Pac-12: Alex Lagemann
- Arizona quarterback Nick Foles says he's coming back in 2011 and won't enter NFL draft. It didn't take long for coach Mike Stoops to find a new defensive line coach.
- Arizona State AD Lisa Love is standing by Dennis Erickson. An interesting walk-on for the Sun Devils.
- California receiver Alex Lagemann won't play next fall. The Bears special teams weren't very good.
- This Colorado player is back on track and interested in playing quarterback -- that story also updates the Buffaloes coaching staff, which has a Pac-10 flavor. Fans have questions for new coach Jon Embree.
- To stay on top, Oregon coach Chip Kelly will need to upgrade recruiting reach. Oregon-Auburn families are split.
- Some Oregon State notes.
- UCLA signs a JC linebacker.
- USC has issues at linebacker heading into 2011.
- To have any hope against Boise State, Utah needs to rediscover its running game.
- Washington has plenty of motivation for the Holiday Bowl; Nebraska's motivation might be a work in progress. Some Huskies practice notes.
- Some Apple Cup highlights from a Washington State perspective. Some thoughts on the Cougars JC signings.
Why the competition? Though the Bears lost Verran Tucker and Nyan Boateng, they have fairly good experience at the position returning. The problem is that, other than junior Marvin Jones, they lack playmakers, which was abundantly clear this spring. Starting spots are wide open.
Candidates: Jones, Jeremy Ross, Alex Lagemann and Michael Calvin are returning players with game experience. The touted 2010 class includes five receivers: Keenan Allen, Coleman Edmond, Tevin Carter, Kaelin Clay and Terrance Montgomery.
The skinny: Lagemann got most of the first-team action opposite Jones this spring. The junior has 12 career receptions. Ross, a senior, has caught only two touchdown passes. Calvin's promising career has been hurt by injuries. He caught just one pass for the Bears in 2009. So, suffice it to say, that there are opportunities here for the freshmen to play, particularly Allen, a dynamic athlete who was No. 33 on the ESPNU 150. In fact, the guess here is at least two freshman get into the regular rotation.
- More on Arizona's football series with the Roadrunners. Beep beep.
- Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden is starting to fulfill his potential.
- This California receiver is getting "Loggy" -- and that might lead to a music career. The Bears have hit the home stretch of spring practices: Are there any answers? The new defensive coordinator is well-traveled.
- Former Oregon football coach -- and athletic director -- Mike Bellotti mostly holds his tongue as he leaves for ESPN. But there is plenty to read between the lines. LaMichael James speaks about his bad moment.
- Checking in with Oregon State offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf on the quarterback competition. The Beavers lose one of their biggest backers. Taylor Henry tries to fill a void at defensive end.
- Ryan Whalen may be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's go-to guy. The spring game will be in San Francisco.
- UCLA's Joseph Fauria is a tight end and a comedian. The Bruins F-back isn't one sort of player.
- Former USC running back Reggie Bush will get his day in court, something he -- and probably USC -- never wanted. Lane Kiffin is not afraid to shake things up.
- Washington running back Chris Polk is sitting out spring but will be ready in the fall. Former Huskies receiver Reggie Williams is getting another chance, perhaps his last one, in the NFL.
- A linebacker steps up for Washington State. Ryan Leaf comes clean in a surprisingly moving and articulate way.
To the notes.
Ty from Land of Oaks, Calif., writes: I have a question about California's defense. There has been a lot of talk in the media about the new coordinator going back to the 4-3. Some reports are claiming Cal will play a "hybrid" 3-4. What's the deal? Does [new Cal defensive coordinator Clancy] Pendergast think he doesn't have the personnel to stick with the 3-4? What does it mean for Cal's strong LB recruiting class? It seems to me that the LB commits were related to the opportunity to play in a 3-4 and showcase their skills in an "NFL" system. What is your take?
Ted Miller: I think folks are getting bogged down in football terms on this one. This story is a good explanation of what folks mean when they talk about "hybrid" defenses, but it's likely a stretch to say that's what Pendergast plans to adopt.
Pendergast is a long-time 3-4 guy. So my hunch is the base D will remain a 3-4. But coach Jeff Tedford wants more pressure on opposing quarterbacks -- just like many fans, he wasn't keen on the three-man rush. That could mean more blitzing from linebackers. It also could mean lining up a fourth big body on the line of scrimmage from time-to-time.
