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Pac-12 Confidential

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

October 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Odds and ends from Pac-12 coaches . . .

Assorted nuggets from Tuesday’s weekly Pac-12 football coaches conference call (for more on Cal and Washington, which meet Friday night, see Bob Condotta’s UW blog):


The issue over whether QB Matt Scott played briefly with a concussion against USC caused a stir in Tucson. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the school will not say whether Scott suffered a concussion. Scott sustained a hit by two Trojans in the fourth quarter, threw a touchdown pass and then sat out as Arizona was able to kill clock on the ground. Before he left, Scott had vomited on the field, a common concussion side-effect, but coach Rich Rodriguez explained, “He’s kind of known as a guy who throws up quite a bit when he runs. He said, ‘Coach, you may not know this, but I’m kind of known as a puker.’ ” Rodriguez says Scott appears to be able to play Saturday at UCLA.

Arizona State

Defensive tackle Will Sutton “went out and did some things today,” said Todd Graham, who has hopes Sutton can return to play Saturday at Oregon State after bruising a knee against Oregon Oct. 18.


The beleaguered Buffs finish with Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Utah – all but ‘Zona in Boulder – and Jon Embree is keeping a stiff upper lip. “We’ve been outmanned,” he said. “I’ve talked to the guys about us continuing to compete. We have a lot of young kids, and some of them have hit the wall. It’s important we understand how to keep competing. Last year I don’t think we competed as well as we could have. I think the culture as far as competing and playing with great effort is part of the fabric of our program now.”


Among many sub-plots, Saturday will mark the first return of Oregon standout De’Anthony Thomas to play USC in Los Angeles, after a prep career and a recruiting process in which the Trojans thought they had Thomas locked up. “We already went back there in the Rose Bowl,” sniffed Chip Kelly. “I haven’t talked to him specifically about going home. It didn’t dawn on me until you asked the question.”

Oregon State
I asked Mike Riley if he felt he misread the readiness of QB Sean Mannion to go last week against Washington (Mannion threw four interceptions and was replaced by Cody Vaz, who will start this week against versus Arizona State). “I don’t know,” Riley said. “I thought he had good practices. He’s a very diligent, hard-working type of guy. The fact of the matter is, he made some good plays and struggled on others.” As for whether Mannion was rusty, Riley said, “He didn’t really miss that (much) time to be rusty. He just made about three real bad decisions, and that was, I’d say, uncharacteristic. Was he pressing? Was he overanalyzing? I don’t know for sure. But those were the facts.”
Riley says Markus Wheaton appears to be on track to return this week after an apparent helmet-to-helmet hit knocked him from the UW game.
David Shaw said a first start against WSU last week for true freshman Josh Garnett, the ex-Puyallup offensive lineman, had more to do with a specific hashmark than it did any real promotion to Garnett. Overall, Shaw wasn’t pleased by the paltry Stanford offense against a surprising WSU defense, saying, “We did not block well at the point of attack. Some of our individual blocks got defeated, but some of our double-team blocks got defeated, which is not us. When we double-team people, we’ve gotta move those guys.”
Shaw made it clear, though, that the future is bright, not only for Garnett, but the other two touted freshman linemen, Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy. Said Shaw, “Andrus’ athletic ability, at 6-7 and 320 pounds, is mind-boggling. Josh’s mobility, at 320, especially in our offense to pull and also to be a physical down blocker (is impressive). And I’ll tell you what, Kyle is the pure technician. He’s the little guy, at just under 280. I’m excited about the future of all those guys.”
I asked Jim Mora about Jeff Locke’s impressive kickoff numbers – 43 touchbacks on kickoffs – but he wanted to talk about Locke’s punting. “Locke is a tremendous, tremendous player,” Mora said. “The best thing he does is punt that ball inside the 10. I’ve never seen anyone in my entire football career as good at it as he is.”
Lane Kiffin minimizes the notion that Oregon may be disadvantaged for not having played in a close game yet, saying, “Normally, there’s a concern about whether you have to play a complete game, but they have so many guys returning, I’m sure that’s probably not a big concern with Chip (Kelly).”
As for blowing a 15-point second-half lead at Arizona, and the play of Matt Barkley, Kiffin said, “We had so many times to win the game and screwed it up time and time again.” One of those was a deep ball on which Barkley overthrew Robert Woods when USC would have taken a three-touchdown lead. “It’s going to go to 22 (points) and the game’s over,” Kiffin said. “But at the same time, he’s (Barkley) playing really well for the most part.”
Kiffin says it can’t hurt the Trojans that in Oregon, they’re facing a spread-option offense for the second time in two games.
Incredibly, USC has been penalized 50 times more than Arizona State in the same number of games. Kiffin says coaches showed a cut-up of those plays to the Trojans and how it’s equated to points not scored and allowed.
Reggie Dunn, who returned two 100-yard kickoffs for touchdowns against Cal, was ticketed for Oregon State – twice, when he signed out of high school and junior college for OSU, but he could never get cleared there and bailed for Utah. “He’s had struggles handling the ball, in situations where he didn’t judge the ball as well as he should have,” says Kyle Whittingham. “But he’s worked really hard on the Jugs machine to where he’s confident in his ability to catch the ball. What you saw Saturday didn’t surprise us; he’s got a lot of speed and a lot of make-you-miss ability.”
It’s the near-anniversary of Utah’s OT win in Pullman in the snow over the Cougars, when WSU QB Connor Halliday played more than three quarters with a lacerated liver. Whittingham said he had no inkling Halliday was hurt so badly as the game progressed, adding, “He’s one tough kid, no doubt about it.”
Washington State
The 10 sacks allowed at Stanford put the Cougars in an unenviable – but familiar – position. Their per-game sack average allowed (4.25) is now worst in the NCAA. This, after they allowed 186 sacks during the four-year Paul Wulff regime.
Meanwhile, Mike Leach says the Pac-12 has approved Jeff Tuel’s appeal for a fifth season of eligibility, but it’s unknown exactly what that means since it has to surmount NCAA hurdles as well. Tuel played the first half of the Oregon State game last year – game No. 7 for WSU – and medical redshirts usually are granted only to those incurring injuries in the first half of a season. So that’s far from a done deal.



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