Monday, April 15, 2013
Pac-12 spring wrap, Part I
By Ted Miller
Lots of action this past weekend with five spring games and a number of other scrimmages, so we're splitting our wrap-up into two parts.
This is Part I, though if you showed up late and read Part II first, you really wouldn't be that bad off.
While the biggest news for Arizona was the announcement that star receiver Austin Hill had suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury, the Wildcats' offense nonetheless beat the defense in the spring game.
In front of 4,095 fans at Kindall Field/Sancet Stadium, Arizona quarterbacks passed for 349 yards and eight touchdowns.
Senior B.J. Denker was 13-of-20 for 246 yards and four touchdowns and an interception. He likely emerges from spring practices atop the depth chart, though he faces a fall challenge from USC transfer Jesse Scroggins and incoming freshman Anu Solomon. Scroggins was out most of spring practices, though he made a surprise appearance in the spring game, completing 6 of 17 for 44 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
Senior Kylan Butler led the running backs with seven carries for 56 yards. Junior receiver Tyler Slavin had 97 yards receiving with one score while redshirt freshman Clive Georges led the unit in receptions with five.
“I thought B.J. did okay today,” coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He was pretty sharp. I’ve seen him make a lot of strides this spring, getting more confident, having great eye discipline, making the right decisions. There were a couple of throws he’d wish to have back but he’s had a solid spring.”
Sophomore linebacker Dakota Conwell and redshirt freshman Shane Wilson each had five tackles. Redshirt freshman Kyle Kelley had three tackles, a sack for a loss of two yards and one PBU. Junior Tra’Mayne Bondurant and sophomore William Parks each had an interception.
“We had, I think, 22 guys out with injuries and we probably held another seven or eight throughout the game, so it was ugly at times but it was also fun,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We got better. We see it more as a practice than a true game or scrimmage. We made some steps this spring. It was fun to watch.”
Arizona State kept things fairly vanilla in front of 6,386 fans at Sun Devil Stadium, with the defense mostly in control.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 15 of 21 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, while All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton had two sacks in limited action.
Kelly's two backups played well. Mike Bercovici finished a strong spring by completing 8 of 13 passes for 114 yards with a TD. Michael Eubank completed 8 of 12 for 88 yards with two scores. Neither threw an interception.
Running back Marion Grice rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown. Senior tight end Chris Coyle had six catches for 51 yards and two TDs.
It appears Colorado has narrowed its quarterback competition down to Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman after both led the way in front of 10,244 fans at Folsom Field.
Hirschman completed 16-of-27 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, while Wood was 11-of-16 for 205 yards and one TD.
Hirschman also got the last laugh. After leading a 90-yard drive that pulled his Black team to within two points with 1:38 to play, Hirschman was given the ball back at midfield -- a decision from new coach Mike MacIntyre -- with a chance to direct a game-winning drive.
Hirschman drove the Black squad to the Gold 6-yard line, where Justin Castor kicked a 26-yard field goal on the game’s final play, giving the Black squad a 17-16 win.
As for the QBs, redshirt freshman Shane Dillon was clearly behind Wood and Hirschman this spring. Jordan Webb's career is over due to a knee injury suffered this spring. Touted incoming freshman Sefo Liufau also will get a look in the fall.
Receiver Paul Richardson caught five passes for 169 yards and an 85-yard touchdown.
Oregon State ran a 52-play scrimmage -- its first this spring -- with running back Storm Woods' 80-yard TD run producing the biggest highlight.
The Beavers also got a impressive 25-yard TD catch from talented junior Obum Gwacham, whose name is unquestionably fun to say.
The QBs? Both played well. Sean Mannion completed 10 of 14 throws for 57 yards, while Cody Vaz was 8 of 9 for 91 yards and the TD toss to Gwacham.
The defense won Stanford's spring game, but the biggest story was how pass-happy the offense was.
The Cardinal passed 58 times and ran just 36 times, generating 377 of its 484 total yards through the air. While that's certainly not how the distribution will be this fall, it was emblematic of coach David Shaw's belief in his QBs and receivers.
Getting the most work was backup QB Evan Crower, who took advantage of an injury to Josh Nunes and completed 26 of 35 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns. Starter Kevin Hogan, after a slow start, completed 14 of 23 for 170 yards and two scores.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, "Nunes missed all of spring ball after suffering a biceps muscle injury to his throwing arm while lifting weights in January, and the timetable for his return is iffy." So Crower's performance is encouraging.
Michael Rector caught an impressive 44-yard TD pass from Hogan, while Ty Montgomery hauled in five passes for 59 yards and a score. Those two look like the Cardinal's top-two pass catchers, but the unit displayed greater depth this spring than the past few, tight end-heavy seasons.
As for the defense, the first unit gave up just 10 points. Jarek Lancaster led the way with eight tackles.