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Former USC assistants Kiffin and Sarkisian talk about first match-up

Former USC assistants under Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, will face off as head coaches on Saturday at The Coliseum in Los Angeles. 

Both Kiffin and Sarkisian acknowledged their close friendship during respective press conferences today, but Kiffin didn’t really want to make a big story out of Kiffin vs. Sarkisian.

Kiffin said, “I don’t think it’s relevant.” 

Kiffin said he was sure he would talk to Sark during the week, but joked, “He’ll send some texts and messages to try to manipulate or trick me into something.  He’ll try it all this week.  Yeah (it’s still a great friendship).  Maybe he’ll let our band play this year.  Last year, they didn’t let our band play last year at Washington.”

Sarkisian said, “Fortunately for everybody involved, Lane and I aren't going to be blocking or tackling or running or throwing or catching Saturday. So we're all OK there. We're going to let the premier athletes do that. You know, both of us have been mentored for this opportunity to be head coaches. He's done a nice job, I think we've done a nice job. These are both jobs we thought we special ones, especially in the Pac-10. It's a unique experience, this early in our careers, to be facing each other in such a pivotal ball game in the Pac-10 race.”

"Yeah, we talk. We text. It's a good friendship. It's one that keeps us healthy in the profession. The ability to talk to another head coach and bounce ideas off of. Because so much of this profession is keeping things in close and in tight and you can't share with anybody. The ability to share with Lane different thoughts, different ideas, different frustrations that maybe you don't want everyone else to see, but you can bounce it off him and he understands. So it's been a good relationship that way."

Kiffin said, “They do know us really well on both sides of the ball.  The amount of hours, whether it was myself and Sarkisian or Nick Holt and my Dad at times, we are very familiar with each other.  Probably have to be careful to not overanalyze it too much and just make sure we are playing really fast.”

Kick-off is set for 8:00 pm EST on ABC or ESPN2. 


Paul Johnson says Yellow Jackets had 85 missed assignments

Georgia Tech is 2-2 on the season with loses to Kansas and NC State.  Today, Paul Johnson made it quite obvious that he is NOT happy with his team.

Johnson said, “After watching the tape, I was more disappointed than I was after the game, if that is possible. I was really frustrated and this is probably the second or third time this year that we have played with little emotion in the mental aspect. The physical aspect wasn’t great, but it was ok. The mental aspect of it was just out there. We have guys that have played for two or three years that are doing things that there is no explanation for. Concentration, paying attention to detail, all of those things, we just have to do a better job of getting through the basic fundamentals. With some of the stuff that we busted in the (NC State) game is really unexplainable. They can’t explain it when you show it to them on tape either.

“Actually, we had 43 missed assignments on one end and 42 on the other. There were so many -- from turning guys loose on pass protection to us going the wrong way, we were busted the first play of the game on offense. These are guys that have played for two or three years and it is not new stuff. This is just mental lapses and holes in concentration.”

“You have to stay in your rush lanes, you have to make a block, you have to make a tackle. It isn’t complicated stuff. I think we have had 125 passes thrown against us, and one interception in the secondary. We have seven sacks, one sack where somebody made a block, the rest they turned them loose.”

“I am not going to single out any players, there are a lot of guys that could be leaders. I don’t think one or two players could do it. I think it has to be the nucleus.”

Georgia Tech travels to Wake Forest this weekend. 

Les Miles: Offensively nobody is satisfied in our building

During a press conference today, Les Miles summarized the West Virginia game, addressed his quarterback play, and offered his opinion on the booing by Tiger fans in Tiger Stadium.

Miles said, "Enjoyed again another wonderful evening in Tiger Stadium. ... I can tell you that the West Virginia team was a very, very capable football team. They had a quality defense, a very explosive offense, they were very good in special teams, and frankly we were in control of that game the entire time."

"That quarterback was pressured the whole night. Again, the special teams, I think our average starting possession was the 37 yard line and I think theirs was the 25 yard line. We controlled every special teams snap. Our coverage units were very crisp with tackling, our return units got yardage.”

"Offensively nobody is satisfied in our building."

"Our quarterback didn't throw three balls well at all. He threw one right to them and two that were incomplete. ... I was very pleased with the running game. I think our running backs are coming to life. I think our line is understanding the commitment to the rush. I have had quarterbacks not nearly as talented as either one of these two guys. ... It's an offensive issue. It's one that we need to make sure we correct collectively. ... I've had quarterback's that have not played well ... but they seemed to get better and I suspect this will happen again."

