The top news out of the Pac-10 coaches' conference call today involved the improving health of several quarterbacks.
Southern California hopes that quarterback John David Booty's injured finger has healed enough to allow him to return to the starting lineup after a one-week absence; UCLA believes a bye week may have bought time for Pat Cowan's return; and at Cal, Nate Longshore could also return.
This week's Pac-10 schedule sends No. 7 Oregon to Washington, Stanford to No. 12 Arizona, No. 10 California to UCLA and No. 13 USC to Notre Dame.
Other notes from around the league:
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STANFORD: Tavita Pritchard, the sophomore from Clover Park, remains the starting quarterback. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Pritchard ran, passed and directed the offense well in the Cardinal's loss to TCU. "I'm very happy with the way he's playing," Harbaugh said. And after watching game tape, Arizona coach Mike Stoops said Pritchard was much improved from the week before, when he engineered an upset of USC.
ARIZONA: Coach Mike Stoops said he hasn't decided whether Nicholas Grigsby or Chris Jennings will start at tailback this week, but that both will play. The key for each, he said, is to hang onto the ball.
OREGON STATE: The Beavers have won two consecutive games, but Riley said this week's bye is well timed. "The momentum is a nice thing, but (a bye week) feels good right now, and it will allow us to get past mid-season aches and pains and take a little bit of a weekend off."
USC: Coach Pete Carroll said the USC-Notre Dame game remains special despite the Trojans' one loss and the Irish's one win. "This is just a game that has unique qualities to it and historically always has," he said. … He added that Notre Dame's switch to junior quarterback Evan Sharpley "doesn't affect us at all" because "they don't change their offense when they change quarterbacks."
UCLA: The Bruins return to action this week as one of only two undefeated teams in Pac-10 play. "Our team is pretty optimistic," coach Karl Dorrell said. "They're upbeat and positive about this stretch of our season."
ARIZONA STATE: Coach Dennis Erickson said his team's 7-0 start and high national rankings haven't affected his goals or approach. "We went in not knowing anything about what we were going to do, and we went in focused on winning that first game and right on through," he said.
WASHINGTON STATE: Coach Bill Doba said the Cougar's bye has arrived "at a perfect time" because his team is beaten up "emotionally, mentally and physically." He gave his players Monday, Tuesday and today off. They will return to the practice field to work on fundamentals Thursday and Friday before getting a free weekend. … Doba also said he doesn't plan to change his approach in the second half of this season. "You try to win, obviously," he said, rejecting the idea of a youth movement. "I'm not going to dump these seniors and start playing for next year. A lot of these guys have been here five years and have paid the price."