Pac-12 coaches teleconference: Mike MacIntyre talks preparing for 'very intense' battle with Utah Utes
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre
MacIntyre addressed rumors about his job status. Monday night, a news outlet in Denver reported that MacIntyre was going to be fired at the end of the season, but Colorado AD Rick George has released a statement saying no such decision has been made, and MacIntyre backed that up.
“I understand it’s false news. Last time I talked to Rick was two weeks ago and he 100 percent backed me on what we’re doing,” MacIntyre said, further stating that he heard about the news when his son called him at midnight on Monday night. He also noted that he will speak with George on Tuesday afternoon.
With respect to the upcoming game against Utah, MacIntyre said despite big personnel changes at quarterback and running back, the Utes looked their same efficient selves that they have been recently in the 32-25 win over Oregon last weekend.
“It’s very similar. [Utah quarterback Jason Shelley] is a good runner, he can make the passes that Huntley can. I thought [Utah RB Armand] Shyne played really well at running back. I think they’re similar running back and similar quarterback,” he said.
This is Year 8 in the Pac-12 for Utah and Colorado, and MacIntyre said he feels a rivalry brewing.
“It will be a very intense football game," he said. "I think it has developed into more of one for sure, and I think it will be an exciting game."
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham
On the other hand, Whittingham doesn’t feel a rivalry brewing with the Buffs just yet.
“I would say [it’s] too early still. You can’t manufacture a rivalry. It’s gotta happen naturally,” he said. “There’s gotta be a buildup before it becomes a true rivalry game. We’ve got so much respect for what they do there. ... But to say it’s a rivalry game? I still don’t get that sense, but we’ll see what happens down the road.”
Whittingham was pleased with Shelley, who made his first career start in the Utes’ 32-25 win over the Ducks on Saturday.
“I thought he did a great job. He showed a lot of poise. He did a great job of running the offense. Took care of the football, zero turnovers on the day,” he said. “He was everything we hoped him to be. He has a lot of confidence, and it definitely showed.”
The Utes were also without lead running back Zack Moss, but Whittingham was also pleased with the work Armand Shyne did on the ground.
“I thought he did a great job as well. He has been a very great team guy. It’s disappointing when you’re the No. 1 guy and you get beat out,” Whittingham said. “He was great when he was the understudy under Zack… It went about as good as it possibly could have.”
Stanford head coach David Shaw
Shaw discussed how quarterback KJ Costello has progressed and become such an effective guy under center.
“No. 1 is his competitiveness. He’s very excitable, he’s got great leadership abilities. He’s one of those guys who influences his teammates,” Shaw said, before mentioning his great arm and understanding of the game.
Shaw said he is up in the air on whether he likes having Big Game on the last weekend of the regular season or the second-to-last weekend.
“I’m split on that because so many people feel strongly about it one way or another. I did get used to it for a long time being the last regular season game, but I do understand people not wanting to have it on Thanksgiving weekend,” he said. “I’ve kind of gotten used to it now where it’s not the last week. ... I still enjoy it.”
What has Shaw seen from Cal under Justin Wilcox? “He gets guys to play hard for him. It’s easy to recruit for him within the [defensive] scheme because guys have fun playing in it. On the offensive side, they’ve been banged up the last couple of years on the offensive line, but they’ve gotten better up front,” he said. “It’s a team that plays great defense and runs the football; it’s a dangerous football team.”
Washington State head coach Mike Leach
As one of the forefathers of the Air Raid, Leach has enjoyed seeing the offense take center stage nationally at all levels.
“Last Super Bowl was played with people who played with Air Raid concepts,” he said. “It’s taking over the NFL and taking over college, and that’s indisputable. It’s taking over high school in the major states. ... It’s gotten bigger and bigger.”
Washington State and Arizona were the only two Pac-12 schools that recruited Arizona running back J.J. Taylor, who has had a very productive 2018 with 1,221 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
“We felt like he was a good explosive player and a talented guy,” Leach said when asked about recruiting Taylor, noting that he felt like Taylor was a guy who could make plays for the Cougs.
