Pac-12: Chris Forcier

Quarterbacks come and go for a variety of reasons. Some simply aren't happy in a new state or in another part of the country. Others decide football isn't the sport for them. Many feel their talents are being wasted on the bench. It always seems like the grass is greener. Sometimes the move works out. Sometimes it doesn't.

Inspired by the move of Wes Lunt to leave Oklahoma State, the Pac-12 blog thought it would be fun to look back fondly at some of the quarterbacks who have left the conference following the 2008 season (a full four-year cycle). A special thanks to the league's sports information directors for helping compile this list and whatever information is available (which isn't the case with some players).

Here's the team-by-team breakdown of some of the recently departed signal callers no longer calling signals in the Pac-12.

Arizona
  • Tom Savage: Transferred to Pitt after the 2011 season. Eligible to play in 2013.
  • Cam Allerheiligen: Left after the 2011 season. Went on to play baseball at Weatherford College.
Arizona State
  • No QB transfers since 2008.
California
  • Beau Sweeney: Transferred after the 2010 season to Cornell. Appeared as a quarterback and TE/H-Back.
  • Allan Bridgford: Transferred after the 2012 season to Southern Miss.
Colorado
  • Matt Ballenger: Transferred after the 2008 season to College of Idaho and went on to be an all-conference basketball player.
  • Nick Hirschman: Transferred to Akron following the 2012 season.
Oregon
  • Chris Harper: Transferred to Kansas State after the 2008 season and became a wide receiver, leading the Wildcats in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2011.
  • Justin Roper: Transferred to Montana after the 2008 season, completed 61.5 percent of his throws with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2010.
  • Jeremiah Masoli: Transferred to Mississippi after the 2009 season. Is now with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
  • Brennan Doty: (Walk-on) transferred to Lamar to play basketball.
  • Bryan Bennett: Transferred to Southeastern Louisiana after the 2012 season.
Oregon State
  • Justin Engstrom: Transferred to Portland State after the 2008 season. Was a backup.
  • Brennan Sim: Transferred to South Alabama after the 2008 season.
  • Peter Lalich: Transferred to California University of Pennsylvania after the 2009 season.
  • Ryan Katz: Transferred to San Diego State before the 2012 season and was the starter until an injury knocked him out for the year.
  • Jack Lomax: Left the team prior to the 2012 season.
Stanford
  • L.D. Crow: Transferred to UCF after the 2008 season.
  • Nick Ruhl: (Walk-on) transferred to Menlo College after the 2008 season. Returned to Stanford and graduated with two degrees.
  • Adam Brzeczek: (Walk-on) transferred to Montana after the 2011 season. Did not attempt a pass in 2012, but appeared in two games and rushed for 33 yards on three carries with a touchdown.
  • Brett Nottingham: Transferred to Columbia after the 2012 season.
UCLA
  • Chris Forcier: Transferred to Furman after the 2008 season.
  • Nick Crissman: Graduated in 2012, but intended to transfer to play one more year
USC
  • Aaron Corp: Transferred to Richmond after the 2009 season.
  • Jesse Scroggins: Trasnferred to El Camino Junior College after the 2011 season and has since joined Arizona.
Utah
  • Corbin Louks: Transferred to Nevada after the 2008 season.
  • Griff Robles: Transferred after the 2011 season to Dixie State College. Utah had converted Robles to a linebacker, but he wanted to play quarterback. Appeared in 11 games last year, completing 50.9 percent of his throws with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
  • Tyler Shreve: Transferred to Riverside Community College after the 2011 season to play football and baseball.
Washington
  • Ronnie Fouch: Transferred to Indiana State after the 2009 season. Went on to start 22 games and posted 38 touchdowns to 15 interceptions with more than 4,300 passing yards in his career.
  • Nick Montana: Transferred to to Mt. San Antonio College after the 2011 season and is now at Tulane.
Washington State
  • J.T. Levenseller: Transferred to Eastern Washington after the 2008 season.
  • Cody Clements: Transferred to Cerritos College following the 2012 season.

