Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: Pac-12 coaches discuss targeting and the remaining weeks' playoff feel

Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports

The Pac-12 coaches talk targeting, Khalil Tate (again) and the playoff atmosphere as Week 10 approaches.

Arizona

Arizona's Rich Rodriguez

Khalil Tate won the Pac-12 offensive player of the week award for a fourth straight week, giving Tate the distinct honor of being the only one in conference history to accomplish that feat.

Rich Rodriguez was, again, asked about his dynamic quarterback and, like Tate, tried to spread the credit to the other limbs of this team: the wide receivers, the young defenders "playing more maturely."

There's no denying that Tate has been an essential spark, though.

"He's acting, when he's out there, that he has more experience than he does," Rodriguez said. "We know there's more he can get better at and so does he and that's the pleasing a part of it."

The 'Cats are headed to USC in prime position to take control of the Pac-12 South, and Rodriguez knows the team is mentally prepared.

"The way the guys have approached everything has been consistent since the beginning of camp," he said "Here we are playing a relevant game with first place on line in the Pac-12 South. They know the challenge, going into the Coliseum playing one of the more talented teams in the country."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Rich Rodriguez's full session]

Oregon State

Oregon State's Cory Hall

The Beavers haven't won a conference game, but they're playing like winners under Cory Hall. They'll try for a win against a strong Cal team looking to get back on track in Berkeley.

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Cory Hall's full session]

Washington State

Washington State's Mike Leach

The Cougs welcome Stanford to the Palouse this week.

"They're always going to have a good running back and their offensive line is big and powerful," Mike Leach said. "On defense its their D-line."

With that out of the way, Leach provided his take on the targeting rule, one that's had many players on multiple Pac-12 teams ejected in key moments.

"I think it's a horrible rule and they need to get rid of it," he said. "I think it has good intentions behind it but its hard to judge, hard to fairly enforce.

 "I don't see many people deliberately targeting," he added. "I see some accidents, I see some incidents of targeting where it should be called, sometimes it should be called ad it isn't and they call it and they shouldn't be. I think its just way too much guess work with it. I don't see a lot of people deliberately targeting people."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Mike Leach's full session]

UCLA

UCLA's Jim Mora

The Bruins and Utes meet in Salt Lake City in the midst of rough stretches. The Utes are losers of four straight and UCLA is licking their wounds following an offensive beat down in Washington against the Huskies. 

"We're kind of wounded as well, so we're birds of a a feather in that respect," Jim Mora said. "It's always tough to go to Rice Eccles and play in that environment. You know they're a tough, physical, well-coached team in all three phases. They had a lot of success against us last year running the ball."

Mora also had some thoughts on the targeting rule.

"My opinion is that we have a responsibility for player safety and that has to be paramount, but we also have responsibly about integrity of this game, which is a physical sport," he said. "We can balance those two with some minor tweaks to the targeting rule. I say we err on the side of protecting the player. I think a penalty for a non flagrant targeting, a simple helmet to helmet play, needs to be adjusted. I'm not saying they take the foul out of the game, but maybe the penalty isn't an ejection."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Jim Mora's full session]

Arizona State

Arizona State's Todd Graham

Todd Graham also weighed in on the targeting rule, with a slightly different take than his peers:

"They've gotten ours right, in our game, when we had our first. But here's what I'll tell you: I've had two targeting calls on our team in five years...I'm for protecting players, it's a physical game, and very tough game, so I'm for protecting the players and I think we have to take the head out of tackling."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Todd Graham's full session]

Stanford

Stanford's David Shaw

The Bryce Love-less Cardinal came away with a close W in Corvallis. Down at halftime, David Shaw pushed his team to just work toward results.

"Tough to win in someone else's house. You have the crowd against you and possible elements, he said. "Defensively we got stops, defensively we got the ball back. When we had to make plays to win the game we made plays to win the game."

Bryce Love's absence exposed a gaping hole in the Card's offensive production. The backs filling in had trouble replicating Love's production.

"We do have talented backs, we do believe they can play better than they did, but thats been Bryce all year...he can turn a six yard gain into a touchdown and we missed that part of our offense."

Speaking of, Love is game-time decision in Stanford's upcoming game against Washington State. He's not practicing today.

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of David Shaw's full session]

USC

USC's Clay Helton

The Trojans are currently in first place in the Pac-12 South, but they're trekking through a playoff-like gauntlet to secure their spot at the top.

USC got the best of a hot Arizona State team and now must face the Khalil Tate-led Wildcats, a win will be essential to maintaining the driver's seat before the rope runs out.

One big key to success will be to limit Tate, said Helton. "Not to reveal my game plan...You can't stop him, but you can limit him."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Clay Helton's full session]

Oregon

Oregon's Willie Taggart

The Ducks will face the Huskies this weekend looking to build off a strong win over Utah. No word on if Justin Herbert will be taking snaps.

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Willie Taggart's full session]

Utah

Utah's Kyle Whittingham

The Utes are losers of four straight, most recently in a lopsided one to Oregon -- an unexpected turn following a 4-0 start that had these Utes ranked. What's gone wrong?

"We're missing that edge," coach Kyle Whittingham said. "Ultimately it's up to the guys to really take that to heart. Theres such a fine line between winning and losing. Some weeks it's not that fine but if you don't have that exact edge, swag, mojo...no one's not playing hard, we just have to get back to the mentality we had in the beginning of the season and that seems to be missing the past few weeks.

"At times we're in reactionary mode instead of attack mode and we need to get back to attack mode."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Kyle Whittingham's full session]

Colorado

Colorado's Mike MacIntyre

The Buffs are coming off a nice win against Cal and looking to keep their groove in this week's matchup with Arizona State. A lot went right against Cal, but Mike MacIntyre has some things for his team to work on.

"In secondary there we flustered a couple coverage situations we shouldn't have that let, they were a couple long drives that we shouldn't have given up."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Mike MacIntyre's full session]

Washington

Washington's Chris Petersen

The Huskies are playing catch up to a Stanford team that's won five straight games.

This week they'll get a shot at win No. 8 against Oregon at Husky Stadium. Coach Chris Petersen had some kind words to say about the Ducks' running back Royce Freeman.

"Heck of a player, without question, stating the obvious," he said. "He's one of those guys that's so powerful and compact but with good speed...He's a unique guy, he's a heck of a player and one of the better backs in the country no question."

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Chris Petersen's full session]

California

Cal's Justin Wilcox

The Bears took a tough loss to Colorado in Boulder. They'll get a crack at a fifth win against an ignited Cory Hall-led Oregon State team that put Stanford to the test.

[Right click and "Save Link As" to download audio of Justin Wilcox's full session]

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