Pac-12: Derrick Hill
See the South Division here.
Defensive line: The Bears lost two starters -- end Cameron Jordan and noseguard Derrick Hill -- and you can never have too many D-linemen. This class is particularly strong in that area, with four of 18 commitments listed as D-linemen, including two tackles (Todd Barr, Viliami Moala) who are ESPNU 150 members.
Linebacker: The Bears lost two starters, including Mike Mohamed, and linebacker has been an inconsistent position the past couple of years in the 3-4. The Bears have commitments from two outside and one inside linebacker.
Running back: With the early but not unexpected departure of Shane Vereen, the Bears are uncertain at running back for the first time in the Jeff Tedford Era. Three running backs have already committed.
Receiver: The Ducks need to restock at receiver with the departures of Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis. They have three commitments from players listed as receivers and three others listed as "athletes" who could end up at the position. They could end up with as many as six in this class.
Defensive line: Three of four starting D-linemen from 2010 are gone. So far the class includes two tackles and two ends, but one of the four players listed as an outside linebacker also could end up as a rush end.
Linebacker: Two 0f three starters and a key backup need to be replaced, though there's solid, experienced depth. Five of the 23 commitments are listed at linebackers, a position that one of the "athletes" also could end up playing.
Defensive line: The Beavers lost their two best defensive linemen -- DT Stephen Paea and DE Gabe Miller -- from a group that didn't play terribly well in 2010. That's why they have 11 incoming D-linemen -- eight listed as ends -- including four JC transfers, two of whom are already enrolled.
Offensive line: The line struggled last year and three projected 2011 starters are seniors. It's time to restock and upgrade. The Beavers top recruit, Darryl Jackson, is a 6-foot-7 tackle and one of three commitments from O-linemen.
Receiver: The Beavers are solid at receiver for 2011, particularly with the return of James Rodgers, but they need to restock depth. Five already have committed.
Defensive backs: While Stanford welcomes back three of four starters in the defensive backfield, the secondary still is an area that needs an athletic and depth upgrade. Two safeties are among the Cardinal's 18 commitments. It would be ideal to add a cornerback or two.
Defensive line: Two of three starters are gone from the 2010 line, and end Matt Masifilo will be a senior. That's a good reason five of the committed players are D-linemen, including three tackles.
Receivers: Leading receivers Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen are gone, and Chris Owusu will be a senior. Some of the players expected to step up last year didn't. At present, the Cardinal have one commitment from a receiver, though Jordan Richards could end up as a corner or receiver (and address a need, one way or the other).
Quarterback: Jake Locker is gone and only two scholarship quarterbacks are presently on the roster: sophomore Keith Price and redshirt freshman Nick Montana. The Huskies lured Derrick Brown away from his Utah commitment, and would like to sign one more, with Florida prospect Jacoby Brissett being a dark-horse possibility.
Linebacker: The Huskies lost two quality senior starters in Mason Foster and Victor Aiyewa, and middle linebacker Cort Dennison is a senior. The depth is young and uncertain. JC transfer Thomas Tugoti should immediately compete for playing time, and he is just one of five incoming linebackers.
Cornerback: Both starters are back, but Quinton Richardson is a senior and Desmond Trufant is a junior and there isn't much reliable depth behind them. Only one committed player is listed as a cornerback.
Offensive line: It's not just that two starters must be replaced this season and two projected 2011 starters are seniors. The Cougars gave up 51 sacks last year and ranked last in the Pac-10 in rushing with 91 yards per game. Three O-linemen are committed, and two already are enrolled.
Defensive line: Two D-linemen and a top backup need to be replaced, and the Cougars only had 23 sacks and surrendered 220 yards rushing per game, with both numbers ranking last in the Pac-10. Seven of 23 current commitments are D-linemen.
Running back: While the Cougars lost top running back prospect Bishop Sankey to rival Washington, there are two running backs still in the class for a position that offers the possibility of immediate playing time.
- No. 1 Oregon presents an opportunity for Arizona on a big stage.
- Arizona State's seniors are playing their final home game.
- California hasn't had a great year, but Derrick Hill impresses nonetheless.
- Oregon's offensive line needs to step up after losing the battle at Cal.
- It's the season when giving is better than receiving, unless you are these guys for Oregon State.
