Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: No. 10 Washington preps to host No. 7 Stanford in Friday night showdown
Two of the top-ten teams in the nation are getting ready for a showdown Friday night under the lights, while the Colorado Buffaloes attempt to keep riding the wave of success they've had so far this season and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham plays for his 100th career win on Saturday.
Washington's Chris Petersen
Washington head coach Chris Petersen knows that a win Friday night against No. 7 Stanford won’t come easily. Aside from Christian McCaffrey, Petersen says the Card’s overall style is hard to replicate and play against. “Nobody really plays that style [of defense] anymore and they’re really good at it."
The Huskies have taken this admiration and turned it into preparedness. Petersen says Jake Browning has been fitting the typical, "film-obsessed” quarterback mold and that there’s “a lot less uncertainty” on the field.
Despite still being ranked in the top 10, Petersen says he isn’t one to “sit back and feel proud.” Rather, he’s seen seasons take “a lot of twists and turns” and understands the importance of rolling with the punches to navigate them.
Stanford's David Shaw
Christian McCaffrey might have barely touched the ball against UCLA on Saturday, which left Stanford head coach David Shaw feeling even more confident in his Cardinal as they head into Friday night’s top-10 matchup against Washington.
“It was big to know that everyone can always step up and make plays,” says Shaw.
Looking ahead to the game against the Huskies, Shaw has his mind on one thing: speed. “John Ross is so fast and so explosive; he’s one of the fastest guys in college football,” says Shaw. “They’ve got fast guys and a good quarterback who makes you pay if you’re off your position."
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
Focus has been, and will continue to be key for the Colorado Buffaloes, says head coach Mike MacIntyre. “We just need to take care of ourselves,” says MacIntyre. “Our kids have truly bought into that.”
A major help to instilling that mindset has been the large amount of upperclassmen Colorado has on the team. “We’ve retained our players,” says MacIntyre. “In today’s world where everyone’s transferring and looking for an easy fix, that says a lot.”
A couple players the Buffs are looking to keep around and develop further are Bryce Bobo and Steven Montez, who had standout games against Oregon this past week. MacIntyre says Bobo has made one-handed catches similar to Saturday’s game winner before, most recently in the Buffs’ season opener against Colorado State.
Meanwhile, Montez had one of the strongest debuts by a Colorado quarterback ever to earn him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. MacIntyre says that even with such a strong performance, Montez was actually “huffing and puffing" in the game against Oregon, but that he’ll be in better shape for the Buffs’ home game against Oregon State this weekend.
“We’re rising from the ashes,” says MacIntyre.
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
The Utes had to make a change in strategy for the season after starting running back Joe Williams announced his retirement in September. Head coach Kyle Whittingham, who will play for his 100th career win against Cal on Saturday, admits that it has been somewhat of a struggle. However, the rest of the team’s chemistry has only continued to build since then, especially between quarterback Troy Williams and wide receiver Tim Patrick.
“They did a lot of their own work in the summer,” says Whittingham. “It’s a great weapon for us.”
When asked about the recent initiatives being taken by football teams to make a statement about social issues, Whittingham had a simple answer: “It’s a free country. If you have a desire to express yourself in a way that’s not detrimental to the team, you’re free to do that."
Washington State's Mike Leach
Despite Washington State’s big win over Idaho, the focus is still largely on the Cougars’ slow start to the season. “He's been striking the ball pretty good. I was surprised he missed them as well,” says head coach Mike Leach when asked about the Cougs' Erik Powell missing the first three field goals of the season. "He's just got to hit his stride."
When asked about the recent WSU verbal recruits who have retracted their verbal agreement to reopen their recruitment, Leach was unphased: “It constantly shifts all the time. Sometimes recruiting develops into a social event and some of these guys just want attention."
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez took the Wildcats’ tight loss to No. 10 Washington this past weekend in stride: “There’s no question we played well against them. They were just better.”
On top of the loss, running back J.J. Taylor suffered an ankle injury that will leave him on the sideline for the remainder of the season. “It was really disheartening,” says Rodriguez, “but it happened so we’ve got to adapt. We’ve got a lot of guys on the team; we’ll figure something out."
California's Sonny Dykes
Last year, Utah forced six turnovers from Cal during the teams’ midseason matchup. California head coach Sonny Dykes hasn’t forgotten this, and isn’t planning on letting it happen again this weekend.
“Anytime you turn the ball over six times it’s going to be hard to win a football game,” says Dykes.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game against the Utes, Dykes has been looking for any holes in the well-rounded team’s armor, which has proved to not be an easy task. “They’re playing well and making big plays,” says Dykes. “They’ve got size and speed and play physical. Kyle is a good coach."
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich knows that there’s more to work on beyond the quarterback to fix the Ducks’ rough start to the season.
Despite the talk surrounding Ducks quarterback Dakota Prukop’s interception that sealed the loss to the Buffs, Helfirch cites multiple “touchdown type” plays that were missed opportunities and left the Ducks kicking themselves.
When asked about Helfrich’s initial decision to put Prukop at quarterback, Helfrich says it was Prukop’s work ethic that sold him. He elaborated that the graduate transfer tries to win on every play, and doesn’t make a play just to complete it.
UCLA's Jim Mora
UCLA head coach Jim Mora is keeping all his Bruins’ heads on straight looking ahead to this weekend’s game against Arizona. “Every game is its own entity,” says Mora. “We don’t think that past success predicts future success.”
Part of the Bruins’ hopeful success this weekend will come from quarterback Josh Rosen, who Mora says is steadily improving. “He’s getting better and better every single day just like we are as a team,” says Mora. “The numbers aren’t staggering, but he’s moving in the right direction.”
Following this, Mora had a laundry list of what it is that Rosen has been doing right and what he continues to improve on, encompassing everything from reading progressions to not taking a lot of sacks.
USC's Clay Helton
USC head coach Clay Helton spoke on the importance of the overall experience for collegiate football players when they come to USC: “These kids only get one opportunity and one college experience, so you have to do everything you can to make it a great one.”
When asked about fourth down situations, Helton made it clear that the Trojans’ approach is typically aggressive. “Typically being an offensive guy, I like to be aggressive and go for it,” says Helton. “You go for it if you’re down.”
Arizona State's Todd Graham
Given the Sun Devils’ close win against Cal this past weekend, it should come as no surprise that tight finishes were on head coach Todd Graham’s mind.
“The difference between winning and losing is so small in this league,” says Graham. “We were able to win the close games so far and that’s what matters, but you have to understand that anyone can come out and beat you any given Saturday.”
To keep that from happening to them this Saturday when they take on USC, Graham says the Sun Devils focus will be to “stop running backs first and control wide outs…they’ve got a lot of talent."
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen cites many similarities between himself and Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre, which is why he is so proud of how far the Buffs have come as a program. “It’s the most gratifying thing in football to flip a program,” says Andersen. “They’re playing football like they haven’t played in years.”
Heading into this weekend’s game against the Buffs, Andersen says he has nothing but “tremendous respect” for the Colorado players and coaches his Beavs will play against.
“Bottomline, his kids stuck to the plan,” says Andersen. “It’s awesome to see it happen."