Pac-12: Darian Hagan
Next up is Colorado, which fired head coach Dan Hawkins and hired Jon Embree. So there was plenty of turnover.
Team in parenthesis is where the departing coach ended up.
Dan Hawkins, head coach
Jon Embree, head coach
Holdovers from Hawkins' staff
Brian Cabral, linebackers
Darian Hagan, recruiting coordinator (was running backs coach for Hawkins)
Eric Kiesau, offensive coordinator/QBs (California)
Darian Hagan, running backs (retained as recruiting coordinator)
Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator/RBs
Rip Scherer, quarterbacks/assistant head coach
Romeo Bandison, defensive line
Kanavis McGhee, defensive line
Mike Tuiasosopo, defensive line
Robert Prince, receivers (Boise State)
Bobby Kennedy, receivers
Ron Collins, defensive coordinator (Ohio)
Ashley Ambrose, secondary (California)
Greg Brown, defensive coordinator/secondary
Denver Johnson, offensive line (Tulsa)
Steve Marshall, offensive line
Kent Riddle, tight ends/special teams (North Texas)
J.D. Brookhart, tight ends/special teams/passing game coordinator
Reaction: There's a lot to like about Embree's first staff if you're a Buffaloes fan. It's still not clear if the defense will run a 4-3 or 3-4 -- or a little of both; the base in 2010 was a nickel (3-3-5) -- so McGhee's and Tuiasosopo's responsibilities haven't been defined. Brown and Tuiasosopo were hired away from Arizona and Marshall from California, and Kennedy coached at Washington before spending his last seven seasons at Texas, so there's plenty of Pac-12 knowledge on staff. Cabral has spent the past 23 years at Colorado, so he provides local continuity, as do Hagan, Bieniemy, McGhee and Embree, who all played at Colorado. Brookhart (Akron) and Scherer (James Madison and Memphis) have head coaching experience, while Embree, Bieniemy, Scherer, Marshall and Brown have significant NFL coaching experience.
Katz, a sophomore from Santa Monica, Calif., completed 30 of 42 passes for 393 yards -- 10th most in school history -- with two touchdowns and one interception in the Beavers 29-27 win against No. 9 Arizona. It was his first interception of the season in 148 attempts. He also rushed for a touchdown and three times scrambled for a first down. Oregon State put up 486 yards of offense against a unit that ranked second in the nation in total defense (230.75 yards per game) entering the contest.
Hagan, a senior from Los Angeles, Calif., had the first two sacks of his career against UCLA, adding an interception, a pass breakup and a team-high-tying five tackles. California's defense limited UCLA to 144 yards, including 26 yards rushing to a Bruin squad that had been averaging 262.4 yards rushing per game.
Anger, a junior from Camarillo, Calif., punted five times for 252 yards -- 50.4 yards per punt -- and placed three punts inside the 20-yard line.
Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterback Steven Threet of Arizona State, wide receiver Juron Criner of Arizona, running back Shane Vereen of California, quarterback Nate Costa of Oregon, quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford, and wide receiver Robert Woods of USC. Also nominated on defense were safety Max Tabach of Arizona State, linebacker Casey Matthews of Oregon, linebacker Shane Skov of Stanford, and linebacker Shane Horton of USC. Also nominated for special teams were punt returner Cliff Harris of Oregon, place kicker Nate Whitaker of Stanford, and punter Jeff Locke of UCLA.
Team of the week: Oregon State announced its return to relevancy with a win at No. 9 Arizona. The biggest revelation: Sophomore QB Ryan Katz is ready for primetime.
Best game: You can't beat a game with two game-winning drives, unless your team is the one that produced the penultimate game-winning drive, which was the case of USC in its 37-35 loss at Stanford. For the second consecutive weekend, the Trojans lost on a last-second field goal. Still, a game billed as a potential blowout showed USC has plenty of fight left, at least on offense. (Wow. Are we now citing "moral" victories for the Trojans?)
