Thursday, May 26, 2011

USC Football: 5 Reasons USC’s Failed Appeal is Not the End of the World

Unless you just woke up, you already heard about USC’s losing its appeal in regards to sanctions handed down by the NCAA.

Ya, this completely sucks Trojans fans, but as Ted Miller said so eloquently, “Rant and rage...then move on.”  

In case you needed something to make you feel better after a day of dreary news, here are five reason that should turn your day right around.

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.26.2011








*USC's appeal on NCAA's sanctions didn't go quite as well as Trojan fans were hoping. I agree that the punishment was a little harsh, but don't do the crime if you can't pay the time. [ESPN]

*In the meantime, these sanctions placed on USC have apparently not hurt them on the recruiting trail.  The Trojans landed four-star offensive tackle Max Tuerk after he told other schools he wanted to wait on a decision.  Lane Kiffin can definitely work some magic.  [Rivals]

*Well, one good thing that came out of the NCAA’s appeal rejection is that it gives a boost to the other teams in USC’s division.  The title chances of the five other teams in the Pac-12 South just got slightly better.  I still like ASU to take (but probably by default).  [Tucson Citizen]

*Oddly enough, the NCAA released its Division I Academic Progress Rates this week and the majority of Pac-12 schools continue to improve.  But then again, if it’s a rating system made by the NCAA, it is probably fucked up slightly flawed.  [NCAA.org]

*Leave it to South Park to tell you exactly how it is in the rudest and abrupt way as possible.  Cartman seeks advice from Colorado University, poking fun of the NCAA the entire way.  Love it, especially after today.  [YouTube]

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oregon State Football: Who Will Carry the Torch Left by Jacquizz Rodgers?

It is never easy when a college football team prematurely loses its campus star to the NFL Draft. 

While most schools have stars waiting in the wings, the early departure of running back Jacquizz Rodgers felt like it shook the moorings of Oregon State's entire offensive identity.  

For the past two seasons, Rodgers has been a huge reason why Beavers’ fans liked their chances every Saturday.  The elusiveness and flash brought to the field by Rodgers commanded the attention of every player on defense. 

Rodgers will certainly be considered one of the greatest running backs in Oregon State’s history, but his deserving leap to the pros has forced the Beavers to desperately search for someone to step into this highly scrutinized, "star" role. 

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.25.2011

*Four Pac-12 teams made Andy Staple's post-spring rankings.  The Utes continue to gain believers, breaking through at No. 25 [SI.com]


*Speaking of pre-season rankings, a Stanford writer says, begone rankings! I don't agree. The pre-season rankings and other spring/summer nonsense is the only way I can get through the College Football offseason. [Stanford Daily] 

*Utah fans are pumped for next season. 98% of their season ticket holders renewed their seat for 2011. Freaking amazing!  [Desert News]

*It's not a party without a bong rip and a bump. Just ask Washington State's linebacker Louis Bland. He was arrested on Tuesday after a noise complaint led to cops finding weed and a "white substance." I miss college. [Scout]

*Four-star tight end recruit Christo Kourtzidis recently received an offer from Arizona to add to his lengthly list of suitors. Although the Wildcats are not currently on the top of his list, his intrigue with successful Arizona TEs could turn the tide. [Rivals]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.24.2011







*Like a nerdy teenager right before prom, UCLA is desperately hoping that they finally “Get Some!” in 2011. But, come one, what are the Bruins' real chances of making any serious waves this season.  These OC boys seem to have faith. [OC Register]

*Two weeks ago, Colorado secured one of the top 2012 quarterback recruits in Shane Dillon. The potential that Dillon brings to the Buffaloes’ future in the Pac-12 is quite interesting.  His high football coach seems to love him, but then again, don’t they all. [Rivals]

*Man Down! Arizona’s junior devensive tackle Willie Mobley suffered an ACL tear playing basketball at the student rec center.  Strangely enough, Mobley is fourth player to go down with an ACL injury for the Wildcats this spring.  [Tucson Citizen]

*A Stanford blogger tells a Cal blogger the “inside scoop” about the Cardinal for 2011.  Seems incestuous.  [California Golden Blogs]

*Ever wanted to see and hear what a QB does when he is in the pocket at game speed?  Then you have to check this out. At Washington’s spring game, Keith Price and Nate Montana wore cameras on their helmets.  It’s pretty sick! [Seattle PI]

Monday, May 23, 2011

Arizona Wildcats Football: Does Arizona Have a Chance At the Pac-12 South Title?

Although Arizona Wildcats football has taken second stage to their intrastate rivals this offseason, critics could be overlooking the possibility that the Sun Devils are not the only dark horse coming out of the Grand Canyon State.

