NCF Nation: Sammie Stroughter

Inactives for the Buccaneers

October, 3, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. – We just got the inactives for the Buccaneers for their game with the Indianapolis Colts.

No major surprises. Receiver Sammie Stroughter, running back Allen Bradford, cornerback Anthony Gaitor, tackle Derek Hardman, tackle James Lee, tight end Zach Pianalto and defensive tackle Frank Okam are inactive.

Posted by's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- There have been no press conferences, no dramatic headlines nor any sort of coronation, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Sean Canfield will be Oregon State's starting quarterback on Sept. 5 when Portland State comes to town.

And it's not just that fellow senior Lyle Moevao, the starter in 2008, isn't fully recovered from a shoulder injury.

  AP Photo/Wily Low
  Sean Canfield says that he is "that guy who needs to lead this team to where it wants to go."

Canfield, beginning last spring and continuing through preseason practices, has been at the top of his game. Folks who have been watching practices every day use terms like "lights out."

According to coach Mike Riley, Canfield has completed nearly 70 percent of his throws during fall camp, which "has never happened before, for anybody."

Well, somebody, somewhere might have done that, but it's clear that Canfield's play has raised a few eyebrows in the coaching offices.

Canfield doesn't hesitate to agree. He's feeling it.

"I think I'm that guy," he said. "I feel like I'm that guy who needs to lead this team to where it wants to go."

Speaking of going places, it's hard to believe Canfield arrived at this point. If anyone understands what Moevao might be going through, it's Canfield, because last year his career was mostly written off while he was the one recovering slowly from a shoulder problem and Moevao was turning heads.

Moevao passed for 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2008, and almost surely would have eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark if he hadn't gotten hurt.

Meanwhile, Canfield was quietly stuck on the bench, and most folks only remembered him as the guy who threw 15 interceptions while being the the primary starter over Moevao in 2007.

Moevao, at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds, wasn't the pretty picture that the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Canfield was, but he was a charismatic, cool-as-a-cucumber leader who made it abundantly clear he just loved playing football.

Canfield noticed.

"Early on, it was a growth and development thing for me as far as leadership and quarterbacking," he said. "I've always known I had the physical tools. It's a credit to Lyle. He's a great leader and he has a lot of fun when he plays. I picked up on that."

Then Moevao got hurt in the eighth game against Arizona State.

Enter a new-and-improved Canfield, who came off the bench and led the Beavers to a victory over the Sun Devils and then also won games as the starter against UCLA and Arizona.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Ted Miller

Every team enters spring practices with at least a couple of personnel questions, even those with their starting lineup returning nearly intact.

Sometimes those questions don't get answered. Other times they do.

Such as ...

Arizona: The Wildcats lost two of their three starting linebackers, but coach Mike Stoops said he believes they will be better at the position in 2009, with junior Vuna Tuihalamaka making a special impression in the middle this spring.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils lost middle linebacker Morris Wooten, but the LB position looks like it could run six-deep in 2009, particularly with the expected arrival of super-recruit Vontaze Burfict in the fall. The return of former starter Gerald Munns, who left the team for personal reasons, helps as does the emergence of young players whose speed upgrades are intriguing.

California: Not to get stuck on a linebacker theme, but most previews of the Bears will raise questions about them losing three longtime starters at linebacker. Hanging around this spring, however, you get the feeling this position will be fine. In fact, a couple of touted incoming JC transfers will make the fall competition intense. Look for Mike Mohamed and Mychal Kendricks to make a play for All-Conference honors.

Oregon: The Ducks lost three of four starting defensive linemen, including end Nick Reed, so this seemed like as big a question mark as the offensive line entering spring. Apparently not, at least according to coach Chip Kelly. Will Tukuafu should emerge from Reed's shadow as one of the conference's best ends, and tackle Brandon Bair and end Kenny Rowe stepped up. There's still competition at one tackle, but the Ducks' recruiting class included six defensive linemen, at least a couple of whom figure to see action.

Oregon State: The Beavers lost receivers Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales, but by the end of spring that didn't seem like a problem, even with James Rodgers sitting out with a shoulder injury. Junior Darrell Catchings broke through and redshirt freshman Jordan Bishop lived up to high expectations and others flashed potential.

Stanford: The passing game -- on offense and defense -- has been a problem for Stanford. For the offense, redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck was just short of spectacular this spring. For the defense, the insertion of Delano Howell at strong safety and Michael Thomas at cornerback upgrades the secondary's athleticism.

