Pac-12: Darrell Catchings

Beavers move on without James Rodgers

October, 13, 2010
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Mike Riley was forced to address two realities this week that pulled his Oregon State team in different directions.

First reality: Receiver and return man James Rodgers, an All-America candidate, was done for the season with a knee injury. That's a huge blow for a team that appeared to be finding itself over the past two weekends, particularly on offense.

"You can’t spin the disappointment; I’m not going to try," Riley said.

[+] EnlargeJames Rodgers
Chris Morrison/US PresswireLosing a player of James Rodgers' caliber would be tough for any team, but the Beavers have shown they can win without him.
Second reality: Injuries are part of the game and seven games remain for a team that believes it can be a factor in the Pac-10 race. The Beavers must not only move on, they've got to move on with even more focus and intensity.

"Nobody is going to blink," Riley said. "Everybody is just going to go forward and get ready to play the Huskies."

Oregon State's visit to Washington is critical for both teams. The Beavers (3-2, 2-0) can't afford a loss to a middling team if they hope to be in the conference race at season's end. Meanwhile, the Huskies (2-3, 1-1) can't afford to lose two in a row at home if they expect to earn bowl eligibility for the first time since 2002.

"We really recognized the fact that the margin for error right now for our football team in the Pac-10 is minimal," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.

The Huskies have their own problems: Quarterback Jake Locker has missed much of this week due to illness, which nagged him during a poor performance against Arizona State.

The gap between these two teams would seem to close with Rodgers out. How valuable is Rodgers? With quarterback Ryan Katz seemingly finding his rhythm, Rodgers was already over 100 yards receiving in the first half at Arizona. You could feel a passing game maturing. Then he blows out his knee on an apparent 56-yard TD pass that was killed by a penalty in the second quarter.

"James is just a huge threat," Katz said.

And now that threat is gone, so some combination of the Beavers' receivers -- Markus Wheaton, Jordan Bishop, Aaron Nichols, Geno Muņoz and Darrell Catchings -- needs to fill the void.

Nichols will step in for Rodgers at flanker, but count on rapidly improving sophomore Markus Wheaton becoming Katz's first option at split end.

It also would help if the Beavers' running game got going. While Jacquizz Rodgers -- James' brother -- has put up solid numbers (96 yards rushing per game with seven touchdowns), the Beavers are only averaging 115.4 yards rushing per game, which ranks ninth in the Pac-10.

"The running game is horrible right now," said Jacquizz Rodgers, opting to not sugarcoat things. "We've got to do better."

The task on all fronts, however, will be challenging. James Rodgers ranked sixth in the nation with 176.8 all-purpose yards per game. That's not easy to replace on offense and special teams.

“It’s hard to imagine," Riley admitted. "We’ve had three years of him all over the place, so the finality of not having him for this season probably is just hitting home to a lot of guys."

That's the first reality. The second is this: The Beavers beat Arizona State without Rodgers (he was out with a concussion) and still won at Arizona with him on the sidelines for the whole second half.

Losing Rodgers was a big blow, but the Beavers have shown they can win without him.

Which reality, ultimately, will prevail?

Opening camp: Oregon State

August, 8, 2010
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Oregon State opens preseason camp today. Here's a quick look.

Who's back: Eight starters on offense, seven on defense and both specialists.

Big names: RB Jacquizz Rodgers, WR James Rodgers, DT Stephen Paea, K Justin Kahut

What's new: The Beavers coaching staff returns intact under coach Mike Riley. The Beavers will be breaking in a new QB in sophomore Ryan Katz.

Key competition: Tony Wilson leads the competition at middle linebacker with Rueben Robinson and Kevin Unga. Burke Ellis leads a competition to fill the right guard spot, the lone void on the offensive line. The depth is uncertain at running back. Who's the No. 1 alternative at WR to Rodgers? Darrell Catchings, Markus Wheaton or Jordan Bishop.