What Pendergast most wants to do is figure out how to best use his front-seven talent. It is far easier to recruit linebackers than dominant defensive tackles. That's why Tedford pushed the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in the first place. Considering the Bears recruiting focus of late, I'd be shocked if you saw a whole bunch of 4-3 this fall.
Jason from Oakland writes: Two questions about expansion, given that we take Utah and Colorado and split the two divisions up like a zipper (the only logical way to expand): 1) How will they decide who will go into which division? 2) What will the divisions be named?
Ted Miller: There are no givens with the expansion talk, but I know what you're saying.
The "zipper" split -- the idea of putting traditional rivals in opposite divisions -- does make sense because it ensures regular visits to California for the non-California teams -- critical for recruiting -- which wouldn't happen with a North-South divide.
My guess is the divide would be random, and controversy would ensue when one division ended up with, say, USC, Oregon and Cal. Or would folks be more bent, a few years into the future, getting stuck with UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford?
As for the division names... heck if I know. Should we have a contest here?
Pacific and Western? Ocean and Mountain? Stones and Beatles? Aniston and Jolie? Gates and Jobs?
Christopher from Midvale, Utah writes: Where do you place Oregon heading into the 2010 Season with all that has happened? Do you think they are still a preseason favorite for the Pac-10 and perhaps preseason top ten team in national rankings?
Ted Miller: With Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon was a clear Pac-10 favorite and top-10 team. Perhaps a top-five team. Without him, the Ducks are still a top-20 team and will get plenty of votes for first in the conference, though I'd rate them behind USC at this point.
I'm going to see some of Nate Costa and Darron Thomas this week. Considering how well coach Chip Kelly has done with his past quarterbacks -- Dennis Dixon and then Masoli -- I'm certainly not ready to write Oregon out of the Pac-10 or even national picture.
Oregon has a vast majority of the key pieces back from its Rose Bowl team. Masoli was a key piece, perhaps critical, but don't expect the Ducks to tumble in the conference standings. I'd be shocked if, when the smoke clears on the 2010 season, Oregon isn't at least in the top-three.
Gary from Portland writes: Yes, the fan and media tumult about Jeremiah Masoli continues...I am reading Jon Krakauer's book on Pat Tillman, "Where Men Win Glory." He recounts Tillman's life in great detail, including the startling account of Tillman being involved in a brawl his senior year of high school. He was charged with felony assault. Eventually, the charge was dropped to a misdemeanor, and he was found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail and 250 hours of community service. He served the entire sentence. Had the charge not been downgraded, he never would have been eligible for a scholarship from ASU. Tillman was so changed by the experience, he vowed to not only excel on the field -- but excel in the classroom as well. He graduated with a GPA just a tick below 4.0. And became a successful college and NFL player. Of course, this story has a sad ending, but it is a perfect example of how important second (or event third) chances can be to young men still grappling with the steep curve of maturity.
Ted Miller: Thanks for the note, Gary. Good point.
Jacob from Nashville writes: I came across a mixtape that Cal receiver Alex Lagemann just released a month or two ago. Check it out, it's pretty legit.
Ted Miller: It is. Here's a story on Lagemann's budding music career.
Read Part I here.
The offense as a whole has a lot of guys back: Where do you expect to see the most improvement this spring?
Jeff Tedford: We have some guys back but are still young in certain areas. We really have only two receivers who've had any significant game time: Marvin Jones and Jeremy Ross. Besides that, we're very, very young there. Our depth at tight end is very young after Anthony Miller. Our fullback is completely new and our tailbacks, after Shane [Vereen], all those guys are new. [Sophomore Covaughn DeBoskie] played a little bit but after him you have [sophomore Isi Sofele] and you have Dasarte Yarnway, who was hurt all last year and Trajuan Briggs who came in as a mid-year transfer as a freshman. So we're young. That's an issue for us. On the offensive line, some guys need to step up and get in the rotation as well. So I don't think of us as real experienced. I know we have a couple people back but we are not deep with experience.
Besides the obvious starters, who do you expect to step up on offense with a much bigger role than in 2009?
JT: Spencer Ladner at tight end is a guy who should do that. Brian Schwenke played as a true freshman last year on the offensive line. He's competing for a starting spot. Dominic Galas also on the offensive line. Our fullbacks are all new -- Will Kapp, Eric Stevens and John Tyndall. The receiving corps, we're going to have to rely on some guys who are coming in. Some of the recruits coming in who are going to have to be in the rotation. It would be nice to see Michael Calvin step up at receiver and be healthy. He's a guy who's been injured every year. Alex Lagemann continues to grow and develop [at receiver]. But we're going to have to count on some young guys at that position.