- Considering Stanford's problems with football attendance. Thank you Jon Wilner for answering this question: "The Rose Bowl WOULD BE OFF THE HOOK if it goes the non-AQ, at-large route this year."
- UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow talks about the Bruins struggles.
- The child agent controversy appears over, now the question is who starts at QB for USC?
- Washington will be the final visitor to Cal's Memorial Stadium before it closes.
But first-year defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast clearly put together an outstanding game plan last weekend, when the Bears held top-ranked Oregon to a season-low in yards and points.
It doesn't get any easier this Saturday, though, with No. 6 Stanford coming to Berkeley for the annual Big Game. While the Cardinal might not be as fast and flashy as the Ducks, they also rank among the nation's elite offenses, and quarterback Andrew Luck may be the best at his position in the nation.
So there's no rest for Pendergast this week. He did spare a few minutes, though, to talk defense.
Give me the basics of what you guys did against Oregon and why was it so successful?
Clancy Pendergast: I just think our guys played well that night. We played with good gap integrity -- the guys fit their gaps. And the secondary did a good job in coverage.
Why is it so difficult to maintain gap integrity against Oregon?
CP: They are very lateral in a lot of things they do. Sometimes the gaps travel down the line of scrimmage and they are hard to keep. But that's very important against them. And they do some other blocking schemes that aren't lateral, too. So you have to prepare for different types of blocking schemes with them. Their linemen are very athletic. Their running back runs very well, not only tackle to tackle but also on the perimeter. And you've also got the quarterback to deal with.
Going into the game, did you anticipate you'd get such an inspired, fiery effort?
CP: I did. We had a good week of practice. They were into it. The communication was good throughout the course of the week. We really zeroed in on the things we wanted to do. It was more about us defensively than it was about Oregon.
Give me two or three guys who really played well versus Oregon.
CP: Defensive end Trevor Guyton played good. Noseguard Derrick Hill played good. Linebacker Mike Mohamed played good. Safety Chris Conte played good. Safety Sean Cattouse was solid. Those are the guys who jumped out at me.
This will be your first Big Game: Does anything feel different to you this week, or is it just another game?
CP: The intensity is a little heavier in practice. The guys' antennas are up a little bit like they were last week. From being around college football and football in general, I've always known this is a storied rivalry. I'm looking forward to my first Big Game.
Looking at Stanford: What do you see on film of their offensive line?
CP: They are very impressive. They do an excellent job at the line of scrimmage. They get movement. They work very well together. And when they do get movement, they are very athletic in getting to the second level. They are a physical group. I'm very impressed with the job they've done, from an athletic and physical standpoint and from a coaching standpoint.
You've got a significant NFL background: Does Andrew Luck look like a guy who can star on Sundays? What does he do well?
CP: He's very impressive. You can see he carries himself with a lot of confidence. Coach [Jim] Harbaugh and his staff have done an excellent job preparing him. You can tell he has a very good command of the offense, with the different things he does within the scheme. He sees the field well. He evades the rush very well. He gets them into good plays when they need to change a play at the line of scrimmage because of a certain look the defense is giving them. He's been very patient. He can make plays outside the pocket with his feet, but he can also make all the throws in the passing game -- from the intermediate and underneath option-type routes to the precision comebacks, all the way from one hash to the other sideline, which a lot of teams in the NFL like to have the quarterback make. He's got a lot of tools that are going to make him an outstanding prospect at the next level.
Is it much different preparing for Stanford compared to preparing for Oregon?
CP: That's kind of college football. You are preparing for different offenses week in and week out. That is the challenge as a defensive coordinator -- to put together a plan that adapts to what the other offense is meant to do. They create a lot of problems. They use a lot of different personnel groups. Like I said, they are very good at running the football. They are very well coached. They are very efficient throwing the football. They are very good on third down. They are very good in the red zone. We'll have our hands full on Saturday without a doubt.
Give me a couple of keys for you guys to be successful on Saturday?
CP: Our rallying cry is we've got to have very good gap integrity within our front seven. And we can't give up a big plays. They like to push the ball down the field, but we can't let them get any explosion plays.
Washington State: Cougars, you not only ended a 16-game Pac-10 losing streak, you did it with style in a 31-14 win at Oregon State. You didn't just sneak away with a win; you dominated.