UCLA: The secondary began spring needing two new starters, but a handful of guys stepped up to complement cornerback Alterraun Verner and free safety Rahim Moore. While Aaron Hester and Glenn Love are the favorites to start at corner and strong safety, respectively, sophomores Courtney Viney and Tony Dye and redshirt freshman E.J. Woods will get extended looks in the fall.

USC: Lose three elite linebackers? Find three more. Malcolm Smith, Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan might not have the experience or pedigree of their predecessors, but they are faster and may end up being nearly as good.

Washington: A lot was made of how well quarterback Jake Locker adjusted to a pro-style offense this spring -- and rightfully so -- but that pro-style passing attack needs targets, so perhaps that part of the pass-catch equation is being undersold. D'Andre Goodwin, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar give the Huskies three respectable receivers, and tight ends Kavario Middleton and Chris Izbicki are solid.

Washington State: One area where the Cougars have quality starters and quality depth is running back, with Dwight Tardy stepping up to the challenge of California transfer James Montgomery this spring, and Logwone Mitz and 220-pound Marcus Richmond adding depth.

Posted by's Ted Miller

One of the charms of college football is the mostly predictable roster rotation. Young guys break through, become stars and then leave after their third, fourth or fifth year. Then a new cast tries to fill the void.

While there are numerous size 36 EEE shoes to fill -- figuratively speaking, of course -- in the Pac-10 this spring, we'll focus on five here.

  Jeff Golden/Getty Images
  It's going to be tough for the Trojans to replace Rey Maualuga.

And because quarterback competitions across the conference are so obvious, we're going to make this a "non-quarterback" category.

Also note that spring is a time for the experimentation. Coaches love to mix-and-match players, so there might be some surprises we didn't anticipate.

Big shoes: USC LB Rey Maualuga

Stepping in: Sophomore Chris Galippo

  • Out goes everybody's All-American Maualuga, in goes everybody's 2006 prep All-American Galippo, a sure tackler who packs a punch at 255 pounds. He had 12 tackles, two coming for a loss, and an interception last season. He saw action as a true freshman before suffering a herniated disk in his back, an injury that also limited him last season. He seemed healthy the second half of the season, but back injuries are tricky. That might be the biggest issue standing between Galippo and future stardom.

Big shoes: California C Alex Mack

Stepping in: Junior Richard Fisher or junior Chris Guarnero

  • Fisher is a former walk-on and a vegetarian. For real. He was listed as the backup behind Mack last season. Guarnero started the first three games at left guard before suffering a season-ending toe injury. He is expected back for spring ball. With a new offensive line coach, Steve Marshall, and lots of returning starting experience -- seven players have started at least one game -- there might be lots of experimenting up front this spring.

Big shoes: Oregon DE Nick Reed

Stepping in: Junior Brandon Bair, junior Kenny Rowe, JC transfer Zac Clark

  • Reed had 20 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks last year (29.5 for his career). His potential replacements had no sacks last season. Some Oregon fans took issue with my suggesting in our "What to watch this spring," that Bair was the frontrunner to replace Reed. I wrote that because Rowe was listed at 215 pounds on last year's depth chart and was almost exclusively a pass-rush specialist. Meanwhile, Clark is an unknown quantity as an incoming JC transfer. On the other hand, Bair is more in the mold of returning big end Will Tukuafu, so perhaps Rowe, who's listed at 230 pounds on the updated roster, and Clark will battle it out. Guessing this one is wide open, to be honest.

Big shoes: Arizona State FS Troy Nolan

Stepping in: Sophomore Clint Floyd leads a pack of possibilities

  • Nolan had 64 tackles and four interceptions playing center field for the Sun Devils' defense, and he'll be the toughest guy to replace for a unit that should be fairly salty next fall. Floyd will get first crack, but junior Max Tabach, redshirt freshman Keelan Johnson and senior Jarrell Holman could make a move.

Big shoes: Oregon State WR Sammie Stroughter (and WR Shane Morales)

Stepping in: Junior Darrell Catchings and redshirt freshman Jordan Bishop

  • Stroughter was the Pac-10's only 1,000-yard receiver last year. Morales added 743 yards, while this duo combined for 15 of the Beavers 25 touchdown receptions. Catchings caught only seven passes but was No. 2 on the depth chart. Bishop was impressive while redshirting, particularly during Sun Bowl practices. And slot receiver James Rodgers figures to see more balls downfield this fall after mostly being a fly-sweep specialist the past two seasons.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Helmet stickers for those who stood out during the weekend's games.