Entering last season, several experts pick the Wildcats as a possible dark horse conference contender because of the offensive potential brought to the roster by Nick Foles.  With the Wildcats returning most of their offense weapons and their defense returning seven solid starters, it seems like Arizona should be getting a bit more press. 

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.23.2011








*There has been discussions in Pullman about creating a signature entrance song/ceremony for Washington State.  Im not quite sure how this is going to help the on field product, but hey, pre-game traditions is what college football is all about.  [WSU Football Blog]

*Jeff Tedford chatted in a rare off-season interview about the state of California Golden Bears football.  While there is still a great deal of uncertainly for next season, Tedford does a great job subduing the situation. [Bay Area SB Nation]

*USC added running back Jahleel Pinner to its 2012 recruiting class.  Thanks to his size (6’0”, 225lbs), the recruit from Mission Viejo HS is projected to be a full back for the Trojans. [OC Varsity]  

*Stanford and Notre Dame continue their long-lived tradition for another eight years.  I gotta say, this is one of my favorite rivalries in college football.  It needs to continue for the next century  [San Jose Mercury]

*Colorado’s head coach Jon Embree attended his first meeting of Pac-12 Coaches early this month. He described how it feels being the new kid on the block and the different roles played by the coaches.  But, Dennis Erickson as the Godfather...Come on! [Daily Camera]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ranking the Pac-12’s Top Defensive Backs

Whether it is making a touchdown saving tackle or swatting down a threatening pass downfield, defensive backs are the lifeline for any defense.

The corps of DBs in the Pac-12 is definitely no exception, and this group of ball hawks are more than capable of changing the makeup of any game in a heartbeat.

Let’s take a peek at which defensive backs rank at the top of the Pac-12 for next season. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.18.2011







*First off, Congratulations to the Pac-10 inductees recently named to the College Football Hall of Fame.  Bill Enyart (Oregon State 1966-68) was a little before my time, but Rob Waldrop and Arizona’s Desert Swarm defense was some of my first memories of college football. Hats off to the entire 2011 class. [Orlando Sentinel]

*UCLA continues to dig into the junior college ranks to band-aid the holes on its offensive line.  Citrus College’s Albert Cid will be the latest to make the leap (as long as he passes his classes).  With the uncertainty still swirling around the starting quarterback role, the eventual winner will need these fresh faces to provide as much time as possible back there.  [Los Angeles Times]

*Although several offers from Pac-12 schools are on the table for three-star OL recruit Matt Cochrane, he seems to be waiting to get one from Stanford.  In a year where top tier OL are a plenty, the Cardinal apparently want to make sure they know what they are getting before they solidify a deal. [Scout]

*It seems like more and more people like Arizona State to either take the South Division or make a trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game by default (Thanks USC).  With more hype comes more television coverage (and scrutiny).  Arizona State already has several nationally televised games, but, there could be a few more broadcasting possibilities depending on how their season pans out. [House of Sparky

*USC is the favorite in my mind to win the South Division, but they won’t be able to do it looking like they did last season.  There are several must do’s on Lane Kiffin’s list in order to have a successful season.  But will he be able to check them off before the start of the season? [Bleacher Report]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Washington State Football: Can Wazzu Win Five or More Games in 2011?

College football in Pullman has not been pretty the past few seasons. While the dedicated Cougars fans stick by their team, the continued football depression that surrounds this town is truly testing their loyalty.

In springs' past, Washington State’s chances at a successful season seemed to be dead before the start of July. However, Head Coach Paul Wulff has inserted a seed of hope in the minds of his beleaguered fan base.   After a lively spring, Wulff stated that these were the best offseason practices that he has witnessed since he joined the program.

While these semi-sweet words definitely appear promising, it is hard to forget the not-so-distant past.  It can be even harder to forget when the future is as bleak as those dreadful memories.

Although the Cougars are still several years away from contending for a North Division title, there is a light at the end of this long and dreary tunnel.

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.17.2011







*Like the Jeffersons, Utah’s moving on up. However, with new neighbors comes a new lifestyle. The Utes need to start sprucing up its sports programs to portray their new status. No one likes the neighbor that doesn’t keep up outward appearances. [Salt Lake Tribune]

*Speaking of changing neighborhoods, Colorado played in its last Big 12 event last weekend, also saying good-bye to the old and hello to the new.  It’s amazing how much history the Buffaloes made with the Conference in only 15 years.   Take some time to reflect, Buffaloes fans. [Denver Post]

*With the addition these teams, the chances of catching a few Pac-12 cupcake games definitely increases just a smidgen.  Colorado has been known for setting difficult non-conference schedules in the past, but Utah is in a completely different boat this season.  Check out this breakdown of each teams’ non-conference schedule with various interesting schedule stats.  [Sporting News]

*Five-star safety recruit Shaq Thompson may be nursing a foot injury, but that didn’t stop him for wowing onlookers at the Nike Camp in Palo Alto.  Thompson’s de-committed from Cal earlier this spring, but claims they are still No. 1 on his list.  Washington, UCLA, and USC are circling Thompson as he decides. [Rivals, YouTube]

*The Oregon vs. LSU matchup on opening weekend is a huge carrot pulling the horse throughout the rest of this offseason.  It is going to be hard to pick an outright winner in that game.  My pick seems to change depending on the hour.  [Autzen Zoo]
  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Utah Utes: Can Utah Finish Above .500 in Pac-12 Conference Play?

