Pac-12: Cameron Collins

Five football players win Hansen Medals

July, 11, 2012
Five Pac-12 football players were among the athletes honored this week as Tom Hansen Conference Medal Winners

A Conference Medal is awarded annually to each member institution’s outstanding senior male and female student-athlete based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.

The football players who earned medals are:
Aaron Pflugrad, WR, Arizona State

David Paulson, TE, Oregon

Cameron Collins, LB, Oregon State

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Derrick Shelby, DE, Utah


Pac-12 recruiting needs: North Division

January, 25, 2012
Every team needs to hit every position group each recruiting season, but there are always priorities. It's not just positions where starters are lost or going to be seniors, it's about addressing weaknesses where a true freshman might be a better answer than a returning player.

Up next is the North Division.

: Zach Maynard will be a senior, and it says something about the depth behind him that he never lost his job during his midseason swoon.
WR: Keenan Allen is back, but that's it in terms of returning production and experience.
S: Three of the top four safeties from 2011 are gone.

In Chip Kelly's offense, you can never have enough fast guys. Sure, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff are back, but there's a lot of youth and uncertainty after that at running back and wide receiver.
TE: His name is David Paulson, but he's gone. Colt Lyerla was a productive backup -- at least in terms of finding the end zone -- but after him things are uncertain. Tight end is one of the most underrated positions in the Ducks offense, so having more than one Kelly trusts is significant.
S: Eddie Pleasant is gone and John Boyett is a senior. Avery Patterson, Erick Dargan and Brian Jackson are next in line, but the young talent isn't as certain as it is at corner.

Oregon State
Oregon State lost three starters from a line that led the worst rushing attack in the conference and surrendered 27 sacks. Quarterback Sean Mannion has potential, but he needs time. And a running game.
DT: The Beavers had the worst rushing defense in the Pac-12 in 2011. 'Nuff said.
LB: The Beavers had the worst rushing defense in the Pac-12 in 2011. Almost enough said. Cameron Collins is gone, and all the contributors on the two-deep will be seniors, other than junior Michael Doctor.

: Perhaps the weakest position for the Cardinal in 2011, this need is augmented by the loss of Griff Whalen and Chris Owusu and the lack of up-and-comers other than sophomore Ty Montgomery.
DB: Three of four starters are gone, including both safeties. In the Cardinal's two losses -- to Oregon and Oklahoma State -- an absence of top-end athleticism in the back half was exploited.
OL: Three starters are back, but the losses are huge: Tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro. And backup tackle Tyler Mabry and backup guard Matt Bentler also are gone. If coach David Shaw intends to remain a physical, downhill running team -- and he does -- he'll need to continuously stock up on linemen who can get the job done.

Lots of guys are back in the secondary, but the Huskies gave up 284.6 yards passing per game, which ranked 11th in the Pac-12. They couldn't cover anybody and often seemed out of position. So new blood might help.
DL: (See if you can notice a theme here that ignores questions at wide receiver and running back). Two starters are gone from a line that consistently underperformed based on preseason expectations.
LB: Second-team All-Pac-12 middle linebacker Cort Dennison is the only one of the eight men on the depth chart who won't be back, but he was the team's only consistent linebacker.

Washington State
Three of four starters are back, but all three will be seniors.
OL: Three starters are back, but to make the next step on offense, the Cougars need to run the ball better. They ranked 10th in the conference in rushing offense. And that might reduce a conference-high 3.3 sacks per game. Mike Leach's quick-hit offense also might help.
RB: 170-pound sophomore Rickey Galvin is back, as is senior Carl Winston, but the backs need to share responsibility for a 3.1-yards-per-carry average, worst in the conference (of course, losing 237 yards to sacks doesn't help).

Cougars, Beavers on opposite paths

October, 21, 2011
When Washington State took its final knee out of victory formation last year at Oregon State, beating the Beavers 31-14, it ended a 16-game conference losing streak. It also gave the Cougars and coach Paul Wulff hope.

The Cougars are 4-4 in their past eight games after winning just four of their previous 34. That is a suggestion of an upward trend.

[+] EnlargePaul Wulff
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswirePaul Wulff and Washington State are 4-4 in their past eight games.
For Oregon State, things are different. The embarrassing home loss is one of the exhibits from a downward trend. The Beavers, a team in the midst of the 2008 and 2009 Rose Bowl races, have lost nine of 11 extending to last season. Besides the loss to the Cougars, there's also two shutout defeats -- to Stanford and Wisconsin by a combined count of 73-zip-- and season-opening loss to Sacramento State, an FCS team.

Still, the predominant pressure will remain on the Cougars sidelines at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Saturday. It's a win-or-else season for Wulff, and the 1-5 Beavers represent the best opportunity on the remaining schedule to win. The Cougars are slight favorites to do so.

Wulff believes his team already has played "some pretty dang good football."

"Our football team is drastically improved," he said. "All I can say is where we were a year ago and where we are today, we've come a long, long ways."

Oregon State coach Mike Riley, while receiving heavy criticism of late, is not under the same pressure. His success in 11 years leading the Beavers has earned him some win-equity. And the notoriously upbeat and gracious coach isn't showing signs that his chronic optimism is cracking.

"I don't think we are at our best yet, which is encouraging to me," he said. "I'm excited to play again and see these guys continue to grow."

Of course, Riley doesn't live in fantasy land. For one, he remembers what happened against the Cougars last year.

"Aside from the fact that they outplayed us in almost every phase, the quarterback running killed us," he said.

That would be the 79 yards Cougars quarterback Jeff Tuel ran for last year, part of 221 yards the Cougars gained on the ground against a hapless defense. Tuel also threw a 33-yard scoring pass.