Looking back at 2007 recruiting

January, 31, 2011
1/31/11
4:30
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Recruiting is an inexact science -- just ask any coach. Recruiting rankings are the same.

ESPN Recruiting went back and reviewed its 2007 rankings and found it had plenty of hits and plenty of misses.

Right USC?

Recall that the Trojans had the nation's No. 1 class, featuring four top-20 players and eight in the top-50. Some of the names will inspire a "who?" from those who don't follow recruiting closely.

Oregon and Stanford, which earned the Pac-10's two BCS bowl berths this season, only had one player on the 2007 ESPNU 150: Oregon's Kenny Rowe. Rowe was also the only member of the ESPNU 150 from 2007 to earn first- or second-team All-Pac-10 honors this year, though a couple, such as Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski, are already in the NFL.

You can start your review of the ESPNU 150 from 2007 here.

Here's a re-ranking of the top-10 of the recruiting rankings.

And here's a "best of" from the ESPNU 150.

For quick reference, here are the Pac-12 players who made the list.

Top 25
1. Joe McKnight, RB, USC
2. Chris Galippo, LB, USC
3. Marc Tyler, RB, USC
18. Marshall Jones, S, USC

25-50
31. Everson Griffen, DE, USC
33. Aaron Corp, QB, USC
43. Dominique Herald, S, USC
47. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC

51-75
68. Martin Coleman, OT, USC
70. Apaiata Tuihalamaka, DE, Arizona
71. Ryan Miller, OT, Colorado

76-100
None

101-125
104. Conrad Obi, DE, Colorado
107. DaJohn Harris, DT, USC
111. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
116. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
122. Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC

126-150
133. Chris Forcier, QB, UCLA
135. Raymond Carter, RB, UCLA

A look back at 2007 recruiting

July, 21, 2010
7/21/10
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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 ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. Oregon, at No. 23, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25.

Scout.com 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.

Arizona

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.

California

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, ESPN.com'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?

Oregon

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.

Stanford

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.

UCLA

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.

USC

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.

Washington

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.

While you were on vacation ... UCLA

July, 28, 2009
7/28/09
4:43
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The seventh of 10 quick updates on offseason Pac-10 goings on.

UCLA in a sentence

  • Year Two of the Rick Neuheisel Era comes on the heels of an outstanding recruiting haul in February and features 17 returning starters and legitimate hope for a push into the top-half of Pac-10 standings and a bowl berth.

The big issue

  • The Bruins, even with guru Norm Chow calling the shots, were terrible on offense in 2008, and struggles at quarterback and along the offensive front will be nagging concerns until youthful players break through.

Quick hit news

  • Six players will not return for various reasons -- safety E.J. Woods, quarterback Chris Forcier, offensive lineman Sonny Tevaga, receiver Dominique Johnson and running backs Raymond Carter and Aundre Dean.
  • Besides returning starters, the Bruins have five players again available who would have started last year but were out for various reasons back: running back Christian Ramirez, tight end Logan Paulsen, center Kai Maiava, fullback Trevor Theriot and offensive tackle Sean Sheller.
  • Joseph Fauria, 6-7, 260-pound tight end, transfer from Notre Dame to UCLA. He will be eligible to play in 2010.

Pac-10 lunch links: Forcier -- Fact! -- talks about odd UCLA exit

June, 15, 2009
6/15/09
2:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Virtue! A fig!

Pac-10 lunch links: Beavers tightening their belts

June, 5, 2009
6/05/09
2:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Oregon State is focusing on belt-tightening in this economic climate, Cliff Kirkpatrick writes in the Corvallis Gazette-Times, though the Beavers are trying to avoid dropping sports.

[Athletic director Bob De Carolis] pointed out revenue is down $1 million in its Beaver Athletic Scholarship Fund fund-raising effort for this time of the year to $10 million.

Approximately 1,000 donors have stopped contributing with only 400 new ones replacing them. There is a 12 percent non-renewal rate in season tickets, dropping the level to about 1,200.

