- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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I ain't got a dime but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.
For most of the offseason (pretty much since Utah’s Travis Wilson was cleared for action), we’ve been working under the assumption that the Pac-12 would have 10 returning starting quarterbacks. Those assumptions were confirmed Monday when Utah coach Kyle Whittingham announced that Wilson held off a late charge from Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson.
At the very least, this means Utah has some depth at the quarterback spot – something that has haunted the Utes since joining the conference. And Whittingham told reporters after practice that Thompson has “earned the right to play,” meaning we’ll probably see him at some point and in assorted situations. Interpret that how you will.
Here are a few links on Wilson:
We’ll also be taking a closer look at Wilson later today in our returning starting quarterback series (and I would have gone into scramble mode had Thompson been named the starter).
Surely it’s too soon for a 2015 mock draft, right? After all, the college football season hasn’t started. But if CBS’s Dane Brugler is anywhere near accurate (he himself admits a lot of these are shots in the dark), then the Pac-12 is in for a big season.
His projection has 10 Pac-12 players going in the first round, including five in the top 11. Here’s his list:
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota No. 1 to Oakland
USC DL Leonard Williams No. 2 to Minnesota
UCLA QB Brett Hundley No. 8 to Tampa Bay
Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu No. 10 to Pittsburgh
Stanford OT Andrus Peat No. 11 to Detroit
Washington LB Shaq Thompson No. 18 to St. Louis
Oregon DL Arik Armstead No. 23 to Philadelphia (where Chip Kelly will again probably try to make him an offensive tackle)
ASU WR Jaelen Strong No. 25 to Indianapolis
Washington DE Hau'oli Kikaha No. 26 to Chicago
That would be outstanding for the conference. Here’s a chart I’ve maintained for a few years (just for you, because you’re special), and as you can see, 10 players would be a considerable upgrade from what the league has seen over the last 14 years (though 2003 was a pretty good year).
2010 (2): Tyson Alualu (Cal, No. 10); Jahvid Best (Cal, No. 30)
2007 (1): Marshawn Lynch (Cal, No. 12)
2004 (3): Reggie Williams (Washington, No. 9); Kenechi Udeze (USC, No. 20); Steven Jackson (Oregon State, No. 24)
2003 (8): Carson Palmer (USC, No. 1); Terrell Suggs (Arizona State, No. 10); Marcus Trufant (Washington State, No. 11); Troy Polamalu (USC, No. 16); Kyle Boller (Cal, No. 19); Kwame Harris (Stanford, No. 26); Nick Barnett (Oregon State, No. 29); Nnamdi Asomugha (Cal, No. 31)
2002 (4, also the first year with 32 picks): Joey Harrington (Oregon, No. 3); Levi Jones (Arizona State, No. 10); Jerramy Stevens (Washington, No. 28); Robert Thomas (UCLA, No. 31)
2001 (4): Andre Carter (Cal, No. 7); Adam Archuleta (Arizona State, No. 20); Freddie Mitchell (UCLA, No. 25); Todd Heap (Arizona State, No. 31)
2000 (4): Deltha O'Neal (Cal, No. 15); Erik Flowers (Arizona State, No. 26); R.Jay Soward (USC, No. 29); Trung Canidate (Arizona, No. 31).
Out of the playoff?
Speaking of early projections, it doesn’t look good for the Pac-12 as far as reaching the college football playoff this year, according to CBS Bracketologist Jerry Palm, who writes:
In this projection, the Pac-12, which is arguably the second best conference, is excluded. That is based on the thought that the league will beat each other up enough that its champion may be too damaged to get a spot. Obviously, that remains to be seen.
Of course, this story was posted prior to the news that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller might miss the season. This certainly isn’t a time for to celebrate injuries -- even if you are a Michigan fan -- because injuries stink. But we can’t ignore the fact either that the Pac-12 benefits from a weakened Ohio State team. It’s an unfortunate fact. But a fact nonetheless.
Team notes/practice reports
The Bears are determined to have more balance in their attack, and are committing to establishing a running game, writes Jeff Faraudo of the Bay Area News Group.
The News Tribune offers up some video interviews with Washington coaches Jimmy Lake (DBs) and Jeff Choate (DL). Both coaches have players mentioned in the above draft first-round draft projections.
Some news and notes from ASU’s practice.
Some notes from Oregon’s practice.
Getting social with media
As far as alternate uniforms go, we’ve seen worse. And the more I look at ASU’s, the more I like them.
— Sun Devil Athletics (@TheSunDevils) August 18, 2014
The San Francisco Chronicle’s new Cal beat writer, Mike Vernon, takes us inside the life of a running back for six seconds.