Tuel will be the first key. This will be his second start since he was knocked out of the season opener -- he didn't start that game either because of illness -- with a fractured clavicle. He was OK in the loss to Stanford last weekend, completing 17 of 30 for 145 yards, but he clearly wasn't yet at his best, and the tough Cardinal defense isn't ideal competition for a rusty quarterback. With a game and a full week of practice to his credit, he might look a lot more like the Tuel of old -- one of the better quarterbacks on the West Coast.

"When he is at full strength, we're a better football team," Wulff said. "We knew there was going to be rust [against Stanford] but we had to get him in there to break some of it off."

That said, it makes sense for the Cougars to test the Beavers' run defense. For one, the Cougars ran well last season against the Beavers. Second, they are a better running team this season -- 126.7 yards per game vs. 91 yards per game in 2010. Third, the Beavers' defense will be without middle linebacker Feti Unga (calf) and outside linebacker Cameron Collins (groin) as well as 334-pound defensive tackle Castro Masaniai (broken fibula). The Oregon State front-seven wasn't great to start with, and those are some pretty big personnel hits.

Given an opportunity to play the "woe's with us" card, Riley declined: "It's football. When something comes up, you adjust," he said.

Woe was with Washington State for three previous seasons. Now, the Cougs appear capable of finishing at .500 and earning a bowl berth, which almost certainly would save Wulff's job.

And for Wulff, who notes his team is "sophomore-dominant," improving to .500 isn't the ultimate goal. The trend that started last season in Corvallis, he indicates, has a better destination.

Said Wulff, "We're definitely moving in a good direction."

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 29, 2011
Welcome to the final preseason Pac-12 power rankings!

You can review the post-spring power rankings here. There is a good deal of movement. And a lot of different iterations -- including change at the very top -- were heavily considered.

This week's vote is based on one factor: If the Pac-12 had a tournament this week on a neutral field, how do you think things would finish. That means, for example, a team's schedule doesn't matter. But preseason camp momentum -- read: an absence of controversy or injuries -- does.

Going forward, the power rankings will be far more focused on that immediate present reality: How did teams handle their business that past weekend? It won't necessarily be a projection of finish.

And, for those new to the power rankings, the motto here is simple: If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

1. Oregon: Based on what we typed above, one might think the Ducks would fall behind Stanford. And our thought process in early August was exactly that -- see here -- as our top-25 poll included other factors, such as schedule, such as Stanford playing host to Oregon this season. But here's the deal: Oregon is the top bird until somebody shoots it out of the air.

2. Stanford: A lot of folks are questioning Stanford. The Pac-12 blog is, too. My question: Will Andrew Luck and the Cardinal win the national championship this season. My hunch? A strong maybe.

3. USC: If the Trojans were eligible for the postseason, the gap between them and Nos. 1 and 2 would be fairly small. As it is, the gap between USC and the top two spots is fairly gigantic.

4. Arizona State: The Pac-12 blog has been banging the Sun Devils' drum since late in the 2010 season. And if this team was getting ready to send out the depth chart it appeared to have last December -- just about everyone back -- I'd project it in the top-15. But with all the attrition -- injuries, players quitting, etc. -- it's hard to know who the Sun Devils will be.

5. Washington: The Huskies' big question was replacing quarterback Jake Locker. Ther second question was at linebacker. It seems more than a few folks are optimistic those questions will be adequately answered. There's a lot to like on this roster, particularly what looks to be a dramatically improved defense.

6. Utah: It's hard to project Utah because we've never seen them before in this environment. What we can say is the success of this season hangs on keeping quarterback Jordan Wynn's surgically repaired shoulder safe.

7. Arizona: Just when we were starting to think the Wildcats might be an underrated team, they lose their best cover corner -- Jonathan McKnight -- for the season to a knee injury. While Arizona State and Oregon State have had the worst injury luck of the offseason, the Wildcats aren't far behind.

8. UCLA: The Bruins feel like a sleeper. It almost seems as simple as this: If UCLA is merely adequate at quarterback, it will be a bowl team and a factor in the Pac-12 South.

9. California: See what we typed for UCLA, only in the North Division. Further, the Bears look like they are going to play a lot of their talented true and redshirt freshmen classes. That should at least be very interesting.

10. Colorado: Not unlike Utah, we don't really know what we're going to get with the Buffaloes. There was a big temptation to rank them higher -- this is an experienced team with more talent than many old school Pac-10 folks think. But how could we rank the Buffs ahead of Cal after what happened in Berkeley last season?

11. Oregon State: Beavers fans are erupting... no way! Yes way. On the list of injured or at least uncertain: receiver James Rodgers, tight end Joe Halahuni, cornerback Brandon Hardin, defensive tackle Dominic Glover, defensive tackle Kevin Frahm and linebacker Cameron Collins. And many more, actually. The Beavers entered preseason practices with a lot of questions -- as coach Mike Riley repeatedly said -- they will head into the first week with perhaps more than they did at the beginning of August.

12. Washington State: There was some thought of bouncing the Cougars out of the basement. They, unlike a number of teams, have stayed relatively healthy during camp, and just about every report coming out of Pullman is colored with optimism. But the same rule that applies to Oregon in a positive way applies to the Cougars in a negative one: You're here until you prove otherwise.

Injury woes at Oregon State

August, 24, 2011
Oregon State and Arizona State seem to be battling to become the Pac-12's biggest MASH unit.

