NCF Nation: Jake Murphy

The Pac-12 has 26 of the 98 early entrants in the NFL draft. That’s impressive. Some players are locks to get drafted. Others might have jumped the gun a bit and find themselves on practice squads or brushing up on their Canadian. We’ll see.

What we’re more concerned about here is who is going to replace them. Some answers are clearer than others. Some teams might have to alter their schemes just to account for a departed player.

Here’s a look at the possible replacement players in the Pac-12 South. We’ll look at the North later this morning.

Leaving: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona.

The replacement: Jared Baker should be in the mix, though an injury will keep him out of spring ball. He’s expected to return in time for fall camp. Pierre Cormier and Zach Green will also get looks. Speaking with folks at Arizona, the word right now is that it’s wide open. One player could emerge, or it could end up being a by-committee approach. Nothing is off the table at this point.

Leaving: Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State

The replacement: There really isn’t anyone who has Bradford’s skill set in the program yet, so the position is wide open. Viliami Latu has potential. So does Chans Cox, who was hurt a lot last season. They are also excited about incoming freshman Ismael Murphy-Richardson. He might not be ready to jump in immediately, but he could be the Devil backer by 2015.

[+] EnlargeRichardson
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsColorado will have a hard time replacing the explosive plays that Paul Richardson provided.
Leaving: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado

The replacement: It was probably going to be Jeff Thomas before he transferred. Now it’s probably going to be a rotation of D.D. Goodson, Devin Ross, or redshirt freshmen Bryce Bobo or Elijah Dunston. Nelson Spruce has been solid, but he’s not the breakaway threat Richardson was. This will be a key spring battle to watch.

Leaving: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OL, UCLA

The replacement: Simon Goines should be back after starting six games at left tackle before an injury forced him out. Scott Quessenberry stepped in and played five games at left guard, which is where he’ll likely be next season with Goines back at tackle.

Leaving: Dion Bailey, LB, USC

The replacement: Leon McQuay III saw some playing time and is very highly regarded by the coaching staff. His contributions last season were mostly on special teams, but he’ll take on a larger role with Bailey’s departure.

Leaving: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

The replacement: Remember George Farmer? He’s still around and could be in for a big season if healthy. Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell both are promising, but both have missed time with injury. You never truly replace a Biletnikoff winner, but playing opposite a surging Nelson Agholor could help boost the production of whoever gets in the regular rotation.

Leaving: George Uko, DT, USC

The replacement: Transfer Delvon Simmons is coming off a redshirt season, as is freshman Kenny Bigelow. Both should get some serious looks, as this will be one of the hot position battles this spring. Someone will ultimately win the job, but expect a rotation with both next season.

Leaving: Marcus Martin, C, USC

The replacement: Lots of ifs here. It could be Max Tuerk moving over from guard, but he’ll also be in the mix for right tackle to replace Kevin Graf. Khaliel Rodgers redshirted and is an option at guard or center. Giovanni Di Poalo could also get a look.

Leaving: Xavier Grimble, TE, USC

The replacement: Grimble and Randall Telfer were basically co-starters, so all this probably means is Telfer’s workload increases as he becomes the clear No. 1. Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is the only other scholarship tight end on the roster.

Leaving: Jake Murphy, TE, Utah

The replacement: Westlee Tonga seems like the logical fit. He has been around for a few years and has some experience, but was injured most of last year. He’ll get another opportunity to be the lead tight end in the newest installment of Utah’s offense.

Early entry talent drain for Pac-12

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6

While the return of UCLA QB Brett Hundley for his redshirt junior season was the weekend's big news, an early-entry to the NFL draft talent drain is hitting the Pac-12 hard.

While a number of big-name players have not yet formally announced their intensions -- such as Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey, Stanford OG David Yankey, Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Arizona State LB Carl Bradford and Oregon State QB Sean Mannion -- already 17 players have announced they will give up their remaining eligibility to turn professional.

The deadline to declare is Jan. 15.

There has been good news at quarterback. Hundley joins Oregon's Marcus Mariota as pretty significant surprises that they opted to return to school, and that means the 2014 class of Pac-12 quarterbacks will be without peer in the nation by a wide margin.

