Pac-12 coaches teleconference: RichRod schools the chain gang

Read about Rich Rodriguez coaching up a member of the chain gang, Mark Helfrich’s first experience as a head coach at Autzen and Sonny Dykes’ thoughts on instituting an injury policy in the latest wrap-up of the weekly Pac-12 coaches conference call.

Washington State

Washington State's Mike Leach

  • Although the Cougs lost to Auburn 31-24, Leach was proud of the effort his guys put into the preparations of the game and the game itself. He thought his team played fast from the jump and “did a lot of good things.”
  • He thought quarterback Connor Halliday “played pretty well,” but noted he would like his signal caller to take better care of the football.
  • On his defensive backs: “I thought we lost contain on a run, but overall I thought they played decent. They’ve definitely improved.”


Washington's Steve Sarkisian

  • Sark was “pleased” with how well the offense played and was especially proud of Josh Perkins and Michael Hartvigson for stepping in for the suspended Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Perkins had an 18-yard touchdown reception that essentially put the game out of reach in Washington’s 38-6 victory over Boise State Saturday night.
  • The key to running a successful up-tempo offense? “Part of it is communication. You gotta communicate well and get lined up. I think conditioning is another real key to it -- I thought our guys were in great shape, especially in the second half when fatigue could start to set in, and then ultimately execution. I think those are the three main components to making it work.”
  • The coach said Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin played an instrumental role in getting him to think about running an up-tempo offense. Sumlin visited Sark a couple of years ago when Sumlin was still the head coach at Houston; Sarkisian opted to not pick up the pace back then because of depth issues, but Sumlin got him thinking about it.
  • On being No. 20 in the latest AP poll: “[Rankings] are the perception of your team, and that’s where people perceive where we are or how good we are… It’s nice and obviously flattering that people think we’re a really good football team, but we’ve got a lot of work to do still.”


Utah's Kyle Whittingham

  • On the play of QB Travis Wilson in the Utes’ 30-26 victory over Utah State last Thursday: “Travis was good; very good. We need that to continue if we’re going to be a competitive football team this year like we hope to be, then we need that production and that leadership from that position, and that’s something we haven’t had in a few years as far as continuity and consistency at QB.”
  • Whittingham thought his team wasn’t physical enough in the run game and wants to get that “squared away.”
  • The coach thinks it will be at least three to four weeks before being able to come to a decision on whether Brian Blechen will play this year. The linebacker is battling tendinitis in his knee.


USC's Lane Kiffin

  • Will the Trojans for sure play two quarterbacks Saturday against Washington State? “I don’t think anything is ever certain. We’ll go into the game and see what happens, see how the game plays out.”
  • Kiffin’s three primary things to take a step forward from the win over Hawai’i: 1) consistency in the passing game, 2) playing better on third down on offense and 3) finishing drives off in the red zone and not settling for field goals.
  • On his takeaways from Washington State’s game against Auburn: “I thought they played extremely well. They ran the ball better than they did the year before. The QB looked very comfortable; the offensive line looked much improved. They had a bunch of chances to win the game in a hard place to play versus a very athletic team. Their defense played extremely tough, so this is a very good team.”


Oregon's Mark Helfrich

  • How was Helfrich’s first experience as Oregon’s head coach at Autzen? Well, for starters, his perspective was different, as Helfrich hadn’t been on the sidelines for a game since 1996. He also had to adjust to dealing with penalties and other administrative stuff, but “all in all, game day as usual.”
  • He thought his guys got off to a great start as a team against Nicholls State but “let off the gas pedal a little bit” before the half.
  • His first impression of Virginia? The Cavaliers are “really good… They dominated BYU [defensively], which doesn’t happen very much.”


UCLA's Jim Mora

  • On the play of freshman linebacker Myles Jack (seven tackles, two pass break-ups against Nevada in UCLA’s 58-20 win): “Myles played very, very well. He’s just an explosive athlete who can do a lot of different things, and he put a lot of them on display on Saturday night.” He also added that Jack will return kicks and play some running back in the future.
  • Mora dished on his no-huddle philosophy a bit. “We don’t even know how to huddle,” the coach said. “We go fast.”
  • On having a bye week before traveling to Nebraska: “I like having this game with a week extra to prepare for. Had the Nebraska game been this Saturday, too much focus would have been on Nebraska instead of Nevada, and I didn’t want that.”


Arizona's Rich Rodriguez

  • You can always count on RichRod to tell a good story, and he didn’t disappoint Tuesday when asked about how he tries to get officials to recognize that his team plays at warp speed. How’s this for a vignette? “I had to remind our chain crew that they had to get in better shape because they were a little bit slow spotting the ball and bringing the chains down. And so we had an elderly gentleman that struggled at first, and I told him, ‘Listen, you’re going to have to get in shape because we’re going to need you to pull those chains a little faster.’ And he did, he said ‘Coach, I’ll be ready by the next season for sure.’”
  • Did you know that Arizona ran just 47 plays against Northern Arizona in its 35-0 win over the Lumberjacks Friday night? “I was surprised, too,” Rodriguez said. “I actually looked at my watch at the end of the first half and it was 8:07. So we played the first half in less than an hour, and I couldn’t believe that. Forty-seven plays -- normally we get that in a half.”


