Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: Will the Ducks' winning streak against the Huskies come to an end?
The Ducks and Huskies talk rivalry as the teams' 109th meeting approaches and No. 5 Washington has a chance to end Oregon's 12-game winning streak. Colorado is in the AP top 25 for the first time since 2005, but the Buffs are still hungry, and Arizona State head coach Todd Graham reminisces on recruiting Zane Gonzalez, who broke the Pac-12 career field record this past weekend.
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
The Ducks are on a three-game losing streak and head coach Mark Helfrich is trying to figure out how to fix it. “The coaching staff, we’re all trying to find ways to get everyone to find ways to execute,” says Helfrich. “We played well enough at times sporadically, but not well enough to overcome.”
This weekend would be an ideal time for Oregon to figure out how to turn things around as the Ducks haven’t lost to the Washington Huskies in 12 years. What is Oregon going to focus on to make sure that streak doesn’t end? Washington’s quarterback and defense.
Helfrich says Browning plays at an “extremely high level” and utilizes Washington’s skill players. Defensively, Helfirch has his eyes on three players in particular: “Numbers 99, 11 and 5 — a lot. Those guys make the defense go,” says Helfrich (That’s Greg Gaines, Elijah Qualls and Joe Mathis for the Huskies).
“We know what this rivalry means,” says Helfrich.
Washington's Chris Petersen
“I never know how these games will go,” says Washington head coach Chris Petersen on this weekend’s rivalry matchup against Oregon.
Despite the Huskies’ hot start and the Ducks’ cold streak, Petersen isn’t planning on letting up: “It’s typical Oregon. They go fast, score points, and are all about creating space and letting their athletes go. They’re hard to tackle.”
The Huskies sit at No. 5 in the nation, the highest they’ve been on the AP poll since 2000. “We don’t even think, ‘Oh, now we’re the hunted,’” says Petersen. “It’s all about playing to the standard we’ve created for ourselves.
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
Things have certainly been bright in Boulder. The Buffs jumped into the AP top 25 for the first time since 2005, something head coach Mike MacIntyre has long awaited.
“When you win it makes everything a bit brighter,” says MacIntyre. “It’s a tough, tough sport and a time consuming profession, so you want to see results.”
Looking ahead to this weekend at USC, success hasn’t removed the Buffs’ blinders. “It’s good to get the recognition because we earned it, but it means nothing when you line up to play Saturday."
Sefo Watch: MacIntyre reports that both quarterbacks have been playing well and completing more than 77% of their passes. This week, it’s all about “going through the process” with Sefo Liufau to see how his ankle will hold up.
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
When it comes to taking on Arizona this coming weekend, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has his mind on doing one thing: “Our first and foremost objective is to slow down the run game.”
The last time the Utes defeated the Wildcats was in 2011. “They’ve played very well against us and we haven’t had an answer for it,” says Whittingham.
In regards to a close loss to the Cal Golden Bears this past weekend, Whittingham said his team has been bouncing back. “There’s a lot of good football ahead of us. You’ve got to rebound like 50% of the rest in the teams in the country do."
Stanford's David Shaw
Speaking of bouncing back, that has been the focus of the Stanford Cardinal after a tough loss to the Washington Huskies last week. Head coach David Shaw had one thing to say about what his Card need to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again: “We have to play better. Pretty much everything we didn’t do last week, we have to do this week if we want to win games.”
One of those things Stanford will focus on against Washington State this weekend is stopping the Cougars’ run game and keeping a close eye on their passing attack, which Shaw describes as “tough to stop."
Washington State's Mike Leach
Washington State head coach Mike Leach knows that one good win doesn’t guarantee a season. “We have to stay focused. We don’t have time to be complacent on anything.”
In terms of the Cougars’ starting kicker Eric Powell, Leach is still confident in his abilities, but says the position is “definitely open."
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Arizona has beat Utah for the past four years, but the Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t pay that any mind: “Every year is a new year and we don’t really look at what we’ve done in the past.”
