BERKELEY -- On Tuesday, California wide receiver Bryce Treggs and linebacker Hardy Nickerson, Jr., shared their thoughts on Saturday’s 117th Big Game. Treggs’s father, Brian Treggs, never beat the Cardinal, and even boasted, in 1991, that he would move to Palo Alto if he wasn’t able to finally beat Cal’s archrival. Stanford won, 38-21, over the No. 6 Bears, who went on to defeat No. 13 Clemson in the Citrus Bowl, 37-13.
Nickerson, Sr., now a coach with his former team, the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, played at Cal from 1983-86, and went 2-2 against the Cardinal, culminating with a 1-9 Bears team upending Stanford, 17-11 at California Memorial Stadium.
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Here are their comments from the weekly press conference.
What have your father’s told you of their experiences in Big Game?
Bryce Treggs: “My dad, he never beat Stanford, even when they were No. 6 in the country. It’s a friendly competition between me and him, to accomplish things he hasn’t accomplished. If we get this win, it’ll be a big accomplishment for me.”
Hardy Nickerson: “My dad, they beat Stanford in 1986, and they (Stanford)were ranked 16. I think it was an upset. It was an upset here, and I’ve seen pictures and footage of that. All the crowd is on the field, and he’s told me nothing but great stories about that game.”
Does it put some urgency on these next two, Bryce, since neither you nor your dad have beaten Stanford?
Treggs: “It definitely does put some urgency on it, because I only have two more Big Games left, including the one on Saturday. If there was any time to do it, it would be now. We have some momentum. We’re doing a lot better, compared to last year, so if there was any year to do it, it’d be this year.”
Hardy, what do you expect from Stanford’s offense? They’ve been a strong running offense all year, but teams have passed for a lot of yards against you.
Nickerson: “I expect them to do what they’ve been doing this whole season, which is try to establish the run game early, and spread it out, try to try to get the ball into Ty Montgomery’s hands, and just try to make big plays. I think we have to be physical this game. It’s going to be a very physical game. They’ve got fullbacks, big linemen, all that type of stuff. Our hands are going to be full, but I can’t wait.”
As the season’s rolled along, as far back as you have fallen back at times, you still have confidence to come back. What’s that due to?
Treggs: “It’s just the progress that came from overcoming adversity, and everything we do in the offseason, in our workouts, our conditioning, our weight lifting. There’s always a time when we have to overcome adversity, when we have to finish that last rep, we have to dig deep and finish that last sprint. I think the diversity that we’re overcoming came from our training in the offseason.”
Nickerson: “Yeah, definitely. Offseason, coach Damon [Harrington], he always preaches to us about adversity and overcoming it. When it becomes tough, overcome it and dig deep, and find that inner person that’s not going to back down.”
Bryce, your dad played in a couple of bowl games. How important would it be for you guys to get bowl eligible and to take that next step?
Treggs: “It would definitely be a great accomplishment. His first two seasons were similar to my first two – they weren’t very good, didn’t go to a bowl game -- but their next two, they had great seasons. Making a bowl is definitely a goal of mine. I want to make a bowl these last two years. Hopefully, we can make a bowl this year, get some momentum, and hopefully go for the big one next year.”
Hardy, the only guy who’s touched the Axe is on defense, in Austin Clark. How much has he talked about winning another one?
Nickerson: “All the time. He’s been talking to me about that since this summer, spring, all that. He shows me the picture all the time of him touching the Axe, and he wants everybody to experience that locker room after the Big Game win.”
Bryce, looking at Jared Goff, and the two years he’s had here, how much of a calming effect does he have on this team, knowing that you have a QB who can deliver the ball anywhere he wants, any time he wants?
Treggs: “It’s a great relief in pressure, when you can run your route and know that the ball’s going to be exactly where you need it, exactly where you want it. He’s a guy, if you give him three seconds of time, he’ll pick a defense apart. Our focus is just getting open quick, getting our routes down quick, so that he can deliver the ball to us.”
What’s Goff like off the field?
Treggs: “He’s a very goofy guy. I mean, you can tell by his haircut that he’s a goofy guy. We always make fun of that. He’s a very funny guy. He’s like the team clown. He always makes the atmosphere a little bit less serious off the field. When you look at Jared, he knows his power, because he’s the quarterback, so he always jokes around with the receivers, because we can’t really say anything back to him, or he won’t throw us the ball. He abuses his power off the field.”