Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Teleconference quick hits: Coaches' updates
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
- Oregon coach Mike Bellotti says the Ducks offense won't change much with Justin Roper running the show instead of the injured Nate Costa. He added that the Ducks, otherwise, are mostly healthy.
- Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said Tavita Pritchard won the starting QB job because "he practiced better." Said he expects him to be much better in year two of the system and "will win us games." As for Oregon State's completely rebuild front seven: "Look at their track record of plugging fine athletes into their system."
- Arizona coach Mike Stoops said it's still inconclusive as to whether TE Rob Gronkowski has mononucleosis and his status is "week-to-week." As for his replacement, A.J. Simmons, "He's a prototypical tight end," Stoops said. That means he doesn't have Gronkowski's athletic ability, which means more balls for the Wildcats WRs. "We are deep at receiver," Stoops said. Devin Ross and Marquis Hundley are the starting CBs, ahead of touted freshman Robert Golden, who will see action against Idaho as the nickelback. As for the offense: "This is the best offense we've had since we've been here," Stoops said. He also added: "This is the best team we've had."
- Oregon State coach Mike Riley admitted it's difficult to replace an entire defensive front seven but, "We feel good about guys who have played here in the past and guys who have been developing." Offensive guard Jeremy Perry won't travel to Stanford and his status remains up in the air: "I think we'll have to play that out for a while ... I can't even put a finger on it," Riley said.
- USC coach Pete Carroll said he expects QB Mark Sanchez will get his final OK tonight from team doctors to start at Virginia. As for the backup QB competition between Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain, Carroll said there is "nothing to declare yet." He said the competition will continue until the end of the week. Same vagueness at TB: "Whatever we list will have an 'or' next to it." Carroll said Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable will get carries with Allen Bradford also in the mix.
- Asked if he was concerned about starting an inexperienced QB behind an inexperienced offensive line, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said, "Concerned with a capital C." He said that he was "optimistic" that left tackle Micah Kia, who's nursing an injured hand, will play. "He's got to get comfortable with a big club on his hand," Neuheisel said. He also said that he doesn't think the injury WR Terrence Austin suffered during Monday's practice was serious and that he should play against Tennessee. As for the controversial LA Times advertisement about the end of the USC "football monopoly" in L.A., he said, "I saw it for the first time this morning."
- Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said of his offensive line, "I look for our offensive front to rise to the occasion. Will we be an offensive line that is totally dominant? No." It's clear that Erickson is a little weary of questions about his OL, noting that the 55 sacks they gave up last season has become a more highlighted number than their 10 victories from a year ago. He said that WR Chris McGaha, who has been hounded by a toe injury, is back at practice and should play against Northern Arizona, but the toe is still giving him trouble.
- Washington State coach Paul Wulff said of QB Gary Rogers, "Gary has been in college -- he's going into his fifth year -- so it's not as if he's going in as a rookie who hasn't been in front of a big crowd." Added that Rogers has shown good leadership skills and that he is proud of Roger's progress in the new offensive scheme. Wulff said that OT Vaughn Lesuma is "very questionable" on the side of not playing against Oklahoma State, which means redshirt freshman Steven Ayers likely will start. Wulff also said that he expects a verdict Tuesday on suspended DT Andy Roof's status within the university.
- California coach Jeff Tedford said "somebody's got to take the first snap" when asked about naming Kevin Riley the starting QB over Nate Longshore. Said that Riley is still learning to be the leader in the huddle: "It's a work in progress with Kevin as it is with any quarterback." Tedford reiterated that Longshore will play but added "We don't know when Nate is going to play." Said he was "impressed" with how Longshore has handled himself since the announcement that Riley would start and Longshore has been "very supportive" of Riley.
- Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said that Oregon QB Nate Costa's knee injury has allowed the Huskies to "have a little more clarity" on the Ducks offense. He added that he expects to see freshman QB Chris Harper's running ability mixed in with Roper. Said of Huskies true freshman TB Chris Polk, who will make his first start at Oregon, "It's kind of the 'wow' factor. It's a wonderful sensation to have." Polk is one of a number of true freshmen who will make their college debuts inside extremely hostile Autzen Stadium. Willingham said he will talk to each about understanding what lies ahead. "It's going to be noisy. It's going to be hostile."