Pac-12: Erik Folk

Over on the Big 12 blog, David Ubben decided to go through all the teams in the conference and see how they've done against the Top 25 since 2008.

That sounded like a ton of fun, so here's a look at the Pac-12 results. For seasoning, I added a best/worst category against Top 25 teams, which is very subjective and, as always, open to debate.

Since 2008 the Pac-12 is 52-105 against Top 25 teams. Utah and Colorado records prior to 2011 are not factored in, but we'll still look at them in the team-by-team breakdown.

Oregon carries the flag for the conference with a robust .705 winning percentage while Washington State has a Blutarsky.

Here's how the entire conference shapes up:

Oregon

Record vs. Top 25: 12-5 (.705)

Best win: The Stanford victories in consecutive years put the Cardinal back in their place (and last year, signified the clear leader in the North), but the 45-38 win over No. 10 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last year was a breakthrough for the program. It put an end to the "can they win the big one" questions and was critical for the legitimacy of the league. Oregon to the rest of the conference: You're welcome.

Toughest loss: The Boise State loss in 2009 was a stinger. But anytime you lose in the National Championship game to the No. 1 team -- and the way it went down in those obscure final two minutes -- it's tough. That loss brought about some of the questions the Ducks were able to answer with the Rose Bowl win.

USC

Record vs. Top 25: 9-5 (.642)

Best win: The 35-3 win over Ohio State in 2008 stands out. But the victory at No. 4 Oregon last year bloodies the water for this year's much-anticipated showdown.

Worst loss: Also from last year, the triple-overtime loss to No. 6 Stanford shouldn't have ended the way it did. Maybe Stanford still would have won -- but that game was too epic to end on a fumble.

Stanford

Record vs. Top 25: 7-6 (.538)

Best win: The '09 win over Oregon stands out because the Ducks were a Top 10 team on a seven-game winning streak. Toby Gerhart ran wild -- picking up 223 yards and three scores. It was really Stanford's declaration that they'd arrived in the conference under Jim Harbaugh.

Worst loss: Many will think it's the Fiesta Bowl last year because the wound is still fresh and the manner in which it went down. But losing the Big Game 34-28 to No. 25 Cal in 2009 -- especially after notching back-to-back wins over Oregon and No. 9 USC -- is simply deflating. If the Oregon game was a declaration of arrival, the Cal game was a reminder of how deep the conference can be.

Utah

Record vs. Top 25: 4-5 (.444)

Best win: The 2008 Sugar Bowl. Big, bad 'Bama gets bounced by a tiny little non-AQ, leaving most West of the Mississippi with a great-big smile.

Worst loss: An overtime loss hurts. An overtime loss to a rival hurts more. An overtime loss when the opposing quarterback gives you a verbal smack down following the loss is just brutal. The 2009 Holy War loss to No. 19 BYU will always sting.

Arizona

Record vs. Top 25: 4-10 (.285)

Best win: Willie Tuitama was simply prolific in carving up No. 16 BYU in the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl, throwing for 325 yards, two touchdowns and running for another in a 31-21 win. It was Arizona's first bowl win in a decade.

Worst loss: The double-overtime loss to Oregon in 2009 was tough, but the 33-0 beat down by No. 22 Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl that same year was a real stinker.

Oregon State

Record vs. Top 25: 5-15 (.250)

Best win: Jacquizz Rodgers busted out 186 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in a 27-21 stunner of No. 1 USC in 2008. Doesn't get much sweeter than an unranked knocking off a No. 1. Though the 3-0 win over No. 20 Pitt. in the 2008 Sun Bowl gets a tip of the cap simply for the novelty.

Worst loss: The Beavers were shutout 38-0 by No. 6 Stanford in '10. That came a week after a 36-7 win over No. 20 USC. Talk about highs and lows.

Washington

Record vs. Top 25: 5-15 (.250)

Best win: Because of the record the previous year and because it was Steve Sarkisian against Pete Carroll, the 16-13 stunner over No. 3 USC in 2009 is one worth re-living over and over if you're a Washington fan. Erik Folk was so clutch.

