Pac-12 coaches teleconference: Mark Helfrich says Ducks don't try to score a lot

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This week in the Pac-12 coaches teleconference, Oregon's Mark Helfrich claims he doesn't know about any of the Ducks' ridiculous offensive statistics and two coaches drool over Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks. Additionally, there was a rising number of injury updates from across the league.


Oregon's Mark Helfrich

Some view Oregon's coaches as mad scientists. Their offense is scoring 61.3 points per game, good for second in the NCAA, and racking up 355.3 rush yards per game, which is also the second most. Unlike scientists, the staff isn't paying much attention to the large numbers involved, nor attempting to reach them. The only numbers the Ducks consider are turnovers, Helfrich said. “I don't think I could literally tell you a statistic we have,” he added. “I don't know if I can tell you we've done this many things for this many yards. It just so happens (the numbers are) that type of byproduct.”

This week, Oregon will focus upon limiting Cal quarterback Jared Goff, a freshman who, like the Ducks' own Marcus Mariota last season, is impressing early in his career. Goff has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,306 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions so far. Helfrich said that Cal's coaching staff has “done a great job managing things for him," in terms of varying the passing game, running game and screen game.

Against Cal this week, Helfrich said one challenge will be substituting his defensive players against a fast-paced, spread attack. He said that penalties, injuries and "natural breaks" will be key in keeping his Ducks fresh.


Cal's Sonny Dykes

Freshman quarterback Jared Goff has been getting better from practice to practice, but if there's a thing to nitpick, Dykes believes it's his aptness to force throws that aren't there. That's especially been an issue for Goff when the Golden Bears are playing from behind. “He's got to continue to be patient and take what the defense gives us,” Dykes said.

Like Goff, freshman starting quarterbacks are becoming much more common. Dykes said a lot factors into that trend. Transfers are more common, for one. It's harder for programs to develop their quarterbacks on the bench because of it. Additionally, Dykes believes improved coaching of high school players and simplified spread offenses have helped to usher in younger players.

Dykes, on Oregon's defense and the risks it takes. “I think Oregon feels like they can give up a play if they need to and it's not a big deal because they can score points. The windows to throw the ball in are tighter.”


Stanford's David Shaw

Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds was ejected for targeting on Saturday in Stanford's win against Arizona State, and Shaw didn't have a problem with it. He likes the new, strict rules that keep offensive players safe. “You need that ultimate deterrent, and you need to apply it when it shows up,” Shaw said. “I think Ed Reynolds learned a lesson. I think we all have. I was awfully shocked because Ed never tackles like that, but he lowered his head and that was the result.”

Stanford heads to Pullman, Wash., this week and the Cougars already have their attention. Last year, the Cardinal beat a very young WSU team just 24-17. “They matched up very well. They're playing smart defense. You don't see guys out of position. They're a very disciplined group,” Shaw said.

On what Shaw is most happy about so far in 2013: “The best thing I'm most happy about is the consistency, the consistent effort of our team. We're not perfect, we make mistakes … but the effort and the intent is always there.”

Washington State

Washington State's Mike Leach

Sure, after starting 17 freshmen throughout last season, Washington State is certainly more experienced this year. But to Leach, the improvements over the last 12 months go deeper than that. “I think as a team we like football better than we did last year,” he said. “I think as a team we care a little bit more about each other than we did last year.”

The Cardinal run game had a tough time against WSU last season, and even Shaw admitted as much on Tuesday. Nonetheless, things haven't changed. The Cougars have to win at the line of scrimmage. “I think you have to stay out of the way and react to things quickly, and not be attacking the same spot all the time, otherwise they'll tee off on you," Leach said of Stanford.

Oregon State

Oregon State's Mike Riley

Receiver Brandin Cooks has already caught 43 receptions for 639 yards and seven touchdown this season. A lot of his improvements have to do with his added strength, but Cooks has also helped himself by building a strong chemistry with quarterback Sean Mannion. “It's a fun thing to see, that growth that takes place between the quarterback and the receiver,” Riley said.

Riley is doubtful running back Storm Woods will return this week from a concussion suffered two weeks ago. While he has been running and at practice the last two days, the Oregon State coach said he was doubtful for his running back to play Saturday as the Beavers host Colorado.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Rommel Mageo had six tackles and 2.5 for loss against San Diego State on Saturday and probably earned himself more snaps moving forward. Riley liked how Mageo ran “down-hill at the football."


Colorado's Mike MacIntyre

Colorado biggest challenge in stopping OSU wide receiver Brandin Cooks will be limiting his yards after the catch. It's not easy. He's shifty, speedy and will have blockers helping him. “The thing is, we've got to be up, be up tight on the bubble screens,” MacIntyre said of Cooks. “It's hard to get a beat on him.”