Breaking out: DE Gabe Miller flashed signs over the spring that he can be a threat as a pass rusher. Unheralded CB James Dockery might become more heralded this year. H-back Joe Halahuni might be ready to be known for more than his amusing tweets. OT Michael Philipp figures to be better after going from touted recruit to wide-eyed true freshman starter in 2009. The big-armed Katz has tremendous upside.

Quote: Riley on Katz: “Ability-wise, he has a wonderful arm. He can throw all the passes. He is pretty much unflappable, so I don’t think he’ll be intimidated by anything. He has two years of experience in the program. The transition always provides a mystery. Jacquizz (Rodgers) and the guys are going to have to give Ryan a lot of support, but he’s going to be good.”

Notes: Two returning defensive starters quit the team, middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi and defensive end Matt LaGrone... Outside linebacker Keith Pankey ruptured an Achilles tendon in February but is apparently ready to return to full-speed action in fall camp... JC transfer Dominic Glover, a former Oregon Duck, is expected to bolster the depth at defensive end... Peter Lalich, a Virginia transfer and the the likely backup QB, was dismissed in May after being arrested for a boating DUI... The Beavers were picked third in the preseason Pac-10 media poll and were ranked 22nd in the coaches poll.

Preseason position reviews: receiver

July, 27, 2010
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Receiver is a difficult position to evaluate this year. Just about every team has a solid (or better) lead receiver back and some intriguing, but inexperienced, talent around him. But, other than Washington, no team should feel completely secure.

There is, however, a lot of potential at the position. Many of the names below who appear as secondary options could end up competing for All-Pac-10 spots.

Note: Tight ends and running backs don't count here.

Great shape

  • Washington: The Huskies entire two-deep is back, topped by second-team All-Pac-10 pick Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar, who ranked seventh in the conference in receiving yards per game in 2009. James Johnson was probably the best freshman receiver in the conference last year.
Good shape

    [+] EnlargeJames Rodgers
    AP Photo/Ben MargotOregon State's James Rodgers caught 91 passes for 1,034 yards and nine TDs last year.
  • Oregon State: James Rodgers is clearly the No. 1 returning receiver in the conference. Markus Wheaton, Jordan Bishop and Darrell Catchings offer promising depth, but they combined for 25 receptions last year (Catchings was injured).
  • Oregon: The Ducks aren't flashy, but they welcome back their top three receivers from last year. By season's end, Jeff Maehl was one of the best in the conference. Things would have been better if Tyrece Gaines and Diante Jackson weren't ruled academically ineligible.
  • Arizona: After Delashaun Dean got himself kicked off the team, the Wildcats must replace their Nos. 1 and 4 WRs, which is why they aren't in "great shape." Still, Juron Criner tops a solid returning crew.
  • UCLA: The Bruins welcome back their top-two WRs -- Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario -- and Colorado transfer Josh Smith figures to make an immediate impact. Sophomores Damien Thigpen and Morrell Presley also seem poised for breakthroughs.
  • USC: While he was hurt much of last year, Ronald Johnson is a top home run threat. Brice Butler and David Ausberry will have to fight to stay ahead of a talented crew of incoming freshmen.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal welcome back their top-two receivers in Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu. That's the good news. The question is who will become options No. 3 and 4?
We'll see

  • California: The Bears only lose No. 2 WR Verran Tucker and the underwhelming Nyan Boateng, but, other than Marvin Jones, they didn't get much production here in 2009.
  • Arizona State: The Sun Devils lost their top-two WRs, but the cupboard isn't empty, with Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad, who would have started for the Ducks in 2009, and JC transfer George Bell, Gerell Robinson, Jamal Miles and Kerry Taylor. Still, it's not a proven group.
  • Washington State: The Cougars went through spring with just four scholarship receivers, a crew topped by Jared Karstetter and Gino Simone. The incoming recruiting class features five receivers, and at least a couple will get on the field. The Cougars are OK here but they did rank last in the conference in passing in 2009.

A look back at 2007 recruiting

July, 21, 2010
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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.

Katz embraces role in potent Beavers offense

April, 16, 2010
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CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State coach Mike Riley is standing beside a dry erase board in his office. He points to his flanker. That's James Rodgers. He caught 91 passes for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Riley smiles.