Biggest play: There were so many big plays in Oregon State's 29-27 win over Arizona that it's hard to pick just one. But if you had to, it might just be Katz's 43-yard completion to H-back Joe Halahuni on a second and 13 play from the Beavers 33-yard line. With James Rodgers out with a knee injury, Katz's top passing options were limited, and if he'd missed the throw over the middle, it's possible the Beavers wouldn't have been too aggressive on a third-and-long call from their own territory. The Beavers got a first down on the Wildcats 24 and were able to run a lot of clock -- six of the next seven plays were runs -- before scoring a TD that gave them a a 29-20 lead, which made it a two-possession game.
Defensive standout: Cal cornerback Darian Hagan had a bad year last season. Not this year. He had two sacks, an interception and five tackles while leading the Bears stellar defensive effort against UCLA. Honorable mentions include Arizona State's Jamaar Jarrett, who had two sacks at Washington, and Oregon's Brandon Bair, who had 3.5 tackles for a loss at Washington State.
Special teams standout: Oregon's Cliff Harris returned a punt 67 yards for a TD at Washington. He has done that three times this year, which is the most in FBS football. Oh, and he returned an interception for a TD at Tennessee.
Smiley face: Cal suffered two tough losses in September: It got embarrassed at Nevada and lost a heartbreaker at Arizona. It could have yielded. Instead, it whipped a hot UCLA team 35-7 and showed it can stop a pistol offense by holding the Bruins to just 144 yards.
Frowny face: Washington had injury issues and QB Jake Locker was trying to play through a flu-like illness, but that doesn't change the fact that it couldn't maintain the momentum it built after a win at USC. Arizona State had plenty of issues, too, but it found a way to win on the road in a rainstorm, weather one would think would benefit the Huskies far more than the Sun Devils.
Thought of the week: Oregon fans: How different did it feel when QB Darron Thomas injured his throwing shoulder knowing you had senior Nate Costa on the bench ready to step in? While Thomas may be back as soon as the UCLA game on Oct. 21, the Ducks would still feel like the Rose Bowl favorites with Costa as the starter. Recall in 2007 that when Dennis Dixon was lost for the year with a knee injury, almost everyone immediately realized the Ducks were in big trouble.
Questions for the week: Does the cannibalism begin now? Or do a couple of teams emerge at the top of the conference? Arizona's loss to Oregon State -- which left only Oregon undefeated -- hinted that stringing together wins is going to be extremely difficult due to the depth of the conference. So does that mean we end up with a muddle of two, three and four-loss teams? Or will Oregon ride home unscathed with an escort in the top-10?
Team of the week: UCLA shocked the nation with a 34-12 stomping of No. 7 Texas. The Bruins, who were physically dominant on both lines of scrimmage, now seem fully recovered from an 0-2 start.
Best game: Arizona needed a late drive and defensive stand for a second weekend in a row as the Wildcats nipped California 10-9. Not a lot of 10-9 games through the years in the Pac-10, eh?
Offensive standout: The UCLA running game, which piled up 264 yards against Texas, gets the nod. Therefore, we include the offensive line, running backs Johnathan Franklin (118 yards) and Derrick Coleman (94 yards) as well as quarterback Kevin Prince (50 yards).
Defensive standout(s): UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers led the defensive effort at Texas. He had six tackles and an interception, and his sack included a forced fumble. Oregon safety John Boyett also merits a tip of the cap. He recorded a game-high 11 tackles against Arizona State and returned an interception 39 yards for a TD.
Two-way standout: Owen Marecic, Stanford's starting fullback AND linebacker, scored on an offensive run and interception return that were just 13 seconds apart at Notre Dame.
Special teams standout: Stanford kicker Nate Whitaker tied a school record with five field goals: 24, 41, 36, 33 and 29 yards during the Cardinal's 37-14 win at Notre Dame, where Whitaker played before transferring to Stanford.