Budget issues will be a main focus of the upcoming Pac-10 meetings.

• With coveted recruit Jake Heaps going to BYU, Washington will turn its search for a future quarterback to Jesse Scroggins and Nick Montana, Todd Milles writes in the Tacoma News Tribune.

The Oregon Daily Emerald has a feature on Mike Bellotti transitioning from the sidelines to athletic director.

• UCLA quarterback Chris Forcier, the brother of Michigan's Tate Forcier, is transferring to Furman, Brian Dohn says in the L.A. Daily News.

• Topps is set to release a Jackie Robinson card in his UCLA football uniform, Adam Rose blogs in the L.A. Times.

Prince No. 1 on UCLA depth chart

April, 30, 2009
4/30/09
2:21
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Rick Neuheisel just announced that redshirt freshman Kevin Prince will be UCLA's starting quarterback.

No surprise there. He was the clear leader throughout spring practices, even if he struggled in three scrimmages, completing just 24 of 57 passes for 280 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Neuheisel also said he hadn't decided who will be No. 2 on the depth chart between true freshman Richard Brehaut and senior Kevin Craft, the 2008 starter.

Neuheisel acknowledged that Craft, who saw few repetitions with the No. 1 offense this spring after throwing 20 interceptions last year, probably doesn't feel like he was given a fair shake to recapture his job.

"I know Kevin Craft is disappointed," Neuheisel said. "He probably feels he wasn't given a fair opportunity. That's OK. It's not necessarily about fair, it's about getting the right guy in the saddle. And if Kevin Craft didn't think he was the right guy and wasn't a little bit miffed, I'd be disappointed in him."

With his position as the starter defined, Prince can now take a leadership role during the off-season. That's often a large reason for a coaching staff deciding to name a No. 1 at the end of spring practices.

"Our players will now know who to look to," Neuheisel said. "It takes a little of the uncertainty out of the way."

Neuheisel also said that former quarterback Chris Forcier, who was moved to receiver during spring practices, hadn't decided yet if he would remain with the Bruins or transfer to another school where he can play quarterback.

Pac-10 lunch links: An angry Sullivan fights to be ASU's QB

April, 3, 2009
4/03/09
2:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting.

  • Have folks written off Danny Sullivan too quickly as Arizona State's 2009 quarterback? That's what a peeved Sullivan thinks, and the more important news is his opinion is shared by coach Dennis Erickson. Sun Devils are a little banged up.
  • Arizona is ahead of the times using hybrids
  • Oregon's new D-line coach is an energetic sort.
  • All Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao can do right now is chill. And watch Sean Canfield try to take his job.
  • It appears former Chris Forcier has returned to UCLA as a receiver instead of a quarterback. Speaking of quarterback, there's a competition there, ya' know.
  • USC quarterback Aaron Corp is trying to outrun his competition. 
  • Washington's new coaching staff is moving guys around, showing a lot of energy. It appears that Steve Sarkisian hasn't taken a fancy to the Seattle weather. Jake Locker is done with baseball for now.
  • Washington State is giving special focus to its special teams.
  • Who's the Pac-10's "Tight End U"?

Pac-10 lunch links: Canfield under center this spring for Beavers

March, 31, 2009
3/31/09
3:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Happy birthday Cesar Chavez! And Gabe Kaplan.

Spring football Q&A: UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel

March, 11, 2009
3/11/09
10:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Things are always interesting with Rick Neuheisel, and his first season coaching UCLA was no exception.

The Bruins opened with an overtime win over Tennessee. Then went splat, 59-zip, at BYU. And so started a decidedly inconsistent season.

With poor play at quarterback, no running game and a porous offensive line -- and that's sugarcoating things for the woeful offense -- UCLA finished 4-8 and in eighth place in the Pac-10.

 
  Joe Nicholson/US Presswire
  Rick Neuheisel was 4-8 in his first season at UCLA.

But Bruins fans felt a lot better after Neuheisel fetched a highly rated recruiting class, which reignited whispers that -- just maybe -- USC should start looking over its shoulder and worrying about its football, er, monopoly in Los Angeles.