To answer this question, you have to ask yourself, are you a BCS purist or a Mid-Major sympathizer?

The BCS purists are going to say that there is no way in hell a non-BCS team can join a major conference and expect to come out with a winning record.  The competition is exponentially tougher from top-to-bottom and gearing up to play huge games week-in and week-out will take its toll by mid-October.    

On the other hand, the mid-major sympathizer believes that there has been a “flattening” in the world of college football and that these mid-major powerhouses can recruit and play against ANY team. 

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.16.2011








*According to a poll run by ESPN, Utah was picked by an overwhelming majority to surprise the Pac-12 this season.  However, with the othe Pac-12 teams provided in the five-team poll, it wasn’t hard to pick the Utes.  [ESPN]

*After an impressive spring, Jeff Tedford finally selected Zach Maynard to be California’s starting quarterback on opening day against Fresno State.   Armed with an accurate cannon and speedy wheels, fans are definitely leaning on Maynard to turnaround the Bears’ offensive woes. [San Francisco Chronicle]

*Palo Alto hosted The Elite 11 regional camp this weekend where committed QBs like Travis Wilson (Utah) and Zach Kline (Cal) continued to impress, and undecided QB Jake Rodrigues drew even more interest from Pac-12 suitors.  [Rivals]  

*Oregon State defensive tackle Castro Masaniai was arrested on a slew of charges last Saturday after an altercation with his girlfriend.  I guess it isn’t a college football offseason without at least TWO arrest from the Beaver state. [Oregonian]

*Do you remember last season USC/California game?  Ya, me neither. It might not have landed as the most interesting game of the season for most Pac-12 fans, but Avinash (in the hopes of selling a few pdfs) does a very interesting job breaking the plays of this wishy-washy game.  [California Golden Blogs

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ranking the Pac-12’s Top Running Backs

Although the Pac-12 is looked upon by many as a “pass happy” conference, the talent laced at running back out west cannot be denied.

The nation’s No. 1 rusher from last season was a member of the Pac-10 and that fleet-footed runner returns to dazzle us with another spectacular season.

While LaMichael James will undoubtedly fall as No.1 on most people’s running backs list, there are several other great names in the Pac-12 that could steal the spotlight. 

Let’s take a look at the Top Running Backs in the Pac-12.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ranking the Top Linebackers of the Conference

With the season creeping closer following each turning day, it is never too early to start ranking the players from the most intriguing conference in college football (at least to me!). 

Linebackers kick off my series of “The Pac-12’s Top 10 by position”.

Watching these linebackers patrol the line like a hungry velociraptors can send shivers directly to your soul.  It’s shame we have to wait so long to see these beast in action.

Let’s check out the list.   

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Daily Breakfast Links: 05.12.2011








*Tyler Gabbert, Blaine’s younger brother, is going to transfer from Missouri because of lack of playing time.  The red-shirt freshman is considering Arizona and Arizona State among nine other schools.  With Nick Foles and Brock Manson strongly grasping on to those teams’ starting roles, Gabbert may want to seek employment elsewhere.  [Arizona Republic]

*Of the two ESPN/ABC games that Utah landed in 2012, one is against an old rival (BYU) and other is against a forced rival (Colorado).  While the BYU game will introduce many Pac-12 fans to this storied rivalry, the Colorado game, which is being played on Black Friday, will produce immediate bragging rights to a budding match-up on a national stage. Should be interesting! [Examiner.com

Zach Maynard at Buffalo
*While a handful of Pac-12 schools appear to have medium interest in Kentridge HS quarterback Caleb Smith, Washington State was quick to pull the trigger, providing him with the first offer from the conference.  The 6’5”, 225 lbs has yet to be ranked by either Scout.com or Rivals, but his offseason hype is certain growing. [Scout.com, You Tube]

*After receiving offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Washington, three-star, quarterback prospect Travis Wilson decided to join the newest team to a BCS conference, Utah. The early offseason theft illustrates that the Utes have not hesitated in jumping head first into Pac-12 recruiting.   [Sporting News, YouTube]

