Pac-12: Brady Camp
"They've been been up and down," Katz said. "A lot of teams have been up and down."
That's true. Take Katz's Beavers. They were good enough to win at No. 15 Arizona -- the Wildcats only loss -- but couldn't take care of business at Washington. The Huskies? They win at USC, but lose at home to Arizona State. The Sun Devils? They beat the Huskies but get drilled by Cal.
Cal? It blows out UCLA and Arizona State, but gets blasted by Nevada and USC.
The Bears are 4-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. They've lost nine of 11 to Oregon State and haven't beaten the Beavers since 2006. Last year, they got blown out 31-14 at home.
But this game feels like a pick 'em. Despite coming off a bye week, the Beavers are banged up. Receiver James Rodgers is done for the season with a knee injury, tight end Brady Camp (back) is out for Saturday and perhaps longer. Receiver Markus Wheaton (knee), center Alex Linnenkohl (ankle) and offensive guard Grant Johnson (neck) are expected to play but aren't 100 percent.
Cal has no significant injuries. Even its psyche has to feel better after it followed an embarrassing blowout loss to USC with a dominant effort against the Sun Devils.
Can't win on the road? Quarterback Kevin Riley dismissed that as just a "just a weird thing." And safety Sean Cattouse promised the Bears will find a solution.
"It's an issue that everyone knows amongst the team," he said. "So we're definitely going to get it fixed this week."
In last year's game, Beavers quarterback Sean Canfield picked the Bears apart, throwing for 342 yards, and H-back Joe Halahuni had a coming-out party with six catches for 128 yards. It's likely this go-around, however, that the Beavers are going to need more from their running games. Cal is too good at rushing the passer -- see 19 sacks -- to expect Katz to throw 39 times, as Canfield did in Berkeley.
That means the Beavers need to get Jacquizz Rodgers going. Rodgers has been grumpy -- in his mellow, mostly good natured way -- about the running game this year. While he's averaging a solid 103.5 yards rushing per game and has scored 10 TDs, the rushing offense as a whole ranks ninth in the Pac-10 with just 120.7 yards per game. Blocking has been an issue.
It's clear that Rodgers has Cal coach Jeff Tedford's attention. Consider this laudatory scouting report.
"When you talk about jump cuts -- jump cuts are when you're in the hole and you can jump sideways and then go forward very quickly-- he's a master at that," Tedford said. "So if you're in front of him and he jumps sideways on you, you've got to get on him right away or he will spurt through a hole and be gone. You just can't arm-tackle the guy. He is built low to the ground and very strong, and then when he gets in the open field he has great speed. You can never go to sleep on him. You can never relax and think he's down because he'll come spurting out of there and take it the distance."
If Oregon State (3-3) manages to win, it will improve to 3-1 in Pac-10 play. The win over Arizona and remaining games with Stanford and Oregon mean that the Beavers, if they won out, could still win the Pac-10.
That might be a reach for a team that lost to Washington. But the Beavers have been here before and started a late-season run that few saw coming.
As for Cal (4-3, 2-2), a win at Oregon State -- a second consecutive win, a road victory -- might indicate the Bears are finding some consistency. They play host to both Oregon and Stanford on back-to-back weekends (Nov. 13 and 20) down the stretch.
So who knows? The unpredictable teams in the Pac-10 could create chaos in the conference. A good candidate to do that probably will be the winner in Corvallis on Saturday.
Here's the list (you can see the entire watch list here):
Joe Halahuni, Oregon State
Konrad Reuland, Stanford
Kavario Middleton, Washington
Anthony Miller, California
For one, Middleton got kicked off the Huskies. Second, Halahuni plays H-back -- Brady Camp is listed as the Beavers starting tight end. Finally, Reuland has yet to beat out Coby Fleener to be Stanford's starting tight end.
Anyway, it was good of the award to seek a Pac-10 presence for a down position in the conference this year.
The award recipient is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 9.
Middleton, by the way, was named preseason first-team All-Pac-10 by Phil Steele, even though he only caught 26 passes last year and was being challenged for the starting job by Chris Izbicki.
Only four teams welcome back their starting tight end, and only one -- California's Anthony Miller -- even earned honorable mention all-conference honors.
Why is the position down? Attrition after an "up" season. Consider the departed: Arizona's Rob Gronkowski, Oregon's Ed Dickson, Stanford's Jim Dray, UCLA's Logan Paulsen and Ryan Moya and USC's Anthony McCoy. Those guys are now stocking NFL rosters.
So where do things stand? Well, you might say we graded the position on a curve, though there is plenty of potential here.
- California: Miller was the Bears' third-leading receiver last year. Six-foot-7 sophomore backup Spencer Ladner saw action in seven games.
- UCLA: While the Bruins lost their top two TEs, they look solid here with Cory Harkey, Notre Dame transfer Joseph Fauria and hybrid TE-WR Morrell Presley.
- Stanford: Even though the Cardinal lost Dray, Coby Fleener was their top pass-catcher at the position, and the depth is good with Konrad Reuland, Zach Ertz and 6-foot-8 Levine Toilolo.