Spring practices don't crank up until April 2, but it seems like a good time to check in.

Let's look back on 2008: What were you happy with and unhappy with?

Rick Neuheisel: I thought our team played hard, but we lacked the proficiency to be a good team. We never got any consistency as an offense. Defensively, we hung in there most games, but we weren't stout enough to be a three-and-out type team. Our kickoff situation put us in a field position deficit because we weren't able to kick the ball off very far. We'd end up having to go long distances with respect to field position. We've got a lot of things to get better at if we're going to be a better football team. But the influx of new, young talent, the great effort in weight room and so forth, I think is going to lead to that.

How exited are you that the whole 'Neuheisel is back' won't be the big story this year?

RN: I'm excited the focus will be on our football team. Obviously, this was a program that needed a kick start with respect to the recruiting and excitement and that stuff. We were fortunate to have a big win at the start of the season that reminded folks how fun football can be. Now it's up to us to deliver that on a more regular basis. Obviously, if we could get to a bowl game this year, that would be a step in the right direction. I think a year from now, we're going to be a team that can compete for the top prizes.

You guys got a lot of publicity about your recruiting success on signing day.

RN: Recruiting went well. Recruiting went really well. It was kind of a validation of what I thought all along: That you can recruit at UCLA. That if you do it the right way and go after the right guys you can deliver. I was pleased to see that was possible.

(Read full post)

Friday mailbag: Mistakes, worries and dreams for the Pac-10

February, 27, 2009
2/27/09
6:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

A couple of things first.

USC fans: Yes, I forgot about Josh Pinkard getting his sixth year of eligibility in my look at Pac-10 cornerbacks.

Actually, it was worse than that. I'm looking at my notepad where I wrote, "Pinkard back/sixth year granted." So despite my best efforts I was a big pile of stupid on that one.

Second, the position reviews and other stories we're doing right now -- "Out of the Shadows" "Newcomers to watch" -- are specifically focused on spring football. So guys who are hurt or incoming freshmen who aren't already enrolled aren't part of the discussion.

On to the mail.

RS from Parts Unknown writes: At the very least I hope the new commish will improve the Pac 10 bowl tie-ins. The Big 10 gets 3 New Year's Day bowls and 2 in Florida? We need at least one more quality bowl against the SEC, not the MWC or WAC.

Ted Miller: I don't think there's a single Pac-10 fan who wouldn't want: 1. Another New Year's Day bowl; 2. A bowl vs. the SEC.

But how do you do it? Particularly in the short term, in this economy?

The sad truth is the Florida bowls don't want the Pac-10 because the Pac-10 won't travel across the country en masse for a bowl game.

So that means either creating a new bowl, which will require a sugar daddy (or business or municipality) with millions to spare. Or an existing bowl -- like say the Holiday Bowl -- could move to New Year's Day.

But the likelihood of that happening is remote.

As far as the SEC: Its bowl arrangements couldn't be much better. Why would it want to change?


Skaner from Los Angeles writes: I already know how bad it could get in football for my beloved Bruins. However, what is the best case scenario for the Bruins in the upcoming season? I am predicting 8 wins, am I asking for too much?

Ted Miller: Are you saying eight wins is your best-case scenario? Because I can spread fairy dust on the 2009 slate and even imagine a magical nine-win season.

Eight wins sounds like the high end but also not inconceivable. The range seems to be five to eight wins, with the likelihood that the Bruins will be pressing late to get that sixth win and earn bowl eligibility.

Still, I've got a hunch that UCLA will significantly improve.

(Read full post)

Pac-10 spring position battles

February, 24, 2009
2/24/09
10:00
AM ET

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.

1. USC: Mitch Mustain vs. Aaron Corp vs. Matt Barkley

  • 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.

2. California: Kevin Riley vs. Brock Mansion

  • 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.

3. Arizona State: Danny Sullivan vs. Samson Szakacsy vs. Chasen Stangel vs. Jack Elway vs. Brock Osweiler

  • 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.

