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Pac-12 Confidential

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

October 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Assorted nuggets from Tuesday’s Pac-12 teleconference . . .

Some comments from Tuesday’s Pac-12 football coaches teleconference:

Arizona

‘Zona coach Rich Rodriguez says B.J. Denker, the Pac-12 offensive player of the week, is getting better play around him but admits he likes what he sees from Denker, saying, “He’s really just like a redshirt freshman in our system. He’s tough mentally and also very, very competitive. I think his competitiveness has allowed him to get better every week.”

Arizona State

Todd Graham scoffed at the notion that his team might be bothered by chilly weather in Pullman Thursday night. The forecast is for a low of 35 after some possible showers earlier in the day.

“Naw, we never worry about that,” he said. “It’s part of the game. Obviously, you’ve got to be prepared, but it doesn’t affect us. We’re a run, play-action football team. It never has affected our team and what we’re doing.”

Oregon

Mark Helfrich says he’s not surprised by RB Byron Marshall’s production, since he “had a great fall camp. He had the best fall camp, certainly, of anyone on offense.”

As for Stanford’s loss of DE Ben Gardner, whose first game out will be next Thursday against the Ducks, Helfrich said, “He’s outstanding. He’s a stud. That guy will have a future ahead of him, for sure. He’s just a big, relentless guy who seemed like he got more athletic as he got bigger.”

Oregon State

Mike Riley, on the eight sacks recorded by Stanford last week, and facing USC Friday night: “We made some assignment mistakes on stuff Stanford did that cost us some sacks. And then physically, we’d get beat from time to time. I thought Sean (Mannion) battled; he actually played about as well as he could. We’re going to see a very similar front physically (with USC).”

Stanford

Trent Murphy, the Pac-12 defensive player of the week, is getting heavy interest from the NFL as both a defensive end or an outside linebacker, says David Shaw.

“He’s worked on more specific pass-rush moves,” Shaw said, talking about Murphy’s improvement. “He’s really gotten good not only at his pass rush, but also his inside moves. He’s done a great job of working on his skill set.” Shaw says the NFL is “intrigued by his versatility.”

The Cardinal is losing DE Ben Gardner for the season, and a bowl, because of a pectoral injury, but it might get back Henry Anderson on the other side of the line after his knee injury suffered against Army.

UCLA

Bruins coach Jim Mora took some heat off Brett Hundley, who has struggled of late, pointing out, “There are a lot of factors that go into the way your quarterback plays. First and foremost, you have to look at the offensive line. We started three true freshmen against Oregon. What Brett has taken from it is, that group played well. He now understands he’s got an offensive line that’s played together a little bit and is showing great improvement.”

USC

Referring to the Trojans’ recent troubled history at Oregon State, Ed Orgeron said, “You have to give Mike Riley and Oregon State credit. He always seems to have his team ready to play for us. We need to get ready for the speed of the game. It seems like they play really fast up there.”

Orgeron says he’s optimistic that tight end Xavier Grimble will return to play the  Beavers Friday night. The Trojans went with a cast of walk-ons at the position against Utah. Orgeron was non-committal on other recently injured players, calling them “questionable.”

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