Most folks already know about the uncertainty of receiver James Rodgers (knee) and tight end Joe Halahuni (shoulder), who are doubtful to play at Wisconsin on Sept. 10. But there are a couple of other injuries worth following that are also critical.
  • On the "fairly good," side of the injured list is DT Kevin Frahm. He had surgery on Monday to repair a torn meniscus. The hope is he will return to practice in time to play at Wisconsin.
  • The news is not so good for cornerback Brandon Hardin and his shoulder. He'll need surgery to fix a fracture, and the procedure could end his season. At the minimum, he'll be out six weeks. Sophomore Rashaad Reynolds will step into a starting role.
  • Defensive tackle Dominic Glover still hasn't been cleared academically. What once seemed like a minor issue is taking longer than expected to resolve, which is reason to be nervous.
  • Things are cloudy at tight end until Halahuni comes back. Freshman Kellen Clute hurt his knee in the scrimmage, and two redshirt freshmen, Tyler Perry and Connor Hamlett, will be suspended for a game, though it's unclear which game at this point.
  • Also, linebacker Cameron Collins continues to be limited by an abdominal issue. He had offseason surgery and has missed a lot of practice time.

Getting away from injuries, it appears that true freshman Malcolm Agnew is on the cusp of earning the starting spot at running back. The last true freshman to start at the position for the Beavers turned out OK, you might recall.

Best case-worst case: Oregon State

August, 19, 2011
Fourth in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-12 teams.

Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction. You can read last year's versions here.

We're going in reverse order of my post-spring power rankings (which might not be identical to my preseason power rankings).

Up next: Oregon State

Best case

Even the Wisconsin fans couldn't help but notice the crescendo building from the orange and black pie slice in the visitor's section at Camp Randall Stadium.

"Cripes sakes!" says a Wisconsin fan. "What's all that racket?"

"It's for the little guy, don'tcha know," says another. "'That one in the No. 1 jersey. Pass me a brat!"

James Rodgers takes the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

"By golly, I tells ya, sure as God made little green apples, he's a fast one!" says the first.

"Ohh, yaaa...Yoo Betcha!" replies the second.

Wisconsin scores a late touchdown and holds on for a 30-28 victory, but the Beavers matching up well physically with the Big Ten favorites bodes well for the season.

"This bodes well for the season," coach Mike Riley says. "You never like losing, but what I saw today made me optimistic after a tough go with injuries in preseason camp."

Rodgers didn't play in the opening win over Sacramento State and his entry was a bit of a surprise.

"That, yeah, well, James thought it would be fun not to tell any of y'all about that," Riley said. "Our little surprise for the Beaver Nation."

Rodgers catches two touchdown passes in a 28-17 win over UCLA.

The Beavers drop a 28-24 decision at Arizona State to fall to 2-2, which is good news: The only time two early losses didn't auger a good season since 2006 was last fall, and that was due to Rodgers knee injury.

"I know it's a great story, but is he a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate?" ESPN College GameDay's Chris Fowler asks. "Eight touchdowns in four games. Rodgers is well on his way to 1,000 yards receiving and 500 yards rushing. And he leads the nation in kickoff returns."

"I hear you, but his team needs to win," replies Kirk Herbstreit.

The Beavers win their next four, besting Arizona, BYU, Washington State and, in overtime, Utah.

"Stanford might be looking ahead to its matchup with Oregon," Fowler says.

Nope. The unbeaten Cardinal rolls 35-21.

Oregon State wins at California and nips Washington. The Beavers, at 8-3, are ranked 17th when they head to Oregon for another high stakes Civil War. The unbeaten Ducks are No. 1 in the nation, with many pundits already salivating over a matchup of the Alabama defense and the Oregon offense.

Rodgers stands up in the locker room. The din of Autzen Stadium can be heard -- felt -- through the walls. "I'm from Texas. I had to learn to dislike Oregon. My freshman year, I scored the game-winning touchdown on a 25-yard fly sweep in this damn stadium in double overtime. I never thought that would be my only victory over them. I know this is only a football game. And know what? I like a lot of guys in that other locker room. LaMichael James is a good dude. We go bowling together. I kick his butt in bowling [laughter]. But [Rodgers voice rises] I am sick of Oregon. Everything about them. Everybody is sick of Oregon. But we will all -- everyone in this room, my brothers! -- will continue to be sick, to suffer, to have something inside us, biting at us, until we go out there and shut. Them. Up. Until we go out there and beat their butts.

"Know what? @%$@! Oregon!"

As his teammates mob Rodgers moments after he hauled in the game-winning 2-point conversion in triple-overtime, they chant together, "@%$@! Oregon!"

"Well, at least we're still going to the Rose Bowl!" angry Ducks fans shout as the ebullient Beavers head back to their locker room.

Utah beats Oregon 45-42 in the first Pac-12 championship game. The Utes, in their first year in the conference, go to the Rose Bowl. Oregon settles for the Alamo Bowl, where it loses to Oklahoma State.

Oregon State beats Texas A&M 24-17 in the Holiday Bowl and finishes 10-3 and ranked 12th. Oregon finishes 17th.

Chip Kelly becomes Georgia's new head coach.

On July 20, the NCAA docks Oregon 15 scholarships and gives it a one-year postseason ban.

Worst case

Though it was using vanilla schemes, the performance against Sacramento State suggests Oregon State has issues. A 45-17 loss at Wisconsin makes it abundantly clear the Beavers do.

The Beavers, not deep to begin with, are missing too many key starters, most notably receiver James Rodgers, H-back Joe Halahuni, cornerback Brandon Hardin, linebacker Cameron Collins and defensive tackle Kevin Frahm.

"I'm hoping we get some guys back," coach Mike Riley says. "James is still a ways away, though."

Frahm and Collins return and the Beavers beat UCLA. Halahuni comes back for the Arizona State game, but the Beavers are overwhelmed 35-20. Arizona takes revenge for a 2010 defeat with an overtime victory in Reser Stadium.

Rodgers returns against BYU. He catches six passes for 80 yards and a TD, and the Beavers win 28-24. But he's clearly not his old self.

Oregon State, highly motivated after losing at home to Washington State in 2010, improves to 4-3 with a win over the Cougars. But all the news isn't good.

