The head coach of the Bulldogs discusses the win against California and the upcoming bye week.
On the defensive effort vs. California
"After looking at the game film, we played very, very well. Starting with the defense - we had eight defensive players earn the black shirt award. That's when our defensive coaches grade them out as a great effort. Eight young men won that black shirt award. We had Bryce McGill, Vernon Fox at the safeties, Marcellus Armstrong and Tierre Sams as corners, Orlando Huff and Timmy Skipper as linebackers, and Jason Stewart and Alan Harper as defensive linemen. To win that black shirt, it has to be a great, great game. We played very well - everybody did. But those eight really played outstanding. That might be as many as we've ever had. Timmy Skipper won a `Bad Dog' shirt, which we've only given out about five of those since I've been here. And he also won WAC player of the week. Our defense played their third straight great game."
On the offensive effort vs. California
"David Carr had an outstanding game. Along with Rodney Wright, they had some big, big numbers. That was the best game of the year - that was the Rodney Wright we saw last year. We had some big opportunities on big plays that we let get away, and I think kept the final outcome of that game close. The running game wasn't where we wanted it. Except Josh Levi really gave us some spark. But overall, I thought the offensive line turned in their best performance...I give a lot of credit to our offensive line for the protection. A lot of times Dave Carr back there - and he had 41 throws - he went untouched. Against Cal, that's tough."
General thoughts on the state of the team
"It was a very hard fought game. A very physical game. We came out of it in really good shape physically. Now we've got to get ready for what's really important, and that's the conference."
On Derrick Ward's status
"He ran with us last night. He should start practicing [Tuesday]. He said he feels good, but we've got to get him in shape. Hopefully he'll play in the Rice game."
On Josh Levi's performance
"A real pleasant surprise was Josh Levi. We haven't had Josh all season. That was a real spark for us. He ran really hard.
On the upcoming game against Rice
"Watching Rice on film, it's always a challenge when you play [wishbone] teams. They are very well coached, and if you aren't ready to play, if you aren't assignment perfect, they can burn you. They throw the ball a little more than normal, too."
On playing Rice on astroturf
"They are a lot better. Teams that play on astroturf all the time usually play better on their home field. An option team has a lot of quick decisions, planning and getting upfield immediately, coming off fakes, the quickness of making decisions on the turf. If you watched them here last year, some of those quick decisions, there was some slipping on the grass. Especially here at Bulldog Stadium. We played them here in November...By the end of the season, our field is a very hard field to play on if you haven't played on a lot of grass. It's very slippery and the root system isn't very strong."
On playing Cal
"I think it's a game we need to have. That was a big-time atmosphere. If you are a Cal graduate or a Fresno State graduate, that's the kind of game you want to see your school play. I wish it was a home-and-home. If we went back to Cal, we could take a big crowd and turn it into a heck of a rivalry. It's very good in the president's eyes, I believe, because it saves a lot of money and brings a lot of alumni back...I think it's more of a natural rivalry than UCLA. I'd love to play both of them."
On playing a tough non-conference schedule
"I think we've gained confidence. I said the first three games of the year were going to help us. I really believe they have. I heard early in the year a lot of people were worried this team was going to get beat up and hurt. This team isn't going to get beat up by people. This team is a very physical football team. We've held our own physically in every game we've played. And I don't think that'll ever change. I think that's because of the way we practice and the mentality of our kids. I think that we're going to be a better team in conference play because of it."