Pac-12 coaches wrap up spring football
The Pac-12 coaches jumped on a conference call Monday morning to review spring football now that the sport has wrapped up across the conference. There was nothing earth-shattering revealed on the call, but there were plenty of nuggets, news and notes as all 12 coaches looked back at the spring and ahead to fall camp.
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Here are a few tidbits of what each coach had to say:
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
- Coach said the team captains will be elected when the group returns to campus for summer workouts and class.
- On quarterback Connor Wood: "All of the upperclassmen need to be the leaders. They've all been here before," MacIntyre said. "We're looking for Connor to do that and quarterbacks are the biggest leaders when it comes to organizing things."
- The coach seemed generally pleased with the progress made by the team over the spring: "We have some players that can make plays and they're getting better every day."
- MacIntyre hopes to have Jordan Webb back two or three games into the season after he suffered a knee injury during practice.
- Freshman Sefo Liufau will have opportunity in the fall to compete for the starting job under center: "He's big, athletic, can throw and run," MacIntyre said. "Hopefully he can fit in and feel comfortable about our concepts quickly."
- Coach was pleased with the progress the team made overall on the field, but noted it was rough when things first started out: "The first part of it looked ugly."
- On the key challenge taking over in Boulder, MacIntyre stressed that changing the culture is something that happens all the time to get everybody on the same page. "You want to get across your culture, what you want daily," he said. The Buffs have gone from "grudgingly" going through meetings and practices to having a passion about everything in the program.
[Related: Colorado 2013 football schedule]
Oregon State's Mike Riley
- On the carry over from spring into fall: "You would hope if it was something negative you could address it during the summer. It's not something you can neglect," Riley said. "A team is a year in the making and all the parts are important."
- On the upcoming four-team college football playoff: "I kind of chuckle at it, personally. I think it's kind of been done to appease the masses. Some of the major arguing we've done with the second and third teams will be for fourth and fifth teams." He also mentioned that it's not a bad thing to have a four-team playoff.
- On the number of conference games across the country: "There should be (some standardization)," Riley said. "I don't think it's a level playing field and there should be some standardization."
- On the cornerback competition between Steven Nelson and Sean Martin: "That competition is good for the Beavers. My goal is that both of these guys become bona fide starters."
- Of course he was asked about the quarterback situation between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz: "I think the best way to say it right now is that neither one of these guys surprised us in the spring as far as being behind. I thought they both improved in the spring time, and both have done some good things in the past. We have two kids that can win."
[Related: Oregon State 2013 football schedule]
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
- On the balance of power in the South Division: "From a talent standpoint, USC is still the benchmark. I don't think there's any question. They've had the most talent in the league for a lot of years."
- Dennis Erickson was brought in before the spring as co-offensive coordinator and Whittingham has seen plenty of improvement as the Utes develop their identity on that side of the ball. "We are more firmly entrenched in the spread now," Whittingham said. "It's not a complete overhaul, but he's added some things that really have enhanced what we're doing."
- On Brian Blechen's move to linebacker: "I sure hope it sticks. We hope he can be a permanent fixture at linebacker, but we're going to have to find somebody to hold down the fort at safety."
- Despite the departure of first-round NFL Draft pick Star Lotulelei, Whittingham was bullish on the Utes' front: "We fully expect to be one of the best defensive lines in the conference once again."
[Related: Utah 2013 football schedule]
Stanford's David Shaw
- Shaw noted that you'll see a healthy Shayne Skov this year. He was between 90-95 percent this spring, but Shaw says he'll start training camp at 100 percent and has that explosion back.
- On the college football playoff: "You want to say who won the games deserves to hold the trophy." Shaw also mentioned he would love to see an eight-team playoff and would like a standard number of conference games across all leagues.
- On wide receivers this spring: "Ty Mongtomery is finally completely healthy and doing great. He's physically back to where he was freshman year." There was high praise for Michael Rector, Kelsey Young and Devon Cajuste as well: "As deep of a group as we've had the past few years."
- He noted the Cardinal went from three great tight ends to two great tight ends to one in Luke Kaumatule. "Luke has a chance to be a special, special player."
- Of the coaches Shaw has talked with, he says it's 20-to-1 against the recent deregulation proposals regarding recruiting that the NCAA was considering passing.
- Among the running backs, Shaw said Anthony Wilkerson is a bigger, faster runner than Stepfan Taylor, and Tyler Gaffney is very physical and can get out on the edge. The bulk of the running game will be on their shoulders, but the offense as a whole will be balanced as they can be.
[Related: Stanford 2013 football schedule]
Washington State's Mike Leach
- On playing friend and former staffer Sonny Dykes at Cal this season: "I'm getting kind of used to it… there's quite a few," Leach joked. "I'm just kind of looking forward to seeing him in the fall." He noted it's a little easier to prepare for someone you know, but Dykes is just as familiar with Leach as Leach is with Dykes. Indeed, Leach brought up that it's not all that different from playing Art Briles at Baylor or against Oklahoma when he was at Texas Tech.
- On the second spring practice in Pullman versus the first spring practice with the Cougars last year: "People knew where to be when. Our work was better and we had a more focused effort."
- Leach said if the season started today, four of the five offensive line starters would be current or former walk-ons. The position is more competitive, but the Cougars still need to get bigger.