4. Arizona: Matt Scott vs. Nick Foles vs. Bryson Beirne

  • 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.

5. UCLA: Kevin Craft vs. Kevin Prince vs. Chris Forcier vs. Richard Brehaut

  • 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.

Pac-10 lunch links: Is Stoops in trouble?

November, 26, 2008
11/26/08
10:44
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I love links. Linky, link, link. Here it goes down, down into my belly.

  • Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood doesn't seem to be pointing a finger at coach Mike Stoops, but he admits it's troubling how often the Wildcats lose close games.
  • Arizona State's Paul Fanaika is a walk-on who made good.
  • California coach Jeff Tedford is reminding his team that, as bad as Washington is, the Huskies rushed for 360 yards in a 2007 victory over the Bears.
  • A challenge for Oregon to step up against the rising Beavers. This Civil War, however, the Ducks' offense is set, though running back LeGarrette Blount is ill.
  • What will Oregon State do without running back Jacquizz Rodgers?
  • Tom Craft, former San Diego State coach and father of UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft, defends his son. But it's possible backup Chris Forcier could see action at Arizona State.
  • USC safety Kevin Ellison has been cleared to play against Notre Dame. The Trojans have a different plan for the tailback-by-committee approach.
  • Critical blown coverage in Apple Cup still hurting Washington safety.
  • It's a Hawaii homecoming for this Cougar.
  • Jon Wilner's BCS bowl projections.

Pac-10 power rankings

October, 27, 2008
10/27/08
9:37
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Sorting out the Pac-10 pecking order after nine weeks.

1. USC: The defense was completely dominant against Arizona, but the offense was lacking in a 17-10 win. If the Trojans have title game aspirations, they probably need to do more than just win -- they need to win big. With Washington coming to town, that's sure to happen.

2. Oregon: The Ducks leap over their bucktoothed neighbors due to a resounding domination of Arizona State that may have resolved the quarterback quandary with Jeremiah Masoli earning top billing over Justin Roper. Huge showdown at California on Saturday figures to eliminate at least one team from the Holiday Bowl hunt.

3. Oregon State: Now the Beavers, coming out of a bye week, get to play host to the wounded Sun Devils, who looked, er, marooned against the Ducks. OSU fans are eager to remind you that they now control their Pac-10 destiny -- win out, and the Beavers go to the Rose Bowl.

4. Arizona: Though this reasoning might not work in the Wildcats' locker room, there were a lot of positives to take from the 17-10 loss to USC. Hey, they scored as many points against USC as the potent Ducks and their defense put the clamps on the Trojans better than anyone has. The big question is the next step, and the Wildcats get some time to think about it. They have a bye, and then they'll pick up their sixth victory at Washington State on Nov. 8 and earn bowl eligibility.

5. California: California's solid win over UCLA signaled that the Bears will be in the fight for the long haul. And it helps that they've probably resolved their quarterback issues with Kevin Riley earning the starting job. With Oregon coming to town, a national ranking is likely at stake.

6. Stanford: Coming out of a bye week, Stanford will pick up its fifth win with Washington State coming to Palo Alto. Guess here is that the Cardinal might run for 300-plus yards with their power attack against the woeful Cougars. That will leave the Cardinal needing one more win to earn bowl eligibility with a rugged remaining schedule: at Oregon, USC and at Cal.

7. UCLA: One step forward, one step back. The Bruins need more consistency out of quarterback Kevin Craft and it's not certain that he will be able to give it to them this season. But what would really help is if the team could get healthy. This week's bye should help both issues, as coaches figure to give backup Chris Forcier another look.

8. Arizona State: Fair to say the Sun Devils are in full crisis mode. An ugly monochromatic uniform gimmick didn't work against Oregon, and it's unlikely a running game will suddenly appear in time to help the cause at Oregon State. Even reliable things like Rudy Carpenter and the defense faltered in the 54-20 drubbing at home. At least the Sun Devils have the state of Washington to look forward to on the schedule.

