Pac-12 Media Day Notes: Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah

July 24, 2012

Universal City, CA - More notes from Pac-12 Media Day . . .


Coach Jon Embree noted that his team's goal this year was to reach a bowl game.  Embree noted that the Buffaloes lost 28 seniors last year and that such a sizable turnover would have an impact.  He stated he expected Texas-transfer Connor Wood and Kansas-transfer Jordan Webb to compete with Nick Hirschman for the starting QB position.

Both offensive lineman David Bakhtiari and safety Ray Polk noted that Colorado is new to the Pac-12 and does not have a clear rival at the present time. It was acknowledged that the "rivalry" with Utah is a bit media-forced.

Bakhtiari noted that players may have been bigger and stronger in the Big 12 but were quicker and faster in the Pac-12.  Polk noted that there was more talent at WR in the Pac-12 than when he paid in the Big 12, with teams often having more than 1 top wideout.


Rich Rodriguez noted that he had learned from all of his prior coaching stints (most notably and recently Michigan and West Virginia) in order to help him prepare for his first year as the Wildcats head coach.

Rodriguez greatly emphasized that he wanted his team to play at a very fast tempo, which might be the difference to note for fans of U of A this year. 

On the defensive side of the ball, LB Jake Fisher noted that the increased tempo of the offense has helped prepare the defense. "Every practice felt like we were playing against have to be quick on your feet...great preparation for the season."

QB Matt Scott expressed an eagerness to play in the new spread offense.  "It's like a dream come true.  Had a lot of fun with this offense in high school, put up big numbers and ready to do the same here."

Also on the spread offense, coach Rodriguez noted: "[in the NFL] 90% of the time teams are in the shotgun."  He noted that Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Cam Newton were pretty successful and derided the notion that the spread offense was unlike a "pro-style" offense, even suggesting that maybe the spread "should be the new pro style offense."


Head Coach Todd Graham noted that the greatest challenge he personally faced as the new head coach at ASU is to be patient.  He emphasized that his greatest focus for his team is on conditioning, training, and embracing the no-huddle offense.

When asked what differences with the new offense might have from last year's offense run by Dennis Erickson, Graham noted, that ASU was now more a "downhill" power kind of team. Graham stated that RB Cameron Marshall "is as good as I've been around in my career."

Graham noted that the biggest challenge was changing from a classic 4-3 defense to a hybrid defense.  On offense however, the transition has been smoother than anticipated.


Coach Kyle Whittingham noted that there must be more production on offense than last year if his team intends to compete in the Pac-12 South.  He mentioned that more spread elements exist in the offense now than when Norm Chow took over.

NFL prospect DL Star Lotulelei indicated he "didn't feel ready" to go pro last year and wasn't sure where he would have gone in the draft.  This year he plans to work on hand placement and footwork, while also getting bigger, faster, and stronger.

On the idea of the very young Brian Johnson (former QB in 2008, now offensive coordinator) relating to the players because he is so young, Whittingham stated,  "It is kind of double-edged sword."  He noted that Johnson can relate to the players and it also helps in recruiting, but Johnson must keep a clear separation between coaches and players to maintain discipline.

Coach Whittingham also addressed the rivalry with BYU and the break that will take place in the rivalry in the future schedule.  He stated that he supported the decision of the athletic director to end the yearly rivalry because it was more important to ensure that Utah was able to properly schedule enough home games in its non-conference schedule.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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