Pac-12: Cody Temple

Lane Kiffin and Co. have released their official post-spring two-deep depth chart. And not surprisingly, there aren't a lot of surprises.

One of the most watched quarterback competitions in the country lists Max Wittek OR Cody Kessler OR Max Browne. Leaving us with what we knew a month ago. It's going to be Wittek OR Kessler OR Browne.

Steve Bisheff of WeAreSC makes his case -- and a compelling one at that -- for Kessler, who clearly had the strongest spring of all three quarterbacks.
Despite Kessler's clear advantage coming into the (spring) game, Kiffin had Max Wittek starting with the first unit at the Coliseum on Saturday. And even after Kessler outplayed his main competitor, throwing for 242 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions compared to Wittek's 145 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, Kiffin insisted that no quarterback had emerged as a front-runner for the position and that he won't name a starter until the fall.

Sticking with the offense, there was already an assumed pecking order at wide receiver, but it's more solidified now. Darreus Rogers and Victor Blackwell are behind Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee. Nelson Agholor will start opposite Lee with De'Von Flournoy and George Katrib backing him up.

Some intrigue at running back with Silas Redd at the top, but the starting gig is listed as Redd or Justin Davis or Tre Madden. Same for the fullback, which lists Soma Vainuku or Jahleel Pinner as the starter.

So while the entire offensive backfield is a grab bag of "ors," there is at least some solidarity on the offensive line, where four of the five starters appear to be in place. Aundrey Walker and Max Tuerk make up the left side with Marcus Martin at center and John Martinez at right guard. The only spot still in doubt is at right tackle between Kevin Graf or Chad Wheeler.

The new-look 52 defensive front has Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin at the outside linebacker spots (that's going to be a scary combination, by the way) with Leonard Williams and George Uko (also a darn good tandem) at the ends. Nose tackle is still up for grabs between Antwaun Woods or Cody Temple.

In the secondary, where there are almost as many holes as there are questions -- little has been determined. Three of the four starting spots have an "or" attached to them. Only Anthony Brown looks like the inked-in starter. Torin Harris and Kevon Seymour are battling for the other corner spot and Demetrius Wright or Leon McQuay III are battling for free safety. Josh Shaw and touted freshman Su'a Cravens -- who missed a significant portion of spring drills -- will head into fall battling for strong safety.

Mailbag: What's next with realignment

May, 25, 2012
In advance, I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Please, remember to take a moment to think about what it's all about.

And then have a great cook out.

You can follow me on Twitter.

To the notes.

Scott from Honolulu writes: My question is with rumors of Florida St. talking with the Big 12 and the new college football playoffs being put into place in the near future, do you foresee another round of conference realignment? And if so, what are possible schools could we see in this new Pac 12, 14, 16 or whatever numerically correct conference?

Ted Miller: Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has long held that further contraction in college football is inevitable. As you know, he's the all-knowing Dr. Strange of college football. And I agree with Scott. I used to think we'd reduce the FBS field to about 60 teams, and that crew would break away from the NCAA and form its own governing body. Now I think it might end up being an even smaller number.

First, so far there's been a lot of smoke (chatter) with little fire (an actual move) as it pertains to ACC teams with wandering eyes. Further, emotionally, I don't know how I feel about the notion of college football reducing itself to four super-conferences. Part of me winces, but I'm not sure if that's just my age showing. More than a few of you think my affection for the Rose Bowl is dated. When I hear such talk, I always see the baffled reaction of another sportswriter when I say, "But I'd really rather not eat at Applebee's."

On a Machiavellian level, I think the Pac-12 presidents made a mistake when they blew off Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech last September. While Scott won't say this on the record, my feeling from talking to him these past three or so years is he agrees. The Pac-12 had an opportunity to become the Pac-16, the first superconference, and thereby guarantee itself the most powerful seat at the table when the new look of college football is hashed out this summer.

Said Scott at the time, while defending the decision to remain at 12: "An opportunity was turned down that could have generated more money for the schools but potentially could have torn apart the fabric of the culture of the conference."

Culture, you might have noticed, is losing its traction during college football's money grab.

That move, of course, would have torn the Big 12 asunder. By the Pac-12 not doing so, the Big 12 was allowed to regroup and now it is threatening to do that very thing to the ACC. Yeah, all is fair in love, war and conference realignment.

And where does the Pac-12 turn if the SEC and Big 12 were to split up the prime teams of the ACC? Hard to say. Texas has always been the big prize in that it offered a huge market, a stellar sports program and strong academics. But that bull has walked, so to speak, and there are few teams within, oh, 1,500 miles of Pac-12 country that make much sense for expansion. Or that aren't spoken for.

The number that makes the most sense is 16. That's why few believe the SEC will stay at 14. But which four programs could add value to the Pac-12? The pickings are slim, unless Scott tries to raid the Big 12, which at present is surging and unified, or he gets really creative, outmaneuvers the Big Ten, grabs Notre Dame and uses that coup to go national and lures three more teams from outside the West region.

As it stands, I don't see an ideal 16-team scenario for the Pac-12, though I don't have one of those all-knowing Dr. Strange brains like Scott and Chip Kelly do.

Michael from Seattle writes: Do you buy into the hype of Desmond Trufant? I've seen him in a "top 100 players headed into 2012" list and I was fairly shocked. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see him having a monster senior year. Thoughts?

