As always on Tuesdays, the Pac-12 holds its weekly conference call with all 12 football coaches.
A question raised for both UW coach Steve Sarkisian and Cal coach Jeff Tedford was the off-season hiring by the Huskies of Cal assistants Tosh Lupoi and Eric Kiesau, who will return to Berkeley for Friday night’s game.
Both, as might be expected, downplayed that as a major factor in the game.
Tedford has said in the past he has no ill will toward Sarkisian or the coaches who left, and repeated that today.
“No,I mean people make decisions for whatever reasons, and like I said I have a lot of respect for both those guys and they are very good coaches,”’ Tedford said. “It’s always difficult when coaches make decisions to move because both have invested a lot of time here. But people do things for their careers, for their families andn whatever, and I totally understand. So I have no ill feelings about that.”
Tedford said he thought the presence of Lupoi and Kiesau on the UW staff gives the Huskies a little bit of an advantage in that “they obviously know more about us than we know about them in terms of personnel.” But he said he did not sense a feeling from the Cal players of having a grudge against Lupoi or Kiesau or of their return meaning any additional motivation this week.
Sarkisian said he did not think UW would have any edge due to the presence of Lupoi and Kiesau on staff because “every year, every team is different.” He said whatever tendencies of a player a coach might have known by coaching them and then moving on are also “there on film. That’s what you study film for. And we’ve got our own tendencies here.”
Sarkisian also was asked about UW’s kicking situation and that UW has just four touchbacks this year — fewest in the Pac-12 — out of 35 attempts. Sarkisian noted that Travis Coons “does triple duty” in terms of handling kickoffs, field goals and punt and that “there’s just a bit of fatigue there. But he’s the best at all three that we have so we’ve got to cover great. We know our kicks are going to be brought back out so we take real pride in our ability to cover kickoffs and so far, so good.”
UW is 10th in the conference in net kickoff average at 39.3 due in part to having few touchbacks.