NCF Nation: Chris McGaha

Posted by's Ted Miller

Anyone else believe the Pac-10 might be a little deeper than it was initially projected?

  • After Nate Longshore threw a pair of ill-advised interceptions during his brief playing time against Michigan State, California coach Jeff Tedford has decided that Kevin Riley is the exclusive QB. No more rotating, which is a good call, says Gary Peterson. Post-practice notes. More here.
  • Coach Mike Stoops on Arizona's defense: physical, good tackling. And that included the backups.
  • This might be a concern: After WR Chris McGaha nursed a pesky toe injury throughout the preseason, now WR Michael Jones, who caught six passes for 162 yards against Northern Arizona, is dealing with a strained Achilles tendon. Walk-on CB Pierre Singfield has broken through for Arizona State.
  • It's still uncertain who gets the QB call at Oregon with Justin Roper still sidelined with a concussion. Some notes.
  • In a big boost for Oregon State's defense, safety Al Afalava is back from suspension. Notes on Saint JoePa here and here. Is this a good time to play a ranked team on the road?
  • Stanford will need to challenge Arizona State's offensive line, And what about the Cardinal passing gameFirst-look Stanford and a feature on DT Ekom Udofia from an ASU perspective.
  • The lowdown on UCLA's injuries, including three senior starters on offense. Still, things are buzzing around the Bruins. The freshmen contributed. Beating Tennessee probably will help recruiting. But the work is far from done.
  • USC jumps to No. 1. What's up with Ohio State's Beanie Wells? USC's got its own injury issues, most particularly LB Rey Maualuga's finger.
  • The worst surprise for Washington at Oregon was the poor production from the offensive line and, ergo, the running game. The closest thing to a Huskies standout was true freshman TE Kavario Middleton.
  • Washington State remains hopeful but it doesn't help that another OL, guard Andrew Roxas, went down in Tuesday's practice with a right knee injury and will be out two games. However, Howie Stalwick's notebook includes this good news: "On a more encouraging note, projected starters Jeshua Anderson (wide receiver), Vaughn Lesuma (offensive tackle) and Reid Forrest (punter) all practiced after extended absences due to injury." More on injuries. The defense played fairly well against Oklahoma State.
  • Some SEC fans are coming to terms with the notion of respect. Dan Raley surveys the Pac-10, leading with speculation on Washington coach Tyrone Willingham's job status.

Posted by ESPN.coms' Ted Miller

Just think: 119 sets of fans are optimistic right now. Wonder what that number will be in a week?

  • A guide to get ready for Arizona's season, but the news is about TE Rob Gronkowski, who might have mononucleosis as well as strep throat. That could knock him out for a few weeks.
  • Good news for Arizona State: Mr. First Down, WR Chris McGaha, returned to practice Sunday after missing 10 practices with a toe injury and should be ready to go against Northern Arizona. The article lists eight true freshmen expected to play: defensive end Lawrence Guy, linebacker Brandon Magee, linebacker Shelly Lyons, cornerback Josh Jordan, tailback Ryan Bass, receiver Gerell Robinson offensive lineman Zach Schlink and safety Clint Floyd.
  • What did we learn from California's training camp? Jonathan Okanes breaks it down -- lots of good stuff here.
  • We should find out Monday about Nate Costa's knee, but it's clear that Justin Roper will start against Washington. One thing to keep in mind with Costa out: Neither one of the Ducks' backups -- Jeremiah Masoli, a sophomore transfer, who led City College of San Francisco to the JC national title last year, and true freshman Chris Harper -- have played a single down of Division I-A ball. Notes from the official press release.
  • Oregon State plays Stanford and coach Jim Harbaugh on Thursday. Know the last name of a Beavers student assistant? Harbaugh. Paul Buker, wedging tongue into cheek, spies on the potential spy. The Beavers aren't exactly sure what they will get out of Stanford. A big concern is new Cardinal defensive coordinator Ron Lynn. An NFL veteran, he may have been scheming up surprises during four years away from the field. A scouting report.
  • Low expectations won't keep UCLA's Rick Neuheisel from being optimistic. UCLA's got "The Boz" at DE, but Korey Bosworth is a quiet guy. The future QB at UCLA, Richard Brehaut, has Bruins fans saying Matt Barkley who?
  • No. 1 overall? Is USC DT Fili Moala really that good? We shall see. USC's depth chart -- still a lot of "ORs" on it. A first look at Virginia. A Scott Wolf note on RB Joe McKnight's "special status."
  • Washington's defense is a huge question mark, but DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is not one of them. Good stuff on his background and upbringing.
  • A report from banged-up Washington State... Coug fans might be a little worried about the OL injuries. Stadium renovations mean new stuff on Washington State football Saturdays.

