Pac-12: Blake Kerley

After being MIA this spring, these guys need to step up

May, 21, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Guys get hurt, need surgery and time to rehab. Or they get suspended. Or they need some, er, extra time to work on their grades.

In other words, while their teammates are fighting -- and sweating -- to retain or win jobs, they stand on the sidelines watching. Or sitting on a stationary bike. Or dressed in a red jersey.

Still, most fans pencil them into the lineup, worry-free.

To which we say: We shall see.

C Blake Kerley & OT Phillip Garcia
: Kerley had started 29 games before injuring his knee last year, and in his absence Colin Baxter entrenched himself at center. Garcia is an intriguing talent who was limited this spring after knee surgery. Both of these guys could fight into the starting lineup. Or they could provide capable depth. Or they could stand on the sidelines.

OT Matt Hustad: Hustad, a sophomore, is athletic and physical and if he were healthy he'd find a spot on the Sun Devils' beleaguered offensive line. But after two years of knee issues that's starting to become a significant "if."

RB Jahvid Best
: We know, we know. Jahvid's fine! Foot and elbow surgery? No worries. That hip issue last year? Didn't look like it hurt him in 2008, did it? All is well. Heisman Trophy here we come ... wheee! But, honestly, Cal fans, aren't you eager to read about him practicing again?

RB LaMichael James: James' potential is beguiling. He's the lightning -- taking Jeremiah Johnson's place -- to match with LeGarrette Blount's thunder in the backfield. But he missed spring with a shoulder injury and he'll need to prove himself in the fall.

QB Lyle Moevao
: Moevao "Wally Pipped" Sean Canfield last year, and it appears Canfield might return the favor this fall. Moevao missed the spring after shoulder surgery -- just like Canfield last year -- and he's fallen behind Canfield in the quarterback competition because of that -- just like Canfield last year. Of course, Moevao is a scrapper, so counting him out might be a mistake.

OT Allen Smith
: Smith and his pesky patella, which killed his 2008 season and which he re-injured this spring. He's an NFL talent, and he could answer a lot of questions on the Cardinal offensive line, but he's got to stay healthy and it doesn't appear that he can.

TB Christian Ramirez
: The Bruins' coaches must love Ramirez because he still tops the depth chart after being academically ineligible last year and being limited most of spring with a bum hamstring. With two other tailbacks already opting to transfer, the pressure is on Ramirez to reward his coaches' faith.

TB Joe McKnight
: McKnight sat out practice with injuries (skip). McKnight sat out practice with injuries (skip). McKnight sat out practice with injuries (skip). Hey, he's a great talent, but my biggest memory of him last year wasn't a play -- it was of him sitting in a golf cart watching practice. Did they bring the golf cart back this spring?

S Jason Wells
: Remember this guy, Husky fans? I didn't until Seattle Times beat writer Bob Condotta reminded me. He's a two-year starter who suffered a knee injury in 2007 that killed his 2008 season and then missed spring with an Achilles injury. The Huskies have a lot of issues in their secondary and Wells could help. If he's healthy, that is.

DT Bernard Wolfgramm
: The JC transfer redshirted last year yet was listed as a starter on the pre-spring depth chart. But he's had persistent back issues, which limited him this spring, so it's hard to say what he could give the Cougars in 2009. And they really need some help on the defensive line, so Wolfgramm's health is a critical issue.

Center of attention

October, 20, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

The Pac-10 is popularly known as the "Conference of Quarterbacks." This year, that's been changed to "The Conference of Injured Quarterbacks."

But one position has shone in this offensive-minded league that isn't terribly offensive-minded this year.


It's possible the All-Pac-10 First-Team will feature three and maybe four centers.

Seven conference centers are on the 44-man watch list for the Rimington Trophy.

Most folks know about California's Alex Mack and Oregon's Max Unger. Both are All-American candidates -- Phil Steele made both Second-Team Midseason All-Americans -- and are likely first-day picks in the NFL draft this spring. Mack may even go in the first round.

But I'm not sure that either of them is playing any better than Stanford's Alex Fletcher, who's the unquestioned leader of the Cardinal line, which is the conference's best run-blocking unit.

And USC sophomore Kristofer O'Dowd is a future All-American who will be hard to keep off the All-Conference team.

Toss in Washington's Juan Garcia, who was second-team All-Pac-10 last year, and Arizona's Blake Kerley, who was knocked out for the year in game four because of a knee injury, and Washington State's Kenny Alfred, who's having a good season on a terrible team, and you've got extraordinary depth at one position.

Too bad "Conference of Centers" isn't very catchy.

Arizona loses center Kerley for the season

September, 23, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

Arizona's defense is going to use its bye week to prepare for Washington QB Jake Locker, but the Wildcats' offense faces an even more challenging task of breaking in a new center.

Coach Mike Stoops told reporters that he is "99 percent sure" that Blake Kerley is done for the year after he damaged the ACL in his left knee in the fourth quarter against UCLA on Saturday. Kerley, a junior, has been Arizona's starting center the past two seasons. He faces a nine- to 12-month recovery.

Sophomore Colin Baxter moved from left guard to replace Kerley against the Bruins and he will start there against the Huskies. Junior Mike Diaz will fill Baxter's spot.



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