Pac-12: Bryson Beirne
- Arizona quarterback Bryson Beirne’s sprained right knee means true freshman quarterback Daxx Garman might see action in order to preserve Matt Scott's redshirt. Even more quality depth at receiver?
- Injured Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee plans to redshirt and return next year. A sympathetic take on linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
- California's touted freshman runing back Brendon Bigelow might redshirt. Sean Cattouse, one of the Pac-12's best safeties, talks about his biggest regret.
- Colorado receiver Tony Clemons needs to be more consistent. Are things clearing up at cornerback?
- Oregon in 2010: The numbers didn't add up. What do things look like at linebacker? And running back?
- Has the Oregon State offensive line found its nasty? Linebacker Cameron Collins just wants to stay healthy.
- This guy bolsters Stanford's depth in the secondary.
- Some UCLA practice notes. Things are unsettled at kicker. The quarterback competition continues to favor Richard Brehaut.
- USC running back coach returns to his roots -- and his real last name. Behind the scenes at USC's scrimmage.
- Utah coach Kyle Whittingham isn't bothered by Twitter. Tim Davis is back leading the Utes' offensive line. The scrimmage was only mediocre.
- A highly detailed report from Washington's practice. An updated depth chart.
- Washington State has developed depth at receiver, but is it quality depth? Ten questions with Nolan Washington.
- John Henderson takes a crack at what further expansion might look like -- for the Pac-16 and elsewhere.
Best performance by an offense: Noel Mazzone's crew saved its best for last. Arizona State's offense gained 601 yards in the spring game: 446 yards passing and 155 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler completed 17 of 22 passes for 237 yards and five touchdowns.
Best performance by a defense: Utah's "Red" defense held the "White" offense to 106 total yards in a 7-0 "Red" victory.
Best performance by a defense II: The Oregon "Green" limited the "White" to 164 total yards, including only 63 rushing yards on 31 attempts, in a 16-0 Green win.
Best QB troika: Arizona's three senior quarterbacks -- Nick Foles, Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne -- combined to complete 31 of 42 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns in the Wildcats' spring game. Foles (11-16-133), Scott (11-14-134) and Beirne (8-9-115) found a total of 13 different receivers in 60 plays.
Best QB-TE connection: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and tight end Zach Ertz connected six times for 56 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.
Best "Jake Locker-who?" moment: In Washington's spring game, QB Keith Price completed 20 of 28 passes for 212 yards with three TDs and no INTs, while also rushing for 53 yards and a TD on just five carries.
Best catch: In a scrimmage on April 14, UCLA WR Nelson Rosario made a leaping one-handed catch in the end zone over perfectly-positioned CB Sheldon Price for a 30-yard touchdown.
Best performance by a redshirt freshman tight end: Oregon State's Connor Hamlett had 11 receptions for 153 yards in the spring game.
Best run: In California's spring game, running back Isi Sofele dashed for a 65-yard TD run where he dove into the end zone just outracing safety Vachel Samuels.
Best run II: Oregon RB LaMichael James sprinted for a 67-yard touchdown run on his third and final carry of the spring game.
Best run III: Washington State RB Logwone Mitz broke off a 70-yard run down the left sideline for his first score of the Cougars spring game.
Best crowd: Oregon played its spring game in front of a conference spring game record crowd of 43,468.
Best performance by a walk-on: Colorado's sophomore walk-on running back Josh Ford rushed 17 times for 164 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown in the Buffaloes spring game.
Best performance by a backup QB: While starter Ryan Katz was out with a wrist injury, Cody Vaz cemented his status as the backup with a consistent strong performance all spring.
Best newbies: Arizona got a likely starter at receiver in Texas transfer Dan Buckner. Arizona State's big-armed trued freshman quarterback Mike Bercovici might end up as the Sun Devils backup QB. One of Cal's starting linebackers is likely to be grayshirt freshmen Cecil Whiteside and Chris McCain. Oregon freshman TE Colt Lyerla lived up to his recruiting hype and looks like he'll be in the rotation in 2011. JC transfer defensive end Rusty Fernando is on track to win a starting job at Oregon State. UCLA true freshman QB Brett Hundley is still in the race to start. Utah's three candidates to start at running back are newbies: JC transfer John White, freshman Harvey Langi and walk-on Thretton Palamo. Washington freshman TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is listed as an "Or" for the starting spot with redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson. Washington State JC transfer Ian Knight finished spring No. 1 at DE.
