NCF Nation: Tim Lappano
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Already posted links for the day but I'm finding a surprisingly strong group of articles this afternoon.
- SI.com's Stuart Mandel offers up a list of the top 10 offseason story lines, and the Pac-10 is represented in Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7.
- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes wants USC-UCLA to be relevant again.
- Forbes offers up its top 10 college towns and the Pac-10 earns one spot ... er, Palo Alto? My personal rule is if a family-sized home averages $1.67 million, as it does near Stanford, well, that's not a college town. I'd throw out Eugene or Berkeley before Palo Alto.
- Former Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano -- a first-class guy -- has landed on his feet with the Detroit Lions.
- Is Bryce Brown going to visit USC?
- And Part 2 of Michael Lev's interview with Mark Sanchez.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
A look inside the Pac-10 this week.
Washington: The heat is on coach Tyrone Willingham, and his likely tall order is producing an upset victory over No. 15 BYU at Husky Stadium this weekend in front of an increasingly disgruntled fan base. It's obvious that the Huskies defense can only do so much with schemes to mask talent gaps. But it's the offense that severely underachieved at Oregon. That should improve this week inside a home stadium where calling audibles at the line of scrimmage will be far easier than inside boisterous Autzen Stadium. The offensive line, which was surprisingly bad against the Ducks, also should feel challenged this week, and a less athletic BYU defense should help. Moreover, offensive coordinator Tim Lappano told reporters he plans to expand the playbook after holding back with so many freshmen in the playing rotation.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils offensive line -- picked apart during the preseason -- mostly passed its first test against Northern Arizona. Give them a gentleman's C, considering the absence of a running game while yielding only one sack. Stanford will offer a far stouter test. For one, the Cardinal feature a veteran defense with nine starters returning. Second, that defense was strong against the run vs. Oregon State but gave up 404 yards passing, which means ASU QB Rudy Carpenter will be firing away. But will he be safe in the pocket? This won't just be a test of the OL, either. It will be a test of whether Carpenter will stick to the plan to get rid of the ball quickly instead of trying to wait for a big play to develop downfield. It's notable, though, that the Beavers rebuilt offensive line only gave up two sacks in 54 pass attempts to the Cardinal.
Oregon State: It's interesting how so many appear to be expecting Penn State to roll through the Beavers. That gets a big "hmmm" here. Are folks supposed to be impressed with the Nittany Lions bludgeoning Coastal Carolina 66-10 with 334 yards on the ground and six rushing TDs? If so, why isn't Arizona getting more hype for its 70-zip win over Idaho, which would beat Coastal Carolina, a team that, apparently, is located on the coast of one of the Carolinas? I see an Oregon State team that will shock Penn State with its speed on the perimeter. If the Beavers maintain something approaching parity in the trenches, this will be a close game. The return of safety Al Afalava also will substantially help the Beavers run defense, which was so porous against Stanford. One caveat: It's also possible that some of OSU's younger players will be wide-eyed playing in front of 107,000-plus at Beaver Stadium, so that could lead to early and critical mistakes.
USC: Which is more important a RB's foot or an LB's finger? While most eyes are on Ohio State RB Beanie Wells' injured foot in anticipation of the Buckeyes Sept. 13 visit to USC, it might be as important to pay attention to Trojans LB Rey Maualuga's broken finger, which he aggravated vs. Virginia while turning in a performance well below the All-American's standards. The thing with a RB's foot -- it becomes obvious when it's injured and the back can't play. With a finger, the feeling is tape it up and go. But it's often worse to play with a seemingly minor injury because it can lead to major mistakes. Recall QB John David Booty playing with an injured hand in the upset loss to Stanford and tossing four interceptions. What if a RB or TE escapes a Maualuga tackle and transforms a routine play into a TD? Moreover, USC has been quietly hit by injuries to its LB depth, most particularly Maualuga's talented backup Chris Galippo (back). At present, Maualuga's backup is true freshman Uona Kaveinga, though Galippo could be back for the Ohio State game.
UCLA: If we can step away from the glow of an upset win over Tennessee for a moment, the present and future reality is the Bruins need to replace three injured offensive starters. Recall: This offense already has a patchwork line and is using its third QB. So who steps in for TE Logan Paulsen (broken foot), WR Marcus Everett (toe) and TB Kahlil Bell (ankle)? Well, Paulsen's replacement Ryan Moya didn't look like a lightweight after leading the Bruins with seven receptions for 65 yards against the Vols -- including the go-ahead 3-yard TD pass with 27 seconds left -- but Paulsen's absence hurts the viability of two-TE sets. With Everett out a few weeks, junior Terrence Austin steps in. He caught five passes for 37 yards against the Vols. Sophomore Dominique Johnson and freshman Taylor Embree both played well against Tennessee, so there's encouraging depth there. And at TB, Raymond Carter jumps to the first team, but count on Rick Neuheisel tapping into his talented freshman class, including Aundre Dean.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
One week and it begins...
