Friday, April 15, 2011
Mailbag: Arizona's receivers aren't the best!
By Ted Miller
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To the many who asked: I have no idea when the NCAA will rule on USC's appeal. On Saturday, it will be 12 weeks since USC met with the appeals mmittee. I thought it might happen this week. If it doesn't happen next week, the term "absurd" will start to apply.
Chris from Seattle writes: You've been calling Arizona's group of receivers "the best in the conference." I'd like to submit that, it's far less clear than you are painting it. The way I see it, UW is equally as deep at receiver. Kearse and Aguilar are two returning seniors who merit pre-season all-conference mention and Kearse is potentially a first teamer and all-american. From there, James Johnson (stellar freshman year who is returning to form), Kevin Davis (really turning it on this spring), DiAndre Campbell (great hands and big plays this spring), and Cody Bruns (another returning senior) are all in the mix for the third spot. But, let's not forget that Kasen Williams (the Parade All-America player of the year - if you have forgotten) will be showing up in the fall. I'd say that group would go toe-to-toe with UA's group any day! Sure, UA has a better QB at the moment, but if we're talking about talent at the receiver position, I think you haven't done your homework and I'd appreciate it if you stop matter-of-factly stating they are the best in the conference. In your UA spring review, you said, "the conference's deepest, most talented crew of receivers." I call BULL! Prove me wrong!
Ted Miller: OK, I'll prove you wrong, you, you, Bull Caller!
Washington has good receivers, but the Huskies don't match up with the Wildcats.
So let's do our homework!
You note Jermaine Kearse (63 receptions, second-team All-Pac-10) and Devin Aguilar. Aguilar caught 28 passes last season. Every one else you mention is a "maybe." Why do I type that? Here are the official stats. Johnson caught one pass last year. Bruns? Seven.
And, really, Kearse has plenty of room to improve -- see dropped passes, see struggles versus physical cornerbacks.
Down in Tucson, you have the best receiver in the Pac-12: Juron Criner (82 receptions, first-team All-Pac-10).
Then you have David Douglas (52 receptions), David Roberts (45), Terrence Miller (29) and Richard Morrison (19). Oh, and you also have Texas transfer Dan Buckner, who caught 44 passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns in 2009 for the Longhorns.
I'd even counter that Arizona's "maybes" are every bit the match of Washington's: redshirt freshmen Tyler Slavin, Austin Hill, and speedster Garic Wharton.
JJ from McCall, Idaho writes: Looking at returning running backs, it's amazing to see USC in 10th position. What happened to all those 5 star recruits?
Ted Miller: USC isn't exactly hurting at running back. In fact, off the top of my head, I'd rate the Trojans fourth in the Pac-12 at the position behind Oregon, Washington and Stanford.
First, let's recall the Trojans averaged 190 yards rushing per game in 2010. That ranked third in the conference.
Second, Marc Tyler, who rushed for 913 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry, is back. Yes, he's injury prone, but not so injury prone that he didn't nearly crack the 1,000-yard mark in 2010.
And there is plenty of young talent, starting with Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan. Further, the Pac-12 blog has always thought that if Curtis McNeal, academically ineligible in 2010, got touches, he'd make plays.
Matt from Salt Lake City writes: With the Utah Utes bringing in a new O and with [quarterback Jordan Wynn] out of the spring how far behind is Wynn and do you think he can get the new O going and be ready for the fall?
Ted Miller: No matter how much of a "glass half-full guy" you are, it's not ideal for Wynn to be sitting out spring practices after undergoing shoulder surgery. A full spring practice with new offensive coordinator Norm Chow and pro style offense would have been valuable.
But there are a couple of things that work in Wynn and Utah's favor here. For one, Wynn is only a few weeks from full-go throwing again, so he'll have a full summer to work with his receivers and backs and get a general feel for the playbook.
Second, Wynn told me he played a pro style offense in high school, so this shouldn't be an overwhelming transformation. He actually called it a "better fit" than the Utes old spread-option. Third, Chow was most taken with Wynn's intelligence, noting that Wynn seems to be picking things up quickly in meetings and film sessions. Said Chow, "Just sitting in meetings with him, it's extremely obvious he's very bright. To me the key element for a quarterback is you've got to be smart. He gets it all."
Further, Wynn is a one-and-a-half-year starter. He's a veteran who knows game speed. That should help him digest things during fall camp.
Again, not ideal. But far from a cause for panic.
