Pac-12: 2012 pac-12 spring team wraps

Arizona spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
11:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 4-8
2011 conference record: 2-7 (T 5th, South)
Returning starters: offense: 6; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners
QB Matt Scott, RB Ka'Deem Carey, WR Dan Buckner, C Kyle Quinn, DB Tra'Mayne Bondurant, LB Jake Fischer, CB Jonathan McKnight

Key Losses
QB Nick Foles, WR Juron Criner, CB Trevin Wade, LB Paul Vassallo

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)

Rushing: Keola Antolin (609 yards)
Passing: Nick Foles (4,329 yards)
Receiving: Juron Criner (956 yards)
Tackles: Derek Earls (74)
Sacks: C.J. Parrish (3)
Interceptions: Shaq Richardson* (4)

Spring answers

1. Beam me up Scott-y Before spring practices began, it seemed like senior quarterback Matt Scott would be a nice match for Rich Rodriguez's spread-option offense. That was confirmed this spring, and Scott might be the best pure passer Rodriguez has had, at least since Shaun King at Tulane in 1998. The only question is the running game. Though Scott is a good athlete, he wasn't allowed to be hit this spring. Rodriguez favors his quarterbacks getting some full-go exposure to get a comfort level running the option.

2. Solid at RB: Rodriguez's offense is run-first, and he has some horses in the backfield who can get it done, starting with promising sophomore Ka’Deem Carey. But there's also good depth with Daniel Jenkins, Taimi Tutogi, Kylan Butler, Greg Nwoko and Jared Baker offering a variety of skill sets -- speed, power, quality as a receiver, etc.

3. Crisis averted: Defensive back Jourdon Grandon and offensive tackle Fabbians Ebbele were arrested after a fight at a house party this spring and were suspended from the team. Ebbele started at right tackle as a redshirt freshman and might be the Wildcats' most talented offensive lineman. Grandon started four games in 2011 as a redshirt freshman and certainly will be in the mix with the new 3-3-5 scheme. Losing both or either for a game or games or even permanently would have been a big deal. But criminal assault and trespassing charges were dropped. Both are expected to be back with the team this summer.

Fall questions

1. Backup QB? Arizona has zero experience behind Scott. Heck, it doesn't really have a true quarterback behind him, seeing that Richard Morrison is primarily a slot receiver. The hope is juco transfer Brandon Denker can step into the role. The bottom line, though, is this: If Scott goes down, the offense is probably in trouble.

2. Who's the edge rusher? There are plenty of bodies on the D-line -- Sione Tuihalamaka, Justin Washington, Willie Mobley, Dan Pettinato, Jowyn Ward, Dominique Austin and Lamar DeRego -- but none of those guys is an edge rusher who can stress an offensive coordinator. Expect defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel to get creative with how he gets a fast guy near the line of scrimmage to rush the quarterback.

3. Good shape? Rodriguez was blunt before spring practices: His team was out of shape. While he was far happier at the end of spring, as players got more used to his fast-paced practices, Rodriguez won't be in his players' ears all summer, reminding them to work out and run and stay -- or get -- in shape. You can't do Rodriguez's offense in poor condition. The big test this offseason -- perhaps as big as any with this team -- is showing up in August in A-list shape.

Arizona State spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
11:00
AM ET
2011 overall record: 6-7

2011 conference record: 4-5 (T 3rd, South)

Returning starters

Offense: 4; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

RB Cameron Marshall, OT Evan Finkenberg, WR Jamal Miles, LB Brandon Magee, DT Will Sutton

Key Losses

QB Brock Osweiler, WR Gerell Robinson, WR Aaron Pflugrad, C Garth Gerhart, LB Vontaze Burfict, LB Colin Parker, S Clint Floyd

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)
Rushing: Cameron Marshall* (1,050 yards)
Passing: Brock Osweiler (4,036 yards)
Receiving: Gerell Robinson (1,397 yards)
Tackles: Colin Parker (75)
Sacks: Vontaze Burfict (5)
Interceptions: Clint Floyd (4)

Spring answers

1. He's selling, you buying? New head coach Todd Graham describes himself as an "old school" guy, meaning no swearing, no jewelry, yes sir, no sir ... that kind of stuff. His practices are intense, as is the fast-paced offense he's installing. Players talked about being a little shell-shocked by how he does things and the discipline he demands. But so far, they seem to have taken to it.

2. Oh, line: Once thought to be a concern for the Sun Devils after losing three offensive linemen from last year's squad, Graham has gone out of his way to note how good the unit looks. They are set at left tackle with Evan Finkenberg, a two-year starter, but he's versatile enough to play anywhere on the line. Andrew Sampson has 20 consecutive starts. Jamil Douglas, Kody Koebensky and Brice Schwab should fill out the line.