9. Washington: The Huskies seemed to wave a white flag on the season against Notre Dame. There was nothing encouraging in a performance that surely was galling for Tyrone Willingham. What's left to say? This is a terrible team showing little resolve that likely won't even raise its fists for a fight until the Apple Cup on Nov. 22.

10. Washington State: Washington State moved up this week -- from 11 to 10. Bye weeks are powerful things. The bad news is the Cougars have to play again on Saturday, this time losing at Stanford.

What we learned in the Pac-10: Week 9

October, 26, 2008
10/26/08
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Revelations from the past weekend's action.

Nobody plays better defense than USC: USC's defense has given up just 10 points in its last 14 quarters. Its 8.1 points per game leads the nation by more than two full points. It also yields only 215.57 yards per game, also tops in the nation. And dominating an experienced and high-powered Arizona offense in its own stadium is impressive. The Wildcats entered Saturday's game ranking ninth in the nation in scoring with 40 points per game, but they only scored 10 against the Trojans, the touchdown coming on a 15-yard drive following a USC fumble. The Wildcats gained just 188 total yards, 54 in the second half. The USC defense was hyped entering the season and it may actually be exceeding the hype.

Oregon and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli made a statement by winning big at Arizona State: Oregon's 54-20 pounding of Arizona State in front of the Sun Devils dispirited home fans made an aggressive statement for the Ducks. First, it was an impressive win on the road. The Sun Devils offense has been struggling, but their defense has been solid and improving weekly before yielding 537 yards to Oregon. Second, the performance may have made Masoli the Ducks quarterback for the rest of the season. Masoli completed 17 of 26 passes for 147 yards with a touchdown and interception while rushing for a team-high 85 yards on eight carries. While Justin Roper came off the bench in the fourth quarter and completed all four of his passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, coach Mike Bellotti may prefer the dual-threat Masoli offers. Oregon visits California next weekend in a game with significant implications in the Pac-10 pecking order.

California should stick with quarterback Kevin Riley the rest of the season: Riley's numbers weren't terribly good -- 11 for 22, 153 yards, two touchdowns -- but he didn't turn the ball over and, most of all, he's now 4-1 as the Bears starter. Moreover, he led an effort that answered whether Cal would suffer another second-half slide due to uninspired play. The Bears played hard in their 41-20 win over UCLA, and they will now play host to Oregon with a chance to create some separation in the top-third of the conference. Riley has three clear advantages over Longshore: 1. He doesn't turn the ball over (see just two interceptions in 128 passes); 2. He's more mobile and therefore can escape a pass rush and create a positive plays with his feet; 3. He's a sophomore (Longshore is a senior) and will be the quarterback two more seasons.

UCLA's offense doesn't seem to be improving with quarterback Kevin Craft: It might be time to give Chris Forcier a chance as UCLA's starting quarterback. Even though Kevin Craft has shown admirable resiliency leading a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks, he doesn't seem to be getting more consistent. And, judging by television shots that seem to follow almost every possession of coach Rick Neuheisel chewing Craft out on the sidelines, his inconsistency might eventually give his coach a heart attack. Craft threw four interceptions in the loss at California, matching his stunning first-half total in the opener against Tennessee, but this time he didn't redeem himself and was equally ineffective in the second half. While Forcier (1 for 5 for nine yards and a touchdown) wasn't much better, it might be wise to see what the redshirt freshman can do as a starter.

USC faces a big climb to get back to the national title game: Penn State's victory over Ohio State put a big crimp in USC's hopes of getting back into the national championship game. First, it hurts the Trojans strength of schedule because they beat Ohio State. Second, Penn State, with three unranked and unaccomplished foes ahead, has smooth sailing toward an unbeaten season. But Saturday was unhelpful in other ways. There was no attrition ahead of the Trojans in the BCS standings, while their fellow one-loss teams, such as Georgia and Florida, won impressively. And beating Arizona just 17-10 won't inspire a surge of enthusiasm for the Trojans. There's a lot of football left and anything can happen but there might not be enough football ahead for enough to happen for USC to play for the title.

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