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Jeff Tedford Interview With Razor & Mr. T Provides Uncertain Projection For Cal Football 2011

Jeff Tedford, Cal football head coach, stopped by to talk on the Razor and Mr. T show with Tom Tolbert. He discussed the quarterback situation with Zach Maynard being named the starter, the importance of Keenan Allen, the talents of incoming freshman Brendan Bigelow, and other various California Golden Bears related topics.

BERKELEY CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears looks on against the Colorado Buffaloes at California Memorial Stadium on September 11 2010 in Berkeley California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
BERKELEY CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Jeff Tedford of the California Golden Bears looks on against the Colorado Buffaloes at California Memorial Stadium on September 11 2010 in Berkeley California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
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Cal football head coach Jeff Tedford doesn't give many interviews, so you have to appreciate the chances you get with them. He went on the Razor & Mr T. show, and thankfully didn't have to deal with the clueless Ralph Barbieri. Tom Tolbert was happy to oblige with a productive and solid interview.

You can listen to the MP3 by clicking here. Here is the full text of the main interview questions after the jump, and my reading between the lines of these comments.

On naming Zach Maynard his starting quarterback after spring practice:

Tedford's answer: "It was very competitive, and it still is. It's always nice to have competition. But Zach did a real nice job of understanding the offense in a short period of time and did a nice job physically. I think he breaks a little elusiveness and escapability to the offense. So I felt it was important to let him assume the role and take some leadership over the summer time. So I'm anxious to see how it turns out in camp."

Reading between the lines: Cal's offensive line is going to be a trouble spot next year, and Maynard provides that ability to improvise and make plays in the pockets. Whether Maynard will be able to be effective as a pure pocket passer is still in question, but he clearly has the most starting experience of any of the guys, improved the most during spring practice, and provides the best upside for being a solid guy in the spring.

On the challenge of keeping the QB competition lively but also instilling that confidence in a young guy by naming him the early starter at this point in time:

Tedford's answer: Absolutely right. During the summer, they work out on their own out there. And him being the new guy, sometimes people feel like they're eligible to be a leader beacuse they're so new. So he really did a nice job through the spring. We still have Bridgeford and Mansion that are really going to be there to compete with him and did a nice job as well. But I thought it was important for him to have the confidence of knowing to go out there and he should open his mouth and assume the leadership role out there."

Reading between the lines: Maynard might have the job now, but Allan Bridgford and Brock Mansion will have plenty of opportunity to step up and earn the starting role. Bridgford clearly is talented but still might need some time to catch up to Maynard and Mansion in understanding and learning the offense; Mansion has the most practice experience but has to be able to translate that production to the field.

If he'd be reluctant to give incoming RB Brendan Bigelow who looks incredibly fast and explosive on tape frequent carries because he's just a freshman:

"Absolutely not. We've been very fortunate to have great tailbacks during our time here and have two of them to compliment each other. And this year Ise Sofele is going to be the starter; he's pretty much unproven but he has a lot of talent and ability so we have confidence in him. But we're going to need some of the young guys that are coming in step up and contribute to the team, and it's no different than the first day Marshawn Lynch walked on campus and contributed right away. Jahvid Best contributed right away. So we're hoping this running back class can do that. And you're absolutely right, Bigalow is another Jahvid Best. He's got that type of speed, he's lightning. He's coming off an injury so we're hoping he's healthy when he gets here."

Reading between the lines: If Bigelow is healthy, he will probably be in the top two in the lineup, with Sofele being the other guy. JC walk-on Mike Manuel is currently listed as second on the depth chart, and he'll have to fight hard to keep his spot against taking what looks like the next Cal running back phenom in the making.

Other notes:

Getting Keenan Allen the ball more often and creatively (6:45 mark)--Tedford likes the receiving corps and believes (like most the rest of us) will be the strength of the offense. It'll be important to have a quarterback who will be able to get the ball in their hands. If the offensive line is still struggling with pass protection, this could affect whether the passing game is up to snuff

Relegating play calling duties between him and OC (8 minute mark)--Tedford seems very comfortable with the old coaching staff. However, it remains to be seen whether splitting the playcalling duties will be a functional way of doing things.

New TV Contract, playing lots of TV games on days other than Saturdays, new Pac 12 (~9:30 mark)--Tedford has never been a fan of playing weekday games, but says sacrifices have to be made to ensure we get better TV slots for the conference. You can check out discussions on the issue at the California Golden Blogs regarding late night and weekday night games.

Playing games at AT&T Park (10:50 mark)--Tedford is happy that he'll be playing at the 2008 Emerald Bowl site, and is also looking forward to the Cal-Fresno game at Candlestick. I'm sure he'd be happier to be playing at Memorial (where he's had an impeccable home record), but it'll have to be one year of sacrifice to reap the longer-term rewards.

Winning the turnover battle (12:15 mark)--Tedford, like many coaches, emphasizes ball control and ball handling, and has a daily drill in practice that's used to emphasize ball control. The Bears have generally been very good at holding onto the ball.

How he's feeling about secondary (13:30 mark)--Tedford is high on the starting unit of Sean Cattouse, D.J. Campbell at the safeties, as well as Marc Anthony and Steve Williams at the cornerback positions. What's not mentioned is the relative lack of depth behind them, particularly at cornerback. How can the Bears adapt when they play experienced QBs like Matt Barkley and Andrew Luck who can spread the field and exploit mismatches?

The loss of Mike Mohamed (14:50 mark)--Tedford will miss him, but does believe D.J. Holt and Mychal Kendricks can step up in their roles. Kendricks could be one of the best linebackers in the nation and is likely to be a highly sought after NFL Draft pick, and how well he can make the defense function can go a long way toward dictating the success of Cal's defense in 2011.

Playing Presbyterian (15:50)--Cal tried to schedule a team like Wyoming & San Jose State for their final matchup, but it fell through. Obviously there's no good spin on playing a team like this, so check out this post on why Cal ended up with Presbyterian over at CGB.

How USC sanctions have affected California recruiting (16:45)--Recruiting has definitely hurt the Trojans, and scholarship limitations are likely to hurt them in the near future, but they will still gather many of the biggest talents. And of course Cal has always struggled with playing USC, having not beaten them since 2003. 

Recruiting tools for young kids (18:00)--Education, playing time early, and a chance to go in the NFL are the three early factors in deciding whether a recruit end up in Cal. The success of Cal players in the pros has definitely helped the Bears.

So Tedford's interview is pretty much like most of his interviews--inconclusive. But this one at least provides more details than most of them, and a lot of good information about the state of the Cal program. Just don't expect the Bears to be a gangbusting team on the rebound next season. They'll have to prove it on the field.

(HT to Behind The Steel Curtain for finding this.)