Smiley face: Oregon and Stanford both passed tough road tests and set up a top-10 matchup in Autzen Stadium on Saturday that will announce the Pac-10's early leader.
Frowny face: Poor Cal. The Bears have lost consecutive games in painful fashion. First, they were embarrassed at Nevada, a team they couldn't stop on defense. Second, they yielded a late TD vs. Arizona, failing to score a TD in a 10-9 loss. Two missed field goals from Giorgio Tavecchio would have helped the cause, too.
Thought of the week: The Pac-10 is clearly nine teams deep. Good for the conference. The question, however, is whether any team can go undefeated in a nine-game conference schedule and play its way into national title consideration. The feeling here is no. Then the question becomes: Can any team get through with only one loss? Maybe. But it will be taxing to do so.
Thought of the week II: While most national eyes will be on Stanford's visit to Oregon -- and rightly so -- Washington's visit to USC and Arizona State's trip to Oregon State should be revealing. We don't know what to make of these four teams just yet. We should get a much clearer picture of the conference pecking order by Sunday.
Quote of the week: Said UCLA safety Tony Dye to the LA Times: "The first two weeks, we didn't exist. This is our team right now. If we keep rolling like this, we're going to win the [Pac-10]."
Quote of the week II: Said Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh as he opened his press conference following a blowout win at Notre Dame, "Might be the biggest press conference I've ever been to right here."
Jonathan Okanes does a nice job of explaining the hot spots.
Some quick observations:
- Quick, undersized sophomore Isi Sofele is the backup tailback, eclipsing Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Dasarte Yarnway and Trajuan Briggs. That strikes me as a minor upset, but Sofele is a scatback type who can make plays as a runner and receiver. Coach Jeff Tedford always gives his No. 2 RB plenty of touches.
- The starting corners are Marc Anthony and Darian Hagan. Bryant Nnabuife is listed as the backup to both.
- Okanes notes that the top four safeties will see extensive action, but it seems notable that Chris Conte and Josh Hill are first team, meaning returning starter Sean Cattouse has dropped in the pecking order.
- A veteran -- Ernest Owusu -- held off a hard-charging youngster -- Deandre Coleman -- at one defensive end. Another hard-charging youngster -- Kendrick Payne -- eclipsed a veteran -- Derrick Hill -- at noseguard.
- QB Kevin Riley's backup is Beau Sweeney.
- The only true freshman on the depth chart is receiver Keenan Allen, who is No. 1 opposite junior Marvin Jones.
- The Bears will start eight seniors and six sophomores.
- If Travis Cobb is healthy, he's a dangerous weapon for Arizona. But that remains an "if." Checking in with ex-Wildcats in the NFL.
- Here are 10 guys who have stood out for Arizona State. Eddie Elder is still trying to break through at safety.
- California is having more fun. Turns out, there's a good reason that cornerback Darian Hagan struggled to stay focused last year.
- Oregon is still looking for a cornerback. The Ducks' "other" running back is pretty special, too.
- Both Oregon State's quarterbacks looked sharp in a scrimmage. Another report with video and stats.
- Alex Loukas looks like he's Stanford's backup quarterback, which means his reps free safety might be limited. A Q&A with Loukas.
- It's still not clear who UCLA's starting middle linebacker will be. The Bruins' defense was in control on Thursday.
- USC linebacker Malcolm Smith is hungry, but he's got a problem eating. Kristofer O'Dowd isn't paying attention to preseason hype.
- Washington has a couple of more major recruiting targets its looking to land. Kearse vs. Trufant: A spirited battle.
- Washington State linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis has turned his life around. The Cougars feel good about the depth at running back.
- Fifteen Pac-10 players representing eight schools have been named to the Rivals.com preseason All-America team, the most of any conference in the country.
Okanes notes that coach Jeff Tedford has been more open about revealing the pecking order at competitive positions, which is a great help when practices are closed.
