Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: UCLA readies itself for Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey is a hot topic, Mark Helfrich believes in his Ducks despite losing big names to injuries, and Washington is still paying no mind to the rankings in this week's Pac-12 football coaches teleconference call.
UCLA's Jim Mora
UCLA head coach Jim Mora knows the challenge that’s ahead of the Bruins this weekend as they take on Stanford on Saturday: “He [Christian McCaffrey] is the best college football player in the country…You can’t find something that he doesn’t do well.”
Mora says the Bruins’ approach will be simple: Take care of the football. He knows that yards will be hard to come by, “but when we have an opportunity we have to capitalize.”
Despite the focus on this weekend, Mora is careful to not overly emphasize any one game to his team. “When you put an emphasis on particular games, you become inconsistent,” says Mora, “and we’re trying to become a consistently consistent team."
Stanford's David Shaw
Stanford head coach David Shaw recognizes that Christian McCaffrey has been doing what Christian McCaffrey does best so far this season: basically everything. “You’d say he’s the best at 'dot dot dot',” laughs Shaw before listing all the areas McCaffrey makes an impact on the field.
Shaw, however knows not to rely solely on McCaffrey as the Card face UCLA this weekend. “[UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen] is definitely one of the best passers in America still.”
When asked about Stanford’s dominant play this early in the season, Shaw had just one thing to say: “We don’t make statements. We just try to win."
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
Sefo Watch is in full effect as the Colorado Buffaloes prepare for their first conference matchup of the season against Oregon this Saturday. Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre reported that quarterback Sefo Liufau, who left this weekend's game in the third quarter due to injury, “was in full pads today in practice and moving around better.” MacIntyre says at this point, Liufau’s status is day to day.
When it comes to the Ducks this weekend, MacIntyre has done his homework and has his eyes on Oregon’s Charles Nelson, Darren Carrington and Dwayne Stanford. “They’re still playing fast and they’ve still got fast receivers.”
Overall, the Buffs are excited to kick off conference play. “It’s too hard to derive anything [from non conference play],” says MacIntyre. “When we get in there, it’s a whole different world. There’s a different intensity."
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
Revenge is on the Utes' minds as they prepare to take on USC this Friday. The Utes were 6-0 when they played the Trojans in 2015, before USC “took away that momentum,” as Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham says, with the 42-24 loss the Utes suffered.
Something Utah is keeping in mind is USC’s freshman quarterback Sam Darnold, who only has 52 snaps on record for his college career and doesn’t give the Utes a lot to go on. Luckily for Whittingham, he recruited Darnold out of high school. “We know a lot about him,” says Whittingham.
“They’ve got a lot of speed, a lot of size and a lot of athleticism,” says Whittingham, “but we feel we’re on a more level playing field than we’ve been in the past six years."
Washington State's Mike Leach
The Cougars have a bye week this week, giving them an opportunity to regroup after an “up and down” start.
Head coach Mike Leach calls his team a “work in progress,” but has said that they’ve been getting better as the weeks go on, especially when it comes to quarterback Luke Falk. “His awareness overall is better,” says Leach. “He’s been steady."
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Playing a top-ten ranked team should be daunting for anyone, but Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez feels confident in his Wildcats. “It’s a great opportunity, and my guys understand how good Washington is,” he says. “We’re capable of playing better than we have the last three games.”
There has been plenty of talk nationally about Washington’s defense, but Rodriguez doesn’t see anything “overly different” compared to the rest of the teams they’ll play in the conference. The main advantage Washington has defensively that Rodriguez is focusing on? Athleticism. “They’re got a few big guys who can run well and they’re extremely athletic on the back end.”
California's Sonny Dykes
Despite upsetting the number 11 team in country, the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when mentioning Cal football is the fumble against Texas. “Our goal is to will the ballgame, and we made it a little more interesting than it needed to be,” says head coach Sonny Dykes. “We won’t make that mistake again.”
The star of the night coming out of Berkeley was Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Chad Hansen, who completed 12 catches for 196 yards and scored two touchdowns. According to Dykes, the secret to Hansen’s (who was a non-recruit) success is consistency.
“If your quarterback trusts you and believes in you to be in a certain place at a certain time, he’s more apt to throw you the ball,” says Dykes. “They’re on the same page right now and have developed a bit a of a connection.”
That connection will be needed as the Golden Bears take on undefeated Arizona State this weekend in the first conference matchup of the season for both teams.
USC's Clay Helton
USC head coach Clay Helton isn’t letting the Trojans’ 1-2 start to the season (their first in 15 years) phase him. “We knew this would be a great opportunity to play some really quality teams,” says Helton.
The Trojans have another opportunity to play a quality team this weekend as they take on Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday. “When you walk in that stadium [Rice-Eccles], with those fans, and Kyle Whittingham, you know you’re in for a fight,” says Helton. “You have to be mentally tough.”
Helton is confident that his Trojans are ready for that “electric” environment, however, as he reports that the team has maintained a mentality that every game should be treated as a championship game. “Our goal is always to win the Pac-12,” says Helton “How do we start? In the Pac-12 South."
Arizona State's Todd Graham
Arizona State’s head coach Todd Graham had one thing to say about this weekend’s matchup against Cal: “Coach Dykes understands about running the football. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Sun Devils have had some challenging games thus far in the season, with playing powerhouse Texas Tech and getting a close win against UTSA. “We’re probably not going to be looking too good in passing yards after this week,” says Graham, “but as long as we’re 4-0 that’s all I care about."
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
Despite Oregon’s loss of big names Devon Allen and Tyrell Crosby for the season due to injury, as well as Royce Freeman’s shaky status for this weekend’s Colorado game, head coach Mark Helfrich stays optimistic in his Ducks.
“Taj Griffin has been physical in his blocking game and protection game, which was something we were looking for in his development,” says Helfrich.
According to Helfrich, the Ducks had a fire lit under their tails after their three-point loss to Nebraska last weekend. “We’re not approaching this game any differently,” he says. “After getting beat, our response has been good in the sense of urgency and attention to detail."
Washington's Chris Petersen
Since the preseason, Washington has been ranked. Also since the preseason, Washington head coach Chris Petersen has paid no mind to the rankings. “Midseason rankings mean nothing. Our guys are focused.”
The Huskies will take that focus on the road this weekend as they face Arizona in their first conference matchup of the season. Washington has won all three non conference games this season decisively, with the closest margin of victory being 35 points against Rutgers, but knows that conference play is a different ballgame.
“When you play in the Pac-12, you know that most games are going to come down to the 4th quarter and are going to be tight,” says Petersen.”Our guys have played enough that they know what to do. We’re ready to deal with it sooner rather than later."
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
The Beavers are coming off their first win of the season, a 37-7 triump over Idaho State in Corvallis. Coach Andersen explained that while a win like that is important for a program that's rebuilding, there's still plenty to look at on the tape to improve upon.
Anderson went on to talk about starting quarterback Darell Garretson and what he's shown so far this young season.
"He's done a great job with some leadership," said Andersen of Garretson guiding the Beavers. "We've gone through some obviously hard times and we're in the middle of a big boy fight. We're in the hard part of a fight. He's stayed stable and he's stayed consistent."