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Off-the-record quotes from PAC-12 coaches about their rivals.
Each year we ask college football coaches to tell us what they really think about the other teams in their conference. But we don't want the same old press conference quotes, so we asked them to give us their quotes...anonymously. Here are this year's quotes in alphabetical order for each team in the PAC-12.
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Arizona
“Which Wildcats club will show up this fall? That’s the biggest question. They started out 7–1 with some big wins against Iowa and Cal. Then the wheels fell off. Completely off. Two close losses to USC and Arizona State contributed to a season-ending five-game losing streak."
"The bad news for Mike Stoops is they could be in for a rough stretch at the start of the year. After Northern Arizona, they play Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon, USC and Oregon State. Only Stanford and Oregon are at home. They could conceivably start 1–5. The question is can they survive that stretch and what will they have left in the second half of the season?"
"The good news is Nick Foles is back at quarterback. The kid is solid, but will he survive behind an offensive line that lost all five starters? Juron Criner is a big-time threat at wide receiver and David Douglas is solid, but will Foles have time to get them the ball? Criner is one of the best in the country."
"Keola Antolin is decent at running back."
"They could be better on defense but must replace (defensive end) Ricky Elmore. He was a beast and led the league in sacks.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Arizona State
“These guys are loaded. This could be the year (Dennis) Erickson breaks through — I can’t believe I’m actually saying this — and gets to the Rose Bowl."
"They must find a replacement for Steven Threet at quarterback. It’s too bad he had to give up football (because of multiple concussions). He had good size (6'5", 240). He deserves to play on this year’s team after what he went through last year."
"Brock Osweiler looks like he’ll be the guy at quarterback. He started the final two games last season, leading them to wins against UCLA and Arizona so they don’t have to go with a totally unproven guy back there."
"They’re one of the more physical defenses in the conference. They have a lot of speed on defense. They’re as talented as any linebacking corps that we’ll play."
"They have a fairly easy schedule. They get USC, Oregon State, Arizona and California at home and don’t have to play Stanford. The only road game that would be a stretch to think they could win is at Oregon. Other than that the schedule sets up well for Arizona State. Now can Erickson take advantage of it?”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: California
“Who is going to play quarterback? As soon as you find out, please let me know. Kevin Riley is gone and from what I’m hearing they have anywhere from three to five players competing for the starting position. Brock Mansion appears the leader after starting the final four games of last year, but I’ll be interested to see if he starts the season opener. (Jeff) Tedford has the reputation of a quarterback coach guru. Well, he’ll earn his paycheck this year. If they don’t have a starter firmly in place by fall drills it could be another disappointing season like last year when they were sitting at 4–3 only to lose four of their last five."
"You have to wonder how much playing the entire year off campus will affect them. I can’t imagine playing at the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark (while their stadium is being renovated) will be much of a home-field advantage."
"They have a bunch of guys returning so they should be improved. How much I don’t know. They have some good players — like wide receiver Marvin Jones and linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and also their punter Bryan Anger is one of the nation’s best — but overall they don’t really scare you talent-wise.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Colorado
“They were an enigma last year. They had a lot of talent but just didn’t produce. I think that’s a very good job, and it’s hard to put your finger on why they didn’t have more success. I guess it wasn’t too much of a surprise that (Dan) Hawkins was finally fired. New coach Jon Embree will be tested in his first job as a head coach. If debuting as a head coach in a BCS league isn’t difficult enough, doing it in a new league from the previous season should make it even tougher. Former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy will be the offensive coordinator, and they’ll be running a pro-style offense."
"Cody Hawkins is gone at quarterback, but they should be all right with Tyler Hansen back there. He split some time with Hawkins last season."
"Rodney Stewart can’t be taller than 5'6" or 5'7", but he is extremely tough to bring down. He’s like a jitterbug."
"Defensively they’re average."
"Overall, it’s hard to get a good read on what to expect from Colorado. Since they only return one coach from last season, no one really knows what to expect out of them this year.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Oregon
“Well, Auburn finally showed all of us in the Pac-10 how to slow down Oregon — control the line of scrimmage and play them on a slippery field. I am very anxious to see how they do in the season opener against LSU (at Cowboys Stadium)."
"With Darron Thomas and LaMichael James back, these guys won’t miss a beat. To have any chance against them, you have to force Thomas to throw. But he’s really improved in that area, so that’s not such a good option any more."
"Oregon’s the obvious favorite to win the league, but if the Ducks have a chink in their armor, it’s up front. They must replace three starters on both the offensive and defensive lines. However, as many guys as they play, I’m sure they’ll have some capable replacements ready to go."
"They lost their No. 1 receiver (Jeff Maehl) but to me that guy was just average anyway. But he made some plays."
"I know Oregon’s offense grabs all the headlines, but Nick Aliotti does not get enough credit for what he does as defensive coordinator. That guy can flat out coach.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Oregon State
“Wow, they’ve lost some good ones — (running back) Jacquizz Rodgers and (defensive tackle) Stephen Paea. Paea was a beast on the defensive line. I don’t know how Oregon State is going to replace those guys. I’m not so sure Oregon State knows how either. Then there is the uncertainty surrounding James Rodgers. Will he be able to return? I certainly hope so, I feel for the kid. But I’m sure that won’t be easy."
"Quizz is what made that offense go. They do a real nice job in the passing game but Quizz just made so many plays."
"Last year, the Beavers had an up and down season. If they’re going to get back to a bowl game, they’ll need better production from quarterback Ryan Katz. He has a cannon for an arm, but sometimes you’re not sure where what target he’s aiming at. He should be improved."