Posted by's Ted Miller

My assumption is your tailgate blueprints have been finalized as well as all the pie charts, spreadsheets and PowerPoint demonstrations. If not: For shame.

  • At Arizona, it was recognition day -- starting to work against Idaho's offense and defense. Greg Hansen: If you win it they will come. Nic Grigsby is the starter at TB, but there's more quality depth than in the past.
  • Arizona State's first offense looked pretty good in its final scrimmage Thursday. Said QB Rudy Carpenter to the Arizona Republic of the suspect OL: "The offensive line did an awesome job tonight. They've been doing a great job all camp. If they continue to do that, I think we can be pretty good." Bad news is the WR Chris McGaha is still sitting out with a toe injury. The defense benefits from the return of DT Saia Falahola, who appears to have won a starting job. East Valley Tribune list of freshmen who likely will play: wide receiver Gerell Robinson, running back Ryan Bass, guard Zach Schlink, defensive end Lawrence Guy, linebackers Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee, cornerback Josh Jordan, safety Clint Floyd. Oh, and the Sun Devils expect to eclipse 50,000 season ticket sales, the most in at least two decades.
  • California coach Jeff Tedford picked sophomore Kevin Riley as the Bears starting QB over senior Nate Longshore. Riley started slowly but surged late. Also, note at the bottom says that "walk-on freshman David Seawright had won the kicking job over senior Jordan Kay." Some perspective on the QB decision from Jon Wilner and Jonathan Okanes. List of other freshmen and newcomers who could play from SF Chronicle: receivers Verran Tucker and Marvin Jones, defensive tackle Kendrick Payne, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, tight end Anthony Miller and safety Bryant Nnabuife and likely DBs Marc Anthony and Josh Hill.
  • The extent of Oregon QB Nate Costa's new knee injury is unknown and it will likely not be until late Sunday or Monday before everything clears up because the team orthopedic surgeon -- who repaired the same knee last fall -- is out of town.
  • My guess is this will fire up Oregon State fans: Hit this link and click the bottom left image for the Beavers intro video (thanks to Building the Dam).
  • The Bootleg has set up a nice Game Day site for the Stanford-Oregon State game that gets things rolling next Thursday.
  • The UCLA defense will not have to carry the offense. Hmm. We shall see. It appears OLB John Hale has held off a challenge from touted freshman Akeem Ayers. More info on UCLA frosh who will not redshirt. One of those is safety Rahim Moore. And attention now turns to a mysterious Tennessee team.
  • USC's final scrimmage was "efficient" -- neither QB Aaron Corp nor Mitch Mustain committed a turnover and no one got hurt. It also appears that Corp and Mustain were competing for the backup role and that Mark Sanchez, two weeks after dislocating his knee cap, will be full-go for Virginia preparations on Monday. Corp may have an edge as the backup. More than a few folks have wondered: What about unheralded QB Garrett Green, who's played consistently well. More scrimmage standouts -- note that Mustain played well, so this whole backup QB decision is going to be close. An injury update -- and get this -- it's good news. And a big-picture look as the Trojans turn their attention to game prep.
  • Interesting story on Sanchez and his embrace of his Mexican heritage and how that seems to bother some folks.
  • Whatever happened to Washington's Jordan White-Frisbee? He may end up being a key piece on the Huskies O-line. Lots of depth-chart questions remain for the Huskies, but that's probably by design. Molly Yanity is guessing that freshman Chris Polk might prevail at TB. More on All-Pac-10 center Juan Garcia, who's recovery from a severe foot injury.
  • No question who Washington State's best player is: WR Brandon Gibson. But the Cougars breakout player may be DE Kevin Kooyman.

