Pac-12: Josh Ford

Pac-12 practice, scrimmage roundup

March, 18, 2013
3/18/13
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Catching you up on some of the spring action from late Friday and over the weekend.

CALIFORNIA

The quarterback competition continued at Cal with the Bears holding another scrimmage Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The team ran approximately 55 plays, scoring three touchdowns and a field goal in nine possessions. Zach Kline, Jared Goff and Austin Hinder all shared the work, with Kyle Boehm getting one series on offense.

Kline went 5 of 6 for 88 yards with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darius Powe. Goff went 5 of 11 for 90 yards with a 36-yard touchdown to Bryce Treggs. Hinder was 4 of 8 for 54 yards and a rushing touchdown. But coach Sonny Dykes said he hasn't seen any separation yet.

“I don’t think so, not based on what I saw," Dykes said. "We’ll doublecheck our work, but it looked like to me they all did some good things, kind of more of the same. They just keep working harder and getting more comfortable. It seems like every day they’re starting to get a little bit of a better sense of timing and more comfortable with their receivers.”

Treggs, who caught three balls for 39 yards, also weighed in on the competition.

“I see it’s pretty even right now," he said. "All of them are doing a great job. One hasn’t really emerged yet. All of them are doing great, and right now I’m comfortable with any of them if they were to be named the starter.”

COLORADO

The Buffs held their first full scrimmage under new coach Mike MacIntyre on Friday afternoon, running 116 plays (91 from scrimmage, 25 special teams) in about 80 minutes.

Jordan Webb (5 of 11, 98 yards) and Nick Hirschman (4 of 7, 61 yards) had the two lone touchdown passes with Josh Ford (4 carries, 42 yards) scoring the lone touchdown on the ground. Shane Dillon, who worked four drives -- the most of any of the quarterbacks -- was 4 of 9 for 56 yards with an interception.

"Our quarterbacks made some plays,” MacIntyre said. “We have a very quarterback friendly offense. We had a couple of picks, but overall, we made a lot of plays. They played well. [Receivers] D.D. [Goodson] and Gerald [Thomas] made some big plays. Gerald did a good job, he has a lot of talent, he just has to do it every day.”

Colorado will be back at it Tuesday and Thursday before another scrimmage Friday afternoon heading into spring break.

USC

You may have already heard the news that running back Silas Redd will miss the rest of spring practice with a torn meniscus that will require surgery this week. The good news is he's expected to be back for spring ball.

At Saturday's scrimmage, the defensive front impressed Lane Kiffin the most, who told Garry Paskwietz he "couldn't imagine being more pleased" with the progress of the unit as they transition to an odd front.
“I really thought the front seven on the first-unit defense played well,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “Hayes Pullard played great at linebacker while George Uko and Leonard Williams were dominant up front. The defense is really picking things up with the new scheme. I can’t imagine being more pleased.”

Pullard tallied six tackles, one for a loss, and Kenny Bigelow had a pair of sacks.

The quarterback competition continues -- likely without end this spring. And with Max Wittek sidelined with a knee injury, Cody Kessler and Max Browne have been getting in all of the work. Kessler went 13 of 19 for 161 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. Browne went 6 of 9 for 69 yards with a 52-yard touchdown to Darreus Rogers.

Washington

Per the all-knowing Bob Condotta, Cyler Miles and Troy Williams got the bulk of the backup quarterback work behind Keith Price -- who Condotta characterizes as "clearly the No. 1 guy." So those of you hoping for a quarterback controversy, you're out of luck.

Here's what Steve Sarkisian said about the backups:
“I thought Troy Williams had two really good practices here the last two practices for a true freshman from day one and then working his way up to practices five and six, I thought he was impressive. I thought Cyler has flashed at some times. But for all of them, like any young quarterback, is finding the consistency and doing things right consistently at a high level, and that’s where those guys get themselves in trouble so that’s what we will continue to work on."
The Pac-12 features another strong crop of running backs -- seven return after compiling more than 900 yards rushing in 2011 -- but there are also a few teams facing uncertainty at the position.