"We're shutting James down," Riley says. "He's got an NFL future, and we need to protect that. His knee needs to be cleaned up, and if they do it now he'll be 100 percent before the NFL combine."

Bowl hopes end after four consecutive defeats. The Beavers limp into Eugene to face unbeaten and top-ranked Oregon.

"Chip, a lot of folks are saying this is the best team of all time," Chris Fowler says from the GameDay set in front of Autzen Stadium. "What do you think?"

"Maybe," Kelly replies.

"What are your feelings on the NCAA clearing you and the program of all wrong-doing in the Willie Lyles investigation?" Fowler asks.

"Who?" Kelly replies. "Oh, you mean, Will. My feelings are ... good."

Oregon whips the Beavers 55-10.

The Ducks roll Alabama 48-17 in the BCS national title game.

"That," says Alabama coach Nick Saban afterward, "is the best football team I've ever seen. And that include my tenure with the Miami Dolphins."

Oregon announces it's expanding Autzen Stadium to 100,000 seats and that Nike has figured out a way to get the work done in advance of the 2012 season.

The Ducks sign the nation's No. 1 recruiting class. Kelly signs a lifetime contract. Oregonian columnist John Canzano requests that he be put on the Oregon State beat. His request is granted.

Lunch links: Backup QB issues at Arizona

August, 16, 2011
Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact human measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.

Opening the mailbag: Disrespecting Oregon State

June, 3, 2011
Trying to crank this mailbag out before covering the Tempe NCAA baseball regional, so any replies like their usual verve or are just flat dumb, blame baseball.

Follow me on Twitter.

To the notes.

Eric from Albany, Ore., writes: I get that Oregon State lost to Wazzu last year. I get that. No offense to Wazzu fans, but as a Beaver fan, I was as embarrassed as the next guy. Can we get passed that now? Most of the media is acting like our metaphorical wagon has not only lost it's wheels, but that it has been set on fire, shortly before blowing into thousands of tiny pieces. FACT: OSU has finished in the top 3 of the Pac-10, 3 out of the last 4 years. I'm kinda disappointed by the continual disrespect. We have probably the 2nd or 3rd best receiving core coming out of spring. The third best quarterback in the conference, who had a pretty darn good year considering his O-Line was trash. Our line looks better on both sides of the ball, and linebacker play is dramatically better. Let's not forget that while the Beavs finished 5-7 last year, they had the toughest schedule in the nation. IN THE NATION. I think many people have counted us out of the race, and we have the potential to be a VERY good team. I'm not saying we should be favored above Stanford, or Oregon, but can we get realistic about what's going on in Corvallis? Worse then 5-7? Come on Ted, you don't really believe that... do you?

Ted Miller: Not sure what you mean by "continual disrespect."

If you're frustrated that the so-called punditry doesn't seem to think Oregon State will be in the Pac-12 North Division mix next fall, well, there are plenty of reasons why.

For me, the Beavers' chief concerns are both lines. Unlike many folks, I'm more skeptical about the D-line than the O-line, which at least welcomes back four starters. The Beavers lost their two best defensive linemen to the NFL draft -- tackle Stephen Paea and end Gabe Miller -- and the unit didn't play particularly well in 2010.

As for your assertions: second or third best group of receivers? With a healthy, James Rodgers the Beavers have a good group of receivers -- indeed, maybe the second or third best in the conference. But Rodgers status after a severe knee injury is unclear. Without Rodgers, the Beavers would rank in the middle of the conference at the position.

Third best quarterback? Er, no. Ryan Katz has plenty of potential, but he falls behind Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Darron Thomas, Nick Foles and Jeff Tuel in terms of what he's actually accomplished on the field. Keep in mind: Katz was seventh in the conference in passing efficiency in 2010.

You write: "Our line looks better on both sides of the ball, and linebacker play is dramatically better." I didn't see the Beavers practice this spring, but the coverage I read didn't include the same level of optimism. For one, the Beavers are replacing two starters at OLB, and the pecking order at MLB is still uncertain. I know folks are excited about Michael Doctor and Cameron Collins, but they haven't done anything in a real game to support your level of certainty.

Based what we know today, I'd say six or seven wins is a realistic projection for Oregon State. Wouldn't be shocked with eight wins. Or five.

That said: Through the years, I've learned to never write off Oregon State, even after a slow start, which is practically an annual event in Corvallis.

Last season, in fact, I was among the folks projecting the Beavers as a nationally ranked team that would finish in the top-three of the conference.

Further, some of you Beavers fans might recall that I've seem to have some sort of odd, reverse predictive power with Oregon State: I pick the Beavers to win; they lose. I pick them to lose; they win.

So if my expectations for Oregon State aren't terribly high in 2011, well, maybe that's a good thing.

Bob from Raleigh, N.C., writes: There was some talk over spring ball that the Cats might redshirt QB Matt Scott to save him for next year, barring an injury to Foles. Any new word on that?

Ted Miller: That's the plan: If Nick Foles stays healthy, the Wildcats will try to redshirt Matt Scott this season so he can come back in 2012 and compete with Rutgers transfer Tom Savage for the starting job.

Derek from Pullman writes: If a team has a strong passing game and weak run game, should they be more worried about a strong secondary or strong rushing defense?For example, my Cougs should have no problem moving the ball through the air. And while I have a lot of hope in Galvin and Mitz, our running game is definitely the much larger question.Will our offense fair better as a one dimensional assault against a strong rushing defense but weak secondary? Or will not being able to move the ball at all on the ground hurt our aerial attack too much?

Ted Miller: If I were to advise you what you should most worry about, it would be a team with a great pass rush more than a good secondary.