Cliff Harris: The Oregon cornerback returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in the 15-13 win over California. It was his fourth punt return for a TD this year.
Marc Tyler: The USC running back rushed 31 times for 160 yards and scored a TD in the Trojans 24-21 win at Arizona.
Derrick Hill: The talented but oft-injured California nose tackle only had three tackles against Oregon, but he made the most of them. Two came for a loss, one was a sack. And he also forced a fumble that he recovered for a TD.
Doug Baldwin: The Stanford receiver caught 10 passes for 122 yards in the Cardinal's 17-13 win over Arizona State.
Nick Foles: The Arizona QB threw for 353 yards with three TDs and no interceptions in the loss to USC. Suffice it to say, the loss wasn't his fault.
Jonathan Okanes does a nice job of explaining the hot spots.
Some quick observations:
- Quick, undersized sophomore Isi Sofele is the backup tailback, eclipsing Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Dasarte Yarnway and Trajuan Briggs. That strikes me as a minor upset, but Sofele is a scatback type who can make plays as a runner and receiver. Coach Jeff Tedford always gives his No. 2 RB plenty of touches.
- The starting corners are Marc Anthony and Darian Hagan. Bryant Nnabuife is listed as the backup to both.
- Okanes notes that the top four safeties will see extensive action, but it seems notable that Chris Conte and Josh Hill are first team, meaning returning starter Sean Cattouse has dropped in the pecking order.
- A veteran -- Ernest Owusu -- held off a hard-charging youngster -- Deandre Coleman -- at one defensive end. Another hard-charging youngster -- Kendrick Payne -- eclipsed a veteran -- Derrick Hill -- at noseguard.
- QB Kevin Riley's backup is Beau Sweeney.
- The only true freshman on the depth chart is receiver Keenan Allen, who is No. 1 opposite junior Marvin Jones.
- The Bears will start eight seniors and six sophomores.
- If it stays healthy, Arizona's three-headed backfield monster should pile up yards.
- Arizona State's James Brooks is ready to chase quarterbacks. Speaking of quarterbacks: The Sun Devils' decision figures to come soon, and Steven Threet appears to be making a move.
- California's talented, but oft-injured, noseguard Derrick Hill is having a bout with gout (and, yes, I didn't see that one coming either). Depth chart decisions are coming for the Bears.
- An educated guess at what Oregon's depth chart looks like. Still an "or" between the quarterbacks because the competition is still too close to call.
- Split end and linebacker remain concerns for Oregon State. Another look at some issues.
- Ole Man McGillicuddy is fighting for the lone void on Stanford's offensive line.
- Five observations from UCLA's scrimmage.
- Marc Tyler has decided to stay at USC, and he may still get a chance to shine. There may be an opportunity at tailback.
- Now that Washington is headed back to respectability, Bob Condotta takes a look at why it might have fallen in the first place. And it's good news that defensive end Everrette Thompson apparently will be ready for the opener with BYU.
- Youngsters will provide Washington State with depth at receiver.
- A Q&A with Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott.
Okanes notes that coach Jeff Tedford has been more open about revealing the pecking order at competitive positions, which is a great help when practices are closed.
So there is a lot of choice info here:
On offense, [Tedford] said the definitive starters as of right now are QB Kevin Riley, RB Shane Vereen, WR Marvin Jones, WR Keenan Allen, TE Anthony Miller, LT Mitchell Schwartz and C Chris Guarnero. Allen was the only player he quantified with “as of now.”
On defense, Tedford said the only concrete starters are DE Cameron Jordan, ILB Mike Mohamed and OLB Mychal Kendricks.
Tedford also said Giorgio Tavecchio would handle both kickoffs and field goals if the season started today.
Key tidbit there: That's true freshman Keenan Allen at receiver next to Jones, which confirms the scuttlebutt coming out of practices that a number of freshmen are in the mix.
As for defense:
A few days ago, Tedford said Keith Browner was the starter at weakside linebacker. But today he said true freshman Dave Wilkerson is still in the mix there. Tedford also said Kendrick Payne is probably the starter at nose tackle, but it is still competitive with Derrick Hill and Aaron Tipoti in the mix.
Tedford said both corner positions are still up in the air, with Darian Hagan, Steve Williams, Bryant Nnabufie and Marc Anthony competing for the two spots.