- Oregon State: The Beavers get credit here for H-back Joe Halahuni, who caught 35 passes for 486 yards and three TDs in 2009. Senior Brady Camp is a good blocker with 18 career starts.
- Oregon: The Ducks lose Dickson, but David Paulson saw extensive action in 2009 and JC transfer Brandon Williams was impressive this spring.
- Arizona: Gronkowski's back injury made A.J. Simmons the season-long starter, so the Wildcats are at least experienced. Redshirt freshman Jack Baucus is the backup.
- Washington State: The Cougars' depth chart lists five TEs, with Skylar Stormo and Zach Tatman offering experience at the top.
- USC: Attrition and injuries make this a questionable position for the Trojans. If Blake Ayles and Rhett Ellison stay healthy, things should be OK. The incoming freshman class is strong, starting with Xavier Grimble, who ranked No. 1 at the position, according to ESPN Recruiting.
- Washington: With Middleton, the Huskies would have been in great shape. Izbicki had a good spring, but he only caught three passes for 7 yards in 2009 and the depth is questionable.
- Arizona State: Jovon Williams is gone and Dan Knapp is a tackle, but the Sun Devils could move up here just because the position figures to be more involved in the offense in 2010. Trevor Kohl and Christopher Coyle top the depth chart.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
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- Oregon got a commitment from a versatile lineman.
- Meet Oregon State tight end Brady Camp.
- Autograph session Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
- Previewing UCLA's offense.
- The most highly touted quarterback remaining on the recruiting board will choose between USC, Tennessee and Florida this week. A former Trojan turns to boxing. And guess who's tweeting again!
- Guessing the spreads of Washington's schedule.
- Revisiting -- and replaying -- the 1998 Rose Bowl... Does Washington State win this time?
- A consideration of the art of nonconference scheduling.
- The Pac-10's best quarterbacks this decade.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
It's not completely accurate to call it feast or famine at the tight end this spring in the Pac-10.
Washington, California, Stanford, etc. will insist they've got a wealth of talent at the position, despite the lack of returning production.
But in trying to evaluate a position, it seems best to stick with what is proved over what is potential. So there doesn't seem to be much middle ground here.
- Arizona: It's always nice to have back a certain preseason All-American, which is what the Wildcats have in future first-round draft pick Rob Gronkowski. It's also nice to have all four names on last season's depth chart at tight end and H-back coming back in 2009.
- UCLA: Ryan Moya earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2008, but he wasn't even the No. 1 tight end entering the season. That would be Logan Paulsen, who returns this spring after missing last year with a broken foot. And there's talented sophomore Cory Harkey. And touted true freshman Morrell Presley, who's enrolled and will participate in spring practices.
- Oregon: Ed Dickson was second-team All-Pac-10 -- yes, tied with Moya -- in 2008, and his athleticism makes him an NFL prospect. And this depth chart lists eight guys at the position heading into spring.
- USC: Is it possible for a USC player to be underrated? Yes. Let me introduce you to Anthony McCoy, who caught 22 passes for 256 yards last year. Toss in talented sophomore Blake Ayles -- nagging injuries limited him in 2008 -- and you've got two big targets for whoever wins the quarterback job.
|AP Photo/Elaine Thompson|
|Rob Gronkowski hauled in 47 receptions for 672 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008.|
- Oregon State: The good news is all five names on the 2008 depth chart at tight end and H-back are back. The less excited news is those guys combined for 29 receptions. Can the combination of Howard Croom and Brady Camp become more than just solid?
- Stanford: Starter Austin Gunder, the Cardinal's third-leading receiver in 2008, is gone, but his 17 receptions were just four more than backup Coby Fleener. Notre Dame transfer Konrad Reuland also figures to be firmly in the mix this spring. And, curiously, Stanford signed four tight ends during the recruiting season, though they won't be around until the fall.
- California: Cameron Morrah, the Bears second-leading receiver, surprised many when he opted to enter the NFL draft a year early. That was a hit. But backup Tad Smith is a good blocker -- just three receptions in 2008 -- and many are high on sophomore Anthony Miller, who caught the winning touchdowns pass in the Emerald Bowl victory over Miami (though that was his only reception of the season).
- Arizona State: There are a lot of names here but little certainty -- see just seven combined receptions among returning players. Sophomore Dan Knapp looked good before getting hurt. Redshirt freshman Steven Figueroa could be a factor. Senior Jovon Williams saw a lot of action last year. Touted freshman Christopher Coyle arrives in the fall.
- Washington: If sophomore Kavario Middleton, a touted but physically undeveloped 2008 recruit, has been working hard in the weight room, he could become one of the conference's breakout players. Behind him are sophomore Chris Izbicki and JC transfer Dorson Boyce.
- Washington State: The top two names from the 2008 depth chart -- Devin Frischknecht and Ben Woodard -- are gone. Senior Tony Thompson had four catches last year. Touted JC transfer Peter Tuitupou, tabbed as the starter when he signed, shocked the staff by opting to go on a two-year church mission. There's hope that Zach Tatman, a former walk-on offensive lineman, might be able to step in. Perhaps some young guys will step up.