our strengths, and appropriately game plan for what this team does well defensively. I believe that our best shot to run on these guys is to use our superior speed and athleticism to get to the outside. The Bigelow shotgun sweep play should work great. Would really love to see Bigelow break 100 yards for the first time since Ohio State.