Another true freshman in Wilkerson. Payne ahead of Hill is a bit newsy, too, but that's three pretty good nose tackles, which is a key position to keep fresh in a 3-4 defense. As for cornerback, my money is on the first two -- Hagan and Williams -- but it's not like I've seen them practice this month.
And it's typically not a strength position in the Pac-10. Coaches who have worked both down south and out west will tell you that one of the peculiar differences is how many more DTs there are in SEC and ACC country. (Quarterback goes the other way.)
So how do things stack up?
- USC: The Trojans would rank among the nation's best at the position if not for the season-ending knee injury to Christian Tupou. Still, Jurrell Casey is a beast, Hebron Fangupo is huge and DaJohn Harris was one of the surprises of spring practices.
- Oregon State: All-America candidate Stephen Paea is powerful and explosive and if he turns in a big season beating double-teams, he could end up a first-round NFL draft pick. Brennan Olander is a returning starter and converted end Kevin Frahm provides depth.
- Arizona State: Both 2009 starters, Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola, are back, and Corey Adams and Williams Sutton should provide quality depth.
- Oregon: Brandon Bair is underrated, and Zac Clark saw plenty of action as a backup in 2009. While inexperienced, there's young talent to provide depth.
- Washington: The Huskies are solid with Cameron Elisara and Alameda Ta'amu, returning starters who turned in their best work this past spring.
- California: Hard to rate teams that use a pure 3-4 because there's only a single nose tackle. Still, if Derrick Hill can stay healthy, he and Kendrick Payne will be an outstanding tandem making life tough for opposing centers.
- Stanford: The Cardinal is breaking in its own 3-4 this year. Nose tackle Sione Fua is solid in the middle, with Terrence Stephens his backup. Stephens saw limited action as a true freshman in 2009.
- UCLA: The Bruins are replacing two starters, including the dominant Brian Price. David Carter, Justin Edison and Nate Chandler were solid in spring practices, so the position isn't a huge concern.
- Arizona: The Wildcats are replacing two starters, including the underrated Earl Mitchell, a third-round NFL draft pick. After spring practices, Sione Tuihalamaka and Lolomana Mikaele topped the depth chart, which featured six names.
- Washington State: Another position where the Cougars might be "better than you think," particularly if Bernard Wolfgramm can stay healthy. Touted JC transfer Brandon Rankin was impressive this spring, and true sophomore Anthony Laurenzi, a five-game starter in 2009, offers experienced depth.
2009 overall record: 8-5
2009 conference record: 5-4 (tied for fifth)
Offense: 8, Defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2
Top returners: QB Kevin Riley, OT Matt Summers-Gavin, OT Mitchell Schwartz, RB Shane Vereen, LB Mike Mohamed, DE Cameron Jordan, P Bryan Anger
Key losses: RB Jahvid Best, OT Mike Tepper, DE Tyson Alualu, CB Syd'Quan Thompson
2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)
Rushing: Shane Vereen* (952)
Passing: Kevin Riley* (2,850)
Receiving: Marvin Jones* (651)
Tackles: Mike Mohamed* (112)
Sacks: Tyson Alualu (7.5)
Interceptions: Mike Mohamed* (3)
1. Jordan steps up: Defensive end Cameron Jordan has the talent to be a first-team All-Conference player, but he's never broken through as a consistent performer. Heading into his senior year, however, he asserted himself this spring and established himself as the leader of the defensive line with the departure of Tyson Alualu. If that continues, he'll catch the attention of NFL scouts.
2. Attacking defense: Coach Jeff Tedford said the Bears would be more aggressive -- read: stunting, blitzing, etc. -- even before he hired Clancy Pendergast to replace Bob Gregory as coordinator. It became clear this spring that Pendergast, a veteran NFL coach, will focus on making life as difficult as possible for opposing QBs.
3. Replacing Tepper: Four starters return on the Bears offensive line, but the one void is sizable: 6-foot-7, 319-pound Mike Tepper. It appears that Matt Summers-Gavin will slide over from left guard to fill that void. While right tackle Mitchell Schwartz remains a possibility -- he played the position in 2008 -- Summers-Gavin is more athletic, which should help vs. speed rushing ends.
