NCF Nation: Tony Dye

UCLA will be down four in bowl game

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
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Two things happened at UCLA today.

One thing was about the dreary present: Backup quarterback Richard Brehaut has been suspended for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and three Bruins have been ruled academically ineligible.

The other is about a potentially better future: The Bruins acting Tuesday on their "tradition" of "going over the wall" made new coach Jim Mora want to claw his eyes out, just like it did many Bruins fans.

Said Mora: "It's completely unacceptable and it will not be part of the program going forward."

Good. End of "tradition." Mora immediately sends a message that should resonate in a locker room that needs some resonance.

Now on to the bad stuff. Joining Brehaut in time out are, are safety Tony Dye, starting offensive lineman Albert Cid and backup linebacker Isaiah Bowens, who are the academically ineligible for the Dec. 31 bowl game.

Without Brehaut, starter Kevin Price will be backed up by either Nick Crissman or Darius Bell. There is zero chance that talented true freshman Brett Hundley will play after redshirting this season.

“All four of these student-athletes are disappointed that they will miss the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, but they all understand that they have let their teammates and the program down and that there are consequences for their actions,” interim coach Mike Johnson said in a statement.

Question: Do you think Johnson, who was only with UCLA during this one miserable season, is eager to get this bowl game over and get on with his life?

Brehaut played in seven games, starting four, and completed 67 of 121 passes for 948 yards and six touchdowns. Dye played in five games, starting all of them during an injury-plagued season, tallying 23 tackles. Cid participated in nine games, starting five of them. Bowens played in 12 games coming off the bench, making nine tackles and recovering two fumbles.

Weekend rewind: Pac-12

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
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Taking stock of the ninth week of games in the Pac-12.

Team of the week: Stanford. The Cardinal, winners of 10 in a row by 25 or more points, proved it could win a nailbiter when it outlasted USC 56-48 in triple overtime.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireQuarterback Andrew Luck and the Cardinal take down the Trojans in three OTs to remain unbeaten.
Best game: Stanford-USC featured a little bit of everything, with both teams playing at a high level throughout. The centerpiece, though, was: 1. Stanford QB Andrew Luck tossing a pick-6 interception to Nickell Robey that gave USC a 34-27 lead with 3:08 left; and, 2. Luck leading a 10-play, 76-yard TD drive to tie the game with 38 seconds left. In overtime, both offenses ruled over the exhausted defenses until a Trojans fumble ended the game suddenly. Hard to believe Stanford led 10-6 at halftime.

Biggest play: In order to not make this all about USC-Stanford, this incredible play from Arizona defensive back Robert Golden has to be seen to be believed. Washington QB Keith Price hit receiver James Johnson, who bobbled the ball into Golden's hands. Then Golden rambled his way for a circuitous 91-yard interception return for a TD. Sure, the Wildcats lost, but this was clearly the play of the day.

Offensive standout: Washington running back Chris Polk scored five touchdowns and became the first player in school history with 100 yards rushing and receiving in a single game. Polk had 34 carries for 144 yards and four TDs and he caught four passes for 100 yards with another score in the Huskies 42-31 win over Arizona.

Defensive standout: UCLA's freshman safety Tevin McDonald, who has stepped in for the injured Tony Dye, intercepted three passes in the Bruins' 31-14 win over California. Those picks set up two touchdowns and a field goal. He now has three career interceptions. He also had three tackles. And, yes, I can't believe I missed this while handing out helmet stickers Saturday night.

Special teams standout: Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in the Ducks' 43-28 win over Washington State. He scored just after the Cougars had narrowed the gap to 29-20 with 3:52 left in the third quarter. He also rushed four times for 26 yards and caught two passes for 54 yards, including a 45-yard TD.

Smiley face: A week after perhaps UCLA's worst performance of the year -- and perhaps Rick Neuheisel's tenure in Westwood -- at Arizona on ESPN, the Bruins bounced back with one of their best, dominating California 31-14. And if the Bruins upset Arizona State on Saturday, guess who suddenly controls their own South Division destiny? And if the Bruins win the South, how could Neuheisel possibly be fired?

Frowny face: California. Wow. That was really, really bad. A week after stomping Utah, the Bears waved a white flag at UCLA. And after QB Zach Maynard tossed four interceptions, it's hard to believe coach Jeff Tedford isn't reviewing his options at the position. Oregon State is the runner-up here after getting pushed around at Utah. Bad Bears! Bad Beavers!