Were you surprised when defensive coordinator Bob Gregory left to become an assistant at Boise State?
JT: I was, yeah, I was surprised. I think it was a personal decision, about the time in his life with his kids and his family. It was a move to have some more time with his family. I was not expecting that. But everything happens for a reason. I think it's probably working out great for Bob, I'm sure he's happy where he is. And I think we really landed on our feet with Clancy [Pendergast]. He's been a great addition to our staff. I think everybody is happy about it.
What will be different with Pendergast running the defense?
JT: We're probably going to pressure the passer a little bit more. That was one thing we didn't do a great job last year was pressure the passer, which kind of lends to 111th-ranked in pass defense. You've got to disrupt the timing of the passing game. So to get more pressure on the passer will be key. That's going to be the obvious thing.
Give me some new names you expect to break through on defense this spring.
JT: Guys like linebacker Chris Little, noseguard Kendrick Payne, linebacker J.P. Hurrell, [defensive backs] Alex Logan and Steve Williams and Vachel Samuels and Chris Moncrease -- all those guys are back-end players I think are going to do a nice job. Deandre Coleman on the defensive line, Keni Kaufusi on the defensive line. Those guys are redshirts from last year who are really good players. We're really anxious to see those guys play.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan has a lot of potential: What does he need to do to fulfill that potential?
JT: To be able to cut him loose and get him one-on-one at times. I think he gets double-teamed quite a bit in a three-man rush with eight dropping and three rushing. I think if you can get Cam one-on-one, he will be much more effective. But I think his maturity -- his physical and mental maturity -- has been something that has been a work in progress. I think he is poised for a very good season.
It's likely you won't get as much preseason attention this fall: Do you think your team may benefit from operating under the radar? Do you think they might be motivated by some not seeing themselves at the top of the conference?
JT: Yeah, I do. I think that would be just fine -- for us to earn where we need to be and not just go off of on-paper stuff. That's going to be the mindset here. We're going to do everything we can everyday to reach our full potential, whatever that potential may be. We've got a lot of work to do. I think it will be motivating for us to strive to be at the top of the conference and not have all the press clippings. There's so many things out there and so many people patting you on your back and expectations that I think us just flying under the radar and saying, 'OK prove it.' That type of thing will be good. And we'll see where we go from there.
So, we present this year's Pac-10 All-Academic team, which is topped by three-time first-team selection Mike Nixon, the fine linebacker -- and former professional baseball player -- from Arizona State.
Last week, Nixon also was named a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. In addition to Nixon, nine other players were named to the Pac-10 academic team for the second time.
You also will notice that Stanford's Toby Gerhart, a top Heisman Trophy candidate, is a first-team member. Gerhart boasts a 3.25 GPA in management science & engineering, which sounds hard to me.
For those keeping score -- you always do -- Stanford has the most first-team members with eight. Washington State has five and Oregon State four. California has three, Oregon has two and Arizona State, UCLA and Washington have one apiece.
Neither Arizona nor USC had a first-team member.
To be eligible for selection, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant substitute.
To see the second-team and honorable mentions, click here.
Pos. Name, School Yr. GPA Major
- QB Andrew Luck, Stanford RFr. 3.55 Undeclared
- RB Josh Catron, Stanford Sr. 3.48 Economics
- RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford Sr. 3.25 Management Science & Engineering
- WR Casey Kjos, Oregon State (2) Jr. 3.63 Psychology & Sociology
- WR Alex Lagemann, California Jr. 3.68 Media Studies
- TE David Paulson, Oregon So. 3.68 Business Administration
- OL Mark Boskovich, California (2) Jr. 3.73 Political Science
- OL Micah Hannam, Washington State (2)Jr. 3.59 Civil Engineering
- OL Andrew Phillips, Stanford Jr. 3.53 Classics
- OL Chris Prummer, Washington State Jr. 3.88 Zoology
- OL Carson York, Oregon RFr. 3.70 Journalism
- DL Kevin Frahm, Oregon State So. 3.24 Political Science
- DL Kevin Kooyman, Washington State Sr. 3.16 Management & Operations
- DL Erik Lorig, Stanford Sr. 3.12 Public Policy
- DL Tom McAndrew, Stanford (2) Sr. 3.58 Science, Technology & Society
- LB Mike Mohamed, California (2) Jr. 3.43 Business Administration
- LB Mike Nixon, Arizona State (3) Sr. 4.07 Political Science
- LB Will Powers, Stanford (2) Sr. 3.48 Classics
- DB Victor Aiyewa, Washington (2) Jr. 3.36 Sociology
- DB Cameron Collins, Oregon State (2) So. 3.37 Business
- DB Jay Matthews, Washington State RFr. 3.68 Undeclared
- DB Chima Nwachukwu, Washington State (2)Jr. 3.79 Political Science
- PK Nate Whitaker, Stanford Jr. 3.38 Engineering
- P Jeff Locke, UCLA RFr. 3.69 Undeclared
- RS Taylor Kavanaugh, Oregon State Sr. 3.28 Construction Engineering
(3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Much of the talk during spring practices is about guys who are raising eyebrows, pushing for starting jobs or are on the cusp of breaking through.
