Pac-12: Denard Robinson
To see the complete chat (including how my hair is better than Ted's), you can click here, or just enjoy these highlights.
james (atlanta, ga): Kev, why do you seem to not like the SEC? I know you are a pac 12blogger and want the teams you cover to do well, but i remember you saying you aren't going to give in to the SEC dominance but yet again they are poised to take the crystal for a 7th straight time and just look at the bcs top 10. Are u willing to admit it now?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:02 PM): James -- First, let's be clear. What I said was that I wasn't going to give into the mass-thinking when Alabama and Oregon were both undefeated that Alabama was simply better because they are in the SEC. Which is why I had Oregon No. 1 on my ballot. At the time, I was simply offering an alternative to the SEC-is-unstoppable dogma. As it turns out, both teams lost games. I have nothing against the SEC as a conference and you can't question their success.
CatsFan (Tucson): How much does Vegas care about not repeating last year's match up (ASU vs Boise St) or the UW opener vs Boise St next year? Do the Wildcats sneak into that spot?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:03 PM): I think UW probably gets the nod there. Arizona is in a tough spot because it has the weakest conference record and that's what determines the pecking order. Thinking they are pretty much stuck in the New Mexico Bowl unless Kraft takes a gamble, but I don't see that happening.
Cardinal Alumnus (CA): Hi, Kevin, and thanks for coming on to chat yet again. I'm worried about the talent Stanford Football is losing after this year. Assuming they can keep the coaching staff intact but lose all the redshirt juniors, how do you see Stanford doing in the PAC-12 and the PAC-12 North next season?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:14 PM): Hi Cardinal Alumnus. Thanks for asking the question. Seems like every year we question how Stanford will do it. No Harbaugh, no problem. No Luck, no problem. I think it's time to start giving Stanford the benefit of the doubt that they will be able to make the adjustments. Yes, they lose a lot of talent on defense, but there is some good talent coming up as well.
Chris (Gainesville): Who is the favorite for the Cal and Colorado job in your mind?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:19 PM): Lots of choices here. Cal is in a better position right now than Colorado, so I'd expect a bigger name for the Bears -- Greg Roman pops up, obviously Petersen is being mentioned. Gary Anderson, Noel Mazzone, etc. At Colorado, I think Tim DeRuyter has done a great job at Fresno State -- another place it's tough to build. Mike McIntyre has turned around a terrible San Jose State program. And I think if Tedford wants to get back into the game immediately, Colorado could be a good landing spot.
Cory (Ohio): Tell me your thoughts of Denard Robinson in the NFL QB,WR,Special teams hes a true athlete it would be a shame to see him not play. Also where is the best fit for him. and were would he end up in the draft?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:23 PM): I watched Michigan more closely last year -- only because I wanted to see how he would do in an Al Borges system (knowing Al fairly well from the SDSU days) and, not surprising, he didn't fit. I haven't studied him enough this year to make a serious evaluation. But WR seems like a good fit given the size and speed.
Bryce (SF): How will the Pac-12 stack up in the preseason rankings? Who should be ranked, and where?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:28 PM): Uh... off the top of my head. Top five, Oregon. Top 10, Stanford. Top 15, UCLA, Oregon State. Top 25, USC, Washington, maybe Arizona and ASU. Would have to really study rosters.
Brian (Spokane WA): Do you think UCLA loses Mazzone to a head coach job this off season?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:29 PM): My gut says no, but that's not to say there won't be offers. I talked with him extensively about that yesterday, poking and prodding and trying to get anything to suggest otherwise. But my gut says he really likes having a raw Brett Hundley to shape for the next couple of years.
Gowazzu02 (Not allowed to comment in your articles anymore): Dominique Williams was uncover -able during the Apple Cup Trufant a First team all pac CB had to literally shove him to the ground a few times to guard him. The next Wilson? without the quitters mentality?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:36 PM): Different body frame. He's a couple inches shorter than Wilson -- but not a bad start. 30+ catches, a three TDS, 500 yards. He's got the size on Gabe Marks, who also had a strong first year. Could be a scary combo in the years to come.
BeavsBelieve (Albany, OR): We are seeing more and more read-option, spread-type mechanics in pro offenses. Do you think that Hundley, and Mariota type mechanics will begin to fit into more of these pro systems?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:40 PM): One of my biggest gripes about the NFL is that people are attributing fantasy success to actual success. How many games has Cam Newton won? How many playoff games? Running quarterbacks get figured out or eventually hurt -- that's the nature of the NFL. The point is to win a Super Bowl and all of these dual-threat guys had better learn to be better pocket passers if they want to succeed in the playoffs.
Jon Embree (Tedford's basement): Seriously, what just happened?
Kevin Gemmell: (2:55 PM): You got hosed.
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To the notes!
Steve from Eugene writes: So Ohio State can't go to a bowl game. Penn State can't go to a bowl game. Is it possible that the Rose Bowl will be stuck with the 3rd place team from the Big 10?
Ted Miller: Maybe. The Rose Bowl picture is decidedly strange.
Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions, but because they are both in the Big Ten Leaders Division, at least one would be canceled out of the picture in any event. It's too bad about Ohio State, because the unbeaten, ninth-ranked Buckeyes and new coach Urban Meyer would be a nice team and story for the Rose Bowl to put opposite a Pac-12 foe.
Because of Ohio State and Penn State are unavailable, you can pencil in Wisconsin for the Big Ten title game, which means the Badgers are in line for a third consecutive Rose Bowl berth, despite their slow start.
The Legends Division is pretty wide open. The Michigan-Nebraska game on Saturday could provide some clarity, but the top teams -- Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern -- have mostly not played each other. Things could get nutty.
Let's just say it now: The Rose Bowl wants Michigan, presently ranked 22nd in the BCS standings, to run the table. If the Wolverines do so, they will rise in the rankings to a respectable level. Further, they are a classic team with an exciting star in QB Denard Robinson, and they haven't played in the Rose Bowl since 2007.
Nebraska might be a nice second choice. Cornhuskers fans travel well, and there would be some newness there, seeing the Cornhuskers' two Rose Bowl berths were in 1941 and the BCS title game against Miami after the 2001 season.
Some of you have wondered about a possible Wisconsin-Oregon State rematch, if Oregon earned a berth in the national title game. Or whether the Rose Bowl might spurn the 11-1 Beavers for USC, even if the Trojans have three losses.
That's a tough one because the Rose Bowl would have no head-to-head game forcing its hand. USC is a big show that drives TV ratings, and it would be QB Matt Barkley's final college game.
But my guess is that if Oregon State were 11-1, losing only to Oregon, it would be the pick. The Beavers would still be ranked in the top 10, and USC would need a lot of things to swing its way for it to be ranked in the top 14 of the BCS standings, a prerequisite to be selected for a BCS bowl game.
And even if USC, at 10-3, was, say, 13th, I think the Pac-12 would push the Rose Bowl to go with an Oregon State team that was, say, seventh.
Matt from Eugene, Ore., writes: The pac-12 Championship game is scheduled for November 30th at 5pm, and Oregon St is scheduled to play Nicholls St on December 1st at 11:30am. What happens if Oregon St wins out and finds themselves in the championship game? Do they play 2 days in a row? can one of the games be rescheduled to compensate? Maybe the biggest question, did Oregon St not believe they had a chance to be in the championship game when they knowingly rescheduled the Nicholls St game for the day after the championship game?
Ted Miller: If Oregon State wins the North Division it will play for the Pac-12 championship on Nov. 30 and there will be no game with Nicholls State, an FCS team.
The Nicholls State blogger then will write about how Oregon State chickened out of its contracted game.
Derek from Manhattan, Kan., writes: Sorry Ted,Your argument still sucks. You're trying to paint K-State into a gutless corner by suggesting that because Oregon cancelled the game with K-State to instead play LSU, K-State is at fault for not rescheduling?Well, I don't know if you've checked KSU's non-conference schedule from the past and into the future but K-State only plays three non-conference games a year. I know, just like Oregon. But in the past two seasons the Wildcats have played Miami, and coming up in 2014, Auburn will come to Manhattan. I can hear your counter-arguments already. But my main point is this. Calling another program and a coach with the record of Snyder cowardly is tactless and unprofessional. Don't you have better things to do with your time than nitpick about the scheduling habits of other teams? What does this achieve? What is your end game?Kansas State is a quality school and a quality program built from ashes without the deep pockets of someone like Phil Knight. Bill Snyder has his methods and trains his players to not only be winners on the football field, but winners in life.For you to spend your time questioning him shows a lack of respect and character that is unprecedented even by ESPN's standards.Please know I wouldn't normally do this but I just don't understand your point. Please enlighten me.
Scott from Manhattan, Kan., writes: The issue with your article is not necessarily your stance on the situation (even though it was reached through a biased interpretation of facts) but instead with the method in which you relay the information. I understand that Oregon is upset with Kansas State for cancelling the game, but the circumstances are understandable and no one could have predicted this situation two years ago. I don't believe that you will actually read and respond to my email, but I at the very least hope you are open minded enough to listen to the other side of the story before you make up your mind.
Ted Miller: Scott sent me a six-part email that probably took a lot of time to write but it is too long to print entirely here. He didn't convince me on many counterpoints with this whole Oregon-State-Kansas State scheduling tempest in a teapot, but he did convince me he was highly intelligent, certainly a brighter bulb that your humble Pac-12 blogger.
Derek also raises an issue that I want to clarify: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.
Bill Snyder is one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. He's certainly among the top five in the business today. What he built in the college football nether region of Manhattan, Kan., and then -- perhaps just as impressive -- rebuilt is amazing. I remember talking to former Wildcats defensive coordinator Phil Bennett about him before the 1999 Holiday Bowl, and he lavished praise on Snyder, not just as a coach obsessed with details but as a person who genuinely cared about his staff and players.
When I write that Kansas State "chickened out" of a game with Oregon, I am being intentionally provocative on a single issue. I'm not passing judgment on an institution, coach or football program. Yes, I am willfully stirring things up, though I would hasten to add nothing I wrote qualifies as factually inaccurate (Calling me an idiot over and over again doesn't magically make me wrong. Sorry about that).