Posted by's Ted Miller

It just wouldn't feel like a Wednesday without Pac-10 links.

  • The Arizona Daily Star chats with Arizona tailback Nic Grigsby. Marquis Hundley is a big-hitter in a small package. Coach Mike Stoops thanked athletic director Jim Livengood for his support and said the media doesn't understand how much the program has improved.
  • Jon Hargis will lead Arizona State's offensive line. He's improved quickly because he has to block DE Dexter Davis in practice; Davis is the key piece in the Sun Devils D-line. Both linked stories include injury reports, including a update on WR Chris McGaha, who's missed nine practices with a toe injury but is expected back next week.
  • California is "close" to making a call at QB between Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley after Tuesday's scrimmage. Riley appears to have made up ground of late. Cal also expects a lot from RB Jahvid Best -- the name Reggie Bush comes up. Here's some notes from Tuesday's closed scrimmage. More here.
  • Despite a sore shoulder, Oregon's freshman QB Chris Harper is still in the mix for playing time. An injury update -- Ducks are fairly healthy.
  • It's firming up that injured backup Oregon State QB Sean Canfield won't be the No. 2 guy at Stanford. The Beavers were expected to have a hot QB competition -- just like Cal -- but Canfield's shoulder is still bugging him. Building the Dam loves Bob DeCarolis, the OSU athletic director. We know this because they told us so.
  • It's not official, but all signs point to Tavita Pritchard starting at QB for Stanford against Oregon State next week.
  • UCLA can't afford injuries on its offensive line, but the bill collector isn't sympathetic. More on tackle Micah Kia's hand injury. And another shot for good measure. Checking in with Chris Forcier after he fell short in the QB competition against Kevin Craft.
  • USC injuries have received a lot of attention of late, but the latest to RB C.J. Gable appears to be more than hyperventilating. Gable, perhaps the Trojans best all-around RB when elements such as blocking are figured in, probably will miss the opener at Virginia.  It doesn't appear that will be the case with RB Joe McKnight, and the notorious introvert opens up to the Orange County Register's Michael Lev in this story. The latest on QB Mark Sanchez.
  • If you know Jake Locker, you knew the Washington QB wasn't going to let a hamstring injury keep him out of the season-opener at Oregon. Is there QB intrigue for both the Huskies and Ducks? The main issue with Locker will be whether missing 11 days and 12 practices will hurt his timing with an inexperienced crew of WRs. The Huskies already are eyeballing the Ducks. Bob Condotta stays up all night so you can read his notes. And so did Molly Yanity.
  • Former Washington State QB Mark Rypien tried to inspire the Cougars. DT Matt Eichelberger used to be viewed as a liability. He's slimmed down and is more confident, so that might not be the case this fall. Vince Grippi checks in with the secondary and gives you a practice report.
  • Finally, Jon Wilner updates his Pac-10 pecking order.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Two weeks from today and we'll all be reading about Oregon State's visit to Stanford -- Thursday night football, baby!