Thought of the week: Oregon visits Washington on Saturday in the final game before Husky Stadium begins a major renovation. Ducks-Huskies is the most bitter rivalry in the Pac-12. No offense to other rivalries, but it seems as though just about any post on the Pac-12 blog -- Who's the best backup kicker? -- degenerates into a back-and-forth between Ducks and Huskies. That said: it's been a mismatch for a long time in Oregon's favor. The Ducks have won seven in a row, their longest streak in the series, by at least 20 points. The average margin of victory during the run is 26.4 points. If you are 18 years old, you can barely remember when the Huskies were even competitive in the series, which isn't a good thing in recruiting. So what's the thought of the week? It's this: At some point, Washington is going to beat Oregon again.

Questions for the week: California, Utah and UCLA are all 4-4. Each, therefore, needs two wins to earn bowl eligibility. The Pac-12 clearly lacks depth this year, but the conference really could use a few more bowl-eligible teams to fill out its seven bowl contracts. The question is: Which, if any, of these inconsistent teams finds enough gumption to win two more games?
Every season true freshman make an impact and underclassmen become stars. Who might those guys be in the Pac-12 in 2011?

(Note: With "underclassmen to watch," we mostly stayed away from guys who made a significant impact in 2010, such as Arizona State defensive end Junior Onyeali, Colorado receiver Paul Richardson or California receiver Keenan Allen).

Underclassmen to watch

[+] EnlargeJonathan McKnight
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireArizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight has a bright future.
Jonathan McKnight, CB, So, Arizona: McKnight, younger brother of former USC running back Joe McKnight, might already be the best cover guy in an already good secondary.

Davon Coleman, DE, So, Arizona State: The junior college transfer -- a late signing for the 2011 recruiting class -- might already be the Sun Devils' No. 3 defensive end, and ASU needs him to step up after returning starter James Brooks quit the team.

David Wilkerson, OLB, RFr., California: While fellow outside linebacker Cecil Whiteside might be more heralded, Wilkerson was listed as a starter on on the post-spring depth chart.

Parker Orms, CB, So., Colorado: Orms was the starting nickel back in 2010 before he blew out his knee on the third play of the season-opener against Colorado State. He's now No. 1 at cornerback -- the Buffs more worrisome position -- despite sitting out spring practices.

Scott Crichton, DE, RFr., Oregon State: The Beavers have major questions at defensive end -- a traditionally strong position for their defense. While he didn't come from nowhere, it was a bit of a surprise to see Crichton atop the depth chart after spring practices.

Dietrich Riley, So, SS, UCLA: By the end of the season Riley and Tony Dye might be widely viewed as the best safety combo in the conference. Heck, they might already be.

Dres Anderson, RFr, WR, Utah: Anderson already looks like the Utes' No. 2 option after junior DeVonte Christopher.

Josh Shirley, RFr., LB, Washington: Shirley was such a force as a pass-rusher this past spring, they created a position for him: "Rush" linebacker.

Rickey Galvin, RFr, RB, Washington State: Galvin broke his arm at Oklahoma State on the first play of his college career, which ended his debut season. He's speedy and shifty and the Cougars really need him to provide a running threat to help out quarterback Jeff Tuel.

Impact freshmen

Hank Hobson, LB, Arizona: The Wildcats have major depth issues at linebacker. Hobson looks like the most ready-made guy in the incoming class. He might not start, but he's a good bet to be the No. 4 guy behind the starting three.

Stefan McClure, CB, California: While many Cal fans are more eager to see 325-pound nose tackle Viliami Moala, the Bears have depth issues at cornerback, and McClure is almost certain to be in the mix.

Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon: While Oregon needs help at receiver, and at least one one of the incoming guys is almost certain to climb into a prime spot in the rotation, we don't know who that will be. We feel pretty good projecting Lyerla as the Ducks' No. 2 tight end behind David Paulson.

James Vaughters, ILB, Stanford: The word most often used to describe Vaughters? "Beast." Stanford is solid at linebacker, but this guy is going to play, and and might well end up suggesting a second-coming of Vontaze Burfict by season's end.

George Farmer, WR, USC: There might be somebody who doesn't believe Farmer is a budding star but I have yet to speak with him. Even USC super-soph Robert Woods talks about Farmer's freakish skills.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: Seferian-Jenkins showed this past spring that he's ready for prime time. He's likely to be the Huskies' starting tight end. A runner-up for the Huskies, by the way, is receiver Kasen Williams, but he will join a deep, veteran crew of receivers.
Seven Pac-12 players were included on the 42-man watch list for the 2011 Lott IMPACT Trophy, which honors the top collegiate defensive player in the country, it was announced Tuesday.

