Pac-12: Brett Bartolone

Washington State season preview

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
10:30
AM ET
Today we begin rolling out our day-by-day snapshots of each Pac-12 team heading into the 2013 season. We start in reverse alphabetical order with the Washington State Cougars.

Washington State

Coach: Mike Leach (87-52, 3-9 at Washington State)

2012 record: 3-9 (1-8, Pac-12 North)

Key losses: DE Travis Long, WR Marquess Wilson, QB Jeff Tuel, RB Carl Winston

[+] EnlargeMike Leach
Jake Roth/US PresswireMike Leach is hoping to see more improvement in his second season at Washington State.
Key returnees: WR Gabe Marks, WR Brett Bartolone, QB Connor Halliday, S Deone Bucannon, DT Ioane Gauta.

Newcomer to watch: WR Vince Mayle (JC transfer, Sierra College) is a big, physical receiver at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds. Despite an already-deep receiving corps, Mayle's presence ups the competition in an offense that favors receivers.

Biggest games in 2013: Aug. 31 at Auburn: We'll see what kind of progress the team made in the offseason and who will be the quarterback -- at least for one week. Nov. 29 at Washington: Last year's Apple Cup, a thrilling come-from-behind win for the Cougars, re-ignited the rivalry after the Huskies had won three straight.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The obvious question is who is going to be the quarterback -- Connor Halliday, Austin Apodaca or both? But it's the guys up front protecting the quarterback who are also cause for concern. Elliot Bosch is a steady anchor at center, and there is some depth across the line, if not uncertainty on who plays where. Last year the Cougars gave up more sacks per game than any team in the nation and were second to last nationally in interceptions thrown. A lot of that falls on the quarterbacks. But a lot also falls on the line. Improved line play should also boost the running game, which averaged just 29 yards per game (a bit misleading considering the total number of sacks allowed) and produced just six touchdowns on the ground.

Forecast: Expectations are a little more tempered heading into Year 2 of the Mike Leach era. This time last year, folks were talking postseason. And why not? Leach had never had a losing season as a head coach and had been to 10 straight bowl games. But it didn't work out that way, and people are starting to understand that it's going to take more than Leach being on the sidelines for this team to reach the postseason for the first time since 2003.

With that said, there is talent -- especially at wide receiver with Marks, Bartolone, Isiah Myers and a host of others. If the offensive line, coupled with more consistent quarterback play (presumably, for now, from Halliday), can reduce the sacks and buy more time, we could see the offense be even more explosive than last season when it averaged more than 330 yards per game in the air. The addition of former Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Yost to the coaching staff shouldn't go unrecognized, either.

While the defense yielded more than 33 points per game in 2012, the Cougars saw a major uptick in the pressure department in their first season running Mike Breske's 3-4 front. They jumped from 94th in sacks per game and 78th in tackles for a loss per game in 2011 to 11th and eighth, respectively, in 2012. They need to find a replacement for Long -- and it looks like Logan Mayes, once thought to be the "buck" linebacker in waiting, will focus his time specifically on defensive end. There is some experience in the secondary and Bucannon is a bona fide playmaker and one of the top safeties in a league heavy on safety talent.

It might take another season for the Cougars to really make a big push toward the postseason. But there should be significant signs of improvement as Leach's players come to understand what he demands of them and they continue to grow into the schemes. Last year 17 freshmen started regularly compared to just four seniors. That trial-by-fire experience should start to pay dividends.
On Monday we looked at what each team in the Pac-12 had returning in terms of the rushing game. Here's the breakdown for the South and the North.

Tuesday, we turned our attention to the wide receivers. We're looking at returning receiving yards, returning receptions and returning receiving touchdowns. The South came first; today we look at the North.

As a reminder, here's how the teams ranked last year in passing offense:
  1. Washington State
  2. Oregon State
  3. Arizona
  4. USC
  5. UCLA
  6. Arizona State
  7. Oregon
  8. Washington
  9. California
  10. Stanford
  11. Colorado
  12. Utah

Here's what the teams in the Pac-12 North have coming back.

