Pac-12 Coaches Teleconference: USC's Marqise Lee draws high praise

All of the Pac-12 coaches jumped on their weekly conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon and gave a variety of updates about their teams and the upcoming week in college football. Here are a few nuggets that came out of the call from each head coach.

Colorado's Jon Embree

- On possibly facing a new quarterback from Arizona with Matt Scott questionable: "I haven't really had a chance to see the other guy," Embree said. "Generally when that happens, when you lose your leader, everybody else raises their game in support of the guy that's going to replace him. That's what I expect to happen."

- Embree said the Colorado defense played well in the first quarter against Stanford but the offense has to help out by getting first downs and moving the ball. Against the Cardinal, the defense was simply on the field too much.

- The coach singled out senior defensive lineman Will Pericak for playing "very well."

- Embree echoed the thoughts of many coaches and encouraged his players to vote and even gave them some time if need be. "You can't complain if you don't vote," he said.

Oregon State's Mike Riley

- On the quarterback battle in Corvallis this late in the season for a highly ranked team: "We had an unusual situation with Sean (Mannion) getting hurt and Cody Vaz, who I've always thought competed well to be the starter here, got an opportunity and took advantage it," Riley said. "Both guys can win for our team."

- On the Stanford defense: "It's impressive to watch… if you're not playing them."

- Riley noted that Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was a big, athletic signal-caller who was very poised when playing and that Oregon State would expect a little more option stuff out of the Cardinal this week.

- Cornerback Jordan Poyer sitting out this past weekend turned out to a be a good thing in that the Beavers got the win and got backups more experience. Riley said Poyer is on track to play this week and that he "does so many things for this team."

- Riley said he hadn't run into men's basketball coach Craig Robinson (President Obama's brother-in-law) yet today.

Utah's Kyle Whittingham

- Washington is a very balanced offense that has a really good quarterback in Keith Price even if the starter hasn't played quite as well this year as he did last season, Whittingham noted.

- On the Utes' dynamic kick returner Reggie Dunn: "I would think teams are a little bit leery of kicking to him with what's transpired the past few weeks," Whittingham said. "If it were us facing a guy that has done what he's done, we'd be pretty reluctant to kick to him."

- Whittingham commented that the Huskies' secondary had two really good players in Shaq Thompson and Desmond Trufant.

Stanford's David Shaw

- On USC's Marqise Lee: "I don't mind going on record as saying that Marqise Lee is the best college receiver that I've seen since I scouted Randy Moss. I've never seen a college receiver do what he's done the past month -- ever."

- Shaw on the comparison of Brandin Cooks/Markus Wheaton and Lee/Robert Woods: "I think the duos are different. The thing with the kids from Oregon State is that they're so quick, so explosive. You have to be ready for them coming off the ball, fly-sweeps and just when you think everything is short, they'll run right by you."

- On Oregon State's defense: "They're a very disciplined group. They don't give up a ton of big plays, they play extremely hard and you can't take a play off or they'll hit your quarterback. They don't ever stop coming."

- Shaw did name quarterback Kevin Hogan the starter for the game officially. "He was not involved in the quarterback battle early but he's battled his way in," Shaw said.

Washington State's Mike Leach

- On receiver Marquess Wilson, Leach said the two haven't talked yet but that Wilson is certainly suspended this week. It will be between him and Leach as to whether the wideout will return.

 

Arizona's Rich Rodriguez

- On the culture change in Tuscon: "It's not just within your football building or your football program; it's everything that surrounds it and supports it," Rodriguez said. "You want everybody pulling in the same direction and it really takes an environment to build a championship program. Every coach wants to have it while they're there or try to establish that in order to win a championship."

- On possibly exceeding expectations this year: "There's been some pleasant surprises. Coming out of spring practice and August camp, I had huge concerns -- more than I've ever had anywhere I've ever coached -- about our lack of depth and where we were defensively," Rodriguez said. "There have been some pleasant surprises and guys that have given good effort but we've been hanging on all year."

- Rodriguez said he didn't set a goal of going to a bowl game for the team this year but just wanted execution and hard play from his players.

- On the loss to UCLA, the coach said things snowballed and that the Wildcats didn't play well in any phase of the game and that didn't give them a chance in the game.