He points to his tight end Joe Halahuni. He caught 35 passes and became an offensive weapon after the middle of the season. Riley points at his slot receiver, Jordan Bishop. The 6-foot-3 sophomore can high jump over seven feet. He points at his split end, where Darrell Catchings and Markus Wheaton are engaging one of the more spirited competitions this spring.

Then he points at Jacquizz Rodgers, who rushed for 1,440 yards, caught 78 passes and scored 22 touchdowns a year after being the Pac-10's Offensive Player of the Year as a true freshman.

Riley agrees with a reporter that Jacquizz should be a top Heisman Trophy candidate.

The main point, however, is the Beavers offense has a lot of guys who can punish a defense.

"Athletically, it's as good as we've ever been," Riley said.

Then Riley circles his quarterback.

"It's our biggest question on offense," he said. "If we can bring our quarterback up to the rest of the offense, then it's going to be good."

That quarterback figures to be sophomore Ryan Katz, who's got a big arm but little experience. While Katz officially is competing with Virginia transfer Peter Lalich for the starting job, Katz started spring practices with the No. 1 offense and he's yet to yield that perch.

"What stands out about Ryan -- always has -- is he's got really good physical ability. A Great arm," Riley said. "It's one of those deals where you're kind of taken aback by the strength of his arm sometimes. He throws the ball so easily with a lot of velocity. He's got to learn a little bit more about taking something off it every once and a while. I tell him all the time, 'You don't always have to throw a 95 miles per hour ball.'"

The good news is Katz, Riley said, has consistently improved since arriving in Corvallis from Santa Monica (Calif.) High School. But there's a caveat hidden in that positive point, because every recent Oregon State quarterback has improved steadily during his career, from Derek Anderson, to Matt Moore, to Lyle Moevao, to Sean Canfield.

But each of those guys started his career slowly and, well, unimpressively. Anderson completed just 47 percent of his passes his first year as the Beavers starter under then-coach Dennis Erickson. Moore threw 19 interceptions. Moevao and Canfield combined for 21 interceptions in 2007.

The question is how steep Katz's learning curve will be.

"There is a process with us," Riley said.

By all accounts, Katz has embraced the No. 1 role, though he admits it goes against his type to be a vocal leader. As a personality, Katz is closer to the quieter Canfield than the effusive Moevao.

"More than vocal-wise, I tried to lead by example," Katz said.

The Beavers offense has evolved in recent years as Riley yielded control to coordinator Danny Langsdorf. The Beavers have increased the role of running backs and the flanker in the passing game. They added the fly sweep. Canfield's accuracy but lack of a strong arm had the offense looking West Coast-ish for a while in 2009.

Katz brings back the big arm of say an Anderson or Moore and adds some athleticism. Katz will move around in the pocket and there will be more designed bootlegs. And there's an increased emphasis of screen passes in order to build his confidence through the air.

And Katz needs to find his rhythm quickly. The opener is vs. TCU in Cowboys Stadium -- a top-10 team playing in a friendly stadium that is far bigger than its home field.

"When the time comes, it's definitely going to be eye-opening," Katz said. "But I'm just going to take it and run with it. I can't stand out there and be star struck."

After TCU, the Beavers play host to Louisville, then visit Boise State, a likely top-five team.

So there's no soft schedule that allows Katz to acclimate himself to the speed of the game. He's bound to make mistakes, which means criticism. Katz is aware that is an inescapable part of playing the position.

"That's definitely in the back of your mind, but if I just work day by day and get better that will play it self out," he said. "I know that comes with the job."

But he said he learned a lot from watching Canfield and Moevao weather the storm and come out strong on the back end.

But if Katz plays well from the start and minimized the growing pains, then Beavers should become a major player in the Pac-10 race.

video

Quick notes from Oregon State's practice

April, 7, 2010
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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.

Roster, depth chart changes for OSU

March, 17, 2010
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Oregon State coach Mike Riley met with his beat writers Tuesday, and lots of interesting stuff came up.