- Topping the list: the status of Oregon QB Nate Costa. While the particulars don't look good -- the vagueness and "no comment" statements two days after the incident raise eyebrows -- there's still no official word on Costa's injured knee. It's probably a good thing that the running game looked good at Friday's scrimmage.
- It's meet the team at Arizona, and you might want to bring your new depth chart. Is coach Mike Stoops making his last stand -- or is he on the cusp of breaking through? The Tucson Citizen's Anthony Gimino seems to favor the latter.
- Arizona State might have the Pac-10's best cornerback. While he doesn't have talent like Omar Bolden, DT David Smith is the sort of hard-hat plugger most teams would love to have.
- Is Anthony Felder California's forgotten LB? Getting philosophical with the decision to start Kevin Riley over Nate Longshore.
- What about Oregon State's special teams?
- From the Stanford student paper: the Cardinal defense.
- UCLA's QBs just can't get out of the news. Now there's questions about who Kevin Craft's backup might be. And what about this line from Brian Dohn's story: "At one point, Craft threw interceptions on three straight passes, but Chow said he wasn't concerned." Not concerned? Also, this on the OL lineup: "Nick Ekbatani (right tackle), Darius Savage (right guard), Micah Reed (center), Scott Glicksberg (left guard) and Micah Kia (left tackle). However, if Kia cannot play against [Tennessee], Brandon Bennett would start at left tackle." A look at UCLA's "other" CB, Michael Norris. And David Carter gives the Bruins some depth on the DL.
- After all the injury tumult, USC breaks camp feeling pretty darn good. It appears QB Mark Sanchez is a go. USC names team captains: Sanchez, Brian Cushing, Kevin Ellison and Jeff Byers. The 2008 season at a glance. Injury update. And the face of the Trojans defense has two noses.
- Washington center Juan Garcia's foot holds up during a scrimmage, so he should play against Oregon. Just amazing -- kudos to Garcia and the UW trainers. It appears three freshmen will get carries in the Huskies backfield. More from OC Tim Lappano on the skill positions. Afternoon practice notes. And more notes. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Molly Yanity made her own depth chart, so this link is to help Tyrone Willingham get it right.
- Washington State is still a work in progress. That's a polite way of saying Friday's practice was ugly. And what are the remaining questions?
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Welcome to Pac-10 Media Eve. Wonder what we'll find under the CoachSpeak Tree?
- It appears the Tree Sitters now must Stand and Walk Away -- California has won it's court case. Now, the question is: Will the appeals process further delay the building of the $140 million athletic training center? And are all these complications making coach Jeff Tedford's eyes wander?
- The news at UCLA: The school confirms strong safety Bret Lockett's suspension for the season-opener against Tennessee and also announces that reserve tailback Christian Ramirez is academically ineligible.
- Oregon begins the healing process after the drowning death of defensive back Todd Doxey. Bet some of these guys have never looked forward so much to two-a-days.
- Quick update here on Oregon State QB Sean Canfield's shoulder. Sounds like there's some work ahead as he prepares to challenge Lyle Moevao and regain his starting job.
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Molly Yanity checks in with Jake Locker, who explained, among other things, why so few players were at the workout Yanity attended this week. Locker then turned the water Yanity was drinking into Gatorade... and when Yanity protested that she liked water better, he changed it back. True story.
- Meanwhile, The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta reports on a radio interview with Huskies offensive coordinator Tim Lappano, who taught Locker that trick. Lappano talks about the Huskies lack of recruiting commitments and need to win now.
- The new and improved Orange County Register USC blog has been ranking the Pete Carroll years. Which is No. 1? So many choices!
- Meanwhile, over on the UCLA side of things: Bruins Nation is engaging in some local media criticism. More here.
- Oregon is starting an official blog. And Andy McNamara sure gets a better graphic and photo deal than I did. My bosses, by the way, air-brushed my image to make me uglier and more football-writer-ish.
- Do you dream of Pac-10 expansion? Dan Zeiger says you should stop.
- One fellow's take on the top 10 Heisman blunders of all-time, complete with who should have won.
- John McCain believes in Arizona State (thanks to Pitchfork Nation).
- The Wizard of Odds, Tom Kirkendall and Google Earth take us on a tour of Pac-10 stadiums.