NCF Nation: Dexter Davis
From Scouts Inc. reports on ESPN.com:
- Everyone expected USC S Taylor Mays to shine in this setting and Mays did not disappoint. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Mays posted an official time of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash. While we are still concerned about his inconsistencies on film, Mays clearly has early-first-round natural ability, and teams are sure to fall in love with his upside if they haven't already.
- Arizona State's Dexter Davis, TCU's Jerry Hughes, Michigan's Brandon Graham and Utah's Koa Misi all played defensive end in college but are expected to move to 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Base 3-4 teams looking for help at outside linebacker were interested to see how they ran in the 40-yard dash, and none of them disappointed. Davis (4.56 seconds), Hughes (4.59), Graham (4.69) and Misi (4.69) all are fast enough to play linebacker in the NFL. Those times are unofficial, of course, but it's worth pointing out that the average 40 time for outside linebackers at the 2009 combine was 4.78.
- It should come as no surprise that Campbell, USC's Charles Brown and West Virginia's Selvish Capers stood out during one-on-one mirror drills. All three looked fluid and quick, but Iowa's Bryan Bulaga showed the best poise of the group. Bulaga didn't overreact to head fakes or quick changes in direction and stayed with his man throughout.
- USC G/C Jeff Byers had a hard time sinking his hips and keeping his shoulders back before starting his one-on-one mirror drill, and Byers' technique deteriorated once Idaho OT/G Mike Iupati forced him to change directions. Byers had a particularly difficult time staying low and that's a real concern because hip and back injuries forced Byers to miss two seasons early in his collegiate career and he looks stiff.
From other sources:
- Former Oregon State linebacker Keaton Kristick is making an impression.
- Former Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield had a good combine.
- Danny O'Neil notes that many Pac-10 players helped themselves, including Mays, Jahvid Best, Donald Butler and Toby Gerhart.
- Mays may be overcoming doubters. As did Gerhart. But some think Mays' game tape speaks louder.
- By the way, Best is fast, and San Diego might be interested.
- Speaking of fast, here's more on the speed guys.
- You can find the top performers here.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Here's a list of players: defensive end Dexter Davis and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy -- both from Arizona State -- Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed, California defensive end Cameron Jordan, Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea and Washington defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.
That is a stout crew. Each is a likely NFL draft pick -- a few on the first day -- when their time comes to go pro.
|Scott Cunningham/Getty Images|
|Dexter Davis has 27.5 career sacks, but none so far this season.|
Meanwhile, USC freshman Nick Perry, who's not even a starter and mostly missed the California game due a bruised knee, has six sacks and seven tackles for loss.
Arizona's "other" defensive end, Ricky Elmore, has 4.5 sacks. Stanford end Thomas Keiser has 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
In other words, the big names aren't hanging up big numbers while more obscure guys are.
Apparently lots of double-teams. And toss in a few injuries.
One thing is clear, however: No coach was ready to rip his putative defensive star.
"Brooks is playing phenomenal," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. "Sometimes statistics don't tell the whole story, and in Brooks' case that's certainly evident. You just turn the film on. He's a very productive player."
It also hurts that Reed has been hurting. He sprained his ankle against Iowa, missed the Oregon State game and is questionable for Saturday at Washington.
Stoops also said Elmore, a junior like Reed, isn't simply benefiting from offenses focusing on Reed.
"I think Ricky's gotten better as a player," Stoops said.
Davis is a four-year starter with 27.5 career sacks but he has zero sacks thus far in 2009, with only one tackle for loss.
"He's not playing bad. He's getting doubled a lot, which we expect," Sun Devils coach coach Dennis Erickson said, before adding. "We're not getting to the quarterback with those other guys. It's not so much Dexter as the other three guys -- or five guys or six guys who play -- when they double him and they are one-on-one."
One of those "guys" is Guy, who had 10 tackles for loss last year. He's only made five tackles this season with 0.5 TFL and zero sacks. He's also been battling a biceps injury that knocked him out of the season -opener.