Most international interest: Speaking of Utah's Thretton Palamo, he's best known as an international rugby star. A first-year sophomore who walked on this spring, he was the youngest player ever at age 19 to play in the Rugby World Cup. He played rugby for the Samoan national team in 2007 (his father captained Samoa’s national team as a teenager) and then switched to the U.S. National Team. He also played professionally for the French team Biarritz Olympique.
Best "you've never heard of me but you will": Colorado DT Conrad Obi had just four tackles last year and has played just 100 snaps in his career, but the 310-pound fifth-year senior was selected as the Buffaloes Most Improved Player this spring. In the three scrimmages, he had 20 tackles (17 solo, six for losses, two sacks), four third-down stops and four tackles for zero yards (so 10 of the 20 were at or behind the line of scrimmage). Oh, and he also forced fumble.
Best "graduate-a-semester-early-from-high-school-enroll-in-the-spring-earn-a-starting-job-by-default": USC fullback Soma Vainuku went from high school to Stanley Havili's replacement the first week of spring practices.
Best buzz, non-football division: Arizona State's "It's Time" campaign created plenty of a national buzz in advance of the April 12 launch of the rebrand, which included a new logo. The Sun Devils joined Oregon as the most fashion-forward Pac-12 team.
Best "Thank you for Starbucks" decision: USC starting all weekday spring practices at 7:25 a.m.
They said it (best quotes of spring)
Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton on QB Andrew Luck:
"He was able to complete 70 percent of his passes last year. Our goal is for him to complete 100 percent of his passes."
California coach Jeff Tedford on falling short of expectations in Berkeley:
"Eight wins is not what they want. And that's because that's where we put the standard. I get that now."
Washington State coach Paul Wulff on turning things around in Pullman:
"As those things start to grow and age -- like a fine wine -- your team is going to start winning football games. I think this team is going to win football games and I think we can compete for a bowl game, without question."
Arizona State receiver Gerell Robinson on the Sun Devils new logo:
"It's different. I like it. It's more aggressive. Sparky had a smile on his face."
USC coach Lane Kiffin on where the Trojans stand:
"There's too many questions. I think it would be a little tough to say this team is better than last year."
Arizona coach Mike Stoops on his receivers:
"I think he gives us the two best outside receivers maybe in the country. Having [Dan] Buckner and [Juron] Criner on opposite sides is going to create problems for people."
UCLA Rick Neuheisel on potentially being fired:
"If it were to happen that they were to replace me, I'm confident I would find another job. It wouldn't be the end of the world. I don't think my kids would starve. But I'm adamantly wanting to be here because this is my school and I believe we're closing in on where we want to go."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on whether he feels any sentiment for the Mountain West Conference:
"Not really. I'm not a sentimental guy so there's really no emotional ties or anything of that nature. I can say the Mountain West was very good for us. It was a good run."
Colorado coach Jon Embree on what his team needs to do to win:
"We've got to attack. We can't just sit back. I'm an honest person. We are not good enough to just line up and say we're going to beat you. From a talent standpoint, we're not at that elite level yet."
The idea is Nick Foles starts in 2011, stays healthy and heads to the 2012 NFL draft, while leaving behind an experienced backup in Scott who can take over the job the next fall.
Foles will be one of the nation's top senior quarterbacks this coming season, so it's unlikely that Scott, also a senior but with a redshirt year available, would beat him out. But Scott proved in 2010 that he can play at a high level when he stepped in while Foles was injured. In fact, more than a few fans wanted to see more of Scott, who can make things happen as a runner, even when Foles was healthy.
Of course, you know what they say about your best laid plans? As the Citizen article notes:
Some of the guidelines might still have to be established. If Foles were injured, how long would he have to be out for Arizona to consider activating Scott? The Wildcats’ plan is to use senior Bryson Beirne as the backup in 2011. Can he handle the job for a half? For a game? Two?
How late in the season would be the point of no return for taking Scott out of his redshirt?
Put it like this: Say Foles gets hurt in Game 5 at USC. The severity of his injury is unknown. The Wildcats lead by three heading into the fourth quarter.
If the plan in place is to redshirt Scott, that means Beirne would be getting second-team reps in practice ahead of Scott. So you'd think Beirne would be the guy to try to shepherd home a critical road victory against a South Division foe.
Or would Stoops go with Scott, a more talented, experienced player, no matter the practice work? And then what if Foles is ready to go the next week?
In other words, it's an idea that makes sense but requires crossed fingers.
Know, however, that it has worked: Oregon played quarterback Darron Thomas as a true freshman in 2008 and then redshirted him in 2009, which looks like it will turn out great for the Ducks. Of course, the situations aren't the same. The Ducks had veteran Nate Costa backing up Jeremiah Masoli in 2009, and Costa even started and won at UCLA. The Wildcats don't have the same luxury at the position, though it does help that true freshman Daxx Garman is enrolled and will participate in spring practices.
It will be a situation worth watching this spring. Certainly it would help if Beirne -- or Garman? -- steps up and shows his coaches that he can be a reliable backup.
Scelfo took some time this week to answer a few questions.
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
What are the benefits to the reorganization of the staff now, with you focusing your attention on the quarterbacks?
Frank Scelfo: I think there’s a chemistry deal here that’s pretty good. I’ve been a coordinator the last 15 years, so it’s being able to focus. Coach Stoops wanted more emphasis placed on quarterback fundamentals and teaching those guys footwork, and quarterback development. It’s not so much to relieve me of responsibilities of coordinating, it’s more of just allowing me to focus on that instead of the day-to-day operation stuff. It’s worked out. It was good this spring, the transition was easy. There’s been some new ideas introduced. It’s been good.
Do you miss more of the involvement with Xs and Os though?
FS: No, because I’m still doing that also, but I don’t have to worry about the right guard now so much. I don’t have to worry about the inside receiver, just some of that stuff. Now I can focus on an opponent breakdown, not so much the general scheme. I can really ID some of the more specific things the quarterbacks need to look at. It’s kind of allowed me to back off a little bit and take another look and obviously do what I love to do -- develop quarterbacks.
Tell me just a little bit about the quarterbacks. How is the situation there?
FS: Good. The only thing is, they’re just young, not a lot of football in their backgrounds. When I say that, there are three juniors coming up. Matt Scott started the first three games and then Nick Foles came in and finished up the season. It was roller coaster. They played well, they played poor, they had average games. What’s going to happen is I think these two guys push each other. They’re different guys. Nick is more of a pocket guy. He’s a bigger guy -- 6-5, 240. Matt’s about a 6-3, 215 guy who runs around pretty good. There’s a nice balance between the two from a talent standpoint. That gives us an opportunity to look at different things package-wise.
The competition was good. We really saw a lot of fundamentals. They saw what I was telling them was helping them. When that happens, there’s an air of legitimacy. There’s more belief in what I’m telling them. There’s always a question mark -- ‘Who’s this guy telling me this?’ But they actually saw some positive results and because of that, that helped out the transition.
What are you looking for in summer camp now? What’s the next step for those guys?
FS: I think we need some more leadership. They’ve got to assert themselves more. Offensively we have a veteran bunch. I want to see, the last practice in the spring to the first practice in the fall, I want to see some progress that’s been made throughout the summer. They know what they need to work on. They know what they need to get better on. I want to see a change in that guy from the last practice in April to when we come back. Their offseason work habits are really important.
And do you sense they’re committed to that, based on what you saw toward the end of the spring?
FS: There’s a sense of urgency with those guys. They really are tuned into what’s happening. They want to win. They’re embarrassed by the bowl game last year. They’re paying with a chip on their shoulder and they realize the importance of what we’re trying to accomplish and how many people it really impacts.
Read Part I here.