Here are some of those guys.
Conan Amituanai, Arizona, OG: This 335-pound junior played well this spring and is expected to give the Wildcats flexibility up front as they fill some gaps. Most particularly, his emergence allows Mike Diaz to move out to left tackle, where he'd replace Eben Britton.
Clint Floyd, Arizona State, FS: This sophomore saw action in 2008 -- when he wasn't hurt -- and he's the guy who will replace the invaluable Troy Nolan.
Alex Lagemann, California, WR: Fellow receiver Marvin Jones got a lot of attention for his strong spring, but Lagemann also opened eyes. The sophomore could emerge if returning veterans don't rise to the challenge.
Eddie Pleasant, Oregon, LB: New coach Chip Kelly raved about his linebackers this spring, and Pleasant earned kudos for stepping in for the departed Jerome Boyd.
Suaesi Tuimaunei, Oregon State, S: The Beavers are rebuilding their secondary, with all four 2008 starters gone. While there are concerns at cornerback, Tuimaunei and sophomore Lance Mitchell are an upgrade athletically at the two safety spots, and some believe this position will be stronger next fall.
David DeCastro, Stanford, OG: This redshirt freshman earned good reviews and is almost certainly going to start on one of the guard spots.
Aaron Hester, UCLA, CB: Hester will need to show mental toughness because teams are going to target this redshirt freshman opposite Alterraun Verner.
Tyron Smith, USC, OT: The Trojans welcomed back all five 2008 starters on their offensive line. Smith wasn't one of them. The true sophomore is just too talented to sit.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: The Huskies need a receiver to emerge to complement D'Andre Goodwin. Kearse, a sophomore, could be the guy. Or maybe it will be fellow sophomore Devin Aguilar. Or both.
Skyler Stormo, TE, Washington State: The redshirt freshman had the best spring of any Cougar at the position and caught a couple of passes in the spring game. Showed promise blocking, too.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The main points:
- Kevin Riley continues to lead the quarterback competition because he's done nothing to lose his perch, nor have Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney done anything to advance ahead of him. Riley's lead, which will be contested again in fall practices, would be more decisive if Mansion hadn't rallied late in spring.
- Running back Jahvid Best, probably the West Coast's top Heisman Trophy candidate, is running again after elbow and foot surgeries. It appears he'll be ready to play by the beginning of fall practices.
- The competition at receiver will be intense in the fall, particularly after Marvin Jones and Alex Lagemann asserted themselves this spring. With Nyan Boateng, Verran Tucker and Jeremy Ross the leading returning players, and talented Michael Calvin returning from injury, there are six possibilities for primarily three lead spots.
- The defense generally dominated spring practices and this unit could end up as the best in the Pac-10, despite the loss of three of four starting linebackers. As for the LB corps, the plot may thicken there when a trio of touted JC transfers arrives in the fall, led by Ryan Davis.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
BERKELEY, Calif. -- There will be no thunder clap at the end of spring practice at California.
"There will be no key decisions made after spring ball on who the starter is," coach Jeff Tedford said.
At this point in the story, Tedford and new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig would hasten to add redshirt freshman Beau Sweeney into the mix, because that's what both did when only asked about Riley's and Mansion's progress.
Ludwig said he thought things would start to heat up during the first spring scrimmage Saturday, but it's clear he, too, isn't eager to reveal a pecking order, if there even is one.
So question No. 1 with the Bears isn't going to be answered anytime soon. (We had interesting chats with both quarterbacks and will post a story on that Friday.)
And, to be honest, this team doesn't have many questions other than that. Tedford listed fullback as his biggest concern.
"We didn't lose a lot," he noted.