Still, it's noteworthy that Arizona State, which is tied for last in the conference with three sacks, ranks third in the nation in total defense. If they maintain an elite overall ranking, then there's not much to gripe about, even if Davis and Guy fail to hang up big numbers.
The situation is not the same at Oregon State, which is tied with the Sun Devils with just three sacks. While the Beavers' defense took a step forward at Arizona State last weekend, it's still not the high-pressure unit of years past.
Coach Mike Riley doesn't blame Paea for that, though.
"I think he's doing a great job," Riley said. "He's getting a lot of attention. He is a disruptive force in the middle."
Paea had five sacks and 11 TFL last year, but he's got two new defensive ends flanking him who aren't stressing the opposing offensive line as much as Slade Norris and Victor Butler did a year ago.
As for Jordan (one sack), the junior been overshadowed by the Bears' other end, senior Tyson Alualu, who's recorded 26 tackles -- tops among conference D-linemen -- with 4.5 sacks. At Washington, Te'o-Nesheim (one sack) is much like Davis and Reed -- he's getting lots of attention from opposing offenses.
Of course, Te'o-Nesheim commanded lots of attention last year. He got off to a slow start but still ended up with eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. In fact, he got his first three sacks of 2008 in Game 5 against Arizona.
Guess who's coming to Husky Stadium on Saturday?
In other words, there's plenty of time for the "name" guys to still live up to their, er, names.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The Bay Area is the center of the Pac-10 universe on Saturday, though Oregon State's visit to Arizona State feels underrated to me. Oh, and Washington heads east to take on Notre Dame and the cardiac Fighting Irish.
1. Will the real Cal please stand up? California can't possibly be as bad as it looked at Oregon. You look up and down the roster and check off guys with NFL futures and just shake your head. So, do the Bears put it together and play to their potential against USC? Or will they look out of sync again? It's possible that Cal could put forth a strong effort and still lose, but at least that might leave some sparks for a strong run through the rest of the conference slate.
2. Toby Gerhart vs. Reggie Carter & Brian Price: Obviously, there are 11 guys on both sides of the ball, but the 237-pound Gerhart is the irresistible force and Carter and Price are the immovable objects. If Gerhart prevails and gets his 100-plus yards, he should jump onto the short list of Heisman Trophy candidates. But Carter and Price are bad men -- maybe two of the nation's most underrated players. There will be some pads popping here.
3. Danny Sullivan must play better: Arizona State proved at Georgia that its defense is good enough to get the Sun Devils to a bowl game, but the offense needs to step up, particularly Sullivan. Only problem for him is his already questionable offensive line is banged up -- two or three starters could be out. Still, playing in front of the home crowd, Sullivan needs to make plays in the passing game or coach Dennis Erickson might decide to give talented true freshman Brock Osweiler a serious look.
4. Will Irish run or pass vs. the Huskies' defense? Or both? Washington's primary worry in the preseason was its outmanned secondary, but after Stanford ran all over the Huskies, the run defense now seems like a bigger problem. Notre Dame has been successful both throwing (297 yards per game) and running the ball (158 ypg). Against A-list programs, the Huskies have flashed decent run defense (LSU) and pass defense (USC). What will they have for Charlie Weis and the Irish?
5. Welcome to Autzen Stadium, Jeff Tuel: Sure, Washington State's true freshman quarterback got his first career action in the Coliseum against the fearsome Trojans, but it's much different coming off the bench without thinking time compared to having a first-career start hanging over a youngster for an entire week. Not to mention that Tuel won't be able to hear himself think inside Autzen Stadium -- it's not nearly as loud inside the Coliseum. And the Ducks' defense gives a QB lots of looks -- it certainly confused a veteran Cal offense.
6. The Trojans' offense can't possibly be this bad: The overall statistics don't look terrible, but the Trojans are averaging just 19.3 points over their last three games and only one of those defenses -- Ohio State -- is a first-tier unit. Moreover, the offense is only converting on 25 percent of its third downs, which ranks last in the conference. All of this is happening with an outstanding offensive line and a strong crew of skill players. So, even with young quarterbacks, it's not a lack of talent or experience. The pressure is on Jeremy Bates to earn his substantial paycheck and call better plays. Or, perhaps, Pete Carroll needs to free up Bates to call the game as he sees fit. Either way, this shortcoming falls on the coaches.
