Pac-12: Drew Davis
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
So there are two more...
The gist of that entry on receivers tells our story here:
Quick: Name the Pac-10's marquee receivers in 2009?
And on the honorable mention list there's only USC's Damian Williams and Washington's D'Andre Goodwin.
In other words, everyone in the conference, other than USC, has a bit of the ole "We'll see."
- USC: Damian Williams is an All-American candidate and Ronald Johnson is a marquee athlete. They combined for 17 touchdown receptions last year -- no other returning combination in the conference is even close. And there's good young depth.
- Arizona: Mike Thomas is a big loss, but Delashaun Dean and Terrell Turner combined for 86 receptions last year. While depth is an issue, word is David Douglas and William Wright could break though.
- UCLA: Terrence Austin, Taylor Embree and Domonique Johnson combined for 127 receptions -- but only two touchdowns -- last year. Toss in talented sophomore Nelson Rosario and some touted incoming freshman and the Bruins have the "catch" side of pass-catch mostly covered.
- Arizona State: Michael Jones is gone, but Chris McGaha, Kerry Taylor and Kyle Williams are a good troika to welcome back. They combined for 81 receptions last year.
- California: This is a case of experience and potential trumping production. Just about everyone is back and the crew, led by Nyan Boateng and Verran Tucker, has a lot of talent. Much depends on guys like Michael Calvin and Marvin Jones breaking through. Injuries are an issue this spring for Calvin and maybe Boateng.
- Stanford: Starters Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin are both back. They combined for 64 receptions in the Cardinal's mostly anemic passing offense. There are high hopes that sophomore Chris Owusu adds some athleticism to the unit.
- Oregon: The Ducks didn't throw that well last year and their two best receivers, Terence Scott and Jaison Williams, are gone. Jeff Maehl -- 39 receptions, five touchdowns -- is the only returning receiver with double-digit receptions. Hopes are high for Chris Harper, Drew Davis, Jamere Holland and the incoming recruits, but that falls under "we'll see."
- Oregon State: Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales were the Beavers' receiving corps last year -- see 124 receptions, nearly 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns. They're gone. Slot James Rodgers is mostly a fly sweep guy. The hope is young guys will step up.
- Washington: The good news is the entire crew is back, led by D'Andre Goodwin, who ranked among the Pac-10 leaders with 60 receptions for 692 yards. But the Huskies only had six touchdown receptions in all of 2008.
- Washington State: Brandon Gibson's 673 yards and two touchdowns represented a third of the Cougars' passing offense last year. He's gone. Jeshua Anderson caught 33 passes a year ago, but there's a lot of youth and inexperience after him.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Writers start to paint rosy pictures....
- Considering some Rose Bowl scenarios.
- Arizona is going to a bowl game. Question is: Which one?
- Arizona State is hoping for a late run.
- Reviewing Cal's loss at USC -- it wasn't the officials' fault.
- Oregon receiver Drew Davis' season ends after his first career start, which means the mercurial but talented Jaison Williams returns to the starting lineup. Considering the pluses and minuses of Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback.
- It's time to take Oregon State's Rose Bowl chances seriously. That said: Who's the starting quarterback against California?
- Stubborn Stanford may want to pass at least a little bit more, even if running back Toby Gerhart is healthy for the USC visit.
- UCLA is looking for solutions, trying to stay motivated. And looking for some JC linemen. (This is the first story that I can remember that compares a football team to "watching bacteria spores germinate.") Bruins Nation is staying on the bandwagon, though.
- USC and the BCS standings... is there a chance? The crowded backfield is less crowded today with Broderick Green deciding to transfer. USC Blitz dreams of BCS scenarios.
- Washington shows a spark, but the home fans aren't watching.
- Washington State sees progress in 31-point loss to Arizona.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Most preseason publications insist there's an enduring quarterback competition at Oregon. Don't believe it. The job, as nearly everyone close to the program knows, is sophomore Nate Costa's to lose.
Costa is among "everyone," by the way.
|AP Photo/John Miller|
|Dennis Dixon lays on the field after hurting his knee against Arizona.|
In fact, on Oregon's long list of injuries last season, Costa blowing out his knee in October might rank second only to quarterback Dennis Dixon's knee injury in terms of ruining what up to the 10th game looked like a special -- perhaps even national championship -- season.
See, many at Oregon believe the Ducks spread offense, which foundered without Dixon, would have continued to hum with the athletic Costa at the controls.
