Pac-12: J.T. Levenseller
Inspired by the move of Wes Lunt to leave Oklahoma State, the Pac-12 blog thought it would be fun to look back fondly at some of the quarterbacks who have left the conference following the 2008 season (a full four-year cycle). A special thanks to the league's sports information directors for helping compile this list and whatever information is available (which isn't the case with some players).
Here's the team-by-team breakdown of some of the recently departed signal callers no longer calling signals in the Pac-12.
- Tom Savage: Transferred to Pitt after the 2011 season. Eligible to play in 2013.
- Cam Allerheiligen: Left after the 2011 season. Went on to play baseball at Weatherford College.
- No QB transfers since 2008.
- Beau Sweeney: Transferred after the 2010 season to Cornell. Appeared as a quarterback and TE/H-Back.
- Allan Bridgford: Transferred after the 2012 season to Southern Miss.
- Matt Ballenger: Transferred after the 2008 season to College of Idaho and went on to be an all-conference basketball player.
- Nick Hirschman: Transferred to Akron following the 2012 season.
- Chris Harper: Transferred to Kansas State after the 2008 season and became a wide receiver, leading the Wildcats in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2011.
- Justin Roper: Transferred to Montana after the 2008 season, completed 61.5 percent of his throws with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2010.
- Jeremiah Masoli: Transferred to Mississippi after the 2009 season. Is now with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
- Brennan Doty: (Walk-on) transferred to Lamar to play basketball.
- Bryan Bennett: Transferred to Southeastern Louisiana after the 2012 season.
- Justin Engstrom: Transferred to Portland State after the 2008 season. Was a backup.
- Brennan Sim: Transferred to South Alabama after the 2008 season.
- Peter Lalich: Transferred to California University of Pennsylvania after the 2009 season.
- Ryan Katz: Transferred to San Diego State before the 2012 season and was the starter until an injury knocked him out for the year.
- Jack Lomax: Left the team prior to the 2012 season.
- L.D. Crow: Transferred to UCF after the 2008 season.
- Nick Ruhl: (Walk-on) transferred to Menlo College after the 2008 season. Returned to Stanford and graduated with two degrees.
- Adam Brzeczek: (Walk-on) transferred to Montana after the 2011 season. Did not attempt a pass in 2012, but appeared in two games and rushed for 33 yards on three carries with a touchdown.
- Brett Nottingham: Transferred to Columbia after the 2012 season.
- Chris Forcier: Transferred to Furman after the 2008 season.
- Nick Crissman: Graduated in 2012, but intended to transfer to play one more year
- Aaron Corp: Transferred to Richmond after the 2009 season.
- Jesse Scroggins: Trasnferred to El Camino Junior College after the 2011 season and has since joined Arizona.
- Corbin Louks: Transferred to Nevada after the 2008 season.
- Griff Robles: Transferred after the 2011 season to Dixie State College. Utah had converted Robles to a linebacker, but he wanted to play quarterback. Appeared in 11 games last year, completing 50.9 percent of his throws with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
- Tyler Shreve: Transferred to Riverside Community College after the 2011 season to play football and baseball.
- Ronnie Fouch: Transferred to Indiana State after the 2009 season. Went on to start 22 games and posted 38 touchdowns to 15 interceptions with more than 4,300 passing yards in his career.
- Nick Montana: Transferred to to Mt. San Antonio College after the 2011 season and is now at Tulane.
- J.T. Levenseller: Transferred to Eastern Washington after the 2008 season.
- Cody Clements: Transferred to Cerritos College following the 2012 season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
People say I'm the life of the party because I tell a joke or two.
- Neither Arizona quarterback played well in the first scrimmage.
- Danny Sullivan appears close to nailing down the starting job at quarterback for Arizona State. The Sun Devils have a couple of high-profile transfers waiting in the wings.
- Breaking down California, position by position. Noting the Bears, who look like Kevin Riley's team.
- Oregon's Nate Costa, slated to start a year ago before a knee injury ended his season, looks like he's healthy enough to be the backup quarterback. What else happened at the scrimmage?
- After one week at Oregon State, the most nagging question might be offensive tackle.
- Tavita Pritchard says he's not mad that Andrew Luck is Stanford's starting quarterback.
- UCLA is looking for a deep threat and it has more than one option. This Chane is strong for the Bruins, but defensive tackle Jess Ward is hurting.
- USC's running backs got an earful from Pete Carroll and responded. Meet the new Big Trojan on Campus.
- So... how much are they Angels going to pay Washington quarterback Jake Locker just to think about playing baseball at some point?
- Kevin Lopina has taken a lead over Marshall Lobbestael in Washington State's quarterback competition, and No. 3 J.T. Levenseller is going to transfer. The uncomfortable thing here is Mike Levenseller, the Cougars receivers coach, is J.T.'s dad.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
If you want to know when Washington State's 2008 season truly went rear-end-over-tea-kettle, look no further than when redshirt freshman quarterback Marshall Lobbestael's knee tore apart early in the fourth quarter against Oregon State.
|AP Photo/Dean Hare|
|Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael is the front runner for the Cougars starting job even though he is coming off a severe knee injury.|
With torn anterior-cruciate and medial-collateral ligaments in his left knee, Lobbestael became the third Cougars quarterback to suffer a significant injury, following Gary Rogers (out for season) and Kevin Lopina (three games).
If you remember, Washington State even earned national attention when it was forced to hold open tryouts to find a scout-team quarterback.
What you might not remember is the promise Lobbestael flashed during his brief tenure as the starter.
It didn't start great. He threw two passes in mop-up duty against California, and one was intercepted. But instead of wilting, he came back to complete 9 of 12 for 149 yards -- his first two passes going for touchdowns -- in the Cougars 48-9 victory over Portland State.
That earned him Pac-10 offensive player of the week honors, and it wasn't inconceivable to be cautiously optimistic that the then-1-3 Cougars might be finding some rhythm.
That didn't happen, of course, and after Lobbestael went down the Cougars were shut out in three of their next four games.
Still, Lobbestael's numbers were by far the best among the quarterbacks. He threw four touchdown passes with four interceptions in five games while his chief competition for the starting job in 2009, Lopina, a rising senior, threw 11 interceptions and no touchdowns in nine games.
Problem is Lobbestael won't be able to compete for the starting job during spring practices because he's still rehabilitating his knee.
"I should be able to throw and do some drop-backs [during spring practices] -- I'm not really sure yet," he said. "Right now I'm trying to focus on what's going on with my rehab, so I don't want to think too much about spring and get ahead of myself. But I should be able to throw."
He's off crutches and walks around campus without a brace ("It sometimes gets a little stiff when it gets cold but I'm walking pretty good so far," he said), but his recovery was pegged at nine months, which means he'll have to wait until fall practices to make his claim for the starting job.
"I'm trying to watch a lot of film, and during spring I'll take a lot of mental reps," he said. "Hopefully I won't fall too far behind. But there will be a little bit of catching up to speed when I come back in the fall."
In the fall, touted incoming freshman Jeff Tuel will join the fray, with sophomore J.T. Levenseller also a possibility.
But Lobbestael is considered the frontrunner.
Whoever wins the job, however, will have to significantly upgrade the position 2009 if the Cougars are going to improve their 2-11 finish. Washington State ranked 115th in the nation in passing efficiency last season -- a year after Alex Brink threw for 3,818 yards and 26 touchdowns.
"A lot of stuff [has to get better]," he said. "I think the first thing is we've got to totally change our attitude. Our entire team, the way we practice and the way we play obviously, but also off the field, the way we eat and the way we train."
If there's a starting point -- a place to plant the seeds of hope -- it's that the Cougars know they walked away with one shining moment in 2008: a 16-13, double-overtime victory over Washington in the Apple Cup.
As a product of Oak Harbor, Wash., Lobbestael knows that means something.
"When people ask about the 2008 season we can say, 'We didn't do that good but at least we beat the Huskies in the Apple Cup' That's something we'll always have on them, to hang over their heads a little bit," he said.
The larger question is whether Lobbestael and the Cougars can get more in 2009.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Early in the day, coach Paul Wulff said he expected Lopina to be cleared to practice.
Freshman J.T. Levenseller led the first-team offense with Lopina still on the sideline. Wulff told the newspaper he expected Lopina to be cleared Wednesday and that he should be ready to play in the Apple Cup on Saturday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Washington State coach Paul Wulff said that quarterback Kevin Lopina should be able to play Saturday in the Apple Cup against Washington.
Wulff said Lopina only suffered a "mild concussion" over the weekend when he was knocked out of the loss at Arizona State.
"We feel like he is going to be cleared to go in practice today, so we feel like that will be a go," Wulff said.
Lopina's backup is true freshman J.T. Levenseller, who began the season expecting to redshirt. In limited playing time, he's completed 11 of 23 passes with two interceptions.
Sorting out the Pac-10 pecking order after 12 weeks.
Oregon moves up to No. 3, setting up a potentially HUGE Civil War after Thanksgiving.
1. USC: We keep waiting for everything to come together for the Trojans and for them to blow us away with their realized potential. Perhaps it won't come. Or perhaps it will come at the expense of an opponent in a BCS bowl game. Nice running game in the fourth quarter, though. Up next: bye.
2. Oregon State: The Beavers passed part one of their tripartite "Quest for the Rose Bowl" with the home victory over California. Now can they bring the same focused intensity on both sides of the ball to Arizona? The Wildcats are tough at home and have their own bowl hopes.
3. Oregon: How about those new unis, complete with intimidating Wings of Killer Duck? Dark Wing Ducks.... attack! And how about that new balanced, flashy offense? Anyone else starting to think ole Jeremiah Masoli may turn out OK? Ducks return to their lairs for a week off as they plot ruin for the Beavers' season on Nov. 29.
4. Arizona: Almost a brilliant comeback. Almost. It feels like Arizona needs at least one more win for this to become a successful campaign. Sure, the Wildcats got six wins, but that was expected with this schedule. A seventh win, notched against Oregon State, particularly would resonate.
5. California: The Bears' offense went into hibernation at Oregon State. Or maybe the Beavers were just that much better up front. Quarterback Kevin Riley has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in his last three games -- 22 of 53 -- with three interceptions and two touchdowns. Big Game feels big. Stanford wants bowl eligibility. Cal doesn't want to lose two in a row to the Cardinal.
6. Stanford: The Cardinal traded punches with the Trojans for three quarters before yielding, though that final touchdown seemed like a nice raspberry to send Pete Carroll's way. Yet the season will feel deflating without a bowl berth. So the Big Game is simple: Win and you're in. Win and your season is a success.
7. Arizona State: After sweeping the Washington schools -- yippee! -- the Sun Devils look mostly back on track. The task at hand now is simple: UCLA's visit on Nov. 28 eliminates one or the other from potential bowl eligibility. Kudos to Rudy Carpenter, who now has 80 career touchdown passes, third in Pac-10 history.
8. UCLA: Life should get simpler now that the "Rick Neuheisel returns to Seattle" hoopla is over. Defense held Washington to just 135 yards, the Huskies' lowest output since getting just 116 at USC in 2004. If the Bruins manage to win at Arizona State, then they merely need to end the football monopoly in LA on Dec. 6 to earn bowl eligibility.
9. Washington: The 27-7 loss to UCLA dropped the Huskies to 0-10. They lost their 12th straight game dating to last season -- extending a school record -- and are the only winless FBS team. They are winless at home for the first time in the 88-year history of Husky Stadium. Up next: The Apple Cup, the worst rivalry matchup in the history of college football.
10. Washington State: The Cougars were shutout for the third time in four games against Arizona State. They gained only 130 total yards. They may have lost quarterback Kevin Lopina (concussion) for the Apple Cup, meaning true freshman and No. 4 quarterback J.T. Levenseller likely will get the starting call. Hey, but they only trailed 10-0 at halftime, the first time this season against an FBS foe they were within two touchdowns. So they got that going for them.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Revelations from the past weekend's action.
1. Oregon State is for real: Ten weeks might seem a long time for a complete buy-in, but Oregon State hadn't posted a quality win since it upset USC on Sept. 25. That wasn't the Beavers' fault; the schedule just lined up four weak foes in a row. But the impressive performance on both sides of the ball in the 34-21 win over California makes the Beavers' Rose Bowl dreams seem reasonable. They whipped Cal with quarterback Lyle Moevao out of sync after returning from a shoulder injury with a dominating defense that rolled up five sacks and an offense keyed by freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The Bears knew exactly what Oregon State wanted to do. They were just helpless to stop them. That suggests clear superiority over a Pac-10 contender.
2. USC's defense showed it, much like USC, can look average at times: USC coach Pete Carroll has said he's not looking for style points, and that's becoming obvious. Stanford outgained USC 210 yards to 90 in the first half and the game was tied at 17-17 well into the third quarter. Sure, the Trojans stepped on the gas and were completely dominant down the stretch in their 45-23 win, but giving up a season-high 367 yards to a limited offense won't win over many pollsters. On the plus side, more than a few Trojans fans -- and reporters -- believed the USC offense could dominate most foes just by handing the ball off every play and playing pure smashmouth instead of trying to create an offense of perfect metaphysical balance. That's what they did in the second half, with 30 rushing plays producing 243 of their 282 total yards on the ground.
3. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli answered his critics (now about that defense...): A week after getting booed for being completely out of sync passing the ball, Masoli completed 21 of 26 -- 81 percent -- of his passes for a career-high 298 yards in the Ducks' wild 55-45 win over Arizona (At last! Real Pac-10 football!). He passed for two touchdowns and ran for three; he also rushed for 89 yards on 10 carries. He gave the Ducks a 48-17 lead before things, shall we say, got interesting. Things didn't go nearly as well in the second half -- see five three-and-outs -- but Masoli isn't responsible for the 527 yards surrendered by the Ducks' defense.
4. Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA are still fighting for bowl berths: The Pac-10 has seven bowl contracts. It presently has five bowl-eligible teams, with the possibility of two BCS bowl berths (Oregon State and USC). Yet don't be surprised if at least a sixth team backdoors it into bowl eligibility. Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA each showed fight over the weekend, suggesting they haven't packed it in and accepted losing seasons just yet. Stanford, at 5-6, needs to win at rival California on Saturday in the Big Game. The winner of the UCLA's visit to Arizona State on Nov. 28 advances to its rivalry game with a shot at a sixth victory. Rivalry games with actual stakes! Fun!
5. The Apple Cup will be the worst rivalry showdown in BCS conference history: Two teams with no wins over FBS competition between them. Both play terrible defense. Both play terrible offense. One, Washington, has fired its coach. Another, Washington State, might start its No. 4 quarterback, true freshman J.T. Levenseller, because starter Kevin Lopina was knocked out of the 31-zip loss to Arizona State with a concussion. You may want to cover your eyes. Or perhaps you'll sneak a peek just to know what Putrid on the Palouse will look like.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Ten things to consider, underline or anticipate heading into the weekend.
1. California OTs vs. Oregon DEs: The California offensive line is expected to be missing three injured starters and a backup who would have started Saturday against Oregon. While left tackle Mitchell Schwartz has been a steady performer all year, the redshirt freshman will have his hands full with Nick Reed, the Ducks' relentless pass rusher. On the other side, Donovan Edwards, a JC transfer who signed in the late summer, will make his first start and will square off against the underrated Will Tukuafu, who has six sacks. Oh, by the way, it also appears that redshirt freshman Justin Cheadle will be stepping in for Noris Malele at right guard.
2. Mark Sanchez will have his way with the Washington pass defense: USC quarterback Mark Sanchez has been inconsistent this year, particularly on the road -- see his uneven effort at Arizona. But he's not on the road Saturday, and visiting Washington will offer him the most inviting pass defense of any BCS conference team. Moreover, the Huskies probably will be missing injured starting cornerback Mesphin Forrester. Sanchez should put up big numbers and then sit out the second half.
3. Will Washington State open up the offense for quarterback Kevin Lopina?: Lopina completed just 6 of 9 passes for 28 yards against USC in a 69-0 humiliation. It seemed like the Cougars coaches opted for a noticeably conservative game plan because they were worried about getting Lopina hurt and didn't want to risk him re-injuring his back in a game they weren't going to win. With the decision to no longer redshirt J.T. Levenseller -- coach Paul Wulff said Levenseller would play at Stanford -- perhaps the handcuffs will be off Lopina and he will run the entire offense.
4. Does Rudy have any magic left? Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter will make his 39th consecutive start at Oregon State with a bum ankle, no running game and a decimated receiving corps. Last year, he was brilliant in leading the Sun Devils back from a 19-0 deficit against OSU, passing for 361 yards with four touchdowns in a 44-32 victory. It's hard to imagine things will go as well in Corvallis against a high-pressure Beavers defense that probably wants redemption.
5. USC's defense will miss safety Kevin Ellison: Ellison, our midseason defensive MVP, is out two-to-four weeks with a torn MCL, so the nation's best defense is without its headiest player for a few games. That won't matter against the Huskies, but it could in upcoming games with California and Notre Dame. Ellison, who will be replaced by junior Will Harris, is the second starter to go down in the Trojans secondary. Earlier, top cover cornerback Shareece Wright was lost to a season-ending neck injury.
6. Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard will regain his form against Washington State: Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard was mostly awful in the loss to UCLA, completed just 5 of 12 passes for 51 yards with an interception. Enter the Washington State defense, which makes everyone look good. While the Cougars are incompetent stopping the run -- 266 yards per game -- their likely attempt to gang up against Stanford's power running game will mean opportunities for Pritchard in the passing game.
7. Moevao and Rodgers: First-team All-Pac-10? Why the heck not? If true freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers and quarterback Lyle Moevao, the conference's most improved player, continue to put up big numbers, why wouldn't this pair lead the All-Pac-10 team? Rodgers, in fact, with a conference-leading 116 yards rushing per game, is almost a shoo-in. Moevao leads the conference with 254 yards passing per game, but he likely will need to outplay Arizona's Willie Tuitama and USC's Mark Sanchez down the stretch. But if the Beavers make a run at the Rose Bowl, who's to say he won't?
8. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli may need to throw to beat Cal: It's been a mostly dry fall in Eugene -- as we all know it NEVER RAINS IN AUTZEN STADIUM! -- but it looks like it's going to be a wet one Saturday in Berkeley. While such conditions may not encourage passing, the Ducks' run-heavy, spread-option offense may find the going tough if it is one-dimensional vs. Cal's 3-4 defense. This is a homecoming for Masoli anyway, so know that he'll want to put the ball in the air to impress family and friends.
9. Will Washington play hard for lame-duck coach Tyrone Willingham? It might not matter if the winless Huskies give USC their best shot -- the Trojans are better at every position. Yet it will be fairly obvious in the early-going how much Willingham's players still care. Will they show some pride and fight for themselves and their outgoing coach? A season's best performance might cause some to wonder where the effort was when it could still help Willingham, but if that is indeed what happens know that a team is tipping its helmet to its coach.
10. Quarterback Kevin Riley's mobility will keep Cal in the game with Oregon: It's safe to assume Cal's makeshift offensive line won't be able to consistently handle the Ducks defensive front. If slow-footed Nate Longshore were the Bears quarterback, that would be a huge issue. But Riley can make plays with his feet -- both with rollouts and with scrambles. If the conditions are sloppy, Riley's improvisation skills could become a key element in the game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
World order was restored last weekend. I went 4-0 and improved to 41-11.
Things are not as rosy with my stock picking.
On to it...
Oregon 30, California 24: The Ducks proved they could win on the road last weekend at Arizona State, but California is a better team than the Sun Devils. The Bears' 3-4 defense should slow down the Oregon rushing attack, so count on Jeremiah Masoli having to make a few plays with his arm. The big difference is on the offensive line, where Oregon is healthy and Cal is down three starters and a top reserve.
Oregon State 33, Arizona State 21: Oregon State is rested, healthy and at home with a lot to play for. Arizona State is wounded and on the brink of the program's first six-game losing streak since 1929. Because this is college football, the Beavers should be worried. But they also just need to take care of business. Sun Devils quarterback Rudy Carpenter, making his 39th consecutive start, is nursing a sprained ankle, so expect the Beavers to put a lot of pressure on him.
Stanford 41, Washington State 10: Stanford owns a dominant rushing attack. Washington State owns the worst run defense in the nation. That's not a good recipe for the Cougars. It will be interesting to see if WSU opens up the offense a bit after basically waving a white flag against USC. Quarterback Kevin Lopina obviously is fragile with his bad back, which was the justification for pulling the redshirt off J.T. Levenseller, who will play this weekend. Stanford also would like to see its quarterback, Tavita Pritchard, get back on track.
USC 51, Washington 3: Will the Huskies show up angry and fight hard for their lame duck coach Tyrone Willingham? And if they do will it matter? Probably not. If Washington doesn't get some good breaks early, this could go much like the Trojans' bludgeoning of Washington State. Expect the Trojans to want to work on their passing game rhythm, which was off at Arizona last week, against the woeful Huskies pass defense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Just wait... the links you remember come in November.
- November is when Arizona typically surges.
- Is poor recruiting from former Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter hurting the Sun Devils this season? Perhaps a true freshman will perk up the woeful running game. Very quietly defensive end Dexter Davis is having a good year.
- Though still a bit coy, California coach Jeff Tedford acknowledged that Kevin Riley will start at quarterback against Oregon.
- Oregon hasn't faced a defense like California's 3-4 this season. Did running back Jeremiah Johnson hurt his shoulder?
- Tavita Thompson will give a boost to Oregon State's offensive line against Arizona State.
- Stanford isn't used to being the overwhelming favorite, but Washington State does that to teams.
- The latest injury concern for UCLA? Linebacker and leading tackler Reggie Carter, and the notebook reports that the quarterback situation apparently hasn't changed with Kevin Craft still a clear No. 1.
- What's going on in USC quarterback Mark Sanchez's head? Here's a Q&A with some answers. Another chapter in the strange season of receiver Vidal Hazelton. Running back C.J. Gable is frustrated with his role.
- Washington's assistant coaches are in limbo. Here's a theory why Tyrone Willingham isn't a good recruiter.
- More on Washington State coach Paul Wulff's decision to play freshman quarterback J.T. Levenseller instead of redshirt him.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Washington State coach Paul Wulff didn't make the decision to yank freshman quarterback J.T. Levenseller's redshirt lightly. If this were a thoughtless, off-the-cuff move, it wouldn't be easy to look across the table during staff meetings.
That's because Levenseller's dad is Mike Levenseller, the Cougars receivers coach, who played for Washington State and has been an assistant with the program for 17 years through three different administrations.
Wulff even admitted that Levenseller's professionalism made it hard to measure his thoughts as a father.
"[We talked about it] a little bit, but Mike does a great job of staying out of it -- he really wants everyone else to make the decision without his influence," Wulff said. "Sometimes I've got to force a dad question out of him.
"The kid really wants to play, so [Mike Levenseller] doesn't fight that at all."
Fact is, Wulff doesn't really have a choice.
With five games remaining, he's already lost two quarterbacks for the season. Kevin Lopina will start at Stanford on Saturday, but he's still nursing a back injury and is not 100 percent. And the Cardinal defense loves to blitz (see: 26 sacks) which ranks second in the Pac-10.
If Lopina goes down, the only other quarterback available would be walkon Dan Wagner, who's looked overwhelmed during previous action.
The plan is to play Levenseller no matter what at some point in the first half to get him some game experience, so if he's needed later he won't be so wide-eyed.
And knowing Washington State's luck with injuries this year, Levenseller will be needed: 16 of the Cougars 43 players to start this season have combined to miss 39 games.
If Lopina goes down and Levenseller is forced to start a future game, he would be the fourth Cougar quarterback to make his first career start this season.
That would have to be some kind of record.
Prior to this season, two WSU quarterbacks have made their first start in the same season six times, but never three and certainly never four.
The younger Levenseller (6-foot-1, 190) was born to be a Coug. "J.T." stands for Jack Thomas, and he was named for former WSU quarterback Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson. He also starred in baseball at Pullman High School.
Wulff said that Levenseller is a good athlete with a good arm but is "very green."
And he will doff his redshirt and make his debut at Stanford.
Said Wulff, "If we're going to do it, we're going to play him."
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Getting deep into this week's games.
California won't run over Arizona: In Arizona's two losses, its defense got run over by a big back -- New Mexico's Rodney Ferguson and Stanford's Toby Gerhart, a pair of 230-pound bruisers. California is not a power-rushing team with Jahvid Best, who's expected to return after dislocating his elbow on Sept. 27, and Shane Vereen, neither of whom pushes the scale past 200 pounds. Moreover, the Bears have two injured starting linemen, tackle Mike Tepper and guard Chris Guarnero. Without Best, the Bears rushed for just 79 yards at home against Arizona State, and playing on the road makes it harder to use a variety of run audibles. Best and Vereen can hit home runs, but they don't grind out four yards and a cloud of dust. Cal will need balance to win, and the Bears passing game has not clicked this season. Meanwhile, the Wildcats pass defense is holding opponents to just a 55.3 completion percentage and has grabbed eight interceptions. Hmm.
A two-quarterback system might work for Stanford: Cardinal quarterback Tavita Pritchard has steadily improved this year and was 13-of-17 for 113 yards and a touchdown before he was knocked out against Arizona with a concussion. He's likely to start against UCLA on Saturday. But Alex Loukas' running ability off the bench confused the Wildcats defense and was the key component of the 11-play, 60-yard game-winning drive. Loukas completed a 21-yard pass and ran four times for 32 yards, and apparently earned more playing time, according to coach Jim Harbaugh. Loukas not only adds a nice change of pace, but he also forces a defense to use valuable practice time preparing for a running quarterback and some spread-option plays.
Washington State's goal is to protect quarterback Kevin Lopina: If you read a week's worth of stories on Washington State, you can't help but wince. Two of the Cougars top three quarterbacks are done for the year. Kevin Lopina, who took over the starting job two games into the season, will return to face USC's fearsome defense after missing the past three games with a fractured vertebrae. If the Trojans knock Lopina out, the Cougars must turn to either walk-on freshman Daniel Wagner or burn the redshirt of true freshman J.T. Levenseller, with coach Paul Wulff suggesting this week he'd have no alternative but to go with Levenseller because there's half a season remaining. That means the Cougars figure to try to run the ball and use a lot of quick-hit passes to minimize the hits on Lopina, a strategy that isn't likely to put many points on the board. Of course, as a 43-point underdog, don't expect the Cougars to give the Trojans a scare. In fact, don't be shocked if USC coach Pete Carroll, who's team isn't exactly healthy, calls off the dogs fairly early and doesn't try to become the fourth Pac-10 team to score 60-plus on the Cougs.
UCLA may be able to force Stanford to pass: Sure, UCLA's rushing defense ranks eighth in the Pac-10 (171.3), which would seem to bode well for Stanford's potent ground game. But the Bruins have faced the nation's No. 6 (Oregon) and No. 16 (Fresno State) rushing attacks in recent weeks. Moreover, Stanford's more conventional power-running scheme matches strength-on-strength as the Bruins defensive tackle combo of Brian Price and Brigham Harwell is as good as any in the conference. It's almost certain that defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker will try to force Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard to throw the ball. The Bruins secondary has been terribly inconsistent this year -- strong safety Bret Lockett is fighting to hold onto his job this week -- but Pritchard, while improving, has a tendency to force passes into coverage, see eight interceptions vs. seven touchdowns. The Bruins secondary has only four interceptions this season, but that has been a point of emphasis in practices this week. Stanford beat Arizona despite losing the turnover battle, 0-3. It will be harder to do that on the road.
Beavers should be on upset alert: There is absolutely no logical reason to believe that Washington can upset Oregon State. The Huskies are winless, beaten up and about to fire head coach Tyrone Willingham. Oregon State has won three of four and is in the middle of the Pac-10 race. The Beavers are superior in just about every area and should be highly motivated. Yet this is college football, and only twice since 1999 has a Pac-10 team gone winless in the conference (though Washington did it in 2004). Moreover, the Huskies' loss last year at Oregon State was hotly contested and bitterly lost, including a controversial knock-out hit on quarterback Jake Locker by Beavers safety Al Afalava, which has been a hot topic this week (though let's be clear that the hit was legal). The Beavers won 19 games over the previous two seasons, but managed to get drubbed both years by inferior UCLA teams, so it's not inconceivable that the Beavers could come out flat with overconfidence.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
From the "are you kidding me" file, beleaguered Washington State, bedeviled by injuries, has lost its No. 3 quarterback for the season.
Freshman Marshall Lobbestael, initially reported to have suffered a MCL tear against Oregon State that would sideline him for two to four weeks, actually tore his ACL and MCL and will be out approximately nine months, according to a release from the school.
So he'll miss spring practices and much of summer workouts.
The Cougars, who started Lobbestael the previous three games, are hoping to have former starter Kevin Lopina back for their visit to No. 6 USC on Saturday. Lopina and his backup, Gary Rogers, were both knocked out in the Portland State game on Sept. 20 -- the Cougars' only victory.
Lopina practiced Sunday, but if he can't go because his back injury relapses, then the Cougars would choose between redshirt freshman walk-on Dan Wagner, who finished the 66-13 loss at Oregon State, or true freshman J.T. Levenseller, whom coaches would prefer to redshirt.
3:30 PM ET 13 Arizona State 11 Arizona 3:30 PM ET Stanford 8 UCLA