"Like the offense, the defense was consistently inconsistent last season. They should probably be about the same next year — good for five or six wins."
"One thing you’re going to get every year is they play very hard. They’re very well-coached and solid defensively.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Stanford
“Well, the inevitable finally happened with Jim Harbaugh bolting to the NFL. I don’t think anyone was surprised. It was just a matter of time. What he did there in such a short time was remarkable. But, of course, having a quarterback named Andrew Luck certainly made it easier."
"With Luck returning, if Oregon is 1A to win the league, then Stanford is 1B. He is just a super, super kid on and off the field. While he’ll make our lives miserable, I’m glad he returned."
"He lost a few of his linemen along with both wideouts (Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen). Also they lost Owen Marecic, who was such a leader starting at fullback and linebacker."
"I’d say Luck is in the top five of the guys that we’ve (ever) played, and we’ve played a lot of good ones. He’s unbelievably accurate. I watch him in pregame and he doesn’t look pretty, but he is accurate."
"The big question is how David Shaw fits in as Harbaugh’s replacement. It should be a smooth transition since he was so successful there as offensive coordinator. But, you never know. Also, will they lose that hard-nosed, tough-as-nails personality they had last year without Harbaugh?”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: UCLA
“Is this Rick Neuheisel’s final run? He’s coming off a four-win season and certainly had a very busy offseason. Both coordinators — Norm Chow and Chuck Bullough — are gone, and he also fired wide receivers coach Reggie Moore. He has five new assistants this year and had more losses among his coaching staff than some teams lose starters."
"Like Chow, new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson brings with him NFL experience. New defensive coordinator Joe Tresey will be a huge hit there. He is one of the most underrated DC’s around. Fortunately for both guys, they’ll have a lot of returning players to work with."
"Running back Johnathan Franklin is solid. He’s a nice runner. They lost quarterback Kevin Prince halfway through last season. His return should be a benefit."
"I noticed Neuheisel brought in Jim Mastro from Nevada so the Bruins might be Pistol-heavy with the offense. Whatever scheme they end up with, I think it’s obvious that Neuheisel knows he needs significant improvement this fall if he wants to be around next season.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: USC
“They’re still loaded. They still have the best talent, top to bottom. They have the horses. They have the ability talent-wise to win every game. It’s one guy after another. And you have to think with their second year in the system with (Lane) Kiffin and Monte Kiffin that they’ll be that much more acclimated to what they are doing."
"I was interested to see how they would respond mentally throughout the season to last year’s bowl ban. Now having to go through that for a second consecutive year, I just wonder if that wears on them, especially after a loss."
"What really surprised me most about them was the porous defense under Monte Kiffin. He’s forgotten more than what a lot of us have ever known, but they really, really struggled on defense. They were among the worst defenses in the league."
"They return a pretty good nucleus, especially on offense with quarterback Matt Barkley. He is an outstanding player and leader. He’ll also benefit from having wide receiver Robert Woods and tailback Marc Tyler back as well.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Utah
“Kyle Whittingham has already proven to have success (against teams from the Pac-12), so I don’t think that is a big step for the Utah program. I think the Mountain West Conference has been playing at a BCS level for a number of years now, so I don’t think Utah will be overwhelmed moving into the Pac-12."
"The thing with Utah is they recruit good quarterbacks. They always have guys that fit what they do."
"I think the key to their defense is they have athletic corners who free up their safeties to drop down into run defense. I think it’ll be important that they replace (Brandon) Burton, who declared for the NFL a year early. You’ve got to be able to throw deep on them to soften their safeties if you want to be able to run the ball."
"Utah prides itself on being a very physical football team that runs the football."
"I think the formula they have works. They have very good skill guys. Their receivers and defensive backs the last few years have all been very good.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Washington
“The Huskies look like they were headed for another losing season under (Steve) Sarkisian but responded strong down the stretch winning their last four games. None was bigger than the Holiday Bowl win against Nebraska. That was a big-time win for the program, especially when Nebraska had dominated them earlier in the season (56–21). You could just tell how much more they wanted that game than Nebraska by watching it on television. I think that was huge for the morale of the program. Plus, their entire coaching staff returns (for a third consecutive year). You can’t discount how big of an impact that will have."
"Jermaine Kearse is among the league’s top wide receivers so he’ll make the transition that much easier for Jake Locker’s replacement."
"I thought Jake Locker was bad last year. They stopped throwing the ball down the field down the stretch. I don’t think it’s that big of a loss, but he did make some plays with his legs.”
What PAC-12 Coaches Are Saying About: Washington State
“Last year they were improved but that didn’t necessarily translate into more wins. They weren’t the pushovers they were in 2008 or 2009. Last season, they played UCLA, Stanford, Cal and Washington tough late into those games and even knocked off Oregon State in Corvallis — no easy task, by any means. This year they should be even stronger as they return nearly their entire team."
"I think their quarterback could play for anyone. I think he’s a great player. He’s tough as hell. He throws it on time, he knows where he is going with the football and he makes plays running the ball. I think offensively they’re very dangerous because of him and those receivers. Their run game doesn’t really help them much, but he just keeps moving the chains and he competes. That guys is a damn good player."
"They have a number of veteran players in their secondary, which is key in this league. Cornerback Nolan Washington and safeties Deone Bucannon and Tyree Toomer are back for another season. All of these returning players should make this Paul Wulff’s best season in Pullman. And it better be, or I’m afraid it will be his last.”
Other Candid Coaches' Quotes: