Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: ASU's Kalen Ballage is as good off the field as he is on
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is still (understandably) very happy with Saturday's win and spoke highly of two of his players. Meanwhile, Washington State acknowledges that following the rough start to the season, the thing to do now is stick together and work hard.
Arizona State's Todd Graham
“I don’t care if it’s three to nothing. I care about winning.” If anyone was wondering how Arizona State head coach Todd Graham felt about Texas Tech putting up 55 points on the Sun Devils last weekend, wonder no more. Aside from winning the game, Graham had good reason to feel that way, as Texas Tech had one of the top-rated offenses in the entire country last year.
Of the Sun Devils’ 68 points, Kalen Ballage brought home the majority of them. In case you missed it (how did you miss it?), the running back tied the FBS record with eight touchdowns in a single game. Despite the breakout game for the junior, Graham was quick to point out that he isn’t the only star on the team.
“We have two No. 1 backs,” says Graham. “We don’t have a one and two.” The other running back Graham referenced is junior Demario Richard, who he says has a very different skill set but is as equally talented as Ballage.
Something that Graham was especially proud of from these two Sun Devils, however, was not seen on the field, but in the locker room prior to the game. Before the game, Richard and Ballage were "standing in front of the lineman and talking about their commitment to them, and how hard they’re going to run the ball for them, and how much they appreciate them.” These actions off the field, and the great plays on it, leaves Graham as a “big fan” of his team.
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
The Buffs aren’t letting their early season success go to their heads. Despite besting their first two opponents by 37 and 49 points respectively, head coach Mike MacIntyre says his men “still come to work everyday.”
One player in particular who has stood out to MacIntyre is Colorado placekicker Diego Gonzalez. “We’re going to need him to be good for us,” says MacIntyre. “We’ve got a lot of big games ahead of us."
Speaking of big games, the Buffs are on the road at Michigan this weekend and are ready for a tough one. MacIntyre spoke on Michigan’s overall athleticism, from the linebackers to kickers. “There’s not many tinks in their armor, that’s for sure."
Stanford's David Shaw
Despite what Stanford head coach David Shaw calls an “inopportune” bye week last weekend, the Card are ready to take on USC at home this Saturday. Stanford’s focus? “Contain JuJu,” says Shaw. “In one play they could be in your red zone."
There has been lots of talk surrounding Stanford’s offense and Shaw’s successful coaching style, but he's stayed humble among the praise. “We adopt what other programs do too. That’s what smart football coaches do."
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
“It’s a mistake to pay zero attention to the teams you’re competing against.” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham knows tunnel vision isn’t the way to with the Pac-12 South, and has been keeping his eyes on the rest of the conference during the Utes’ non-conference play.
“You have to bring your A-game every week or you’re going to get beat,” says Whittingham. “It [the Pac-12] is the most balanced top-to-bottom conference in the country.”
Before breaking into conference play, the Utes hit the road this weekend to take on San Jose State. Whittingham is going to have the Utes keep doing what they’re doing to get his team in as much of a rhythm as possible. Offensively, Whittingham spoke to his preference of having one primary ball carrier, rather than a committee: “Guys get into a rhythm and that’s part of being a running back ... spread the carries too thin and nobody gets in the flow of the game."
UCLA's Jim Mora
UCLA head coach Jim Mora also hasn’t had his conference blinders on at the start of this season. “The Pac-12 is extremely competitive,” says Mora. “Every school is a contender. But it makes it fun and makes it competitive and everyone enjoys it.”
Despite keeping an eye on conference competition, Mora knows that he has one job this week: Beat BYU.
Mora makes a special mention of his wide receiver Ishmael Adams. “I’m a big Ishmael fan,” says Mora. “He understands coverage, leverages, and how people are trying to play certain coverages. He’ll show even more as he becomes more comfortable in his role.”
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
The Ducks are feeling good with their 2-0 start to the season, but, like a lot of other undefeated teams this early in the season, aren’t taking anything for granted.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s matchup against Nebraska, head coach Mark Helfrich says they're doing their job. Through both studying and on-field preparation, the Ducks look to put up a good game against the Cornhuskers.
Washington State's Mike Leach
Coming off a strong offseason, Washington State sits 0-2 heading into this weekend’s matchup against Idaho. “You get false hopes in the offseason,” says Cougars head coach Mike Leach, “but you still have to win it out there on the field.” When it comes to bouncing back from such a start, Leach says the only thing to do is to “stick together and work hard.”
In regards to WSU linebacker Logan Tago, who was arrested for assault and felony robbery on Monday, Leach says his status on the team “will be handled internally."
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez is keeping his foot on the gas pedal for his Wildcats. “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, you always keep the foot down.”
One way of doing this is stressing the importance of every play his Wildcats execute — not just in the game, but practice as well. “Some have the mentality that some plays aren’t as important as others, but that’s not our mentality,” says Rodriguez. “We pride ourselves in having a hard edge and competing like crazy.”
When Arizona takes on Hawai'i this week, he hopes to see that hard edge appear a little faster than it has been. Known for being a second-half team, Rodriguez has been working with his team to play with fire from the start, and not just when they reemerge from the locker room. “That’s what we’ve got to fix in a hurry."
California's Sonny Dykes
After a bit of a bang-up game against San Diego State last week, California head coach Sonny Dykes reports a healthy front preparing for this weekend’s matchup against Texas this weekend.
The Golden Bears held a full practice on Sunday, so now Dykes says all there is to do is, “see how they do the rest of the week.”
USC's Clay Helton
The Trojans are finding their balance. Head coach Clay Helton was proud of their performance against Utah State in that sense, noting that of the 80 plays, 43 were running plays.
“Against Utah State was cleaner [than Alabama], but not perfect,” says Helton. He says that since the Trojans’ 45-7 win over Utah State, he has actually been harder on his team and set higher expectations. Helton admits the dominant win revealed, "the kind of team we can become.”
Higher expectations is the way to go to keep the Trojans in the race for the competitive Pac-12 South title. “The mark of a good team is to get better each week so by the time you hit November you’re nearing your peak.” This weekend’s game at Stanford will help tell if the Trojans are on that path.
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen says the bye week came at an opportune time for the Beavers, as it gave them more time to look at themselves as a team and put in work before conference play starts.
When it comes to this weekend’s game against Idaho State, Andersen had nothing but good things to say regarding how they played against Colorado: "They kept fighting like crazy. It’s a tough place to be and a tough place to live, but that’s a sign of a team who has a lot of respect for their team and a lot of respect for their coaches."
Washington's Chris Petersen
Washington head coach Chris Petersen reports that his Huskies are gearing up for a good battle against Portland State this weekend. What’s the main challenge for UW? The Vikings' offense.
“We haven’t seen the pistol offense in a while,” says Petersen. “Since I’ve been here, at least.”
Petersen calls this offense “a challenge” and “unique.” Couple that with a Portland State quarterback who Petersen says runs it well and the Huskies are in for a good fight this Saturday.