Those three departed linebackers from the Bears 3-4? Worries are few about Eddie Young, Mychal Kendricks, Mike Mohamed and D.J. Holt. All four played last year, with Young and Mohamed logging starts.
Receiver? Everyone is back, so this will be a far more seasoned group than 2008. And there are new names -- youngsters and players returning from injuries -- making the list of potential contributors long.
Sophomore Marvin Jones? "He's a guy if you ask who stood out the first week, it was Marvin Jones," Tedford said.
Mansion praised sophomore Alex Lagemann, who also earned a note from Tedford. A couple of practice kibitzers expressed esteem for redshirt freshman Charles Satchell. Sophomore Michael Calvin, who's sitting out spring while still recovering from a knee injury that ended his 2008 season, might be the most talented of the lot.
Ludwig, meanwhile, gushed about the depth and athleticism at tight end.
Ludwig likes to talk about playing "pitch and catch." The Bears didn't do that very well last year, ranking seventh in the Pac-10 and 83rd in the nation in passing.
There seems to be plenty of catchers. The issue that likely will decide if Cal is a top-10 team is the pitcher.
Some other notes:
- Tedford's special project with Riley during the offseason was shortening the junior's throwing motion. After watching film of 2008, Tedford said that as the season wore on Riley developed a bigger wind-up that hurt his passing accuracy.
- While the secondary returns intact -- and was very good last year -- cornerbacks Josh Hill and Mark Anthony, both redshirt freshmen, have made an impression and could work their way into the rotation.
- It appears that Mike Tepper and monstrous sophomore Mitchell Schwartz, a budding star, are set at left and right tackle, and Chris Guarnero leads in the competition to replace Alex Mack at center. The prime competition is at the guards.
- Tedford raised a few eyebrows -- or was it panic? -- among Cal fans when he talked about running back Jahvid Best being out of his wheelchair. Best was in a wheelchair because he'd had both elbow and foot surgery, so he couldn't use crutches. Tedford said neither was a major procedure and he's confident Best will be 100 percent by the fall. "He's on track," Tedford said. "This week he's going to start running." Tedford added that it's actually been hard to keep Best in check: "He has so much energy bound up in him. Even with his boot on when he's out there, you'll see him start to jog and you'll go, 'Wait. Woooh. Are you supposed to be jogging in that boot?'"
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
A lot has been going on at California during the offseason.
|James Lang/US PRESSWIRE|
|Jeff Tedford is comfortable with the high expectations for his team entering the 2009 season.|
Accomplished offensive line coach Jim Michalczik left to become Washington's offensive coordinator -- and then bolted for a post with the Oakland Raiders. He was replaced by Steve Marshall.
And, finally, offensive coordinator coach Frank Cignetti, after just one season in Berkeley, was hired for the same post at Pittsburgh.
Coach Jeff Tedford then quickly replaced Cignetti with Andy Ludwig, who'd just been hired away from Utah by Kansas State.
With all the transition on the offensive coaching staff, Tedford decided to delay the start of spring practice by four days, with practices now beginning on March 14.
Still, it seemed like a good time to check in with Tedford and get his thoughts on things heading into spring.
First, tell us about new offensive line coach Steve Marshall: How might his approach be different than the man he replaced, Jim Michalczik?
Jeff Tedford: Steve brings some great experience and knowledge from some of his college stops -- Tennessee, Virginia Tech, UCLA -- and then moving into the NFL, so he brings a great deal of knowledge and experience from all different backgrounds of offense. It's a great fit for what we're doing. Being a two-back offense, he comes from that background. I think it's a natural fit for him and for us. I also think he's going to bring an added dimension to our offense. Anytime you get new guys coming in there are going to be new ideas.
Same with Andy Ludwig: What does he bring to the staff that might be different?
Tedford: Not a whole lot is different to tell you the truth because there is a lot of familiarity there in our backgrounds. He followed me [as offensive coordinator] at Fresno State; he followed me to Oregon. We've been in touch a lot over the years. And, obviously, being a guy who just went 13-0 at Utah and beating Alabama in the bowl game, there's a couple of things that he brings -- some spread concepts -- that we've dabbled in a little bit. But the familiarity of our offense to him; he's not starting from scratch. More than anything he's going to bring some stability to the offense.
Tedford: I don't think there are regrets. I just wish one of them would have taken it over. There were plenty of opportunities for one guy to take it over, here and there. But we didn't play consistently enough at that position for that to happen. We ended up having to go back and forth through the season.