The Oregon offense: It's impossible to salute just one person. Sophomore quarterback Jeremiah Masoli passed for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Jeremiah Johnson, who sat out last year's Civil War with a knee injury, rushed 17 times for 227 yards. The sum effort was 694 total yards and 65 points. Kudos also should go to coordinator Chip Kelly who proved he wasn't just a flash in the pan who was gifted a maturing Dennis Dixon in 2007 but a coach who's future prospects are bright. When asked about Masoli's upset, his Cheshire cat grin said everything without a word. helmet sticker

The USC defense: Saddled with a massive strategic disadvantage against Notre Dame and its offensive brain trust, the Trojans nonetheless struggled along and managed to hold the Irish to just four first downs and 91 total yards. Good for those scrappy little Trojans.

The Arizona State defense: Call this celebrate the units week in Pac-10 helmet stickers. But, really, how can you not give joint credit to a defense that scored four touchdowns?

Sammie Stroughter: Stroughter's career has had many well-documented twists and turns, but his Reser Stadium finale showed what a fine talent he is. With the Beavers' running game struggling, Stroughter caught seven passes for 145 yards and returned three punts for 79 yards, giving him 224 total yards in his final home game.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Getting deep into this week's games.

Stop the run, get the quarterback -- times two: Oregon and Oregon State play different defensive schemes but both are predicated on stopping the run first and then aggressively pressuring the quarterback. That might sound like every team's basic recipe, but the Ducks and Beavers have the numbers to back it up. They rank second (OSU) and third in the Pac-10 in run defense and second (UO) and third in quarterback sacks. The Civil War will feature four of the top seven quarterback sackers in the conference. The difference in the defenses this year is the Ducks have struggled against the pass (254 yards per game, 10th in conference) -- particularly play-action passes -- while the Beavers' defense is all-around suffocating (178 yards, fourth). Moreover, Oregon State, despite using two quarterbacks the latter third of the season, is a far better at passing -- No. 1 in the Pac-10 -- than the Ducks (7th). On the other hand, only USC has been able to stop the Ducks' run game. What do all of these numbers seem to indicate? That if it comes down the quarterbacks, Oregon State has an advantage, even though we don't know yet who will be the starter between Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield.

A reappearance of Sanchez 07 vs. Notre Dame would work nicely: Last year, USC whipped Notre Dame 38-0, the Trojans' first shutout in South Bend and their most decisive victory in the 79-game series. Mark Sanchez, making just his second career start for the injured John David Booty, threw for 235 yards and four touchdown passes. The Trojans' offense has played it fairly close to the vest of late, with Sanchez throwing for 238 or fewer yards in each of the last four games, and twice throwing for less than 170 yards. That makes sense when the nation's best defense has your back. Maintaining that plan this week also makes sense, considering Notre Dame is far better vs. the pass -- the Irish rank 14th in the nation in pass efficiency defense and have yielded only 10 touchdown passes -- than the run. And the Trojans did rush for 227 yards in 2007. Still, with an extra week to prepare, it wouldn't be surprising if the Trojans opened things up for Sanchez in the interest of posting an impressive all-around performance, not that Pete Carroll would ever -- EVER! -- think about BCS positioning.

Kevin Craft vs. Kevin Craft (and a peeved Rick Neuheisel): UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft "leads" the Pac-10 with 16 interceptions, much to the consternation of his animated coach. He even threw three vs. Washington, which had collected just three interceptions in its previous nine games. Craft's tendency to lock on to his intended receiver and still throw into a naturally reacting coverage will be of interest to Arizona State, particularly linebacker Mike Nixon and safety Troy Nolan, who have combined for seven interceptions. The Bruins and Sun Devils own identical records, and the winner of their matchup Friday keeps their bowl hopes alive. The biggest difference between the teams is at quarterback. While Rudy Carpenter hasn't dominated this season, his 15 TD passes vs. seven picks is far better than Craft's 7 and 16, which largely accounts for the Bruins' stark minus-eight turnover margin -- vs. plus-two for ASU.