*California’s quarterback Zach Maynard is getting some much deserved press today on the front page of Yahoo’s College Football site.  Can Maynard be the one to restore the Bears’ once glorious standards at QB?  After the spring, it appears he is definitely heading in that direction [Yahoo

*Four-star prospect Shane Dillon found everything he needed after his trip to Colorado.  Originally planning to make his decision in August/September, the Buffaloes unexpectedly received a commitment from the pro-style quarterback this week.  A huge recruiting win for Jon Embree.  [Rivals, YouTube]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Breakfast Links: 05.11.2011







*Get ready to mark your calendars. ESPN announced 16 Pac-12 Football telecasts in 2011. There are definitely some great conference and non-conference matchups in the batch.  USC tops all teams with six featured games this season [ESPN]

*Rivals.com listed five burning questions facing each conference this season. Their cracked staff throws in their two cents about Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah.  Not a really exciting read, but good for those in need of a refresher. [Rivals]

*Oregon State’s AD Bob De Carolis signs a five-year contract worth $490K a year.  The Beavers have moved steadily under his command atop the chain and he should continue to shine.  In 2010, De Carolis was named Football Bowl Subdivision West Region Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year by his peers.  [Gazzete Times]

*USC could don black helmets in a game or two, next season.  I gotta say, they look pretty sharp [Inside USC]

*Oregon doubled its 2012 recruiting total over night, receiving commitments from brothers Eric and Stephen Amoako.  The twins (surprisingly?) play safety, are listed at 5’11”, 195 pounds, and were ranked as 3-star prospects by Scout.com.  Identical twins kinda freak me out.  Just in case you were wondering. [Sporting News]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Breakfast Links: 05.10.2011

*The Pac-12’s TV deal is supposedly threatening the "Friday Night Lights" of high schools across the nation.  Hopefully this collegiate option will keep these kinds of fans at home gambling on the semi-pros. [Columbian

*Pete Carroll recently gushed over Steve Sarkisian’s success at Washington after attending a few of the Huskies’ spring practices.  Sark certainly has Carroll to thank, considering he is using most of Caroll’s staff and strategies from USC.  Nonetheless, you gotta love the football environment that they both are creating in the state of Washington.  [Go Huskies.com]

*Many writers are questioning whether it is genius or absolute nonsense that the Pac-12 Title Game is being played with a home field advantage.  I think its genius.  It’s unique and it guarantees a raucous, packed crowd at every Championship event. [Bruins Nation]

*Four-star tight end Evan Baylis commits to Oregon.  The tall, lanky (6’6”, 220lbs) target runs well and should be a matchup problem against smaller defenders.  A decent, early grab for Chip Kelly [Scout.com, You Tube

*Luke Kaumatule, an outstanding, four-star defensive end from Honolulu, has every Pac-12 team knocking at his door step.  After a recent visit to Palo Alto, Stanford seems to have the early edge.   With the shallow pool of talent at defensive line for the Cardinal, this could be a huge recruiting win for David Shaw. [The Bootleg, You Tube]  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Colorado Buffaloes Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: 105-Play Scrimmage

Final Score: N/A

Colorado’s new head coach Jon Embree emerges from spring drills with a little more buzz surrounding the Buffaloes then when he entered it.  The road ahead is still quite treacherous, but it seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Offense:
Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen’s performance in Colorado’s spring game was good enough to land him the starting job a few days later.  Although Hansen didn’t have the best stats on the day (8-15, 120 yards, 1TD), his poise and decision making in the pocket was noticeably improved from last year’s shortened season.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Hirschman also showed signs of promise for Colorado’s future, connecting on 11 of 19 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Josh Ford provided Colorado with a sprinkle of potential in their backfield as well, collecting 164 yards on 17 carries, breaking off a 56-yard scamper for a touchdown.   

Grade: B+


Defense:
Colorado’s defense started off solid in their spring game, impressing their coach with text-book tackling.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Zac Blaha bullied his way towards the ball on practically every play, leading the team with nine tackles and forcing the quarterback to hold onto the ball twice.

Senior defensive end David Goldberg did his best to gain a starting role in his final season, collecting three sacks in the absence of projected starter Chidera Uzo-Dirlbe.

The Buffaloes defense definitely had several bright spots this spring and it will be exciting to see how this spring’s success translates in the fall.