Costa, solidly built at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, said his knee injury hurt just a bit more when Dixon crumpled to the ground.
"When I saw Dennis go down, I guess you could say the frustration level rose," he said. "It was harder to handle. I knew I could come back, but then it was like me wanting to be out there. But that's the game of football right there. It gives you a lot of things but it also takes things away."
That's the past, though. Costa said this week he'll be 100 percent by the start of fall camp and raring to take a shot at the Ducks' hated rival Washington in the season opener in Autzen Stadium on Aug. 30.
I caught up with Costa this week.
How is the knee?
Nate Costa: I feel good. The knee is real solid. My focus this summer is to get back to the level I was at and I'm getting back to that point right now. I'm almost there. I'm 95 percent right now and by fall camp, I'll definitely be 100 percent.
What type of quarterback are you -- what do you do best and what are working on the most?
NC: I'm probably a duel-threat quarterback. I can run and I can throw equally well. I'm always working on getting stronger and faster and the mental part of the game -- reading coverages and stuff like that. Right now the biggest thing I'm working on is being a leader. Being a quarterback in the Pac-10, you need to lead the team.
How do you see the quarterback competition stacking up? Even though you weren't full-go in the spring, the general feeling was the job was yours to lose.
NC: Yeah. That's the way I feel, too. And not just because of the way people are talking. That's the way the coaches have made me feel as well. That's the way I'm going into fall camp, and I feel like I'm going to come out of fall camp as the man and I'm going to be the man the rest of the year.
How will the offense change with you this year as compared to Dennis Dixon in 2007?
NC: I don't think it's going to change too much. I think Dennis and me are very similar in our athletic abilities. He probably has a little more top-end speed than I do, but I definitely have as much quickness as he does. I think we're going to use me like we did Dennis. I'll be able to escape the pocket, and we'll have some designed run plays when I'll be carrying the ball myself.
Did Dennis leave you with any advice about taking charge of the team?
NC: I was actually lucky to have two older guys ahead of me last year in Dennis and Brady Leaf, who was awesome. Everything they knew, they made sure I knew it. The biggest thing Dennis and Brady told me is to keep a level head. If you look at Dennis' junior year, it kind of fell apart toward the end and everyone was trashing him. Then look at his senior year when he was in the running for the Heisman and everyone was on his side -- saying, "Dennis, you're the best," and stuff like that. So they told me there's lows and there's highs and you just need to keep a level head through all that stuff.
You weren't full-go during spring practices so you didn't get to face your defense at full speed, but it sounds like they are going to be pretty salty this year -- what was your impression of the defense during spring practice?
NC: Our defense is going to be great. Our defensive backfield looks awesome -- linebackers and D-line look great too. I'm pretty excited about that because facing them throughout fall camp is going to really prepare us for Pac-10 play.
In view of that, some folks are going to write that while the Ducks are breaking in a new quarterback and new running backs, the defense is going to have to carry the offense early in the season -- do you think that's the case?
NC: No, I don't think so. People are going to write that because of maybe past experiences. But I don't feel like that at all. We've got a great offensive coordinator [Chip Kelly] and our offense is really deep and stacked. Our offensive line is great and our receiving corps looks awesome, and our running backs look just as good [as last year]. All it's going to take is consistent play from the quarterback. We're going to score a lot of points this year.
Which offensive weapons that maybe folks don't know about have stood out during offseason workouts?
NC: Well, [receiver] Jaison Williams is a big-time guy with size and a lot of speed. Drew Davis is another receiver that looks great. Our running back, Jeremiah Johnson, is coming off a knee injury just like me but he looks really good right now and is making great cuts in 7-on-7s. We even have great weapons on our offensive line with Max Unger, our center, and [Fenuki] Tupou, our left tackle.
You're a California guy. So, have you had enough time to digest the fact that you're supposed to hate the University of Washington [the Ducks opening opponent on Aug. 30]?
NC: [Laughs] It was kind of weird to me that a team from Oregon would hate the University of Washington even more than they hate Oregon State. But it's something I'm coming to know and it's something that's been drilled into my head since the first day I got here my freshman year of football camp. So I have a hatred for U-Dub and that's just how it goes.
So you guys don't feel sorry for them? You've kind of pounded them the last couple of years.
NC: No. There's no feeling sorry for teams in the Pac-10.
5:12 3rd Qtr Washington State 38 Colorado State 30 7:27 2nd Qtr 20 Fresno State 6 25 USC 28 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State