Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: Rivalries and the road to the Pac-12 Football Championship Game
The Apple Cup officially decides the Pac-12 North, and Colorado controls its (and USC's) destiny when it comes to the Pac-12 South title. Washington State's Mike Leach's nickname for Washington's Chris Petersen has been revealed, and Stanford head coach David Shaw sings praises for Christian McCaffrey's performance off the field.
Washington's Chris Petersen
Straight from the horse’s mouth, Washington head coach Chris Petersen doesn’t have any idea how this weekend’s Apple Cup will pan out. “I never know how this is going to go,” says Petersen. “It always goes different than how I think.”
What does Petersen know about this weekend’s rivalry game? That points will be scored, they’re in for a good game, and his Huskies are ready. "I know they’re going to score points but we’re going to have to slow them down."
Petersen says he isn’t preparing his team for this game differently than he would for any other game, despite Pac-12 title implications. “I like how my players have prepared every week so far. That’s why we’ve played so well,” says Petersen.
Washington State's Mike Leach
Washington State head coach Mike Leach learned that his nickname for Washington head coach Chris Petersen, The Bishop, had been uncovered. “How did you get ahold of that?” laughed Leach. “He’s just a real clean cut looking guy and has got a stately air. There’s several other guys in our conference with a Mormon background and we agreed that if there was a bishop of the conference, it’d be him.”
In addition to Petersen, Leach spoke a fair amount of receiver Gabe Marks in regards to his talent both on and off the field. “He’s very smart,” says Leach. “That’s the great thing about Gabe. Even the mundane can take a strange and fascinating turn."
Talking football, Leach knows he’ll have a hard game this weekend against Washington in the Apple Cup to decide the Pac-12 North. “I’m not going through all their players. They’re all good,” says Leach. “The thing is they’re bigger than most and faster than most."
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
A shot at the Pac-12 Football title is on the line for Colorado, and head coach Mike MacIntyre knows he faces a battle against Utah to get there. “His [Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham's] guys will be ready to play. I guarantee it,” says MacIntyre.
The Buffs haven’t won head-to-head against Utah since 2011, something MacIntyre is very well aware of. “They’ve beat us so many times, now I think they think they should definitely beat us,’ says MacIntyre.
MacIntyre is hoping that the prospect of a Pac-12 Football Championship Game berth lights enough of a fire under his team to get his Buffs a win this weekend and trip to Levi’s Stadium. “They can taste it."
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
Taylor Swift won’t be singing about the bad blood between Utah and Colorado anytime soon. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has said in the past that the matchup against the Buffs has never felt like a true rivalry, and this year is no different. “There’s got to be some bad blood when you talk about a rivalry, and we’ve got nothing but respect for them,” says Whittingham. Whittingham says he “saw this coming” when it comes to Colorado’s success so far this season, and has been preparing his team for a good game. “They remind me of Washington,” says Whittingham. “I prepared them the same way we prepared for Washington."
Stanford's David Shaw
We all know that Christian McCaffrey is good on the football field, and it turns out he’s just as good off of it. McCaffrey was announced as a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, an award presented to a player with exemplary community service and athleticism. Stanford head coach David Shaw says his nomination comes as little surprise.
“It’s very important to Christian that he sets an example on and off the field for all young people who idolize him and try to emulate him,” says Shaw. “It’s a great credit to his parents. They’ve raised a phenomenal young man."
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
With Thanksgiving around the corner, there was a lot of talk about traditions and family with Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez reminisced on the times his son, who is nearing college ball himself, would draw out plays while he was a Pop Warner player. “He’s always been a student of the game,” says Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says that Thanksgiving is important every year, both with his team and with his family. Typically, says Rodriguez, the Wildcats would have a team dinner on true Thanksgiving, but because they play on Friday the dinner is moved to Wednesday so it can still happen for his team.
California's Sonny Dykes
California head coach Sonny Dykes focused this week on his appreciation for quarterback Davis Webb. “He’s just been solid,” says Dykes. “That’s a great compliment for a quarterback. He’s able to compartmentalize whatever’s going on and focus on what’s coming next."
Oregon's Mark Helfrich
The Oregon Ducks had a big win against Utah this past weekend, but head coach Mark Helfrich isn’t letting that distract from the work that still needs to be done. “Our biggest deal is inexperience and guys not trusting 100% in what they’re doing,” says Helfrich. "We’ve had our ‘freshman moments' at different times.”
Looking ahead to this weekend against rival Oregon State, Helfrich has noticed one main area of growth from the Beavers that could pose a threat to the Ducks: “They’re, in general, a lot more athletic."
UCLA's Jim Mora
UCLA will be hitting the road this weekend to take on Cal, and the Bruins head coach Jim Mora has one plan: Run the ball. “You want to always try to run the ball, but it’s been a struggle. I don’t look at their stats versus our stats, I just want to get something going in the run game.”
Mora had little to report on freshman punter Austin Kent, who was benched during the Oregon State game due to a knee injury. “It’s nothing major,” says Mora. The decision to keep Stefan Flintoft in the remainder of the game was simple: “We wanted to give him some reps,” says Mora.”
Arizona State's Todd Graham
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is not shy to mention the struggles his Sun Devils have faced this season. Beyond keeping the focus on one week at a time and encouraging his players to keep fighting, Graham says there’s “not much else you can do.”
The positive that has come from this season? “It builds character,” says Graham. “A team either falls apart, or it binds it closer together. [This season] bound us closer together.”
Graham says this weekend’s rivalry game against Arizona for the Territorial Cup is always a big game for the fans, and Graham says his Sun Devils will give them a good show. “We’re going to get their best because that’s what these games bring out.”
Oregon State's Gary Andersen
Oregon State head coach Gray Andersen has a big rivalry game ahead of him this weekend against Oregon, and his plan is to stick to the plan. “We’’ll stick with the same plan in terms of how we’re going to go about things,” says Andersen. “When you can run it [the ball] effectively and throw it effectively, the offense becomes a lot easier to call.”
The Beavers also shared a special moment with their “team mom” Stacey Andersen after their last game. “She loves these kids,” says Andersen.
— OregonStateFootball (@BeaverFootball) November 21, 2016