Riley and his coaches have moved some guys around on the Beavers' depth chart. And the quarterback battle between Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich is a competition, not a coronation for Katz, Riley said.

Of note:

  • Kevin Frahm will move inside from defensive end to tackle. Frahm is more a powerful, high-energy guy than an edge rusher, so the move makes sense. Of course, Frahm, a 6-foot-2, 267-pound junior, will be undersized. But, playing next to Stephen Paea, he can expect some one-on-one battles that he can win with quickness. Frahm starts off behind Brennan Olander.
  • The best news coming from Riley was optimism that linebacker Keith Pankey, who will sit out spring after surgery on his Achilles' tendon, will be recovered in time to play next fall.
  • The battle at middle linebacker to replace David Pa'aluhi, who left the team for personal reasons, will feature Tony Wilson, Rueben Robinson, Kevin Unga and Walker Vave.
  • Jordan Poyer has moved from safety to cornerback, where he's listed behind James Dockery.
  • Sophomore Markus Wheaton and Darrell Catchings are competing for the starting job at split end. Looking at the receiver depth chart, the Beavers look strong at the position, with plenty of experience and talent, topped, of course, by James Rodgers.
  • The Beavers need to replace Gregg Peat at right guard. The depth chart features Burke Ellis, Colin Kelly and Colin Lyons.
  • A couple of guys to watch on the O-line are Timi Oshinowo and Wilder McAndrews, who are No. 2 and 3 at left tackle behind true sophomore Michael Philip. Both likely would have been starters last year, if healthy. Oshinowo is coming back from a knee injury, while McAndrews' status is decidedly iffy due a wrist problem that has limited him to three games over the past two seasons.
  • In addition to Pankey, five players will sit out spring while recovering from injuries, including starting guard Grant Johnson (shoulder). The others are: cornerback Sean Martin and defensive end Mana Rosa (both shoulder) and defensive lineman Mitchel Hunt and offensive lineman Rory Ross (both knees).

Mailbag: James and Masoli got off easy?

March, 15, 2010
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Another late mailbag. Sorry. Stuff just keeps happening on Fridays.

Jason from Portland writes: Chip Kelly should have kicked both [Jeremiah] Masoli and [LaMichael] James off the team. They are criminals and criminals shouldn't play college football. How can you not see this?

Ted Miller: I received lots of notes like these. This one was just the most coherent and expletive-free.

Why does this feel like I'm being sucked into a sociopolitical debate -- you know one of those where the arguing parties never listen to each other but just scream their positions with self-righteous fervor?

Some folks fall into the "zero-tolerance" camp. I do not. When I listen to the "zero-tolerance" camp's arguments, I remain unconvinced the result benefits anyone. I completely understand what they are saying. I just don't buy it.

I believe Kelly's punishment for James -- a one-game suspension -- fits his transgression. I believe suspending Masoli for the 2010 season, while leaving open the possibility he could return in 2011, is a severe punishment that offers a young man an opportunity to redeem himself.

Jake from Sacramento writes: What do you think the odds are of Masoli transferring from Oregon, red-shirting, and playing somewhere else in 2011?

Ted Miller: Slim.

For one, which FBS program take him for just one year? His pool would be severely limited not only by his legal troubles and the negative attention his arrival would bring, but also by his skills being specific for a spread-option offense.

If Masoli believes he can no longer remain in Eugene, his most likely option is transferring to an FCS program, where he could play immediately.

I hope he doesn't take that route, though. Kelly gave Masoli an great opportunity to earn his way back. I think it would be a mistake for him not to take advantage of it.

Donald from Eugene writes: If the PAC10 does expand but neither usc or ucla make the championship game, wouldn't the attendance be similar to this season's b-ball tournament? In other words, how many fans would come to watch, for example, UW vs UA in the Rose Bowl for the PAC10 championship? This is not the SEC where not only are there way more passionate fans but all the schools and major venues are located in relative proximity to each other. From a pure logistic standpoint, I don't see a "neutral" field championship game being practical.

Ted Miller: Maybe. Maybe not.

