Pac-12: Derrick Coleman

Pac-12 players in the Super Bowl

February, 3, 2014
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Another Super Bowl is in the books, and Pac-12 alumni played a major role in the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos. Is it any surprise that the team with the most Pac-12 players won the game? (Hint, hint, Mr. Elway).

In all, there were 16 active players on both rosters: 11 for the Seahawks and five for the Broncos. There are other Pac-12 players on the rosters or practice squads, but they were either injured, suspended or inactive for XLVIII.

The standout was former USC linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was named MVP for an inspired defensive performance. The Pac-12 had hit a bit of an MVP dry spell. After John Elway (Stanford) won the MVP in 1999, the league went more than a decade without having an MVP. Now it has two in the last four years after Aaron Rodgers (Cal) was MVP of XLV, and now it's Smith's turn.

Here’s a look at how the the Pac-12 alumni performed.

Seattle Seahawks
  • Doug Baldwin, WR, Stanford: Started at wide receiver. Led the Seahawks with five catches for 66 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. Also had an assisted tackle on special teams.
  • Derrick Coleman, RB, UCLA: Recorded one tackle on special teams.
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Caught four balls for 65 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown.
  • Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal: Started at running back. Carried 15 times for 39 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.
  • Brandon Mebane, DT, Cal: Posted three tackles, including a tackle for a loss.
  • Zach Miller, TE, ASU: Started at tight end. Had one catch for 10 yards and recovered an onside kick.
  • Mike Morgan, LB, USC: Appeared, but did not record any stats.
  • Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Started at left cornerback. Posted three tackles (two solo) with one pass defended. Left game with an injury in the fourth quarter.
  • Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Crowned Super Bowl MVP. Returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown and recovered a fumble to go along with 10 tackles (six solo) and a defended pass.
  • Walter Thurmond, CB, Oregon: Started at cornerback. Posted three tackles (one solo).
  • Max Unger, C, Oregon: Started at center.
Denver Broncos

Top performances 2011: Tevin McDonald

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
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We're looking at the top individual performances in the Pac-12 in 2011.

Up next: Tevin McDonald's pick-three.

Who & against whom? UCLA's redshirt freshman safety helped the Bruins rebound from the 48-12 debacle in the desert at Arizona just one week before by leading a defensive charge against Cal.

The numbers: McDonald did in one day what a lot of college football players accomplish in a career. He picked off Cal quarterback Zach Maynard three times to help the Bruins to a 31-14 win. Three interceptions in one game matches a UCLA school record.

A closer look: Not that UCLA's cup was ever overflowing with confidence this season. But it hit an all-time low following the embarrassing loss to Arizona the week before. Cue McDonald and his secondary hat trick. More importantly, the Bruins didn't let his efforts go to waste. All three interceptions resulted in points -- two touchdowns and a field goal. Cal had five turnovers on the day and 24 of UCLA's 31 points came off of Cal mistakes. Two of McDonald's interceptions came in the fourth quarter. Holding on to a 17-14 lead early in the fourth, McDonald grabbed his second pick of the game, which set up a 20-yard Derrick Coleman run. Later in the fourth, he got his third interception just outside the UCLA red zone, which the Bruins turned around and marched 83 yards to close out the win.

Season recap: UCLA

December, 7, 2011
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UCLA BRUINS

Record: 6-7, 5-4 Pac-12

Did any other team in the country have a more bizarre season than the Bruins? Quarterback switches/injuries, head-scratching wins -- and losses -- and a lame duck coach in a conference championship game. Things certainly got weird in Westwood.

Wide receiver Nelson Rosario has all of the tools to be one of the elite wide receivers in the conference -- or country for that matter. In a run-first pistol system, he still caught 61 balls for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Joseph Fauria was perhaps the most consistent offensive player with 34 catches and six scores.

Whoever takes over as coach for the departed Rick Neuheisel isn't coming in with empty cupboards. The Bruins have enough talent on both sides of the ball to still be a force in the division. But bringing all of that talent together into a consistent, cohesive unit, is the biggest task for the next head coach. There clearly was enough talent to beat Arizona State, and enough inconsistency to lose to Arizona.

Co-offensive MVPs: Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman share the honors for their tandem work at the running back position. Both had three games where they went for more than 100 yards. Franklin did a little more of the heavy lifting, rushing for 947 yards and 6.0 yards per carry. Coleman sealed the deal with 11 rushing touchdowns and 726 yards. Together they helped UCLA to the nation's 30th best rushing offense, averaging 190.6 yards per game.