So there is a lot of choice info here:
On offense, [Tedford] said the definitive starters as of right now are QB Kevin Riley, RB Shane Vereen, WR Marvin Jones, WR Keenan Allen, TE Anthony Miller, LT Mitchell Schwartz and C Chris Guarnero. Allen was the only player he quantified with “as of now.”
On defense, Tedford said the only concrete starters are DE Cameron Jordan, ILB Mike Mohamed and OLB Mychal Kendricks.
Tedford also said Giorgio Tavecchio would handle both kickoffs and field goals if the season started today.
Key tidbit there: That's true freshman Keenan Allen at receiver next to Jones, which confirms the scuttlebutt coming out of practices that a number of freshmen are in the mix.
As for defense:
A few days ago, Tedford said Keith Browner was the starter at weakside linebacker. But today he said true freshman Dave Wilkerson is still in the mix there. Tedford also said Kendrick Payne is probably the starter at nose tackle, but it is still competitive with Derrick Hill and Aaron Tipoti in the mix.
Tedford said both corner positions are still up in the air, with Darian Hagan, Steve Williams, Bryant Nnabufie and Marc Anthony competing for the two spots.
Another true freshman in Wilkerson. Payne ahead of Hill is a bit newsy, too, but that's three pretty good nose tackles, which is a key position to keep fresh in a 3-4 defense. As for cornerback, my money is on the first two -- Hagan and Williams -- but it's not like I've seen them practice this month.
Who's back: Eight starters on offense, six on defense and both specialists.
Big names: RB Shane Vereen, LB Mike Mohamed, DE Cameron Jordan, P Bryan Anger
What's new: Bob Gregory, who had been Jeff Tedford's defensive coordinator since 2002, left for Boise State, and NFL veteran Clancy Pendergast replaced him. Pendergast is expected to bring a more aggressive approach that emphasizes pressure on the quarterback. Also, Jeff Genyk replaced Pete Alamar as special teams coach. Genyk will also coach tight ends.
Key competition: Three spots in the secondary beside safety Sean Cattouse are wide open, though Bryant Nnabuife and Darian Hagan are listed first at the corners and Chris Conte is No. 1 at safety. Things also are unclear at outside linebacker, left offensive guard and a pecking order at tailback behind Vereen must be established. Will any young receivers step up?
Breaking out: Is Marvin Jones ready to become a go-to receivers? And will touted freshman receiver Keenan Allen make an immediate impact and perhaps also play in the secondary? Kendrick Payne and Deandre Coleman figure to provide some quality depth on what could be a very good defensive line.
Quote: Tedford on quarterback Kevin Riley: "We are going to have great competition at the quarterback position, but Kevin is the guy who takes the first snaps. Kevin is the active leader in the Pac-10 in wins, touchdown passes and starts. We are really hoping that his experience will really help us and translate to more success on the football field. The team has a lot of confidence in him. He has worked very, very hard and he feels that this is his team."
Notes: Two key recruits won't be on the team this fall, one permanently. Linebacker Cecil Whiteside will grayshirt due to academic issues; he won't enroll until January. Defensive end Chris Martin was released from his letter of intent and opted to sign with Florida ... Because of the renovation of Memorial Stadium, the team is using temporary locker rooms. Practices also have been moved to the morning instead of the afternoon ... Cal was picked seventh in the preseason media poll.
And, for the first time in Pac-10 blog history, no one earns a "Great shape" tag.
Only one cornerback who earned All-Pac-honors is back: Arizona's second-teamer Trevin Wade. Only one other returning corner, Washington's Desmond Trufant, even earned honorable mention.
Three teams welcome back both starting corners from 2009: Oregon, Stanford and Washington. But the Ducks have moved Javes Lewis to rover, and a pair of true freshmen -- Terrance Mitchell and Avery Patterson -- are battling for the starting job opposite Talmadge Jackson. Stanford and Washington? They ranked eighth and ninth in the conference in pass efficiency defense last season.