(on the booing by Tiger fans) "I guess I'm stuck this way. I'm a purist when it comes to sports. I've always felt like when you've stepped in between those white lines ... those people that stepped in between those white lines played for score and competition. ... I've never in my life seen the reason to root negatively. I root strong for the team I support. I was raised in Ohio where I went to the Browns games. ... I did not know how to root against Dallas, I did not know how to root against St. Louis because I was rooting so strongly for the Browns."

LSU hosts Tennessee on Saturday at 3:30 pm EST on CBS.


Lunchtime Coaches Quick Hits

Derek Dooley on traveling to LSU: “We probably will travel 66-68 guys and 30 have never been on a road trip at Tennessee.”

“If we serve one up to him (Patrick Peterson), it will be the fastest 6 points you’ve ever seen.”

(Dooley jokes) “I was going to paint the field, but that didn’t work for Oregon State.  If they have beaten Oregon State, I may have put a big (Tiger) eye on our field.  I don’t know how you simulate Tiger Stadium unless you have a practice in Neyland Stadium and had all our fans screaming at us.” 


Oregon State head coach Mike Riley once again dealing with slow start to season: “And here we are again. There’s no difference, is there. But this team has to prove it (can rebound). It’s not a given we can do that. We have to play better. … what I hope is that we understand what good competition is and the detail of what it takes to beat a good team. We’ve got to do better. That’s just basically it in a nutshell.’’ 


Joker Phillips concerned about tackling: “I'm not at all concerned about our schemes. I think we've got to become better tacklers, and if that calls for us to have tackling drills throughout the week, we've got to have that.” 


Quoting Norm Chow: "This is my third year, and each year we've started five different guys. It's never been that way anywhere else. But this new run game, we've simplified a ton. These guys are blocking the same guy 90 percent of the time."


Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit talks about his quarterback: “You don’t want him to be a robot, because you’re taking away a lot of really good things he really, really does well. The (Brett) Favre guy goes out there, he’s going to throw picks. Those style of quarterbacks, that’s what’s going to happen. At times, they’re going to get a little careless because they think they can get the ball in there in tight spots. So, you’ve got to make them understand the timing of the game, where we’re at. Like the one intercept, we didn’t need him to throw (downfield). The check wasn’t bad.”

“I’d take him. I like him. I think he’s doing really a good job for us. Do we need better? Yeah, but that’s everybody. We all have to get better. But I’d rather have a guy with talent and the moxie and the passion that he has than be worried about a quarterback that’s scared to death back there.” 


Lane Kiffin talks about going against Steve Sarkisian: “It really doesn’t mean anything.  This game isn’t about myself or him, as far as how I view it.  It’s our conference home opener.   This is a team that beat us last year.  This has nothing to do with me and him.  We need to play well and win this game.” 

“Defense, there is a ton of similarities (UW compared to old USC).  They are pretty much out of the book what we did here.  Offensively, they have changed due to his personnel.” 


Rick Neuheisel: “We just weren’t playing very fast.  We weren’t playing really well up front in week 2 and week 3.  Too much thinking and too much hesitating.”

"We're not clicking on all cylinders in respect to all the machinations of the pistol offense."

"If we can't learn the lesson from last weekend about people counting one team out, then we aren't very smart."

"Let me say this, we just have to get better. This week is about focus. We have to earn the right to have a great afternoon."


Greg Schiano: “It’s disappointing, but this is a young team that’s going to stick together, and we are going to get better and we are going to learn from these examples.”


Houston Nutt talks about Masoli: "He had eight poor decisions last week (and) he only had four this week, so he's getting much better. He made a lot of big plays yesterday. A lot of big plays. You just can't have the fumble and the interception, and he knows that."

Quoting Kevin Sumlin: "For our defense to accept the challenge of where we were, to get some stops and turnovers and put points on the board, I think what you see is a complete team win. To win games like that coming off a situation like we did, as a coach, you're encouraged. Different people in different areas of our football team accepted that challenge and really, really created the success for us at the end of the game."

“To get through some adversity and win really, really is what makes and builds confidence. To be in that situation and see how people responded when we had to have something done … that says volumes for who we are right now.”