7. Is it better to be Crafty or Lucky? UCLA's and Stanford's quarterbacks come at Saturday's game from far different angles. The Bruins' Kevin Craft is the senior backup who lost his job to a now-injured redshirt freshman because he threw 20 interceptions in 2008. The Cardinal's Andrew Luck is a super-talented redshirt freshman who unseated a senior starter and who appears destined for an NFL career. Funny thing is: Craft probably will be more responsible for his team's fortunes. Luck has a powerful running game to rely on. Craft won't have that luxury. Of course, Craft did beat Stanford with a pressure-packed TD drive last year.
8. Bringing the heat in Tempe: Arizona State's defense has been dominant. Oregon State's defense has been disappointing. But here's a number that might shock you: Which two teams are tied for last in the conference with just two sacks? That would be the Sun Devils and Beavers, though the Sun Devils have played one less game. Both offensive lines have struggled, and the Sun Devils are digging deep into their depth chart because of injuries. Neither QB is terribly mobile. And Arizona State gets back suspended defensive end James Brooks, which will allow pass-rush specialist Dexter Davis to return to his preferred weak side. Guess here is one -- or maybe both -- of these teams is going to get to the quarterback.
9. Jahvid Best needs a big day in a big game: Last year against USC, Best had just 30 yards on 13 carries. Last week against Oregon, he had just 55 yards on 16 carries. While it's unfair and untrue to say that Best has not produced good numbers in big games, the Bears need him to step up and make some plays against a rugged Trojans defense that is going to gang up on him. Sure, quarterback Kevin Riley needs to create a passing threat so the Trojans can't crowd the line to stop Best, but if Best makes a few plays early, things probably will be a lot more open for Riley downfield.
10. Locker vs. Clausen: Washington's Jake Locker is 21st in the nation in total offense, but most will see him as the second-best quarterback on the field Saturday. Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is finally living up to his talent and recruiting pedigree, and the nation's fourth-rated passer is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. But he also has a bum toe. Locker is a team player and a good citizen, but he's incredibly competitive. Bring up Tim Tebow, and Locker's reticence clearly suggests he thinks he's just as good. Locker would love to steal the big stage in front of Touchdown Jesus and turn in a blockbuster performance.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Arizona State went looking for itself at Georgia last weekend and it found half a team.
Actually, the Sun Devils might have found more than that after losing a 20-17 heartbreaker on a last-second field goal, but coach Dennis Erickson still isn't sure what he's got this season.
|Matt Kartozian/US Presswire|
|Danny Sullivan, who's completed less than 50 percent of his passes, has had his share of criticism.|
But, in the end, the offense only managed to produce 204 yards and score 10 points -- the other touchdown came on an interception return -- against a defense that would be below average in the Pac-10.
"I've got to see how this thing carries out -- we've got nine games left in the Pac-10," coach Dennis Erickson said. "It's really hard to tell where we're at, to be honest."
Erickson said that in response to a question about whether talented true freshman quarterback Brock Osweiler is pushing for playing time behind senior starter Danny Sullivan. He said it immediately after defending Sullivan from some grumbles of criticism among Sun Devils fans.
"He's playing decent," Erickson said of Sullivan.
Sullivan completed 10 of 32 passes for 116 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Bulldogs. He missed some open receivers. And some good passes were dropped.
The struggles in the passing game -- the opportunities were there, just not converted -- certainly covered the long road trip with a what-could-have-been blanket.
"We dropped some [against Georgia], but we made some good catches, too," Erickson said. "We’re not throwing like we want to, but up until then we’ve been throwing it pretty well. We just have to become accountable."
Quarterback may not be the chief concern as the Sun Devils prepare for a visit from Oregon State. The offensive line, which had taken some baby steps forward, has been ravaged by injuries. Guard Matt Hustad won't play against the Beavers because of a knee injury and the top two centers, Garth Gerhart (toe) and Thomas Altieri (knee), are questionable. Guard Jon Hargis is fine as long as he can withstand having his shoulder forced back into joint a few times a game, as was done at Georgia.