- Leach also said football coaches should probably have more summer contact with players than allowed, but agrees with David Shaw that there needs to be some time away from coaches, which is when there tends to be significant growth.
[Related: Washington State 2013 football schedule]
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
- Notes that the coaches will have to be more patient with the kids coming in. The expectations will be a little higher for the quarterbacks that came through during the spring.
- Three walk-ons earned a scholarship for next year, but he did not mention any names.
- RichRod noted that coaches have to be careful with the spring game. Injuries are a concern and they didn't hit as much because of the bodies. Coaches are more cautious nowadays and want to be healthy for August camp.
- RichRod likes the way spring practices are set up in general, but would like to have the ability to work the players out in June (without pads) like basketball does.
- On quarterback Jesse Scroggins: "He was out just about all of spring, but the last week of spring practice he was able to do a little bit…. He understands this is an opportunity to prove himself again."
[Related: Arizona 2013 football schedule]
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
- On potential early departures of underclassmen, Helfrich says it does and does not affect recruiting: "You certainly play the 'what-if' games… Some of that stuff you address head-on."
- On the spring game overall: "The first offense and the first defense really did what we wanted them to do." Helfrich also said the reserve offense had a better spring game than the reserve defense.
- On the role of the center in the Ducks' offense: "In the run game he's the key communicator getting everybody on the same page."
- Helfrich rattled off a few names, such as Hroniss Grasu, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Marcus Mariota as some of the leaders for 2013.
- On the NCAA infractions hearing: "We go about our business and don't comment," Helfrich said. "Our guys focus on what they can control, and that's not one of those things."
- Helfrich said he talked with former Oregon coaches Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti and Chip Kelly about taking over the program. "They all gave me the advice to be myself. This is a place where continuity has been successful." Amazingly, he said, the team is trying to be even more efficient than they have been.
- On being more or less conservative than Chip in certain situations, Helfrich quipped, "I have no idea. We'll find out."
[Related: Oregon 2013 football schedule]
Cal's Sonny Dykes
- On the quarterback battle, Dykes said all three in the running could be starters, and that the staff would like to have a starter named in the middle of fall camp: "We had a chance to review everything and really felt similar as we did after spring ball," Dykes said. "We had three guys that were different in what they brought to the table."
- He joked about the old adage of, if you have two quarterbacks you really don't have a quarterback: "If you have three, you really don't have any."
- Dykes said Cal signed five offensive linemen in the last class to address numbers. "Roster management is a huge deal in college football."
[Related: California 2013 football schedule]
UCLA's Jim Mora
- Mora said he likes the setup for spring football at the college level: "It's a great time to develop fundamentals. I wouldn't change a thing."
- Cornerback Marcus Rios likely will be out for the year while battling a nasty infection. "Our main concern is that he can be healthy."
- Defensive lineman Owa Odighizuwa is recovering fine and looks great, Mora said, adding that he should be ready to go in the fall.
- Two spots will be wide open along the offensive line.
- No one back will replace Johnathan Franklin, but several guys could emerge and be productive as a group to replace those numbers, according to Mora.
- The secondary needs to have some guys step up early in fall camp.
[Related: UCLA 2013 football schedule]
USC's Lane Kiffin
- Noted a number of changes from last year as the Trojans started fresh this spring.
- USC was down 20 players by the time of the spring game - 20 guys that couldn't play, not just guys the coaches were holding out.
- Kiffin said it was a "pretty good setup" on the four-team playoff. Says eventually everybody will want eight teams in the playoff.
- Kiffin said a lot of talk at Pac-12 coaches meetings centered on why all the conferences do not play the same number of league games.
- The Trojans are on schedule to have almost everybody back in the fall except receiver George Farmer.
- On the quarterback battle between Max Wittek, Max Browne and Cody Kessler: "All three of these guys are extremely competitive and feel they should be the starter," Kiffin said. "I really think all three guys had a good spring."
- On a starting QB timetable: "Whenever it will show itself, it will show itself. Obviously, the earlier the better. There is no timetable."
- On Matt Barkley being drafted by the Eagles: "It's a great organization for Matt. In the long run it's about the organization and the people you're around," Kiffin said. "It probably shocked a lot of people, though." Kiffin noted that Chip Kelly talked about Barkley a lot and sent his QB coach out to L.A. separately from pro day to work him out and spend time with him.
[Related: USC 2013 football schedule]
Washington's Steve Sarkisian
- Sarkisian noted the Huskies have had a different spring game format every year he's been at UW: "There's always the notion of you don't want to show too much."
- Says it's promising on the injury front for the Huskies, and that the staff will manage guys like Deontae Cooper to where they believe in themselves physically.
- On Austin Seferian-Jenkins' status: "Austin's incident was a mistake. He is a good kid," Sarkisian said. "He'll move forward from this and we'll move forward from this."
[Related: Washington 2013 football schedule]
Arizona State's Todd Graham
- Graham was the latest in the long list of Pac-12 coaches that would like every conference to play nine league games and have a conference championship game.
- He said the Sun Devils improved in the power running game on both sides of the ball during the spring.
- Graham talked a lot about player safety, noting how little teams actually end up practicing full contact in pads.
[Related: Arizona State 2013 football schedule]
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