While Rodriguez doesn’t rely on past successes to determine the future, he does recognize what it is that has secured those past wins: defense. Rodriguez credits the multiple turnovers his defense has caused against Utah as the main key for beating them in the past.
Speaking of defense, Rodriguez knows that his Wildcats won’t have an easy time against the Utes. “[They’re] big and physical and very fast and active off the edges,” says Rodriguez. “They’re always been good upfront. It’s been a staple of Kyle’s team.”
Rodriguez also spoke on the high-school-level talent present in California, particularly in the southern region, and what it means for the Pac-12. While California recruits certainly continue playing collegiately on the East Coast and between, Rodriguez has noticed an increase in talented California high school players choosing to stay on the west coast for their collegiate career. “That’s why the Pac-12 has gotten stronger each year."
California's Sonny Dykes
It’s no secret that building a program isn’t easy, and it’s something California head coach Sonny Dykes has been working at tirelessly. “Coaching is coaching, but every program has different strengths and different weaknesses. It’s a process,” says Dykes.
If the Golden Bears’ win against Utah this pas week is any measure, it looks like Dykes’ hard work is paying off. Despite having the ball for only 18 minutes, compared to Utah’s 42 minutes, and just four possessions in the second half, the Golden Bears pulled out a W. "They took it to another extreme and I’ve got to give Kyle credit. We were fortunate to make a couple plays that won the game. [It] puts pressure on you to score on those possessions.”
Chad Hansen is still a hot topic of conversation and is another example of a Golden Bear whose hard work has paid off at Cal. “He hasn’t changed a bit since he was a walk-on and nobody knew his name,” says Dykes. “He’s quiet, humble, never really says a word. He just shows up and works."
UCLA's Jim Mora
Last week while playing against Arizona, starting right tackle Kolton Miller left the game on crutches. UCLA head coach Jim Mora says he’s “hoping he’s ready to go soon. If he’s ready to go Saturday, we’ll play him.” When asked about whether a definitive diagnosis on Miller was made: “Not that I’m going to talk about.”
With the Bruins going up against the Sun Devils this weekend, there was naturally talk of ASU’s Zane Gonzalez, who is just three made field goals short of breaking the NCAA record. “It’s like he’s trying to make field goals in his kickoffs,” laughs Mora about Gonzalez’s accuracy. “I think we’ll be watching him for a long, long time."
USC's Clay Helton
The success of USC’s starting freshman quarterback Sam Darnold has been a hot topic of conversation. When head coach Clay Helton was asked about the decision to not start Darnold sooner, Helton answer was straightforward: “He did a tremendous job in August…but what we didn’t see in Sam was an actual physical game and how he’d react, but he’s very poised.”
This weekend, the Trojans host the Buffs, who have been climbing quickly up the ranks. Despite talks of Sefo Liufau’s possible return this week for Colorado, Helton says USC’s game plan won’t change. “Both of them [Liufau and Montez] are similar, which helps us, but both are playing at a high level,” says Helton. “Both are very similar, so our game plan won’t change with either quarterback."
Arizona State's Todd Graham
All talk surround Arizona State head coach Todd Graham and his Sun Devils was focused on kicker Zane Gonzalez, who broke the Pac-12 career record for field goals made last week. He now needs just three more to break the NCAA record.
Graham says that while breaking the record itself is impressive, what’s more impressive is how Gonzalez has developed in his four years as a starter for Arizona State. “As a freshman and sophomore he wasn’t able to kick it past the 5 to 10 yard line on kickoffs,” says Graham.
Graham also reminisced on recruiting Gonzalez, something that happened unusually late in the recruiting cycle. “You think about that you sign in April who’s going to be the best who’s ever played and it’s just incredible."
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
“Keep fighting” has been the motto for the 2016 Beavers. Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen said that hasn’t stopped with his team. “They understand where we sit and where we are. You never want to forget that.”
What keeps the Beavers going each week? Andersen says it’s the basics: “These kids like each other and they like football."