Pac-12 notes: With only one game down, Beavers are 'professional practicers'
Beavers are 'professional practicers'
Through three weeks, Oregon State is the only Football Bowl Subdivision team to have played just one game.
"We are professional practicers," coach Mike Riley said this week.
Of course, the Beavers are undefeated through that one game, a 10-7 win against then-No. 13 Wisconsin two weekends ago. Going into that victory, the Beavers had a bonus week to prepare after Nicholls State was unable to travel to Corvallis due to Hurricane Isaac.
The Beavers similarly have a second week to prepare for their trip to No. 19 UCLA on Saturday. A victory would likely propel the Beavers into the Top 25 for the first time since 2010. However, that result is a tall order for a mostly unproven Oregon State team.
UCLA ranks in the top 20 nationally in all of the relevant offensive categories, and its defense has shut down able Houston and Nebraska offenses.
Either way, Riley said the Beavers will be happy to get back to a game-a-week schedule.
"We've watched a lot of football and kind of anxious to get into the rhythm of a season," he said.
Utes could have a devil of a time
Utah hasn't seen an offense like this. Then again, Arizona State hasn't played a defense with as many weapons as Utah's, either.
"This is the best defense we've played so far," ASU coach Todd Graham said in advance of his team's showdown with the Utes, which will be played Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.
Graham pointed to Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who teams with tackle Dave Kruger, calling them the best interior line duo in the country, and said safety Brian Blechen, who returns this week from a three-game suspension, "is one of the best football players we'll play this year, just very explosive and very fast."
Graham's spread offense at Arizona State has put up 42.5 points per game through three weeks and is first in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency at 72.4 percent. While ASU's offense gets much of the credit for its early impressions, the Sun Devil defense has been lockdown as well.
The Sun Devils rank second in the conference in scoring defense, third in total defense and first in passing defense. The Sun Devils have their own talented defensive tackle, junior Will Sutton, who had seven tackles and three for loss against Illinois two weeks ago.
When compared to Lotulelei, Graham revealed his bias.
"Obviously Will's my guy," he said, "so I'm partial to him."
After a week in which Kyle Whittingham said he was done discussing injuries, two other Pac-12 coaches were questioned for bans on reporters reporting injury news and one Los Angeles media member was blacklisted, the way the Pac-12 handles injury news is gaining attention.
During the Pac-12's weekly teleconference with coaches, several said they were in favor of a league-wide injury report, similar to that of the NFL. Others, however, were more concerned. USC's Lane Kiffin, who barred a Los Angeles Daily News reporter for about two days before relenting, said the report would create a competitive advantage for opponents.
"I don't think many coaches would want their opponent to know as they're game planning throughout the week who's playing and who's not," Kiffin said.
Mike Leach, who earlier this week was quoted as saying he would not be honest on an injury report even if it was instituted, used the question as an opportunity to share his feelings on journalists.
Reporting on injuries, he said, "is journalism at its most pitiful." He said there are three types of media members: "the guy who wants to write the great American novel," "the type that wants to do a good solid job," and "slackers" who "are the ones that are really interested in injuries."
Leach paused after finishing his dissertation on his opposition to injury reports.
"That," he said, "and the obvious fact I'm not a doctor and I'm not qualified to say."