Stirring things up is one of the things we do in the business of covering sports. The Pac-12 blog allows me to wear many hats. Some days I'm a straight reporter. Some days a columnist. Some days I write features on players. And some days I'm a provocateur, which I enjoy (Ducks-Huskies, discuss!)
I think this Oregon-Kansas State scheduling thing will prove ultimately meaningless. Odds are one or the other -- or both -- will lose and thereby probably eliminate itself from the national title hunt. And if Oregon and Kansas State win out, I think the Ducks will remain ahead of the Wildcats in the human polls and it will be up to the computers to either reverse their order or not. The computers don't read the Pac-12 blog, though I think we all can agree they would have loved the Madonna and Anderson Silva references.
I do not think pollsters will downgrade Kansas State because of this scheduling issue. Further, if you Kansas State fans want to talk pollsters, you may want to consider my voting patterns for your team.
The genesis of my bit of puffery was this: A Ducks-say/Wildcats-say controversy is timely and I had this itty bitty hunch that taking a side might generate a reaction, particularly if I decided to be obnoxious. I was right about that. I also thought my tone on an issue that falls a wee bit below on the seriousness meter of something like, say, national security would at least amuse a few Kansas State fan. I was -- mostly -- wrong about that.
Further, if you've read the Pac-12 blog often, you know that one of my obsessions is nonconference scheduling. For one, great inter-conference matchups between A-list programs are about the best thing going on college football, other than rivalry games. They certainly reward fans with quality games to watch live or on TV. Second, it gives us a good measuring stick for teams and conferences.
I think teams that go coward with their scheduling need to be needled. Relentlessly. If I do have a problem with Snyder, it's his unabashed dislike of challenging nonconference games, though his attitude about them seems to have changed a little bit since the snafu in 1998.
Further, trash talking this deal with Kansas State forced folks to understand why Oregon's 2012 nonconference schedule is so horrid. The Ducks have a long and impressive history of strong scheduling, and it was unfair they were being maligned on the matter.
Anyway, just wanted you Kansas State fans to know that I read all your mail and hope that one day maybe we can be friends again.
Russell from Topeka, Kan., writes: After reading several of your articles, all I can say to you sir is you are a Moron. You will probably vote for Obama based off of his wonderful track record with the economy and how he has done so much for the U.S.Sir I have served 3 deployments as a combat medic, and I can tell you are a liberal moron who judges people off of intent and not result or even actual actions. Thank you for reminding me why I am ashamed to be an american and for being one of the talking heads that is killing the purity of sport. The only problem with the BCS is media keeps interfering in it.May you have a wonderful weekend full of everything you deserve.
Ted Miller: So, just to be clear.... not a fan, eh?
Name Withheld from an Undisclosed Location: Let me start by saying that I'm not worried at all my name is attached to this email. Let me explain: I just read your K-state fan mail piece. I was at first angered--obviously as a HUGE Duck fan--and then a sense of calm, companied by a gigantic smile enveloped me like a warm blanket. Picture the Grinch. See, more then ten years ago, while I was stationed at Ft. Riley, I went on a mid night mission with two of my buddies from Basic who were from Nebraska. Back then I was down for whatever. Can you guess what we did? Yes, I was one of the three young men that painted that gigantic, white, K S Cornhusker Red When Nebraska came to town. Hell Yeah baby! I hadn't thought about that in years. How often do you get to feel awesome about something twice?
Ted Miller: I'm hoping, with this note, to refocus the ire of Kansas State fans.
In Week 2, there were several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates, led once again by USC’s senior quarterback.
Matt Barkley had 187 yards passing and threw a school-record six touchdown passes in USC’s 42-29 victory over Syracuse.
Barkley became the first FBS quarterback in the last 12 seasons to throw at least six touchdown passes with fewer than 200 yards passing in a game. Barkley has 20 touchdown passes in his last four games, six more than any other player in FBS during that span. He kept his passes short in a stormy MetLife Stadium, averaging a career-low 3.7 air yards per attempt. USC’s receivers turned these short passes into big gains with 137 yards coming after the catch -- the 10th straight game that the Trojans gained 100 yards after the catch.
With his play the first two weeks of this season, UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin has vaulted himself into the Heisman discussion.
Franklin had 217 rushing yards on 26 attempts in the Bruins’ 36-30 upset of Nebraska. It was his second consecutive 200-yard rushing game and third of his career. Franklin’s 215.5 rushing yards per game leads FBS this season. In fact, he’s averaging more than 90 teams. Franklin leads FBS with six runs that gained 20 yards or more, and is one of two players with two touchdown runs of at least 60 yards.
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller accounted for a career-high four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) and 296 yards in Ohio State’s 31-16 win against UCF. Miller gained 141 yards on the ground, his second straight 100-yard game and seventh of his career. Only Terrelle Pryor has more 100-yard games rushing than Miller among Ohio State quarterbacks. Miller gained a career-high 106 rushing yards inside the tackles, including two touchdowns. After averaging 4.6 yards per rush between the tackles last season, Miller is averaging 7.2 yards in 2012.
After being kept in check by Alabama, Denard Robinson was back to making plays with his arm and his legs.