USC and Arizona State are replacing both starting cornerbacks, but both actually look fairly strong at the position with plenty of returning experience and athleticism.
A number of teams might end up pretty good at the position. But no one looks like a sure-thing during the preseason. (Heck, we thought California was a sure thing in 2009 and things didn't exactly go according to plan).
So how do things stack up?
- No one.
- Arizona: Wade is an All-American candidate, and Marcus Benjamin showed he can play with a good performance against USC in 2009. And Mike Stoops always has good cornerbacks, so we won't dwell on the questionable depth.
- Oregon: Probably not a lot of worry here for the Ducks. Injuries in 2009 earned young players experience, and Oregon did rank third in the Pac-10 in pass efficiency defense. Still, it remains uncertain who will start opposite Jackson, with the freshmen outplaying the more experienced Cliff Harris and Anthony Gildon during the spring.
- Arizona State: On the one hand, both starters are gone from a unit that ranked second in the conference in pass efficiency defense. On the other, Omar Bolden would have been a starter if he didn't get hurt, and Deveron Carr, Osahon Irabor and LeQuan Lewis give the Sun Devils a nice mix of talent and experience.
- USC: Shareece Wright was academically ineligible last season, but he might end up first-team All-Pac-10. He might, in fact, be the conference's best cover cornerback. Torin Harris and T.J. Bryant are battling for the other spot in a secondary replacing all four 2009 starters.
- Washington: Trufant is an up-and-comer, Quinton Richardson is experienced, and backups Vonzell McDowell and Adam Long have starting experience, so the Huskies should be much improved here in 2010. The operative word, though, is "should."
- UCLA: It isn't easy to replace an Alterraun Verner. Sheldon Price returns at left cornerback after a good freshman season as a starter, and Aaron Hester has potential on the opposite side. Undersized junior Courtney Viney is an experienced third option.
- Oregon State: James Dockery is solid and new starter Brandon Hardin is big -- 6-2, 215 pounds. There's respectable depth. But the Beavers gave up 23 touchdown passes in 2009, tied for the most in the conference. Of course, the Beavers cornerbacks suffered last season because of an anemic pass rush. That might change in 2010.
- Stanford: If the Cardinal is going to take another step forward, it must get better in pass coverage. Three players who started last seaon are back: Richard Sherman (who's a sure-thing at left corner), Corey Gatewood and Johnson Bademosi. But opponents completed 63 percent of their passes with 23 touchdowns against those guys. Might redshirt freshman Terrence Brown make a move?
- California: Syd'Quan Thompson is gone; is Darian Hagan back? As in the 2008 version, not the one who lost his job and got buried on the depth chart in 2009. After being touted as one of the best secondaries in the country, the Bears finished 111th in the nation in pass defense in 2009. Bryant Nnabufie, who started four games in 2009, is listed No. 1 opposite Hagan, but Josh Hill (a five-game starter) and Marc Anthony and redshirt freshman Steve Williams are in the mix.
- Washington State: The Cougars feel pretty good about junior Aire Justin and sophomore Daniel Simmons, who was the defense's best cover corner before he got hurt midway through last season. But it's hard to ignore that the Cougars ranked 112th in the nation in pass efficiency defense with opponents completing nearly 67 percent -- 67 percent! -- of their passes.
Strong: Offensive line
Why it's a strength: There isn't an area of the 2010 Bears that will blow you away, but the offensive line welcomes back five guys who've started at least seven games, as well as a couple of quality backups, though it was a hit when veteran guard Mark Boskovich opted to graduate instead of use his final year of eligibility. Donovan Edwards (seven starts) is the most likely candidate to fill a void at one of the tackle spots. The health of talented guard Matt Summers-Gavin is an issue after a shoulder injury and concussion limited him to eight starts in 2009. As a group, the Bears were better run-blockers (third in the Pac-10 in rushing) than pass-blockers (31 sacks surrendered) in 2010. The latter often improves with experience and continuity. If the unit stays healthy, it could be one of the stronger crews in the conference.