Stanford's David Shaw

  • Ron Caragher (San Jose State’s head coach) took over the head coaching gig at San Diego when Harbaugh and Shaw left for Stanford, but Shaw hadn’t met Caragher until Bay Area media day earlier this summer. “I feel like I know him because I’ve heard so much about him,” Shaw said.
  • What does it take to play center at Stanford? “It’s about making the right calls and being able to get the job done, because we change plays so often at the line of scrimmage. So the QB has to know what he’s doing, but the center has got to communicate. Once that play is called, he’s got to identify what’s going on on the defensive side and make calls to the offensive line, so that guy has to be in step with the coaches, and Khalil [Wilkes] has shown us the ability to do that.”
  • Shaw doesn’t think there is an advantage his team has now that his drag-you-down, knock-you-out-style of offense is becoming less and less common with more teams opting for an up-tempo approach. “It’s faster than it’s ever been, but it still goes down to execution,” he said. “So whether you call one play every 15 seconds or you call one play every 38 seconds, as long as you can execute, you’ll have a chance to get first downs and eventually score points.”

Oregon State

Oregon State's Mike Riley

  • On what went wrong defensively in Oregon State’s 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington: “We got totally disrupted. The quarterback from Eastern Washington was great,” Riley said, noting miscues in pass rush and proper alignment. “We were continually out of sorts,” he added.
  • This is no time for his squad to hang its collective head with Hawai’i coming to Corvallis this weekend. “We certainly don’t want a game like this to define how it’s going to go; we just want to rebound and win a game this week,” he said.
  • On level of play from the top FCS programs: “It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? I know North Dakota State [which beat Kansas State last weekend] and Eastern Washington have sustained good programs over a number of years now, so they play good football. They’ve been playing at the highest level in their division for forever. So what happens is they play good, sound football and they have some outstanding players.”


Colorado's Mike MacIntyre

  • The coach got pretty emotional on the sidelines as it became evident that the Buffs would knock off in-state rival Colorado State. “I was just really excited for those kids,” MacIntyre said.
  • He was pleased with quarterback Connor Wood’s play. While he noted that Wood missed some throws, the quarterback has seen it on film now and MacIntyre expects him to play even better this Saturday against Central Arkansas. Wood was 33-46 with 400 yards passing and three touchdowns (and no picks) against Colorado State on Sunday.
  • On the play of defensive back Parker Orms (nine tackles – two of which were for no gain – and one pass break-up): “Parker played very well. Parker is a good football player for us. Tough, gritty, extremely bright and a very good tackler. I’m very proud of how Parker played.”
  • He thought his offensive line played well overall, especially in the passing game. He stressed the need for the big five up front to improve on run blocking.


Cal's Sonny Dykes

  • Dykes was very pleased with the play of freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who threw for 445 yards and two touchdowns in Cal’s 44-30 loss to Northwestern. He was picked off three times, but two of those weren’t his fault, noted Dykes, who also really liked Goff’s sideline demeanor – never negative after a bad thing happened. “We think he’s got a chance to be pretty special,” Dykes said.
  • The coach would like to see college football instate a rule about keeping players who get injured out of the game for a certain amount of time, as some people have questioned whether Northwestern players faked injuries in an attempt to slow down Cal’s high-octane attack. “Everybody is interested in player safety, and when somebody requires the attention of a training staff or medical staff, I think that that player needs to have the proper amount of time to be diagnosed, whatever the injury is. I think that an opportunity ought to be given to the training staff to have a chance to spend some time with the student-athlete and make sure that they are well,” he said. “So I think the NCAA needs to take a look at it. I think conferences need to take a look at it.”
  • Dykes doesn’t have a request for what the mandate should be, but did suggest that injured players be held out for the remainder of a series or rest for a set number of plays; some specific allotted time.

Arizona State

Arizona State's Todd Graham

  • What’s the itchiness level of his team to get on the field for the first time this year? “I’d say it’s pretty high,” Graham said.
  • On whether Oregon State’s loss to Eastern Washington serves as a cautionary tale for his group: “You should respect your opponent. If you don’t, you’re going to get humbled.”
  • Graham explained his up-tempo philosophy as well: “We’re not a no-huddle offense; we’re a no-huddle program,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is create a fifth quarter.”
  • As such, Graham and staff have put an emphasis on recruiting smart kids, because they are asking guys to process information twice or three times as fast as other offenses.
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