The Buffs haven't played in three weeks because of a bye and a flood that canceled a Sept. 14 date with Fresno State, and MacIntyre joked that Saturday will be like another season-opener. There have been difficulties planning a replacement game with Fresno State or others, though MacIntyre said he hopes good news comes shortly.


UCLA's Jim Mora

UCLA announced it would begin fundraising to build a new football facility, and Mora said it's important not only from a recruiting standpoint but also in terms of creating a space for the team. And like other Pac-12 football facilities, the Bruins will have an important academic piece installed along with it. Mora, a former NFL coach, made an interesting point comparing the necessity in the college game compared to the pro game. “In the NFL, facilities are not an issue,” he said. “Quite frankly, it doesn't necessarily matter. You don't pick the players, they don't pick you. It's not necessarily a selling point.”

On the Bruins' non-conference scheduling philosophies: “I want to play the best teams in the country. That's why we do this, to compete. I understand there's always risk there, but I understand there's great reward, too."

Mora, on if he is surprised at the Bruins' quick turnaround to legitimacy: “We didn't put a timetable on it. We weren't going to be too patient, I'll tell you that.”


Utah's Kyle Whittingham

Whittingham of course would've liked to see a win two weeks ago at Oregon State, but like most games, the tough loss to the Beavers lent itself to teaching moments. That said, the Utes coach says it's easier to teach players after wins because coaches can be harder on players without getting them down. So after beating rival BYU, this week should be a good one for Whittingham.

Utah's seniors will end their careers with perfect records against the BYU Cougars, and so will the sophomores and juniors now that the next version of the Holy War won't occur until 2016. Whittingham said he approached the game with the same preparation as any other, but there were preachings about emotional control the week leading into the game. “That's standard operating procedure,” he said.


Arizona's Rich Rodriguez

A lot has been made about Arizona's lack of a passing game through three cupcake non-conference games. Rodriguez isn't ducking the obvious. The Wildcats will see loaded boxes, and they'll need to respond with a passing attack. “We know we got to be ready to throw the ball,” Rodriguez said. “We've worked harder on that than anything else we have offensively.”

Sophomore Dave Richards hasn't played this year because of a foot injury but has been targeting Saturday's game at Washington as a return date. He has practiced the last two days, Rodriguez said, but his game status will depend on how he looks in the next two days.

On spur safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant, who has three interceptions for the Wildcats so far: “He's always a guy that's had a great feel for the game and has been able to take calculated risks.”


Washington's Steve Sarkisian

Last year, the Wildcats romped the Huskies 52-17 in Tucson, but neither team looks the same as they prepare to meet Saturday. Washington's quarterback, Keith Price, has found a confidence he didn't have in 2012. Meanwhile, the Wildcats are hoping quarterback B.J. Denker can fill predecessor Matt Scott's shoes in the team's first major test. “They’ve got a lot of talented guys on that roster -- obviously Ka’Deem Carey, most notably,” Sarkisian said. “I think the quarterback is playing at a really high level for them. Just like every game you go into, I’m sure they’re going to have some new wrinkles for us on both sides of the ball that we’ll need to be prepared for.”

Sarkisian on what Arizona did well on defense against UW last season: “They created a couple turnovers. I thought they did a nice job up front of trying to create something to cause us to get out of sync a little bit, and then they did a good job of when they got the lead ... they built that lead up and kept the ball in front of them and tackled us.”

Arizona State

Arizona State's Todd Graham

Graham is impressed with redshirt junior Taylor Kelly, even after the quarterback threw two interceptions against Stanford in this week's loss. “I think in three weeks he's had two bad plays,” Graham said. “I think we blew a lot of coverages, protections, but you have to credit Stanford. Obviously, we were disappointed in how we protected him.”

For all the negatives from the first half against the Cardinal, Graham said he liked how his team fought back. Take away the special team miscues and turnovers that ASU hadn't been doing up to that point, and the Sun Devils would have made it a game, he said. “We had some uncharacteristic things, balls dropped,” Graham added. “(The team) wasn't mentally ready to play for whatever reason. It's a shame.”

Graham on USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's new look as the Sun Devils get ready to face the Trojans: “I like the attack. They've gone from a 4-3 -- kind of a cover-2 -- to an attacking, forcing, aggressive style of defense. Obviously, they have the personnel to run that.”


USC's Lane Kiffin

Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler got off to a fast start on Saturday against Utah State, completing 10 of his first 13 passes. But after taking a hard hit to the hand, he had issues gripping the ball and from that point forward went 3-for-11. Kiffin said both Kessler and star receiver Marqise Lee, who was banged up but continued to play, will be available to play ASU.

Kiffin is not quite as impressed with his defense as you'd imagine considering it has kept some very good offensive attacks in check. “We got to do it every week,” the Trojans coach said. “We can't assume anything based on what we've done before.”

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