Quoting Tulane head coach Bob Toledo: "The story here is 42-23. In the first half, our kicking game kind of put us in a bind and offensively, we couldn't get first downs so our defense was on the field way too long. They kind of got worn down a little bit. They came out in the second half and made a couple of big plays, got back in the game, and then those last couple of drives we just fell apart.” 

"Those two turnovers just killed us and then we let them run the ball into the end zone in the that last play. We had a chance to make it a game at the end and we let it slip away. But again, I've got to give credit to Houston. They won the football game."

Mack Brown: Outhit, outhustled, outcoached in all 3 phases. Totally unacceptable at Texas.

Mack Brown was pretty much miserable today during his press conference.  He spoke the hard truth and put the blame on himself and his assistants.

Brown started by saying, “We got outhit, outhustled, outcoached in all three phases. Totally unacceptable at Texas.” 

“You want to play hard.  Texas football teams play hard.  If you don’t, it’s on me and our assistant coaches.  We get paid for getting them ready.  That’s our job.”

“I didn’t get them ready.  Assistants get them ready.  It’s a shame. It’s been a long time around here since I didn’t think we played with passion for 60 minutes.” 

“We lost three turnovers for the 2nd week in a row.  We didn’t make our first and third down efficiency.  We looked discouraged and we didn’t play to the end. We missed 15 tackles for 92 yards.  We had 18 missed assignments. We only forced 2 turnovers. Special teams are supposed to create field position, make big plays, and regain momentum, and we didn’t do any of them. We didn’t answer all day.”

“One of the worst things you can do as a coach is have 12 on the field.  We had 12 on the field on defense and special teams.  It was probably the worst we’ve been on punt block & return since we’ve been here.”

“You don’t forget, you move forward.   I’ve told the kids whatever you read this week will be fair.” 

“We’ve only lost back-to-back games 4 times in 13 years.  We’re lucky Saturday wasn’t a conference game.  With OU this weekend, we have to get back to work.  The biggest think is they are +8 in the turnover margin and we are -3.”


Neuheisel: The absolute priority was to make it physical

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel just finished up talking with Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Radio Show.

Regarding his plan against Texas, Neuheisel said, “The absolute priority was to make it physical.”  The Bruins finished with 264 yards rushing.

When asked about his pre-game locker room speech in Austin, Neuheisel said, “I get animated.  Let’s just say I was excited.”

After saying, “I really did think we would have a great chance (to win),” Dan Patrick pressed the 3rd year UCLA head coach by asking, “No, no.  Did you believe you would win the game?”

Neuheisel responded, “The answer is YES.”

Never wavering after a 0-2 start was important, Neuheisel explained.

“2 weeks ago, we were in the outhouse in college football.  We’re going to need more of the same (hard work). In the aftermath, doubt isn’t what comes in.  It’s just reality of getting the little things right. That’s what you do, get the little things better.  We have to stack our days, so on Saturday’s we can relax a little bit.  Confidence is important.  We have to keep that going.”

“The hot seat is something you really apply to yourself.  That’s not something you focus on.  You focus on what I can do better.  You focus on what I can add to the pot, so to speak.”

“I still think there is a bias against the PAC-10.  Cal vs. Arizona was looked at as just a game, but that was two really good teams playing.  I just think the PAC-10 gets the short straw when it comes to national recognition.”

UCLA hosts Washington State this Saturday. 

Monday morning Coaches Quick Hits

Quoting Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly: “If you look at the physicality that Stanford played with, that’s the model I’ve built my programs on. We’re moving in that direction. We’re going to talk about where we are. But where we want to be … [Stanford] is a pretty darn good football team. That’s the way you want to look.”  

“Right now we’re going through that rough spot. We’re going to have to handle it internally and keep our guys moving in the right direction. I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to do that.” 

“They’re seeing a locker room that’s coming together; [we] don’t have a lot of individuals. They enjoy coming to work every day. They trust the staff and the coaches. And they see that if they continue to do the little things that I ask of them every day, they know they can be successful. It’s outside of catching and tackling and blocking. It’s more about the day to day.”  

“I take a lot of the responsibility for not preparing our guys adequately enough for drop-eight, cover-three.”  


Quoting Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh: “Might be the biggest press conference I've ever been to right here. We're happy for the win. We'll move forward with humble hearts. Really proud of our team, really proud of our coaches. Thought they did a great job putting together a game plan for this week and our players going out and executing it. I'm as fired up as anything about the kickoff coverage. That was really impressive by our guys.”

