Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: 'Any given Saturday' has become this season's theme
Oregon State's Gary Andersen talks about the Beavs ending their conference win dry spell, Stanford's David Shaw praises Washington State despite being upset by the Cougs last weekend, and Sonny Dykes welcomed another baby to his family.
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
The Beavers secured their first conference win since 2014 on Saturday against Cal, and head coach Gary Andersen could not be happier for his team. “It’s been a long time coming for these men.”
When asked what it was on Saturday that led to Oregon State’s win, Andersen kept the answer simple: “The coaches put a good plan in place for the young men to handle it.”
On top of effective coaching plans, Andersen credits much of the Beavs’ recent growth to the maturity of junior quarterback Darell Garretson, who transferred from Utah State. “He’s played in big games,” says Andersen. “He’s a solid leader on the field and off the field.”
Andersen is letting his Beavs have their moment, but is also keeping them grounded. “It’s just one game — it’s not like we’re jumping into a bowl game,” he says. “On the football field we’ve got a long way to go and we talk about it every day."
California's Sonny Dykes
California’s bye week came at just the right time for head coach Sonny Dykes, as he just welcomed a new baby to his family. In addition to spending time with his wife Kate and their newborn, Dykes is going to focus on finishing games. “We’ve played five games now where it’s come down to the last several minutes of the ball game,” says Dykes. “We’ve got to finish these games better than we are.”
Dykes considers closing out games to be vital in a conference where “everyone is capable of beating everybody else.”
“That’s what makes this league unique,” says Dykes. “That doesn’t happen in the SEC or any other league. Anybody can beat anybody and you see that every week.”
Injury watch: Both Davis Webb and Chad Hansen suffered injuries against Oregon State. Quarterback Webb’s left hand is injured and Dykes confirmed Hansen’s ankle is sprained. “Both of them aren’t going to do a whole lot in the beginning of this week.” Dykes says he will reevaluate the two players’ health later this week.
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre knows that for his Buffs to win this Saturday against Arizona State, they’re going to need to do exactly what they couldn’t against USC: get in a rhythm. MacIntyre knows this will be tough offensively given how much the Sun Devils like to blitz.
“They blitz when they’re getting off the bus,” laughs MacIntyre. “We understand that we’ll have a few negative plays, but we’ll keep running and can’t get discouraged.”
There has been plenty of talk of the Buffs’ roster, which is made up primarily of juniors and seniors who have stuck with the program for their entire collegiate career. MacIntyre reminisced on the recruitment process of many of those players, something he said wasn’t easy.
“When they came, our program was not really respected,” says MacIntyre. “They had to see my passion and believe in what I was telling them and believe in me. There’s a great bond between coach and player."
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
Despite being one of the two Pac-12 teams ranked in this week’s AP Top 25 poll, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham says he and his team aren’t taking anything for granted when they play Oregon State, a team that just had its first conference win since 2014.
“Our guys understand exactly what this conference is all about,” says Whittingham. “Anybody can beat anybody else on any given Saturday.”
What caught Whittingham’s eye in the Beavers' win over Cal this past weekend? Oregon State fullback Ryan Nall. “His physicality,” says Whittingham. “He’s just a sledgehammer."
Stanford's David Shaw
Stanford head coach offered one word to explain Stanford’s recent losses and fall out of the AP poll: Inconsistency. “We didn’t run the ball with any efficiency…and threw the ball okay, but if you play against a good football team that doesn't make mistakes and you make mistakes, it’s going to be hard to win,” says Shaw.
Shaw knows that smoothing out those inconsistencies will be key for this weekend’s game against Notre Dame. “They’re not going to back down against us. It’ll be strength against strength."
Even though the Cardinal suffered a 42-16 loss to the Cougars this past weekend, Shaw had nothing but praise for Washington State. “Last year, he [Luke Falk] got overshadowed by other names in the conference and other names in the nation,” says Shaw. “Mike Leach also didn’t get the credit nationally he deserved. He should’ve been up for the national coach of the year.”
When it comes to Stanford star running back Christian McCaffrey, who suffered an injury in the second half against Washington State, the update is there is no update. “He’s pretty banged up,” says Shaw. “We won’t have an idea until Friday or game day [if McCaffrey will play]."