What sticks out about Arizona’s defense to The Pirate? “Their quickness," Leach said. "I think they’re a very fast group collectively.”
Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin
Sumlin was asked about how he handles political and social discussions in an era where more athletes are using their platform to speak out on social issues as some commentators tell them to “stick to sports.”
“I believe we have those discussions all the time internally," he said. "It’s part of the educational process for young men. We talk about a lot more than just football – social awareness, everything. You’re going to see a lot of different things in your life. To be able to have those open discussions and exposure to all those different values have become important in our building.”
With respect to the game at hand (at Washington State), just how do you go about getting pressure on Gardner Minshew II?
“That would be part of the game plan. We’d rather not give that away,” a laughing Sumlin said. “He’s played very, very well. He’s got a big offensive line that knows what they’re doing in protection. He’s a veteran player even though he’s a one-year player in this system. He knows what he’s doing with the ball. You have to have a mixture of things – whether it’s pressure, whether it’s coverage. ... We’re going to have to mix it up.”
With Utah playing Colorado nine hours before the Wildcats kick off against the Cougs, Arizona will know whether or not it still has a chance to win the Pac-12 South before it takes the field Saturday night (if Utah wins, Arizona is eliminated. If Utah loses, the Wildcats can take the South by winning out). As you would expect, Sumlin said his team isn’t concerned about the Utah-Colorado game.
“That really has nothing to do with our focus on the game,” he said. “We had the week off last week and we talked about Washington State, and that’s where our focus is.”
California head coach Justin Wilcox
Wilcox was asked about Chris Petersen’s influence on him becoming a head coach, and he waxed poetic about how positive of an effect Petersen had on his career. Here’s but a snippet:
“Coach Pete, I had known him for a very long time. I’ve known him since maybe 1995 or so, and just being able to work for him,” Wilcox said. “A lot of what I have learned along the way, I’ve learned from him. ... Coach Pete has been instrumental to me for learning football, program and people.”
With respect to Stanford’s defense, Wilcox said, “They’re very effective. They’re physical up front. They do a really good job of mixing and matching coverages and make you hunt what the call is. They’re very well coached. They have a really good defense.”
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly
What would a victory over USC mean to the Bruins? “We’re obviously competing every week here,” Kelly said. “We’ve been close a couple of times, but it would pay dividends for these guys to get a victory.”
Does Kelly put stock in rivalry games having more importance for players? “I think any time the guys know each other, there’s a lot of familiarity with a team that plays in the same city, so everybody understands the importance of it,” he said.
This is the 10-year anniversary of UCLA and USC both wearing home uniforms, bringing back an old tradition that Kelly is a fan of.
“I do like that overall. I think both teams have iconic uniforms. You can look at the TV and see that it’s USC and UCLA,” Kelly said. “I think it’s really cool that the teams that have the iconic uniforms get to wear the home uniforms.”
With this being the last regular season teleconference, Kelly signed off by saying, “Looking forward to next year!”
USC head coach Clay Helton
The Trojans and Bruins are having down seasons, with UCLA at 2-8 and USC at 5-5. So, do the teams’ sub-par records diminish or heighten the rivalry game this year?
“I think this rivalry is so special that it doesn’t really matter about the records. We all live together, that’s what makes this so special,” Helton said. “There’s so much pride to be able to compete for the victory bell and to have that on your campus for 365 days. That’s what sticks out to me — that first victory over UCLA we had together probably earned me the job, and we’ve been fortunate to be able to maintain the victory bell over the last three years.”
Helton dropped some numbers on us to show how well the players know each other (we didn’t do the math, but we’ll take his word for it… not exactly the greatest journalism ethos).
“There are an average of 123 players signed in the Pac-12 from Fresno or South, and a lot of them come to USC or UCLA. A lot of these guys know each other. So, does it help their juices get flowing? Of course,” he said.