Why it's a weakness: The Bears must replace two starters, including two-time first-team All-Pac-10 cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, and experienced backup safety Marcus Ezeff from a crew that ranked ninth in the conference in pass defense (267 yards per game) and seventh in pass efficiency defense -- and was a huge disappointment in 2009. There are some interesting possibilities at safety, where Sean Cattouse, Chris Moncrease, Chris Conte and Vachel Samuels will compete (and touted incoming freshman Keenan Allen, though primarily a receiver, might be in the mix, too). Cornerback, however, is a question. Darian Hagan fell out of favor as a junior, while Bryant Nnabuife and Josh Hill often were picked on opposite Thompson. Samuels might be an option at corner. Opponents completed nearly 64 percent of their passes against the Bears in 2009 and threw 20 TD passes, which ranked seventh in the conference.
Here are the biggest shoes to fill in the Pac-10 with spring practices just around the corner.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
How do you replace the best running back in the nation, a guy who scored 28 touchdowns and rushed for 1,871 yards? You don't. Those sorts don't come around every season.
The Contenders: Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gafney will get first crack, as well as Jeremy Stewart, who's coming back from a knee injury. Incoming freshman Anthony Wilkerson could be a dark horse.
Sean Canfield, QB, Oregon State
The first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback became an NFL prospect during a strong senior season. He led the conference with 3,271 yards passing and 21 touchdowns, which tied with Washington's Jake Locker.
The Contenders: This will be a showdown between Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich this spring, with Katz starting as the leader.
Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Price could be an NFL first-round draft pick. He led the Pac-10 with 23.5 tackles for a loss in 2009. 'Nuff said.
The Contenders: Good question. The Bruins are perilously thin here, considering both tackles need to be replaced and only senior David Carter has much experience. The answers here might be in the Bruins' recruiting class.
Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California
The Cal secondary was a huge disappointment this season, but Thompson, a four-year starter and two-time first-team All-Pac-10 performer, was mostly his usually stellar self.
The Contenders: Will Darian Hagan step up in his senior season? Perhaps the answer is sophomore Josh Hill? Or maybe a redshirt guy? The Bears only signed one player listed as a corner in their most recent recruiting class. Expect there to be a lot of competition here this spring.
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington
Te'o-Nesheim, a high-motor guy who started four years and earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors his final two seasons, ranking third in the conference with 9.5 sacks.
The Contenders: Considering the other end, Darrion Jones, also is gone, the Huskies will trend young here. Andru Pulu was listed behind Te'o-Nesheim on the depth chart, with Talia Crichton and Kalani Aldrich on the other side. There also will be opportunities for younger players here.
Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon
Dickson not only was the Ducks' second-leading receiver with 42 receptions for 551 yards and six touchdowns, the matchup problems he presented forced defenses to scheme specifically for him. That helps an offense in ways that aren't accounted for in statistics.
The Contenders: Junior David Paulson was Dickson's backup last year, and he had some nice moments, but he's no Dickson. JC transfer Brandon Williams and touted incoming freshman Curtis White will be in the mix here.
Kenny Alfred, C, Washington State
Alfred, a four-year starter, was a good player on a bad -- and beaten up -- line. His brain as well as his physical ability will be hard to replace.
The Contenders: Walk-on junior Chris Prummer was listed as Alfred's backup -- largely due to injury -- but Andrew Roxas, who redshirted this year after contracting viral hepatitis, is probably the leader here, though Steven Ayers could move inside to challenge him. Or there could be some reshuffling.
That's not good news in any event, but it's particularly worrisome because Thompson was likely going to focus his efforts on neutralizing the Utes top receiver, David Reed.
Further complicating things in the secondary is a shoulder injury to No. 3 cornerback Josh Hill.