Nothing is more critical for the Cougars this year than keeping Jeff Tuel healthy. He was sacked 51 times last year, so you know he's tough. But it's hard to imagine he can survive another 50 sack season intact.

Tuel has a strong group of receivers. If he gets time to throw, it won't matter how good the secondary is.

But here's the thing: If the Cougars can run at all -- say 120 or so yards per game -- that will make life much easier for an O-line trying to slow down a pass rush. And life much more difficult for a secondary that has to pay attention to run support.

Ted from Secretville, USA writes: I know that USC isn't eligible for the post season for this following season, and I'm not gonna bring it up. But the question I have is that do they still get the BCS Money cut?Last year Oregon, and Stanford both made BSC bowl games. Did USC still get the money from both teams making the BCS bowls? Or did they get left out because they weren't eligible?

Ted Miller: The NCAA penalties haven't -- and won't -- affect USC's football revenue. The Trojans will get a full share of BCS cash, as well as TV money, this year just as they did last year.

The truth is a two-year bowl ban likely will end up saving USC money because most teams run a deficit when they play in bowl games.

Liberal Duck from Eugene, Ore., writes: When I look at your picture I have to wonder why you aren't more tanned. For crying out loud, you live in Scottsdale. It's not like you're from Eugene or something.

Ted Miller: Many have noted the same thing.

I'm a vampire. The sun is not an option.

Here's an old mugshot.

Please, no stakes through the chest if you see me this fall.

Exiting the spring: Oregon State

April, 29, 2011
Oregon State concludes spring practices with its spring game on Saturday. Here's a brief primer.

Spring game: The Beavers play their spring game at 3:15 p.m. -- 12:15 PDT -- at Reser Stadium.

Questions answered: With starting quarterback Ryan Katz out, backups Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion were solid to impressive. There are few worries at quarterback -- Katz is throwing after a wrist injury -- which is always good. The outside linebackers are set with Cameron Collins and Michael Doctor. The secondary, led by safety Lance Mitchell, looks solid and there's good depth behind the starting four. Kicker Trevor Romaine has been consistent and may be an immediate upgrade on Justin Kahut.

Questions unanswered: A lot of questions heading into the offseason, starting with the health of wide receiver James Rodgers, whose return is uncertain after a serious knee injury, and continuing with the uncertain seriousness of tight end Joe Halahuni's shoulder problem. Those are two big presences in the passing game. The pecking order on the offensive line, at running back and middle linebacker are far from set. Ryan McCants, Jovan Stevenson, Jordan Jenkins and the freshmen Terron Ward and Malcolm Marable are in the mix at running back. While the left side of the O-line is set, the right is not: Burke Ellis and Michael Lamb are competing at guard, and Colin Kelly and Michael Philipp at tackle. Rueben Robinson, Kevin Unga and Tony Wilson are still splitting time at middle linebacker. Further, there are questions about who will provide consistent pressure on the quarterback from the D-line.

Spring stars: Doctor is going to be a player at weak-side linebacker. The move of Dominic Glover from defensive end to defensive tackle has yielded positive results. Jordan Poyer has been solid after replacing James Dockery at cornerback opposite Brandon Hardin. Markus Wheaton was a standout at receiver, and Obum Gwacham flashed some potential at the same spot. Spring started with writers celebrating Mannion over Vaz, but things reversed by the end -- mostly because of strong play by Vaz and not anything Mannion did or didn't do.

Nerds! Pac-10 releases All-Academic team

November, 16, 2010
Oregon running back LaMichael James is not only the Pac-10's leading Heisman Trophy candidate, he's pretty darn smart, too.

James earned a first-team spot on Pac-10 All-Academic Football Team. Stanford QB Andrew Luck, the conference's No. 2 Heisman candidate, is on the second-team.

Also on the team Stanford fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic and California linebacker Mike Mohamed, who previously were named National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award winners and are among the finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the academic Heisman.

Mohamed earned his third consecutive first-team academic honor. Also on the first-team for the third time are offensive lineman Micah Hannam and safety Chima Nwachukwu -- both of Washington State -- and Oregon State linebacker Cameron Collins.

Washington State led the Pac-10 with seven first-team members. Stanford had four, Oregon and Arizona three, Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA two and Washington and California one. USC didn't have any.

Stanford had seven players on the second-team. Cal and Oregon State had four, Oregon three, Washington and Arizona two, UCLA, USC and Washington State one. Arizona State didn't have any players on the second-team.

To be eligible for selection to the academic team, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant substitute.

You can read the full release from the Pac-10 and see the second-team here.


Pos. Name, School Yr. GPA Major


QB Steven Threet, Arizona State Jr. 3.82 General Studies

RB LaMichael James, Oregon So. 3.01 Sociology

RB Owen Marecic, Stanford Sr. 3.47 Human Biology

WR Jared Karstetter, Washington State Jr. 3.55 Zoology

WR Ryan Whalen, Stanford Sr. 3.53 Science, Technology and Society

TE David Paulson, Oregon (2) Jr. 3.66 Business Administration

OL Chase Beeler, Stanford (2) Sr. 3.68 History

OL Micah Hannam, Washington State (3) Sr. 3.58 Civil Engineering

OL Brendan Lopez, Washington Jr. 3.68 Microbiology

OL Chris Prummer, Washington State (2) Sr. 3.90 Zoology

OL Carson York, Oregon (2) So. 3.70 Journalism-Advertising


DL Dean DeLeone, Arizona State Sr. 3.41 Communication

DL Kevin Frahm, Oregon State (2) Jr. 3.25 Political Science

DL Kevin Kooyman, Washington State (2) Sr. 3.18 Management & Operations

DL Casey Hamlett, Washington State Sr. 3.77 Management & Operations

LB Cameron Collins, Oregon State (3) Jr. 3.48 Finance

LB Mike Mohamed, California (3) Sr. 3.43 Business Administration

LB Jake Fischer, Arizona So. 3.42 Pre-Business

DB Kyle McCartney, Washington State So. 3.87 Entrepreneurship

DB Chima Nwachukwu, Washington State (3) Sr. 3.85 Political Science

DB Taylor Skaufel, Stanford Sr. 3.43 Science, Technology and Society

DB Anthony Wilcox, Arizona Sr. 3.05 Religious Studies

PK John Bonano, Arizona Jr. 3.90 Pre-Physiology

P Jeff Locke, UCLA (2) So. 3.57 Economics

ST Danny Rees, UCLA Sr. 3.51 History

(2) Two-time first-team All-Academic selection

(3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection

Preseason position reviews: safety

August, 10, 2010
Safety in the Pac-10 this year? Solid for the most part.