Oregon State's defense has struggled against the pass. It's yielded 272 yards per game and eight touchdown passes and has recorded just two sacks. But it's been fairly stout against the run (92 yards per game).
So if the Beavers crowd the line to stop the Sun Devils' running game, which only ranks seventh in the conference in any event, then Sullivan is going to have to make plays.
Or face more criticism.
Erickson doesn't think Sullivan will start pressing because of fan gripes.
“I don’t think that will bother him because he knows that I don’t worry about it," he said. "You can’t play that position and worry about what people say. If you do, you’ve got a problem.
Erickson might not ask his offense to do too much, considering how well his defense is playing. The Sun Devils also get back suspended end James Brooks, which will allow Dexter Davis to move back to the weak side, where he's a better pass-rushing threat -- no tight end to double-team him. While the defense has been strong overall, it's only recorded two sacks so far.
The ASU D has earned a few admirers.
"They have a great-looking defense," Beavers coach Mike Riley said. "They gave Georgia fits in every way. Running the ball, short-yardage situations, many times they just stuffed them."
But that's only half a team.
The Sun Devils will face much better defenses than they've seen thus far in the weeks ahead. If they want to push into the top-half of the wide-open conference race, the offense must improve.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
It's never easy to put a preseason all-conference list together. Should you project forward or look back? How do you choose between three A-list cornerbacks or leave off a couple of deserving defensive ends?
Perhaps this list will be much different by mid-December.
QB Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon
RB Jahvid Best, California
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
WR Damian Williams, USC
WR James Rodgers, Oregon State
TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona
C Kristofer O'Dowd, USC
OG Jeff Byers, USC
OG Colin Baxter, Arizona
OT Charles Brown, USC
OT Shawn Lauvao, Arizona State
K Kai Forbath, UCLA
DE Will Tukuafu, Oregon
DT Brian Price, UCLA
DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State
DE Dexter Davis, Arizona State
LB Keaton Kristick, Oregon State
LB Reggie Carter, UCLA
LB Mike Nixon, Arizona State
CB Walter Thurmond, Oregon
CB Syd'Quan Thompson, California
FS Taylor Mays, USC
SS Cam Nelson, Arizona
P Bryan Anger, California
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Results of the annual Pac-10 media poll will be announced on July 30, but here's a guess at how most ballots will look:
1. USC; 2. California; 3. Oregon; 4. Oregon State... 9. Washington; 10. Washington State
And from five to eight all heck breaks loose.
Now, some -- such as Phil Steele -- think Oregon will tumble. Some have issues with Oregon State. And some think Washington will be a surprise team.
But a plurality figures to vote these six teams as they appear above and then throw the other four into the air and leave it to the college football spirits to decide.
So where do you rank Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA?
I wouldn't be completely shocked if any of those four actually broke into the top four. I also wouldn't be astonished if any finished ninth.
I think I've written at various times that all four should end up bowl-eligible, even though eight conference teams with a .500 record or better is difficult to pencil out. (It did, however, happen in 2006 -- and Washington even finished 5-7).
I changed my own 5-8 a number of times. I won't tell you how I voted yet. My boss threatened to tear off my arm and beat me with it if I did. He's done it before so I believed him.
Why the difficulty?
For one, each of the Unfixed Four will break in a new quarterback, though Stanford and UCLA both have their starters back from 2008.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When college recruiters first saw Dexter Davis in 2004, they didn't think much of him. And when Pac-10 offensive tackles first saw him in 2006, they didn't either.
Davis didn't pass the initial sight test from either party.
Those tackles, in fact, might have observed to Davis that he didn't look like much.
"I got a couple those my freshman year. And some my sophomore year," he said. "I think that's gone away a little bit now. I've earned a little bit of respect."
You think? 27.5 sacks over three seasons tend to make mouthy tackles grow respectful. Modest even. Desperately ingratiating in some cases.
