Pac-12: Beanie Wells

The view from the other side of Ohio State-USC

September, 12, 2008
9/12/08
1:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg has been in Columbus with the Buckeyes all week, while I've been in Los Angeles. It seemed like we should catch up.

Ted Miller: Folks over here in beautiful Southern California are feeling pretty confident -- read: really confident -- about their Trojans' chances to not only beat but whip Ohio State. What's the feeling over there in the Midwest?

Adam Rittenberg: The feeling here in flyover country is a little more tense. Something to do with a big toe. But they're confident that "Little Animal," AKA James Laurinaitis, and the Buckeyes defense will give Mark Sanchez some trouble on Saturday night. You sounded pretty pumped up the other day after actually getting to watch USC practice. What stood out during the Trojans' workouts?

Ted Miller: What stood out? How good the Trojans look. These guys pass the sight test. Of course, Ohio State would too ... if Jim Tressel let you Big Ten folks into the super-secret football sanctum. Anyway. What caught my eye was 1) Mark Sanchez; 2) Joe McKnight. Sorry to stick with the fancy guys, but Sanchez was sharp this week and he's obviously fired up about leading the Trojans. As for McKnight, he's got the sort of speed and elusiveness that he stands out among a team loaded with fast, elusive guys. So let me ask ... Is Beanie going to play? All the USC folks say yes.

Adam Rittenberg: My sense is he'll play, but probably not much, 5-10 carries. The fact he was still so sore from taking 20 "carries" with no contact in Wednesday night's practice suggests there's still plenty to risk by leaving him out there too long. He obviously gives that offense a ton of confidence and let's be honest, Ohio State needs to win this one to get back to the national title game. But this guy, despite his size, can be labeled injury prone at this point, and Jim Tressel might not want to gamble again. Speaking of injuries, what's the latest on the USC front? Cushing? Hazelton?

Ted Miller: USC has notable bumps and bruises but it appears that nothing will keep guys from playing -- at least initially. WR Vidal Hazelton practiced yesterday and looked OK -- Pete Carroll said he was "behind" in terms of the game plan. LB Brian Cushing has a bum wrist and hip -- he gets nicked a lot -- but he should be a go. LB Rey Maualuga is wearing protection on his hand and briefly sat out with a hyperextended elbow Thursday but he returned to practice. This is a healthy team. So, let's say Wells is limited: Does that mean the game is in Todd Boeckman's hands and the Buckeyes will have to throw to win? And is Boeckman ready to post that signature performance?
 
Adam Rittenberg: Boeckman needs a huge performance in what will be the defining game of his career to this point. He admitted the timing was off with his top wide receivers, Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, last week against Ohio. That simply can't happen for Ohio State to keep up with USC. Boeckman doesn't exude a ton of personality, which might be good or bad. He could be a steadying force for an offense going through adversity or a guy lacking in leadership skills. Then again, we could see a ton of Terrelle Pryor on Saturday, especially with Wells limited. How about the other quarterback in this game, Mark Sanchez? Great numbers in the first game, but c'mon, it's Virginia. Is he ready for an elite defense like the Buckeyes?
 
Ted Miller: That's a good question. Sanchez got some playing experience last year when John David Booty was hurt -- most notably at Oregon -- but he has not faced an elite defense, other than every day in practice. Still, he hasn't faced anything like the pressure and soundness the Buckeyes will bring when the lights are on. My sense is the guy can't wait to show the world what he can do -- he's a very confident, charismatic guy. It's fun to watch him charm and work reporters. Moreover, the WRs, who underachieved last year, seem to have found their rhythm. If so, it's a talented, deep group. Let's talk speed. That's all we heard during the Buckeyes twin BCS title game face plants vs. the SEC. "Ohio State is slow." What's the feeling on that in Columbus? Exaggerated or true?
 
Adam Rittenberg: Man, it must be nice to be talking to players with personality. Why can't we all cover the Pac-10? OK, rant over. The speed thing is exaggerated, in my opinion. The NFL scouts who list Malcolm Jenkins as the top cornerback on their draft boards don't see a slow player. Same goes for Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman and many others. A bigger problem for Ohio State has been discipline, sticking to its assignments rather than trying to make the extraordinary play. The Buckeyes have lost their composure in the national title games, either with personal-foul penalties or blown assignments. I think the defense steps up for a while and makes it closer than some anticipate, but I can't see Ohio State winning this one on the road. I'll stick with my pick, 31-24 Trojans. You get the last word. What happens Saturday night?
 