In Michigan’s 31-25 win over Air Force, he completed 14 of 25 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he had 20 carries for 218 yards and two more touchdowns. It was his third career game with at least 200 rushing yards and at least 200 passing yards, the most among all FBS players since 2000. Robinson gained 211 of his 218 rushing yards on 19 designed-running plays. During Michigan’s Week 1 loss to Alabama, the Wolverines called only six designed-running plays for Robinson, who gained 25 yards.
Oregon is fifth. LSU is second, Alabama third and Oklahoma fourth.
Trojans QB Matt Barkley is officially the leading preseason candidate -- shocker, I know -- for the Heisman Trophy after capturing 9 of 11 first-place votes in the Heismanpundit/CBSSports.com Heisman Straw Poll.
The poll is a weekly survey of actual Heisman voters from across the country. Barkley was on 10 of 11 ballots, which means somebody decided to be quirky and cute with their vote instead of taking it seriously.
Barkley had 29 points. Wisconsin senior running back Montee Ball, who placed fourth in last year's Heisman vote, was second with 12 points, West Virginia senior quarterback Geno Smith was third with six points, while Michigan senior quarterback Denard Robinson was fourth with five points.
Senior quarterbacks EJ Manuel of Florida State and Collin Klein of Kansas State each received a first-place vote to pull into a tie with Oregon sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas for fifth place. Manuel and Klein were the only players besides Barkley to merit a first-place vote from the panel.
Andrea sent over the Q&A she did with Rodriguez, which we're going to publish in its entirety. It includes lots of background on Rodriguez and his innovative offense, which has been copied by a lot of folks -- yes, including that guy up in Eugene.
Thanks to Andrea for doing all the legwork and writing a nice story.
When was the first time you had coaches asking for pointers on your offense?
Rich Rodriguez: When we went to Tulane, the second year we had a good year, with Shaun King. Then you had some games on TV, and that was the first time after that season that a lot of coaches started coming and visiting and calling. We beat BYU in a bowl game, and Lavell [Edwards] was the head coach, Norm Chow the offensive coordinator. So after the game, they said, ‘Would you come over and talk some football with us? I’m thinking are you kidding me? This is Norm Chow and Lavell Edwards, the passing gurus. I said I’ll do it on one condition. You have to give me some of your information, too. You have to teach me what you’re doing. Norm and I have been friends since that time. It was a great trip.
What was your connection with Tommy Bowden at Tulane?
RR: At Glenville, I went to the Bowden Passing Academy and I always talked football. Tommy had taken an interest in what we were doing. We never worked together when he called me to be offensive coordinator. It was really flattering. I asked, ‘Will you let me run my offense?’ He said sure. Tommy was the first big name, big coach, who took an interest in what we were doing. When we went to Tulane, there were a few folks. At Clemson, we saw a few more. Then at West Virginia, it wasn’t as good the first year we were there, but after that it took off again. I can remember Urban [Meyer], when he first got the Bowling Green job, we were at a coaches convention hospitality bar. He told me, ‘I’d like to run some of your offense.’ So he sent his whole staff for a week, we traded some ideas and so we always traded ideas. The Oklahoma guys, Bob Stoops and I became friends. They would come to our place or we’d go to Oklahoma and spend the week. After the Sugar Bowl year in the 2005 season, we had a whole bunch more. Some 30 different staffs come in, Penn State, Ohio State some non-traditional non-spread coaching staffs. I said maybe I am being too open, but I thought it was a great opportunity for us to learn, too. To pick their brains.
Are folks just as optimistic about the running backs reaching 1,000 yards?
First, let's take a look at last year's 1K rushers:
- LaMichael James, Oregon, 1,805
- John White, Utah, 1,519 (returning)
- Chris Polk, Washington, 1,488
- Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, 1,330 (returning)
- Isi Sofele, Cal, 1,322 (returning)
- Cameron Marshall, Arizona State, 1,050 (returning)
- Curtis McNeal, USC, 1,005 (returning)
So that's five of the seven coming back. Let's break it down by team.
Cameron Marshall, Arizona State: He did it in a pass-first system on an injured ankle. Now he's in a run-first system and healthy. Do the math. Marshall should flourish in a downhill system. The Sun Devils have deep group behind him -- maybe the deepest in the conference -- but I can't imagine anyone cutting into his carries too deeply that it hinders his ability to get back to 1K.
Isi Sofele, Cal: There are mumblings that Cal might move to more of a committee approach and Sofele might not get the same number of carries as last year (252). Even so, he'll still probably be chairman of that committee and will have ample opportunity to reach 1,000 yards again. He'll get there.
Tony Jones, Colorado: The Buffs' offensive line might be their strongest offensive asset with standouts like tackle David Bakhtiari and center Gus Handler. That bodes well for Jones, who showed he can be very explosive backing up Rodney Stewart last year. But the Buffs spent a lot of time playing catch-up last season and couldn't commit to the run as much as Jon Embree probably would have liked (401 attempts). If they can't develop a downfield threat, Jones is going to see a lot of eight-in-the-box.
