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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

September 18, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Nuts and bolts from the Pac-12 coaches . . .

Assorted bites from Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches conference call:

Arizona – The Wildcats’ first-year coach, Rich Rodriguez, will test his spread offense against Oregon’s wildfire outfit in Eugene. QB Matt Scott “has kind of carried us,” Rodriguez says (Scott has 190 yards rushing and a 71.5-percent completion percentage). On the other side, he says, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota “can make every throw, and he’s going to be one of the fastest guys on the field. They’ve got a lot of fast guys playing fast.”

Arizona StateTodd Graham said Cameron Marshall’s light workload at Missouri – four carries, 15 yards – had a lot to do with ASU’s limited time of possession and Marshall’s lingering hamstring issue suffered in fall camp. “We can’t have one of our best players touch the ball four times,” he conceded. He says defensive tackle Will Sutton is as good as he’s ever been around, so expect to see some scouts Saturday night in Tempe to watch him and Utah’s highly regarded nose tackle, Star Lotulelei.

CalJeff Tedford says more carries are in store – duh – for sophomore tailback Brendan Bigelow, who lit up Ohio State for 160 yards on four carries, including two long touchdown runs. “He’s a special player,” said Tedford, whose team visits USC, a team it hasn’t beaten since 2003. Tedford also said he’s sticking by kicker Vincenzo D’Amato, who missed three field goals, all of 40-plus yards, that crimped the Bears’ chances to upset Ohio State. “He’s a very good kicker; it was just one of those days,” Tedford said. “We’re practicing hard from the left hash (that troubled D’Amato) this week to make sure he gets it straight.”

Colorado – It’s getting grim in Boulder, as the 0-3 Buffs prepare for a trip to Pullman Saturday. Jon Embree says he’s having individual meetings with all players and Tuesday morning, he was halfway through them. The CU school president, Bruce Benson, says he supports Embree, while former Buffs coach Bill McCartney, who coached Embree at CU, asked to speak Tuesday at a booster luncheon, and told the attendees, “This isn’t going to get easier. It’s going to get harder. Stand with these guys.” Meanwhile, Matt McChesney, a former CU defensive lineman who hosts a morning radio show in Denver, didn’t hold back. Among his flaming comments were, “If I was in charge, Greg Brown (defensive coordinator) would be fired today.” He called the program a “disgrace” as well as “the worst in the nation.”

OregonChip Kelly scoffed at the notion that when Arizona visits, the teams will be mirror images. “We run ours in Eugene, they do theirs in Tucson,” he said. “I don’t think anybody’s offense is the same. I’m sure our terminology is extremely different. When I look at them on tape, to be honest, I don’t think I’m looking at us.” So much for that story line.

Oregon State – OSU enters the UCLA game having played just once — because of its postponed game with Nicholls State and a bye last weekend – while the Bruins have played three times. “We’re professional practicers,” says coach Mike Riley. “We’ve watched a lot of football.”


Stanford — The Cardinal is fielding accolades after its 21-14 victory over USC, and David Shaw says that indeed, the Cardinal defense is better than last year’s BCS-bowl level. “Chase Thomas came back,” he said, referring to the Stanford linebacker who could have gone to the NFL, “and Shayne Skov (who was injured most of last year) came back. We have experience. We talk about this not being a sport for amateurs. We want to play experienced guys.” You’d assume a bye helps the Cardinal come back to earth before the big Sept. 27 game with Washington at CenturyLink Field.
UCLA – “Yeah, it’s been a surprise,” Jim Mora says of his offensive line, a group that includes a redshirt freshman, a true freshman, a sophomore and a returnee from a church mission. The Bruins are favored by about 10 to make it four wins in a row this week at the Rose Bowl against Oregon State.
USCLane Kiffin says he thinks the signs are positive that USC will bounce back. “I thought they were great this morning,” he said of the first big practice day after the Stanford loss. Kiffin opened up the left tackle position for competition after he was unhappy with the play of Aundrey Walker, and he said he thought initially Walker has responded well. “I thought we did some good things on defense,” he said of the Stanford game. “The other side was completely different. Especially in the second half, I thought we were dominated up front.” It would help to get steady center Khaled Holmes back from an injury, but no word on whether his ailing leg will allow him to return.
UtahKyle Whittingham notes the Utes “have to be able to run the ball better.” With John White out last week, Utah netted a mere 49 yards on the ground against BYU, but he figures to return against ASU. Fairly improbable Utah could win last week, with just 245 net yards and 14 first downs. But the Utes didn’t turn the ball over.

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