Worst loss: Anything from 2008 will do.

UCLA

Record vs. Top 25: 4-12 (.250)

Best win: Maybe No. 7 Texas was looking ahead to the showdown with Oklahoma. Oh well, don't turn the ball over four times in the first 30 minutes. Great performance from Johnathan Franklin in the 34-12 win in 2010.

Worst loss: Toss up between the 35-0 loss to No. 25 Stanford at home in 2010 or the 59-0 loss to No. 18 BYU in 2008. Both were brutal -- but the BYU one probably stung more since the Bruins had clipped No. 18 Tennessee in overtime just 12 days earlier in the season opener.

Cal

Record vs. Top 25: 3-10 (.230)

Best win: What's bad for the Cardinal is generally good for the Bears. The 2009 Big Game win at No. 17 Stanford was extra tasty -- especially when a late Andrew Luck interception in the red zone sealed the deal. Shane Vereen was on fire with 193 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.

Worst loss: The No. 6 Cardinal reclaimed the axe the following year with a 48-14 thrashing in Berkeley. Stepfan Taylor produced three touchdowns and Luck produced a Stanford fan's dream highlight with his forearm deflection of Sean Cattouse.

Arizona State

Record vs. Top 25: 3-11 (.214)

Best win: The USC and Missouri wins last year were pretty big, but there is nothing sweeter than beating a rival, in double-overtime, on the road, when they are ranked and you aren't. That was the case in 2010 with a 30-29 win over No. 23 Arizona. James Brooks will always be remembered for blocking an extra point near the end of regulation to force overtime. And then blocking a second extra point -- seriously -- to lock up the win. As bizarre as it was magnificent for the Sun Devils.

Worst loss: The loss to No. 7 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl last year was completely uninspired and capped a horrific end to the season. The Sun Devils went into a tailspin and Todd Graham has to pull them out.

Colorado

Record vs. Top 25: 2-12

Best win: In his first career start in 2009, Tyler Hansen threw for 175 yards, a touchdown and ran for another to spark an upset win over No. 17 Kansas. That was Colorado's last win against a Top 25 team. The Buffs are 0-7 since.

Worst loss: Back in the day before they joined the Pac-12, Colorado had a little rivalry with a midwest school named Nebraska. The No. 15 Cornhuskers sent Colorado into the Pac-12 with an ugly 45-17 loss in 2010.

Washington State

Record vs. Top 25: 0-12

Best win: You have to think the streak ends under Mike Leach -- and sooner rather than later.

Worst loss: Tragically, there are so many choices. But we'll go with the 69-0 to No. 6 USC in 2008 because at the time, WSU was riding the nation's second-longest streak without being shutout (280 games). That came to an end in a very embarrassing fashion. While Mark Sanchez threw for five touchdowns, the Cougars managed just 116 yards of total offense.
They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they've all made themselves a part of something and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? "I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?"

Hot and not in the Pac-12

September, 7, 2011
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Who's hot and who's not in the Pac-12?

Here's a random sampling.

Hot: Barkley to Woods

Seventeen of USC quarterback Matt Barkley's 34 completions against Minnesota went to receiver Robert Woods -- good for 177 yards and three touchdowns.

Not: Colorado's offensive line

The Buffaloes gave up seven sacks and led a rushing attack that net just 17 yards.

Hot: UCLA's offense

Sure, the Bruins lost at Houston, but it wasn't the offense's fault. The Bruins rolled up 554 yards, including 232 on the ground.

Not: Washington's defense

The Huskies gave up an eye-popping 504 yards -- 473 yards passing -- to FCS power Eastern Washington.

Hot: Arizona quarterback Nick Foles

Foles completed 81 percent of his passes against Northern Arizona for 412 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Not: UCLA DE Datone Jones

Reporters have been celebrating Jones' potential for two years. A broken foot ended his chances in 2010, but he's healthy now. And two tackles at Houston doesn't cut it.