Washington State's Mike Leach
Coming off a rough start to the year, Washington State head coach Mike Leach has seen his team’s season turn around after consecutive conference wins against Oregon and then-ranked Stanford. “A lot of other teams are better than people thought,” says Leach. “There’s not that margin that some people expected.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s matchup against UCLA, Leach seems unphased by the uncertainty of UCLA’s quarterback, Josh Rosen, who suffered injuries last week against Arizona State. “Whether he’s there or not, someone’s going to be there and they’re going to run the same stuff,” says Leach.
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Arizona has suffered a hard start to conference play, losing its first three Pac-12 games. However, head coach Rich Rodriguez is maintaining a positive attitude for his coaching staff and players. “Every week is an opportunity…there’s still a lot of things we want to accomplish,” says Rodriguez. “It’s not like we lost a few games and we aren’t going to make playoffs and the season’s over. We still like to be competitive.”
When it comes to this weekend’s game against USC, a lot of the Wildcats are taking it a little more personally. On top of a lot of Arizona’s players hailing from Southern California, Rodriguez says “most” of his players weren’t recruited by USC. “They play to prove themselves.”
Speaking of USC, Rodriguez has his eye on one Trojan in particular: Adoree’ Jackson. “If you give him the ball with room to run, you don’t have anyone to catch him."
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is well aware of the fan frustration surrounding his Ducks so far this season, who are 0-3 in conference play. “Nobody is more frustrated than the people inside this building,” says Helfrich.
When it comes to turning the season around, Helfrich reports that he and his staff, “absolutely have a plan in place both from a coaching standpoint and development standpoint.”
Helfrich is paying no mind to anything beyond this plan he has: “We’re concerned with right now, just like we’d be if we were 6-0."
UCLA's Jim Mora
UCLA head coach Jim Mora knows he has his work cut out for him this weekend against Washington State. “They’re rolling,” says Mora. “They’re one of the top offenses in the country, not just the Pac-12.”
For the Bruins to put up a fight against the Cougars’ offense, Mora says the focus will be on diverting the rhythm of the Cougs’ quarterback.
Mora has not disclosed any further information regarding quarterback Josh Rosen’s injuries, but says that, “if he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”
USC's Clay Helton
“It’s like every time I look up, we’re playing another great Pac-12 offense, and here we go again,” laughs USC head coach Clay Helton.
Helton reports that though his Trojans have been improving every week, they’re still an “unfinished product,” especially when it comes to playing on the road. All of the Trojans’ losses so far this season have happened when they play away, and they’re headed to Tucson this weekend.
Despite Arizona’s uncertainty of players given injuries, Helton says he isn’t prepping too many different game plans, as all the Wildcats’ quarterbacks are “very similar.” One quarterback he has his eye on for this weekend’s game is Khalil Tate, a player he says is “like having a running back at quarterback.”
On the flip side, Helton knows that a lot of eyes are on the Trojans’ Adoree’ Jackson as well. “We’ve found people have been trying to kick away from him,” says Helton. Why? “Anytime he touches the ball on kickoff return or punt return, I hold my breath because he goes like he’s going to score."
Arizona State's Todd Graham
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham credits his Sun Devils’ success this season to all the little things. “It’s the heart and the value…that creates that consistency,” says Graham. “It has a lot to do with the culture we’ve developed and lots of little things.”
“When you’ve fallen short, it makes you hungrier and it makes you disciplined. Teams will themselves to win, [but] it’s not that night. It’s over a body of work."
Washington's Chris Petersen
Washington has a bye week this week, but head coach Chris Petersen isn’t worried about it affecting his Huskies’ momentum. “We’ve seen it on our schedule for a long time, so we’ve already had our plans for what we want to do with it,” he says.
There was a lot of talk, naturally, on sophomore quarterback Jake Browning, who has entered the Heisman conversation. Petersen reflects on Browning’s recruitment process and said he’s always been a “unique” player from the start, flying just outside of the recruitment radar and not wanting to participate in recruitment camps in high school. “He doesn’t get too high and he doesn’t get too low,” says Petersen. “He isn’t in this for the headlines."