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Patrick Larimore came up big with 81 tackles this season -- including 50 solo stops. He saved his best statistical games for the toughest opponents, coming up with eight solo stops against Stanford, seven against Texas and seven against Arizona State.

Turning point: A missed field goal by Arizona State gave the Bruins a shocking 29-28 win over the No. 19 Sun Devils, securing UCLA a very fragile grasp of the Pac-12 South that eventually allowed them access into the conference title game. Even though they lost two of their next three, it allowed them to extend their season -- and Neuheisel's UCLA career, by one more game.

Up next: Thanks to an NCAA waiver, the Bruins are bound for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Dec. 31 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, where they'll face another team with a recently fired head coach, Illinois. Oh, the irony.

Utah, UCLA both running from the ashes

November, 10, 2011
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Utah and UCLA were written off after their seventh games. The Utes got stomped at Cal, and the Bruins were humiliated at Arizona on ESPN. Utah fell to 0-4 in the Pac-12. UCLA seemed on the cusp of a coaching search.

[+] EnlargeRick Neuheisel
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireAfter a rough start, UCLA and coach Rick Neuheisel control their destiny.
And now they play Saturday in Salt Lake, each riding a two-game conference winning streak, with the winner earning bowl eligibility. And UCLA in the South Division lead.

Stuff changes. The unexpected can happen.

So maybe we'll see plenty of passing on Saturday. Just don't count on it.

UCLA and Utah like to run the ball and aren't terribly good at passing it. UCLA ranks 11th and Utah 12th in the conference in passing yards per game. They've combined for 23 TD passes, which is fewer than USC, Stanford, Washington and Oregon.

This won't be a four-hour game.

UCLA is better on offense overall and is better at running it, see its 191 yards per game out of a pistol offense. It averages 4.8 yards per carry, while the Utes average 3.6. It has three legitimate rushing weapons in running backs Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman and quarterback Kevin Prince, while the Utes rely almost entirely on John White.

"[White] has been a big part of our success," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "When he goes over 100 yards, we win, and when he doesn't, we've lost."

Utah is much better on defense, though. It ranks second in the conference against the run and third in total defense. UCLA is 11th against the run and 10th in total defense.

The Utes' front-seven is particularly tough.

"A huge challenge," Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Our offense is predicated on winning at least your share at the line of scrimmage and being able to run the football. And they are as stout as anybody we've played this year."

Beyond the Xs and Os, there's the Norm Chow factor. The legendary offensive coordinator was hired by Whittingham after he parted ways with Neuheisel after three mostly poor seasons. All parties have played down any perception of bad blood this week, as well as any major competitive advantage.

"I think the advantage or disadvantage is a wash," Whittingham said. "I don't think that will play into it at all. I think they've changed both coordinators, so I don't see that as an advantage one way or another."

Still, Chow will be able to provide the Utes coaches plenty of insider details about the Bruins' players, their tendencies, likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses.

"He's going to know our personnel as well as anybody, so we have to understand that," Neuheisel admitted.

Still, Neuheisel observed, the game will come down to "blocking and tackling" as most games do. And turnovers.

As for what the game means in the big picture, Neuheisel didn't take the bait. He brought up Pac-12 and postseason possibilities in advance of the Arizona game, and that didn't go well.

"Our future is Saturday," he said. "Nothing else matters. We made that mistake before talking about this, that or the other thing."

Pac-12 helmet stickers: Week 10

November, 6, 2011
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Who gets a helmet sticker for a job well done (on a bad day for the Pac-12)?

California's defense: The Bears held Washington State to 224 yards in a 30-7 win. The Cougars rushed for just 69 yards and were 4-of-16 on third down. The Bears had three sacks.

John Hays, Utah: While John White -- 109 yards and 2 TDs -- was the star for Utah in the 34-21 win over Arizona, Hays passed for 199 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. Most important: No interceptions.

Eddie Pleasant, Oregon: The Ducks safety grabbed two interceptions in the 34-17 win over Washington. His 65 yards of INT return also helped set up two short Ducks TD drives.

Matt Barkley, USC: The USC QB set a school record with six touchdown passes in the Trojans 42-17 win over Colorado.