Kenjon Barner, Oregon: He was knocking on the door last year with 939 -- and that was behind LaMichael James and his 1,805 yards. Barner will see more carries than his 152 last season, though he'll still have to split carries with De'Anthony Thomas and the Ducks' new quarterback. Still, no one in the conference runs the ball more than Oregon so Barner shouldn't have any trouble getting there.
Committee, Oregon State: We know Oregon State wants to run the ball more. The Beavers were dead last in the conference last season in attempts (318) and rushing yards (1,043) and there are still issues on the offensive line that need to be sorted out. Several players are expected to contribute -- but chances are one individual won't get over 1,000 yards.
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford: The Cardinal have a committee approach, but even so, Taylor has gone over 1,000 yards in back-to-back years. The loss of guard David DeCastro hurts a bit, but the Cardinal are dedicated to the run and Taylor is a fantastic back. Shouldn't have any trouble three-peating.
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA: The new system at UCLA will be pass-oriented. But Franklin (976 yards last year) won't be completely ignored. Just look at Marshall's numbers from ASU when Noel Mazzone was running the show and you can see that running backs are still a big part of the attack. And the Bruins might run a little more until the new quarterback finds his way in the system. He'll be close.
Curtis McNeal, USC: He just cracked the club by five yards last season. This year he'll have the benefit of a 13th -- maybe even a 14th -- game to get there. Can't imagine many teams will stack the box and dare Matt Barkley to beat them with his arm. McNeal should clear 1K easily.
John White, Utah: No back carried the ball more in the conference and only three players in FBS football had more rushing attempts. There's no reason to think the Utes won't take that same approach. White is an explosive back who is a proven workhorse. If Utah can get the passing game going, it will open up more for White who could probably match his yards total with fewer carries.
Committee, Washington: Chris Polk was a special running back -- the kind of guy who could run for speed and run for power. He's gone and there are questions on the offensive line where there weren't last year. Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey will probably headline the committee and Washington's balanced approach (52-48 run-pass ratio last year) will allow for plenty of opportunities for both. They should easily combine, but unless one steps up as an 18-20 carry-per-game back, it's unlikely an individual will reach 1K.
Committee, Washington State: The pie for carries is already small considering the offense. Then you have Rickey Galvin (1A), Carl Winston (1B) and Marcus Mason (1C) cutting into the pie even more to nibble on whatever slices are left. Running backs in Mike Leach's world are better used in the passing game on swings and screens in this offense. So don't expect a 1K rusher.
For the B1g boys, 3,000 yards might seem like a bench mark. In the Pac-12, it's more common, given the brand of football played in the league and seemingly never-ending parade of amazing throwers and catchers who grace the Pac-12 each year. Heck, the conference had two 4,000-yard passers on 2011 in Nick Foles and Brock Osweiler.
But those two are gone -- and so are their head coaches, coordinators and offensive schemes.
Here are the members of the 3K club last season:
- Foles, Arizona, 4,329
- Osweiler, Arizona State, 4,036
- Matt Barkley, USC, 3,528 (returning)
- Andrew Luck, Stanford, 3,517
- Sean Mannion, Oregon State, 3,328 (returning)
- Keith Price, Washington, 3,063 (returning)
Matt Scott, Arizona: Rich Rodriguez's spread option is primarily run-first, and I couldn't find a 3,000-yard passer to his credit as a head coach. The closest anyone got was Denard Robinson, who hit 2,570 in 2010. History says probably not.
TBD, Arizona State: Another up-tempo, run-first offense -- though Todd Graham has had more success in the air. G.J. Kinne hit 3,650 passing yards for Tulsa in 2010, but that was also his second year in the system. With a workhorse running back like Cameron Marshall, a deep running back corps and a green quarterback, 3K seems unlikely.
Zach Maynard, Cal: Just 10 more yards. Just one more little swing pass or one broken tackle and Maynard would have joined the 3K club after throwing for 2,990 yards last season. All indications are that he had a good spring, and he looks more comfortable in the offense. Plus, he's got one of the best receivers in the country in Keenan Allen. Maynard should get there.
TBD, Colorado: Tyler Hansen ( who is now gone) almost got there last season, throwing for 2,883 yards even though his leading receiver in catches was running back Rodney Stewart (who is now gone). Toney Clemons (who is now gone) led in yards, and Paul Richardson (who is out for the season with a knee injury) was second. The odds are slim that Connor Wood or Nick Hirschman will improve off Hansen's numbers with so much turnover.
TBD, Oregon: Does it really matter? Darron Thomas knocked on the door last season with 2,761 yards. But establishing the pass isn't exactly priority No. 1 for the Ducks. Whoever wins the job will have the benefit of De'Anthony Thomas, who can turn 5-yard passes into 50-yard completions. But with the Ducks carrying a 62-38 run-pass percentage last season, it's unlikely they'll stray from that formula, which means it's unlikely a new quarterback will reach 3K.
Sean Mannion, Oregon State: One of six quarterbacks in the conference last season to break 3K, Mannion threw for 3,328 yards in his debut campaign. Vows from coach Mike Riley to re-commit to the running game should actually enhance Mannion's numbers. And with receivers like Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks on the outside, there is no reason to think he won't top 3,000 again.