Is the Cougs' visit to Hawaii a vacation or a business trip? Escaping Eastern Washington this time of the year for a trip to Hawaii sounds like a great plan (though, honestly, it was beautiful -- crisp and mostly sunny -- last week in Pullman). Of course, there is this little matter of a football game. It is not inconceivable that if the Cougars put together an inspired effort they could win -- even as a 29 1/2-point underdog. Hawaii (6-5) did lose to 2-9 Utah State, 30-14, on Nov. 1. And this is certainly not the offensive juggernaut of the June Jones Era -- see 25 points and 344 yards per game. Still, despite the win over Washington, the Cougars are severely undermanned on both sides of the ball. Moreover, it's hard to imagine them being able to wipe away the euphoria of their double-overtime win and focus on a new game plan. But if they do, it could signal some substantial traction for first-year coach Paul Wulff as he heads into the offseason trying to sell recruits on his rebuilding project.

Special teams come to the fore in special games: Let's just say that Oregon and Oregon State both get their licks in, with the usual suspects making plays on both sides of the ball. What, then, might tip the scales? Special teams, right? In last year's game -- a 38-31 Beavers win in double overtime -- both teams missed field goals to win in regulation, and OSU kicker Alexis Serna missed two other field goals. Last week at Arizona, Beavers kicker Justin Kahut was first the goat -- missing a potential game-tying, fourth-quarter PAT -- and then the hero when he booted the game-winning field goal as time expired. Kahut actually has an edge on Ducks veteran Matt Evensen, who's only hit on 11 of 18 field goals this year. Moreover, Oregon's Jairus Byrd and Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter are two of the Pac-10's more dangerous punt returners, and the Beavers' James Rodgers is the only player in the conference to return a kickoff for a touchdown this season. Oregon has a 4-yard advantage in net punting, with Josh Syria far more consistent that Johnny Hekker. In hard-fought rivalry games, it's often miscues and play-making on special teams that swing the final margin.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Links don't stink unless you're in the clink.

Posted by's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Neither quarterback is in sync, but who cares when you have all these special-teams fireworks?

California's Jahvid Best went 51 yards on the opening kick, setting up the Bears for a 7-0 lead. Best didn't score because kicker Justin Kahut was able to wrestle him down, albeit by using Best's facemask.

Oregon State's James Rodgers then went to the house -- 86 yards untouched -- with the ensuing kickoff. Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio waved at him as he went by. It was the first kickoff returned for a touchdown this season in the Pac-10.

So, it was immediately established which team had the best tackling kicker.

Then Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter took a Cal punt 56 yards to the Bears' 2-yard line, setting up a two-yard plunge for a 14-7 lead.

All of this is exciting to watch, but the quarterback issue probably will end up being more critical.

Cal only produced one first down on its other three possessions of the half; Kevin Riley is 3-of-8 passing.

Meanwhile, Oregon State's Lyle Moevao tossed a badly underthrown interception, suggesting his shoulder might still be bothering him.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Getting deep into this week's games.

Longshore will need to think quickly, accurately vs. USC defense: California's rejiggered offensive line proved us wrong last week vs. Oregon. I wrote over and over again that it would be a problem for the Bears playing without three starters and a key reserve from their preseason depth chart. But the O-line held its own against the Ducks in a 26-16 victory. Of course, USC is a different sort of defense. This experience will be like moving up from junior high to varsity in the span of a week. What that means is the going will be tougher in the running game, and quarterback Nate Longshore, if he starts ahead of the injured Kevin Riley (concussion), won't get a lot of time to go through his receiver progressions before the Trojans get to him. And, as Cal fans often point out, Longshore isn't very mobile, particularly compared to Riley, and he tends to try to force throws into coverage. Often at inopportune times -- as if there's every a good time to hurl a pick. This could be a legacy-making game for Longshore, who's career plot twists read like a Stephen King novel. He will give the Bears a chance by making a few plays in the downfield passing game, but it's most important that he avoid costly turnovers that make things easy for the Trojans.