Derrick Coleman, UCLA: The Bruins running back rushed for 119 yards on 17 carries -- 7.0 yards per carry -- and scored two TDs, including the 1-yard game-winner over Arizona State with less than a minute left in a game they won 29-28.

Griff Whalen, Stanford: The underrated Whalen has become Andrew Luck's favorite target, and he'll need to be with Chris Owusu hurt. Whalen caught six passes for 87 yards with a TD in the 38-13 win over Oregon State.
UCLA's visit to Arizona on Oct. 20 was a complete disaster for the Bruins. The 48-12 blowout defeat to a team that had lost 10 consecutive games to FBS teams and had just fired its coach had no redeeming value for the program and its embattled coach, Rick Neuheisel. ESPN's typically measured Rece Davis, who was doing play-by-play, opined: "Somebody in a gold helmet has to show some pride."

He was right. The Bruins looked like they were tanking it. That they didn't care. And that almost certainly would earn Neuheisel a boot out of Westwood.

But there's often a disconnect between easy fan and media judgments and the reality of a locker room. UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince called the loss at Arizona "devastating," but he firmly rejected the notion of the Bruins mailing it in because they no longer cared about Neuheisel's fate.

"We definitely like Coach Neuheisel and want him to stay. There's no question about that," Prince said. "There was nothing like us going into the Arizona game and saying, 'Hey, let's tank this so Neuheisel doesn't keep his job.' That's absurd. I know that fans probably think that. The Arizona game? Sometimes things just happen. Fans will make up conspiracy theories, but at the end of day we want to win games and we don't want any changes here. We like the coaches we have."

[+] EnlargeRick Neuheisel
AP Photo/Bret HartmanRick Neuheisel badly needs a win when the Bruins take on No. 19 Arizona State Saturday.
That, of course, could just be good-soldier speak. After all, Prince isn't the sort to trash talk his coach, or even provide a non-answer that allows folks to read between the lines. It strains credulity to believe that Bruins are in lockstep in support of their coach and his staff, which features two new coordinators this season.

But then a 31-14 win at California happened, the first time this season the Bruins played well in all three phases.

Further, the Bruins' season could be transformed -- and Neuheisel resurrected -- if they beat No. 19 Arizona State on Saturday. Not only would a victory improve their record to 5-4 overall -- just one win away from bowl eligibility -- it would give the Bruins control of the Pac-12's South Division. UCLA and Arizona State would be tied atop the division at 4-2 in conference play (USC isn't eligible due to NCAA sanctions), but the Bruins would own the tiebreaker due to head-to-head victory.Rick Neuheisel badly needs a win when the Bruins take on No. 19 Arizona State Saturday.

Which would mean that the Bruins actually control their Rose Bowl destiny. They are a six-game winning streak away from being the Rose Bowl champs.

Ridiculous? Perhaps. But Neuheisel could tell you about a team that started 0-3-1 in 1984 and won the Rose Bowl. So this isn't the most ridiculous scenario ever.

One of them. But not the most.

Things already are pretty odd. Who thought after Prince started 3-of-7 with three interceptions against Texas and got benched that we'd ever hear him receiving justified praise again as the Bruins' quarterback?

Prince has thrown just one more interception since his ill-fated afternoon against the Longhorns. He was the difference-maker against Cal, rushing for a career-high 163 yards on 19 carries, just as he was while leading a comeback victory over Washington State after Richard Brehaut was lost for the season with a broken leg.

His career, which includes 20 starts, has been star-crossed, riddled with injuries and inconsistency. And yet here is. Again.

"No. 1, he hasn't given up on himself," Neuheisel siad. "He believes he's got what it takes, and we do, too. No. 2, he's healthy. It's not been that way for most of his career. And I was really pleased that he ran as physically as he ran the other night. That's got to be where we plant our flag."

In other words, even with the Bruins getting four receivers back from their suspensions for their parts in the brawl with Arizona, the Bruins are not going to start passing a lot. They average 196 yards passing per game, but their most effective plays seem to be runs out of the pistol formation. With Prince being an increasingly legitimate run threat, that should make things easier for running backs Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman.

"Prince is playing extremely well right now," Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. "If they can run the football, they can create a lot of problems for you."

The Sun Devils have been just OK against the run this year, yielding 141 yards per game.