Here's the early-entry list so far:

Dion Bailey, LB, USC
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
George Uko, DT, USC
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon*
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah

*Lyerla was kicked off the team at Oregon in October.

Pac-12 media day primer

July, 12, 2013
Two weeks and counting. Ted and I are gearing up for media day. Are you? Here's what you should know.

When: July 26

Where: Sony Studios, Los Angeles

Who will be there (all times PT):
UPDATE: Arizona State informed me Friday morning that it has decided to bring Will Sutton instead of safety Alden Darby. This is a good thing because Sutton was the league's defensive player of the year last season, and his presence helps bolster his name -- and the program -- in the eyes of the national media.

Who won’t be there: The biggest name missing is Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, who led the nation in rushing last season. Coaches tend to bring veterans and guys with experience. Yankey is a great spokesman for Stanford and a good candidate, but I know others wouldn't mind hearing some thoughts from Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan.

Five storylines:
  1. Hitting? Scott is expected to announce the league's health and safety initiative, which will limit how much hitting can be done in practice. This isn't a new concept, but the league jumped in front of it by being the first to make a conference-wide mandate.
  2. Bowl updates? We know the status of the Rose, Alamo, Holiday, Kraft Fight Hunger and Sun bowls. Not sure if the rest of the lineup for beyond this season will be announced at media day. But one of us will ask.
  3. New coaches: This is the meet-the-world opportunity for the new head coaches in the league: Dykes, MacIntyre and Helfrich. Expect the requisite questions on the difficulty of changing cultures and rebuilding programs.
  4. Preseason poll: Is there any fodder better than preseason polls? Oregon or Stanford? Stanford or Oregon? ASU, UCLA or USC? Your Pac-12 bloggers will be submitting their ballots this weekend after a visit to the Oracle of Delphi, a seance channeling Nostradamus and a dartboard.
  5. Quirky questions: With the access of media day comes the spectacle of media day. Granted, it's not as bad as some of the quirks at Super Bowl media day. But there's bound to be a couple of left-field questions -- and they'll probably be directed at Leach, who is great and usually has fun with them. Last year he was asked which Pac-12 coach he'd go hunting with and which Civil War generals he'd compare some of his players to.

Ted and I will be trying something new this year (we think). Instead of the on-the-stage posts, we'll be doing a live chat during the entire stage session and bringing you info real time. So take note of the times (in Pacific, to save you the math) and be ready to interact.

Woods' three TDs pace Oregon State

October, 21, 2012
Cody Vaz's encore wasn’t as pretty as his debut. But an offensive outburst wasn’t needed as the No. 8 Oregon State Beavers pounded their way to a 21-7 victory over Utah to improve to 6-0 and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2009.

Oregon State is 6-0 for just the second time in school history -- the previous time coming in 1907.

Behind three rushing touchdowns from Storm Woods -- and an outstanding performance from the OSU offensive line against a touted Utah front -- the Beavers were patient and methodical when the passing attack failed to take flight.

Vaz, pinch-hitting for the second week in a row while Sean Mannion recovers from a knee injury, was 16-of-26 with 174 yards with no touchdowns. More importantly, no interceptions and zero sacks.

Utah, however, turned the ball over four times, losing a pair of fumbles and seeing quarterback Travis Wilson -- also making his second consecutive start -- throw two interceptions.

The Beavers jumped ahead 14-0, turning both of Utah’s first-quarter turnovers into touchdowns. Wilson got the Utes on the board when he connected with Jake Murphy to cut the deficit in half with 6 minutes left in the second quarter. Wilson finished 15-of-28 with 172 yards.

Woods would add a third touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Neither offense looked particularly sharp, but Utah (2-5, 0-4 Pac-12) did have some success moving the ball. However, anytime the Utes would get in striking distance, they’d turn the ball over or the Oregon State defense would step up with a big play by Scott Crichton or D.J. Alexander.

Oregon State’s fantastic wide receiver duo of Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks were kept out of the end zone, though Wheaton did catch a game-high seven balls for 90 yards.

