NCF Nation: Jeremy Francis

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better.

Happy 103rd birthday to eternal optimist Samuel Beckett!

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Happy birthday Cesar Chavez! And Gabe Kaplan.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

These links make great gifts.

  • Oregon State is hurting at running back with Jacquizz Rodgers' shoulder still an issue and No. 3 running back Jeremy Francis leaving the team. Good story on the Rodgers brothers from the Houston Chronicle.
  • Two Arizona players are coming home for the Las Vegas Bowl. It's been a long time coming for the Wildcats -- a lot has changed in the decade since they last played in a bowl game. Don't Hassel the Hoff... guess who's singing the National Anthem?
  • Arizona State walks away from 2008 with the blues.
  • There will be open competition this spring for the starting quarterback job at California -- the job won't automatically be Kevin Riley's.
  • Rocky Seto is staying at USC after turning down the defensive coordinator job at Washington.
  • Steve Sarkisian is cleaning house at Washington. That's a good thing. Sark met with Seattle reporters and gave them the low-down on where things presently stand.
  • An early-bird 2009 rankings has USC No. 5 and California 20th. And that's it for the Pac-10. Got a fresh $1 bill that says the Pac-10 will do much better than that.
  • Bowl season is a great time to consider academics... which bowl teams are the winners and losers (hello, Oregon)?

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

A three-headed Beaver might sound more comical than frightening, but the biggest head might not be something a defender would want to laugh at.

That's because Oregon State running back Ryan McCants, at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, doesn't figure to amuse many defenses this year.

Folks were whispering about the now-redshirt freshman almost immediately after he arrived last fall, and the media guide isn't shy about sharing those high hopes: "...could be the next great Beaver back," it says.

That list includes, of course, Yvenson Bernard, Ken Simonton and Steven Jackson; and McCants' bruising ways most suggest Jackson.

Yet McCants, who's dropped 10 pounds since the spring, doesn't want you to just see his imposing size.

"I probably have a little more quickness than people might think for a guy my size," he said.

But Stanford will need to prepare for more than McCants when the Beavers come calling Thursday night. OSU has a deep backfield, with true freshman Jacquizz Rodgers and junior-college transfer Jeremy Francis also presenting distinct skill sets.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Touching all the bases while optimism remains high.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

 
 Kevin Terrell/Getty Images
 Quarterback Lyle Moevao was 4-0 as a starter in 2007.

Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao is always smiling, despite living in the Land of No Respect.

He smiles even though folks say he doesn't look like a quarterback. He smiles even though folks believe quarterback is a red-letter concern for the Beavers in 2008.

And he smiles even though EA Sports' new NCAA Football 09 rated him lower than his counterpart at Oregon, Nate Costa, who has never started a game and has thrown three career passes.

"I don't really play too many video games," he said. "I just think it's funny."

He smiles because a funny thing happened on the way to touted recruit Sean Canfield becoming the Beavers next prolific passer.

Moevao happened.

The junior didn't blow anyone away with his statistics -- he only completed 52 percent of his throws with two touchdowns and six interceptions. But one stat stood out -- 4-0 -- which is his record as the Beavers' starter in 2007.

Moreover, during spring practices when Canfield -- a prototypical 6-foot-4, 225-pound drop-back passer -- was sidelined while recovering from shoulder surgery, Moevao took control of the huddle and looked far more poised running the offense.

Sure, he looks like a strong safety at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds (5-11 and three quarters, he insists). Sure, he earned YouTube fame not for his passing but by blowing up Washington defensive end Greyson Gunheim on a reverse last year.

But Moevao appears confident that he'll beat out Canfield, a junior who was rated one of the nation's top-20 quarterbacks in 2005 by a number of recruiting services.

Not that he doesn't think it will be a battle.

"I expect [Canfield] to be fully recovered and ready to compete," Moevao said. "That's what it's all about. If there's no competition, it's tough to get better. Going against Sean in the fall will be exciting. I'm sure he'll want it more now that I'm in the driver's seat starting off. It will definitely be fun."

While Moevao threw a prettier ball this spring, what remain his chief assets are his charisma and leadership ability. He's outgoing and quick to joke and doesn't seem to get too perturbed when things don't go according to plan.

"Leadership is something you have to work at," he said. "You always have to work at building trust with the guys, not just during the season but also during the offseason."

He's also quick to praise the returning talent on offense. He said the backfield will feature three complementary skill sets: a bruiser (240-pound redshirt freshman Ryan McCants), an all-around runner (JC transfer Jeremy Francis) and a scatback (celebrated incoming freshman Jacquizz Rodgers, who broke the Texas prep touchdown record with 136).

He's also high on his offensive line and receiving corps, which welcomes back Sammie Stroughter, who led the Pac-10 in 2006 with 1,293 receiving yards but sat out last year due to injury and personal issues.

And with the defense rebuilding, particularly up front, he expects to run a more aggressive offense instead of merely managing a conservative game plan.

He sees no reason that the Beavers, who'll face a big test at Penn State on Sept. 6, won't again finish in the top third of the conference and leave pundits eating their predictions.

Don't think that Moevao and the Beavers can make it happen? No matter. That means they've got you right where they want you.

"It really doesn't bother me too much," he said. "I like to keep under the radar. Then when you pop up, a lot of people are surprised."

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