Arizona State starts spring practices Tuesday, and Davis heads into his senior year a solid 6-foot-2, 252 pounds. He's got a shot to be selected on the first day of the 2010 NFL draft.
So give UTEP and ASU credit for seeing something inside the Phoenix product, because those are the only two teams that offered him a football scholarship.
"I don't know if it was my size or my speed," he said. "I don't know what it was. I'd gone to some of the camps and stuff and I didn't test real well. I think I did pretty well in some of the drills."
What sight tests and stop watches couldn't measure was Davis' sense of leverage. He was a two-time Arizona state wrestling champion at 215 pounds for Thunderbird High School.
If you watch him go one-on-one with a much bigger lineman, you might notice that the lineman often seems off-balance and uncomfortable as the smaller Davis controls the confrontation.
Davis knows how to use his hips and his hands. He wins the leverage battle, and then he's on the quarterback.
But opposing offenses wised up. Davis, a three-year starter, rarely was left to one guy. Georgia designed its game plan around stopping Davis, and after the Bulldogs rolled in Tempe, coach Mark Richt quickly noted that success in post-game interviews.
Second-team All-Pac-10 as a sophomore, Davis ended up only as an honorable mention last year, despite 11 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss, both totals leading the Sun Devils for the third consecutive year.
Davis didn't slip so much as the Sun Devils did. They started the season nationally ranked then flopped and finished 5-7, at one point losing six consecutive games.
"That's a huge motivation for the team and me personally," Davis said. "That was embarrassing --- six straight losses. We're a better team than that and we want to prove that to everybody."
If Davis has a big year, he could become the Sun Devils all-time leader in sacks. He presently ranks fourth and needs 16.5 to tie Terrell Suggs' 44.
It's a longshot, but perhaps not as much as it seems. The Sun Devils defense as a whole has a chance to be pretty salty next fall -- coach Dennis Erickson has quietly recruiting some nice talent -- and Davis will likely get some help from the presence of tackle Lawrence Guy, a freshman All-American in 2008.
Guy could force a "pick-your-poison" quandary for opposing offenses.
"They're going to have to pay attention to Lawrence because he's going to be a force to be reckoned with," Davis said. "Across our front four, we're going to have a talented D-line."
Big numbers could raise some NFL eyebrows. Davis rates either a rush linebacker in the 3-4 or a strongside linebacker in the 4-3. His lack of ideal size and mediocre speed with give some pause, but his production is hard to ignore.
Recall Suggs didn't exactly blow folks away with his 40 time and he seems to be doing OK.
Davis claims he's not looking ahead, though. The notion of looking ahead reminds many in the program of the upset loss to UNLV last season before Georgia came to town.
Said Davis, "I've got to take care of business here first."
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Getting deep into this week's games.
Mustain must trust the surrounding USC talent more than his arm: If Mark Sanchez is forced to sit out Saturday's visit from Arizona State, backup quarterback Mitch Mustain needs to realize one basic fact: His walking orders are not to win the game; his role is to avoid losing it. He's a caretaker who needs to carefully and conservatively distribute the ball to his highly skilled supporting cast. This needs to be noted because Mustain too often during practices sees a small space in which he believes a big play lives and he tries to force the ball. Sometimes he produces a "wow" moment. Too often he doesn't. That's why he was beaten out in the preseason for the backup job by Aaron Corp and had coach Pete Carroll reacting with exasperation after some practices. Even when he came off the bench for the injured Sanchez against Oregon with the game well in hand, he tried to force a play in the end zone on a third-and-2 from the Ducks 32-yard line and tossed an interception. That stands out almost as much as his strong overall numbers (5 of 8, 111 yards, TD).
Even with QB Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State's only chance is winning the turnover battle: It would be nice to write an inspirational story -- either Carpenter pulls a Willis Reed and limps onto the field to pilot the Sun Devils to an improbable victory. Or backup Danny Sullivan comes off the bench and throws for a bunch of yards and touchdowns and leads a shocking upset. But Arizona State is going to need gifts from USC -- such as a few forced throws from Mustain. The problem for the Sun Devils is they aren't doing a good job of forcing turnovers. Last year, they ranked third in the Pac-10 with a plus-3 turnover margin. This year, they are tied for seventh at minus-4, and that number is largely due to only four total takeaways. Heck, they are the only conference team without a recovered fumble. Considering there's an element of randomness in turnovers, perhaps the Sun Devils are due for some luck. Or perhaps a guy like safety Troy Nolan or cornerback Omar Bolden or defensive end Dexter Davis will take matters into his own hands.
