Pac-12: E.J. Woods

While you were on vacation ... UCLA

July, 28, 2009
7/28/09
4:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The seventh of 10 quick updates on offseason Pac-10 goings on.

UCLA in a sentence

  • Year Two of the Rick Neuheisel Era comes on the heels of an outstanding recruiting haul in February and features 17 returning starters and legitimate hope for a push into the top-half of Pac-10 standings and a bowl berth.

The big issue

  • The Bruins, even with guru Norm Chow calling the shots, were terrible on offense in 2008, and struggles at quarterback and along the offensive front will be nagging concerns until youthful players break through.

Quick hit news

  • Six players will not return for various reasons -- safety E.J. Woods, quarterback Chris Forcier, offensive lineman Sonny Tevaga, receiver Dominique Johnson and running backs Raymond Carter and Aundre Dean.
  • Besides returning starters, the Bruins have five players again available who would have started last year but were out for various reasons back: running back Christian Ramirez, tight end Logan Paulsen, center Kai Maiava, fullback Trevor Theriot and offensive tackle Sean Sheller.
  • Joseph Fauria, 6-7, 260-pound tight end, transfer from Notre Dame to UCLA. He will be eligible to play in 2010.

UCLA signs series with Rutgers; cuts ties with two players

July, 2, 2009
7/02/09
4:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Busy day for UCLA.

First, UCLA announced a home-and-home series with Rutgers. The Bruins will open the 2016 season at Rutgers on Sept. 1, and the Scarlet Knights will make a return visit to the Rose Bowl the following season on Sept. 2.

The teams have never met before.

Second, UCLA announced that safety E.J. Woods and offensive lineman Sonny Tevaga are no longer members of the football team. The release from the school said Woods plans to transfer to a local junior college and Tevaga is "exploring his options."

Woods is facing some legal issues. Brian Dohn, who previously reported Woods' transfer, wrote on his blog that Tevaga, a junior, appears to be an academic casualty.

Neither was expected to start in 2009, though hopes were high for Woods, a redshirt freshman.

Pac-10 lunch links: Best answers (lots of) questions

June, 26, 2009
6/26/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I gave you a brand new Ford and you just said I want a Cadillac
I bought you a ten dollar dinner. You said 'Thanks for the snack'
I let you live in my penthouse, You said it was just a shack
I gave you seven children and now you wanna give 'em back

  • If Dennis Erickson thinks this guy is good, well, here's a bet that he is, but there won't be any question about this big fellow in 2011.
  • Here's the transcript of Jahvid Best's chat from Jonathan Okanes' Cal blog. Sounds like lots of folks had questions.
  • Oregon linebacker Josh Kaddu is a man of few words -- I bet transcribing this Q&A was nice. Some of my coaches ... golly ... it's like being Dickens' secretary.
  • Did Oregon State post the upset of the year? Vote here. Or just start chanting, "USA! USA!" for these Beavers.
  • UCLA might change its summer camp format, with recruiting obviously being a motivation. Update on safety E.J. Woods who is facing legal issues as he considers a transfer to a junior college. Meanwhile, Alterraun Verner has a blog. He's learning Romanian! That should come in handy if Verner one day wants to cover women's gymnastics.
  • Pete Carroll uses a popular hermeneutic to promulgate his exegesis of an achroamatic cultural artifact he finds sagacious. (Yes, it's a Twitter link).
  • It appears Washington has lost a recruit to California.
  • Reasons to cry and laugh at the WSU Football Blog -- better known as the WSU Football Blog, which is a WSU football blog -- but these indomitable Cougs want another wager with the Pac-10 blog. I humbly accept.

Pac-10 lunch links: Mustain struggling with academic issues

June, 23, 2009
6/23/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Trivia question of the day: What is USC's all-time record vs. Georgia? Extra credit: What is the cumulative score of those games? Feel free to posts your answers below.

Got help? Which teams found relief at key spots this spring

May, 22, 2009
5/22/09
11:09
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Every team enters spring practices with at least a couple of personnel questions, even those with their starting lineup returning nearly intact.

Sometimes those questions don't get answered. Other times they do.

Such as ...

Arizona: The Wildcats lost two of their three starting linebackers, but coach Mike Stoops said he believes they will be better at the position in 2009, with junior Vuna Tuihalamaka making a special impression in the middle this spring.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils lost middle linebacker Morris Wooten, but the LB position looks like it could run six-deep in 2009, particularly with the expected arrival of super-recruit Vontaze Burfict in the fall. The return of former starter Gerald Munns, who left the team for personal reasons, helps as does the emergence of young players whose speed upgrades are intriguing.