Utah running back John White got 20 carries, but could only muster 68 yards against a Oregon State’s defense, which entered the game ranked first in the Pac-12 and fourth nationally.

Utes stumble in OT to Utah State

September, 8, 2012

As far as losses go, this one is going to sting Utah for a while.

In an electric atmosphere in Logan, Utah, the visiting Utes fell 27-20 to Utah State when they failed to score a touchdown in the first overtime session.

After Kerwynn Williams' 1-yard touchdown run put the Aggies ahead 27-20 in the extra period, it appeared the Utes had knotted the score on a touchdown pass to tight end Jake Murphy. But he was called for offensive pass interference after pushing off his defender, negating the score. The penalty backed Utah up 15 yards on third down, and the Utes failed to reach the end zone in the next two plays.

Adding salt to the wound, Utah lost quarterback Jordan Wynn to a shoulder injury toward the end of the first half. He spent the second half on the sidelines with his left arm in a sling. ESPN’s Jemele Hill, who was working on the sidelines for the ESPN2 telecast, reported late in the third quarter that X-rays on Wynn had come back negative.

[+] EnlargeJordan Wynn
AP Photo/Rick BowmerUtah quarterback Jordan Wynn left Friday's game in the first half with a shoulder injury and spent the second half with his left arm in a sling.
Wynn’s injury history is well-known to Utah fans. He’s had three shoulder surgeries since he started his Utah career -- two on his right shoulder (December 2010 and October 2011) and one on his left shoulder following the 2010 spring game. Although he is in his fourth year, he’s started only 21 games (including Friday). Prior to the injury, Wynn was 6-of-11 for 47 yards. Utah's pass protection was extremely shaky throughout the game, but especially in the first half. Wynn was sacked three times and hit eight times before being knocked out of the game.

He was replaced by Jon Hays, who finished 12-of-26 for 154 yards and a touchdown. Travis Wilson also saw some spot duty, throwing one pass, a 28-yard touchdown.

What this means for Utah moving forward is unclear. The Utes host BYU next week in the Holy War before opening Pac-12 South Division play with a trip to Arizona State. They then have a bye before the much-anticipated showdown with USC on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Friday's victory was Utah State’s first over Utah since 1997.

Utah fell behind 7-0 when Utah State blocked Sean Sellwood’s punt and Clayton Christensen recovered in the end zone. At the end of the first quarter, USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton connected with Joe Hill on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Keeton finished 22-of-32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

Coleman Petersen got the Utes on the board with a 42-yard field goal at the end of the first half, sending Utah into the locker room trailing 13-3.

Utah tied the game at 13 in the third on another Petersen field goal and Wilson’s touchdown pass -- a flea-flicker to Kenneth Scott. Scott also caught a fourth-quarter touchdown that tied the game at 20, this one a 24-yard jump ball from Hays. Scott was the standout offensive player for Utah, catching three balls for 82 yards and two scores. Running back John White IV was mostly ineffective, carrying 27 times for 96 yards (3.6 yards per carry).

Neither team was particularly efficient on third downs. Utah converted just two of 17, and Utah State converted two of 13 -- although Utah State outgained the Utes 371-325 in total yards.

Petersen had an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation but failed to connect on a 52-yard field goal.
UCLA and Utah got off to good starts -- for the most part -- Thursday while posting big wins over Rice and Northern Colorado, respectively.

UCLA 49, Rice 24: Johnathan Franklin rushed for 214 yards -- 14.3 yards per carry -- and three touchdowns, and the Bruins pitched a second half shutout after a spotty first half defensively.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley got off to a spectacular start -- he ran 72 yards for a touchdown on his first college play -- and shook off a lull to turn in a strong performance. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 202 yards with two TDs and an interception.

Franklin had touchdown runs of 74, 78 yards and 22 yards. The Bruins rolled up 651 total yards. Rice finished with 358, most of which came in the first half.

A good debut for Jim Mora, though he probably wasn't happy with the first-half defense. Hundley and Franklin certainly feasted in Noel Mazzone's offense, which was far more run-based than it was last season at Arizona State. The Bruins rushed for 343 yards.