1. Will Riley arrive? Kevin Riley again fought off his challengers and will be the starting quarterback, despite his inconsistency during 22 starts over the previous three season. He's had plenty of good moments and he has ability. If he puts it all together as a senior, the Bears could be a factor in the conference race.
2. Who's the No. 2 tailback? Shane Vereen is the clear No. 1, but Tedford has always used tandems. Each of the four candidates -- Trajuan Briggs, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Isi Sofele and Dasarte Yarnway -- had productive moments this spring, but none separated himself. Sofele is almost certain to get touches as a scatback, hybrid runner/receiver, but the battle for No. 2 will be at issue early in preseason camp.
3. Who's the noseguard? Derrick Hill, a two-year starter, has been solid, but he's struggled to stay healthy. Sophomore Kendrick Payne had a great spring. He could end up winning the job. Considering coaches aren't afraid of playing Aaron Tipoti either, the good news is there's depth at the position.
California running back Jahvid Best sat out Wednesday's practice with what was termed a "mild concussion," but Best told reporters he expected to play Saturday when Oregon State comes to town.
In other injury news, the Bears won't have three banged-up starters for the Beavers visit: tight end Anthony Miller, offensive guard Matt Summers-Gavin and nose guard Derrick Hill.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The 2006 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.
In the big picture, USC ranked No. 2 in the nation, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc., behind No. 1 Florida (sorta makes sense, eh?). UCLA, at No. 19, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25.
Scout.com ranked USC No. 1 in the nation, Arizona 19th, UCLA 20th and California 23rd. The rest of the Pac-10 went, in order, Arizona State (32nd in nation), Washington (35th), Stanford (38), Oregon State (41), Washington State (45) and Oregon (52).
Oregon last? Hmm.
Anyway... here's an overview
How many are expected to start in 2009: Nine (CB Devin Ross, DT Earl Mitchell, FS Cam Nelson, WR Terrell Turner, DE Brooks Reed, DE Ricky Elmore, WR Delashaun Dean, OG Conan Amituanai, C Colin Baxter)
Misses: QB Tyler Lyon, RB Derke Robinson
Verdict: This is an underrated class -- even guys who aren't listed as starters are projected to contribute in 2009. It's also notable that the few who didn't pan out -- or were problems, such as DE Louis Holmes -- were the big names.
Misses: DE Jermaine Williams, RB Rodney Glass
Verdict: A solid class when you consider that nine of the 24 signees were JC players who have already moved on -- a group that included RB Ryan Torain and S Troy Nolan, who were the class's most elite performers.
How many are expected to start in 2009: Six (CB Darian Hagan, DT Derrick Hill, QB Kevin Riley, C Chris Guarnero, DE Tyson Alualu, LB Mike Mohamed)
Verdict: Ratings, smatings. Montgomery, Slocum and Prueitt were highly rated, Alualu and Mohamed barely registered. Overall, a solid class.
How many are expected to start in 2009: Five (C Jordan Holmes, LT Bo Thran, RT C.E. Kaiser, DT Brandon Bair, LB Spenser Paysinger)
Verdict: Decidedly mixed. One thing is for sure: This class bolstered the Ducks offensive line. Also interesting, Bair and Paysinger transitioned to their current positions from tight end and receiver, respectively.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Turns out the post on Pac-10 defensive tackles doesn't fit our present format either. Drat.
So let's take another look.
- Arizona: Earl Mitchell leads a crew of five returning tackles from the 2008 depth chart, not to mention the return from suspension of former starter Lolomana Mikaele.
- Oregon State: Stephen Paea had five sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in 2008. He's a load. Junior Mitchel Hunt is the frontrunner for the other tackle, and the depth chart features four or five guys who can play.
- UCLA: Brian Price's 14 tackles for a loss led all conference interior defensive linemen. If he sharpens up against the run, he could become an All-American. Jerzy Siewierski and Jess Ward will battle for the spot next to Price. Both have seen significant action.
- USC: Fili Moala is gone, but four of the top five tackles from 2008 are back, including returning starter Christian Tupou. Sophomores Jurrell Casey and Armond Armstead look like the next great Trojan DTs.
- Arizona State: Lawrence Guy earned Freshman All-American honors and Saia Falahola and Jonathan English have both seen a lot of action. In the fall, 292-pound touted freshman Corey Adams arrives.