Evaluations aren't easy here. A number of teams have an A-list leading rusher back but uncertain depth. Others have plenty of experience returning but no proven A-lister. So stars and depth matter here.

A general impression: Running back is strong position in the conference. No team has a sense of desperation here.

So how does it stack up?

Great shape

Stanford: Stepfan Taylor was second-team All-Pac-12 last year after rushing for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns. But the Cardinal also welcomes back its second- and third-leading rushers, Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, as well as Ricky Seale, who was impressive this spring. And, of course, there's a guy called BARRY SANDERS arriving in the fall.

[+] EnlargeJohn White
Chris Morrison/US PresswireJohn White is the Pac-12's leading returning rusher -- and could get help in the Utah backfield.
Utah: John White, also second-team All-Pac-12 in 2011, is the conference's leading returning rusher with 1,519 yards last year. He was mostly a one-man show -- he led the conference in carries -- but that won't be the case this fall. Harvey Langi and Kelvin York, both over 220 pounds, showed they are ready to contribute quality reps this spring.

California: Isi Sofele ranked fifth in the conference with 1,322 yards rushing in 2011, but he'll have to old off a challenge from C.J. Anderson -- 345 yards and eight TDs in 2011 -- to retain his starting job this fall. The depth is strong with Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Darren Ervin.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils have both a star in Cameron Marshall and good depth. Marshall rushed for 1,050 and 18 touchdowns last season. Depth? Kyle Middlebrooks, James Morrison, Deantre Lewis, Marion Grice and incoming freshman D.J. Foster will be battling for touches.

Oregon: The Ducks are difficult to rate. If everything falls into place -- and it's reasonable to believe they will -- Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James' longtime backup, will become a star, spectacular hybrid RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas will make a bunch of big plays in a change-of-pace role and touted incoming freshman Byron Marshall will become the third option. Nonetheless, one injury here would be a major blow.

USC: The Trojans are just like the Ducks: Top-heavy with questionable depth. The underrated Curtis McNeal -- the 1,000-yard rusher averaged 6.9 yards per carry in 2011 -- is back, and so is D.J. Morgan, who rushed for 163 yards last year. If redshirt freshman Javorious "Buck" Allen and incoming freshman Nelson Agholor step up, things should be fine. But depth here is one of the Trojans' few question marks.

Good shape

UCLA: Johnathan Franklin is back, and he's been highly productive -- if fumble-prone -- for a while. Malcolm Jones, who rushed for 103 yards in 2011, is back, and Steven Manfro was a spring standout. While the position isn't spectacular for the Bruins, it's certainly not a chief worry heading into the season.

Arizona: Is promising sophomore Ka'Deem Carey ready to become a star? He rushed for 425 yards last year and looked good this spring. There's also good depth behind him: Daniel Jenkins, Taimi Tutogi, Kylan Butler, Greg Nwoko and Jared Baker.

Washington State: The two leading rushers from 2011, Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston, are back, and they combined for more than 1,000 yards. But sophomore Marcus Mason was with the No. 1 offense during the spring game, and Leon Brooks also is in the mix. Catching the ball well will be almost as important as taking a handoff under new coach Mike Leach.

Washington: Workhorse Chris Polk is gone, but Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey both saw plenty of action in 2011. Might Deontae Cooper get healthy -- finally -- and work his way into the picture? Like a lot of teams, the Huskies have the potential to be fine here. But it's reasonable to expect the running game to take a step back this fall, particularly with issues on the O-line.

We'll see

Oregon State: Everybody is back, but no Beaver rushed for more than 423 yards last year. And, of course, Oregon State was one of the nation's worst rushing teams. The pecking order also didn't seem to completely work itself out, though redshirt freshman Storm Woods had a strong spring.

Colorado: The good news is Tony Jones had a good spring and looks capable of replacing the departed Rodney Stewart. Still, he averaged 3.8 yards per rush in 2011. Josh Ford rushed for 128 yards last season. Depth is a bit uncertain also, with D.D. Goodson and Malcolm Creer, who is coming back from a knee injury.

South division scrimmage roundup

April, 16, 2012
4/16/12
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Catching up on the scrimmages and spring games in the south division.