Up next: A Sept. 8 visit from Nebraska. That matchup feels more interesting now than it did before the Rice game.

Utah 41, Northern Colorado 0: John White rushed for 119 yards in the blowout of hapless Northern Colorado, which didn't cross midfield and finished with just 114 yards.

Utes quarterback Jordan Wynn didn't have a great start -- tossing an early interception -- but he recovered and played well, completing 19 of 27 passes for 200 yards with two touchdowns to tight end Jake Murphy -- son of former Atlanta Braves legend Dale Murphy.

Wynn, in fact, led a 21-play, 91-yard TD drive that consumed 10:42. That doesn't happen every weekend.

Utes fans also got to see promising backup QB Travis Wilson, who ran for a pair of TDs and completed both his passes for 21 yards.

Utah figures to get a stronger challenge next weekend at Utah State, coached by former Utes assistant -- and Utah graduate -- Gary Anderson.

Wynn out for 2-3 weeks

October, 3, 2011
Utah's standing in the Pac-12 South Division is even more precarious after the school announced Monday that quarterback Jordan Wynn will be out at least two to three weeks with the injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder he suffered over the weekend in a loss to Washington.

The Utes (2-2 overall, 0-2 Pac-12) play host to Arizona State ( 4-1, 2-0) on Saturday in a key South Division game. They play at Pittsburgh on Oct. 15 and at California on Oct. 22.

It's not even certain Wynn will be back at that point. Said a statement from the school: "He will be re-evaluated at that time to determine if he is ready to return."

The statement didn't identify the nature of the shoulder injury.

Wynn will be replaced by junior Jon Hays. He transferred to Utah this summer after the team he initially signed with out of Butte College -- Nebraska-Omaha -- dropped its football program.

He has played in two games this season, playing out the fourth quarter of Utah’s rout of Brigham Young on Sept. 17 and playing the entire second half of last week’s loss to Washington. He's completed 10 of 17 passes for 156 yards with a TD and an interception. His backup will be true freshman Tyler Shreve.

"[Hays] showed a lot of poise on a lot of plays," coach Kyle Whittingham said. "I saw a lot of positives in the half that he played. He has a strong arm and runs fairly effectively."

Whittingham added that the offense might get some tweaks. "We have to change some things in our offense to play to our quarterback's strengths," he said. "It will necessitate that we do some different things. We'll play more shotgun and more spread. We're working through that as we speak. Jon is a better runner than Jordan."

On the plus side, Whittingham also said he expects to get offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom, tight end Kendrick Moeai and tight end Jake Murphy back this week.
SALT LAKE CITY -- You can't watch one practice and thereby know a team. But that won't stop me from making a handful of quick observations on the Utes.
  • It was a good practice to watch: full-pads, lots of hitting. Day turned out beautiful after morning snow but practice was still indoors.
  • It seemed like there were more nice moments running the ball than passing the ball, but that should be expected with a pair of inexperienced backups trying to learn coordinator Norm Chow's West Coast offense. One observer noted that the play-action looks particularly needed work.
  • If I were forced to guess, I'd say true freshman quarterback Tyler Shreve is at least even with sophomore Griff Robles in their competition to back up Jordan Wynn.
  • One of my early thoughts was, "Utah passes the eye test. It looks like a Pac-12 team." Then I looked up at banners celebrating a pair of unbeaten seasons capped by BCS bowl wins. But of course Utah passes the eye test.
  • Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was listed at 330 pounds on the November depth chart. He now carries 310 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frames. He's a load and moves well. My guess is more than a few interior Pac-12 offensive linemen are going to wish he stayed in the Mountain West Conference.
  • Been hearing some good things about redshirt freshman tight end Jake Murphy, but the last name didn't register much until it was pointed out to me that the tall man standing near me was his father, Dale Murphy. If you grew up in Atlanta during the '80s, it didn't get much bigger than Murphy, the two-time National League MVP for the Braves. His other son, Shawn, is now playing for the Denver Broncos. It was a bit surreal having a casual conversation with a childhood hero. Really nice guy; just like his longstanding reputation.