3. Back attack: The Sun Devils have something special in running back Cameron Marshall, who should flourish with Graham's downhill running offense. Behind him is a deep, talented group, but little is known about the pecking order. Kyle Middlebrooks, James Morrison, Deantre Lewis, Marion Grice and incoming freshman D.J. Foster all figure to play some sort of role. Worth keeping an eye on Marshall's surgically repaired foot as well. He's expected to be 100 percent by fall. While this might be ASU's deepest group, there is still some uncertainty to how it will all look in Week 1.

Fall questions

1. QB question mark: Graham hinted that the coaching staff is closer to a decision on their quarterback than they are probably letting on publicly. Still, the public at large is no closer to knowing whether it will be Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank or Taylor Kelly running the show. Each has their own unique skill sets, but fans are calling for Eubank, who many have dubbed a Cam Newton replica.

2. Magee back? The return of linebacker Brandon Magee, who was limited in spring as he continues to recover from a torn Achilles that kept him out of 2011, would be a monumentally huge step in the right direction for the Sun Devils. And for Graham. Magee is not only a talented linebacker, he's a locker room guy who commands the respect of his teammates. They'll usually step in line with him. And if he's good to go, it would be a big step for the Sun Devils on and off the field.

3. New offense, new(er) receivers: Jamal Miles returns as the second-leading receiver (60 catches) and is a dynamic player, but there isn't a ton of experience at the position as the Sun Devils said goodbye to five scholarship receivers. Projected starters Rashad Ross and Kevin Ozier combined for just 29 catches between them last season. J.J. Holliday, A.J. Pickens and Kevin Anderson all figure to be in the mix as well. Plus there are more coming with the recruiting class and their impact remains to be seen.

California spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
10:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 7-6
2011 conference record: 4-5 (4th, North)
Returning starters: offense: 6; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners
WR Keenan Allen, QB Zach Maynard, RB Isi Sofele, CB Marc Anthony, LB Chris McCain, CB Steve Williams

Key Losses
OT Mitchell Schwartz, WR Marvin Jones, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB D.J. Holt, S Sean Cattouse

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)

Rushing: Isi Sofele* (1,322 yards)
Passing: Zach Maynard* (2,990 yards)
Receiving: Keenan Allen* (1,343 yards)
Tackles: Mychal Kendricks (107)
Sacks: Trevor Guyton (5)
Interceptions: Kendricks, Sean Cattouse, D.J. Campbell, Josh Hill*, Steve Williams* (2)

Spring answers

1. Maynard is better: Quarterback Zach Maynard was inconsistent last year. Though he finished the regular season strong, he faltered in the Holiday Bowl loss to Texas. Some thought he might get challenged this spring, but it never happened. The good news is that it didn't happen because Maynard played better. He seemed more comfortable and in control. That's a big plus to take into the summer.

2. Young promise on D: Cal took some hits on its defense, losing six starters, including linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was only the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. So why no panic? Well, the young talent on the Bears defense, collected from consecutive strong recruiting classes on that side of the ball, might be the best in the conference. The post-spring two-deep included 11 players who were sophomores or younger, and that doesn't include some guys who are certain to help, such as noseguard Viliami Moala.

3. Backfield is deep: The Bears get 1,300-yard rusher Isi Sofele back, but he's going to be in a battle with C.J. Anderson to retain his starting job this fall. Behind them are speedy Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Darren Ervin. There is not shortage of guys to help maintain balance on offense.

Fall questions

1. Who's to receive? The post-spring depth chart didn't even bother to list backup receivers. There was Keenan Allen on one side and there was Maurice Harris on the other and that was it. The incoming class of receivers is strong. That's fortunate. The Bears need at least two or three of them to be ready to contribute immediately.

2. LB pecking order? At the beginning of spring, the two inside linebackers were seniors Robert Mullins and J.P. Hurrell. At the end, Hurrell was listed behind Mullins and sophomore Nick Forbes was the second starting inside linebackerB. Sophomore David Wilkerson is behind Forbes, and he was moved from the outside, where he started last year. It didn't seem like he was moved in order to become a backup. Senior Dan Camporeale is No. 1 at one outside linebacker, but he'll have to hold off a charge from the youngsters, such as redshirt freshman Nathan Broussard. In fact, there are a lot of young guys who could make a move this fall, displacing older players.

3. Specialists? The Bears are replacing both punter Bryan Anger, who was good enough to get picked in the third round of the NFL draft, and kicker Giorgia Tavecchio. Junior Vince D'Amato may have the edge at kicker, while incoming freshman Cole Leininger already is listed as the punter. Still, replacing both specialists can sometimes prove frustrating.

Colorado spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
10:00
AM ET
2011 overall record: 3-10
2011 conference record: 2-7 (T 5th, South)
Returning starters: Offense: 4; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
OT David Bakhtiari, DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, LB Jon Major, LB Doug Rippy, S Ray Polk

Key Losses
QB Tyler Hansen, RB Rodney Stewart, WR Toney Clemons, WR Paul Richardson (injury), DE Josh Hartigan

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)

Rushing: Rodney Stewart (854 yards)
Passing: Tyler Hansen (2,883 yards)
Receiving: Toney Clemons (680 yards)
Tackles: Jon Major* 85
Sacks: Josh Hartigan (7)
Interceptions: Jason Espinoza (2)

Spring answers

1. Center of attention: No, not QB. Center! Gus Handler won the No. 1 spot at center, which allowed Daniel Munyer to move guard. The offensive line is promising.