Only UCLA, Oregon State and Washington "officially" welcome back both of their starting safeties, with the Bruins boasting perhaps the best in free safety in the nation: Rahim Moore. Only Arizona State and USC must find two new safeties.

So how do things stack up?

Great shape
  • UCLA: Moore, a true junior and 25-game starter, led the nation with 10 interceptions in 2009 and is a consensus All-American. Tony Dye ranked fourth on the Bruins with 73 tackles.
  • Oregon: Sure, the Ducks lost hard-hitting T.J. Ward to the NFL, but Ward was hurt much of last season, so John Boyett, the first freshman to lead the Ducks in tackles, and Javes Lewis, who played both free safety and rover, are returning starters, as is Eddie Pleasant, a linebacker starter in 2009 who's moved to rover.
  • Oregon State: Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins give the Beavers a solid, experienced combination and Suaesi Tuimaunei also has starting experience.
Good shape

  • Washington: Nathan Felner and Nate Williams are both returning starters, but the competition is ongoing among players with experience, not to mention touted incoming freshman Sean Parker.
  • Arizona: The Wildcats lost Cam Nelson, and Robert Golden might move back to cornerback after playing strong safety last year. Still, there's talent here. Adam Hall, a touted, 6-foot-4, 212-pound 2009 recruit, might make a move.
  • Arizona State: Both starters, Jarrell Holman and Ryan McFoy, are gone, but Clint Floyd and Keelan Johnson have started games and junior Eddie Elder has been surging since the spring.
  • California: While the Cal secondary didn't play well in 2009, Sean Cattouse is solid. Senior Chris Conte has converted to safety from cornerback, but he could be challenged in camp for the starting job.
  • Stanford: Strong safety Delano Howell should blossom as a junior, and Michael Thomas has potential at free safety. Still, the Cardinal secondary got burned in 2009 and is probably the team's biggest question mark.
We'll see
  • USC: The Trojans are replacing all four starters in their secondary, and the days of giving them a free pass based on recruiting rankings are over. Still, Jawanza Starling, T.J. McDonald and Drew McAllister (if he's healthy) are a talented trio.
  • Washington State: WSU lost free safety Xavier Hicks, but LeAndre Daniels, Chima Nwachukwu, Tyree Toomer, Casey Locker and Jamal Atofau give the Cougars hope at the position.

A look back at 2007 recruiting

July, 21, 2010
The 2007 recruiting class members are either seniors or redshirt juniors this fall, so they should be the backbones of most Pac-10 team's starting lineups.

Therefore, it seems like a reasonable moment to look back and review some recruiting hits and misses. (And, yes, we did this last summer with the 2006 class, which you can review here -- Ducks fans should get a kick out of it).

As for the 2007 rankings, USC ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to's Scouts Inc. Oregon, at No. 23, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25. ranked USC No. 2 in the nation, Oregon ninth, and California 12th. The rest of the Pac-10 went, in order, Washington (29th in nation), UCLA (36th), Arizona State (38), Oregon State (40), Stanford (43), Arizona (49) and Washington State (54).

Here's an overview.


Class: 17

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (DE Apaiata Tuihalamaka, TE Rob Gronkowski)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (RB Nic Grigsby, CB Trevin Wade, WR William Wright, K Alex Zendejas)

Misses: Tuihalamaka, QB Bryson Beirne,

Verdict: Obviously, the biggest catch of this class, Gronkowski, is gone. Otherwise, a lot of these guys qualify for the "where are they now?" file.

Arizona State

Class: 24

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (C Garth Gerhart, WR Kerry Taylor, CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, OG Matt Hustad)

Misses: OL Po'u Palelei, LB Oliver Aaron

Verdict: This is a decent class, particularly when you factor in the contribution of the since-departed JC signees, such as LB Morris Wooten and DE Luis Vasquez. And there are several non-starters who will contribute this year.


Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (OT Matt Summers-Gavin, P Bryan Anger, LB D.J. Holt, WR Alex Lagemann, OT Mitchell Schwartz, S Sean Cattouse, S Chris Conte, OG Justin Cheadle, DE Cameron Jordan, RB Shane Vereen).

Misses: QB Brock Mansion, CB D.J. Campbell

Verdict: Obviously,'s Scouts Inc., missed with its evaluation of this solid recruiting class, particularly when you consider RB Jahvid Best, WR Nyan Boateng and LB Devin Bishop were significant contributors before their tenures were done. Jordan and Vereen obviously were well underrated. And there were 21 running backs better than Best?


Class: 29

ESPNU top 150 players: 1 (DE Kenny Rowe)

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (Rowe, WR D.J. Davis, LB Casey Matthews, CB Talmadge Jackson, OG Carson York, TE David Paulson, OG Mark Asper, WR Jeff Maehl, S Eddie Pleasant, DE Terrell Turner).

Misses: DT Myles Wade, S Malachi Lewis

Verdict: When you toss in DE Will Tukuafu, WR Aaron Pflugrad (a starter who transferred to Arizona State) and WR Terence Scott, this is a good, if not great, class. Three or four of these guys should be All-Conference players.