[+] EnlargeT.J. McDonald
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireSafety T.J. McDonald is eager to take his place alongside USC legends at the position such as Ronnie Lott, Troy Polamalu and his dad, Tim.
The Pac-12 players on the list are: Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden (who is likely out for the season after suffering an ACL injury this spring), USC safety T.J. McDonald, UCLA safety Tony Dye, Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris, Stanford safety Delano Howell, Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov and California linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

The 2011 list of 42 (Lott's uniform number) includes 19 defensive backs, 14 linebackers and nine defensive linemen. There are 11 players from the ACC, eight from the SEC, seven from the Big Ten, seven from the Pac-10, six from the Big 12, one from the Big East, one from the Mountain West, one from the Western Athletic Conference and one from Notre Dame.

Here's the entire Watch List:

Emmanuel Acho, Texas, LB,
Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami, DB
Mark Barron, Alabama, S
Jake Bequette, Arkansas, DL
Omar Bolden, Arizona State, CB
Nigel Bradham, Florida State, LB
Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State, CB
Tank Carder, TCU, LB
Quinton Coples, North Carolina, DE
Jared Crick, Nebraska, DL
Lavonte David, Nebraska, LB
Matt Daniels, Duke, S
Tony Dye, UCLA, S
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB
Cliff Harris, Oregon, CB
Aaron Henry, Wisconsin, DB
Donta Hightower, Alabama, LB
Joe Holland, Purdue, LB
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB
Delano Howell, Stanford, DB
Brandon Jenkins, Florida State, DE
Janois Jenkins, Florida, CB
Mychal Kendricks, Cal, LB
Jordan Kovacs, Michigan, S
Luke Kuechly, Boston College, LB
Travis Lewis, Oklahoma, LB
Chris Marve, Vanderbilt, LB
T.J. McDonald, USC, S
Matt Merletti, North Carolina, S
Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB
Tyler Nielsen, Iowa, LB
Kendall Reyes, Connecticut, DT
John Simon, Ohio State, DT
Shayne Skov, Stanford, LB
Jacquies Smith, Missouri, DE
Sean Spence, Miami, LB
Kenny Tate, Maryland, S
Brandon Taylor, LSU, S
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB
Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee, S
Billy Winn, Boise State, DE
Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, DT
On Friday, we looked at offensive three-headed monsters -- the best quarterback, running back, wide receiver troikas -- so it also makes sense to also look at their defensive counterparts, the best threesomes from each of the three levels of defense: defensive line, linebacker and defensive back.

Here's the tally from last season, if you are interested.

1. Arizona State

DE Junior Onyeali, LB Vontaze Burfict, CB Omar Bolden

The Skinny: No question on No. 1 here. Onyeali was the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Burfict is the nation's best inside linebacker. Bolden was unanimous first-team All-Pac-10.

2. Stanford

DE Matt Masifilo, LB Shayne Skov, SS Delano Howell

The Skinny: Masifilo, the lone returning starter on the Cardinal defensive line, was honorable mention All-Pac-10, as was Skov, who was playing as well as any linebacker in the conference over the final third of the season. Howell was second-team All-Pac-10.

3. California

DE Trevor Guyton, LB Mychal Kendricks, S Sean Cattouse

The Skinny: Guyton had 8.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks despite being a part-time starter. Kendricks was second-team All-Pac-10. Cattouse earned honorable mention.

4. Oregon

DE Terrell Turner, LB Josh Kaddu, CB Cliff Harris

The Skinny: Two solid returning starters and a second-team All-Pac-10 cornerback who figures to be a preseason All-American after earning second-team honors from the Associated Press and Walter Camp Football Foundation in 2010.

5. Washington:

DT Alameda Ta'amu, LB Cort Dennison, FS Nate Fellner

The Skinny: Ta'amu earned honorable mention All-Conference honors and seemed to find himself over the latter half of the season. Dennison had 93 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions. Fellner tied for second in the conference with five interceptions.

6. Arizona

DT Justin Washington, LB Paul Vassallo, CB Trevin Wade

The Skinny: Washington's numbers fell off when he got banged up, but he still had 11.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks as a redshirt freshman. Vassallo was honorable mention All-Conference. Wade had an off year last fall, but was second-team All-Pac-10 in 2009.

7. USC

DE Armond Armstead, LB Chris Galippo, FS T.J. McDonald

The Skinny: This actually could be one of the best threesomes in the conference, but Armstead and Galippo have injury issues and only put up middling numbers last fall. McDonald was second-team All-Pac-10 in 2010.

8. Washington State

DE Travis Long, LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, SS Deone Bucannon

The Skinny: Long was honorable mention All-Conference, Bucannon, who started as a true freshman, and Hoffman-Ellis were the Cougars' top two tackles in 2010.