- Stanford: Ekom Udofia, Matt Masifilo, Sione Fua and Brian Bulcke give the Cardinal an effective, experienced crew inside. They combined for 12.5 tackles for a loss in 2008.
- California: A 3-4 defense obviously means fewer tackles, but the Bears top two nose tackles -- Derrick Hill, who will miss spring after arthroscopic surgery on his knee, and Kendrick Payne -- should be solid.
- Oregon: Both starters need to be replaced. Tonio Celotto, who battled nagging injuries last year, and Blake Ferras appear to have the inside track, but newcomers will have to help immediately.
- Washington: Everyone is back, but no one stood out in 2008. The thinking is sophomores Alameda Ta'amu and Senio Kelemete should be much better after being prematurely thrown into action. There's also junior Cameron Elisara and Johnny Tivao, a 5-foot-10, 350-pound JC transfer.
- Washington State: Three of their top four tackles on the season-ending depth chart are gone, but maybe that's the good news. Junior Toby Turpin, who had 20 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss last year, will man one spot and Bernard Wolfgramm is the frontrunner for the other.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
You're going to hear a lot of talk over the coming weeks heading into the NFL draft about how important defensive tackles are and how rare the dominant ones are.
The recent history with defensive tackles in the Pac-10, outside of USC, of course, isn't great. Not counting the Trojans, the only conference defensive tackle picked in the first round since the 2000 draft was Oregon's Haloti Ngata in 2006.
That may change in either 2010 or 2011 with UCLA's Brian Price, a rising junior and the top returning interior defensive lineman in the conference.
Here's our list of the top returning tackles heading into spring practices, followed by notes on where each team stands at the position.
- Brian Price, UCLA: 4.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss led all conference interior defensive linemen.
- Stephen Paea, Oregon State: He's a load who's also productive, see five sacks, 11 tackles for a loss.
- Lawrence Guy, Arizona State: 10 tackles for a loss as a true freshman. Hello upside.
- Earl Mitchell, Arizona: 40 tackles, 5.5 for a loss after switching from H-back.
- Christian Tupou, USC: Sure, he only had 12 tackles last year, but he started for the nation's best defense, which counts for a lot.
- Derrick Hill, California: Mostly platooned with Mika Kane last year, but he's got the talent to break through as a junior.
Arizona: The Wildcats welcome back all five tackles listed on their 2008 depth chart and are expected to reinstate suspended former starter Lolomana Mikaele. Toss in marquee, 21-year-old JC transfer Jonathan Hollins, and the Wildcats probably have more depth at the position than any other team in the conference.
Arizona State: The biggest question is will 292-pound incoming freshman Corey Adams start beside Guy from day one. Saia Falahola and Jonathan English have both seen a lot of action, so it's not a sure thing.
California: A 3-4 defense obviously means fewer DT-types play. The question for the Bears is the pecking order behind Hill: Cody Jones and Kendrick Payne both missed last season with injuries, and is rising sophomore Trevor Guyton a big end or nose tackle?
Oregon: The interior d-line is probably the Ducks biggest question mark, seeing that both starters need to be replaced. There are high expectations for Tonio Celotto, who battled nagging injuries last year, but there is little to no experience. A pair of incoming JC tackles are expected to help immediately.
Oregon State: Paea can be a force when healthy, and there are experienced players competing to replace Pernnell Booth. The spring focus will be mostly on replacing both defensive ends.
Stanford: Brian Bulcke and Sione Fua give the Cardinal a quietly effective combination inside. They combined for seven sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. Matt Masifilo leads the depth, which will be at issue this spring. [Edit: As a reader pointed out in an email, starting DT Ekom Udofia will be back in 2009. So the Cardinal D figures to be fairly solid in the interior].
UCLA: Price will demand two blockers next year, particularly with the departure of the solid Brigham Harwell. The Bruins will be fairly experienced inside, but will any other player step forward to complement -- and take the focus off -- Price?
USC: Sure, Fili Moala is a big loss, but the Trojans will still will boast the strongest interior defensive lineup in the conference. Start with Tupou and the player he beat out in 2008, Averell Spicer. Then toss in Jurrell Casey and Armond Armstead, who both were impressive in limited action as true freshmen last year. USC actually might be STRONGER at tackle than 2008. Seriously.