Ted Miller: Trufant is an NFL prospect. He's going to be a four-year starter for Washington. He's got good measurables -- 6-0, 185, good speed -- and good bloodlines being the younger brother of NFL cornerback Marcus Trufant. He was honorable mention All-Pac-12 last year, so at least two Pac-12 coaches think he can play.

But, yes, there have been a few times when he's been notably beaten. I'm aware that some Huskies fans are doubters. I also think NFL draft projections before a player's final year are fluid and often uniformed. Guys who appear in the first round of mock drafts in the summer often disappear by the following spring. And other players on nobodies' mock draft radar soar into the early rounds.

My feeling is Trufant has plenty to prove. I also think it's hard to measure him because the Huskies have been so awful on defense. It's difficult to be a good cornerback behind a weak pass rush. Or when you're consistently left on an island because the defensive coordinator is consistently rushing six or seven because of that weak pass rush.

I think the Huskies defense will be much better under new coordinator Justin Wilcox. And that will make Trufant look more like an NFL corner.

Kym from Los Angeles writes: Which redshirt freshman will have the biggest impact this season?

Ted Miller: If he wins the starting QB job, Michael Eubank at Arizona State would be a good guess. Same with QB Brett Hundley at UCLA.

California really needs Maurice Harris to step up at receiver. Utah has a redshirt freshman No. 1 at right offensive tackle after spring practices: Daniel Nielson. USC has several redshirt freshmen on its D-line -- Antwaun Woods, Cody Temple, Christian Heyward and Greg Townsend -- who could really help if they stepped up.

This will be a better question -- or at least one that's easier to answer -- when we get a solid idea of depth charts in mid-to-late August.

Tim from Salt Lake City writes: Why is it that, though I've seen them mentioned as a possible pre-season top 25 more than once, Utah hasn't warranted so much as an honorable mention in any of the offseason lists? As you are fond of asking us, who would you exclude in their favor?

Ted Miller: Barring any major, presently unforeseen issues, Utah will be in my preseason top-25 vote for the

Here's Mark Schlabach's most recent top-25. I think you could clip the team that the Utes beat in the Sun Bowl and thereby find a spot.

Michael from Stockton, Calif., writes: Will oregon really be that big of threat to the explosive and very talented USC?

Ted Miller: Yes.

Steve from Fort Myers, Fla., writes: A while back you made a list of places to eat in the Pac 12 cities, this summer I will be traveling to Seattle, Corvallis, and Eugene. I was hoping you could either email me the list, or tell me where to find it, so I can check them out?

Ted Miller: If you click here, it will magically appear.

And if you read some of the comments below, you undoubtedly will find more options.

Most important player: USC

April, 19, 2012
All players are equal, but some players are more equal than others. That's the basis of our Most Important Player series.

First off, quarterbacks are excluded to make things more interesting. It goes without saying that Arizona's Matt Scott, USC's Matt Barkley and Washington's Keith Price are their teams' most important players. Their losses would be catastrophic.

And most important doesn't necessarily have to be "best." An All-American's backup can be pretty darn good too.

Our most important guys are players who could swing a win total one way or the other, based on their living up to expectations. Or their absence.

USC: DT George Uko

2011 production: The Trojans No. 3 DT in 2011, Uko started two games and played in all 12. He had 18 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Why Uko is so important: Look I get it: QB Matt Barkley is the Trojans most important player beyond a shadow of a doubt. The leading Heisman Trophy candidate, he might be the most valuable player in the nation. If Barkley got hurt, his likely replacement would have no game experience. So, yes, Uko is not the Trojans' most important player. But can't we have some latitude to escape obvious land?

So why is Uko is so critical to the Trojans fortunes? First, he has tons of potential to be a breakout player, perhaps even All-Pac-12. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound sophomore saw significant action last year and was productive when he did. But it's not just about Uko. It's about the lack of depth at defensive tackle for the Trojans. No. 1 nose tackle J.R. Tavai, just 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, is the next most experienced interior defensive lineman. He had four tackles last year. Running back Curtis McNeal -- another candidate for Most Important After Barkley -- had three. The next three guys -- Christian Heyward, Antwaun Woods and converted center Cody Temple -- are redshirt freshman. Zero game experience. You might wonder if the Trojans could bring an end inside -- perhaps 275-pound redshirt freshman Greg Townsend -- but all the choices would be undersized. The depth at end isn't exactly great either. Small DTs who don't command double-teams are particularly an issue when you are small at linebacker, as the Trojans are. If the Trojans lost Barkley, their season script would need an immediate rewrite. If the Trojans lost Uko? Let's just say not many teams win conference and national titles with gaping holes in the center of their D-lines.

WeAreSC links: Halfway through

March, 28, 2012
Erik McKinney writes Insider: A notebook updating USC's seventh practice of the spring season, most notably the shuffling of Aundrey Walker and Kevin Graf at the tackle positions.

Garry Paskwietz writes Insider: Highlighting where the main position battles stand halfway through the spring practice session.

Garry Paskwietz writes Insider: Redshirt freshman Cody Temple was declared out for the rest of the spring due to an ankle injury.

WeAreSC Friday links: Elite Assistants

February, 17, 2012
Greg Katz writes: Insider: Three new assistant coaches have signed on with USC, which has had a lot of success setting up its assistant coaches for greatness.

Erik McKinney writes: After redshirting and falling behind last season due to a back injury, Cody Temple is looking forward to moving to defensive tackle from the offensive line and making an impact.