California: Not to get stuck on a linebacker theme, but most previews of the Bears will raise questions about them losing three longtime starters at linebacker. Hanging around this spring, however, you get the feeling this position will be fine. In fact, a couple of touted incoming JC transfers will make the fall competition intense. Look for Mike Mohamed and Mychal Kendricks to make a play for All-Conference honors.

Oregon: The Ducks lost three of four starting defensive linemen, including end Nick Reed, so this seemed like as big a question mark as the offensive line entering spring. Apparently not, at least according to coach Chip Kelly. Will Tukuafu should emerge from Reed's shadow as one of the conference's best ends, and tackle Brandon Bair and end Kenny Rowe stepped up. There's still competition at one tackle, but the Ducks' recruiting class included six defensive linemen, at least a couple of whom figure to see action.

Oregon State: The Beavers lost receivers Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales, but by the end of spring that didn't seem like a problem, even with James Rodgers sitting out with a shoulder injury. Junior Darrell Catchings broke through and redshirt freshman Jordan Bishop lived up to high expectations and others flashed potential.

Stanford: The passing game -- on offense and defense -- has been a problem for Stanford. For the offense, redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck was just short of spectacular this spring. For the defense, the insertion of Delano Howell at strong safety and Michael Thomas at cornerback upgrades the secondary's athleticism.

UCLA: The secondary began spring needing two new starters, but a handful of guys stepped up to complement cornerback Alterraun Verner and free safety Rahim Moore. While Aaron Hester and Glenn Love are the favorites to start at corner and strong safety, respectively, sophomores Courtney Viney and Tony Dye and redshirt freshman E.J. Woods will get extended looks in the fall.

USC: Lose three elite linebackers? Find three more. Malcolm Smith, Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan might not have the experience or pedigree of their predecessors, but they are faster and may end up being nearly as good.

Washington: A lot was made of how well quarterback Jake Locker adjusted to a pro-style offense this spring -- and rightfully so -- but that pro-style passing attack needs targets, so perhaps that part of the pass-catch equation is being undersold. D'Andre Goodwin, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar give the Huskies three respectable receivers, and tight ends Kavario Middleton and Chris Izbicki are solid.

Washington State: One area where the Cougars have quality starters and quality depth is running back, with Dwight Tardy stepping up to the challenge of California transfer James Montgomery this spring, and Logwone Mitz and 220-pound Marcus Richmond adding depth.

UCLA spring wrap-up

May, 8, 2009
5/08/09
9:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

UCLA Bruins
2008 overall record: 4-8

2008 conference record: 3-6

Returning starters

Offense 9, defense 7, punter/kicker 1

Top returners

TE Logan Paulsen, WR Terrence Austin, K Kai Forbath, LB Reggie Carter, CB Alterraun Verner, DT Brian Price, FS Rahim Moore

Key losses

DT Brigham Harwell, CB Michael Norris, P Aaron Perez

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Kahlil Bell (397)
Passing: Kevin Craft* (2,341)
Receiving: Taylor Embree* (531)
Tackles: Reggie Carter* (83)
Sacks: Korey Bosworth* (7)
Interceptions: Michael Norris, Rahim Moore* (3)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sep. 5 San Diego State
Sep. 12 at Tennessee
Sep. 19 Kansas State
Oct. 3 at Stanford
Oct. 10 Oregon
Oct. 17 California
Oct. 24 at Arizona
Oct. 31 at Oregon State
Nov. 7 Washington
Nov. 14 at Washington State
Nov. 21 Arizona State
Nov. 28 at USC

1. Prince gets crowned: While Kevin Prince wasn't terribly good in any of the Bruins' three scrimmages, he did enough during practices to elevate himself above true freshman Richard Brehaut and last year's starter Kevin Craft. Prince has a lot of upside, and it will be a major upset if he doesn't end up the starter against San Diego State.

2. Plenty of runners: While the running game didn't get untracked this spring, the general feeling is that isn't because of a lack of talent at tailback. While expected starter Christian Ramirez sat out, sophomores Raymond Carter and Derrick Coleman and redshirt freshmen Johnathan Franklin and Milton Knox each had their moments. The crowd may get thinned a bit with sophomore Aundre Dean apparently thinking about transferring.

3. Stars on D: The Bruins defense looked good all spring, and there's star power at each level with tackle Brian Price, linebacker Reggie Carter and cornerback Alterraun Verner. The secondary, in particular, looked good with several youngsters ready to contribute or even challenge for starting jobs, including sophomores Courtney Viney and Tony Dye and redshirt freshman E.J. Woods.

