Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen took a few minutes to talk about recovering from his hoops injury, the wide receiver talent in the Pac-12 and what the Bears have to do this season to make a run at the BCS.
First off, how's the ankle?
Keenan Allen: The ankle is doing very good. I think I'm ahead of schedule. I started running about two weeks ago and did some cuts and angles this week. Should be back to full speed in about a week or so.
So was it a 360 tomahawk or a reverse alley-oop?
KA: Nah, I was going up for a rebound and I landed on somebody's foot.
Hmm. Sounds better the other way. Let's talk some football. We know the conference this year has some amazing wide receivers. You can be humble, but it's better if you're not. Where do you think you fit in with that group?
KA: Definitely at the top. I definitely have a lot of confidence in my game. I go out there every weekend like it's my last. I compete hard. There are a lot of receivers who have a lot of potential -- especially USC wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods -- that's mostly who I like to compete with to make sure my stats are ahead of theirs every game.
Does the Biletnikoff winner come out of the Pac-12 this year?
KA: I don't see it coming out of anywhere else.
Have you started thinking about the future and whether this is your last year at Cal?
KA: I haven't really put too much thought in it. I'll play it day by day and game by game. After the season, I'll talk about it with my coach and family.
What is it about Zach [Maynard] that makes him so polarizing to fans?
KA: That's just the life of a quarterback. Have a good game, have a bad game, everyone is going to have an opinion. When you're hot they love you and when you have a bad game, they want to bash you. The quarterback always takes the most heat.
How much of a statement game is Ohio State going to be for you guys?
KA: That's going to set the tone for the season. If we get a big win out of that game, I feel like we have a chance to get to the BCS.
You feel confident that you have enough pieces to make it to a BCS game?
KA: Yes sir. We've been training and weight lifting and building that bond. I think we have a team this year that can compete for a national title.
You have to win the conference first and there seems to be this log jam in the Pac-12 North behind Oregon. You guys, Washington, Stanford. What does Cal have to do to separate itself and be the team that challenges Oregon?
KA: We have to finish. We have to play the whole game all season long. That will send us to the next level. I think a lot of times last year we would have a good first half or a good second half but we never finished the whole game. If we can put it all together, we can have a great season.
That's a common answer: "We have to put it all together." What actually has to happen to put it all together? Is it a mental thing? Is it better physical conditioning? What will allow you guys to put it all together?
KA: We have to do the mental things right as well as being disciplined. You have to have it in your mind that you're not going to give up. You're not going to take a play off. You're going to do your job and get your things done and count on each other and trust that everyone is going to do their job. That can go a long way.
A lot has been made about the Big Game being moved to earlier in the season. Does that make any difference to the players?
KA: I think that's more of a concern for the coaches and the fans. The players, I don't think we care where or when. We just want to play and try to win.
But it doesn't change how you feel about that game?
KA: Oh no. We're definitely going to be motivated for that game -- more than any other. But we'll be pretty motivated for Ohio State too.