Washington: Good news is just about everyone is back. Bad news is the Huskies got pushed around up the middle last year. Still, if rising sophomores Alameda Ta'amu and Senio Kelemete have big off-seasons in the weight room, they could form a solid troika with Cameron Elisara. And incoming JC transfer Johnny Tivao is listed at 5 foot 10, 350 pounds, so that's something.
Washington State: Lots of questions here for the Cougars, who will be young inside with the departure of three of their top four tackles on the season-ending depth chart. Rising junior Toby Turpin, who had 20 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss last year, will man one spot and Bernard Wolfgramm is the frontrunner for the other. And might the Cougs consider adopting a 3-4 scheme?
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
If these links were any hotter, they'd be, you know, like on fire or something.
- A youth movement may be afoot at Arizona, and it's more than touted CB Robert Golden. While he's not that young, junior Earl Mitchell also qualifies as precocious, at least in terms of how well he appears to be transitioning to the defensive line. Finally, there's a little piece of Tim Tebow in Tucson.
- With Keegan Herring nursing a shoulder injury, there are other guys who can carry the rock for Arizona State. While battling for a starting job at CB opposite Omar Bolden, Terell Carr is playing hurt. And an evening monsoon (a new experience for this Arizona transplant) sent the Sun Devils into their new bubble, indoor facility for the first time.
- The QB competition at California is heating up, with Kevin Riley doing well while working with the first-team offense Thursday. Speaking of competition, Derrick Hill and Mika Kane have a tight one for the lone interior defensive tackle position in the Bears new 3-4 look.
- A report from Oregon's Thursday workout, with coach Mike Bellotti providing a long list of youngins and oldins who are doing well. Rob Moseley also has this about position battles:
One thing apparent through four days is that some of the position battles I anticipated aren't developing, at least not yet. When the first units are on the field, it's almost always Nate Costa at quarterback, Jeff Kendall at left guard, Jake Hucko at right tackle, T.J. Ward at free safety, and Spencer Paysinger at WILL linebacker.
Middle linebacker is one that's still tough to call. Because of the laceration on John Bacon's forehead, which I wrote about Tuesday, he's not doing a lot of full-contact stuff, so Casey Matthews is running with the ones.
- Here's some video of Autzen Stadium's GIANT new scoreboard.
- Oregon State is replacing three good linebackers with... three more good linebackers. And so the Beavers' defense will just reload. We shall see. Here's an update of another rebuilding effort -- the Beavers' special teams.
- He cut short his Mormon Mission, so now Stanford defensive tackle Sione Fua, who saw significant action as a freshman, will be on a mission to help the Cardinal defense.
- The Orange County Register charts the UCLA QBs. The conclusion: Hopefully the cliché -- "It's early" -- applies. The LA Times also checks in with QB Ben Olson. Brian Dohn looks at the secondary. Finally, it turns out that Brian Bosworth's nephew , Kyle, might be a pretty good LB, too.
- Who's the next great USC nose tackle? It's one of the best competitions of the preseason. The lead from the LA Daily News is the move of Clay Matthews from linebacker to defensive end, where he'll rotate with sophomore Everson Griffin. The Orange County Register discovered strippers working for the USC defense.
- This might interests USC fans: Ohio State defensive backs suspended for first two games! Only the Buckeyes come to LA for their third game and don't figure to have much trouble with Youngstown State and Ohio University (or is that THE Ohio University?).
- The tailback competition heads up at Washington. Molly Yanity talks with touted freshman receiver Anthony Boyles, while Don Ruiz concerns himself with the secondary. Bob Condotta reviews the day's events.
- This from the Washington State football office: "Following [Thursday] morning's practice, Cougar sophomore wide receiver Jeshua Anderson was seen by a team doctor and it was determined he has a hernia. Surgery has been scheduled for Monday morning and a prognosis will be determined following the surgery." Anderson, who nearly qualified for the Olympics, is one of the Pac-10's fastest players and was viewed as a potential deep threat for the Cougars offense. In general, the Cougars receivers are hurting.
- Finally, here's Jon Wilner's AP top 25 vote. Wilner's poll is often quirky, which is why a lot of people keep up with its changes.&