Fall questions

1. Is there any hope for the O-line? The line was awful this spring just as it was last fall. There's plenty of experience with six returnees who started at least five games in 2008, though two sat out spring practices with injuries. And there's plenty of incoming possibilities, with touted freshmen and JC transfers arriving in the fall to offer alternatives. It feels like the Bruins' bowl hopes rest almost entirely on whether this unit can find some answers.

2. D-line depth: The Bruins starting crew of tackles Price and Jerzy Siewierski and ends Korey Bosworth and Datone Jones form one of the better foursomes in the Pac-10, but depth, especially at tackle, needs to develop. An injury or two here and things get pretty thin.

3. Playmakers on offense: If the offensive line figures things out, and Prince comes through, then somebody has to do something with the football in the passing game. During spring practices, the performance of the receivers was mediocre to bad, though true freshman hybrid tight end/receiver Morrell Presley lived up to his hype. If the veterans don't step up, then a strong incoming freshman class -- including speedster Randall Carroll -- is going to move up quickly.

Pac-10 lunch links: Riley goes to bro's wedding, then throws well

March, 16, 2009
3/16/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I will let you go, Ricky. But first, I want you to say...'I... love... links.'

  • Notes from Arizona's pro day, including former quarterback Willie Tuitama trying to get on the NFL radar, despite a recent DUI arrest. 
  • Quarterback Kevin Riley looked sharp in California's second day of spring practice. And this is an incredibly thorough look at day one -- with tons of depth chart notes! -- from Jonathan Okanes.
  • As strange as it sounds, this is a big day for Oregon's 2009 recruiting class: a letter of intent is expected from junior college receiver Tyrece Gaines and running back Bryce Brown makes his decision.
  • Oregon State's Victor Butler prepares to move from defensive end to outside linebacker in the NFL. Meanwhile, the current Beavers are working toward 2009.
  • Bit of bad news for UCLA from over the weekend: Safety E.J. Woods was charged with six misdemeanor counts of battery and sexual battery.
  • Nick Daschel looks at recent first-time head coaches in the Pac-10, who succeeded and who didn't.

Cover two? Checking in with the Pac-10 safeties

March, 5, 2009
3/05/09
6:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Safeties are the last resort. They help on run support. A big-hitting safety can make a receiving corps wilt.

The Pac-10 was strong at safety last year: USC's Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison, Oregon's Patrick Chung and T.J. Ward, Arizona State's Troy Nolan, Arizona's Cam Nelson, UCLA's Rahim Moore and Oregon State's Greg Laybourn and Al Afalava.

Of that group, only Mays -- a huge surprise -- Ward, Nelson and Moore are back.

So where does everyone stand?

Great shape

  • USC: Mays is a certain consensus preseason All-American and a certain first-round NFL draft choice. He might be the best all-around athlete in college football. Will Harris started the final six games last year and played well while Ellison was hurt.
  • California: All four safeties on Cal's two-deep depth chart are back. None of them made all-conference honors, but the Bears' pass defense ranked second in the conference and intercepted twice as many passes (24) as TD throws (12) it gave up.

Good shape

  • Arizona: The Wildcats might be in great shape here if sophomore Robert Golden's move to strong safety from cornerback works out. Junior Cam Nelson was third on the team last year with 67 tackles.
  • Stanford: Strong safety Bo McNally, with his 24 consecutive starts, leads an experienced crew -- Sean Wiser and Taylor Skaufel both started games last year at free safety. But the Cardinal pass defense wasn't very good, which is a problem.
  • Oregon: It's hard to replace a guy like rover Patrick Chung, but the big-hitting Ward -- a free safety in 2008 -- is a good start. Stepping in for Ward figures to be sophomore Javes Lewis.
  • UCLA: Strong safety Bret Lockett is the only loss among the six names on the depth chart at the end of the 2008 season. Moore looked like a budding star at free safety at times last year. A name to look out for is redshirt freshman E.J. Woods, who could jump some folks on the depth chart this spring. 
  • Washington State: Free safety Xavier Hicks, tied for fourth in the Pac-10 with 7.8 tackles per game in 2008, is back. Strong safety Alfonso Jackson is gone, but Chima Nwachukwu started seven games last year. Among the issues facing the Cougars, safety is down the line. 

We'll see

  • Arizona State: Starters Troy Nolan and Rodney Cox are gone. There's plenty of young talent ready to step up, but it is unproven. 
  • Oregon State: Two highly productive starters are gone, but the Beavers actually might be better at the position in 2009, or at least more athletic, with Suaesi Tuimaunei and Lance Mitchell stepping in.
  • Washington: Nate Williams earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors last year, but it's wide open who will start beside him. Recall that the Huskies gave up 24 touchdown passes and allowed opponents to complete 67 percent of their passes last year.

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