That means if Thompson can't go, he would be replaced by redshirt freshman Marc Anthony, who will be making his first career start. According to Okanes' report, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said Anthony has passed junior Darian Hagan in the pecking order. Hagan began the year as the starter opposite Thompson.
Thompson is a four-year starter, so missing practice time isn't critical. His availability figures to be a game-time decision.
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles, USC nose tackle Jurrell Casey of USC and California punter Bryan Anger are the Pac-10 Players of the Week.
Foles completed 40 of 51 passes (.784) for a career-high 415 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Wildcats 43-38 shootout win over Stanford. The 40 completions is the second-highest single-game total in Arizona history. Behind Foles, the Wildcats amassed 553 yards total offense.
Casey posted a game-high 10 tackles, including one tackle for loss, and forced a fumble in USC’s 34-27 win at No. 25 Notre Dame.
Anger averaged 50.0 yards on seven punts, with four of the seven punts traveling 50-plus yards, with a long boot of 72 in California’s 45-26 road win at UCLA. California averaged 43.7 net yards on Anger’s punts.
All three are sophomores.
Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterbacks Danny Sullivan of Arizona State, Matt Barkley of USC and Andrew Luck of Stanford and tailback Shane Vereen of California. Also nominated on defense were defensive backs Ryan McFoy of Arizona State and Darian Hagan of California. Also nominated for special teams play was kicker Jordan Congdon of USC.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
As a UCLA observer wryly noted, ESPN.com has Bruins cornerback Alterraun Verner as a first-team All-American, while the Pac-10 blog had California's Syd'Quan Thompson and Oregon's Walter Thurmond III as the first-team All-Pac-10 corners.
Yes, there were coin flips involved. There are a lot of good cornerbacks in this conference.
Fact is, the guy who deserves to gripe the most is Arizona's underrated Devin Ross, who was second-team All-Pac-10 a year ago yet seems to be operating in the shadows.
- California: Might be the best pair in the nation. Two accomplished, full-time starting cornerbacks from 2008 -- senior Thompson (first-team All-Pac-10) and junior Darian Hagan -- return from a statistically impressive pass defense (24 Ints vs. 12 TD passes).
- USC: There are questions here -- is Shareece Wright going to be: 1. healthy; 2. eligible -- but even if Josh Pinkard has to move from safety back to corner, the Trojans are strong here based on pure athleticism.
- Arizona: We've mentioned Ross, but Trevin Wade, who steps in for the departed Marquis Hundley, tied Hundley for the team lead with four interceptions in 2008.
- UCLA: Verner is as good as anybody in the country, and expectations are high for redshirt freshman Aaron Hester.
- Oregon: Coach Chip Kelly tells anyone who will listen that Thurmond is the Ducks best player. Talmadge Jackson and Willie Glasper are 1A and 1B veterans on the opposite side.
- Arizona State: Omar Bolden expects to bounce back after a sub-par 2008 season. A troublesome back has returning starter Terell Carr now listed as second-team, with former walk-on Pierre Singfield now No. 1. Safety Clint Floyd might even see action at corner.
- Oregon State: The Beavers are replacing both cornerbacks but a strong preseason from Tim Clark and James Dockery ended a lot of hand-wringing over the issue. There's also solid depth.
- Washington State: The Cougars pass defense wasn't that bad last year, but that might have been because the run defense was horrible. Things are not completely set here. Brandon Jones will start if his ankle is OK, while Aire Justin is the frontrunner opposite him.
- Stanford: Richard Sherman and Corey Gatewood should upgrade the Cardinal's pass defense, but Sherman was a receiver in 2008 and Gatewood was injured. And Stanford was terrible against the pass last year.
- Washington: Speaking of terrible against the pass... the Huskies allowed opponents to complete 67 percent of their passes and surrendered 24 TD passes with just seven interceptions in 2008. Quinton Richardson will man one side while the uncertain health of redshirt freshman Justin Glenn means true freshman Desmond Trufant or junior Vonzell McDowell will start on the other side.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
California's depth chart will be distributed on Monday, but here's a look at some of the interesting changes from spring.