If Utah fans are looking for something to worry about -- and what fan isn't? -- backup quarterback might be a good place to release a harrumph or two. It doesn't seem like either Tyler Shreve or Griff Robles have figured things out.
Thomas from San Francisco writes: Cal fans are a bit up in arms about a quote from Jeff Tedford in your latest article, and I was hoping for some clarification. Specifically, this quote: "I have it back in focus now, not to worry about the external things," he said. "That one year  we went [8-5] and it felt like we went [5-8], it felt like people were real irritable about that. I was irritable, too. About their reaction to [8-5]. Now, I'm just back to focusing on what it takes to get us back on the upward trend again." You bracketed "2009" and "8-5" which means he didn't actually say those terms, but you interpreted him to be referring to 2009 and 8-5. Is it possible he was referring to going 8-4 in 2005? Or something else? It is concerning because it sounds like Tedford is happy with 8-5, which he should not be (especially because there were a handful of blowout losses in those 5 losses, which you note in the story). Is there any way you can post the full Q&A? Or at least enough to get the context of what he was saying? Or simply why you interpreted him to be referring to 2009/8-5?
Ted Miller: You are an observant reader. Oh, you Cal fans!
What Tedford said was a little confusing to me at the time also. The recording is gone, but, to paraphrase, he said "a couple of years ago" in the context of this quote but said "8-3" as the record, as well as the 3-8 reverse. Obviously, there is no 8-3 season, though he could have been referring to finishing the 2005 regular season 8-3 and then winning the Las Vegas Bowl over BYU.
So I did make an assumption based on a couple of things: He said "couple of years ago," which suggested two to me. And I remembered very little carping after the 2005 season, seeing that was the first season after Aaron Rodgers (Joe Ayoob!), though Bears fans feel free to correct me.
Either way, to me, the gist is the same: In the past, he allowed fan reaction to irritate him after an eight-win season. He's now trying to ignore fan reaction after a five-win season because he's got plenty of other things to think -- and get irritated -- about.
I've never had the feeling that Tedford would be happy with 8-5. I do think that he was a bit surprised how quickly Cal fans became bored with winning seasons.
Todd from Mission Viejo, Calif., writes: Regarding the Pac-12 media deal, should I be worried about the Pac-12 signing a long-term deal (say 15 years)? Yes, it would provide stability, but if the college sports media market continues to grow, could the media rights become undervalued for the final part of its contract. Would it not be better to sign a medium length media deal, then renegotiate to reflect the new value of the media property?
Ted Miller: Larry "Let's make a deal!" Scott is seeking a 10-year deal worth $220 million, according to multiple reports, including the Wall Street Journal, which I think got the number from the myriad great articles Jon Wilner has been doing on the behind-the-scenes machinations.
If there is a downside to a 10-year, $220 million deal, I don't know what it is. Other than it's not a 10-year $230 million deal, with the extra $10 million going to the Pac-12 blog, which of course would buy a yacht and throw a righteous party for you loyal readers.
Miriam from Stanford, Calif., writes: In addition to reading the stories on the blog, I often go to your lunch links to find interesting news items about Stanford and other teams. I know that you don't always include a link for every team every day, but I've noticed a lot of times when you seem to have a story for every team except Stanford (see 4/6/11, 4/12/11). Is it really that much harder to find news stories about Stanford than about the other teams in the conference? Or is it just my selection bias coming into play, only noticing when my team is the one missing?
Ted Miller: Yes, it is that much harder to find stories on Stanford football, and it annoys me, too. I even groused about this to Wyndam Makowsky of The Stanford Daily, noting that the Daily's enlightened policy of covering all of Stanford's 14,524 sports teams vexed me when, really, people only care about football.
Some teams get so much local coverage, it's often difficult to figure out which articles to post and which to exclude. That's not the case with Stanford, in large part because Bay Area newspapers have significantly rolled back their staff numbers.
Every weekday morning I go through a series of websites -- newspapers, responsible fan blogs, even the official website -- that offer Stanford coverage. If you don't see a Stanford link at lunch, it's because I couldn't find a story.
Same thing goes for every Pac-12 team.
Daniel from Eugene, Ore., writes: You probably already know this is out there, but I thought it'd be nice if you could post this. Really a quality podcast all about the Ducks.
Ted Miller: Wow, you put the bad boys of podcasting, Ty and Dan of "Solid Verbal," on the same wavelength with The One They Call "Rob Moseley" and you've got the makings of an epic Guy Ritchie shoot-em-up.