Hot: Washington kicker Erik Folk

Folk was 3-for-3 on field goals against Eastern Washington, with a long of 53 yards.

Not: Oregon running back Kenjon Barner

Filling in for the suspended Cliff Harris, Barner had negative-6 yards on three punt returns against LSU, including an ill-advised decision not to fair catch that led to his being stripped on a fumble return for a touchdown. He also rushed for just seven yards on four carries and left the game with a sprained ankle.

Hot: Stanford backup quarterback Brett Nottingham

Nottingham was 2-for-2 for 46 yards with a touchdown against San Jose State. That translates to a 458.2 efficiency rating, which is 312 points better than starter Andrew Luck. quarteback controversy?

Not: Oregon State's pass defense

The Beavers rank last in the conference in pass efficiency defense after playing -- and losing to -- an FCS team. The Beavers yielded four touchdown passes to Sacramento State and a 63.9 percent completion rate.

2011 preseason All-Pac-12 team

August, 12, 2011
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It's time for our preseason All-Pac-12 team.

Feel free to disagree.

Offense
QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
RB LaMichael James, Oregon
RB Chris Polk, Washington
TE David Paulson, Oregon
WR Juron Criner, Arizona
WR Jermaine Kearse, Washington
OL Jonathan Martin, Stanford
OL Matt Kalil, USC
OL David DeCastro, Stanford
OL Ryan Miller, Colorado
OL Tony Bergstrom, Utah
K Erik Folk, Washingon

Defense
DE Nick Perry, USC
DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington
DE Junior Onyeali, Arizona State
LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
LB Mychal Kendricks, California
LB Chase Thomas, Stanford
CB Cliff Harris, Oregon
CB Nickell Robey, USC
S T.J. McDonald, USC
S Delano Howell, Stanford

P Bryan Anger, California
PR Cliff Harris, Oregon
KR Robert Woods, USC

Preseason position reviews: kicker

July, 5, 2011
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Kicker is typically a strong position in the Pac-12. That is not the case -- at least based on preseason appearances -- this fall.

Just five teams welcome back experienced kickers. The pickings is so slim in terms of quality that Phil Steele named Arizona's Alex Zendejas third-team All-Pac-10 in his preview magazine.

So how does this thin group stack up? Read on.

Great shape

Washington: Erik Folk was perfect on 33 PATs last year while also connecting on 13 of 20 field goals with a long of 54 yards. Most years, these numbers would rate as "good" rather than "great," but having the best returning kicker in the conference, even if his numbers aren't scintillating, is a significant boost.

Good shape

Oregon: Rob Beard made 10 of 13 field goals last year -- coach Chip Kelly doesn't like field goals -- and was 63 of 64 on PATs.

Arizona: Zendejas had some, er, notable issues -- we won't even bring up the PATs in the Arizona State game -- but he did make 14 of 19 field goals with a long of 47. His 73.7 percent field goal percentage ranked third in the Pac-10 in 2010, ahead, by the way, of UCLA's Kai Forbath.

Washington State: Washington State only attempted 11 field goals last year. It made seven of those, three from Andrew Furney, who tops the post-spring depth chart. He also was 18-of-18 on PATs.

California: Giorgio Tavecchio is probably not going to be a great kicker, but he's experienced. He made 11 of 16 kicks last year with a long of 53. He missed two of his 39 PATs.

We'll see

Stanford: Jordan Williamson and Eric Whitaker battled this spring to replace Whitaker's older brother, Nate, who was first-team All-Pac-10 in 2010. Williamson seemed to have a slight lead heading into the offseason, though Whitaker has more experience.

USC: True freshman Andre Heidari was the nation's top-rated prep kicker last year. It's unlikely he will do worse than last year's kicker, Joe Houston, who ranked last in the conference in field goal percentage, though he was perfect on 43 PATs.

UCLA: The post-spring depth chart included an "or" between junior Jeff Locke -- the Bruins' punter -- and redshirt freshman Kip Smith.

Oregon State: Trevor Romaine was ahead of Max Johnson after spring practices to replace Justin Kahut. Both missed two attempts in the spring game. Romaine showed a good foot on kickoffs.

Utah: Coleman Petersen beat out Nick Marsh, the Utes' kickoff specialist last year, this spring to replace Joe Phillips. He's never kicked in a game.

Arizona State: Thomas Weber is gone. His replacement looks like redshirt freshman Alex Garoutte, who wasn't consistent this spring.

Colorado: Justin Castor topped the depth chart this spring -- he wasn't terribly consistent -- but incoming freshman Will Oliver might give him some competition.

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

Pac-12 lunch links: Barkley gets mad

April, 20, 2011
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It was Keyser Soze, Agent Kujan. I mean the Devil himself. How do you shoot the Devil in the back? What if you miss?

Pac-10 players of the week

October, 4, 2010
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Oregon running back LaMichael James, Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris and Washington kicker Erik Folk are the Pac-10 Players of the Week.

James, a sophomore from Texarkana, Texas, led No. 4 Oregon to a 52-31 victory over No. 9 Stanford, carrying the ball 31 times for a career-high 257 yards and three touchdowns. His 76-yard touchdown run came on his final carry as he sealed the game with 1:10 remaining. It was his second 200-yard rushing performance this season.

James also was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week.

Harris, a sophomore from Fresno, Calif., collected five tackles to go along with two second-half interception and a pass breakup. His second interception occurred in the end zone when Stanford had a first and 10 on the Ducks 11-yard line. It’s the second Player of the Week honor for Harris -- he won for special teams after game one.

Folk, a junior from Woodland Hills, Calif., came through for Washington for the second straight time against USC as he hit a game-winning field goal to beat the 18th-ranked Trojans. This time, his 32-yarder split the uprights as time expired, giving the Huskies the 32-31 win over No. 18 USC. He was 4-for-4 on field goals for the evening, hitting from 23, 41, 35 and 32 yards. He also made both PAT attempts, accounting for 14 of the team’s 32 points. Last season, it was Polk’s 22-yarder with three seconds to play that made the difference in a 16-13 win over No. 3 USC.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were running backs Deantre Lewis of Arizona State, Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State, Stepfan Taylor of Stanford, Johnathan Franklin of UCLA, Allen Bradford of USC, and quarterback Jake Locker of Washington. Also nominated on defense were defensive tackle Stephen Paea of Oregon State, safety Taylor Skaufel of Stanford, defensive tackle David Carter of UCLA and linebacker Mason Foster of Washington. Also nominated for special teams were punter Trevor Hankins of Arizona State, place kicker Rob Beard of Oregon, kick returner Jordan Poyer of Oregon State, and place kicker Kai Forbath of UCLA.

Pac-10 rewind and look ahead

October, 4, 2010
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A look back on the week that was.

Team of the week: Oregon bounced back from an early 21-3 deficit to whip Stanford 52-31. The Ducks showed dominance on both sides of the ball rolling up 626 yards and shutting the Cardinal out in the second half. The performance boosted them to No. 3 in the national rankings. Hello national title contention.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireJake Locker passed for 310 yards in Washington's win over USC.
Best game: Washington and QB Jake Locker drove 61 yards -- converting on fourth-and-11 with an 18-yard completion in the process -- for a game-winning, 32-yard field goal from Erik Folk as time expired at USC. The game featured more than 1,000 yards of offense and seven lead changes.

Biggest play: Having already mentioned the Huskies' fourth-and-11 conversion, let's then tip our cap to Oregon coach Chip Kelly's brilliant -- brilliant because it worked -- decision to go for an onside kick immediately after his team had narrowed the Cardinal's early lead to 21-10. The Ducks recovered and drove for another TD, making the count 21-17

Offensive standout(s): Oregon's LaMichael James rushed for 257 yards and three TDs on 31 carries against Stanford, never getting tackled for a loss in the process. He's now the conference's top Heisman Trophy candidate. Locker is no longer a Heisman candidate, but he bounced back from a career-worst performance against Nebraska to pass for 310 yards and rush for 110 more at USC.

Defensive standout(s): Oregon State's Stephen Paea had been mostly muted by double-teams in the first three games, but he had two of the Beavers' six sacks against Arizona State. Meanwhile, UCLA DT David Carter had three sacks and two QB hurries in the Bruins' win over Washington State. Hard to not also mention Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris, who had two interceptions of Andrew Luck.

Special teams standout: Folk beat USC with a pressure-packed kick for a second consecutive season. For the evening, he was 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 41 yards.

Smiley face: Following another case of early-season struggles -- in large part due to a brutal schedule with a pair of top-five teams -- Oregon State again figured out a way to not only endure but also improve. The win over Arizona State showcased major gains on both sides of the ball.

Frowny face: Arizona State had another close call at Oregon State, but after ending up on the wrong end of three close calls it's hard to fall back on the whole "moral" victory thing, particularly with players seemingly joking around on the sideline while the game is still hotly contested, per reports from the Arizona Republic.

Thought of the week: Kelly won't want to hear this -- and he certainly won't rhapsodize with reporters about it -- but the unbeaten, third-ranked Ducks look at this point to be favorites in the rest of their games, seeing that a visit to USC on Oct. 30 no longer feels terribly formidable. So if the Ducks hold serve ... well, you fill in the blank.

Questions for the week: Is Oregon State about to join the conference race? The Beavers were projected third in the preseason media poll, if you recall. A win at Arizona certainly would suggest the Beavers will be a factor at the top of the conference. A loss, however, might hint at a middle-of-the-pack finish.

Locker, Huskies find redemption at USC

October, 3, 2010
10/03/10
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Déjà vu anyone?

Last year against USC, Jake Locker became a national figure -- and touted NFL prospect -- after he led Washington to a upset of then-No. 3 USC with a clutch final drive.

This year, Locker regained his national stature -- and probably restored the confidence of NFL general managers -- by doing the same thing. Only this time, the Trojans aren't nearly as celebrated, so it's not nearly so shocking.

Locker and Washington came back from a bye week after a terrible performance versus Nebraska to beat No. 18 USC, 32-31, after Erik Folk kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired. Last year, Folk connected from 22 yards for a 16-13 win after Locker orchestrated a stunning drive against the Trojans' defense. This time, the drive covered 61 yards and featured an 18-yard pass on fourth-and-11.

It was Washington's first road win since 2007 and it snapped a 13-game losing streak in the Coliseum that stretched back to 1996.

Locker passed for 310 yards and rushed 110 on 12 carries.

The Huskies won despite giving up 298 yards rushing, including 223 to Allen Bradford.

USC? Well, despite a 4-0 start, there were telling signs of a decline. That was confirmed by the Huskies. Coach Lane Kiffin hinted this week about a revenge motive for his team. The Trojans failed to follow through. That same scenario, by the way, applies to next weekend's visit to Stanford.

The Huskies return home to play Arizona State, a game that is critical to each for bowl hopes.

Locker tumbles on Kiper's 'Big Board' (sort of)

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
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A Pac-10 QB is atop Mel Kiper's "Big Board," but it's no longer Washington's Jake Locker.

It's Stanford's Andrew Luck.

Here's what Kiper has to say about Locker's terrible game vs. Nebraska:
Still, it's hard to ignore the dreadful showing Jake Locker had against Nebraska. While I noted in Stock Watch that the totals were worse than the tape -- Locker was facing a loaded secondary, and was constantly harassed and forced to simply dump the ball -- he's still due for a fall. It's a developmental issue. NFL evaluators still see significant talent, but they are hesitant to take a QB as high as No. 1 overall if they think he needs significant tutoring at the NFL level. They simply can't have the patience because of the tenuous nature of their own jobs. So Locker takes a hit this week.

Kiper therefore drops Locker to No. 4, though he still lists Locker as the No. 1 senior QB.

Also on the Big Board: The UCLA duo of LB Akeem Ayers and S Rahim Moore are rated 18th and 24th, respectively.

Other top Pac-10 seniors:
  • Stanford's Owen Marecic and USC's Stanley Havili rate as the top two fullbacks.
  • USC's Ronald Johnson is the No. 2 receiver.
  • USC's Kristofer O'Dowd is the No. 3 center.
  • Oregon State's Stephen Paea is the No. 2 DT.
  • UCLA's Kia Forbath is the No. 1 kicker. Arizona State's Thomas Weber is No. 3.
  • Arizona State's Trevor Hankins is the No. 2 punter, while Washington State's Reid Forest is No. 5.

As for Pac-10 non-seniors:
  • Luck is the No. 1 QB. Arizona's Nick Foles is No. 4.
  • Kiper lists Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon's LaMichael James and California's Shane Vereen as the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 RBs.
  • Cal's Anthony Miller, Oregon's David Paulson and USC's Rhett Ellison are the Nos. 2, 4 and 5 tight ends.
  • USC's Jurrell Casey is the No. 3 DT. Arizona State's Lawrence Guy is No. 5.
  • USC's Chris Galippo, who doesn't start, rates as the No. 5 inside linebacker.
  • Ayers is the No. 1 OLB. Moore is the No. 1 safety.
  • Washington's Erik Folk is the No. 2 kicker.
  • Cal's Bryan Anger is the No. 1 punter

Six Pac-10 kickers on Groza watch list

August, 24, 2010
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Six Pac-10 kickers are on the 30-man Lou Groza Award watch list, including 2009 winner Kai Forbath of UCLA and 2007 winner Thomas Weber of Arizona State.

Forbath could become the second kicker to earn back-to-back awards. The only previous Groza winner to repeat is current Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who received the honor in 1998 and 1999, while playing for Florida State.

You can view the complete watch list here.

In addition to Forbath and Weber, the Pac-10 kickers on the list are:

Erik Folk, Washington
Justin Kahut, Oregon State
Nate Whitaker, Stanford
Alex Zendejas, Arizona

Preseason position reviews: kicker

July, 30, 2010
7/30/10
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A good kicker solves a lot of problems. An inconsistent one makes everyone anxious, particularly late in tight games.

The Pac-10 will feature two of the best kickers in the nation -- two Lou Groza Award winners, no less -- in 2010, but for a handful of schools, the position is questionable.

So, who stands where?

Great shape
  • UCLA: Kai Forbath is the best kicker in the country. The first-team All-American and 2009 Groza Award winner is practically automatic, even outside 50 yards.
  • Arizona State: Thomas Weber suffered through a lost 2009 season because of injuries, but when healthy the 2007 Groza Award winner is a potential All-American.
  • Oregon State: Justin Kahut earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 after converting 22 of 27 field goals with a long of 50 yards.
  • Washington: Erik Folk bounced back from two injury-plagued years to connect on 18 of 21 field goals in 2009.
Good shape
  • Stanford: Nate Whitaker made 16 of 22 field goals last year, which is solid, but his 54-yarder against Wake Forest was the longest in the conference last season.
  • Arizona: As a sophomore, Alex Zendejas was true on 17 of 22 field goals with a long of 47 yards.
We'll see
  • California: Cal used two kickers last season -- Giorgio Tavecchio and Vincenzo D'Amato -- but neither was consistent.
  • Washington State: Nico Grasu was solid in 2008 -- booting the game-winner in the "Crapple" Cup against Washington -- but he faded in 2009, missing the final four games with a thigh injury.
  • Oregon: The Ducks are replacing the reliable Morgan Flint. Rob Beard and incoming freshman Alejandro Maldonado are the top candidates for the spot.
  • USC: Unproven seniors Joe Houston and Jacob Harfman are competing to replace Jordan Congdon, the seventh-best kicker in the conference in 2009.

A look back at 2007 recruiting

July, 21, 2010
7/21/10
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The 2007 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. (And, yes, we did this last summer with the 2006 class, which you can review here -- Ducks fans should get a kick out of it).

As for the 2007 rankings, USC ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. Oregon, at No. 23, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25.

Scout.com ranked USC No. 2 in the nation, Oregon ninth, and California 12th. The rest of the Pac-10 went, in order, Washington (29th in nation), UCLA (36th), Arizona State (38), Oregon State (40), Stanford (43), Arizona (49) and Washington State (54).

Here's an overview.

Arizona

Class: 17

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (DE Apaiata Tuihalamaka, TE Rob Gronkowski)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (RB Nic Grigsby, CB Trevin Wade, WR William Wright, K Alex Zendejas)

Misses: Tuihalamaka, QB Bryson Beirne,

Verdict: Obviously, the biggest catch of this class, Gronkowski, is gone. Otherwise, a lot of these guys qualify for the "where are they now?" file.

Arizona State

Class: 24

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (C Garth Gerhart, WR Kerry Taylor, CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, OG Matt Hustad)

Misses: OL Po'u Palelei, LB Oliver Aaron

Verdict: This is a decent class, particularly when you factor in the contribution of the since-departed JC signees, such as LB Morris Wooten and DE Luis Vasquez. And there are several non-starters who will contribute this year.

California

Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (OT Matt Summers-Gavin, P Bryan Anger, LB D.J. Holt, WR Alex Lagemann, OT Mitchell Schwartz, S Sean Cattouse, S Chris Conte, OG Justin Cheadle, DE Cameron Jordan, RB Shane Vereen).

Misses: QB Brock Mansion, CB D.J. Campbell

Verdict: Obviously, ESPN.com's Scouts Inc., missed with its evaluation of this solid recruiting class, particularly when you consider RB Jahvid Best, WR Nyan Boateng and LB Devin Bishop were significant contributors before their tenures were done. Jordan and Vereen obviously were well underrated. And there were 21 running backs better than Best?

Oregon

Class: 29

ESPNU top 150 players: 1 (DE Kenny Rowe)

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (Rowe, WR D.J. Davis, LB Casey Matthews, CB Talmadge Jackson, OG Carson York, TE David Paulson, OG Mark Asper, WR Jeff Maehl, S Eddie Pleasant, DE Terrell Turner).

Misses: DT Myles Wade, S Malachi Lewis

Verdict: When you toss in DE Will Tukuafu, WR Aaron Pflugrad (a starter who transferred to Arizona State) and WR Terence Scott, this is a good, if not great, class. Three or four of these guys should be All-Conference players.

Oregon State

Class: 35

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (HB Joe Halahuni, S Cameron Collins, WR Darrell Catchings, CB Brandon Hardin, FB Will Darkins, DE Taylor Henry, LB Keith Pankey, WR James Rodgers)

Misses: CB David Ross, RB Reggie Dunn

Verdict: We don't have the time to go back and retrace the maneuvers that are part of managing a 35-man recruiting class (each class can only include a maximum of 25 members, but there are lots of ways to fudge numbers). Obviously, there are the Beavers typical crew of so-called diamonds in the rough -- hello, James Rodgers -- but here's a guess that coach Mike Riley winces over some of these names. Certainly not a lot of production from the six JC guys.

Stanford

Class: 19

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Six (P David Green, CB Corey Gatewood, LB/FB Owen Marecic, TE Coby Fleenor, DE Thomas Keiser, DE Matt Masifilo)

Misses: QB L. D. Crow, S Sean Wiser

Verdict: An interesting class considering that six of the eight lowest rated players are on the Cardinal's preseason two-deep depth chart, including three starters. In terms of skill positions -- see the two QBs -- this class doesn't measure up.

UCLA

Class: 11

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (QB Chris Forcier, RB Raymond Carter)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (LB Akeem Ayers, LB Glenn Love, LB Steve Sloan, DT Nate Chandler, OT Mike Harris)

Misses: Forcier, Carter

Verdict: This is a very small but highly productive class collected by former coach Karl Dorrell -- note that it includes DT Brian Price, who bolted early for the NFL. The only busts were the two highest rated players, Forcier and Carter, and JC LB Mike Schmitt. The other eight members are either on the two-deep or, in Price's case, already in the NFL.

USC

Class: 20

ESPNU top 150 players: 10 (RB Joe McKnight, LB Chris Galippo, RB Marc Tyler, S Marshall Jones, DE Everson Griffen, QB Aaron Corp, WR Ronald Johnson, OT Martin Coleman, DT DaJohn Harris, C Kris O'Dowd)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (LB Chris Galippo, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristofer O'Dowd, LB Malcolm Smith)

Misses: S Marshall Jones, OT Martin Coleman

Verdict: Obviously, this class, ranked No. 1 in the nation, was overrated, even when you factor in that McKnight, Griffen and Damian Williams already are in the NFL, and NT Christian Tupou would be a second-year starter if he didn't blow out his knee this spring. Lots of guys who never contributed or left the program.

Washington

Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (WR Devin Aguilar, LB Alvin Logan, LB Cort Dennison, SS Nate Williams, LB Mason Foster, CB Quinton Richardson, DE Kalani Aldrich, K Erik Folk)

Misses: DE Emeka Iweka, DT Nick Wood

Verdict: You read the names of the seven highest-rated players in this class and you have one reaction: Terrible. But then you see six defensive starters among the lower rated guys. Still, the Huskies defense is a huge question mark. How it performs this year will tell you how this class should be rated.

Washington State

Class: 26

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (CB Aire Justin, WR Daniel Blackledge, C Andrew Roxas, OG B.J. Guerra, SS Chima Nwachukwu)

Misses: WR Deon Ford

Verdict: Not much should be expected from Bill Doba's final recruiting class, and this one doesn't deliver much sizzle. A couple of solid hits, though, including a couple of departed JC transfers.

Pac-10 deep & thin: Stocked and depleted positions

June, 3, 2010
6/03/10
5:38
PM ET
At what position is the Pac-10 deep? At what position in the Pac-10 thin? Here's the third of three parts taking a look at just that.

Deep: Specialists

[+] EnlargeKai Forbath
Jim Brown/US Presswire Kai Forbath of UCLA is one of two Lou Groza Award winning kickers returning to the Pac-10 this season.
Why is it deep? Eight teams welcome back both their punter and kicker, and many of them are quite happy about that. Three conference kickers ranked among the top-20 in field goals per game, while three punters ranked in the top 21. No team is replacing both specialists. Oregon is replacing kicker Morgan Flint and USC is replacing kicker Jordan Congdon, who ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, in field goals per game in 2009.

The big names: Start with two Lou Groza Award winning kickers: UCLA's Kai Forbath (2009) and Arizona State's Thomas Weber (2007). Then there's Oregon State's Justin Kahut, who made 22 of 27 field goals with a long of 50, and Washington's Erik Folk, who was 18 for 21 with a long of 48. As for the punters, Arizona State's Trevor Hankins ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and 10th in the nation in punting (44.2 yards per punt), while UCLA's Jeff Locke (43.6) was 16th in the nation and Washington State's Reid Forrest (43.2) was 21st. Oh, and California's Bryan Anger might have the biggest foot of everyone; he dropped a conference-high 24 punts inside the 20 last year.

Thin: Linebacker

Why is it thin? Four of the six linebackers who made up the first and second All-Pac-10 teams are gone as are five of the 11 LBs who earned honorable mention. Only two teams -- USC and Oregon -- welcome back all of their starting LBs from 2009, and a big story this spring was the Trojans lack of depth at the position, while the Ducks moved Eddie Pleasant to safety (in large part because of depth at the position). Arizona is replacing all three starting linebackers, while Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA only have one returning starter at the position (though the Beavers outside linebacker platoon of Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey probably should count as more than one starter).

Fill the void? This is not a "strength" position, but the cupboard is hardly empty: UCLA's Akeem Ayers, California's Mike Mohamed and Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict are All-American candidates, while Oregon's Casey Matthews earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 and Washington's Mason Foster is a likely breakout player. The Ducks, in particular, are fast and deep at linebacker, while the Sun Devils aren't far behind in terms of young talent.

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