Let's take your example, though: Washington vs. Arizona in the Rose Bowl for the Pac-10 title. That's two hungry fan bases that would buy a lot of tickets. (And Seattle folk probably would embrace an excuse to escape to Southern California in December).

Would 91,000 fans buy tickets? Probably not, but I'd bet $1 that close to 71,228 would show up, which is the capacity of the Georgia Dome, where the SEC title game is played.

If an LA team were in the game, it would sell a lot of tickets. If a Bay Area team were in the game, it would do fairly well. Washington and Oregon fans tend to travel well. It's an easy trip from Arizona.

If it were Oregon State vs. Washington State, that might be a hard sell to the locals, but the possibility of a Rose Bowl berth would be alluring enough for Cougars and Beavers fans that the stadium would certainly be more than half-full.

I don't see a Pac-10 title game being a financial flop if the conference office handles it well, such as making sure that there's more going on than just a single game on Saturday.

Your point also perhaps bolsters the argument for NOT splitting up the divisions into a North and South. Putting traditional rivals in opposite divisions would increase the odds for an LA team playing for the championship.

Bruce from Portland writes: So why did the NCAA grant [receiver Darrell] Catchings another year of eligibility when he play two games last year and [quarterback Lyle] Moevao played just ONE PLAY and was not granted another year?

Ted Miller: Two different cases.

Catchings' case was approved by the Pac-10 office and was a textbook medical hardship. He has never taken a redshirt year, he suffered a season-ending injury and didn't play past the third game of the 2009 season.

Moevao was denied by the NCAA because he played five years -- he voluntarily redshirted in 2006 -- and missed only one season beyond his control.

By comparison, USC's Jeff Byers earned a sixth year because he lost two seasons to injury and never took a voluntary redshirt.

Just so you know, Oregon State officials always believed Moevao's case was a huge long shot.

Derrick from Omaha writes: I have asked this before, could you explain Costa's eligibility status? He is listed as a Senior but last year was pretty much his first season.

Ted Miller: 2010 will be Costa's fifth year at Oregon.

He saw action as a true freshman in 2006. He redshirted in 2007 (and blew out his knee in practice). He missed all of 2008 with a knee injury. He saw action in 2009, starting against UCLA.

And, yes, if Costa wanted to petition for a sixth year due to medical hardship, he'd be a long shot because he was voluntarily redshirting in 2007 before he got injured in an October practice.

Clark from Iraq writes: I have a question about your schedules you posted for ASU and Stanford. You have one playing Oregon Oct 1st and one playing Oregon Oct 2. I was wondering which one is right?

Ted Miller: Both!

The schedule posted for Stanford was for 2010. The schedule posted for Arizona State was for 2011.

Pac-10 lunch links: Ex-Ducks QB Akili Smith now Cal GA

March, 12, 2010
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Happy Friday.

Oregon State WR Catchings gets extra year

March, 11, 2010
3/11/10
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Oregon State receiver Darrell Catchings has been granted a medical hardship season and will be a redshirt junior this fall.

Catchings played in just two games last season (Cincinnati and Arizona) due to injuries to his ankle and wrist.

The Escondido, Calif., native has 42 receptions for 505 yards and one touchdown for his career. He has started 10 games and enters spring practice projected to compete for the starting duties at split end.

Oregon State's receiver Kjos quits due to injuries

March, 10, 2010
3/10/10
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Oregon State senior receiver Casey Kjos is ending his career due to injuries, the school announced Wednesday.

Kjos, who missed the 2007 season with a back injury, started three games in his career and caught 10 passes for 103 yards with one touchdown.

“It’s always disappointing when a player has to leave the sport due to injury,” coach Mike Riley said in a statement. “Casey has fought back injuries for a couple of seasons and I know it was a difficult decision for him to make. He has been a very committed and hard working player for Oregon State and we certainly wish him all the best.”

Said Kjos, “It was an extremely difficult decision not only due to the fact that I love this game, but that I love this team, love my teammates and love the coaches. I have been blessed and am very thankful for the opportunities Coach Riley and the other coaches have given me. There are no other coaches like them.”