California
  • Receiving yards in 2012: 2,499
  • Receptions in 2012: 212
  • Receiving touchdowns in 2012: 13
  • Returning yards: 1,465
  • Returning receptions: 118
  • Returning touchdowns: 6
  • Percentage of yards returning: 58 percent
  • Percentage of catches returning: 55 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 46 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Chris Harper, 544 yards, 41 catches, 2 TDs
  • Biggest statistical loss: Keenan Allen, 737 yards, 61 catches, 6 TDs
Oregon
  • Receiving yards in 2012: 2,888
  • Receptions in 2012: 250
  • Receiving touchdowns in 2012: 35
  • Returning yards: 2,376
  • Returning receptions: 204
  • Returning touchdowns: 31
  • Percentage of yards returning: 82 percent
  • Percentage of catches returning: 81 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 88 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: De'Anthony Thomas, 445 yards, 45 catches, 5 TDs
  • Biggest statistical loss: Kenjon Barner, 256 yards, 20 catches, 2 TDs

Fun fact: Oregon is the only team in the league (I'm not sure about the rest of college football) that returns a quarterback and an offensive linemen who return with touchdown "receptions." Jake Fisher fell on a fumble in the end zone, but because it came on a swing pass to Thomas, he gets credit for the receiving touchdown, but not the catch. And let's not forget the awesomely bizarre Bryan Bennett-to-Marcus Mariota connection.

Oregon State
  • Receiving yards in 2012: 3,992
  • Receptions in 2012: 315
  • Receiving touchdowns in 2012: 27
  • Returning yards: 2,513
  • Returning receptions: 199
  • Returning touchdowns: 13
  • Percentage of yards returning: 62 percent
  • Percentage of catches returning: 63 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 48 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Brandin Cooks, 1,151 yards, 67 catches, 5 TDs
  • Biggest statistical loss: Markus Wheaton, 1,244 yards, 91 catches, 11 TDs
Stanford
  • Receiving yards in 2012: 2,802
  • Receptions in 2012: 240
  • Receiving touchdowns in 2012: 19
  • Returning yards: 490
  • Returning receptions: 57
  • Returning touchdowns: 1
  • Percentage of yards returning: 17 percent
  • Percentage of catches returning: 23 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 5 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Ty Montgomery, 213 yards, 26 catches, 0 TDs
  • Biggest statistical loss: Zach Ertz, 898 yards, 69 catches, 6 TDs
Washington
  • Receiving yards in 2012: 2,767
  • Receptions in 2012: 266
  • Receiving touchdowns in 2012: 19
  • Returning yards: 2,643
  • Returning receptions: 251
  • Returning touchdowns: 17
  • Percentage of yards returning: 95 percent
  • Percentage of catches returning: 94 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 89 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Kasen Williams, 878 yards, 77 catches, 6 TDs
  • Biggest statistical loss: Cody Bruns, 103 yards, 13 catches, 2 TDs
Washington State
  • Receiving yards in 2012: 3,965
  • Receptions in 2012: 363
  • Receiving touchdowns in 2012: 23
  • Returning yards: 2,791
  • Returning receptions: 275
  • Returning touchdowns: 18
  • Percentage of yards returning: 70 percent
  • Percentage of catches returning: 75 percent
  • Percentage of touchdowns returning: 78 percent
  • Biggest statistical returner: Brett Bartolone, 435 yards, 53 catches, 4 TDs
  • Biggest statistical loss: Marquess Wilson, 813 yards, 52 catches, 5 TDs

Pac-12 2012 awards announced

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
5:50
PM ET
The Pac-12 conference has announced its 2012 individual honors and all-conference first and second teams as voted on by the coaches.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, DE, Arizona State.
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon.
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Williams, DE, USC.
Coach of the Year: David Shaw, Stanford.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Marcus Mariota, Fr., Oregon
RB Kenjon Barner, Sr., Oregon
RB Ka’Deem Carey, So., Arizona
WR Marqise Lee, So., USC
WR Markus Wheaton, Sr., Oregon State
TE Zach Ertz, Sr., Stanford
OL Hroniss Grasu, So., Oregon
OL Khaled Holmes, Sr., USC
OL Brian Schwenke, Sr., California
OL Xavier Su’a-Filo, So., UCLA
OL David Yankey, Jr., Stanford

SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Matt Scott, Sr., Arizona
RB Johnathan Franklin, Sr., UCLA
RB Stepfan Taylor, Sr., Stanford
WR Austin Hill, So., Arizona
WR Robert Woods, Jr., USC
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, So., Washington
OL Jeff Baca, Sr., UCLA
OL David Bakhtiari, Jr., Colorado
OL Sam Brenner, Sr., Utah
OL Kevin Danser, Sr., Stanford
OL Sam Schwartzstein, Sr., Stanford

FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Scott Crichton, So., Oregon State
DL Dion Jordan, Sr., Oregon
DL Star Lotulelei, Sr., Utah (2)
DL Will Sutton, Jr., Arizona State
LB Anthony Barr, Jr., UCLA
LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford
LB Chase Thomas, Sr., Stanford (2)
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, So., Oregon
DB Jordan Poyer, Sr., Oregon State
DB Ed Reynolds, Jr., Stanford
DB Desmond Trufant, Sr., Washington

SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Henry Anderson, Jr., Stanford
DL Morgan Breslin, Jr., USC
DL Ben Gardner, Sr., Stanford
DL Datone Jones, Sr., UCLA
LB Kiko Alonso, Sr., Oregon
LB Michael Clay, Sr., Oregon
LB Brandon Magee, Sr., Arizona State
DB Deone Bucannon, Jr., Washington State
DB Alden Darby, Jr., Arizona State
DB T.J. McDonald, Sr., USC
DB Nickell Robey, Jr., USC

FIRST-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Vince D'Amato, Jr., California
P Jeff Locke, Sr., UCLA
RS Reggie Dunn, Sr., Utah
ST Jordan Jenkins, Sr., Oregon State

SECOND-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Andrew Furney, Jr., Washington State
P Josh Hubner, Sr., Arizona State
RS Marqise Lee, So., USC
ST David Allen, Sr., UCLA

ALL-PAC-12 HONORABLE MENTION
NOTES
  • By School: OREGON and STANFORD placed the most players on the first team with five selections each, followed by OREGON STATE with four.
  • By Class: Of the 26 first-team selections, 14 are seniors, five are juniors, six are sophomores and one freshman.
  • Unanimous: Only one player was named on the first-team ballot of all 12 head coaches--WR Marqise Lee of USC.
  • Two-time selections: Two players are repeat first-team selections from last year--DT Star Lotulelei of Utah, LB Chase Thomas of Stanford.
  • All-Academic: Two players were named to the first team on both the All-Pac-12 Team and the Pac-12 All-Academic Football Team--P Jeff Locke of UCLA, OL Khaled Holmes, USC. In addition, OL Kevin Danser of Stanford, DL Ben Gardner of Stanford and Michael Clay of Oregon were named second-team All-Academic and second-team All-Pac-12.
Tags:

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Big night for Allen as Cal tops Wazzu

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
2:30
AM ET
The California Bears have themselves a winning streak.

Behind a huge game from standout wide receiver Keenan Allen, the Bears (3-4, 2-2) won their second consecutive game -- and their eighth straight over Washington State -- by downing the Cougars 31-17 in Pullman, Wash.

Allen caught 11 balls for 166 yards -- including a 69-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 7-0 lead -- to move up to No. 2 on Cal’s all-time reception list.

Quarterback Zach Maynard, who was coming off one of the best games of his career last week against UCLA, wasn’t quite as efficient this week. He did, however, complete 14 of 23 balls for 189 yards and a score with two interceptions. He also showed off his running ability, scrambling 10 times for 78 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown that stretched Cal’s lead to 21-3 early in the third quarter.

C.J. Anderson totaled 112 yards on 15 carries with a pair of scores as part of a 318-yard rushing night for Cal.

“I thought Zach made a lot of good reads and pulled it down for some positive yards,” Cal head coach Jeff Tedford told the Pac-12 Network after the game. “And the backs always run hard.”

For the Cougars (2-5, 0-4), who have now dropped four in a row, it was another inconsistent showing. Starting quarterback Connor Halliday was replaced by Jeff Tuel for the second week in a row after Halliday completed just 4 of 10 passes for 74 yards with two interceptions.

Tuel looked sharp at times, completing 30 of 53 balls for 320 yards with two touchdowns. Brett Bartolone hauled in both of Tuel’s touchdown passes. Isiah Myers led the Cougars -- who were without Marquess Wilson for the second half after he took a hard shot in the end zone -- with eight catches for 108 yards.

Oregon gains maturity in win

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
4:13
AM ET


SEATTLE -- The occasional bloody lip can be a good thing. A body blow -- while it might stun momentarily -- is sometimes just what the lungs need to suck in fresh air.

And for 30 minutes Saturday night at CenturyLink Field, the Washington State Cougars swung and clawed and took their best shots at the No. 2 team in the country. They went for it on fourth down. They tried an onside kick. On offense, they attacked at the heart of their opponent and on defense they blitzed without fear or consequence.

And for a period -- a brief period, mind you -- the Oregon Ducks had a little blood on their lips.

But the Ducks calmly reached up, wiped it away, and delivered a potent and dismissive second-half performance en route to a 51-26 victory.

This was a good thing, because it’s only going to get harder for the Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12). Unlike their nonconference blowouts, things are a little tougher in the Pac-12. The athletes are a little faster and they hit a little harder. So facing a bit of an adversity is just what a team in the midst of a national title run could use.

“Absolutely,” said Oregon running back Kenjon Barner. “With our team, we know we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. Credit to Washington State because they played a great first half. They did everything you are supposed to do in that first half. They just did a great job. But we’re a strong-willed team and we know when we execute and do what we’re supposed to do, it’s hard to stop us.”

Barner got the Ducks going early. After the defense forced a three-and-out on Washington State’s first possession, Oregon calmly marched 50 yards in four plays, ending with a 22-yard Barner run -- the first of his three rushing touchdowns on the night. The Ducks cruised out to a 20-3 lead and it looked like another sleepwalk.

But the Cougars didn’t fold as others have. Carl Winston added a 2-yard touchdown run to Andrew Furney’s 18-yard field goal to make it 20-9 after the missed PAT. Then Brett Bartolone caught a 26-yard touchdown from Connor Halliday midway through the second quarter following a 34-yard field goal from Oregon’s Rob Beard. It was 23-19 and the folks at CenturyLink were thinking another upset could be possible -- following Washington’s stunner Thursday night over No. 8 Stanford.

[+] EnlargeOregon's Kenjon Barner
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesKenjon Barner rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came in the second half.
“We battled away,” said Washington State coach Mike Leach. “Some of our field goals should have been touchdowns. We gave them two relatively easy touchdowns early. I think if we played with more control, we wouldn’t have. We played pretty courageously throughout the rest of it.”

And with less than four minutes to play in the half, Washington State drove inside the red zone and looked poised to, at the very least, make it a one-point game. That’s when the Oregon defense really broke loose.

Three consecutive sacks (Dion Jordan, Michael Clay and Wade Keliikipi) put the Cougars out of field goal range and shifted the momentum heading into the locker room.

“We understood that they gave us their best shots,” said Jordan. “So the second half we went out and focused on going out and trying to finish the game. Guys made big plays … it was wonderful.

“We knew they were going to keep fighting and they weren’t going to change much in what they were doing. We just had to turn up the dial as a team and as a unit and that’s what guys did. We got after it and played smart football.”

And therein lies the maturity of the Ducks. They opened the second half with a grinding, 18-play drive (their longest since last year’s game against LSU, when they had a 19-play drive) that went 76 yards and took up 6 minutes, 20 seconds. De'Anthony Thomas capped the march with a 4-yard touchdown.

“We knew we were going to get the ball to beginning of the second half and that first drive was going to be key for us to set the tone for what we wanted to do,” said Oregon coach Chip Kelly. “Everybody contributed and made plays. I thought we were balanced. They made us work for it. Give them credit. I thought defensively they had a good plan and it took us a while to get on the right track.”

When the Cougars finally did get back on the field, the drive was ended when Avery Patterson intercepted Halliday and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown and a 37-19 advantage.

The Ducks no longer tasted blood. They smelled it, sacking Halliday seven times in the game, with two each from Taylor Hart and Keliikipi.

“We turned it up and tried to get him out of the pocket a little bit and get their offensive line on their heels,” Jordan said. “Those guys got more tired than we were in the second half.”

Barner would add a 10-yard touchdown on Oregon’s next possession for the third Ducks score of the quarter. He capped a fantastic game with an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth, finishing with 195 yards on 20 carries.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Kelly said. “You get a chance and hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes twice and every week is its own season and how the games themselves unfold. We know in this league it’s going to be a 60-minute game … We think we’re built to play for the whole game and a lot of guys kept fighting and battling and they finished.”

Halftime: Oregon 23, WSU 19

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
12:32
AM ET
SEATTLE -- Something’s brewing at CenturyLink… again. And it ain’t Seattle’s Best coffee.

After falling behind 20-3, the Washington State Cougars have come roaring back in the second quarter and have narrowed the gap to 23-19 at halftime against the Oregon Ducks, the No. 2 team in the country.

The Ducks jumped ahead 6-0 on a 22-yard Kenjon Barner touchdown and extended it on a Marcus Mariota 13-yard run and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Barner.

But a 2-yard Carl Winston run, a second Andrew Furney field goal and a 26-yard touchdown pass from Connor Halliday to Brett Bartolone has the Cougars within a touchdown heading into the second half.

Mariota is 11-of-17 for 107 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Halliday is 17-of-30 for 151 yards and a touchdown. Barner has 10 carries for 57 yards. De'Anthony Thomas has been a non-factor with four carries for 22 yards and two catches for 11 yards.

The Ducks have sacked Halliday five times while the Cougars have gotten to Mariota three times.

Washington State players came off the field pumping their helmets in the air to fire up the crowd.

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