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Pac-12 Confidential

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

October 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Odds and ends from Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches teleconference . . .

Arizona

‘Zona coach Rich Rodriguez was asked about BYU’s 115-play effort in a 47-46 victory over Houston, something that makes the brisk-tempo RichRod envious.

“I think I’ve been over 100 before, but I’ve never been at 115,” said Rodriguez. “That’s a huge tempo-setter right there. I think it’d surely have an effect on the other team’s defense.”

Certainly BYU quarterback Taysom Hill did. He completed 29 of 44 for 417 yards and ran 34 times for 128.

Arizona State

Having played a rugged schedule the first half of the season, ASU will practice without pads this week in preparation for WSU Oct. 31 in Pullman, then take Friday and Saturday off.

“I even thought our starters playing a half against Colorado (Oct. 12) really helped us,” said Todd Graham.

Colorado

It’s the Buffs’ lot to deal this week with Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, the offensive player of the week who ran for 236 yards Saturday against Utah.

“I get a headache the more I watch him on film,” said Mike MacIntyre. “He is an incredible player. He’s extremely tough and physical. When he doesn’t have a place to go, he punishes people. If there’s a better running back in America, I’d like to see him.”

MacIntyre said Tuesday’s workout “was by far our best Tuesday practice we’ve ever had.”

Oregon

Mark Helfrich said the Ducks showed a couple of clips of their wide receivers blocking WSU players Saturday night as an example of the toughness and mentality he’s looking for.

“They’ve (the wideouts) done a fantastic job,” he said. “Last week was one of their best jobs of that all year. That’s a big sign of toughness when your wideouts block really well.”

Now the Ducks appear ready to get back De’Anthony Thomas from an ankle sprain for the UCLA game, but Helfrich is holding those plans close to the vest (surprise). With the emergence of Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner in the backfield, it’s possible Thomas could return to more of the receiver/slash role that he played in the past.

Oregon State

Mike Riley noted that his team just got done playing the two most pass-oriented teams in the league, WSU and Cal, and now it graduates into the black-and-blue division against Stanford.

“There might be times when they line up everybody between the hashes,” said Riley. “You’ve got to be sound on their play-action stuff, which is a big part of their game. You’re going to have to play real sound, physical football, have good eyes in the secondary and have everybody fill in the correct gap up front. And play very, very hard.”

Despite the lack of a running game, the Beavers have done well not leaving QB Sean Mannion vulnerable to a pass rush.

“We’re doing a good job of being on the right guy (in blocking),” Riley said. “You’ve got to be good assignment-wise so you don’t have a lot of people running free at the quarterback. When you’re passing a lot, you see a lot of stuff (defensively) and it always scares me.

“The other thing is, Sean is getting rid of the ball. He avoids sacks by throwing the ball away.”

Stanford

David Shaw praised his kickoff- and punt-coverage units, saying they’ve been phenomenal and that those elements are lost in the emphasis on other statistics. The Cardinal is No. 2 in the league in kickoff coverage and fourth in net punting (but only .7 of a yard from the top spot).

“If we can back teams up the long way, it’s hard to drive the length of the field with our defense,” said Shaw.

He said receiver Devon Cajuste, who left the UCLA game with a leg injury, passed his MRI exams and could possibly play this week at OSU if he’s able to practice Wednesday or Thursday.

UCLA

Jim Mora, who came to Washington as a walk-on and played for the late Don James, recalled the impact James made on him.  There were family ties, dating to 1968, when Mora’s father, Jim Sr., was on the same staff as James at Colorado, and later, when the senior Mora worked under James at Washington.

“You talk about a guy with great integrity, toughness and discipline, and a real consistency about him, that was Coach James,” said Mora. “I think we all had a tremendous amount of respect for him. I know every day I go to work in this profession, I draw from something I learned from him.”

Utah

Kyle Whittingham was hardly definitive on the status of QB Travis Wilson (but he was a lot more definitive than several other coaches in the league might be), who hurt his hand last week at Arizona. The Utes play at USC this week.

“We hope to have him,” Whittingham said. “That’s to be determined. I’m optimistic. I’m going to say he will play. That’s my guess right now.”

Washington

Steve Sarkisian said Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ difficulties in the UW passing game have mirrored the program’s the past two weeks against Oregon and ASU: “Our entire passing game has been that way. (But) we’ve run the ball really well this year (with Bishop Sankey) and a lot of the running game is behind him. He’s becoming a more complete football player. Believe me, we’d like to get the ball in his hands. He’s a very good weapon for us.”

Washington State

Mike Leach points out that WSU’s four losses (to Auburn, Stanford, Oregon State and Oregon) are against teams with a combined 25-3 record. WSU was the only school in the league to play on the season’s first eight weekends, and he said he noticed some slippage recently.

“We’ve had a tougher situation than any other team I’m aware of,” Leach said.

The Cougars are taking a break from practice until Thursday, then will begin to prepare for the Halloween-night game with Arizona State, which Leach calls “an exciting time to play.”

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