Oregon State

Class: 35

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (HB Joe Halahuni, S Cameron Collins, WR Darrell Catchings, CB Brandon Hardin, FB Will Darkins, DE Taylor Henry, LB Keith Pankey, WR James Rodgers)

Misses: CB David Ross, RB Reggie Dunn

Verdict: We don't have the time to go back and retrace the maneuvers that are part of managing a 35-man recruiting class (each class can only include a maximum of 25 members, but there are lots of ways to fudge numbers). Obviously, there are the Beavers typical crew of so-called diamonds in the rough -- hello, James Rodgers -- but here's a guess that coach Mike Riley winces over some of these names. Certainly not a lot of production from the six JC guys.


Class: 19

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Six (P David Green, CB Corey Gatewood, LB/FB Owen Marecic, TE Coby Fleenor, DE Thomas Keiser, DE Matt Masifilo)

Misses: QB L. D. Crow, S Sean Wiser

Verdict: An interesting class considering that six of the eight lowest rated players are on the Cardinal's preseason two-deep depth chart, including three starters. In terms of skill positions -- see the two QBs -- this class doesn't measure up.


Class: 11

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (QB Chris Forcier, RB Raymond Carter)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (LB Akeem Ayers, LB Glenn Love, LB Steve Sloan, DT Nate Chandler, OT Mike Harris)

Misses: Forcier, Carter

Verdict: This is a very small but highly productive class collected by former coach Karl Dorrell -- note that it includes DT Brian Price, who bolted early for the NFL. The only busts were the two highest rated players, Forcier and Carter, and JC LB Mike Schmitt. The other eight members are either on the two-deep or, in Price's case, already in the NFL.


Class: 20

ESPNU top 150 players: 10 (RB Joe McKnight, LB Chris Galippo, RB Marc Tyler, S Marshall Jones, DE Everson Griffen, QB Aaron Corp, WR Ronald Johnson, OT Martin Coleman, DT DaJohn Harris, C Kris O'Dowd)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (LB Chris Galippo, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristofer O'Dowd, LB Malcolm Smith)

Misses: S Marshall Jones, OT Martin Coleman

Verdict: Obviously, this class, ranked No. 1 in the nation, was overrated, even when you factor in that McKnight, Griffen and Damian Williams already are in the NFL, and NT Christian Tupou would be a second-year starter if he didn't blow out his knee this spring. Lots of guys who never contributed or left the program.


Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (WR Devin Aguilar, LB Alvin Logan, LB Cort Dennison, SS Nate Williams, LB Mason Foster, CB Quinton Richardson, DE Kalani Aldrich, K Erik Folk)

Misses: DE Emeka Iweka, DT Nick Wood

Verdict: You read the names of the seven highest-rated players in this class and you have one reaction: Terrible. But then you see six defensive starters among the lower rated guys. Still, the Huskies defense is a huge question mark. How it performs this year will tell you how this class should be rated.

Washington State

Class: 26

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (CB Aire Justin, WR Daniel Blackledge, C Andrew Roxas, OG B.J. Guerra, SS Chima Nwachukwu)

Misses: WR Deon Ford

Verdict: Not much should be expected from Bill Doba's final recruiting class, and this one doesn't deliver much sizzle. A couple of solid hits, though, including a couple of departed JC transfers.

Oregon State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010

2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 6-3 (tied for second)

Returning starters

Offense: 8, Defense: 7, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners: RB Jacquizz Rodgers, WR James Rodgers, C Alex Linnenkohl, DT Stephen Paea, DE Gabe Miller, LB Dwight Roberson, CB James Dockery

Key losses: QB Sean Canfield, LB Keaton Kristick, LB David Pa'aluhi, DE Matt LaGrone

2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers* (1,440)

Passing: Sean Canfield (3,271)

Receiving: James Rodgers* (1,034)

Tackles: Keaton Kristick (95)

Sacks: Stephen Paea*, Gabe Miller* (3)

Interceptions: Lance Mitchell* (3)

Spring Answers

1. Cool Katz: Sophomore Ryan Katz entered the spring as the favorite to win the quarterback job and he didn't disappoint. He has a big arm and good mobility. All he is missing is experience. He'll enter fall camp as the clear leader, while Peter Lalich and Cody Vaz compete for the backup job.

2. There are plenty of offensive weapons: Everything starts with the Rodgers brothers, running back Jacquizz and receiver James, but it doesn't end there. Receivers Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop and tight end/H-Back Joe Halahuni will give Katz plenty of options when he distributes the football.

3. Solid in the secondary: The Beavers will be experienced -- not to mention big -- in the secondary, with three starters back from 2009 and all four first-teamers measuring over 6-feet. James Dockery and 6-foot-2, 219-pound Brandon Hardin are the corners, while Lance Mitchell, 230-pound Cameron Collins and Suaesi Tuimaunei have combined for 29 starts at safety.

Fall questions

1. Front seven issues: Taylor Henry stepped up at defensive end after Matt LaGrone quit the team, but what's unclear is if he can hold off touted JC transfer Dominic Glover as the starter. Things also are fluid at linebacker. Will Keith Pankey be 100 percent by fall camp after missing spring with a torn Achilles tendon? Will Tony Wilson or Rueben Robinson step in at middle linebacker?

2. How will the offensive line shake out? Starters Grant Johnson and Michael Philipp missed spring with injuries, which forced line coach Mike Cavanaugh to do some mixing and matching. The good news was the re-emergence of tackle Wilder McAndrews, who almost quit due to persistent wrist problem. It's possible that McAndrews could take over at left tackle and Philipp could move inside to guard. Then Johnson and Burke Ellis could compete at the other guard.