We know the established guys: Give me some names of youngsters or former reserves who impressed you.
Seth Littrell: A guy who not a lot people have heard about who had a pretty solid spring was two guys at receiver. Gino Crump, who transferred here last year from West Virginia, has really done some good things and is developing his skills. His deal when he got here was he was inconsistent catching the football, but he did a better job hanging onto the football this spring. He didn't drop as many balls. Also a guy in the same category is Travis Cobb, who is always impressive because he's extremely fast. He can really stretch the field. The biggest thing with him was getting comfortable in the offense. He did a lot better this spring than he did last fall when I don't know how comfortable he was. He was pretty impressive in practices just going to get the football. Nick would drop back and throw a fade route and it would look like it was going to be overthrown by 10 yards and Cobb just runs and gets it. Pure speed, he's probably the fastest guy on our team. Then there's Taimi Tutogi. He played a few games last year and didn't redshirt and played as Chris Gronkowski's backup. But this spring he's really come along. We've done a lot of things with him, from the fullback position to putting him on the line as a tight end, or lining him up at tailback, which we've done in a few practices. He's a guy who, if he develops and gets that confidence as a running back, or fullback, H-back, the more we can expand his role even to tailback also. There's a lot of guys who stepped up and had good springs. Some young O-linemen. It's hard to say one guy. There's a lot of young guys who did some good things this spring.
What will be different about the offense next fall compared to what we saw in 2009?
SL: Hopefully, we'll be better. Without giving away too much, we're going to do some different things, things we were even talking about before Coach Dykes got the head job at Louisiana Tech. We're always looking to expand and looking to get better. I feel like this spring we've done some evaluations of what we feel like we need to do to be a top offense in the country. Even with Coach Scelfo coming in, bringing a new set of eyes and being able to evaluate some of the things we were doing. Sometimes it's good to have something from the outside looking in to give you a different perspective. We've been looking at some of the stuff he did at La-Tech. They were very successful there.
Tell me about how Coach Stoops decided that you would call plays?
SL: The biggest thing with this offense is we are all part of this offense. Obviously, one guy has to be designated to call the plays. In the course of the game, we're all having input. Even though I may be calling the offense, we've called it all week, we have a script, we pretty much know what we're going to do situationally throughout a game. When you're calling it, obviously you've got to get some type of game-time rhythm, know the situations and how to set stuff up. But also at the same time, Frank is going to be in the box with me. Coach Bedenbaugh will be on the field with [receivers coaches Garret Chachere and Dave Nichol]. Really, honestly, it's a matter that coach Bedenbaugh has to be on the field with the O-linemen. That's a huge role for him, being around the linemen the whole game, making adjustments. It would be pretty difficult for him to call plays from down there. Not to say he couldn't because he could but it's really just a matter of me being in the box.
Football coaches, by nature, are fiery guys, as you know from working with the Stoops brothers. Sometimes the collaborative process can get pretty animated: Think everybody will be able to get along?
SL: I don't think there's any doubt. We're all pretty passionate. I've been around coach Stoops for a long time. I played offense [at Oklahoma], but I played under Bob Stoops at OU and Mike Stoops was the D-coordinator. And I've been under [Mark] Mangino and Mike Leach and a lot of different guys. Everybody has their own fire and passion. Obviously, I've only coached with them [at Arizona] for one season but we've been around each other. One thing about Mike is he's passionate about the game but nothing is ever personal. It's about business and winning football games. He knows I'm the same way. We've always gotten along and always had a great relationship. It's going to be no different.
In 2004, he was a graduate assistant at Kansas.
In 2010, he became the Arizona Wildcats' co-offensive coordinator. And, at 31, will be the youngest play-caller in the Pac-10 and one of the youngest in the nation.
It's been a quick climb through the coaching ranks for Littrell. And there's pressure, sure. Wildcats coach Mike Stoops tapped him to fill the job capably manned last fall by Sonny Dykes, who's now Louisiana Tech's head coach, over two more veteran assistants, line coach and co-coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh and quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo.
While Littrell goes to great lengths to play down the distinction of calling plays, it's clear that Stoops believes he's got a talented young coach who's up to the job.
