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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 18, 2007 at 11:37 AM

Around the Pac-10

As always, Tuesday is the day of the Pac-10 coaches conference call.
Here are some highlights:
WASHINGTON: No new Husky news from Tyrone Willingham’s portion of the call, but there was an interesting exchange when Willingham was asked whether he “gets a kick” out of the discussion in some circles about whether he was fired too hastily at Notre Dame given that team’s current struggles. “No,” he said. “Why would one get a kick out of someone else’s misery? … I’m very happy, very comfortable at the University of Washington. We are moving our program in the right direction and I am excited not only about our quarterback but about our entire football team. So no, I don’t get a kick out of those discussions and I would prefer that they don’t exist.”
OREGON: The Ducks open Pac-10 play this week at Stanford, a team that coach Mike Bellotti is calling much improved. “They are playing much faster, I notice their defensive line plays very, very well. They are playing with a much greater energy.”
STANFORD: The Cardinal, obviously, opens by hosting Oregon, and coach Jim Harbaugh said the 3-0 Ducks are going to be tough to stop. “It’s going to take perfect execution on our part to do that dontn know if I have the answer right now for how to slow them down,” he said. Stanford is also without middle linebacker Fred Campbell, a sophomore who suffered a career-ending neck injury against San Jose State. RB Toby Gerhart also suffered a knee injury that is being evaluated.
ARIZONA: The Wildcats are a surprisingly poor 1-2 after losing at home to New Mexico Saturday, and coach Mike Stoops said he’s kind of stumped about what’s gone wrong. “On offense we seem to gain confidence every time we step on the field and now our defense we haven’t been as sharp and as effective as a whole as we played a year ago, for whatever reason. We are just not as productive for whatever reason and we just have to play better defensively.” Arizona’s biggest problems have come with its pass defense, which is eighth in the Pac-10 at 267 yards per game. Stoops said it’s a team-wide problem, saying Arizona isn’t getting as much pass rush as it needs.
OREGON STATE: The Beavers play at Arizona State in a rematch with former coach Dennis Erickson. That’s not quite the story it could be, however, as Erickson returned to Corvallis last season with Idaho at a time when Mike Riley seemed to be in some trouble. Now, after OSU’s 10-win season last year, Riley is safe and Erickson is at another Pac-10 school. Interestingly, OSU hasn’t won at Arizona State since 1969 and Riley said “we’re trying to get rid of all those old streaks so this is our chance to do that.”
USC: The Trojans host Washington State Saturday and Pete Carroll says he doesn’t think the Trojans will have any trouble getting ready for the Cougars after coming off the big win at Nebraska. “It’s normal thinking to think after a big game you’d have trouble getting up the next week but we haven’t had that problem,” Carroll said. Despite USC’s big running game against Nebraska, Carroll said he also thought QB John David Booty played well. “John’s been on the money,” Carroll said. “He’s playing great. He was in total command of a difficult situation. I’m really fired up about the way he’s playing.”
UCLA: The Bruins host the Huskies Saturday and Karl Dorrell said he thinks his team’s confidence is still fine after the 44-6 loss to Utah last week. “Their confidence isn’t shattered because we had a chance to watch the tape and view the things that we’ve done. We didn’t perform to the caliber and to the level that we can perform and we didn’t make any plays given the opportunity to make some plays, so we felt there were a lot of things that could be fixed.”
ARIZONA STATE: ASU opens Pac-10 play in the Erickson era against one of his old teams, Oregon State. But the big news is the injury bug as Erickson said if the game were to be played today that RB Ryan Torain, safety Josh Barrett and tight end Brent Miller all would be unable to go due to injury. “All of them are questionable,” he said. Erickson also said he wants his team to become more consistent, that the offense has had to rely too much on big plays so far and not enough on its running game.
WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars play at No. 1-ranked USC Saturday, and WSU coach Bill Doba isn’t hiding the fact that his team is a big underdog. “I tell our kids it’s not always the best team that wins but the team that plays the best,” Doba said, adding he’s invoked the example of Appalachian State winning at Michigan. “The ball bounces funny sometimes. We’ll go down there and try to keep it simple and do the things we know how to do best and let the chips fall where they may. Our kids will play hard, I know that.”
CAL: The Bears host Arizona to open Pac-10 play, and will do so with the conference’s leading rusher, Justin Forsett, who has stepped right in to replace Marshawn Lynch. Forsett has 367 yards for the season. “He worked hard in the off-season to gain weight and add some speed,” said coach Jeff Tedford. The Bears will be out to get some revenge against the Wildcats, who beat them 24-20 last year in Tucson. “It was kind of a product of some of our mistakes and they made some plays, no question,” Tedford said, referring to some untimely penalties and turnovers that impacted the game.



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