Pac-12 notes: Cal, Arizona State show what's behind the curtain
Until he was asked about it this month, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was unaware that the Pac-12 Networks have launched a weekly all-access show, profiling the California and Arizona State programs.
Considering his constant emphasis on recruiting, Whittingham should eagerly await Utah's turn to be featured on "The Drive" in the future. ASU coach Todd Graham described the program as "a 30-minute commercial every week."
The show is very well done, with NFL Films-quality production that documents what happens during practices and meetings and goes inside the locker room on game days, besides game highlights and off-field features. Any inconvenience is apparently trumped by the promotional benefits the schools receive.
"It's somewhat a distraction, but they're not very invasive," Graham said. "There's not a camera in your
face all the time. It's been very productive for us."
Cal coach Sonny Dykes never even watches the show, but he said the experience has been positive. "The people that are working on the show have been really, really good," Dykes said. "We're having a rough season, so I think it's hard sometimes when you have somebody around all the time."
The tradeoff, Dykes said, is that anyone interested in the program can "get a feel for what it's like to play at Cal."
Going faster than ever
Using what he learned last season from Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae ran 115 plays at Houston, tying an NCAA record.
"I'm jealous," Rodriguez said. "I'm going to have to watch that film, at some point. I'm interested to see how he did it. That's a huge tempo-setter, right there. I'm sure that had an effect on the other team's defense."
Stanford has lost only two Pac-12 games the past two seasons. Somehow, the teams that upset the Cardinal seem to more trouble recovering from such an outcome than Stanford does.
After knocking off Stanford last year, Washington lost to Oregon (52-21), USC (24-14) and Arizona (52-17), although the Huskies then regrouped and won four straight games. Utah followed its upset of Stanford with a 35-24 loss at Arizona last weekend. The Utes face USC, Arizona State and Oregon in their next three games.
One other trend: The last three times their fans have stormed the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Utes have lost their next game in a flat performance. They fell to Boise State in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl after beating BYU and lost to Arizona State last season after defeating BYU.
Stanford coach David Shaw was complimentary of Utah after that 27-21 defeat, and it's clear the Cardinal defense learned something from the Utes' success. Stanford held UCLA to 266 total yards in a 24-10 victory, doing a much better job of defending passes to the perimeter and containing the quarterback's running.
"Our guys played smart, they played sound and the most important part was they played together," Shaw said.
Protecting the football
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has not thrown an interception this season, but other Duck passers have been picked off twice. So Oregon State actually leads the Pac-12 in interception avoidance in conference games, by percentage. Utah is last in the league. All 12 of Travis Wilson's interceptions have come in Pac-12 games.
Team Att. Int. Pct.
Oregon State 198 3 1.5
Oregon 124 2 1.6
Arizona 111 2 1.8
Washington 145 3 2.0
Arizona State 155 4 2.5
UCLA 108 3 2.7
California 198 6 3.0
Stanford 117 4 3.4
Washington State 314 13 4.1
USC 81 5 6.1
Colorado 98 7 7.1
Utah 143 12 8.3