Of course, entertaining grand notions for UCLA remains a stretch. The program has failed to post a signature conference win under Neuheisel and has been excruciatingly inconsistent. More than once, talk of a corner-turn has been hushed by a dreadful performance. Beating Arizona State is the sort of thing Neuheisel hasn't done in three-plus seasons at UCLA, though he's posted some nice nonconference wins over Tennessee and Texas.

One of many big changes Neuheisel made this year was taking over coaching his quarterbacks. He is notoriously hard on QBs, having been one himself for the Bruins, and cameras eagerly seek him out when his quarterback makes a mistake. The sideline jabbering is not terribly distinguished, and more than a few folks have seen it as a significant problem on multiple levels.

But Prince feels like his relationship with Neuheisel has gotten stronger this year.

"I feel like it's been better because he is now the quarterbacks coach," Prince said. "The communication between us is better. We don't see eye-to-eye all the time, but we can communicate and work things out."

They also are on the same wavelength when it comes to dealing with criticism, which both know well.

Said Prince: "I don't listen to the criticism. I just continue to play the game and try to have fun and win."

Said Neuheisel: "The only thing you can do is ignore that .... It does me no good. I can't answer all the critics. All I can do is my best. I wake up every morning excited about going to work."

It appears Prince and Neuheisel are in sync when it comes to dealing with criticism. But can they -- and the rest of the Bruins -- get in sync and string a few consistent performances together?

If it happens, there may be a shocker in the South Division, and part of that would be Neuheisel keeping his job.
Paul Wulff and Rick Neuheisel entered the season with the same problem. They needed to win in order to keep their jobs, and there were plenty of folks who didn't think they would.

Five weeks into the season, Neuheisel's Bruins are 2-3 and his seat is hotter, while Wulff's Cougars are 3-1 and his seat is cooler.

The messages coming out of the beleaguered outposts, however, reflect the coachspeak necessity to reject the ephemeral whims of public -- and media -- opinion.

For the surging Cougars, Wulff strikes a cautionary note. "We haven't accomplished a lot yet," he said.

[+] EnlargeWashington State's Paul Wulff
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PRESSWIREWith a 3-1 record, Washington State coach Paul Wulff is feeling less pressure than opposing coach Rick Neuheisel this weekend.
For the struggling Bruins, Neuheisel points to reasons for hope. "Look at the tape," he said. "You can see how close we are. And if that doesn't motivate you to want to be better and continue to work to be better then I don't know what does."

And they are both right.

Wulff's team is playing better and winning and as a result his seat is cooler, but the Cougars schedule has helped plenty. It's a good bet the Bruins would be 3-1 with the Cougars schedule, too. At least.

As for the Bruins, Neuheisel reasonably points out that his team has lost to three unbeaten teams: Houston, No. 11 Texas and No. 7 Stanford. It's a good beat the Cougars would be 2-3 with the Bruins schedule.

When the Cougars and Bruins tangle Saturday, the relative feelings about either coach could be in flux again, particularly if we see a repeat of last year.

In the Rose Bowl in 2010, UCLA jumped ahead 20-7, then yielded three consecutive TDs as the Cougars took a 28-20 lead. From that point on, however, the Bruins just ran over the Cougs defense, scoring three consecutive TDs to win 42-28, using almost exclusively running plays.

UCLA rushed 57 times for 437 yards -- 7.8 yards per carry -- with five TDs. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 216 yards and Derrick Coleman for 185 yards, and both of those guys will be eyeballing a Cougars rushing defense that yielded 227 yards to San Diego State and 161 yards to Colorado.

"That's going to be our challenge," Wulff said. "We've to make them earn yards on the ground."

On the other side of the ball, the Bruins rank 10th in the conference in pass-defense and are beaten up in the secondary, though Neuheisel said he thinks he could get a couple of guys back who didn't play against Stanford, such as safeties Tony Dye and Dalton Hilliard and linebacker Glenn Love.

Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael -- he's still the starter, though Jeff Tuel could see action after fracturing his collarbone in the season-opener -- ranks 13th in the nation in passing efficiency and sixth in the nation in passing with 333.8 yards per game.

So, not unlike last year's game, UCLA will try to run. Washington State will try to pass. Both might struggle to stop the other.

But how are these teams different from last year?

Neuheisel said it's obvious on film that the Cougars are improved. It's also different how Wulff pooh-poohs grand pronouncements from reporters, such as an inquiry asking if the Cougars have turned the proverbial corner.

