WORDS WITH … PAC-12 COACHES
Answers to key questions about up-tempo offenses from three different Pac-12 coaches:
Q: How do you get officials to pay attention and move faster to match the speed you want your team to play at?
A: Arizona's Rich Rodriguez: I had to remind our chain crew that they had to get in better shape because they were a little bit slow spotting the ball and bringing the chains down. And so we had an elderly gentleman that struggled at first, and I told him, "Listen, you're going to have to get in shape because we're going to need you to pull those chains a little faster." And he did, he said "Coach, I'll be ready by the next season for sure."
Q: How should the NCAA handle the idea of players faking injuries to slow down a fast-paced offense (as it appeared Northwestern did last week)?
A: Cal's Sonny Dykes: Everybody is interested in player safety, and when somebody requires the attention of a training staff or medical staff, I think that that player needs to have the proper amount of time to be diagnosed, whatever the injury is. I think that an opportunity ought to be given to the training staff to have a chance to spend some time with the student-athlete and make sure that they are well. So I think the NCAA needs to take a look at it. I think conferences need to take a look at it.
Q: What’s your view of the up-tempo offenses vs. your drag-you-down, knock-you-out style of football?
A: Stanford's David Shaw: It's faster than it's ever been, but it still goes down to execution. So whether you call one play every 15 seconds or you call one play every 38 seconds, as long as you can execute, you'll have a chance to get first downs and eventually score points.
The best national games to look in on today:
No. 2 Oregon at Virginia, 3:30 p.m., ABC: Virginia surprised BYU in an upset in the season opener, but the Cavaliers will have to play much better on offense to keep the high-flying Ducks off the field. Virginia was forced to punt 13 times by the Cougars, and the Cavaliers totaled 223 yards.
No. 5 Stanford vs. San Jose State, 11 p.m., Pac-12 Network: Both teams have eight-game winning streaks, third-best in the nation. Stanford has won the past five meetings, and the teams aren't likely to play again anytime soon. San Jose State has never beaten a team ranked higher than No. 9.
No. 8 Louisville vs. Eastern Kentucky, Noon, no TV: Louisville coach Charlie Strong got his players attention this week with these facts: eight FCS schools pulled upset last weekend, this week's FCS opponent handled Louisville 45-21 in 1985, and Louisville won by only 23-13 in 2010 the last time the schools met.
No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan, 8 p.m., ESPN: Which Devin Gardner shows up for Michigan? The quarterback who flourished in his first three starts under center in victories against Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa a year ago or the one who got shut down by Ohio State and then slowed by South Carolina in the Outback Bowl?
No. 15 Texas at BYU, 7 p.m., ESPN2: BYU, coming off a loss at Virginia, may not pose a huge problem for the Longhorns, but the Cougars surrendered only 14 points per game last season, and with most of those starters returning they pride themselves on physical toughness.
Richmond at N.C. State, 6 p.m., no TV: Upset special? The Wolfpack could be this week's FBS big brother who gets knocked off by an FCS team. The Spiders have a history of claiming big victories in the Triangle, with three wins against Duke since 2006. In addition, the Wolfpack's new no-huddle offense is still taking shape after losing starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell to a foot injury.
In the news: more than just a penalty
The new penalties for targeting a defenseless player in college football resulted in 10 ejections in 75 FBS games during the first weekend of the season, though three of the ejections were overturned by instant replay.
National Coordinator of Officials Rogers Redding said that the rate of targeting penalties was similar to last season, when there was one called for every eight games.
“Officials have handled it well and the players have begun to get the message,” he said.
He said it’s too soon to know if the ejection that goes along with the 15-yard penalty will affect how frequently the penalty is called.
“I think I would have been pleased and surprised if we only had three or four, and I would have been disappointed if we had 20,” he said.
The NCAA changed the penalty for targeting a defenseless player with a hit to the head to add an ejection this season. Targeting has been a penalty for five seasons.
Ejections were overturned against players for California, Colorado State and Southern.
“What the replay official is looking at is not the action of the player, they’re not second-guessing the targeting action,” Redding said. “What they are looking at is was the contact with the crown of the helmet and was the contact to the head and neck area.”
NOTRE DAME AT MICHIGAN
8 p.m., ESPN
It’s a big game … or maybe not
First, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly called it a “regional” matchup.
Then, Michigan coach Brady Hoke called Kelly out: “We’ve got a huge football game this weekend, big game against a great rival that we’ve played 29 of the last 35 years. I can remember being here with coach (Bo) Schembechler … he would always tell us that that’s how you gauge your team, in this great game against Notre Dame.”
Then Kelly backtracked, calling it “a great and historic rivalry.”
And it appears to be fading for perhaps a decade.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick handed Michigan AD Dave Brandon a letter on the field last year in South Bend, Ind., that canceled games from 2015 through 2017 about an hour before the storied programs played. It just so happened that two of those three were set to be played at Michigan.
“There’s no room for either one of us to add the other until the early 2020s at the earliest,” Brandon told the AP. “When they pulled the plug, I was disappointed and I continue to be disappointed because it meant there was going to be a long break. It’s just unfortunate because we believe it is a national rivalry that is important for both Michigan and Notre Dame.”
WASHINGTON STATE AT USC
10:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
In the spotlight: Trojans tailbacks
Tailback Silas Redd hopes to make his season debut for No. 25 USC after getting more repairs done on his left knee last week.
Redd didn’t practice with the Trojans on Tuesday night, watching from the sideline in his jersey while wearing a brace on his knee. The Penn State transfer is still optimistic he could play against Washington State at the Coliseum.
“It’s nothing I asked for,” Redd said of the injury that has slowed his senior season. “I’m taking it as positively as I can.”
Redd missed most of spring ball and training camp after tearing his meniscus early in spring practice. Nearly six months after the initial surgery, he’s still waiting to get back to full strength.
While USC defeated Hawaii 30-13 on Aug. 29 in its opener, Redd watched the game from Pensacola, Fla., after undergoing what he described as a “minor” procedure on his knee by Dr. James Andrews. Redd is forbidden from giving more details about his condition.
Redd led the Trojans last season with 905 yards rushing and nine touchdowns after transferring shortly before training camp. He quickly fit in with a new offense and new teammates.
Sophomore Tre Madden rushed for 109 yards against Hawaii in the converted linebacker’s first game at tailback. But Madden was nearly upstaged by 17-year-old Justin Davis, who added 74 yards and a rushing touchdown in his first collegiate game while displaying a smooth, confident running style. Davis fumbled, but otherwise looked ready for a role with the Trojans.
“There were a lot of good things, led by Justin Davis,” coach Lane Kiffin said. “If he doesn’t fumble that ball, he was going to have a 100-yard day in his first game. I think (former USC Heisman winner) Reggie (Bush) had about 9 yards in his first game. So it’s not an easy thing to do.”