Washington head coach Chris Petersen
The Dawgs have their home finale this weekend, so Petersen reflected on what the seniors have meant his program.
“I hope we finish this season strong," Petersen said. "Those guys have been spectacular. They’ve been here a long time and done a lot of great things. Extremely proud of those guys. They’ve been a blast to coach. They’re all in. They try to do the right thing all the time,” Petersen said.
The Huskies are hosting Oregon State, which is of course is led by head coach Jonathan Smith, who most recently was an offensive coordinator at Washington. This is what he had to say about Smith and dealing with quarterback Jake Browning:
“Jonathan is just really even-keeled, which is awesome for the quarterbacks. When things go haywire, he’s not going to overreact. I know Jake really appreciated that and those two guys got along real well.”
More on Smith as becoming a head coach — “He’s just a good football coach. Being an assistant coach and being a head coach is apples and oranges, but you have to start with being a good football coach and he certainly is,” Petersen said, before also mentioning that how well he treats people will also help him as he continues to build the Beavers’ program up.
Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards
At San Jose State, Herm Edwards coached Mark Dye, who has two kids on the Oregon football team (the Sun Devils are at Oregon this weekend). A reporter brought this up to Edwards, who had not put that together at that point. “I did not know that, so that’ll be fun to see the guys,” he said. “I know who the players are, but I did not put that together that that was their dad,” further adding that he’d make a point of saying hello to Troy and Travis Dye.
Edwards addressed what has allowed Arizona State to cut down on the number of sacks it has allowed this year.
“I think the run game helps with that. When you become balanced offensively, that helps you pass the ball more efficiently,” he said. “I think the offensive line has done a nice job of setting up the run game for us and the passing game plays off of that… We’re fortunate where we haven’t had to play catch up a lot of the time.”
Edwards expressed concern about trying to cover Oregon wide receiver Dillon Mitchell.
“Very, very good route runner and good after the catch. No. 13 shows up,” Edwards said. “He’s a handful. He does a nice job of coming up with contested balls. … We’re going to have our hands full trying to figure out how to cover that guy.”
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal
Running back CJ Verdell was not at practice on Tuesday, and Cristobal said there will not be an update on his injury status until late Wednesday morning.
He was also asked about receiver Jabari Hines.
“Jabari Hines is not on our roster right now. He is in the transfer portal so he will use this year to redshirt and transfer next year,” he said.
The Ducks are known for being aggressive on going for it fourth down, and Cristobal discussed what goes into making that decision, whether it’s a situational thing or if it’s based off what the percentages say.
“Also has to do with the flow of the game as well. If we’re in the kicker’s range and he’s kicking well, we might base it on that. We also might base it on how we feel like we’re doing at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “There’s a few things that go into it, but we like to stay more on the aggressive side.”
Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith
Having been the offensive coordinator for Washington quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin, will it be special for Smith to be at Husky Stadium at Senior Day?
“I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. Seeing those guys is good – Jake, Myles, they got a bunch of seniors,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t say it’s super special to me because I haven’t put a lot of thought into it at this point, but I would say that’s a cool part about going back up there.”
Where has he seen his team make the most progress in year No. 1?
“I think we’ve grown with regards to how we’ve practiced. I think we’ve had a bunch of examples of guys playing their first year of college football and they’ve improved with their technique,” Smith said. “I’ve been encouraged in that regard on the maturity it takes week in and week out to practice at a high level. We’ve got a ways to go to get to where we want to be, but I think we’re trending in the right direction.”
Smith was also asked what was helpful for him making the transition to head coach that he learned from working under Petersen.
“I think that one thing that sticks out is that he maps out a vision or a plan of how we want things done, and he sticks through it through the good times and bad,” Smith said.
The Beavs have gone for it quite a bit on fourth down (they are 21-for-30 on fourth-down conversions this year), and Smith talked about that philosophy a bit on the conference call.
“We need to be able to score touchdowns. Field goals aren’t going to win us a lot of games. I think going for it on fourth down tells our team that we’re playing to win games,” he said.