Grade:  B+

Breakfast Links: 05.09.2011

*The spring has come and gone leaving several great nuggets for Pac-12 Football fans to chew on over the next few months.  Bud Withers does a great job summarizing the injuries and emergences for every team.  [Seattle Times]

* Trey Griffey, Ken Griffey Jr.’s son, is being courted by Oregon, UCLA, and Washington State. Standing large at 6’2”, 185 pound, Trey has the potential to be an extremely dangerous wide-out. Although his talent is still a bit raw, it is fun to imagine a Griffey making dazzling plays on the gridiron. [Lost Letterman, You Tube]

*Chip Kelly gave an inspirational speech to U.S. Soldiers after Oregon’s spring game.  The group singing of the Ducks fight song was a nice touch, too.  [Oregonian]

*The Pac-12’s 12-year, $3 billion rights deal with ESPN and FOX is eye-popping, but at the same time well deserving.  Pac-12 Football deserves some serious respect and this exponential increase in national exposure is definitely a huge step in the right direction. [Multi-Channel News]

*Arizona and Oklahoma State moved their game from Saturday, Sept. 10 to Thursday, Sept. 8.  Watching quarterbacks Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden command the authority of the skies in prime time should be a great way to kick of the second week of the season. [Arizona Daily Star]

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Utah Utes Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: Red vs. White  (both squads were a mixture of 1st and 2nd team offenses and defenses)

Final Score: Red 7, White 0

Red squeaked out a victory in Utah’s yawner of a spring game.  Let’s hope that the Utes’ first season in the Pac-12 is a little livelier.

Offense:

With Jordan Wynn nursing a shoulder injury this spring, Utah’s offense looked quite horrific.

Although Utah’s spring game featured mostly unpolished members of the depth chart, a total of seven points by both the Red and the White is pretty shameful.

Freshman quarterback Tyler Shreve threw the only touchdown to Dexter Ransom, but connected on just nine of 20 passes. 

Harvey Langi, another true freshman, led the team in rushing yards with 63 yards on 10 carries.

It is hard to judge Utah’s offense solely on this spring considered the parts they were missing.  Don’t let this non-existent showing lull you into believing that this offense will not create some waves in 2011.

However, they did not do much from a spring report card standpoint.

Grade: F+    


Defense:

While both defenses only surrendered a total of one touchdown, it is hard to give them all of the credit when you considered the talent that was running the offense. 

Nevertheless, it is important to give credit where credit is due.

Junior defensive end and Michigan State transfer David Rolf batted down a game winning pass in the end zone for the Red squad, adding onto a day with a sack, a tackle for a loss, and another broken pass.

Sophomore linebacker Trevor Reilly also made a lasting impression with 2.5 sacks and a deflected pass.

All in all, the Utes’ defense looked pretty good, but they will have to survive much harder test in order to gain any kind of respect this season.

Grade: B+

Pac-12 Football Breakfast Links: 05.08.2011

*Arizona lands three-star recruit offensive lineman Beau Boyster.  Nothing screams exciting like an OL signing. [Arizona Daily Star, You Tube]

*According to a “source that has no authority to talk on the subject matter”(whatever that means), highly sought-after tight end Morrell Presely and fifth-year senior cornerback Courtney Viney will transfer out of UCLA.  Not sure if people need authority to talk about players that never see the field.  [Los Angeles Times]

*College Basketball play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson is expected to join FOX to call Pac-12 Football games.  Although he lost out to Brad Nessler for the NFL Network job, he should be a shoe-in for this position.  [Examiner.com]

*Four-star prospect linebacker Michael Barton commits to Cal, adding to a pile of East Bay recruits in the Bears' arsenal.  The De La Salle standout also received offers from Arizona State, Colorado, LSU, Oregon State, SMU, UCLA, Washington and Washington State. [Contra Costa Times, You Tube]

*It is no surprise that UCLA is having troubles figuring out which quarterback to go with next season.  It IS a surprise OC Mike Johnson still hopes that he is going to find “consistency, decision-making, and leadership” in one of his three candidates.  If these skills haven’t reared its head yet, he could be looking for a long time. [OC Register

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pac-12 Football: Arizona State Sun Devils Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: Offense (Maroon) vs. Defense (Gold)


Final Score: Maroon 83, Gold 27

Arizona State’s offense danced circles around its defense in the 2011 spring game.  Although many believe that the Sun Devil’s offense will be a handful next season, the spring game unveiled several egregious holes within their defense.


Offense:
Brock Osweiler made it rain touchdowns in the Sun Devils’ spring game, slicing the skies with five touchdowns and 237 yards.  Five different receivers caught touchdowns from a corps that kept busy for most of the day. 

Arizona State’s running game also shined, scoring two touchdowns and rushing for over 140 yards.  Kyle Middlebrooks led the pack, gaining 66 yards on four carries.   James Morrison saw most of the load, rushing the ball 10 times for 25 yards.
Grade: A-



Defense:
Although Arizona State’s offense is expected to be good next season, the Sun Devil’s defense made Osweiler look like Peyton Manning.

While it appears that Defensive Coordinator Bill Miller has his work ahead of him, the secondary seems to be the biggest problem.  If they can’t pull it together before the Fall, the quarterback-laced Pac-12 could eat them alive. 