ARIZONA

The Wildcats quarterbacks combined for six passing touchdowns -- including four from Matt Scott, who completed 22 of 35 passes for 315 yards. Arizona threw 55 times and ran 43 times in addition to working through several different scenarios.

“I shouldn’t expect too much with the first year in the system, but with Matt Scott I’m going to expect a lot,” head coach Rich Rodriguez told the Tucson Citizen. “And I think Matt can deliver.”

Tyler Slavin caught three touchdowns and Richard Morrison caught a pair. Dan Buckner hauled in the sixth.

Safety Marquis Flowers brought in the lone interception of the day and linebacker Jake Fischer matched a team high with six tackles after missing all of 2011 with a knee injury.

The day was marred, however, by another knee injury. Safety Adam Hall tweeted Saturday night that he tore his ACL -- a similar tear to the one he had last spring that kept him out of all but one game in 2011.

ARIZONA STATE

The three-way quarterback competition isn't settled, but head coach Todd Graham said he'd like to see someone take the lead before the end of the spring session, writes Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.

Michael Eubank threw three touchdowns -- a pair to Gary Chambers and a third to Rashad Ross. But he also threw a pair of interceptions.

Haller reports that Taylor Kelly looked effecient, throwing an 11-yard touchdown to tight end Max Smith and Mike Bercovici tossed three touchdowns -- all in the overtime session of the scrimmage.

Defensively, the Sun Devils forced a trio of turnovers and three times stopped the offense on fourth-and-1.

COLORADO

The Buffs ran a 42-play scrimmage with the emphasis on the offense. Head coach Jon Embree said he was happy with the performance of Connor Wood, who completed 7 of 10 passes for 137 yards and touchdowns to Jarrod Darden and Dustin Ebner.

"I thought No. 5 was sharp," Embree said. "He missed a couple of deep balls ... but I thought he played well."

Embree also said that running back Tony Jones separated himself from the rest of the pack and looked solid during the spring session. Jones carried four times for 23 yards on Saturday. Josh Ford, however, stood out with 141 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries -- though Colorado's defensive line has been patchwork.

Embree said that if Colorado wants to reach a bowl game in 2012, they are going to have to rely on some of the players coming in this fall.

"I still think it's achievable, but how far we go towards that goal and how we accomplish it, we're going to lean on some guys coming in," Embree said. "So how quickly -- and I told this to the seniors and the rest of the team -- how quickly you're able to help them assimilate, help them know how to practice, know how to work, will help us get to that goal.

"If you want to look at it as they're the bad guy because they coming here to compete for a job, then we'll all have the same fate -- we'll all be home for Christmas."

USC

The Trojans secondary picked up a pair of interceptions -- one from safety Drew McAllister off of Cody Kessler and the other from cornerback Brian Baucham off of Matt Barkley -- as the defense outshined the offense at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Barkley completed 23 of 39 passes for 212 yards with a touchdown -- a 1-yard pass to Marqise Lee. Kessler (3-of-6, 68 yards) picked up the majority of his passing yards on a 44-yard touchdown to fullback Soma Vainuku.

"It was definitely a learning experience," Kessler told USC's blog.

Linebacker Hayes Pullard and cornerback Anthony Brown each had six tackles, while linebacker Dion Bailey added five stops. Cornerback Isiah Wiley had five deflections to go with his four tackles. There were three sacks (by defensive ends Devon Kennard, Greg Townsend Jr. and Morgan Breslin).

"I think the young linebackers are playing really well," Lane Kiffin told Erik McKinney of WeAreSC. "Like I mentioned, the defensive backs have improved a lot. That was really critical, especially with a new coach back there."

UTAH

Quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 7 of 12 passes for 149 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions as the Utes' offense continues to find its rhythm under new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson.

“Brian wants to take more shots downfield than we have recently and we can do that now because we have the speed in the wideouts to create separation and we have quarterbacks who can throw with accuracy,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Our quarterback situation is the best it has been in years."