- Nyan Boateng is now Marvin Jones' backup at Z receiver. He was the No. 1 X -- flanker -- coming out of spring.
- Verran Tucker is No. 1 at the X.
- The guards are Matt Summers-Gavin and Justin Cheadle. They were Mark Boskovich and Chet Teofilo after spring.
- Anthony Miller is No. 1 at tight end because Tad Smith is out with a knee injury.
- Brian Holley won the fullback job.
- The depth chart doesn't list a slot receiver as it did before, when Alex Lagemann and Charles Satchell were Nos. 1 and 2. True freshman Isi Sofele is probably in the mix there.
- The linebackers are Eddie Young and Mike Mohamed on the outside and D.J. Holt and Mychal Kendricks inside. Mohamed was inside after spring and Devin Bishop is now a backup inside after being No. 1 outside.
- The starting secondary remains the same, but Jesse Brooks is a backup safety -- instead of D.J. Campbell --- and Josh Hill is Darian Hagan's backup instead of Chris Conte, who's now at safety.
- Giorgio Tavecchio is the No. 1 kicker over David Seawright.
- Syd'Quan Thompson is the No. 1 punt returner; Jahvid Best will return kicks.
Z 1 Marvin Jones (6-2, 190, So.)
8 Nyan Boateng (6-2, 211, Sr.)
LT 79 Mike Tepper (6-7, 319, Sr.)
53 Donovan Edwards (6-5, 285, Jr.)
LG 75 Matt Summers-Gavin (6-4, 291, RFr.)
70 Mark Boskovich (6-4, 304, Jr.)
C 54 Chris Guarnero (6-2, 275, Jr.)
65 Dominic Galas (6-1, 281, RFr.)
RG 61 Justin Cheadle (6-2, 299, So.)
58 Chet Teofilo (6-3, 329, Sr.)
RT 72 Mitchell Schwartz (6-6, 317, So.)
53 Donovan Edwards (6-5, 285, Jr.)
TE 80 Anthony Miller (6-3, 258, So.)
83 Skylar Curran (6-4, 256, Sr.)
X 86 Verran Tucker (6-1, 204, Sr.)
3 Jeremy Ross (5-11, 216, Jr.)
FB 33 Brian Holley (5-10, 235, Sr.)
22 Will Kapp (5-10, 216, So.)
TB 4 Jahvid Best (5-10, 195, Jr.)
34 Shane Vereen (5-10, 198, So.)
DE 44 Tyson Alualu (6-3, 295, Sr.)
92 Trevor Guyton (6-3, 285, So.)
NG 76 Derrick Hill (6-2, 302, Jr.)
96 Kendrick Payne (6-2, 300, RFr.)
DE 97 Cameron Jordan (6-4, 287, Jr.)
95 Ernest Owusu (6-4, 268, So.)
OLB 9 Eddie Young (6-0, 239, Sr.)
43 Charles Johnson (6-2, 232, Jr.)
ILB 3 D.J. Holt (6-1, 250, So.)
55 Jerome Meadows (6-3, 240, Jr.)
ILB 30 Mychal Kendricks (6-0, 230, So.)
10 Devin Bishop (6-1, 239, Sr.)
OLB 18 Mike Mohamed (6-3, 237, Jr.)
47 Keith Browner (6-6, 268, Jr.)
CB 5 Syd'Quan Thompson (5-9, 191, Sr.)
15 Bryant Nnabuife (6-1, 190, Jr.)
S 29 Marcus Ezeff (5-11, 219, Sr.)
11 Sean Cattouse (6-2, 206, So.)
S 25 Brett Johnson (6-1, 194, Sr.)
20 Jesse Brooks (5-11, 197, Sr.)
CB 26 Darian Hagan (6-0, 186, Jr.)
23 Josh Hill (5-11, 194, RFr.)