CULVER CITY, Calif. — Here's a sampling of responses from the five coaches who will compete against Utah's Kyle Whittingham in the Pac-12 South Division, as told to Deseret News sports writer Dirk Facer and other media members at the conference's annual preseason football media gathering Friday at the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif.
UCLA coach Jim Mora
Q: You have nine straight games with no byes. What are you going to do to make sure your team doesn't crash at the end of the season?
A: Stay healthy, stay focused and worry about the team we're going to play — not the future or the week before. We're going to have to be a mentally tough football team. We're going to have to be a consistent football team. That's the main area of emphasis for us this offseason.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham
Q: How do you prepare your players for games against USC and Stanford and the inherent pressure?
A: That's why we do this. We like the pressure. We're competitors. That's one of the things I love about this football team. … That's where you want to be. This conference — week in, week out — you're going against the best talent in the country, and that's what we want. … There is no added preparation on our part. We have simply one goal at our place, and that's to be champions.
USC coach Lane Kiffin
Q: All four captains from last year have left the program. How has your team responded as far as finding new leadership?
A: I think every year is different. I think every team is different, and we're obviously facing that with losing a lot of really good players from last year and really good leaders. Spring was great because you see your players start to develop, you see leaders develop within the program, and as we move into the fall it's our job to make sure developing those guys as great leaders is prominent.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez
Q: You have one (Thursday) game this year against USC. How does that change your preparation?
A: The midweek (game) is a little different, but fortunately I've played a few throughout my career. I love the Thursday night games. I think it's great exposure. I think the guys love being in a prime-time game Thursday nights. So you have to plan your practices. You move the calendar back and treat Thursday like it's Saturday.
Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre
Q: Why do you feel CU has struggled for the past seven seasons to consistently win, and how can you make it happen?
A: I don't know much about the last seven seasons. I just know what we're going to do as a staff. I think one of the things that we will be able to do, we have to develop trust in our young men and they have to trust us, we have to trust them. We're in the process of doing that now. I have a phenomenal coaching staff. I think that's one of the reasons we will be successful.