TBD, Stanford: Despite a run-first, pro-style attack, Luck still threw for 3,517 yards. The Cardinal were 55-45 in their run-pass ratio last season, and a lot of Luck's aerial success came from his ability to successfully sell play-action and distribute the ball among many position groups. But the top three receivers (Griff Whalen, Chris Owusu and tight end Coby Fleener) are gone, and you can't bank on the new quarterback being as efficient as Luck. Expect a healthy dose of running back Stepfan Taylor, meaning Luck's replacement probably won't break 3K.
TBD, UCLA: The Bruins joined Utah last season as the only teams that did not have a passer ranked in the top 10 in passing yards in the conference. That will change this season with new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone -- the architect of Osweiler's 4K season. The ball will be in the air a lot more than it was in the pistol offense. But seeing as there is so much uncertainty still -- and we could see multiple quarterbacks this season -- it's too tough to call. If one guy starts the entire season, I could see it.
Matt Barkley, USC: Yes, yes, 3,000 times, yes.
Jordan Wynn, Utah: I'd say it's 50-50 for Wynn at this point. The Utes have a very good running back in John White, and coach Kyle Whittingham likes the control game. But Wynn did toss 2,334 yards in 2010 in 10 games. If DeVonte Christopher has the big season many are predicting, and new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson dials up the aggressiveness, I could see it happening. As always, unfortunately, every conversation regarding Wynn has to be stipulated with an "if he stays healthy" until he proves otherwise.
Keith Price, Washington: Had it not been for a career-high 438 passing yards against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl, Price would have come up way short of the 3K club. But he's in. And without Chris Polk to lean on, we could see Price's passing numbers go up. Prior to the bowl game, he only had one 300-yard game. He has a good chance to repeat as a 3,000-yard passer, but it's not a lock.
Jeff Tuel, Washington State: Mike Leach hasn't named him the starter, but, come on. He lit it up in the spring, and showed to be a quick study in learning the new offense. With a deep and talented crop of wide receivers -- headlined by Marquess Wilson -- and an offense that throws three out of every four times, Tuel should easily clear 3K.
Though in alphabetical order, it’s widely assumed that USC quarterback Matt Barkley is the front-runner with all others playing catch-up before the first snap has been taken. Here’s the list.
- Tavon Austin, Sr., AP, West Virginia
- Montee Ball, Sr., RB, Wisconsin
- Matt Barkley, Sr., QB, USC
- Tajh Boyd, Jr., QB, Clemson
- Tyler Bray, Jr., QB, Tennessee
- Knile Davis, Jr., RB, Arkansas
- James Franklin, Jr., QB, Missouri
- Landry Jones, Sr., QB, Oklahoma
- Collin Klein, Sr., QB, Kansas State
- Marcus Lattimore, Jr., RB, South Carolina
- Aaron Murray, Jr., QB, Georgia
- Keith Price, Jr., QB, Washington
- Denard Robinson, Sr., QB, Michigan
- Geno Smith, Sr., QB, West Virginia
- De’Anthony Thomas, So., RB, Oregon
- Sammy Watkins, So, WR, Clemson
- Tyler Wilson, Sr., QB, Arkansas
- Cierre Wood, Sr., RB, Notre Dame
The Pac-12 blog entertained which player from the conference we thought would emerge as the Heisman winner in a Take 2 back in March. Watch lists are always subject to change, and until we actually see some games, it’s only fun speculation at this point.
No question that Barkley is the early leader in the minds of many. Given his statistics last season, the receivers he has around him and the lofty preseason ranking the Trojans are expected to enjoy, he’s looking down on the pack – at least for now.
Thomas is going to have big play after big play this season, which makes him a very strong Heisman candidate. His exploits can be packaged into an explosive highlight reel that is easily digestible for East Coast voters. No one ever gets tired of seeing 85-yard touchdown runs (unless you're safeties chasing Thomas).
Price lacks the national brand at this point, but that could all change in Week 2 in Baton Rouge. A strong showing against LSU is certain to boost his exposure and could catapult him from dark horse contender to major candidate. And then he's got Stanford, Oregon and USC all in the first six games. He could be the leader at the turn ... or slip out of the running all together.
Odds maker Danny Sheridan -- as originally reported with Alabama flavor by Izzy Gould of al.com -- released his 2012 Heisman odds Tuesday and his list includes three Pac-12 candidates in total and one obvious front-runner.
- USC quarterback Matt Barkley tops the list at 5-1 odds.
- Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas checks in at 25-1 odds.
- Washington quarterback Keith Price is the darkhorse at 40-1.
At first glance, Barkley is the obvious choice. He has a very good offensive line protecting him -- including the nation's top center in Khaled Holmes (just once, I'd love to see a center get Heisman love). The running game will come together, but until it does, you might see Barkley pass a little more. And why not? With his receivers he should put up crazy good numbers. A little surprised not to see Robert Woods on this list.
Thomas is going to do what Thomas does -- run really, really fast and score a lot of touchdowns. His chances might be hampered a bit by splitting carries with Kenjon Barner (by the way, shouldn't he be on this list also?). But with the amount of plays Oregon runs per game, that shouldn't be too much of a concern. Because Thomas is a speed guy, he's also going to have to get over the national stigma that he can't run between tackles. LaMichael James had the same label, but was quite good this past season at going up the middle.