"It's an easy thing for people to say," Wulff said. "We've taken a step. I know we've take a step in the right direction." But then he added, again, that, "We haven't accomplished a lot yet."

Even the thrilling win at Colorado doesn't inspire much joy from Wulff, at least with reporters.

"It was a last quarter win but we didn't play a great football game," he said. "There were a lot of things we could have done a heck of a lot better. I don't look at it as an emotional game at all. It was an emotional ending. But we need to play better football than we did."

Obviously, Wulff is fighting any potential "we've arrived" complacency that might invade his locker room.

Meanwhile, Neuheisel is trying to keep his team optimistic with his relentless message of hope. For example, his defense ranks 105th in the nation, allowing 33.6 points per game.

"I think we are getting better," he said. "We're playing faster. We've played some pretty darn good football teams."

The grind for a coach on the hotseat is relentless. It can feature cycles of dramatic highs and stunning lows. As we head into the second October weekend, Wulff and his team are trending up, and Neuheisel and his team are trending down. It's probably more fun in the coaching offices in Pullman than in Westwood this week.

Said Wulff, "It feels different. There's a little bit more pep in your step when you come to work."

Ah, but peppy steps sometimes land on banana peals. And those dragging along with their heads down might espy a lucky quarter.

Things can change quickly in college football.

Halftime: Texas 28, UCLA 7

September, 17, 2011
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UCLA is getting pushed around by Texas, 28-7, and with fans fleeing the Rose Bowl before halftime, that doesn't bode well for coach Rick Neuheisel.

The big story was three first quarter interceptions from Bruins starting quarterback Kevin Prince, who was lifted for Richard Brehaut. It's possible that move could have some permanence.

The Longhorns outgained the Bruins 251-162. UCLA actually ran the ball well at times, most particularly Derrick Coleman, who had 42 yards on four carries with a touchdown.

But a nice running game doesn't mean much when the other team is up 21 at the break.

It's clear Bruins fans are losing patience as their team appears to be close to falling to 1-2. They booed the home team. And some left the stadium, according to tweets from reporters on the scene.

The screws are tightening for Neuheisel. Fair to say it's a must-win at Oregon State on Sept. 24. (For both teams, really).

Lunch links: Cougs center out for SD State

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
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Happy Friday.
Look, the Pac-12 is the conference of quarterbacks. Everybody knows that. No other conference even approaches the talent the Pac-12 has at the position in 2011.

Stanford's Andrew Luck, USC's Matt Barkley and Arizona's Nick Foles each could be first-round NFL draft picks next spring. Luck is almost certain to go No. 1 overall. Oregon's Darron Thomas, Oregon State's Ryan Katz, Utah's Jordan Wynn and Washington State's Jeff Tuel also are experienced, talented guys with plenty of upside.

[+] EnlargeLaMichael James
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireQuarterback is the position of power in the Pac-12, but LaMichael James and his fellow running backs can make a strong case as well.
So the Pac-12's position of power is, obviously, quarterback.

But don't sleep on the running backs, either.

The conference welcomes back five backs who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last fall, including Oregon's Heisman Trophy finalist and Doak Walker Award winner, LaMichael James. That crew includes Washington's Chris Polk, Colorado's Rodney Stewart, UCLA's Johnathan Franklin and Stanford's Stepfan Taylor. Those are five backs who ranked among the top-38 in the nation in rushing last fall, including three in the top 13.

(And, by the way, if Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers and California's Shane Vereen hadn't opted to enter the NFL draft a year early, the conference also would include the nation's No. 21 and 23 rushers from 2010).

Further, only California, Oregon State, Utah and Washington State have questions at the position. USC is stacked with talented backs, whether senior Marc Tyler (913 yards, nine TDs in 2010) comes back from suspension or not. Arizona State's Cameron Marshall (787 yards, nine TDs) is one of the most underrated players in the conference, and Arizona's Keola Antolin (668, seven TDs in 2010) has rushed for 1,830 yards and scored 21 TDs in three seasons.

Further, many of the backups -- Oregon's Kenjon Barner, Washington's Jesse Callier, Arizona State's Deantre Lewis or Kyle Middlebrooks, Stanford's Anthony Wilkerson and UCLA's Derrick Coleman (or Malcolm Jones/Jordan James) -- are talented and experienced (other than James, a redshirt freshman).

