Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: Mike Leach compares WSU atmosphere to Woodstock
This week on the Pac-12 conference call, a North Division showdown on Halloween in Pullman, Wash., could be "on the scale of Woodstock," according to Cougs coach Mike Leach. Plus, Jared Goff and Cody Kessler clash in an epic quarterback battle.
Washington State's Mike Leach
With Stanford visiting Washington State for an important Pac-12 North battle on Halloween, Leach gave a classic Leach answer regarding the atmosphere in Pullman on a game day: "Probably on a scale of Woodstock I'd say. It's kind of a statement for our generation I think."
Leach praised quarterback Luke Falk's calmness and preparation. Last week against Arizona, Falk threw five touchdowns and completed 47-of-62 passes for 514 yards. "I think one of the biggest things is he's composed in all situations. It's one thing to know all your stuff, it's another thing to execute it with all the stuff going on and keep your focus on the next play like he does," Leach said.
On the importance of strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo's impact on the Cougars during the offseason: "I think everybody does it together but he's certainly a key figure in the quality offseason we had."
Stanford's David Shaw
Shaw, on this week's opponent Washington State: "I thought they've always played hard. They're making a lot of plays. They get turnovers on the defensive side, get sacks. Guys are in great position. The tweaking of the scheme has helped them, coverage wise."
Cougars receiver Gabe Marks could be the biggest challenge for the Cardinal. Shaw likes Marks' versatility -- he has strong hands, speed and quickness. "He can make those tough catches and get his feet on the ground and run," Shaw said.
Shaw was asked if he wants Northwestern, the only team to beat Stanford this year, to find success for any reason. The objective football answer was 'no,' but the personal one was 'yes' because Shaw likes Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. "I also want Northwestern to do well because they have higher academic standards than other football programs out there," he added.
Stanford is at an advantage for recruiting fullbacks because fewer college teams use them these days, Shaw said. That has helped his program have an edge in recruiting potential NFL talents at the position.
USC's Clay Helton
Though USC dropped then-No. 3 ranked Utah, 42-24, on Saturday, Helton gained more respect for the Utes linebacking duo of Gionni Paul and Jared Norris after seeing them first-hand. "We had some success running the ball but when you look up (Paul is) still there making tackles. When you have him and Jared Norris together, wow. There may not be a better linebacker combination in our league," Helton said.
USC wanted to run against Utah but Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler still put up a healthy 264 yards, a touchdown, and, most importantly, no picks. Moving forward, Helton wants Kessler to keep up with his leadership displayed in that game and be "the calm in the middle of the tornado."
Kessler and the Trojans face Jared Goff and a talented Cal offense this week. Helton is most impressed with the Golden Bears signal-caller because he's an "unbelievable anticipatory thrower, in my opinion. He throws guys open. He has no fear and is able to fit balls into tight windows," the USC coach said.
Linebacker Cameron Smith recorded three interceptions against Utah and earned the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week award. In practice, Helton said the freshman has long "been a pain in our butt as far as offensively. Kind of an old soul, too, a student of the game, really studies film. He's a professional and really tries to perfect his craft."
California's Sonny Dykes
A 40-24 loss to UCLA came as turnovers haunted the Golden Bears this past weekend. Dykes said two or three of those were on Jared Goff, but the issues went deeper than bad decision-making from his quarterback. "We just have to play better offensively," Dykes said. "We have to run the ball better. That will take the pressure off him. We have to execute better as a group."
California hosts USC this week, making for a quality quarterback matchup between Goff and Trojans signal-caller Cody Kessler. "He's just got a lot of experience. He's been in their system a long time," Dykes said of Kessler. "He does a nice job of taking care of the ball."
Dykes said the depth across the Pac-12 shows in this reality: "The thing about this league, you don't get beat, you get blown out," the Cal coach said. "You don't play well, you aren't just going to lose. You're going to get blown out."
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
A bye week has helped quarterback Vernon Adams regain a rhythm after missing time due to injury. Helfrich said Adams, who likes to improvise during games, has been "trusting the progression a little more of getting (his) eyes in the right spot to begin with and then allowing (his) natural ability to take over."