9. UCLA

DE Datone Jones, LB Patrick Larimore, SS Tony Dye

The Skinny: A solid threesome that is down here more because it gets an "incomplete." Jones missed all of last season with a foot injury, but, if healthy, he's an All-Conference sort. Larimore was solid in seven games before suffering a shoulder injury. Dye led the Bruins in tackles and earned honorable mention All-Pac-10.

10. Colorado

NG Will Pericak, LB Jon Major, FS Ray Polk

The Skinny: Pericak earned honorable mention All-Big 12. Major was the Buffaloes leading tackler before he blew out his knee in Game 7 (a knee injury also killed the junior's true freshman season). Polk was the second-leading tackler.

11. Utah

DE Derrick Shelby, LB Chaz Walker, CB Conroy Black

The Skinny: Honestly don't know how to rank the Utes here. Shelby and Walker are returning starters -- Walker earned second-team All-Mountain West honors. Black was the top backup cornerback last season. But Star Lotulelei might be the Utes' best defensive lineman, and Brian Blechen has moved from strong safety, where he was very good, to linebacker. How highly do the Utes think of him? They list him as an All-American candidate.

12. Oregon State

DE Dominic Glover, LB Rueben Robinson, S Lance Mitchell

The Skinny: Three returning starters, but none of them even earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors. Mitchell was the Beavers' third-leading tackler, Glover had 2.5 sacks, and Robinson split time with Tony Wilson.

Pac-10 rewind and look ahead

September, 27, 2010
9/27/10
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A look back as we now hit the meat of the conference race.

Team of the week: UCLA shocked the nation with a 34-12 stomping of No. 7 Texas. The Bruins, who were physically dominant on both lines of scrimmage, now seem fully recovered from an 0-2 start.

Best game: Arizona needed a late drive and defensive stand for a second weekend in a row as the Wildcats nipped California 10-9. Not a lot of 10-9 games through the years in the Pac-10, eh?

[+] EnlargeJuron Criner
AP Photo/Wily LowArizona receiver Juron Criner came through with some big catches against California.
Biggest play: The Wildcats wouldn't have won without a 51-yard completion from Nick Foles to Juron Criner, which was the centerpiece of the 77-yard, game-winning drive. Criner, who was questionable for the game with a turf toe, fought off tight coverage from Darian Hagan to make the play.

Offensive standout: The UCLA running game, which piled up 264 yards against Texas, gets the nod. Therefore, we include the offensive line, running backs Johnathan Franklin (118 yards) and Derrick Coleman (94 yards) as well as quarterback Kevin Prince (50 yards).

Defensive standout(s): UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers led the defensive effort at Texas. He had six tackles and an interception, and his sack included a forced fumble. Oregon safety John Boyett also merits a tip of the cap. He recorded a game-high 11 tackles against Arizona State and returned an interception 39 yards for a TD.

Two-way standout: Owen Marecic, Stanford's starting fullback AND linebacker, scored on an offensive run and interception return that were just 13 seconds apart at Notre Dame.

Special teams standout: Stanford kicker Nate Whitaker tied a school record with five field goals: 24, 41, 36, 33 and 29 yards during the Cardinal's 37-14 win at Notre Dame, where Whitaker played before transferring to Stanford.

Smiley face: Oregon and Stanford both passed tough road tests and set up a top-10 matchup in Autzen Stadium on Saturday that will announce the Pac-10's early leader.

Frowny face: Poor Cal. The Bears have lost consecutive games in painful fashion. First, they were embarrassed at Nevada, a team they couldn't stop on defense. Second, they yielded a late TD vs. Arizona, failing to score a TD in a 10-9 loss. Two missed field goals from Giorgio Tavecchio would have helped the cause, too.

Thought of the week: The Pac-10 is clearly nine teams deep. Good for the conference. The question, however, is whether any team can go undefeated in a nine-game conference schedule and play its way into national title consideration. The feeling here is no. Then the question becomes: Can any team get through with only one loss? Maybe. But it will be taxing to do so.

Thought of the week II: While most national eyes will be on Stanford's visit to Oregon -- and rightly so -- Washington's visit to USC and Arizona State's trip to Oregon State should be revealing. We don't know what to make of these four teams just yet. We should get a much clearer picture of the conference pecking order by Sunday.

Quote of the week: Said UCLA safety Tony Dye to the LA Times: "The first two weeks, we didn't exist. This is our team right now. If we keep rolling like this, we're going to win the [Pac-10]."

Quote of the week II: Said Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh as he opened his press conference following a blowout win at Notre Dame, "Might be the biggest press conference I've ever been to right here."

Posted by ESPN.com'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.

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