Dave Kruger, LT Filiaga and Trevor Reilly all recorded sacks for the defense and Terrell Reese returned an interception for 43 yards to go with a pair of tackles for a loss.

Luke Matthews and Kenneth Scott both had touchdown catches. DeVonte Christopher had two catches, but led the receivers with 70 yards.

Indispensable player: Colorado

July, 8, 2011
7/08/11
6:00
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See your team in your mind's eye -- 24 starters, including specialists.

If you could put an absolute halo of safety -- perhaps a girdle of indestructibility? -- around just one, who would it be?

We're rating each team's most indispensable player. And when the choice is too obvious -- say, Stanford -- we'll try to offer a second choice.

Up next: Colorado

RB Rodney Stewart

You could make an argument that Stewart is as important to the Buffaloes as quarterback Andrew Luck is to Stanford. That might be just a bit extreme, but Stewart was the Buffaloes' offense last fall. He rushed for 1,318 yards, which would have ranked third in the Pac-10 in 2010, and scored a team-high 10 touchdowns. The Buffs' No. 2 rusher, Brian Lockridge, gained 146 yards. How extreme is that difference? It would have been the lowest number for a No. 2 rusher in the conference last fall. Heck, Oregon State's No. 2 rusher behind workhorse Jacquizz Rodgers gained 220 yards, and he was a receiver: Markus Wheaton. Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel was sacked 51 times, but he still managed to rush for 204 yards. Stewart finished with 290 carries. That would have ranked second in the conference -- Oregon's LaMichael James had 294 -- 30 ahead of Washington workhorse Chris Polk and 34 more than Rodgers. He also caught 29 passes for 290 yards, making him the Buffs' No. 4 receiver. Have we mentioned that Stewart is 5-foot-6, 175 pounds? Further, the depth behind Stewart is uncertain. Lockridge, also a senior, is still dealing with an ankle injury and might not be ready by the start of the season. There are high expectations for redshirt freshman Tony Jones after a solid spring, and sophomore Josh Ford also is a possibility. Still, Stewart is the unquestioned engine of the offense. New coach Jon Embree wants to be a run-first, physical team -- he brought back the fullback position -- and if the Buffs are going to be a bowl team in Year 1 of the Pac-12, they will ride Stewart there.

Pac-12 spring superlatives

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
1:30
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Everyone loves "best of" lists. Here's one for the Pac-12 after spring practices concluded.

Best performance by an offense: Noel Mazzone's crew saved its best for last. Arizona State's offense gained 601 yards in the spring game: 446 yards passing and 155 yards rushing. Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler completed 17 of 22 passes for 237 yards and five touchdowns.

Best performance by a defense: Utah's "Red" defense held the "White" offense to 106 total yards in a 7-0 "Red" victory.

Best performance by a defense II: The Oregon "Green" limited the "White" to 164 total yards, including only 63 rushing yards on 31 attempts, in a 16-0 Green win.

Best QB troika: Arizona's three senior quarterbacks -- Nick Foles, Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne -- combined to complete 31 of 42 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns in the Wildcats' spring game. Foles (11-16-133), Scott (11-14-134) and Beirne (8-9-115) found a total of 13 different receivers in 60 plays.

Best QB-TE connection: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and tight end Zach Ertz connected six times for 56 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.

Best "Jake Locker-who?" moment: In Washington's spring game, QB Keith Price completed 20 of 28 passes for 212 yards with three TDs and no INTs, while also rushing for 53 yards and a TD on just five carries.

Best catch: In a scrimmage on April 14, UCLA WR Nelson Rosario made a leaping one-handed catch in the end zone over perfectly-positioned CB Sheldon Price for a 30-yard touchdown.

Best performance by a redshirt freshman tight end: Oregon State's Connor Hamlett had 11 receptions for 153 yards in the spring game.

Best run: In California's spring game, running back Isi Sofele dashed for a 65-yard TD run where he dove into the end zone just outracing safety Vachel Samuels.

Best run II: Oregon RB LaMichael James sprinted for a 67-yard touchdown run on his third and final carry of the spring game.

Best run III: Washington State RB Logwone Mitz broke off a 70-yard run down the left sideline for his first score of the Cougars spring game.