Price is the wild card of this bunch. Last year, he spent the season with a lot of nagging injuries that forced him to be a better pocket passer. But when healthy -- as we saw in the Alamo Bowl with his three rushing touchdowns -- he can be just as explosive with his legs. Next season he should be a true dual threat and a player that should warrant serious consideration.
Other players picked by Sheridan include:
- Wisconsin running back Montee Ball: 6-1
- Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones: 7-1
- Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson: 7-1
- West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith: 10-1
- Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray: 12-1
- Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson: 15-1
- Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist: 25-1
- Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead: 25-1
- Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins: 25-1
- Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron: 30-1
But as we've seen in recent years, there is always an out-of-nowhere candidate that was off the radar. Just looking at this awfully impressive lineup, however, it seems like it's going to be tough for an unknown to wiggle his way in.
Next year? Not so certain.
Of course, if USC quarterback Matt Barkley opts to return for his senior year, he'll instantly become the favorite. But who's betting he'll return? James also could return, but that seems unlikely. The same could be said for Washington running back Chris Polk.
USC receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee? Washington quarterback Keith Price? Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler? Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen? Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson? Utah running back John White?
My take: Woods and Oregon's multipurpose threat De'Anthony Thomas are the Pac-12's top candidates, as of today.
But this uncertainty is not just a Pac-12 thing. As the venerable Heisman Pundit points out, it should be a wide open race nationally. It's quite possible that the preseason list of Heisman candidates won't include the eventual winner (and, really, who had Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III in their Heisman pool in August?).
The race for the 2012 Heisman appears to be wide open, especially assuming you can cross the following names off this year’s top 10 in the voting list due to either early entry into the NFL draft or expiration of eligibility:
1. Robert Griffin III
2. Andrew Luck
3. Trent Richardson
4. Montee Ball
5. Tyrann Mathieu
6. Matt Barkley
7. Case Keenum
8. Kellen Moore
9. Russell Wilson
10. LaMichael James
Whereas this past season had five of the top six finishers in the Heisman race returning, it’s very likely that nine of 10 from this season will not return (something that hasn’t happened since 2005). That means the race for the 2012 Heisman is likely to be wide open, with no real front runner in place.
And HP is not a believer in Mathieu coming back and winning next fall.
He does, however, make his own list, which includes Thomas but not Woods. He also includes USC running back Curtis McNeal.
On Thomas: "An electric will o’ the wisp who can score on the ground, in the air or by returning kicks and punts. Should be the star of yet another fine Oregon team."
On McNeal: "The USC running back position is a favorite of Heisman voters. McNeal averaged 120 yards per game and nearly 7 yards per carry in his last six games, which could point to an even bigger season in 2012."
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson likely starts out the 2012 season as the favorite, which probably means he won't win -- see Luck. After that, everyone is just going to list returning offensive players who had good numbers in 2011.
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is No. 1 and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson is No. 2.
McCrystal has only missed predicting the Heisman Trophy once since he started his system, so what we can guess is that Robinson shortly will tumble on this list.
Iron-clad guarantee: Robinson won't win the Heisman Trophy unless his passing numbers improved dramatically.
Robinson is the nation's 39th-rated passer. He's completed just 53 percent of his passes and thrown six interceptions with just eight touchdowns against a schedule that's featured no ranked teams.
Robinson is fourth in the nation in rushing with 139 yards per game -- he's as exciting a player as there is out there -- but he's still a quarterback, and if his passing numbers are mediocre, he won't win the Heisman. Not this year, with Luck, Wilson, Boise State's Kellen Moore and Baylor's Robert Griffin putting up eye-popping stats.
Oregon fans are probably going: What about LaMichael James?
James leads the nation in: 1. Rushing (153.3 yards per game); 2. All-Purpose yards (226.8); 3. Punt returns (22.8 yards per return).
Yes, no one has noticed.
But they will if he keeps rolling. For one, James will be on ESPN on Thursday night against California. If he puts up big numbers against a quality defense, he'll make a statement.
Then he needs to continue piling up numbers -- and the Ducks piling up wins -- in advance of the red-letter date with Stanford on Nov. 12. If he puts on a big show against the Cardinal -- as he did last year -- and upstages Luck, he'll be well on his way to getting an invitation to New York again.
Oregon fans also want to root for this: Boise State to stumble, LSU to beat Alabama (and stuff running back Trent Richardson) and for Baylor to start losing. This weekend it would help James if Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones plays poorly in a loss to Texas.
In other words, we've got lots of football ahead for Heisman candidates to rise and fall.
You can review everything that was typed here.
But because we know you are busy, busy, busy, here are some highlights.
rbrown (Eugene): Ted, I am surprised that Oregon is now the favorite in the opener against LSU. I see them as an underdog meaning it is more likely than not that they will lose. What say you? Are people just predicting oregon will win or do they think oregon has the flat out better team?
Ted Miller (3:02 PM): My guess is it will be close to a pick 'em. I'm a slight LSU lean right now after reading so many glowing LSU stories. Might change my mind (again).
