Welcome to the mailbag.
To the notes.
Peter from Tempe, Ariz., writes: I'm looking at your Top 25 list and I can see that you're not going to add any ASU players this year. I totally understand removing Vontaze from the list, he should've been removed from the team too. But not adding at least Osweiler seems a bit strange. Can you explain your rationale for not even a spot on the list? I know the guy didn't win any games in the second half but there are other QBs on the list from the same state who didn't exactly carry their team either.
Kevin from Eugene, Org., writes: you didn't really leave John Boyett out of your top 25 did you? C'mon man.
Jason from Seattle writes: You really going to leave the Pac-12's leading tackler - Cort Dennison - off the top-25 list?!?
Ryan from Eugene, Ore., writes: Ted, after reading your blog for years I feel there is probably a need to balance out the duck faithful. I think your top 25 is spot on! When you got into the teens I was slightly surprised I hadn't seen John Boyett's name but when it is all said and done (probably could have released the final 3 the same week, btw) I see that there were only a couple DBs in the entire top 25 and I agree that he would be left out. Just hoping to tip the Email scale away from the ones I'm sure you get that think... KNOW your top 25 should the O offense 1-11, the O-defense 12-22 + a few O ST players.
Ted Miller: Thanks Ryan!
When you make a list of the best 25 players -- 26 in the Pac-12 blog's case -- somebody really good is going to get left out. A lot of somebodies, in fact.
My first response to folks with "How could you leave out!" queries is, "Who would you take out?" Oregon fans, would you knock out Ducks tight end David Paulson in order to get Boyett on the list?
Boyett and Brock Osweiler were two of the last cuts on the list (Dennison is a hard-nosed, productive player, but he was not considered).
Lots of factors go into making the list. Production is at the top. NFL prospects do play a role for me. Winning teams get more players, in large part because I see more of their games in person. If your team, say, lost its final six games, that doesn't help a player's cause.
Boyett will be on the preseason top-25. The guy is going to be a four-year starter. Very productive. But USC's T.J. McDonald was the only safety on the list, at No. 19. He's a likely first-day NFL draft pick. So which player gets cut for Boyett?
Peter alludes to Arizona's Nick Foles at No. 18 in his note about Arizona State's Osweiler. It's interesting, because now it seems Osweiler might get drafted before Foles, something that is probably surprising to many of us. But Foles threw for 361 yards per game with 28 TD passes, and ranked fifth in the Pac-12 and 28th in the nation in passing efficiency. Osweiler threw for 310 yards per game with 26 TD passes (he also played one more game than Foles), and ranked sixth in the Pac-12 and 37th in the nation in passing efficiency.
Are there elements that inspire second thoughts? Well, I'm not happy with myself for forgetting one of the Thomases in my original master list, which forced me to do a double-ranking of Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas and Oregon's receiver/running back De'Anthony Thomas at No. 12.
And, yes, there was a long pause over ranking Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas No. 5 ahead of Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was the coaches pick for Defensive Player of the Year. Well, I picked Thomas for Defensive Player of the Year on the Pac-12 blog, so it was partly to be consistent. And Thomas just made so many plays -- 17.5 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles.
Some might have rated USC receiver Robert Woods higher. But let me put it this way: Washington State's Marquess Wilson had comparable numbers catching balls from three different quarterbacks against defenses focused on stopping him, because he was clearly the Cougars most dangerous weapon. Woods caught passes from Matt Barkley and had Marqise Lee keeping secondaries honest, not to mention a good running game for support.
But, in the end, it's all opinion. Make your own top-25. It's not easy.
We'll be reviewing our final top-25 next week, and perhaps looking ahead to the preseason version.
Of course, you'll all be waiting on pins and needles wondering who will be No. 1 on Monday, right?
Peter from Calgary writes: many way too early preseason polls have Oregon ahead of Stanford. Other than getting clobbered the last two seasons by the [Ducks] (which I admit is a big factor), why do you think this is? Given the losses both teams face from their respective offenses from last season, and that Stanford's defense (at least the front 7) is looking very solid, what gives?
Johnny from San Francisco writes: many people are saying Stanford is going to see a huge drop off with Luck, Decastro, Martin, Fleener, and Howell taking their talents to the NFL. With a redshirt sophomore qb in Brett Nottingham, do you expect Stanford to lean even more heavily on the run, and if so, do you think Stepfan Taylor has a chance to put up Toby Gerhart like numbers?