Despite their ineptitude, the Sun Devil’s defense managed to collect four sacks. However, the unit is still extremely suspect as whole and needs to vastly improve in order to truly contend for the Pac-12 South Division title. 
Grade: D

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pac-12 Football: Arizona Wildcats Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: 60-play Scrimmage

Final Score: N/A

Passing ruled the day at Arizona’s spring game.  However, that was the one area that critics were the least concerned with. 

Offense:
Nick Foles, Matt Scott, and Bryson Beirne each saw a heavy dosage of action in Arizona’s spring game, combing for 39 passes in the 60-play scrimmage.

Each player threw for over 100 yards and at least one touchdown, connecting with 13 different receivers on the day.  Beirne tacked on an additional touchdown pass before it was all said and done, leading the team with two. 

The running game was practically non-existent, though.  Sophomore Daniel Jenkins carried the ball eight times but only gained 35 yards.  Foles had the second most rushing yards with 20.

Grade: B+


Defense:
Arizona’s defense only stopped five drives and converted just one turnover during Mike Stoop’s 60-play scrimmage.

Safety Marquis Flowers led the charge for the Wildcats, jarring four tackles and breaking up two passes.

Defensive tackle Sione Tuihalamaka also exerted some dominance on the field, pulling in four tackles and notching a sack.

Overall, Arizona’s defense didn’t play that awful, but, allowing four touchdowns proves that they still need a ton of improvement before opening day.
Grade: C+  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pac-12 Football Breakfast Links: 05.06.2011

*Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso is suspended for a second straight season after his arrest on burglary and trespassing chargers. Perhaps Chip Kelly should cut his losses. This recruit from Los Gatos isn't going pan out as he expected. [Seattle Times]

*Speaking of the Seattle Times, Bob Condotta reminded us that the Pac-12 Bowl schedule pretty much blows.   Thanks Bob for ruining my Friday.  [Seattle Times]

*Colorado Coach Jon Embree talks about DE Forrest West's departure without really saying anything at all about what actually happened.  Great job coach.  [Denver Post]

* Steven Threet's decision to retire after a gnarly concussion last year could not have been easy.  He was a promising player and it just plain sucks that we wont get a chance to see him next year. [AZCentral.com]

*With its first real conference schedule staring them square in the face,  Utah's yearly rivalry game with BYU seems to be losing a bit of its luster.  Wait, did it have that much to begin with?  [Salt Lake Tribune]

Pac-12 Football: UCLA Bruins Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type:  80-Play Scrimmage

Final Score: N/A

UCLA’s spring practices did not significantly answer any of the questions that still linger from last year.  Their offense seems to still be in transition and the defense will need to carry the Bruins in 2011.

Offense:
The biggest concern revolving UCLA this spring (and it seems like every spring) is which quarterback will finally step up as the Bruins offensive leader.

With Kevin Prince sidelined this offseason, Coach Rick Neuheisel’s silent hopes that talent would miraculously emerge from his depth chart went unfulfilled.   Although Brett Hundley and Richard Brehaut each threw a touchdown pass, neither quarterback was that accurate or looked ready for real playing time.

Unfortunately for UCLA, new OC Mike Johnson seems to be abandoning the running game, which is a shame with the budding John Franklin waiting to prove his worth.

Grade: C-


Defense:
UCLA defense dropped from 27th in scoring defense in 2009 (21.2 p/g) to 85th in the NCAA last year (30.3 p/g).  While this unexpected showing of futility shocked many, the Bruins are determined to prove it was a one year hiccup.

With eight returning starters from last year, UCLA’s defense is already showing vast improvements this spring.

Sophomore linebacker Jordan Zumwalt led the charge for the Bruins defense in the spring game, snatching five tackles and one sack.

Junior cornerback Andrew Abbott also created various frenzies throughout the day, collecting four tackles, one tackle for a loss, and two pass break ups. 
Grade:

Pac-12 Football: USC Trojans Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: Offense (Cardinal) vs. Defense (White)

Final Score:  White 42, Cardinal 19 (White earned points by forcing punts and turnovers)

Tailbacks shine for the offense, while the White squad dispels several demons that haunted them time after time last year.   

Offense:
It is a common notion that USC’s offense leans heavily on Matt Barkley.   However, after the Trojans spring game, USC might have a few concerns about their fearless leader.

In front of a defense that was not allowed to blitz, Barkley completed only 22 of 42 passes, and threw two reckless interceptions.  While Barkley’s receiving corps was a little thin, this does not do much to ease the minor case of worries that his performance reverberated with the Trojan fans. 

To make things slightly better, USC’s running game sparkled in the spring game, with both Curtis McNeal and Dillon Baxter rushing over 100 yards. Redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan also pulled in 89 more.

Grade: B


Defense:
USC’s secondary was mocked throughout the 2010 season for its inferiority, but early signs this spring indicate that this will not be the case in 2011.