Kjos is a two-time Pac-10 Conference All-Academic First Team selection and is on track to earn bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology in June, the school reported.

Kjos' departure and the graduation of Damola Adeniji means the Beavers lose two receivers from their 2009 depth chart. Seven receivers return, including James Rodgers, Geno Munoz, Jordan Bishop, Markus Wheaton, Darrell Catchings, Kevan Walker and Aaron Nichols.

Catchings, listed as a senior, is seeking a medical hardship redshirt after playing in just two games last year due to wrist and ankle injuries.

Quick injury report

October, 12, 2009
10/12/09
5:51
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Some injury notes based on news reports.

Arizona
Guard Conan Amituanai sprained his knee against Washington. He won't play against Stanford. Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell was hurt in a freak accident on Oct. 9 -- he was knocked out by a door and required stitches -- and didn't play Saturday, but he might return this week. Receiver Bug Wright (knee), defensive end Brooks Reed (ankle), running back Nic Grigsby (shoulder), running back Keola Antolin and defensive end D'Aundre Reed (hand) are all questionable.

Arizona State
The Sun Devils got two player back at Washington State -- guard Garth Gerhart and safety Ryan McFoy -- and didn't suffer any additional injuries. Receiver Kerry Taylor (hamstring), guard Matt Hustad and cornerback Omar Bolden (knee) each missed the Washington State game and are questionable this week.

California
After taking the weekend off, the Bears may get guard Matt Summers-Gavin (shoulder), wide receiver Nyan Boateng (foot) and tight end Spencer Ladner back for the UCLA game. On the downside, receiver Verran Tucker is battling a calf injury and backup nose tackle Kendrick Payne, who didn't play against USC, is doubtful with plantar fasciitis.

Oregon
The Ducks only practice Wednesday and Friday during their bye week. It's unclear if quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (knee) or safety T.J. Ward (ankle) will be ready to participate. Offensive tackle C.E. Kaiser sat out all last week with a shin injury but he played against UCLA.

Oregon State
Offensive guard Gregg Peat bruised his knee against Stanford but he should be able to play after the bye week at USC. Running back Ryan McCants (knee) has yet to play this season but he is questionable for the USC game. Receiver Darrell Catchings (ankle) isn't expected to be ready by Oct. 24.

Stanford
Defensive end Erik Lorig didn't play at Oregon State because of a groin injury. Safety Delano Howell is nursing a quad injury. Both are questionable for the visit to Arizona.

UCLA
Linebacker Reggie Carter played through a sprained knee against Oregon but he's questionable for the Cal game. Tailback Johnathan Franklin and safety Glenn Love are both nursing sprained ankles. Defensive end Korey Bosworth bruised his ribs but is probable for Saturday.

USC
Receiver Ronald Johnson (collarbone) and defensive end Armond Armstead (foot) are expected to be cleared to play at Notre Dame.

Washington
Offensive guard Greg Christine broke his fibula against Arizona and is likely done for the year. He was replaced by sophomore Nick Wood. Running back Chris Polk played through a sprained shoulder against Arizona. Linebacker E.J. Savannah and defensive tackle Cameron Elisara are nursing stingers.

Washington State
It's good news and bad news for the Cougars. Cornerback Daniel Simmons may be done for the season after breaking his leg against Arizona State. On the plus side, guard Zack Williams (ankle) should be ready for the visit to California after the bye week. Tackle Steven Ayers (ankle) and guard B.J. Guerra (knee) are questionable, as are defensive tackle Bernard Wolfgramm (hip) and linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis (staph infection).

Pac-10 injury update

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
11:56
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Updating the worst part about the game.

Arizona
Arizona is banged up but it has a chance to get much healthier during its bye week and before it visits Washington on Oct. 10. Receiver Bug Wright is out after knee surgery, but running back Nic Grigsby (shoulder), running back Keola Antolin (ankle), defensive end Brooks Reed (ankle), offensive tackle Mike Diaz (concussion), offensive guard Vaughn Dotsy (concussion) and receiver Delashaun Dean (thigh bruise) all could be ready to go after the bye.