2. Mi Kasa es su Kasa: Wow, that was bad. Apologies. There was a significant void at tight end entering spring, which surely chagrined a former CU TE, coach Jon Embree. But Nick Kasa emerged this spring as a guy who could be a solid offensive weapon. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound senior, a converted defensive end, is physical enough to help the running game but also should help the passing game.

3. Replacing Rodney: While RB Rodney Stewart wasn't big, he played a big role for the Buffaloes for four years. He was solid as a runner, receiver and blocker. So who steps in to replace him? That would be Tony Jones, who is firmly No. 1 on the depth chart after a strong spring when he showed he also could be a versatile weapon for the offense.

Fall questions

1. Who's the QB? Connor Wood was given a great opportunity to take hold of the starting QB job this spring but he wasn't consistent, which means things remain open. Nick Hirschman will be a contender in the fall after sitting out the spring with a foot injury. Or maybe incoming freshman Shane Dillon will jump to the fore. And perhaps Jordan Webb, a former Kansas starter, will complete his transfer to Boulder. Things are wide open.

2. Youngsters on D-ine: The spring verdict wasn't good on the D-line, at least other than end Chidera Uzo-Diribe and DT/DE Will Pericak. That means there will be plenty of opportunities for the eight incoming D-linemen to get into the rotation or even start.

3. Secondary concerns: The coaches like Ray Polk at safety. Parker Orms can help if he can stay healthy. Greg Henderson got a lot of experience starting as a true freshman at cornerback. But the secondary was a problem for the Buffs last year and could be again in 2012. That said, there are four incoming freshmen corners who could significantly bolster the athleticism in the back half, particularly highly rated Yuri Wright and Kenny Crawley.

Oregon spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
9:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 12-2
2011 conference record: 8-1 (T 1st, North)
Returning starters: offense: 5; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
RB Kenjon Barner, WR/RB De'Anthony Thomas, LB Michael Clay, DE Dion Jordan, DT Taylor Hart, S John Boyett, CB Terrance Mitchell

Key Losses
RB LaMichael James, QB Darron Thomas, WR Lavasier Tuinei, OG Mark Asper, TE David Paulson, ROV Eddie Pleasant, LB Josh Kaddu

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)

Rushing: LaMichael James (1,805 yards)
Passing: Darron Thomas (2,761 yards)
Receiving: Lavasier Tuinei (599 yards)
Tackles: John Boyett* (108)
Sacks: Dion Jordan* (7.5)
Interceptions: Eddie Pleasant (3)

Spring answers

1. QB Marcus Mariota is legit: While folks had been praising Mariota for a while, there was still a general feeling that the QB job was Bryan Bennett's to lose. Turns out it might be Mariota's to win. He was lights-out in the spring game, significantly outplaying Bennett, who seemed ruffled by the situation (and his notably weaker supporting cast). Any doubt this is a legit competition is gone now.

2. Taylor Hart is probably the guy at DE: The Ducks appear, like many Pac-12 teams, to be moving toward a base 3-4 defense. That made filling a void at defensive end a bit easier, as tackle Taylor Hart moves over to the spot where Terrell Turner played. Hart is an underrated player with skills to play both inside and outside.

3. Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso are ready for their closeups: Jordan and Alonso are two of the more physically talented Ducks. Jordan, first-team All-Pac-12 in 2011, is a contender for conference Defensive Player of the Year and he could play his way into the first round of the NFL draft. While he looks skinny, he's powerful. Alonso is just a beast -- one who also happens to be a very good athlete. Coordinator Nick Aliotti said both were dominant this spring.

Fall questions

1. Who's the QB? While Mariota won the day in the spring game, that doesn't mean he's going to win the starting job. After all, it was just one practice and we have no idea what happened during the other 14 because Ducks' practices are closed. It's possible Chip Kelly will wait until the week before the opener against Arkansas State to name a starter.

2. Who gets Pleasant? Aliotti said replacing rover Eddie Pleasant is his biggest concern. That make sense because Pleasant really grew into the position last year. It appears that Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson are the top two choices to play next to free safety John Boyett. Erick Dargan is another possibility.

3. Is Byron Marshall ready? Due to recent defections, Tra Carson most notably this offseason, the Ducks are thin at running back behind Kenjon Barner. While De'Anthony Thomas can carry the ball out of the backfield, he seems a better fit as a hybrid RB/WR. You don't want to expose him to 20 hits a game coming out of the backfield. Touted incoming freshman Byron Marshall could solve some problems if he's ready to win the backup job. It seems unlikely he redshirts.

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