Will Stanford or Oregon get a passing fancy? Oregon ranks ninth in the Pac-10 in pass defense. Stanford ranks 10th. Oregon ranks eighth in passing offense. Stanford ranks 10th. It would seem there's a nice weakness vs. weakness matchup here. Oregon ranks second in the conference against the run. Stanford ranks third. Oregon ranks first in the conference running the football. Stanford ranks second. It would seem there's a good strength vs. strength matchup here. Will both teams just run right at each other and make this a battle of manhood? Or will one -- or both -- opt for balance, hoping to exploit a weak opposing pass defense? Stanford didn't need to pass last week while beating Washington State 58-0, but coach Jim Harbaugh said in the bye week preceding the game that the passing attack with quarterback Tavita Pritchard was the prime focus. Meanwhile, Mike Bellotti said Tuesday that the Ducks need to be sharper in their passing game. He intimated that Justin Roper might get an opportunity to retake his starting job, particularly with Jeremiah Masoli limited by an ankle injury early this week, though it seems like Bellotti favors Masoli as his starter. Here's a guess that at this late point in the season, both teams will dance with the one that brung 'em and mostly try to run the ball.

Sammie and the Rodgers brothers will exorcise Mike Riley's UCLA curse and make life easy for QB Sean Canfield: Riley is 0-5 vs. UCLA as Oregon State's coach and was also 0-4 while offensive coordinator at USC (1993-96). He's beaten every other Pac-10 team at least twice, including USC. But Halloween is over. November is when the Beavers surge. Of course, they're probably going to have to do it at UCLA with their backup quarterback Sean Canfield making his first start this season with Lyle Moevao nursing a strained shoulder (though Moevao appears to be rallying in his recovery). Canfield played well coming off the bench and leading the Beavers to a victory over Arizona State, and he showed admirable resiliency in the process by bouncing back from a pick-six interception at the beginning of the third quarter. But coming off the bench at home with little thinking time is a different animal than starting a game on the road with a week to think about how much rides on the Beavers winning: Their Rose Bowl hopes. That's why Canfield needs to know that he doesn't need to take chances. He needs to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers -- the Rodgers brothers, running back Jacquizz and scatback James, and receiver Sammie Stroughter -- and then sit back and let them figure out what to do.

All smiles in Arizona after a successful trip to Washington: There is no upset alert in Seattle or Pullman this weekend. Both Arizona schools will get what they want -- and desperately need -- on their business trips to chilly destinations. First, Arizona needs a sixth victory, which will virtually guarantee the Wildcats a bowl berth, the consensus measure of what coach Mike Stoops needed to retain his job. There's almost no way they can screw this one up if they show up with any focus. While the coaches and players have talked all week about how they underestimated New Mexico and Stanford, there's no comparison here. And the lack of pressure may actually help the Wildcats play loose and enjoy themselves. As for the Sun Devils, they need a cure for a six-game losing streak and Dr. Tyrone Willingham has got the medicine they need: His Huskies. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter will get his swagger back against the nation's worst pass defense, and running back Shaun DeWitty will give the beleaguered rushing attack a second consecutive 100-yard performance. And then the Wildcats and Sun Devils will leave the gloom behind and return to the sunny-side of life.

Will it be Good Sanchez or Bad Sanchez vs. Cal's pick-happy D? First off: After reviewing the record, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez hasn't been nearly as inconsistent as portrayed. He had one certifiably bad game -- three interceptions vs. Arizona State. And he was hot-and-cold in the loss at Oregon State and the win over Arizona. But he's thrown more than one interception in a game just once this year. He still leads the Pac-10 in pass efficiency by a wide margin. And his 22 touchdown passes are seven more than anyone else. Still, with California likely the last remaining ranked team on USC's schedule, this showdown could become the measure of Sanchez's season. Is he the first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback? And Cal will challenge any quarterback. The Bears are tied with North Carolina with the most interceptions (17) in the country. Good Sanchez can pick the B
ears apart with a big, fast receiving corps with whom it's hard to physically matchup. Bad Sanchez will make careless throws that shorten the field, take the crowd out of the game and give the Bears hope on the road. Cal coach Jeff Tedford and USC coach Pete Carroll are apostles of turnover margin, and whichever quarterback makes the fewest gaffes likely will lead a smiling team off the field.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Soup, salad, links.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Seems like everyone outside of the state of Washington is smiling (you Beavers have surely recovered, right?)

Pac-10 helmet stickers

August, 31, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

Each week, Pac-10 standouts will get a helmet sticker.

Mark Sanchez, QB, USC: A few weeks ago, he looked headed for the bench with a knee injury. Now, after passing for 337 yards with three touchdowns in the Trojans' 52-7 blowout of Virginia, he looks like he might be headed to New York -- as a Heisman Trophy finalist.

The USC defense: This crew lived up to its billing and didn't let its intensity slide while the offense piled up points. It's something to hold a FBS team to 182 total yards and seven points.