Arizona should take a pass at Stanford: Of course, all offenses strive for balance. Blah, blah, blah. One ironclad certainty that has revealed itself this season is Stanford can't defend the pass. The Cardinal ranks last in the conference in pass defense, surrendering 274 yards per game and a 66.2 completion percentage. Enter Arizona, owners of perhaps the most refined passing scheme in the Pac-10. Quarterback Willie Tuitama has thrown just two interceptions in 158 pass attempts and is 16th in the nation in pass efficiency. There is no way Stanford can adequately cover the Wildcats receivers, led by "Money" Mike Thomas, and also sufficiently account for touchdown-making tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Wildcats have run the ball well this year with Nic Grigsby, but they can best secure a critical win Saturday by relentlessly attacking the Cardinal secondary.
There's nothing fun about play action for Oregon's defense: Oregon's first priority on defense is stopping the run. That's long been defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti's prime directive. And with the talent in the Ducks secondary, it seemed like forcing teams to pass this season would reap dividends. But following the 44-10 loss at USC, the Ducks, to a man, talked about how their failing the prime directive made the defense particularly vulnerable to basic play-action passes. Once the Trojans established they could run against the Ducks best run defense, things got dicey in the secondary. The good news with UCLA coming to town is the Bruins offensive talent isn't in the same league as USC's, and Autzen Stadium crowd noise figures to limit how much adjusting quarterback Kevin Craft can do at the line of scrimmage. Play-action fakes probably won't be as distracting this weekend.
Oh, but Ducks, be on upset alert: Coaches often say after an emotional loss, "Don't let them beat you twice," but it's a message that sometimes doesn't get through. On paper, UCLA has no business going into Autzen Stadium and beating a far more talented Oregon squad that should be focused on getting back on track after getting bullied at USC. For one, UCLA is typically terrible on the road (see a 59-zip loss at BYU). But for anyone who's watched Rick Neuheisel function through the years, this is exactly the sort of game he wins. For all the criticism he's faced -- fair and unfair -- no one with a lick of sense would claim Neuheisel isn't an elite game-day coach. And it helps to have coordinators Norm Chow and DeWayne Walker in his corner, too. Oh, by the way, Neuheisel is 4-1 vs. the Ducks. So, Ducks fans, consider this your "Danger, Will Robinson!" moment because our little robot arms are madly flapping.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
I really labored over some of these.
QB: Rudy Carpenter, Sr., Arizona State
RB: Jahvid Best, So., California
RB: Jeremiah Johnson, Sr., Oregon
TE: Rob Gronkowski, So., Arizona
OL: Alex Mack, Sr., California
OL: Jeff Byers, Sr., USC
OL: Juan Garcia, Sr., Washington
OL: Max Unger, Sr., Oregon
OL: Andy Levitre, Sr., Oregon State
WR: Mike Thomas, Sr., Arizona
WR: Brandon Gibson, Sr., Washington State
K: Thomas Weber, So., Arizona State
DE: Nick Reed, Sr., Oregon
DT: Fili Moala, Sr., USC
DT: Brian Price, So., UCLA
DE: Dexter Davis, Jr., Arizona State
LB: Rey Maualuga, Sr., USC
LB: Brian Cushing, Sr., USC
LB: Zach Follett, Sr., California
CB: Jairus Byrd, Jr., Oregon
CB: Alterraun Verner, Jr., UCLA
FS: Taylor Mays, Jr., USC
SS: Patrick Chung, Sr., Oregon
P: Keenyn Crier, So., Arizona
KR: Ronald Johnson, So., USC
PR: Sammie Stroughter, Sr., Oregon State
Posted by ESPN.com'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.