Pac-12 football coaches teleconference: Coaches discuss Don James' legacy, Khalil Tate's impact
Pac-12 coaches discuss how to defend the un-defendable (Khalil Tate), Don James' legacy and the NCAA basketball controversy in this week's coaches teleconference.
UCLA's Jim Mora
It's only fitting that Jim Mora be around Husky Stadium for the unveiling of Don James' statue this weekend.
Mora's father was James' defensive line coach at Washington and Mora himself went on to play and coach for James until the younger Mora graduated to the professional ranks. The Mora and James families were close, their children babysat each other.
"I was fortunate to play for him so I was able to be around him every day in and see him in a different light, and all of the sudden I got to see the meticulous detail that he had with everything he did," Mora said. "I would say there's not a day that goes by in my coaching career that I don't reflect on something that coach James did or said or demonstrated that had an impact on me."
Mora contributed to the statue and was invited to its unveiling, but Mora said he will stay with his team as the prepare to face the Huskies.
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Imagine me telling you in August that the Arizona Wildcats would be in prime condition to take the Pac-12 South. The 'Cats are starting to feel the hype.
"It's exciting, and no one expected us to be at this point but the more you win the more is at stake," Rich Rodriguez said. Three-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Khalil Tate has become the face of the hype.
Rodriguez said he wasn't fully healthy in the first few weeks of the season, but was in form for the game against Colorado--his introduction to the world.
When Brandon Dawkins went down, it was the Khalil Tate show from then on.
"You could tell he was extremely focused and ready to go and made the most of his opportunity and followed through with that," Rodriguez said. "In game decisions, there's always mistakes but he's seeing the field as well as we hoped."
Tate faced three teams throwing three different defensive schemes at him, but the sophomore has been able to adjust. Even if defenses won't show it initially, Rodriguez and his team can sense how they might take away the run option, the dual threat.
"They're gonna bring the safety down, bring all 11 down in the box at some point. They wont show it initially, but they'll bring the safety down to tackle him."
Cal's Justin Wilcox
The Bears hobbled out of their double-OT loss to Arizona thinking about missed opportunities and, like everyone, the Khalil Tate show the team witnessed first hand.
Rich Rodriguez said Cal threw some tough defense at him, but what makes Tate so hard to stop?
"His ability and their offense. You're defending, however you want to call it, an option offense and wishbone run game," Justin Wilcox said. "It's challenging in that regard, and we didn't do a very good job, especially at the end of the game and overtime, defending it."
USC's Clay Helton
The Trojans lost a lopsided one to the Fighting Irish, but the players are keeping a cool head about it, said Clay Helton.
"I thought our kids addressed it really well after the game. They were in a good frame of mind and understood that we didn't play well and Notre Dame played exceptionally well."
The team's mindset right now is to flush the bad games and move on, knowing full well that a Pac-12 Championship is still very much on the line.
Washington State's Mike Leach
The Cougs' offensive line struggled early on this season. But Mike Leach thinks his o-line looked its strongest in their win over Colorado.
"I thought the best game we played offensive line was the last game," he said. "I thought they played hungrier last year than this year and I think we need to elevate our focus and start on individual drills."
Colorado's Mike MacIntyre
The Cougs blanked the Buffs 28-0 last week, forcing coach Mike MacIntyre to take some drastic measures in-game.
Starting quarterback Steven Montez was pulled after going 4-of-13 and replaced with redshirt freshman Sam Noyer, who went 7-of-18. Neither quarterback could rub any offense together, but it forced MacIntyre into a rare mid-season quarterback competition.
"It'll be a game time decision," he said, based on, "Whatever I decide."
Oregon's Willie Taggart
The Ducks will face an old friend in wide receiver Darren Carrington, now with the Utes. Will familiarity give the Ducks much of an advantage in stopping him?
"Not necessarily," said Willie Taggart. "What's going to help for us is to do our jobs well and doing well in our preparation."
Taggart is happy to see Carrington bounce back after a DUII had him dismissed from his Oregon team.
"It's good to see him have some success, but you just hope he doesn't have success this week."
Taggart also mentioned that Justin Herbert, who's missed games with a fractured collarbone, is back on the the field "throwing dimes."
Utah's Kyle Whittingham
ASU's Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard ran circles around the Utes' defense last week en rout to a 30-10 thumping in Salt Lake City. This week the Utes will face what should be a run-heavy Oregon offense led by quarterback Braxton Burmeister.
The Utes are preparing accordingly.
"[The Ducks] have a very different MO when he's the quarterback," Kyle Whittingham said. "It's run heavy...so we've got our work cut out for us, and we didn't play great last week against the run."
With the offense in disarray, regaining their defensive footing could be the Utes' key to regaining their identity. That starts with discipline, according to Whittingham.
"I won't say were were soft, but technique wise...it wasn't a matter of getting pushed around it was a matter of not being disciplined enough."
Arizona State's Todd Graham
The Sun Devils are enjoying a somewhat surprising surge of success this week coming off a strong defensive performance in their 30-10 win over Utah.
Todd Graham said the success spawns from the team's make.
"The key, if you've got guys that have character, that means they serve each other every day," he said. "Kids will aways exceed what I think they're capable of."
This year, the Sun Devils added to their resume a win over a top-5 team (Washington) to go with a 4-3 record. Graham said the team is enjoying the surge of success, but they "haven't done anything" until the team starts winning championships.
Oregon State's Cory Hall
The Beavs will face Stanford for a Thursday night game.
It'll be Cory Hall's third game as the team's head coach, and the transition is going smoothly.
"I've gotten a lot of support and the players have responded well, and that's the most important thing," he said. "I think everyone is comfortable and good with it, so now we just have to go out and win ballgames."
Stanford's David Shaw
David Shaw has always been outspoken about college players rights.
This week, Shaw discussed FBI investigation into NCAA basketball and how it may or may not have already trickled into college football.
"It's already happening in football. I don't think its on the scale of basketball, the money's not as big," he said. "There's cheating in everything. The biggest thing with the basketball scandal is because the FBI was involved."
"It wouldn't surprise me if there was something similar happening in college football."
Washington's Chris Petersen
Like many coaches these days, Chris Petersen grew up watching and admiring Don James' Washington program.
He remembers the success James kept up, leading the Huskies to multiple Rose Bowl titles, but he also notices the impact he's had on the game and coaches through generations.
"Nick Saban, down the line, a ton of assistants say 'I've worked with Don James' and you think 'huh, you worked for him too?'"
As a distant successor to the Washington coach, he's also gotten an inside look at how James' legacy lives on in college football.
"Since I've been here I've gotten to find out more about him and how he operated. And I think, it's one thing to win for a year or two, but to have the same sustained success for that period time, it says a lot about your process and system," he said.