The good news is Littrell has a lot to work with. Seven starters return from an offense that averaged nearly 32 points per game in Pac-10 play, including quarterback Nick Foles.
With the Wildcats concluding spring practices last weekend, it seemed like a good time to check in with Littrell.
So give me the rundown of the offense this spring: What are you happy with? What didn't go as well as you wanted it to?
Seth Littrell: Overall, we were pleased. The biggest thing was the effort. We did some different things offensively that we haven't done in the past, trying some new things out to maybe fit us a little bit better personnel-wise with some guys. I think our players really enjoyed it. So overall they were pretty focused and intense. There was good competition. We had a lot of guys with a lot of returning experience so the hardest thing with that a lot of times is they get bored. We tried to find different ways to keep it exciting and keep it enthusiastic. They were willing to come out and work to become the No. 1 offense in the Pac-10, which is always what our goal is. Probably the most disappointing thing was we came out flat in the spring game. I thought we had good work for the most part leading up to that. We were pretty basic and vanilla in the game, but I was a little disappointed in how flat we were. We didn't make plays we'd made all spring. We dropped too many balls, which hadn't been a problem. Way too many turnovers. Things we didn't have issues with during the spring just kind of popped up in a game-type atmosphere. But that's really the only disappointment I had.
Nick Foles, I wouldn't say faded a bit late in the season, but he didn't have a good Holiday Bowl: Where did he get better this spring?
SL: Overall grasp of the offense. In Nick's defense, he played pretty well early in the season but each and every game we put more on him. I don't know if he faded out but looking back on it maybe we had a little too much offense. Maybe he wasn't ready for all that. That's not an excuse for him. He'd only played a few games -- he redshirted and played a few games at Michigan State [from where he transferred] -- so he's still pretty young. We probably could have kept it a little safer for him, not put so much on him. I think the thing he's really improved in is understanding the offense. Understanding that not every play has to be a touchdown. It's about moving the chains and being productive and getting the ball into other guys' hands. He doesn't have to be the superstar. There's 11 guys on the field and everybody has a role to play. He's just one part of that 11.
Where does backup quarterback Matt Scott stand?
SL: I thought Matt Scott had an unbelievable spring. He's probably been one of the guys I've been most impressed with -- he's probably had the biggest jump of anybody. Coach Scelfo does an unbelievable job with those quarterbacks. [No. 3 QB] Bryson Beirne even had a good spring. Things [Scott] needed to work on, he worked on them and bought into it and worked each and every day. He's way more accurate than he was because of the things he's worked on with Coach Scelfo. Another thing is he really took it upon himself to study the offense. He wants to get involved and learn and it showed on the field.
You oversee the running backs: Are there concerns that Nic Grigsby might not be able to stay healthy?
SL: It may appear that way, huh? It wasn't only him, though. I was down to my fifth running back last year. We played five different guys. We had to get [fullback Taimi Tutogi] ready to take some snaps at tailback. It's always a concern for running backs. I've been around offenses that have been two or three years without one injury and they've been some of the smallest guys on the field. It's always a concern, as a running backs coach, keeping your guys healthy. But as long as we're doing what we need to do in the offseason with [strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond] and the weight room. As long as we are taking care of our bodies, I don't think that should be too big of an issue. I don't know how well we did that last year. Hopefully we learned a big lesson and are trying to protect ourselves better by taking care of our bodies and doing what is necessary in the offseason to prevent some of that.
Seems like you guys are fairly strong on the offensive line: How did they do this spring?
SL: They are a very solid group. Coach Bedenbaugh does an unbelievable job with O-linemen. Just how physical and tough those guys are. They are obviously the leaders on our offense. Everybody kind of looks to those guys and they set the tone. One thing we still have to develop is depth across the board. But when you talk about our first five -- and really up to seven or eight, we've got pretty solid guys -- we're pretty comfortable. As always, and it's the same across the country, everybody is looking for depth across the offensive line.
In Part II on Thursday, Littrell talks about youngsters who stood out this spring, changes in the offensive scheme and why he was tapped the play-caller.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Still trying to catch up on some neglected mail...