Jeremiah Johnson, TB, Oregon: A knee injury prematurely ended his 2007 season, but Johnson ran all over Washington on Saturday night, rushing for a career-high 124 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.

Oregon DC Nick Aliotti: Everybody loves Oregon's fancypants offense, but it was the Ducks' defense that was most impressive in the 44-10 victory over Washington. Let's see how many other teams hold the Huskies to 242 yards and 10 points.

Kevin Riley, QB, California: He was efficient and poised in leading the Bears to a 38-31 win over Michigan State, completing 17 of 24 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns.

Rudy Carpenter, QB, Arizona State: Sure, it was only Northern Arizona, but any QB who completes 22 of 28 for 386 yards impresses me. And, by the way, he was only sacked once.

Arizona offense/defense: It might not look very sportsmanlike to beat a team 70-zip, which is what Arizona did to Idaho, but the fact that the Wildcats stuck it to the Vandals on both sides of the ball -- consider 33-7 was the first-down differential -- shows that they are focused on getting it done this year.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: Hey, I know it was Thursday, but his 147 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns in the Cardinal's win over Oregon State was too impressive to forget about after a couple of days.

Sammie Stroughter, WR, Oregon State: He missed last year with injuries and emotional struggles, but he looked like his old, spectacular self while catching 12 passes for 157 yards against Stanford.

Posted by's Ted Miller

Only 25? That makes this hard.

Going backwards.

25. A 185-pound cornerback standing between Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski and the endzone. Two words: Oh, no.

24. Strawberry Canyon without Tree Sitters. Honestly guys, what about an actual old-growth forest? Or perhaps a worthy cause for children? Or was this really only about creating a spectacle that accomplished nothing?

23. The Stanford Tree spinning, spinning, spinning -- with no one sitting in it. Best mascot in sport.

22. The USC band playing "Tribute to Troy." Again. And again. And again. Love that song.

21. Washington QB Jake Locker averaging six years per quarterback sneak. He's the nation's best running QB.

20. Driving from Spokane to Pullman surrounded by snow-covered hills. It's a winter wonderland.

19. Arizona coach Mike Stoops requiring an exorcism on the sidelines. He's toned it down through the years, though. I miss the unfiltered emotion, though not the player berating.

18. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel reminding Pac-10 coaches that they don't have to be boring ALL the time. Honestly, should the media hyperventilate every time he's glib?

17. California RB Jahvid Best running in open space. Typically it means TD.

16. Washington center Juan Garcia getting nasty until the, well, final echo of the referee's whistle. It's darn near a miracle his spring foot injury is better.

15. Washington State's Brandon Gibson making double coverage irrelevant. Proving a warrior for the Cougars offense should help Gibson's draft status.

14. Oregon State offensive lineman Jeremy Perry getting healthy and reminding everyone what a road-grading guard can do. Perry, when healthy, is the conference's most physical run blocker.

13. A beautiful, 65 degree day in Seattle, snow-capped mountains on the horizon, with tailgating boats packing Lake Washington by Husky Stadium. One of the best settings in college football.

12. Mill Avenue after an Arizona State victory. Oh, my. Let's just say it makes most folks wish they were still in college.

11. USC LB Rey Maualuga getting a running start and then... WHAMMO! Hardest hitter in college football.

10. The Oregon cheerleaders.

9. Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter catches the punt... gone. We missed him last year. He's going to remind us why.

8. The Stanford band offending someone. They might not be the best musicians in the world, but they are the best entertainers -- at least if you're not a stick in the mud.

7. Arizona State kicker Thomas Weber with a 55-yard field goal to win a game with two seconds left. Here's a bet he makes it.

6. USC RB Joe McKnight making an entire stadium go, "No he didn't!" Figure that will happen at least once a game.

5. Autzen Stadium going berserk. Without peer in the conference in terms of noise and outright hostility.

4. Washington fans saying "Welcome back!" to Rick Neuheisel on Nov. 15. Husky Stadium figures to be without peer this day in terms of noise and outright hostility.

3. Sunset over the San Gabriel Mountains at the Rose Bowl. Makes me want to write a poem. At least for a moment.

2. USC playing for the national championship in Miami. Go Trojans! Humble another foe!

1. A Pac-10 team other than USC playing for the national championship in Miami. See, we told you there were other good teams in the Pac-10!

Posted by'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'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."