“We really wanted to get penetration, do a good job up front knocking 'em back, chipping the tight end, Rudolph, trying to keep him without the ability to get free access into our defense and our secondary. Thought we did a good job containing him.”


Mack Brown upset after 34-12 loss to UCLA: "I told them to get with a family member or friends and don't go out. Think about what you did right. If you played really well, congratulations to you. If you didn't, you've got to pick it up or we'll go get someone else."


Quoting Gene Chizik: "I saw a team again that is very resilient. They fight and just keep pressing on and find a way to win. But I also see so many glaring things that don't allow us to be a great team right now. That's everywhere. I thought I saw a more physical game on the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage. I thought that was an improvement from last week. It was like two completely different games, in my opinion.”

“We haven't been very good in terms of responding to sudden change. We haven't been very good at playing on a short field. "We just have to play better right now. The big plays, the explosive plays on offense are what got us Saturday night. It was the whole defense - guys being out of position or eyes aren't in the right spot, the quarterback scrambles where a guy lost contain and bout another 2 1/2 seconds to throw the ball. It was glaring things all over the defense, in my opinion.”

"One of the things that stands out to me is that, on the sideline, you don't see panic. You don't see body language change. Of course, we've preached that every day for a year and a half or whatever that we've been here. I just know we are willing to fight, don't look at the scoreboard and keep playing until the end of the game."


Quoting Houston Nutt: “This was our fourth different offensive line in four games, so we came out with fewer plays and just tried to execute better, which we did. Our blocking was better. Our backs ran hard and Jeremiah (Masoli) did an excellent job of reading the plays.”

“We have to keep getting better. We look good at times and sometimes we don't know where the ball is. We have to get some things corrected there. What I did like, though, was how hard we played. We really ran to the ball well. What's happening with our secondary is that we are having growing pains. If we'll just keep fighting and learning and getting better with our techniques, I think we can become a good defense.

“Lockett being hurt hurts us. Somebody will have to step up, probably a freshman, and it's a new world for them. It's hard to explain until they are out there playing and see how fast things are. They have to think, adjust and then play 100 miles an hour. It's not easy.” 


Quoting George O’Leary: “It’s very disappointing from a standpoint of, defensively first I thought we played well — extremely well. I thought we put them in some bad positions. I thought that one play we busted there on the dog and they ran it down to the nine or 10 whatever it was, keeping them out of the end zone I think was really a great job. They made plays the last series, a couple of them you’d like to have back, but I thought they kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win the game.

“Offensively, I thougth we were very inconsistent. Left a lot of plays on the field. When you watch the tape, there’s a lot of open people in the passing game and a lot of just more detail needed in the execution of the offensive run game.”

“The disappointing thing is you had your opportunities. When you go inside that scoring zone and you have it there five times and you come away with 10 points, that’s not good enough.”


Quoting Lane Kiffin: "As we looked at the overall picture of everything, the schedule and the way we practiced (without tackling), our goal was to get these guys through these games and not worry about what the score was and to have an idea about our roster.”

"We don't have as many star players as we did before and so they're playing at those other places," he said. "It's evened out and it's our goal to change it back to what it was before."

"Who would have thought UCLA would be able to go into Texas and not just win, but it sounds like they physically dominated them."



Quoting Memphis coach Larry Porter: "What I see is a team that is still growing, that is still coming together. This team has a lot of resolve about it. They bleed until the very last minute. That's what you've got to have. As coaches we've got to find a way to put them in better position to finish."



Spurrier concerned about Garcia: “He put his head straight down, and I think he closes his eyes, and dives in there. It’s a recipe for disaster. He could seriously hurt himself with that. We’re always told to see what you hit. Keep your head up.”

Bo Pelini embarrassed, Carl Pelini not disappointed and fires back on reporter

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini says he was embarrassed with the 17-3 win over South Dakota State (0-3).  The Cornhuskers converted just 4 of 13 third-down conversions, totaled 345 yards, and had 3 turnovers.

Pelini says Nebraska cannot play to the level of competition. 

“Not if you want to win championships,” said Pelini.  “If that’s the way our football team is going to be, I need to go coach someplace else.”

 “Obviously I’m not pushing the panic button because this is the same football team that went out to Washington last week and played pretty good football. But you’ve got to have consistency. For us to show up like that at home today, I’m embarrassed.”

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Carl Pelini was not disappointed and fired back at a reporter.

Nebraska is OFF this weekend, before traveling to Kansas State for a Thursday night game.