Jim from Portland writes: Regarding your recent blog about RBs for next year. Just curious as to why you did not mention that Jacquizz Rodgers could be a Heisman candidate as well? After being voted Offensive POY, you would think he has great momentum for Heisman candidacy in 2009. If OSU has a great year in 2009 and if Quizz stays healthy and has another productive year, then he should be a serious candidate. Also, there is something different and special about Quizz compared to other top RBs. Not sure what it is, but I suspect it is the way he gets his yards between the tackles and the way he makes people miss. It is the the stuff not reflected in statistics. For example, he consistently makes a -1 yard loss into a +2 gain. He gets better as the game goes on. And if defenses are stacking the box, he still finds a way to manufacture yardage. So, his YPC is not as high as some others, but he is OSU's best defender because he grinds out the clock and keeps the ball away from opposing offenses. I have never seen a player like Quizz before.
Ted Miller: If Oregon State has a great year and Rodgers stays healthy and beats his numbers from last year, I'd certainly rate him a Heisman Trophy candidate. Or at least an All-American candidate.
I think California's Jahvid Best has a better Heisman shot for three reasons.
First and foremost, he's a human highlight film. Spectacular plays grab voter attention.
Second, I think the Bears are more likely than the Beavers to be hovering around the nation's top 10 next year. It's almost a prerequisite these days for a Heisman candidate to play for a national title contender or at least an elite team.
Third, I think the going might be tougher for Rodgers with the Beavers restocking at receiver and the offensive line.
Dexter from New York writes: Ted, On at least a couple of occasions, you've written that Jahvid Best will be a legitimate Heisman candidate in 2009. I agree that he's an excellent player, but let's not lie to each other. Let us assume - for entertainment purposes only, of course - that you were placing a bet on next season's Heisman winner, and the options are (a) Sam Bradford, (b) Colt McCoy, (c) Tim Tebow, or (d) the field. What odds would I have to give you before you'd lay real money on option (d)? Skeptically yours,
Ted Miller: Fair point. I would need really, really favorable odds.
Yet, as the Pac-10 blogger, my focus is on the Pac-10. I think Best is the lead candidate in the Pac-10.
And, if Cal improves to 5-0 on Oct. 3 after beating USC behind 148 yards and two touchdowns from Best, he will certainly rate at least a strong No. 4 on your list.
And who knows if Bradford, McCoy and Tebow will match last year's production? Or if there won't be some Bradford, McCoy, Tebow exhaustion?
MJ from Berkeley writes: What is you opinion of coaches sending out more scholarship offers than they could possibly honor. [MJ mentions a school already making 81 offers, which I couldn't verify]. Is it meant as an incentive to get kids to sign early, or lose their offer? It seems to me that it greatly diminishes the value of a scholarship offer.
Ted Miller: My opinion is a program has got to do what a program has got to do.
Schools play the scholarship game. Players play the scholarship game. It's a numbers game and the math can get pretty complicated when filling out a team of 85 scholarships with 25 incoming guys a year.
When teams start the recruiting process, they have a big board with hundreds of names and ratings for those players.
If School A offers, say, 81 players in the spring before their senior year, most likely said school knows these guys can play. Heck, that's an offer without the benefit of senior season film.
The assumption is only a handful of players will commit on the early offer. There's never been a case on record of a team finding itself in a bind before June because, say, 40 guys accepted scholarship offers, though some schools -- like Texas this year with 19 commitments already -- often have a lot of committed players before summer arrives.
School A also very likely tells players that the scholarship offer has a shelf life. Only the truly elite prospects get an open-ended, no conditions offer, one where their decision late in the process may force a delayed enrollment on a previously committed player.
Moreover, while it makes sense for a prospect to make his decision deliberately after taking five official visits, if said prospect isn't high on School A's list, he runs the risk of having his offer rescinded.
Welcome to the adult world.
In other words, this is business as usual and just the way the system works.
Rodney in Los Angeles writes: I watched [UCLA's freshman quarterback] Richard Brehaut tape and he seems to lineup in the shotgun a lot. Do you think he will have trouble adapting to chow's pro-style offense?
