The Bulldogs head football coach discusses the upcoming game against California and assesses FS's injury situation.
Sept. 19, 2000
On the injury situation
"I think the bye week really was good for us. Hopefully we'll have all our players back to full strength. [Center] Rodney Michael jogged for the first time last night. That's a long ways from being able to play in a game like this, but hopefully he can make some strides in the next few days. Derrick Ward is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery on some meniscus cartilage...I don't know if he'll be available for the call game. We're hoping he is. But Josh Levi is back to full strength and Kevin Jordan has been practicing. This is probably the best shape we've been in physically for a game."
On playing Cal
"I think they play great defense. Obviously, the punter is a great player. The way they play defense, it's really hard for teams to take the ball on long drives. Utah scored 21 points, but that's a little misleading because there was a punt return in there."
"I think they are a really good football team. If people are thinking that Cal is not the caliber of UCLA and Ohio State, they're wrong. They are right up there, especially defensively. And they've got a punter - if there's a better punter in this nation, I'd like to find him. People are going to be in for a treat to watch as good a punter that's ever walked into that stadium."
"Cal plays great defense. The way their punter played against Illinois, they really never had a chance to get their offense going, and Illinois has a good offense. Cal is good in the secondary, and they've got an outstanding defensive front. I think this defensive front is the best we've played this year, and we've played some good ones. I think this will be our biggest test...They led the Pac-10 in defense last year and I think they lead in most categories again this year. I think people here are going to see a very good defensive team from us and Cal."
"Field position is going to have a great deal to do with it. That punter for Cal...he pinned them seven times inside the 12 and five times inside the 5. Those are long fields to make up against a defense that doesn't give up many big plays."
"That punter is a great weapon. The quarterback [Boller] is starting to get better every week. He is very, very talented. They've got young receivers and young offensive lineman. So they are maturing, too. So offensively, they are getting better and better. [Illinois head coach] Ron Turner thinks he has a very good team at Illinois, and they were very lucky to get out of there, in Champaign, in an early game against a well-disciplined Cal team."
"Offensively, from a point production standpoint, they are a lot like us. They've got a lot of new players. They are starting to get it together, just like we are. They've got a gifted quarterback, just like us. They've got a very good running back. They've got a very big, and at some spots young, offensive line. They've got a young receiving corps...So I think the two offenses are very similar."
On Cal defensive end Andre Carter
"You gotta know where Carter is. He's a player that makes things happen. We aren't going to pattern our entire game around [Carter], but we are going to make sure we know where he is on every play. We are going to know when we need to help and hopefully use some of his strengths to our advantage."
On the freshmen gaining experience
"I think he's going to be a very, very fine player for us. In the first two games, he's played about 30-to-40 snaps for us. When he gets into the game, people really don't notice a drop off. He's done a very fine job for us. So has a redshirt freshman, who's a walk-on, from North (Bakersfield, Calif.) High School, Justin Woltz. He's been playing about 10-to-15 plays a game, relieving Alan Harper and Grant Harrington at the nose [tackle]. Jake Probst has been working with Jajuan Huddleston and Asa Taylor, another freshman. Our depth at the defensive line is very, very young. But it's developing very well."
"They are starting to gain valuable experience against very, very good competition. It's going to make us better when we get into conference play, and it's going to make us better going into the Cal game."
On Paris Gaines' knee situation
"He had his best practices last week. We'll scrimmage him tomorrow in nine-on-seven, which is a very tough drill for running backs...I think that's an important time for him. It'll also be good to see Josh Levi in there. I think [Paris] is progressing well. It's a mental thing. I think he's just about ready. Hopefully against Cal on Saturday night, he can be in for 40, 45, 50 plays and carry the ball 15 or 20 times and get back on track. That's something we need."
On playing at home
"That's a big advantage. There's no doubt in my mind that's an advantage for us."