Arizona State
The Sun Devils get defensive end James Brooks back from a three-game suspension, which means senior end Dexter Davis can move back to the weak side, where he has a better chance to get to the quarterback. On the downside, the struggling offensive line has issues. The top two centers, Garth Gerhart (toe) and Thomas Altieri (knee) are banged up, as are guards Jon Hargis (shoulder), Zach Schlink (knee) and Matt Hustad (knee). Hustad is doubtful for Oregon State's visit, while the others are questionable. Also, tight end Jovon Williams (knee) is questionable.

Oregon
Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond is likely out for a few games with a knee injury. Coach Chip Kelly may provide more specifics during his news conference today, but he typically calls every player "day-to-day" and forces reporters to read between the lines. Kelly did say Saturday that he didn't believe Thurmond would be done for the season. Safety T.J. Ward (ankle) and receiver Rory Cavaille (shoulder) are both questionable.

Oregon State
Receiver Darrell Catchings, who just came back from a wrist injury, is now out for 2-3 weeks with an ankle sprain. Also, linebacker Keaton Kristick suffered a stinger against Arizona and probably won't practice much this week.

Stanford
Backup tailback Jeremy Stewart hurt is right knee against Washington. It's unclear how serious the injury is.

USC
Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo (broken leg) and end Marshall Jones (neck) suffered season-ending injuries against Washington State. Linebackers Jordan Campbell and Nick Garratt sprained their ankles and are questionable for the Cal game as is linebacker Malcolm Smith (ankle), who sat out against the Cougars.

Washington
The Huskies might get receiver Devin Aguilar back for the visit to Notre Dame. Aguilar sat out the Stanford game with a sprained knee.

Washington State
The Cougars can't stay healthy. They probably lost a starting offensive and defensive lineman against USC: Steven Ayers (ankle) and defensive tackle Josh Luapo (knee). Starting guards B. J. Guerra (knee) and Zack Williams (ankle) aren't expected to be ready to play at Oregon. Defensive end Kevin Kooyman (knee) missed the USC game but might be ready for the trip to Eugene.

A questionable Barkley leads Pac-10 injury watch

September, 16, 2009
9/16/09
11:03
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


There are some high-profile injuries in the conference right now. Here's an update.
  • Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski (back): He's trying to practice this week in order to play at Iowa but the guess here is the best-case scenario is Gronkowski seeing only a handful of snaps. Coach Mike Stoops might opt to rest him hoping he'll be ready when the Pac-10 games start on Sept. 26. And, if Gronk plays, keep in mind he missed almost all of preseason camp. As good as he is, there should be some rust.
  • Arizona State DT Lawrence Guy (biceps): It appears Guy will play against Louisiana-Monroe. Dennis Erickson told the Arizona Republic on Tuesday: "I don't think he's 100 percent, but he's pretty close."
  • Oregon FS T.J. Ward (ankle) & LB Spencer Paysinger (elbow): While Oregon coach Chip Kelly calls all his injured players "day-to-day" -- thereby forcing all haggard sportswriters to reply, "Aren't we all, coach?" -- Ward seems far closer to doubtful than questionable for the Utah visit. Paysinger practiced Tuesday, so he sounds probable.
  • Oregon State WR Darrell Catchings (wrist): Catchings was catching Tuesday, so let's upgrade his status to questionable. If he's ready to go that should elevate the Beavers passing game with a tough Cincinnati squad coming to Corvallis. Some other injury info here.
  • Stanford DT Matt Masifilo: Masifilo suffered a knee injury at Wake Forest and will be out six weeks. The good news is backup Sione Fua has experience.
  • UCLA RB Christian Ramirez (ankle), DE Reginald Stokes (knee), OL Nick Ekbatani (knee) & WR Gavin Ketchum (hamstring): Though it's unlikely any of these four will be available for Saturday's game with Kansas State, all four are at least doing light running, meaning they could be ready after the bye week for the Pac-10 opener vs. Stanford on Oct. 3.
  • USC QB Matt Barkley (shoulder) & FS Taylor Mays (knee): Barkley didn't throw during Tuesday's practice, so it's becoming increasingly possible that sophomore Aaron Corp will start at Washington. That might make things interesting if Corp is lights out. Mays is a senior and a two-time All-American who came off the bench in his first game as a true freshman and has started every game since. He's from Seattle. Odds are that Mays will play, even if he sits out all week.
  • Washington DT De'Shon Matthews (knee) & DE Darrion Jones (knee): Both are decidedly questionable and closer to doubtful. The reason that this is big is because USC has a dominating offensive line -- one that is surely unhappy with how it performed at Ohio State. The Huskies aren't deep on the D-line in any event.
  • Washington State LB Andy Mattingly (concussion, thigh): The Cougars are banged up -- it was too complicated to list here. With another run-and-shoot offense -- SMU -- coming to town, the defense can't afford to be missing many starters, such as Mattingly, who is questionable.

