Friday, May 7, 2010
Best of spring
By Ted Miller
Everyone loves "best of" lists. Here's one for the Pac-10 after spring practices concluded.
Best spring game performance, offense: USC senior fullback Stanley Havili caught three long touchdown passes -- 28, 33 and 50 yards -- in the Trojans spring game.
Best spring game performance, offense II: With Jacquizz Rodgers chilling on the sidelines, Oregon State's backup running backs made a statement. Sophomore Jordan Jenkins rushed for 112 yards on 26 carries, while junior Ryan McCants had 74 yards on 24 attempts.
Best spring game performance, defense: UCLA's Datone Jones had two sacks, recovered a fumble and, according to the LA Times, "spent a good portion of the evening in the backfield."
Best spring game performance, defense II: Washington State defensive tackle Brandon Rankin, a JC transfer, had two sacks and a tackle for a loss as the No. 1 defense dominated the No. 2 offense.
Best spring game performance by a kicker: UCLA's Kai Forbath, the defending Lou Groza Award winner, was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, making kicks of 44, 34, 51 and 57 yards.
Best competition heading into fall, offense: Nate Costa vs. Darron Thomas to be Oregon's quarterback.
Best competition heading into the fall, defense: Chris Galippo vs. Devon Kennard to be USC's middle linebacker.
Best "who's the best" competition: Let the debate begin between Washington QB Jake Locker and Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Wait. It already has.
Best new marketing campaign: Stanford's new "What's your deal?" ticket plan is a homage to the prickly exchange between Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh and USC's Pete Carroll after Stanford ran up the score on the Trojans. Funny methinks.
Best new playmaker: USC's true freshman running back Dillon Baxter became a YouTube sensation with a spectacular run during a scrimmage, but other spectacular runs made it clear he wasn't a one-hit wonder. The Reggie Bush comparisons have already begun.
Best impression of dear old dad: Freshman quarterback Nick Montana capped an 80-yard drive with a short touchdown pass on the final play to give his team the win in Washington's spring game. You may recall that Nick's dad, Joe, was a fairly good NFL quarterback with a penchant for the dramatic -- and noticing John Candy in the stands.
Best position change: Oregon switched Dion Jordan from tight end to defensive end, where his athleticism suggested he could become a dangerous pass rusher. Jordan was going no where at tight end. He may end up in the NFL as a defensive end.
Best performance by a backup quarterback: Senior Mitch Mustain, the most written-about QB to never start a game for USC, passed for five touchdowns and 299 yards in the Trojans' spring game. Quarterback controversy? Naaaa. Might Mustain become the next Matt Cassel? Maybe.
Best comeback by a quarterback: Many were ready to crown Michigan transfer Steven Threet as Arizona State's starting quarterback, but sophomore Brock Osweiler was more consistent much of the spring and could end up running the Sun Devils offense in the fall.
Best offensive threesome you've never heard of: Here's a guess that receivers Gino Crump, Travis Cobb and fullback/H-back Taimi Tutogi make a lot of plays for Arizona next fall.
Best refusal to go away: No player in the Pac-10 has been more analyzed -- criticized -- than California quarterback Kevin Riley. Well, Riley again held on to the starting job this spring and heads into his senior year trying to put a successful cap on a career that has featured just a bit of everything.
Best physical freak of nature: Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea is not only the strongest college football player, he may be the strongest football player in the nation.
Best new acquisition: Arizona State adopted Kyle Oden, 3, who has a pediatric brain tumor and is nearly blind in one eye.
Best quote: Lane Kiffin, who was an USC assistant from 2001-06, on Trojans he inherited, "It's not what it was when we left here."
Best quote II: Norm Chow on whether the UCLA offense breaks through in 2010: "I have no idea, but we have to be better or you'll be talking to somebody else next year."
Best quote III: Mike Riley on Oregon State's offense: "Athletically, it's as good as we've ever been."
Best quote IV: Oregon quarterback Costa on redundant questions about suspended quarterback Jeremiah Masoli: "I'm not tired of answering the questions. If there is someone who should answer the questions, it should probably be me. The public has a right to know what we are thinking and our thoughts on this whole process. So I'm happy to answer those questions."
Best quote V: Washington coach Steve Sarkisian on leading the Huskies to a 5-7 finish in his first season: "I've never been congratulated so much for a five-win season."