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Pac-12 Confidential

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

September 3, 2013 at 1:54 PM

What they were saying on Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches call . . .


Snippets from Tuesday’s weekly Pac-12 football coaches conference call:


Rich Rodriguez’ team ran a scant 47 plays in beating Northern Arizona, 35-0, which is about half what might normally be expected.

“I looked at my watch and it was 8:07,” Rodriguez said. “We played the first half in less than an hour. They shortened the game down. I don’t know if it was the 40-second clock getting eaten up just about every play, but the game went quicker. It was kind of a crazy way that it happened. Normally for us, it’s not a good sign.”

Arizona State

Todd Graham says he’s never had the first weekend of college football off. Now he starts Thursday night against Sacramento State after a Saturday in which he and his staff spent a lot of time checking out games on TV.

Graham clicked off a list of teams he watched, including Wisconsin (next week’s opponent), plus USC, UCLA and Arizona.

“We tried to watch the teams in the (Pac-12) South we’re competing with,” he said.


  Sonny Dykes was pleased with first-time quarterback Jared Goff, who completed 38 of 63 passes. Dykes said neither of two interceptions that went for Northwestern touchdowns in a 44-30 Wildcat victory were Goff’s fault. They were tipped balls.

“I thought the most impressive thing was his demeanor on the sideline,” said Dykes. “When bad things happened, he didn’t put his head down, he just fighting and grinding.”

Dykes conceded that the Bears didn’t run the ball as well as he’d like, saying, “We’d like to be a little more balanced in the run-pass distribution. I thought we put a little more pressure (on Goff).”


It was a breakthrough day for the Buffs, who thwarted rival Colorado State, 41-27, Sunday.

“To see the joy on their faces . . . how hard they’ve been working,” said first-year coach Mike MacIntyre. “(But) like I told them, it was a great win. But it was just one.”

Addison Gillam had 14 tackles, including a sack, and became the second Colorado player in history to start as a true freshman at inside linebacker. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of his hometown – Palo Cedro, Calif. – a tiny place tucked in Shasta County in northern California.

“He’s 6-3 ¾, 230-some-odd pounds, runs 4.5 flat, he’s very, very athletic, very smart and very tough,” said MacIntyre, who added that he knew of Gillam when he was coaching San Jose State.


  Mark Helfrich said the Nicholls State game marked his first on a sideline since 1996, which takes him all the way back to when he finished college. He’s typically seen the game from a coaching box upstairs.

“That was a new experience, trying not to get killed when somebody’s running on the sideline,” he said.

The Ducks travel to Virginia this week, a team Helfrich said “dominated” on the defensive side in a 19-16 win over BYU on a sloppy field. “Their front is big, physical and athletic.”

Dominant was hardly the word for the Cavaliers’ offense, which gained only 223 yards against the Cougars and needed a late turnover and score to win.

Oregon State

Mike Riley called it a case of being “way out of sorts” on many fronts in the 49-46 upset defeat to Eastern Washington Saturday.

“We got totally disrupted,” Riley said. “We were way out of sorts in pass rush, pass-rush lanes, we were misaligned defensively, we made some crucial technical errors – playing Cover 3 (zone defense) and giving up a deep ball right down the middle of the field. Just simple football mistakes.”

Riley, whose team hosts Hawaii Saturday, was surprised by what happened after feeling positive following fall camp. “I told the coaches the other day, we loved these guys on Friday. They haven’t changed.”

Scott Crichton, the standout defensive end from Tacoma, had a quiet game with two tackles. Said Riley: “The quarterback (Vernon Adams) gave us fits. He (Crichton) could never quite get there or finish a play.”


Cardinal gets a late start on the season, hosting San Jose State Saturday. Among other things, it’s a matchup of coaches who have done time at FCS San Diego. Stanford’s David Shaw was passing-game coordinator one year for Jim Harbaugh in 2006, and when Harbaugh moved on to Stanford, Ron Caragher took over as head coach. Caragher then replaced Mike MacIntyre at San Jose State after the 2012 season.

“I met him at Bay Area media day (earlier this summer),” Shaw said. “It was strange, because we know so many of the same people.”

Among other common threads is Rich Brooks, the ex-Oregon coach. Caragher worked for Brooks at Kentucky for four seasons, and Shaw’s dad Willie was an assistant for Brooks with the Ducks.


Bellevue High product Myles Jack had a big opener against Nevada with eight tackles, and there will more highlights to come, promises Jim Mora.

“Eventually, he’ll return kicks for us and will play some running back,” Mora said, calling the 225-pound Jack, a linebacker “one of the most explosive athletes” he’s been around.

“He had a lot of impact plays,” Mora said.


Lane Kiffin, asked what were three primary areas he’d like to see his team improve against Washington State, limited his remarks to the offense: “First, consistency in the passing game, being more efficient. Second, playing better on third down on offense than we did (the Trojans were only three of 14 at Hawaii). We had some really critical third-down misses. And staying on offense, finishing inside the red zone (three times, USC was held to a field goal).”

Kiffin didn’t quibble with a defense that had seven sacks, and played without end Morgan Breslin. Ends George Uko and Leonard Williams had a pair of sacks apiece.


Utes host Weber State Saturday, and Kyle Whittingham made sure to post the scores of eight Football Championship Subdivision teams that beat FBS programs on opening weekend.

“It caught their attention,” Whittingham said. “We understand you can’t just show up.”

Linebacker Brian Blechen had surgery recently to correct knee tendinitis, and Whittingham said a decision would be made at “three or four weeks minimum” as to whether he might return this year.


Steve Sarkisian, asked if there was somebody outside the program whose counsel he considered in switching to an uptempo system, pointed to Kevin Sumlin, the Texas A&M coach who was formerly at Houston.

“A couple of years back, Kevin Sumlin came and visited with us,” Sarkisian said. “I didn’t feel at the time we were quite ready to make a change from a depth standpoint, but I’ve always kind of held onto his thoughts. He’d be the guy that really got me thinking the most about it.”

Washington State

Asked about the difference in WSU’s 31-24 opening loss at Auburn compared to the 30-6 beating administered by BYU in the Cougars’ opener in his coaching debut at WSU in 2012, Mike Leach said, “I think we were more invested. In think overall, our guys have put more effort in to play well. I thought it was more meaningful to them. They were out there and played fast right away. That, and everybody else is a year older. We had a lot of guys (in 2012) that had never played college football.”




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