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Pac-12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2020

Pac-12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2019

Pac-12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2020

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams bulletin board material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.

In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2020, Athlon asked coaches in the Pac-12 to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pac-12 canceled its 2020 college football fall season. While the teams are sidelined for now and hope to try and play in the spring, here's some interesting information Athlon Sports was provided by the coaches earlier this offseason.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Pac-12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2020


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"They're behind the 8-ball this season, no doubt about it."

"You look at the team on the field last year and their recruiting for this past year and next and you can't believe this is the (coaching) crew that beat Alabama and made all that noise in the SEC."

"It's a short list of positives, but the offense has a high ceiling, and they know how to run it. They're capable. They do a really good job from a scheme standpoint."

"(Quarterback Grant) Gunnell is a big talent. Can he save them by himself? He might have to."

"Defensively they were awful. (Paul) Rhoads is a meat and potatoes guy, a teacher. He's not going to be able to perform miracles, but you got the sense they were playing under their abilities because of communication and effort."

"They don't have the juice anymore. That was (Kevin) Sumlin's calling card, that ability to make waves in recruiting and get the kids fired up. That's not this program. They're flat, they don't have an identity and they're losing badly in marketing and recruiting to their in-state rivals."

"Recruiting wise, they can do well in Texas, but this league is built on California. They need to adjust their recruiting because they'll eventually die without making L.A. inroads."

"If they get injured early, especially at the skill positions, that's probably it for this staff."

Arizona State

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"They're ultra-aggressive right now. That's the best way to describe them."

"So far the Herm (Edwards) experiment has really worked out for them. They've overhauled how they recruit and message their program. It's a minor-league NFL experience. Come here, come to this exciting city, and NFL coaches will get you ready for the league."

"They were really smart in how they used (Jayden) Daniels last year. He's not the biggest guy, so they were selective in how they put him out there. They protected him really well, and when he has a clean pocket, he can kill you. He has great vision. Ask Oregon."

"They're losing some guys, but the skill position turnover might be better for them. They've got some monsters coming in."

"(New offensive coordinator Zak) Hill needs to match with what Daniels can do. I think what people don't realize is that most Boise guys are about multiplicity and being flexible for your personnel. So none of what Boise ran really fits everything Daniels can do, but it's not going to be a carbon copy."

"Right now they still don't have the raw talent of a USC, but they're closing the gap. They're the most exciting team in an otherwise flat division."


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"This is a sneaky-good team. A lot of people might be sleeping on them. They could be a dark horse behind Oregon in the division."

"The defensive scheme is really smart and simple and aggressive, and they run a lot of stuff by you on offense. That's still their weaker side, but (Chase) Garbers healthy makes them a really good team. They had nothing going without him."

"(Bill) Musgrave is going to clean a lot of that stuff up. They need to be simpler and find what works for them. The offense to this point looks like they've fit players into a scheme. It has to be the other way around."

"It's a cliche about Cal, but they recruit to be smart on the field. The defenders have good instincts, and they're always in the right place. Most of that defense is back."

"This could be a sneaky-good team if Garbers is healthy and they get the offense working. Most of those guys are back, so they won't have to worry too much about depth."

"When you look around the division, absent Oregon there are a lot of teams breaking in new offensive philosophies or struggling in that area. Cal is built to exploit that. The defense is consistent, and the offense has experience."

"They could go on a run this season, and with (Justin) Wilcox's name coming up more and more for other jobs, the window might not be this open again for a while."


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"These guys got absolutely punched in the face by the coaching carousel."

"To have that much heat going after one year with Mel Tucker and have him leave so late in the cycle, and to hire a failed former conference coach? This is a massive setback for the program, and it's hard to see how they can rebound from this."

"Mel had just started to untangle some of their problems, but they were full speed ahead, especially in recruiting. We would ‘feel' them out in recruiting in places Colorado had never been."

"Their problem since they joined the Pac-12 is that they still want to build a roster in Texas and pick scraps in California. You're in the Pac-12 now; you have to reverse that. You don't have any brand identity in Texas."

"The previous staff started to turn that around. It was basically as wide a net as they could cast. They had offers out on everyone."

"How are you going to sell Karl Dorrell? How does that work? He had an unsuccessful run at UCLA. Every coach in the league is going to use that against them."

"With the shortened offseason, I think they should stick with as much of what was working for them with Mel. He kept three or four of Mel's guys on staff for that reason."

"They'll try to get through this year with more or less the same systems and then make his changes in the next offseason."


College Football Top 25 Rankings: Oregon

"This is the best and most complete team in the conference."

"They were a national title contender last year, and even losing their quarterback, they might be a better all-around roster this season."

"The Joe Moorhead hire was fantastic. He's really going to click with Mario (Cristobal). If he'd been there last year, they would've gone to the postseason undefeated."

"All the backs and receivers are basically back, and the talent behind them is maybe even better."

"The line lost some guys, but they've recruited really well on both sides. They're starting to reach for that Pete Carroll USC quality of offensive and defensive linemen. Oregon is the first Pac-12 team to look like that. They aren't there yet, though."

"The defense is going to be scary good, led by the secondary." 

"What can you say about Kayvon (Thibodeaux)? I'm not sure I've seen a single defensive player change the course of a game quite like he did against Utah. That was ridiculous. (Andy) Avalos has a lineup of killers."

"They're an SEC-level recruiting program. You could see some of those freshman five-stars come in and dominate right away."

"They're just a quarterback away. Moorhead excels in these situations, and whoever gets the job won't be tasked with winning so much as just distributing. This team is good enough for the new QB to just not lose it for them."