So conference of quarterbacks, conference of running backs -- both are positions of power.

Perhaps the Pac-12 in 2011 is now the Conference of Backfields?
The Pac-12 features another strong crop of running backs -- five returning 1,000-yard rushers -- but there are also a few teams facing uncertainty at the position.

So how does it stack up?

Great shape

    [+] EnlargeLaMichael James
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesLaMichael James leads a talented running back corps that has both experience and depth.
  • Oregon: It's not just that the Ducks have Heisman Trophy finalist and unanimous All-American LaMichael James coming back, it's that they have Kenjon Barner and Lache Seastrunk to help carry the load. When you toss in touted incoming freshman De’Anthony Thomas -- play or redshirt? -- Oregon may have the best backfield in the nation.
  • Washington: Chris Polk is a workhorse who gained 1,415 yards last season -- he's also a good receiver -- and there's good depth with Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, who sat out last year with a knee injury.
  • Stanford: Stepfan Taylor lead the way with 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2010, but the depth is phenomenal with Anthony Wilkerson, Tyler Gaffney and Jeremy Stewart.
  • UCLA: Not unlike Stanford, there's a returning 1,000-yard rusher -- Johnathan Franklin -- and great depth: Derrick Coleman, Malcolm Jones and Jordan James.
  • Colorado: Rodney Stewart, at 5-foot-6, 175 pounds, is a diminutive workhorse. He rushed for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010. The only issue here is depth, though redshirt freshman Tony Jones had a nice spring.
Good shape
We'll see

  • California: Strange to see Cal down here, eh? What in the name of J.J., Marshawn, Jahvid and Vereen is going on? Isi Sofele is No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart, but it's wide open after that, with incoming freshmen expected to be immediately in the mix.
  • Oregon State: The Beavers have experience with Ryan McCants, but he's struggled to break through. Sophomore Jovan Stevenson, redshirt freshman Malcolm Marable and grayshirt freshman Terron Ward are options, as is Jordan Jenkins, who missed spring with a shoulder injury.
  • Utah: The Utes lost their top three backs from 2010, and their top three backs heading into 2011 have no experience. But John White, Harvey Langi and Thretton Palamo showed plenty of promise this spring. It's just we don't know what they'll do when the lights go on in Pac-12 play.
  • Washington State: Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston are back -- they combined for 353 yards in 2010 -- and hopes are high for Ricky Galvin, who was injured early in the Cougars opening game last fall. But this is not a position of strength for the Cougars.
Previous reviews

Quarterback

Pac-12 NFL prospects in 2012?

May, 2, 2011
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The 2011 NFL draft is over, which means it's time to look at who the Pac-12's top senior prospects in 2012 likely will be.

First of all, plenty of top non-seniors from the conference might -- or are likely to -- enter the draft, including Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Oregon RB LaMichael James, Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict and USC QB Matt Barkley. Those four range from sure to likely first-round draft picks.

But this list includes only players in their final year of eligibility. And some might rate a bit of a reach as NFL prospects.

Arizona: QB Nick Foles, WR Juron Criner, CB Trevin Wade

Arizona State: CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, C Garth Gerhart

California: S Sean Cattouse, TE Anthony Miller, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB D.J. Holt, OT Mitchell Schwartz, P Bryan Anger

Colorado: OG Ryan Miller, RB Rodney Stewart, DT Conrad Obi, TE Ryan Deehan

Oregon: TE David Paulson, SS Eddie Pleasant, OT Mark Asper, LB Josh Kaddu

Oregon State: S Lance Mitchell, WR James Rodgers, FB-TE Joe Halahuni

Stanford: WR Chris Owusu, TE Coby Fleenor, S Delano Howell

UCLA: S Tony Dye, FB Derrick Coleman, TE Cory Harkey

USC: LB Chris Galippo, DE Armond Armstead, TE Rhett Ellison, RB Marc Tyler

Utah: OT Tony Bergstrom, LB Chaz Walker, OT John Cullen

Washington: DT Alameda Ta'amu, WR Jermaine Kearse, OT Senio Kelemete, K Erik Folk

Washington State: DT Brandon Rankin, OG B.J. Guerra, WR Jared Karstetter
There's a lot new at UCLA this spring, even with 16 players with starting experience returning on both sides of the ball.

There's five new coaches, including two new coordinators. There's uncertainty about scheme on both offense and defense. And there's uncertainty at quarterback.