Oregon's Chip Kelly

- In diagnosing how USC scored 51 points against them, Kelly pointed to the fact that Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee are just so talented.

- Facing Cal backup quarterback Allan Bridgeford this week, Kelly noted that there's not a ton of tape on him in college but he remembers him from high school in Southern California and that he's more of a pure passer and less of a dual threat than Zach Maynard.

- On talk that he could take an NFL head coaching position: "I don't pay attention to rumors, whether they're good rumors or bad rumors."

- With BCS talk running wild, Kelly says the Ducks don't discuss it. The coach noted that since he's been there the program has taken on some big time teams in the non-conference schedule but were forced to fill a hole in the schedule early this season with a weaker opponent.

- On Kenjon Barner's big day, Kelly said the running back was "outstanding" after watching film of the game. He noted that Barner is similar to former star LaMichael James in that both can run inside the tackles and bust it outside.

Cal's Jeff Tedford 

- On Oregon's offense: "Unbelievably impressive," Tedford said. "It keeps you awake at night." He noted that there are no holes in the Ducks' attack and that for Oregon to do it against USC was a real eye-opener.

- Likely starter Allan Bridgeford can do most of the things that Zach Maynard can and Tedford noted that he'll have a "student of the game" under center if Bridgeford gets the call.

- The difference between playing Oregon close two years ago in Berkeley and this year? Tedford says the Ducks have improved along the offensive line, have an efficient quarterback passing the ball and have a ton of team speed. "It's amazing how fast they roll up the points," he said.

UCLA's Jim Mora

- On expectations this season: "Our only hopes were that we would improve every week," Mora said. "I think we've done that."

- Mora noted the last time he was in Pullman to play Washington State was his junior year at Washington in 1982. The Huskies came in ranked No. 5 in the country but were denied a trip to go to the Rose Bowl (and the Apple Cup) with a 30-23 upset by the then 2-7-1 Cougars for their first win in the series since 1973. Mora said that they tore down the goal posts after the game and carried WSU coach Jim Walden off the field.

- The Bruins coach also had several notable thoughts on social media in the wake of a fake Twitter account representing a UCLA football player causing a stir. "I'm not really well versed in the world of Twitter. I don't know what the rules are or what the regulations are," he said. "We tried to get on it quickly and put out any potential fire (regarding the fake account)."

"I think it's part of our job, to protect these kids," he continued. "I don't think these young men deserve that and we have to protect them at times."

- Mora joked that he couldn't imagine having social media back when he was in college. "We didn't even have cell phones in college," he said. "The world changes every day and I think one of the challenges as coaches is to try and keep up with it. I think it's important to keep up with the technology that your players are using and are exposed to."

USC's Lane Kiffin

- On how the team is holding up following the loss to Oregon: "I think they're great," Kiffin said. "They're resilient."

- Kiffin noted the seniors on the team are a small group but they're doing a great job of leading by example.

- On Saturday's game he summed up, "They did a great job and we didn't."

Washington's Steve Sarkisian

- On his time with the Huskies: "It's been an awesome experience so far," Sarkisian said. "I couldn't be more excited today than when I got the job."

- Washington returns "home" to CenturyLink Field this weekend. Sarkisian noted that it is a different experience due to little things like new locker rooms, a change to DawgWalk and other factors, but said the crowd noise is still definitely a factor.

- The offensive line is a young unit but Sarkisian noted that Mike Criste has been big and with Ben Riva back at right tackle, the group has done well this season and made progress.

- Utah's Star Lotulelei is a big part of Utah's defense and Sarkisian had plenty of praise for the big defensive tackle: "Star is a great player. It all starts right there in the middle with 92."

- Sarkisian has known Utes kick returner extraordinaire Reggie Dunn for a number of years and said he has always been explosive and always been fast. "We're very aware of where he is."

Arizona State's Todd Graham

- On the season so far: "I couldn't be more proud of these guys," Graham said. "Even with three losses in a row we've had no bad body language."

- Graham noted the improvement in discipline and penalties as one result of the culture change in Tempe with the new staff.

- On the upcoming game in Los Angeles: "We're still alive in the South and we're still competing," said Graham. "Obviously we have a tough challenge this week at USC."

- Graham was blunt on the team's three-game losing streak, saying they lost to two teams that were better than them (Oregon and Oregon State) and to another good football team in the final seconds in UCLA.

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