Cornerbacks Anthony Brown and Brian Baucham each intercepted passes during the spring game, while Safety Jawanza Starling collected a game-high nine tackles with a pass deflection.

The Trojans also showed decent strength with their men up front.  Defensive end Zack Kusnir pushed through the line to record two sacks and three TFLs, and defensive tackle DaJohn Harris tallied five tackles with two TFLs. 

Grade: A-

Pac-12 Football Breakfast Links: 05.05.2011

*Keith Price is named the No. 1 QB on the Washington Huskies depth chart.  The road to replacing Jake Locker starts with Price.  However, no one truly knows how high his price will go.  [Seattle Times]

*Colorado officials were granted their request to move its game with USC from Saturday Nov. 4th, to Friday Nov. 5th.  Now the entire world can see them get absolutely corn-holed in prime time. [LA Times]

*The Sun Devils lure Gonzaga's guard Demetri Goodson to play football for them.  Apparently, Arizona State's hype for next season is so big that it is pulling in recruits from other sports.  [ESPN]

*According to Darren Everson, Oregon's high speed offense is the work of geniuses. They just weren't smart enough to keep up with Cameron Newton. [Wall Street Journal]

*Utah is expected to earn $20M more with the Pac-12 next season.  Even if they lose every game next year, AD Chris Hill has to feel pretty secure with his job. [Desert News]

*Oregon and Oregon State will use Pac-12 TV money to pay bills.  Sounds like what I did with my graduation money.  [Oregon Live.com]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pac-12 Football: California Bears Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: 11-on-11 Full Team Practice

Final Score:  N/A

California suffered its first sub-.500 record under Jeff Tedford last season.  Armed with several new staff members, the Bears started the process of erasing those scathing memories during a successful spring.

Offense:
The first task for new quarterback coach Marcus Arroyo and Tedford’s revamped offensive staff was to find a new signal caller.  Brock Mansion did not impress most people after taking over for Kevin Riley and he did even less to change the minds of the coaches this spring.

Zach Maynard, on the other hand, keeps improving and took the majority of the Bears offensive snaps during their final team practice.  He finished the scrimmage completing seven of 12 passes with a touchdown and should be named the starting quarterback in the near future.

Ise Sofele, also hoping to nail down a starting role, looked powerful in the running game, gaining 77 yards on three carries with a touchdown.     

Grade: B+


Defense:
California returns only five starters from last year’s 18th ranked defense, but the Bears appear to be heading in the right direction following the spring.

The Bears’ defense picked Maynard off two times during the final scrimmage and were able to tap on his red jersey twice. 

With several holes to fill on every level of the defense, seeing consistent improvement from recruits will be necessary to keep pace in this high powered conference.  

Grade: C+

Pac-12 Football: Stanford Cardinal Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: 1st Team (Cardinal) vs. 2nd Team (White)

Final Score:  Cardinal 42, White 3

The Stanford Cardinal offense hasn’t missed a beat since Jim Harbaugh’s departure.  As long as they have that Heisman Trophy candidate, they should be just fine.  

Offense:
It only took a few plays for Andrew Luck to quickly remind everyone why he is considered to be the best quarterback in the conference.  Under Luck’s directions, the Cardinal squad scored a touchdown on every drive. He connected on 16 of 22 passes and tossed three touchdowns with ease. 

Stepfan Taylor also provided the Cardinal with a steady ground game, gaining 61 yards and scoring one touchdown. 

Even with the coaching change, it appears that Stanford’s offense is still legit with Luck running the show.

Grade: A

Defense:
With the departure of Vic Fangio and five key defensive starters, there are some concerns about how the Cardinal’s defense will stack up to last year’s impressive outing. 

While Stanford is stacked at the linebacker position with Chase Thomas and Shane Skov, Thomas missed the spring game with an undisclosed matter, which raises some questions.

Despite these variables, Fangio’s successor, former secondary coach Derek Mason, is pumped about his team chances at continuing the dominance it asserted last season.

Grade: B

Fullerton Running Back Kelvin York Commits to USC

According to the OC Register, Kelvin York committed to USC without a second thought.  Minutes after receiving his offer from USC assistant Ed Orgeron, the 5'11", 225-pound running back agreed to play for the Trojans.

York rushed for 1,435 yard and 17 touchdowns for Fullerton Junior College last year.  He is the sixth player to officially commit to USC for 2012.

Here is some footage:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pac-12 Football: Oregon State Beavers Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: Scrimmage with Situational Plays

Final Score:  N/A

Key injuries kept Oregon State’s spring scrimmage from holding that much weight.  The Beavers still have way too many unanswered questions entering the summer. 

