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Chris Dufresne / On College Football

College football's third week has coaches on pins and needles

Leaders of college football teams that are 2-0 are preaching against complacency while coaches of teams that are 0-2 are hoping for a turning point.

September 14, 2012|Chris Dufresne
  • Jimbo Fisher and No. 5 Florida State are 27 1/2 point favorites, but Fisher says the Seminoles will have to play great to compete.
Jimbo Fisher and No. 5 Florida State are 27 1/2 point favorites, but Fisher… (Stephen M. Dowell / MCT )

Coaches say the darnedest things.

OK, maybe it was kids. But it could have been coaches.

There is something about a season's third week — maybe the tipping point aspect to it — that makes our squadron leaders so prickly and paranoid.

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: "We'll have to play a great game this week in order to compete."

Florida State is favored by 271/2 points over Wake Forest.

Nick Saban, mastermind of Alabama's 35-0 shutout against Western Kentucky, bristled, "Nobody here should be feeling warm and cozy."

Ohio State moved up two spots, to No. 12, in this week's Associated Press media poll. Coach Urban Meyer: "We have to fix, obviously, a lot of things."

Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, following a win over a Southeastern Conference team (Vanderbilt): "We're going to get our tails whooped" if his team doesn't play better against Boston College.

Fitzgerald called out butter-fingered receivers: "I had to remind them it's a $60,000 scholarship. Catch the ball."

UCLA Coach Jim Mora, facing a winless Houston team that has already lost to Texas State: "We are absolutely going to get their best shot."

And these coaches are a collective 10-0.

Week 3 can be make or break. It can start a streak, or end one. All is not lost, nor is anything won.

It's different from the NFL, says a former NFL coach. "Here, every game has an amazing amount of significance because there is only 12 to get you where you want to go," Mora said.

If you're a coach, and you have a good speech, use it now. Winston Churchill always works.

Prime Minister Mora warns: "Complacency is a killer. I think it's important to avoid it in your life."

In 2007, Michigan got off the skids after home defeats to Appalachian State and Oregon to end the season with an epic win over Tim Tebow and Florida.

Last year, Georgia won 10 straight games and the SEC East after opening the year with losses to Boise State and South Carolina.

Conversely, Tennessee started 2-0 last year and lost six of its last eight. Syracuse started 2-0 and lost its last five.

This is the week a coach needs to dig deep, dig in — and keep the trash can close.

Washington's Steve Sarkisian could hardly stomach his team's 41-3 loss to Louisiana State: "It makes me want to puke quite honestly," he said.

Nevada Las Vegas Coach Bobby Hauck woke up sick at 5:30 Sunday morning, hours after losing on a last-second kick to Northern Arizona a week after losing in triple-overtime to Minnesota.

"I got a text from my mother about 15 minutes ago," Hauck said at his Monday news conference. "She told me she loved me … but it took her two days."

This is the time leaders must summon and inspire.

Gene Chizik, coach of an Auburn team that is 0-2 for the first time since 2003, called it "manning up." If only he had a Manning — or another Cam Newton.

Auburn buckles up for Louisiana Monroe, a stunning winner over Arkansas last week in Little Rock.

Arkansas Coach John L. Smith, down at the end of lonely street, had to find some motivational ploy to get his team ready for No. 1 Alabama. He came up with: "We are still undefeated in the league."

Arkansas, by god, can still win the SEC — even though it never has.

Coaches of 2-0 clubs are scared of their shadows.

"I'm very impressed with Furman from watching them on tape," Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said this week.

Coaches of 0-2 teams must act as if this is the week it all turns around.

"I do believe we've gotten better," Colorado Coach Jon Embree said.

We may not see it yet. Colorado lost its opener to Colorado State, which then lost to North Dakota State. Colorado lost last week to Sacramento State.

The Buffaloes are 3-12 under Embree's command. Coloradans must brace, though, for duty that awaits in Fresno State.

So that if the Boulder commonwealth should last a thousand years, its fans might say, "This was their finest 60 minutes."

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

Times staff writer Chris Foster contributed to this report.

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