Adams will need to make sound decisions under pressure when the Ducks visit Arizona State, the heaviest-blitzing team in the conference. "You have to stay in attack mode and you have to kind of be aggressively patient," Helfrich said.
On the national perception of the Pac-12 depth: "In our conference at least, parity equals weakness. I think that's one of those things we need to keep fighting and grinding through."
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson threw four interceptions against USC as the game got away on Saturday. One pick happened when a receiver ran a bad route, but the others developed because of a lack of awareness of where the Trojans linebackers were. "That was one of the key factors in the game - the interception situation," Whittingham said. "The stats were pretty even across the board everywhere else."
While working with current Ohio State coach and former Ute head coach Urban Meyer, Whittingham said he had the ability to voice his own opinion freely. "With Urban, we had a great relationship and I felt like I could tell him anything on my mind. He wouldn't always agree, which is expected. I absolutely welcome differing opinions," he said.
Whittingham spoke on the age and experience of defensive coordinator and defensive line coach John Pease: "He's got more energy and passion than most coaches half his age."
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
Andersen, in his first year with Oregon State, gave an honest assessment of the program when asked if it was what he expected when he took the job. "Probably a little bit more of a challenge than I thought when I walked in," he said, making clear that it was the institution that attracted him and not the state of the roster. "I didn't do an absolute study of the personnel. I didn't really care."
The pulse of the team is in a good place, Andersen said. "I think our youth movement is moving through this team," he added. "Our seniors are understanding our young kids can get us better. I think they're understanding those losses hurt more and more. They're working like crazy. They're a very fun group to coach, they're eager to learn and eager to have much success."
The Drive, a Pac-12 Networks show that features Oregon State, has helped recruiting by allowing potential Beavers to see the personality of Andersen and his staff, the coach said.
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
Colorado ground out a 17-13 win at Oregon State this past week, an impressive win considering the Buffs had nine starters out. "Hopefully we'll get some guys back for this game," MacIntyre said, adding that he at least expects offensive lineman Gerrard Kough to return.
This week, the Buffaloes visit No. 24 UCLA, who beat them 40-37 in double overtime last year. "Our kids realize they can play with them," MacIntyre said. "You thought they might've dropped off losing (quarterback Brett Hundley) but Josh Rosen -- we can him a freshman sensation."
UCLA's Jim Mora
Mora doesn't see a huge game from freshman quarterback Josh Rosen (34-of-47 passing for 399 yards and three touchdowns) as anything to build on. It's just about getting better each day. "You just got to take each week as its own entity," Mora said.
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Backup center Cayman Bundage struggled with high snaps in the Wildcats' 45-42 loss to Washington State on Saturday, and Rodriguez said Bundage and guard Zach Hemmila will practice at center this week heading into a game at Washington. "We'll practice it all week and determine it for Saturday," Rodriguez said of choosing a starter.
Junior college safety Paul Magloire moved to linebacker in the wake of Arizona's injury issues across the position and led the team with 11 tackles and one for loss in the loss to WSU. "He's still learning the position," Rodriguez said. "He got a lot of tackles last week because he had to -- I don't think anybody played really well."
Rodriguez has accepted late kickoff times after making a public complaint about Arizona's scheduled starts this season. "(Television networks) want to make money so they can determine their TV times. We voiced our concerns and then we went ahead and got another night game," Rodriguez said. "It is what it is, and we'll just have to deal with it."
Washington's Chris Petersen
The Huskies must prepare for an Arizona team that has been hit with injuries on defense. The Wildcats also could use a dual-quarterback rotation of Anu Solomon and Jerrard Randall. "Everybody is kind of a revolving door. As coaches you do the best you can keeping the opponent off-balance. You really just got to take care of your side of the ball," Petersen said.
Petersen discussed the success of former Boise State walk-on Matt Paradis. Now in the NFL, Paradis went from Denver Broncos practice squad to their starting center this season. "I love those stories. We got a few of them over there," Petersen said. "You just never know."
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