Tuesday morning marked the weekly Pac-12 football coaches teleconference. Some highlights:
‘Zona coach Rich Rodriguez talked openly about the perception he was a bad fit at Michigan and scoffed at the idea. With the Wolverines now in desperation mode, he was asked if he’s in an I-told-you-so frame of mind.
“I don’t now, I think that’s left for everybody else (to decide),” he said. “Everybody said, the experience was so bad and you didn’t fit. There was a lot of BS. We thought we fought through it all, and had we had a chance to see it through to the fourth and fifth years, I thought we would have had a chance to compete for championships. We’re going to get the (fourth year) at Arizona.”
Todd Graham lobbied for an expanded playoff, saying, “I’m hoping in the near-future, you expand it and the champion from each conference should have an automatic berth.” Referring to the disparity in non-league schedules and differences in conference scheduling, he said, “You’d never do that in the NFL. You have the same amount of conference games, same playoff games.”
Sonny Dykes insists the Bears took some benefit from the last-second Arizona loss, saying, “We said, ‘Next time we’re in this situation, we’re going to know how to handle it better.’ We were in it the next week and handled it better (against Colorado) and we were in it last week (at Washington State) and handled that better. You have to have the mindset that you’re going to play 60 minutes and at the end of the game, we’ll figure out who won.”
Buffs, 2-4 and winless in the league, have a bye this week. Says Mike MacIntyre, “The thing we’ve done, we’ve been in every game going into the fourth quarter and had a chance to win every single game. Now we’ve got to punch through. That’s what’s so frustrating about the last two games. Our kids taste it. We’ve got to be better at finishing games, got to find a way to make some plays.”
Asked about Arizona running backs Nick Wilson and Terris Jones-Grigsby, Mark Helfrich quipped, “Both of those backs kind of reminded you a little more of Ka’deem Carey than you would have liked.”
At the milepost of a bye week, Mike Riley said he’d like to make strides in development of the receiving corps and in tackling by the defense. Said Riley, “I think we’ve got a good defense, but we didn’t tackle real overall (at Colorado). I think we’re doing OK, but we’ve really got to improve as we go.”
David Shaw said he was “honestly not surprised” to hear that WSU’s Connor Halliday had thrown for an NCAA-record 734 yards against Cal. “We started to talk about it last year,: he said. “Every once in awhile, they keep you honest with the running game, but their running game is the passing game. These guys have a lot of opportunities. They’re good athletes and they have a good quarterback. It was only a matter of time. They were in a back-and-forth game where they can get the ball back quickly.”
WSU meets Stanford Friday night on the road.
Redshirt freshman receiver Eldridge Massington has caught touchdown passes on big plays in UCLA’s last two games, and Jim Mora says, “I’m very pleased. It’s good to see him getting his burst and speed back. He’s worked really hard to come back from that devastating knee injury (it ended his senior year of high school). He’s a very well-liked young man and it’s fun to see him have success.”
The Trojans were gashed for more than 400 yards by Boston College’s runs three weeks ago, and Saturday, by 510 yards passing from Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici.
“The hard part is, we played pretty good defense until about the last five minutes,” said Steve Sarkisian. “For whatever reason, we gave up almost 250 yards in the last three drives. The key is to play all 60 minutes. We relaxed and gave up some big plays at the end of the ball game.”
How did Utah get 10 sacks of UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley when it managed to get to WSU’s Halliday only three times the week before?
“We had a plan against Halliday to do a lot of drop-eight,” said Kyle Whittingham, talking about Utah’s three-man rush. “Which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t the best (idea). We changed that philosophy against Hundley and rushed four or more every time. We didn’t have one snap where we rushed three. I’m not saying drop-eight is a bad plan, but for us, after seeing the last couple of weeks, we realize our defensive line is certainly a strong suit and we need” to rush the passer.
Chris Petersen is well acquainted with the challenge Saturday at Cal, because Dykes was at Louisiana Tech during Petersen’s Boise State days.
“They do a great job with it (offense),” Petersen said. “The run game is really efficient and effective, which always helps your pass game. The quarterback (Jared Goff) is a really good player, really good in the pocket, the ball comes out really, really rapidly. He’s probably the best guy we’ve seen so far. And their receivers are fabulous.”
Mike Leach was asked what he thought of the growing trend of allowing cameras in the post-game locker room to record team celebrations.
“It’s not gonna happen here,” he said. “If that’s what somebody wants to do, go ahead, but we’re not doing it. I think the locker room is a haven for the players and coaches. It’s the one place you have a little privacy and peace and quiet. You share nearly everything else with the outside. Before or after a game, I think players and coaches need to be able to focus on their business and what they’re going to do. The outside gets their pound of flesh and they don’t need it here.”