Ted Miller: I haven't wanted much Brehaut tape. Blockbuster was out when I went last week. Kidding.
In general, prep -- or college -- quarterbacks moving up to the next level who have primarily played in offenses that use the shotgun almost exclusively struggle for a time to play under center.
Imagine: You are learning completely different footwork while, simultaneously, the game is speeding WAY up.
I do think this could significantly diminish Brehaut's chances to win the Bruins starting quarterback job as a true freshman.
That said: It depends on the kid.
And I'm sure Brehaut, knowing full well for months what sort of college offense he'll be running, has been working hard to learn the nuances of playing under center.
Andrew in Berkeley writes: Regarding Congress's questionable use of the people's time in writing a resolution to commend U$C...I'm pretty confused as to why either UCLA or SEC fans would want to read it, as suggested by the article title.
Ted Miller: Confused? Really, Andrew?
I thought the resolution was silly. And I thought that silliness would resonate with UCLA and SEC fans the loudest.
UCLA fans because USC is their arch-rival.
And SEC fans because USC's consensus position as the nation's premier college football program bothers them.
Steve from San Diego writes: I would just like to know your thoughts on Mike Stoops and the U of A football program. I just do not understand how one winning season translates into a contract extension for Stoops. Do you think that this still would have happened if BYU actually came to play and beat them? Was this just a fluke or can they really sustain this success long term? Please explain to me how one 8-5 season outweighs a 24-33 overall record?
Ted Miller: Steve, by the way, is an Arizona State guy. And it's 25-34.
But to answer the question: Stoops inherited in 2004 a program ravaged by the John
Mackovic Era. The Wildcats were in the pits.
Five years later, said program is coming off its first bowl win since 1998 and has restocked with talent that arguably places it in the top-half of the Pac-10.
Was the process from Point A to Point B perfect? No. Did rebuilding take longer than expected and were their some coaching blunders along the way? Yes.
But Stoops has improved as a coach and set up his program up for future success.
Two more things: First, BYU came to play in the Las Vegas Bowl. Arizona was clearly a better and much more athletic team.
Second, Stoops can be a grump with the media. But I regularly hear from folks at Arizona what a good guy he is -- how he treats everyone with respect -- which is the complete opposite of the previous administration.
And, in my little book of college football, that matters.
Being well-liked might not help win football games, but it might serve as a cup of cool water on that hot seat when things aren't going well.
Ted Miller: Beirne appears to have a lot of ground to make up this spring. He needs to get on it because offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said he'd like it to be no more than a two-horse race by the end of spring.
As for Morrison, true freshmen quarterbacks come in with big ideas about what they can do. Then that playbook crunches down in front of them, and defensive ends who run like high school running backs set to chasing them around.
So, I doubt Morrison will be a factor, and, if he's smart, he'll want to redshirt.
Bowl from Berkeley writes: Do you think Oregon's spread offense makes the QB more susceptible to injury? After seeing Oregon go through several QBs in each of the past few seasons, it seems like they should switch it up a bit or have 4 QBs working with the 1st team this spring. Has Kelly or Bellotti ever addressed the QB injury situation to the media?
Ted Miller: This is one of Mike Bellotti's least favorite topics, and his irritation is well-captured in this story on the subject.
The spread-option, in itself, doesn't make a quarterback vulnerable.
Being a running quarterback makes a quarterback vulnerable. Being a quarterback who gets hit a lot makes a quarterback vulnerable. Being a quarterback who isn't built like 240-pound Tim Tebow makes quarterback vulnerable.
Bellotti contends the Ducks had more injuries at the position when they used a traditional offense, where a quarterback can get blindsided and often doesn't see the defender coming. Bellotti believes a running quarterback who's engaging a defense has a better chance of protecting himself.
He writes off the injury issues at quarterback the past two seasons to bad luck.
Washington State, for example, had the same sort of epidemic injury issues at the position without running a spread offense.
On the other hand, of course, Washington lost Jake Locker four games into the season when he was running out of a spread-option.
