All of the Pac-12 coaches jumped on their weekly conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon and gave a variety of updates about their teams and the upcoming week in college football. Here are a few nuggets that came out of the call from each head coach.
Colorado coach Jon Embree
- Sophomore quarterback Nick Hirschman is questionable for this week’s game against Washington with a concussion, Embree said. The staff won’t have an idea as to his availability until Thursday, when the quarterback undergoes further testing.
- Backup Connor Wood is likely on track to start, but Embree said he anticipates using a few guys at the quarterback spot.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley
- Injured quarterback Cody Vaz didn’t practice on Monday but could be back on Wednesday. Sean Mannion has been taking all of the snaps and will be playing as the starter as of Tuesday. If Vaz returns, Riley said, a decision will be made later in the week as to who will be the guy under center, but whoever it is will not affect what the coaches do to the game plan.
- Riley says linebacker D.J. Alexander and offensive lineman Grant Enger are progressing well in recovering from injuries and likely will play Saturday against Cal.
- After facing Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor last week, Riley said the Cardinal running back was an NFL-caliber player. “I really have a lot of respect for him.”
- On the bounce back from the loss to Stanford: “(The team) looks like they’re getting ready to play a game with great preparation and excitement.”
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham
- On Reggie Dunn’s kick returning: “We knew right away that he had a special ability to return kicks; the problem throughout the first couple of years and earlier this year was catching the kick. Before he could return them, he was struggling to catch the kick and we didn’t really have enough confidence the first couple of games to put him back there,” Whittingham said. “Once he got those issues solidified, we put him back there and the rest is history.”
Stanford coach David Shaw
- There was high praise for running back Stepfan Taylor, with his coach calling him a future NFL player and the best pass-blocking running back in the conference. “He epitomizes what we’re all about,” Shaw said. “There’s nothing he can’t do and he’s the last person that wants to talk about himself.”
- On Oregon: “I think the entire conference has an ‘Oregon problem.’ They’ve lost one game a year and that’s a credit to what they do up there. They have great athletes, a great scheme in all three phases and know how to adjust those schemes based on what you’re doing.”
- On the Ducks’ injury issues: “It doesn’t matter. They put young guys in there, they put new guys in there and they still play great. With all the injuries they had and all the guys that weren’t playing, they still played one heck of a game. Cal made it tough on them but once they hit their groove – and it was in all three phases – they showed why they’re the best team in the nation and the deepest team in the nation.”
Washington State coach Mike Leach
- He said Arizona State had a lot of “explosive” players.
- On his team’s performance against UCLA: “We played really well and played hard.”
- On the season so far: “We have a lot of young players that have emerged and doing well. We’ve had our growing pains.”
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez
- The coach said that the number of possessions is more critical to the offense’s success than time of possession.
- Rodriguez was impressed with backup quarterback B.J. Denker’s play against Colorado, calling him very composed. Because of the scholarship situation with so few guys at the position, Rodriguez said the staff was looking to bring in an older transfer and found Denker, who did a great job in August of picking up the offense.
- On running back Ka’Deem Carey: “Ka’Deem really, really loves football. You want to have a whole team that loves football but the way Ka’Deem practices, the way he runs, the way he prepares, it’s just infectious. Every game is like a holiday to him.”
Oregon coach Chip Kelly
- The coach wouldn’t compare this year’s offense to past seasons and whether or not this group was the best he’s had.
- Kelly was very complimentary about the Stanford defense, in particular the front seven: “Probably the best defense we’ll face.”
Cal coach Jeff Tedford
- Tedford called the Oregon State defense very experienced, with players who are well coached and playing at a high level.
- On the Beavers’ tandem of Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton, Tedford says they’re just as good as USC’s Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. The coach also said the OSU duo were both big play guys who were very quick.
- On Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota: “He killed us. He doesn’t miss many.”
UCLA coach Jim Mora
- Mora didn’t bite when asked if the USC game was the most important of the season: “It’s the most important game we’ll play this week.” The coach said he doesn’t want to put more emphasis on certain games because that creates an inconsistency in the program.
- On the 50-0 loss to USC last season: “It would be naïve to say some of the guys who played in that game don’t remember it.”
- Linebacker Anthony Barr earned Pac-12 defensive player of the week and the praise continued from his coach: “It’s been something. I think he’s one of the premier defensive players in the conference and I would venture he’s one of the premier defensive players in the country.”
- USC wide receiver Marqise Lee played a little defense last week but the UCLA staff isn’t preparing too much for him to do that: “No, I worry about him when he lines up on offense, though!”
USC coach Lane Kiffin
- UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley drew high praise from Kiffin for making few mistakes and not getting rattled despite being just a redshirt freshman.
- On Marqise Lee playing defense: “He would be one of our better players if we put him over there.”
- On the matchup with UCLA this weekend: “It’s a one-game playoff for the South.”
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian
- On tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins playing a little defensive end against Utah, Sarkisian said the sophomore did an adequate job. “Obviously, it’s a new position in college for him and there are things he needs to work on.”
Arizona State coach Todd Graham
- Graham said the Sun Devils have not played well the past two weeks and need to get back on track by not turning the ball over.
- On getting to a bowl game: “Our goals are always going to be higher than that,” Graham said. “But getting bowl eligible is paramount now.”
- The coach agreed with a reporter that Washington State’s offensive performance against UCLA was their best of the season. “They’re really hitting their stride.”