As for the offense, the "pistol" isn't dead. Said coach Rick Neuheisel to that query, "Oh, no. No. No." Even though new coordinator Mike Johnson isn't a pistol guy, Jim Mastro tight ends/F-backs coach is. Mastro was hired away from Nevada, where the scheme was invented.

[+] EnlargeBrett Hundley
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIBrett Hundley will get a lot of reps during spring practices for UCLA.
So there will be some pistol. The Bruins will lineup mostly in the shotgun. They will still use an "F-back," a hybrid position that can be a small quick receiver (Damien Thigpen) or a tight end (Morrell Presley). And there will be some two-back formations. The idea is to develop some run-pass balance, which has eluded the Bruins over the past three seasons.

"The pistol is a formation and it was certainly successful in the run game," Neuheisel said. "What we need now is to develop the throw game that compliments and goes along with that and uses other formations."

As for that throwing game, quarterback Kevin Prince will be able to do very little this spring because he's still recovering from knee surgery. Darius Bell (shoulder) is also out and Nick Crissman will be limited as he comes back from a shoulder injury. That means more reps for Richard Brehaut, who is playing baseball but will not miss any spring football practices, and true freshman Brett Hundley.

Hundley, the touted recruit, is the guy everybody will be watching.

"As is always the case, when somebody's down, it creates opportunities for someone else," Neuheisel said. "With Prince not able to [practice], it creates more reps. Darius Bell not able to go for spring practice, it creates more reps. So Brett Hundley is going to be the benefactor of that. He's going to get lots of chances. How fast he grows and matures in the offense and shows he can understand all he needs to handle to be effective, that will just enhance his ability to play and play at an early time in his career."

We wrote about the depth chart on Tuesday.

Here, again, is the list of injured players.

Out
WR Jerry Johnson (ankle)
RG Casey Griffiths (back)
QB Darius Bell (shoulder)
P-K Jeff Locke (hip)
DE Keenan Graham (hip)
MLB Patrick Larimore (shoulder)
CB Antony Jefferson (foot)
FS Dalton Hilliard (knee)

Non-contact
WR Shaquelle Evans (shoulder)
QB Kevin Prince (knee)
LB Jared Koster (shoulder)

Some notes:

What are you talking about, Willis? Defensive lineman Brandon Willis is supposed to be headed back to North Carolina, the school from where he transferred to UCLA. But there may be another chapter in this twisting tale. Said Neuheisel: “That’s still an uncertain situation. We signed a release and want him to have the opportunity to explore his options and make sure he’s meeting his family obligations. But he has yet to enroll at North Carolina, and I don’t think he’s heard from the NCAA with regard to the waiver and whether or not he can play next fall. I’m still waiting to hear."

Neuheisel said Willis has not withdrawn from UCLA. Willis wants to return to UNC to be closer to his sick grandmother, but he probably doesn't want to sit out the season. He left UNC because his father got a job in Los Angeles.

F-back and RB: How will things stack up in the backfield? Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman are both back, but Malcolm Jones and Jordan James could make a challenge. Further, Neuheisel said he wants to get a look at 6-foot-5, 238-pound sophomore F-back Anthony Barr with the ball in his hands. Said Neuheisel, "We want to find out more about Anthony as a running back."

Safety numbers: Sophomore Dietrich Riley is listed as the No. 2 at strong safety behind senior Tony Dye, but that figures to be an interesting competition. And things at both safeties could be fluid with Hilliard, listed No. 1 at the spot manned by Rahim Moore the previous three seasons, out with a knee injury.

Pac-10 links: Thomas steps up for Ducks

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
2:30
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O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eye'd monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

UCLA's Coleman earns recognition

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
12:08
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UCLA running back Derrick Coleman is among five finalists for the 2011 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, an honor is presented annually to recognize a leader in college football who has realized their potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. More than 30 million Americans are affected by rare diseases.

The other four finalists are North Carolina State offensive coordinator Dana Bible, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, Princeton running back Jordan Culbreath and Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien.

The third annual award winner will be determined by an online vote beginning today. The champion will be announced at an awards ceremony at the end of the month with details to be released at a later date. Previous winners include American Football Coaches Association Executive Director, Grant Teaff (2009); and Dickinson College quarterback, Ian Mitchell (2010).

To read each finalist’s personal story and cast your vote for this year’s champion, click here.

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