Ted Miller: Some benighted folks still believe Stanford was a one-man team the past two years: The Stanford Andrew Lucks.
Others, who are now aware that NFL draft boards are loaded with Stanford players other than Luck, believe the Cardinal was good over the past two seasons, but is now headed for a decline.
I don't see it. My guess is Stanford won't play in a third consecutive BCS bowl in 2012, but eight or nine wins and a top-25 ranking certainly seems reasonable. The defense will be good, even with some questions in the secondary. I think whoever wins the quarterback job will be a good enough passer to prevent defenses from completely ganging up on the run. And I think Stanford will continue to run well next fall, though, Johnny, I suspect the ball will get shared too much to allow Taylor to put up Toby Gerhart numbers.
Still, Stanford is not a traditional power, so it still has to prove itself to a skeptical nation. But if the Cardinal do well in 2012, post-Luck, you can count on more folks jumping on the bandwagon nationally.
Josh from Vancouver, Wash., writes: Oregon's receiving corps was a big weak spot last season. Tuinei was the Ducks' best receiver and he had one 100-yard game. Granted, there are a lot of options in Chip Kelly's system and DAT will get lots of touches, but he's going to get a lot of attention from opposing defenses unless some other receivers can step up. With Josh Huff probably being suspended to start the season and a new quarterback coming in, how much improvement or dropoff do you see for the Ducks' passing game this season?
Ted Miller: Huff is a good player, though he's never seemed like a pure, instinctive receiver to me. Losing him -- for however long -- would be a blow, particularly with questions at receiver.
But for some reason, I don't find myself that skeptical about the poor ole Oregon offense, and that woebegone coach of theirs, Chip Kelly.
From what I've seen of Bryan Bennett -- and what I hear about Marcus Mariota -- the Ducks are going to be talented, if slightly green at quarterback. Kelly's track record, however, is pretty strong at quarterback. After his work with Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas, I'm of the mind that I think the Ducks will get good quarterback play, because they've never gotten bad quarterback play with Kelly and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.
As for receiver, yes, there are unknowns. Rahsaan Vaughn flashed some potential last year, but the real question is which of the three touted redshirt freshman step up: Devon Blackmon, B.J. Kelley or Tacoi Sumler. You'd figure at least one or two will, right?
With or without Huff, I expect the Ducks' offense to keep humming along. Will it average 46 points and 515 yards again in 2012? Maybe not. But I'd be fairly surprised if it dropped off by much more than 10 percent, particularly with a more forgiving schedule.
John from Phoenix writes: Do you think UCLA's decision to ban parents from their Pro Day could have an affect on recruiting? It seems to me it would be something I would bring up if I was recruiting against them.
Ted Miller: My guess is UCLA folks have recognized at this point that closing pro day -- to parents and media -- was a clumsy mistake, and that policy won't continue to be in place next year. It's nonsensical, of course. And, yes, I'd bring it up if I were recruiting against them.
It's particularly bad when the school then acts like it has "exclusive" access on it's website. By doing that, bloggers like me who care about journalism are forced to ignore that web site and not provide links to it until that policy changes.
More and more schools are trying to control information by hiring their own "writers" and then having then provide the public with homogenized "exclusive news." Some, such as Colorado, seem to do a good job. Others are tightly monitored and are given bogus advantages that are played up as "exclusives." It's a lame trend that hopefully won't last.
Misbehaving from Parts Unknown: Why did you ban me from the comment section, please let me come back. And why did you delete my comment anyway?
Ted Miller: Kevin Gemmell and I have nothing to do with whoever gets banned after falling afoul of community rules in the comments section.
Neither Kevin nor I have access to any administrative functions in the comment section. Neither of us has ever deleted a comment. Not our territory.
Erik from Seattle writes: What's your best advice for a UW grad who will be marrying an Oregon grad in less than 4 months?
Ted Miller: First off, congrats.
Second, this is the 21st Century. Mixed marriages can work, though you'll certainly draw a fair share of disapproving stares if you go out to, say, Norm's in Fremont, you in Huskies purple and her in Ducks green. Be strong. Love conquers all!
You also might want to discuss some rules, such as limits to gloating when one or the other's team wins. And just how much green and/or purple can be part of the interior design of your living area. There also might have to be some negotiating over friends who could be deemed psychotic about their Duck/Husky hate.
And I'm sure our fine readers might have some ideas and advice here.