Pac-10 injury update

August, 31, 2009
8/31/09
11:26
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Based on news reports and this this useful Web site: The latest on injuries heading into week one.

Arizona
TE Rob Gronkowski, back, questionable
OG Vaughn Dotsy, finger, probable
WR Delashaun Dean, hamstring, probable

Arizona State
OT Tom Njunge, biceps, questionable
C Garth Gerhart, toe, questionable
C Thomas Altieri, concussion, probable
OG Zach Schlink, knee, out
DT Lawrence Guy, biceps, probable
DE James Brooks, suspension, out

California
RB Jahvid Best, toe, probable
TE Tad Smith, knee, out
OT Mitchell Schwartz, leg, probable
S Marcus Ezeff, ankle, questionable
WR Michael Calvin, knee, probable
LB Robert Mullins, knee, out
TE Skylar Curran, ankle, probable

Oregon
WR Rory Cavaille, shoulder, out,
OT Bo Thran, knee, questionable

Oregon State
WR Darrell Catchings, wrist, out
WR Markus Wheaton, NCAA Clearinghouse, questionable
WR Geno Munoz, abdominal, questionable
QB Lyle Moevao, shoulder, out
RB Ryan McCants, knee, out
CB Brandon Hardin, leg, out
OT Timi Oshinowo, knee, out
LB Tony Wilson, knee, out
S Josh LaGrone, knee, out
S Lance Mitchell, hamstring, probable

Stanford
OT Allen Smith, knee, out
S Taylor Skaufel, knee, out
OT Chris Marinelli, shoulder, probable
LB Alex Debniak, knee, out

UCLA
OG Micah Kia, knee, out
OL Nick Ekbatani, knee, out
DE Reginald Stokes, knee, out
DT Jess Ward, knee, doubtful
RB Christian Ramirez, ankle, questionable
DE Chinonso Anyanwu, hip, out
WR Gavin Ketchum, hamstring, questionable
OG Stanley Hasiak, stinger, probable
FB Chane Moline, hip, probable

USC
CB Shareece Wright, knee, academics, questionable
WR Ronald Johnson, collarbone, out
DE Armond Armstead, foot, out
C Kristofer O'Dowd, knee, doubtful
DT Averell Spicer, ankle, questionable
OG Nick Howell, ankle, questionable
LB Luthur Brown, academics, out
TE Blake Ayles, heart condition, probable
QB Aaron Corp, leg, questionable
QB Mitch Mustain, illness, probable
CB Patrick Hall, knee, out

Washington
CB Justin Glenn, knee, questionable
DT Cameron Elisara, shoulder, probable
RB Johri Fogerson, ankle, probable
RB Chris Polk, concussion, probable
WR James Johnson, ankle, probable
DE Darrion Jones, illness, probable
TE Kavario Middleton, hamstring, probable
DE Everrette Thompson, ankle, questionable
S Jason Wells, Achilles, doubtful

Washington State
WR Jeshua Anderson, hamstring, probable
RB James Montgomery, knee, probable
CB Brandon Jones, ankle, probable
WR Jeffrey Solomon, ankle, probable
LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, foot, questionable

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