Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: On star players' maturity and leadership

Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 coaches discuss players' maturity, Willie Taggart tells the story of how he got Royce Freeman back and more from this week's Pac-12 Coaches Teleconference.

USC

USC's Clay Helton

Clay Helton and the Trojans will play Colorado in Boulder this weekend.

The Trojans look to be back in their groove following a statement win over a soaring Arizona team. Helton credits his calm, cool quarterback.

"Last five games have been who he is. He's had 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in those last games," he said. "I take that last game versus Arizona where two backs touched the ball 45 times and Sam throws 26 throws but he goes 77 percent on throws, that's a mark of a quarterback that is making good decisions, taking what the defense gives him and being highly accurate on the field.

"In the last 19 games, we're like 17-2 and he's a huge factor in that, he's the reason we're so successful."

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

Washington

Washington's Chris Petersen

Dante Pettis ran back his ninth career punt for a touchdown, breaking Wes Welker's NCAA record.

The senior has had a slow and steady ascent as a leader and top receiver on this successful Husky team under Petersen. According to his coach, he never considered an early departure to the NFL.

"He never came to us. That wouldn't have been a good move for him at all. Dante has become a better football player, and everyone is in such a hurry to get there and make the money, we understand that, but it's about maturing as a player to help you do that for a long time."

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

Utah

Utah's Kyle Whittingham

The Utes will face Washington State this week as they look to build off their win against UCLA. Kyle Whittingham had nice things to say about Alex Grinch's defense.

"He's done a fantastic job, coach Leach always is going to have a terrific offense," he said "The difference this year and building last few years is the way they've played defense.

"They are outstanding as far as pursuit, the front moves and slams on just about every snap and they drive on penetration."

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

UCLA

UCLA's Jim Mora

The Bruins went without Josh Rosen in an eventual loss to Utah this past weekend.

Rosen apparently felt concussion symptoms as their game against the Huskies progressed, but he has been through the protocol and was cleared to play yesterday.

The bigger issue in Westwood looks to be on rush defense, where they rank last in the Pac-12 -- they average 303 rushing yards per game.

Jim Mora says the struggle stems from some key injuries, forcing younger defenders to learn quickly against a tough conference. They'll be challenged by some of the better backs in the league when ASU, Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard come to town.

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

Stanford

Stanford's David Shaw

The Card is looking to bounce back from a tough loss to Washington State in snowy Pullman.

They'll get the second half of a double whammy when the Huskies touch down in Stanford. What makes Chris Petersen's teams so dominant, according to David Shaw?

"What doesn't get talked about enough is defensively, they're big, they're physical, they're athletic," he said. "Offensively, Chris has always done a great job offensively everywhere he's gone...if you don't play well they'll beat you."

Shaw's keys to topping the Huskies are having a healthier Bryce Love and to be more efficient on third down.

"It would help if a couple of those guys on defense wouldn't get on the plane."

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

Washington State

Washington State's Mike Leach

The Cougs are in a tight spot in the Pac-12 North, sandwiched now between Stanford--who they narrowly beat last week--and the Huskies.

Mike Leach and Co. will try to climb the ladder and keep pace with a tough matchup against Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The biggest challenge this week will be battling the Utes' physicality, said Mike Leach.

"They're always real physical on offensive and defensive lines, battling those big guys at Utah is the toughest part."

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

Arizona State

Arizona State's Todd Graham

The Sun Devils are coming off a wild win against Colorado and now head to Westwood.

The Devils are still in position to play spoiler in the South, should they continue their winning ways.

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

Colorado

Colorado's Mike MacIntyre

The Buffs would like to go to a second consecutive bowl for the first time in years, but this week the Trojans roll into Boulder to complicate things.

Before the game, though, the Buffs will celebrate a group of seniors that were there when Colorado wasn't even a whisper in bowl discussions.

"This group of young men has meant a tremendous amount as a program, they've seen us go from not being competitive at all to being competitive all the time."

Senior Phillip Lindsay has been key in molding the Buffs into a competitive team during his tenure, and now it's becoming real that we are seeing some his final games as a Buff. He's made his mark, though. MacIntyre said Lindsay is a near lock to win a yearly award given out by Buffs fans

"Lindsay leaves so much, he's a legend, so to speak," MacIntyre said. "He'll always be in the record books and he'll carry the records for a long time.

They'll get broken but they'll be in there. "If there's a person that epitomizes the award it's Phillip Lindsay. Haven't gotten the results yet but I'm pretty sure he'll win it."

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

California

California's Justin Wilcox

The Golden Bears are headed into a bye week following a win, their fifth of the year, against Oregon State.

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

Oregon State

Oregon State's Cory Hall

Cory Hall has been at the helm for a month now, and he said his team is feeling good.

"United, still united. You can tell that everyone involved is still invested, heavily invested. Working hard and still enjoying football." Oregon State plays a tough Arizona team this weekend.

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

Oregon

Oregon's Willie Taggart

Willie Taggart has been asked a few times how he got Royce Freeman to return to the Ducks.

He went into a little more detail this time around, explaining that he was in Southern California and decided he couldn't leave without paying Freeman a visit at home.

He stopped by Freeman's home, met his mother and siblings and Freeman walked Taggart out to his car afterward. That's when he told him he'd come back to Oregon.

"I screamed like a cheerleader, like 'yeaaaaaahh'"

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

Arizona

Arizona's Rich Rodriguez

The 'Cats lost a tough one to the Trojans, tying it up in the second half only to turn the ball over twice in what would be two decisive possessions.

"We made enough mistakes to last a couple games in all three phases," RichRod said. "I was proud of how the team came back in the second half. But they made more plays in the fourth quarter and deserved the victory."

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

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