  • Arizona's camping at army base Fort Huachuca is providing time for reflection. Perhaps the Wildcats have found a new preseason tradition? Devin Veal might provide some depth at WR.
  • Speaking of going away to camp, Arizona State makes a one-day trip to Camp Tontozona for a scrimmage on Saturday. An extended stay at Tontozona was made unnecessary when the school built an $8.4 million in-door practice facility. Topping the notebook is WR Chris McGaha's pesky toe injury. Nice column here from Scott Bordow on an ASU freshman quarterback by the name of Elway.
  • Scrimmage at California, and it appears that Kevin Riley outplayed Nate Longshore in this one... the plot thickens. Here's a more detailed report. Notice all the newcomers -- freshmen and JC transfers -- who get mentioned? Funny thing: This was supposed to be Jeff Tedford's worst recruiting class. But he told me that this class has more guys who are ready to contribute than any previous group. Go figure.
  • Oregon WR Terence Scott burned his redshirt year in 2007 for two receptions, but he's not bitter. The JC transfer could help the Ducks in '08. And preseason camp isn't all about sweat, X's and O's and injuries. There's fun, too.
  • Scrimmage! Oregon State goes live and frosh RB Jacquizz Rodgers was the star of the day. In fact, The Oregonian's Paul Buker comes to this conclusion about the Beavers offense: "If we can believe what we've seen in Fall camp, there will be no comparison between this year's offense and the unit in 2007 that moved the ball in fits and starts, dinks and dunks and a fly sweep here and there." But Rodgers won't likely be the No. 1 guy. That's Ryan McCants. Important sidenote: OG Jeremy Perry didn't participate in the scrimmage, choosing to rest his sore knee.
  • Want to know a dark-horse guy to come out of nowhere and put up big numbers? My pick is Stanford's Toby Gerhart, a powerful guy running behind an offensive line that appears to be coming together.
  • If UCLA is going to exceed middling expectations, a good place to perk things up would be special teams. Competition at LB? Hale, yes! And the interior defensive line is a given with Brigham Harwell and Brian Price, but things aren't too shabby at DE, either. It looks like Michael Norris has won the CB job opposite Alterraun Verner.
  • Scott Wolf's USC notes include something on a Longhorn Spy (kidding!) and an explanation for why DE Everson Griffen was so steamed the other day.  The story behind a kicker and his Mohawk. And are things deeper at TB than expected?
  • Folks are in the money at USC, according to this post from the LA Times' USC blog, and we're not just talking about the revelations this week that Pete Carroll took home $4.4 million in 2006-07. Check out how much offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian pockets: $704,380.
  • Washington may start a 26-year-old millionaire in its secondary. It's hard not to root for UW kicker Ryan Perkins. And big -- HUGE -- recruiting news for Washington and Tyrone Willingham. Molly Yanity chats with OT Ben Ossai, who's got the talent to become an All-Pac-10 player.
  • Washington State isn't kicking it yet, but Wade Penner might be the guy who does so. A look at the Coug running backs and a practice recap. Vince Grippi also gives his take on the starting 22 here. The WSU Football Blog return.

Posted by's Ted Miller

 AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens
 After collecting 10.5 sacks as a backup in '07, the Beavers expect big things from Victor Butler (right) this season.

Who's going to be clutch in 2008? Here are six guys we're betting on. 

Victor Butler, DE, Oregon State: Butler had 10.5 sacks as a backup. What will he do as a starter? Probably end a lot of drives. 

Rey Maualuga, LB, USC: The two-time All-Pac-10 LB and 2008 Preseason All-American was the Rose Bowl MVP after recording three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. In the victory over UCLA, he led all defenders with eight tackles. 

Chris McGaha, WR, Arizona State: McGaha is the guy QB Rudy Carpenter turns to when he needs to move the chains. We know this because 48 of McGaha's 61 receptions in 2007 went for first downs. That's a conversion rate of 79 percent.

Tavita Pritchard, QB, Stanford: Sure, he's fighting just to hold onto his starting job, but the drive Pritchard engineered to beat USC suggests he's got a clutch future. Or did you miss the two fourth-down passes he made, including a 10-yard touchdown to Mark Bradford with 49 seconds left?

Walter Thurmond III, CB, Oregon: Some fans took issue with our ranking fellow Ducks cornerback Jairus Byrd higher in our position rankings. Well, consider this a tip of the cap to Thurmond, a playmaker. The only Oregon defender to score two TDs in 2007, he broke up 18 passes with five interceptions and also recorded eight a tackles for a loss.

Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA: When the Bruins need a big play in the secondary, Verner is there -- and their green group in 2008 is going to need him. His 76-yard INT return for a touchdown clinched the upset of California last year. He's returned three of his six career picks for TDs.