My guess is that, over time, spread quarterbacks would get hurt more, but not so much more often that the offense would fall out of favor.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Now we talk quarterbacks.
Because that's what just about every Pac-10 fan -- other than Oregon and Washington adherents -- will be talking about this spring.
Even Oregon State, which saw Lyle Moevao throw for 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns, has a bit of quarterback intrigue, or did you forget how well Sean Canfield played while Moevao was hurt (3-0 with two starts)?
We're supposed to do only five entries here. But we're going to do six.
Washington State gets left out because Marshall Lobbestael, the favorite to win the job, has been suspended after a weekend arrest for minor in possession and, in any event, he would be limited this spring as he comes back from a knee injury.
And so does Oregon State because the Beavers are choosing between two known quantities, while the following teams will be evaluating one more or more candidates with almost no significant playing experience.
Please note, however, that the likelihood of these competitions being settled this spring is remote. In fact, the coaches evaluating these competitions may not even announce a pecking order until the season opener is on the immediate horizon.
That's just how coaches ride.
- Quarterback at USC is the premier position in college football. Under Pete Carroll, two quarterbacks have won the Heisman Trophy, and Mark Sanchez figures to become the third to be selected early of the first round of the NFL draft. So part of being a Trojans quarterback means dealing with the hype, which will be a part of the winnowing process this spring. Mustain is talented, but sometimes tries to force the ball where it just won't go. The speedy Corp, who was Sanchez's backup at the end of 2008, would be the most athletic quarterback to play for Carroll. And Barkley was only the top prize of the 2009 recruiting season.
- This is a gut check for Riley, who clearly isn't happy with how things went in 2008. He was yanked as the starter when the Bears were 3-1 and he'd completed 57 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and just one interception. His performance over the second half of the season suffered as his confidence sank, though a shoulder injury and concussion probably deserve more blame than they've gotten. Mansion, a sophomore, is a prototype, 6-foot-5, 230-pound pocket passer who was a touted recruit in 2006. Experience should give Riley the early edge, but Mansion is a legit contender to start in 2009. And both will be getting used to new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.
- In the battle to replace Rudy Carpenter, rising senior Danny Sullivan is the veteran backup who has patiently waited his turn. Sophomores Samson Szakacsy and Chasen Stangel are the top challengers. Elway has to prove he's more than his last name. But the guy to watch is Osweiler. He's a 6-foot-8, big-armed, athletic true freshman out of Kalispell, Mont., who originally planned to play basketball at Gonzaga. He'll participate in spring practices, and his name keeps coming up when you ask ASU folks about who might run the offense in 2009.
- If Arizona is going to build on last year's breakthrough, it's going to have to find at least an adequate replacement for Willie Tuitama. Scott and Foles will start as 1A and 1B. Both have good arms. Scott's athleticism might give him an edge. Foles, a Michigan State transfer, is a prototypical 6-foot-5, 230-pound drop-back passer who loves watching game film but won't scare anyone out of the pocket. Whoever wins the job will have a solid supporting cast, topped by tight end Rob Gronkowski, to ease the adjustment.
- The first issue will be how Craft responds after throwing a school-record 20 interceptions last season. Will he show leadership, take charge of the huddle and fight for his job? And, oh, make better decisions with the ball? If not, look for Prince to be the top challenger. There were moments last year when Craft was struggling when Prince's redshirt was nearly cast aside. Forcier didn't take advantage of his opportunities in spot action, and coaches will turn to touted incoming freshman Brehaut only if those three languish.
6. Stanford: Tavita Pritchard vs. Andrew Luck
- Pritchard started every game last year -- not to mention that he led the monumental upset effort of USC in 2007 -- but the Cardinal needs more from its quarterback if it's going to make the next step as a program. Ranking ninth in the conference in passing, no matter how tough the running game is, won't cut it. Luck was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation in 2007, and there was considerable discussion about taking his redshirt off last year (it b
ecame coach Jim Harbaugh's singular annoyance to be asked about it every time Pritchard struggled). This one is wide open and likely will endure -- like most of the other aforementioned competitions -- into the fall.