Offense:
With the key parts to its first team offense sidelined with injuries, Oregon State chose to do a spring scrimmage instead of a tradition spring game. 

Tight end Connor Hamlett saw the most action for the Beavers, catching 11 balls for 153 yards. Standing tall at 6’7”, the redshirt freshman should become an excellent target for Ryan Katz once he returns. 

While Malcom Marable rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown in this spring scrimmage, Oregon State’s overall offense is still highly questionable without Jacquizz Rodgers.

Grade: C


Defense:
Oregon State’s defense played strong in the spring scrimmage, collecting eight total sacks and four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

Sophomore linebacker Michael Doctor patrolled the field with authority, leading the team with 10 tackles (1TFL) and reaching the quarterback once.

While this suspect success could be closely correlated with the inexperience of the offense, the Beavers defense is definitely improving, which is highly necessary if they want to stay in games against the hefty Pac-12.  

Grade: B-

Pac-12 Football: Oregon Ducks Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: 1st Team (Green) vs. 2nd Team (White)

Final Score:  Green 16, White 0

Oregon reached the property limits of the promise land last season, only to find a sign that said “No Ducks Allowed”.  With only three months to recover from that disappointing ending, many expected Oregon to come out a little sluggish this spring.  This was hardly the case.

Offense:
LeMichael James didn’t miss a beat from last year’s astonishing season.  While he only carried the ball three times, on his final carry, he broke off a 67-yard touchdown run, reminding the world why Oregon is once again a National Championship contender.

While Darron Thomas didn’t put up spectacular numbers, he managed the game properly and came out with his first spring game win in three tries.

Grade: B+
 

Defense:
The first team defense pitched a shut-out for the Green squad, collecting two sacks, nine tackles for a loss, a fumble recovery, and an interception.

Sophomore defensive tackle Wade Keliikipi made the biggest splash in Oregon’s spring game, rattling off six tackles, two sacks, one TFL, and a broken up pass.

Grade: A-  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pac-12 Football: Washington State Cougars Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: 1st Team (Crimson) vs. 2nd Team (Gray)

Final Score:  Crimson 38, Gray 3

Washington State’s woes seem to be never-ending.  However, according to Paul Wulff, this is the best spring he has witnessed since joining the program.  We will have to see about that.

Offense:
Against the second string defense, Washington’s potential starting lineup looked sublime.  Unfortunately, the Cougars will be facing defenses 100-times tougher than that through the year. 

Senior Logwone Mitz stampeded for 106 yard and two touchdowns, leading the Crimson to a blowout victory against a much-overmatched Gray squad. 

Jeff Tuel also displayed promise for the Cougars.  He was fairly accurate with the ball (12-of-17) and laced a beautiful touchdown pass to Andrei Lintz in the back left corner of the endzone.

However, it is hard to tell how these performances will translate into success in 2011.

Grade: C+


Defense:
Again, with the Cougars’ first team playing against the second squad, the tilt on the scoreboard can be a little misleading.

Shining bright for Washington State on that line in the spring game was defensive tackle Brandon Rankin.  He collected two sacks against the Cougars’ spotty second tier offensive line.    

The Cougars defensive line should be one of their brightest spots all season.

Grade: C+

Pac-12 Football: Washington Huskies Spring Game Report Card

Spring Game Type: 1st Team Offense/2nd Team Defense (Huskies) vs. 1st Team Defense/2nd Team Offense (Dawgs)

Final Score:  Dawgs 31, Huskies 14

Hopes are high for Washington after the conclusion of spring activities.  While contending for a North Division title might be farfetched, a productive spring proved that these Huskies are still feeding off the momentum from their Holiday Bowl victory. 

Offense:
All eyes will be on Jake Locker’s replacement in 2011, and if the spring was any indication, it looks like it will be Keith Price.  Price, alternating between the first and second teams, lit up the spring game box score, connecting on 20 of 28 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns.

While Jermaine Kearse will certainly be the No. 1 receiver come fall, senior Cody Burns caught the eyes of many, hauling in four passes for 102 yards which included a 70 yard strike for a touchdown for Nate Montana.

The Huskies first team running game didn’t spark much attention in the spring game, gaining only 72 yards on the ground.  Chris Polk led the charge for the Huskies with seven carriers and 22 yards. 


Grade: A-


Defense:
Washington’s defensive line appears to be its most promising area on this side of the ball.

Defensive end Josh Shirley has become the talk of the town after his outstanding spring.  He capped off a successful session with three tackles, including one tackle for a loss.

The secondary has been a bit of a concern for Washington this offseason, but the returning talent has apparently impressed Steve Sarkasian.  In the spring game, the first team defense held the Huskies to 14 points, with several impressive plays throughout the game.

While the Huskies defense still needs some work, they are certainly showings areas of improvement.   


Grade: B-