Joe (Jacksonville): Who is your preseason pick for most-improved player in the Pac-12 from last season?
Ted Miller (3:04 PM): I sense that by season's end folks will be saying really nice things about Oregon State QB Ryan Katz.
Darius (Los Angeles): Do you think the league will have adjusted and be able to better defend the Oregon offense this year?
Ted Miller (3:08 PM): It's an endless chess game. Folks figure out Chip Kelly's hurry-up spread option, so Kelly tweaks it. I'm really, really curious about the LSU game. We've seen Boise State, Ohio State and Auburn slow the Ducks down with extra prep time. LSU will do the same by training the eyes of its defense. So, knowing this, what does Kelly do this time? I got the feeling Oregon thought it could just line up and beat Auburn. I don't think it will look at LSU the same. There will be some noticeable tweaks.
rbrown (Eugene): what glowing lsu stories have you read?
Ted Miller (3:10 PM): Les Miles saying this is his most talented team. Chavis raving about the talent in his secondary. The breakthrough of QB Jordan Jefferson. How good the frosh DTs are. That sort of thing.
Sam (SLC): In your opinion, What is the biggest concern for utah this year?
Ted Miller (3:11 PM): 1. Keeping Wynn healthy; 2. secondary; 3. the grind of the Pac-12 schedule.
Darryl (Oakland, CA): Do you think it's possible that Cal's QB (Maynard) will play very similar to and be used similarly to Denard Robinson? If so, is Cal instantly the best team in the Pac 12?
Ted Miller (3:14 PM): Even if you take away QBs, I'd like Oregon and Stanford more than Cal. But Maynard giving the Bears solid QB play means the Bears are a threat for 8 or 9 wins. As for Denard Robinson, my perception -- I've never seen Maynard play, other than Buffalo highlights -- is he's more of a passing than Robinson and less of a runner.
Ryan (Boulder): Does CU's secondary have any chance at stopping Hawaii's passing attack or does it all rely on the pass rush?
Ted Miller (3:18 PM): The good news is Hawaii is completely rebuilding its offense, other than Moniz. The Buffs secondary should get a lot of support from a tough pass rush.
Carlos (Seattle ): Can WSU and Tuel win more then 6 games? Is this the year that Tuel becomes one of the better QB's in the PAC 12?
Ted Miller (3:21 PM): Maybe... WSU needs a 3-0 start, which would include a win at SD State. If that happens, I think they have a really good shot at 6 wins. If Tuel gets better protection, he should take a big step forward.
Kurt (Oregon): Is James Rodgers going to make your list of the Pac-12's Top 25 players? Or are injuries keeping him off?
Ted Miller (3:24 PM): Knee injury knocked him off... keep in mind I made the list before preseason camp began. At that point, the general feeling wasn't as positive as it is now. Seeing that I ranked him No. 6 before the 2010 season, I don't think I have to re-assert my belief in who he is when healthy.
Tony (Richmond, CA): Andrew Luck lost two of his top targets in Baldwin, and Whalen? Do the Cardinal have adequate replacements for these key players that will take pressure of Owasu and allow their quarterback to put up Heisman worthy numbers?
Ted Miller (3:49 PM): You have Owusu and some other options, but the big fall-back is the 3-deep of future NFL tight ends. I expect to see those guys lineup up wide at times and catching balls in big numbers.
Ryan (Ohio): What about adding the Oklahoma schools, Texas Tech, anf Texas with the condition that Texas keeps their tertiary rights (but no hs games)?
Ted Miller (3:53 PM): any deal that includes Texas is a winner. i personally feel that something can be worked out that allows the Longhorn network to continue.... give-take negotiations, you know.
Ty (Seattle): Prediction for how many times I'll be offered "Cajun duck" samples while tailgating in Dallas?
Ted Miller (4:00 PM): Now you're going to want to hang with the LSU folks during the tailgate... those guys know what they are doing. Top-10 food tailgate -- easily --in the nation.
Reed (Montlake): Maybe answer a question about the dawgs... What is the most intriguing aspect of the rubber match of UW and Nebraska?
Ted Miller (4:01 PM): That if the Huskies beat a top-15 Nebraska team in Lincoln that won't have any excuses, as it did in the Holiday Bowl, we can officially announce that Washington is back.
The winner will be announced after the bowl games on Jan. 19 and will be honored at a ceremony in New Orleans. The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in honor of the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that takes the candidates’ bowl performances into consideration in its balloting.
The finalists are:
Andy Dalton, TCU
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Andrew Luck, Stanford
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Kellen Moore, Boise State
Cameron Newton, Auburn
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
Denard Robinson, Michigan
Darron Thomas, Oregon
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
A list of five finalists will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 1.
The 2010 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, who is voted on by the Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be presented live on Dec. 9 during the 6 p.m. edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter."
Here's the complete list.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Da’Quan Bowers, DL, Clemson
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Nick Fairley, DL, Auburn
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut
Luck is the only Pac-10 player on the eight-man list.
Luck has 12 points, including one second-place vote. You'd figure he could pick up some support if he turns in a big performance at No. 4 Oregon on Saturday.
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson leads with 59 points.