Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: Utah gears up for rival BYU
Keeping your head down and working hard is a common theme among Pac-12 football coaches heading into Week 2. Utah is facing longstanding rival BYU this Saturday, where Utah coach Kyle Whittingham will see a familiar face across the field, while both Stanford and Oregon State have bye weeks.
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
The big question for the Utes this week is if the longstanding friendship between Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and new BYU coach Kalani Sitake will result in a kinder, gentler rivalry game. Whittingham calls Sitake a “dear friend” of whom he has the utmost respect, but he can’t speak to the impact of their friendship on the fan base. Whittingham expects this weekend’s matchup to be "every bit as intense and passionate.”
Whittingham made it clear that you can’t judge a team off one game, but based on BYU’s outing last week, the Utes will be battling a balanced team who didn’t leave everything they could have out on the field. In that situation this early on in the season, Whittingham says all a team can do is plan and try to tailor its scheme to match the opponent.
Stanford's David Shaw
Despite beating Kansas State 26-13, Stanford coach David Shaw was not satisfied with his Cardinal’s performance. “I didn’t like how we came out after halftime,” says Shaw. “We weren’t as clean as we could be.”
By “clean,” Shaw is referencing the sacks, tackles for loss and turnovers that occurred in the second half. The solution, he says, is to start the second half with the same energy and passion they started the game with.
The Card will have plenty of time to work on maintaining that energy through the game entirety, as they have an open week this week. Shaw considers a bye this early in the season not ideal, so his plan for the team is to work hard, rest up, and prepare for 11 straight weeks of playing.
USC's Clay Helton
USC coach Clay Helton has not shied away from his team’s 52-6 loss to Alabama last week. “The performance didn’t equal the preparation we gave to it,” says Helton.
Helton knows the importance of looking for mistakes and remedying them, though. “Utah State is a good team. If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’ll inevitably make them again.”
USC certainly has no intentions of making any major mistakes this weekend. Helton has been readying his team for this week’s earlier (11 am PT/12 p.m. MT) start time, as well as impressing on them that every opportunity and experience is valuable, whether success or failure.
UCLA's Jim Mora
UCLA coach Jim Mora says his emphasis this season is for his Bruins to take each week as its own entity and focus on those seven days and that weekend’s game. “It becomes overwhelming and very big if you don’t break it into one week endeavors,” says Mora.
The Bruin football team has adopted this mindset, thanks in part to UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. Mora says Rosen has matured both on and off the field, is a great leader for his teammates, and is “serious about his craft."
When it comes to the focus of this week’s game against UNLV, Mora says it comes down to the Bruins doing what they’ve prepared to do to the best of their ability.
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
The fact that the Oregon's next opponent is traveling nearly 3,000 miles following a home loss to play the Ducks doesn’t phase Mark Helfrich. “We’re 100% focused on ourselves,” says Helfrich. “We’ve got a lot of growing up to do in a lot of ways.”
The Ducks are focusing on three things this week: Confidence, communication and creating explosive plays. Helfrich attributes the errors and overall missed details on the field last week to a lack of communication amongst the team. When you have a fast offense, efficient communication is necessary.
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
Oregon State coach Gary Andersen is looking forward to the opportunity for the Beavers to focus on themselves this week, as they’re on a bye. Even though the bye week is early, Andersen isn’t upset by it. The Beavers will take the opportunity when they can get it.
Washington State's Mike Leach
Washington State coach Mike Leach opened up the call by commenting that the first game highlights what his team looks to improve on. Leach said there was some stage fright from the younger guys on the team, which is expected for the first game of the season, but the biggest takeaways from the first game according to Leach are that the Cougars can’t play tight on defense, they could have run the ball harder and that they need to relax to play better.
Washington's Chris Petersen
Washington coach Chris Petersen sums up how he felt about Week 1: "If you win one time it’s a nice to-do, but consistency is key.” Case in point? He wasn’t aware that the Huskies are eighth in this week’s AP Poll until today’s teleconference. “Talk to me game six,” Petersen says.
With his head-down, work-hard attitude, it’s unsurprising that the Huskies came out in Week 1 as well as they did. Petersen says everyone did their job over the past eight months, which made a strong season opener possible.
As for John Ross, Petersen says it was “awesome” to see him come back — and come back strong. Petersen recognizes how hard it is to come back after that long (Ross underwent knee surgery in April 2015), but watching Ross catch five passes and score three touchdowns was a big confidence and ranking booster for the Huskies.
Arizona State's Todd Graham
Arizona State coach Todd Graham likes what he saw when his Sun Devils responded late in the game against Northern Arizona last week, scoring on the last seven drives. Graham knows, though, that the key to winning is to improve every week.
Looking at this weekend’s matchup against Texas Tech, Graham is “feeling good.” He says that playing “big” non-conference games makes the Sun Devils a better team. “To beat the best, you’ve got to play ‘em,” says Graham. The focus for the Sun Devils this week is to keep Texas Tech as far away from the end zone as possible.
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Week 1 for Arizona has been deemed a rust buster. Coach Rich Rodriguez says his team played hard, but couldn’t execute in the Wildcats' 18-16 loss vs. BYU last week. However, with loss comes lesson, and Rodriguez feels confident that the big play opportunities Arizona missed last week will be taken and executed this week.
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
Was the Buffs’ coach Mike MacIntyre happy with Colorado’s 44-7 win over Colorado State this past weekend? Yes. Was he satisfied? No. The Buffs’ quarterback Sefo Liufau was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after going 23-of-33 passing for 318 yards and a touchdown. MacIntyre was happy with his quarterback’s performance, but focused on room for improvement he saw, such as making a few more plays and throws he knows Liufau can complete. The Buffs got back into a rhythm as the game went along, so MacIntyre is looking to stay in that rhythm and make the improvements the Buffs have been working on this week.
California's Sonny Dykes
Looking ahead to this weekend’s game against San Diego State, California coach Sonny Dykes has his eye on the Aztecs’ defense, which he calls “very unique,” in that they’re fast, aggressive and always moving. “It’s very difficult to play against,” says Dykes.
The good news is that Dykes says this week has been especially productive for the Golden Bears and to expect to see notable improvement between games one and two. The goal for the week was, "the same as it is every week: Get better as a football team.”
Also mentioned on the call was Cal alum and current Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Dykes has kept in contact with Goff and that the former Golden Bear is right where he thought he would be at this point in his career. Dykes reports that the Rams are happy with Goff and that “they’ll be smart with him.”
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