3. Who is Katz’s backup? The story of spring might have been Katz's impressive effort, but Vaz also deserves note. His rise is more about how well he played than Lalich not producing. Considering how often a backup quarterback is needed, this will be an interesting competition to follow during fall camp.

Quick notes from Oregon State's practice

April, 7, 2010
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Watched Oregon State's practice Wednesday so here are some quick observations.

  • While the big story is the quarterback competition between Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich -- Katz is clearly ahead -- what I came away with was the feeling the Beavers are well-stocked at quarterback. Both Katz and Lalich look the part and can make plays. Redshirt freshman Cody Vaz also was impressive.
  • Vaz hooked up with split end Darrell Catchings on what might have been the play of the afternoon. Catchings hauled in a deep toss from Vaz under tight coverage by trapping it against his helmet as he fell out of bounds. "Good coverage, good catch," said coach Mike Riley.
  • Defensive tackle Stephen Paea is one thick dude. He played at around 285 last year and said he's around 310 now -- and it looks like all the new weight is muscle. It's well-distributed on his 6-foot-1 frame and he's far from top-heavy. His lower body is as impressive as his upper.
  • Receiver James Rodgers and cornerback James Dockery had a couple of nice one-on-one battles, with the 6-foot-1 Dockery holding his own vs. the powerful, super-quick, 5-foot-7 Rodgers.
  • Brandon Hardin has to be the biggest starting cornerback in the Pac-10. He's a linebacker-like 6-foot-2, 219 pounds. In fact, he and No. 1 safety Cameron Collins, who is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, have to be the biggest secondary pair in the conference.
  • The move of Kevin Frahm from defensive end to tackle seems like a good call. While he's undersized at 267 pounds, he'll be more effective as a quick tackle in the Beavers gap-cancellation scheme than as an end who struggled to disengage blockers against the run and was perhaps a step slow on the perimeter.
  • The loss of middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi and end Matt LaGrone -- both quit for personal reasons -- were substantial blows to the defense, but LaGrone's departure might hurt worse. Sophomore Tony Wilson is a capable replacement at linebacker, but it remains to be seen whether sophomore pass-rushing specialist Taylor Henry can be an every-down end. The coaches are crossing their fingers that junior college transfer Dominic Glover -- a former Oregon player -- will be able to step in and help immediately.
  • On the plus side, everybody seems to feel that DE Gabe Miller is headed toward a potential All-Conference sort of season.
  • It's obvious who is the leader of the offensive line: center Alex Linnenkohl. The three-year starter seems to spend almost all of his downtime during drills giving tips to younger players.
  • Incoming freshman quarterback Sean Mannion watched practice with his dad, John, who has been hired as Silverton (Ore.) High School's new head football coach.

Arizona State's Nixon leads the smart guys

December, 2, 2009
Let us remember as the season winds down that the teams we follow with such passion are made up of college students.

So, we present this year's Pac-10 All-Academic team, which is topped by three-time first-team selection Mike Nixon, the fine linebacker -- and former professional baseball player -- from Arizona State.

Last week, Nixon also was named a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. In addition to Nixon, nine other players were named to the Pac-10 academic team for the second time.

You also will notice that Stanford's Toby Gerhart, a top Heisman Trophy candidate, is a first-team member. Gerhart boasts a 3.25 GPA in management science & engineering, which sounds hard to me.

For those keeping score -- you always do -- Stanford has the most first-team members with eight. Washington State has five and Oregon State four. California has three, Oregon has two and Arizona State, UCLA and Washington have one apiece.

Neither Arizona nor USC had a first-team member.

To be eligible for selection, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant substitute.

To see the second-team and honorable mentions, click here.


Pos. Name, School Yr. GPA Major

  • QB Andrew Luck, Stanford RFr. 3.55 Undeclared
  • RB Josh Catron, Stanford Sr. 3.48 Economics
  • RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford Sr. 3.25 Management Science & Engineering
  • WR Casey Kjos, Oregon State (2) Jr. 3.63 Psychology & Sociology
  • WR Alex Lagemann, California Jr. 3.68 Media Studies
  • TE David Paulson, Oregon So. 3.68 Business Administration
  • OL Mark Boskovich, California (2) Jr. 3.73 Political Science
  • OL Micah Hannam, Washington State (2)Jr. 3.59 Civil Engineering
  • OL Andrew Phillips, Stanford Jr. 3.53 Classics
  • OL Chris Prummer, Washington State Jr. 3.88 Zoology
  • OL Carson York, Oregon RFr. 3.70 Journalism
  • DL Kevin Frahm, Oregon State So. 3.24 Political Science
  • DL Kevin Kooyman, Washington State Sr. 3.16 Management & Operations
  • DL Erik Lorig, Stanford Sr. 3.12 Public Policy
  • DL Tom McAndrew, Stanford (2) Sr. 3.58 Science, Technology & Society
  • LB Mike Mohamed, California (2) Jr. 3.43 Business Administration
  • LB Mike Nixon, Arizona State (3) Sr. 4.07 Political Science
  • LB Will Powers, Stanford (2) Sr. 3.48 Classics
  • DB Victor Aiyewa, Washington (2) Jr. 3.36 Sociology
  • DB Cameron Collins, Oregon State (2) So. 3.37 Business
  • DB Jay Matthews, Washington State RFr. 3.68 Undeclared
  • DB Chima Nwachukwu, Washington State (2)Jr. 3.79 Political Science
  • PK Nate Whitaker, Stanford Jr. 3.38 Engineering
  • P Jeff Locke, UCLA RFr. 3.69 Undeclared
  • RS Taylor Kavanaugh, Oregon State Sr. 3.28 Construction Engineering
(2) Two-time first-team All-Academic selection

(3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection