Pac-12: Jared Ballman

Apple Cup: The battle for worst was good

November, 22, 2008
11/22/08
9:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

 
 AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
 Washington State Head Coach Paul Wulff holds the Apple Cup trophy in the locker room after Washington State beat Washington, 16-13, in double overtime Saturday.

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Wearing flushed faces and disbelieving grins, they leaped over the railing at Martin Stadium and stormed the field, a spontaneous and joyous crimson tide flowing over the turf and meeting in a pulsating mass for a raucous celebration.

"Wooooooo! No. 1 baby!" bellowed a middle aged man as he flung himself into the swirl of humanity.

Victory. So sweet.

It looked and felt like the scene at Texas Tech a few weeks back, when the Red Raiders announced themselves as national title contenders.

Only this was Washington State, and the team trudging off the field with grim and nearly catatonic faces was Washington.

Washington State had triumphed in the 101st Apple Cup, 16-13, in double-overtime, overcoming a 10-0 halftime deficit.

The Cougars and Huskies entered the game with a combined 1-20 record, the lone victory being Washington State's win over Portland State, a mediocre FCS team.

The stakes were simple, thereby earning this train wreck of a game national attention. The loser would be known as the nation's worst BCS conference team.

"That's really disrespectful but there's really nothing you can do about it," Washington State cornerback Romeo Pellum said. "We are one of the worst teams in the nation."

Still, that the Cougars, a touchdown underdog at home to a winless team, hung that dubious distinction over the mantle of their archrival, well, that's the greatest thing in the world.

"It's the best feeling I've had in my life -- ever," Pellum said.

Amid the craziness, the Huskies slouched off the field. Some raced up the tunnel, looking for quick escape. Others walked slowly, seeming to purposefully take in the scene as if they were picking at a wound.

Tears streamed down senior offensive guard Jordan White-Frisbee's face. Limping badly, he required the assistance of tackle Cody Habben and defensive lineman De'Shon Matthews to get off the field. The threesome, arm in arm, wandered into the darkness of the stadium tunnel.

The game was the Huskies to lose. And they found a way to do so for an 11th time this season and 13th time in a row overall.

The short explanation is they couldn't make a field goal. Ryan Perkins missed from 37 yards in the second overtime and from 28 yards in the fourth quarter. Jared Ballman, the long kicker, missed from 40 yards, also in the fourth.

(Read full post)

Oregon-Washington third quarter: Ducks build advantage

August, 31, 2008
8/31/08
12:38
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

EUGENE, Ore. -- From the Autzen Stadium press box:

Remember how I said Oregon should give the ball to RB Jeremiah Johnson more?

Well, who knew that Ducks offensive coordinator Chip Kelly reads this blog?!

Johnson's 13-yard TD run with 10:55 left in the third put the Ducks up more comfortably at 21-10. The run gave Johnson 112 yards -- a career-high -- on 12 carries and his second TD of the evening.

With QB Justin Roper injured, Jeremiah Masoli took over primary QB duties but true freshman Chris Harper also saw spot action, primarily as a runner. Neither got much done after the first drive, though.

Two letters: JJ.

The Huskies also couldn't be terribly happy with punter Jared Ballman, who added a 16-yard punt to the six-yard one he had in the first quarter. Of course, punting from his own endzone, Ballman boomed a 57 yarder that got the Huskies out of a field-position bind. It was feast or famine for him.

The Ducks defense did a nice job of manning up after getting jobbed by a bad pass interference call against CB Walter Thurmond. A Spencer Paysinger sack ended the Huskies penetration into Duck territory.

That set up a 51-yard Jairus Byrd punt return -- which might end up leading to points -- as the third quarter bell rings.

Ranking the Pac-10 punters

July, 21, 2008
7/21/08
7:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Punters are perennially underrated.

Coaches will go on and on about field position and how it's often the critical element in close games. Well, a good punter -- much like a turnover, only without possession -- can in one play change the field position battle.

Seven Pac-10 teams welcome back experienced punters, and a couple of others appear to have talented youngsters with big legs ready to step in.

Oregon State and, perhaps USC, could be the only two teams fretting the position.

On the top end, Arizona (P Keenyn Crier and K Jason Bondzio), UCLA (P Aaron Perez and K Kai Forbath, Oregon (P Josh Syria and K Matt Evensen) and Washington (P Jared Ballman and K Ryan Perkins) likely feel pretty darn secure with their returning specialists.

  1. Keenyn Crier, So, Arizona: Named first-team All-Pac-10 as a freshman after averaging 43.7 yards per boot.
  2. Aaron Perez, Sr., UCLA: 35 punts downed inside 20-yard line makes him an NFL prospect.
  3. Josh Syria, Sr., Oregon: Solid last season but looked even better during the spring.
  4. Jared Ballman, Sr., Washington: He's got a big leg and figures to be more consistent after averaging 40.9 yards per punt in 2007.
  5. Reid Forrest, So., Washington State: Some ugly punting moments for Cougars last year, but Forrest ended up with a respectable 40-yard average.
  6. Thomas Weber, So., Arizona State: Weber likes punting, but his coaches would prefer if someone else would beat out the nation's best kicker.
  7. Greg Woidneck, Sr., USC: He's ranked at the bottom of the Pac-10 two consecutive seasons.
  8. Bryan Anger, RFr., California: He showcased a huge, if inconsistent, foot during spring practices.
  9. David Green, RFr., Stanford: Green, a touted prep All-American recruit in 2006, is a better punter than kicker but he could end up doing both this fall.
  10. Kyle Harper, RFr., Oregon State: Get the feeling things are pretty unsettled here for the Beavers.

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