Ted Miller: I had thought all summer I was going to pick Ohio State. Most people don't realize that the Buckeyes contending for a national title in 2007 was gravy. 2008 was supposed to be the year. The Buckeyes are seasoned and talented. But, I just can't pull the trigger. I'm sticking with my projection this week of 28-17 Trojans. I'm rooting -- hard -- for a good game. And I'd think we'd both salute these programs for showing the courage to play each other. Some so-called elite teams hide from showcase nonconference games like this.

Pac-10 Morning: USC offensive line will be challenged

September, 9, 2008
9/09/08
10:31
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Hope this weekend's game features more speed than my Internet connection in LA. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Noting USC's practice: 'Beanie Watch'

September, 8, 2008
9/08/08
10:51
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

LOS ANGELES -- USC coach Pete Carroll was his normal chipper self when he approached the post-practice gaggle of reporters.

"You want to begin with 'Beanie-watch' questions?" he quipped.

Well, er, yeah. What's your take on whether Ohio State's All-American tailback will play?

"We just figure the guy's playing," Carroll said. "I can't imagine that he won't. But on the other side of it, they showed three really good running backs last week. They're not short of running backs at all."

The Trojans are using 235-pound tailback Broderick Green and 225-pound Allen Bradford to simulate the 237-pound Wells, who's nursing a bum foot and sat out the Buckeyes' lackluster victory over Ohio on Saturday.

"Those guys run big and tough," Carroll said. "It gives us the feel."

More notes:

  • WR Vidal Hazelton didn't practice. He's still nursing a sprained ankle and could be termed questionable for Saturday's game.
  • LB Brian Cushing (wrist) and LB Rey Maualuga (hand) are both wearing protective casts, which might hamper their tackling against the Buckeyes.
  • Carroll was asked about the celebration penalty assessed on Washington QB Jake Locker. He went off on the stupidity of the rule for more than two minutes.
    "The game shouldn't be decided on that kind of situation," he said.
  • Ohio State receiver Ray Small told ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg that there is a "class" difference between the two schools. After Monday's practice, USC QB Mark Sanchez didn't have much to say in response. "It didn't really cross our minds," he said. "I didn't think too much about it. Too bad. Oh well."
  • The Orange County Register's Michael Lev broke down the Buckeyes game with Ohio over the weekend. Part I. Part II.

Pac-10 Morning: Unleash the hype! It's USC-Ohio State week

September, 8, 2008
9/08/08
9:44
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I'm going to celebrate these links by throwing a football high into the air.

  • USC coach Pete Carroll and his Trojans say they are not taking Ohio State's struggles against Ohio to heart. Carroll and Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel are not peas in a pod. Conquest Chronicles considers the Beanie Wells factor.
  • Arizona is 2-0... yeah, but ... The Wildcats also are showing offensive balance.
  • Arizona State's fans are thinking about Georgia, not this week's opponent, UNLV. That could be a mistake if the Sun Devils do the same thing. The offense is starting to look like the potent, diverse spread that Dennis Erickson has favored in the past.
  • Reflections on California's decimation of Washington State: 1. Cal is good. 2. WSU is bad. Here's how Jahvid Best becomes a Heisman Trophy candidate: 1. Cal wins. 2. Best piles up numbers.
  • Despite a dislocated shoulder, Oregon RB Jeremiah Johnson is expected to play at Purdue. Will the Boilermakers challenge the Ducks?
  • Not surprising a bit: Oregon State coach Mike Riley finds a way to spin the embarrassment at Penn State forward in a positive way. Season certainly isn't over for the Beavers. Some postgame notes here, including the unlikelihood of OG Jeremy Perry playing against Hawaii and RB Jacquizz Rodgers potentially passing Ryan McCants on the depth chart.
  • UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel found an interesting way to beat traffic so he could watch more prospects. Bruins Nation breaks down the visit to BYU.
  • Head of Pac-10 officials goes wet noodle and backs the officials who made that stupid celebration call against Washington QB Jake Locker. Bob Condotta offers a nice selection of links where people with common sense write about how stupid that call was. Oklahoma took Seattle's NBA team, now it's coming to whip its college football team.
  • Things can't get any worse for Washington State -- perhaps then they'll get better. It may be time for lineup changes. Will a trip to Baylor prevent the first 0-3 start since 1999?
  • Who's a winner. And a loser (here's a guess: Pac-10 officials)?

Afternoon Musings: Trojans rule, Sparky endures

September, 4, 2008
9/04/08
7:33
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I collected these despite the tragic circumstances of a jammed iPod.

  • USC's football monopoly isn't only about L.A., it's about all of college football. Consider this, pointed out by the Los Angeles Times' Adam Rose: The No. 1 ranked Trojans are nine weeks away from becoming the program that has spent the most weeks atop the AP poll.
  • Sparky is safe. This news should help all of us sleep tonight.
  • Ohio State RB Beanie Wells won't play this weekend against Ohio. Is he merely resting or really hurt?
  • UCLA notes, including a tidbit on QB Ben Olson throwing passes in practice in full gear with a walking boot on. Still smiling over the Bruins.
  • Washington State RB Dwight Tardy was a bright spot for the Cougars.
  • Oregon's big back LeGarrette Blount is still learning how to practice at the FBS level.
  • One week into the season, and BCS Guru has USC at No. 1, Oregon at 12, Arizona State at 17, UCLA at 22 and California at 23.
  • California is a writerly team. First, there's Coach Blogger, er, Tedford. Then there's Alex Mack, journalist. Hope Bears fans appreciate Tedford's commitment to connecting with them -- it's not like he wasn't already sleeping in his office.

Pac-10 Morning: Arizona in search of 2-0

September, 4, 2008
9/04/08
10:35
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

They say fans improve the most between week one and week two.

Pac-10 Morning: No more QB rotation for Cal

September, 3, 2008
9/03/08
10:06
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Anyone else believe the Pac-10 might be a little deeper than it was initially projected?

  • After Nate Longshore threw a pair of ill-advised interceptions during his brief playing time against Michigan State, California coach Jeff Tedford has decided that Kevin Riley is the exclusive QB. No more rotating, which is a good call, says Gary Peterson. Post-practice notes. More here.
  • Coach Mike Stoops on Arizona's defense: physical, good tackling. And that included the backups.
  • This might be a concern: After WR Chris McGaha nursed a pesky toe injury throughout the preseason, now WR Michael Jones, who caught six passes for 162 yards against Northern Arizona, is dealing with a strained Achilles tendon. Walk-on CB Pierre Singfield has broken through for Arizona State.
  • It's still uncertain who gets the QB call at Oregon with Justin Roper still sidelined with a concussion. Some notes.
  • In a big boost for Oregon State's defense, safety Al Afalava is back from suspension. Notes on Saint JoePa here and here. Is this a good time to play a ranked team on the road?
  • Stanford will need to challenge Arizona State's offensive line, And what about the Cardinal passing gameFirst-look Stanford and a feature on DT Ekom Udofia from an ASU perspective.
  • The lowdown on UCLA's injuries, including three senior starters on offense. Still, things are buzzing around the Bruins. The freshmen contributed. Beating Tennessee probably will help recruiting. But the work is far from done.
  • USC jumps to No. 1. What's up with Ohio State's Beanie Wells? USC's got its own injury issues, most particularly LB Rey Maualuga's finger.
  • The worst surprise for Washington at Oregon was the poor production from the offensive line and, ergo, the running game. The closest thing to a Huskies standout was true freshman TE Kavario Middleton.
  • Washington State remains hopeful but it doesn't help that another OL, guard Andrew Roxas, went down in Tuesday's practice with a right knee injury and will be out two games. However, Howie Stalwick's notebook includes this good news: "On a more encouraging note, projected starters Jeshua Anderson (wide receiver), Vaughn Lesuma (offensive tackle) and Reid Forrest (punter) all practiced after extended absences due to injury." More on injuries. The defense played fairly well against Oklahoma State.
  • Some SEC fans are coming to terms with the notion of respect. Dan Raley surveys the Pac-10, leading with speculation on Washington coach Tyrone Willingham's job status.

Pac-10 Morning: Ducks QB Roper should play Saturday

September, 1, 2008
9/01/08
10:26
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Seems like everyone outside of the state of Washington is smiling (you Beavers have surely recovered, right?)

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