Best crowd: Oregon played its spring game in front of a conference spring game record crowd of 43,468.

Best performance by a walk-on: Colorado's sophomore walk-on running back Josh Ford rushed 17 times for 164 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown in the Buffaloes spring game.

Best performance by a backup QB: While starter Ryan Katz was out with a wrist injury, Cody Vaz cemented his status as the backup with a consistent strong performance all spring.

Best newbies: Arizona got a likely starter at receiver in Texas transfer Dan Buckner. Arizona State's big-armed trued freshman quarterback Mike Bercovici might end up as the Sun Devils backup QB. One of Cal's starting linebackers is likely to be grayshirt freshmen Cecil Whiteside and Chris McCain. Oregon freshman TE Colt Lyerla lived up to his recruiting hype and looks like he'll be in the rotation in 2011. JC transfer defensive end Rusty Fernando is on track to win a starting job at Oregon State. UCLA true freshman QB Brett Hundley is still in the race to start. Utah's three candidates to start at running back are newbies: JC transfer John White, freshman Harvey Langi and walk-on Thretton Palamo. Washington freshman TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins is listed as an "Or" for the starting spot with redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson. Washington State JC transfer Ian Knight finished spring No. 1 at DE.

Most international interest: Speaking of Utah's Thretton Palamo, he's best known as an international rugby star. A first-year sophomore who walked on this spring, he was the youngest player ever at age 19 to play in the Rugby World Cup. He played rugby for the Samoan national team in 2007 (his father captained Samoa’s national team as a teenager) and then switched to the U.S. National Team. He also played professionally for the French team Biarritz Olympique.

Best "you've never heard of me but you will": Colorado DT Conrad Obi had just four tackles last year and has played just 100 snaps in his career, but the 310-pound fifth-year senior was selected as the Buffaloes Most Improved Player this spring. In the three scrimmages, he had 20 tackles (17 solo, six for losses, two sacks), four third-down stops and four tackles for zero yards (so 10 of the 20 were at or behind the line of scrimmage). Oh, and he also forced fumble.

Best "graduate-a-semester-early-from-high-school-enroll-in-the-spring-earn-a-starting-job-by-default": USC fullback Soma Vainuku went from high school to Stanley Havili's replacement the first week of spring practices.

Best buzz, non-football division: Arizona State's "It's Time" campaign created plenty of a national buzz in advance of the April 12 launch of the rebrand, which included a new logo. The Sun Devils joined Oregon as the most fashion-forward Pac-12 team.

Best "Thank you for Starbucks" decision: USC starting all weekday spring practices at 7:25 a.m.

They said it (best quotes of spring)
Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton on QB Andrew Luck:
"He was able to complete 70 percent of his passes last year. Our goal is for him to complete 100 percent of his passes."

California coach Jeff Tedford on falling short of expectations in Berkeley:
"Eight wins is not what they want. And that's because that's where we put the standard. I get that now."

Washington State coach Paul Wulff on turning things around in Pullman:
"As those things start to grow and age -- like a fine wine -- your team is going to start winning football games. I think this team is going to win football games and I think we can compete for a bowl game, without question."

Arizona State receiver Gerell Robinson on the Sun Devils new logo:
"It's different. I like it. It's more aggressive. Sparky had a smile on his face."

USC coach Lane Kiffin on where the Trojans stand:
"There's too many questions. I think it would be a little tough to say this team is better than last year."

Arizona coach Mike Stoops on his receivers:
"I think he gives us the two best outside receivers maybe in the country. Having [Dan] Buckner and [Juron] Criner on opposite sides is going to create problems for people."

UCLA Rick Neuheisel on potentially being fired:
"If it were to happen that they were to replace me, I'm confident I would find another job. It wouldn't be the end of the world. I don't think my kids would starve. But I'm adamantly wanting to be here because this is my school and I believe we're closing in on where we want to go."

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on whether he feels any sentiment for the Mountain West Conference:
"Not really. I'm not a sentimental guy so there's really no emotional ties or anything of that nature. I can say the Mountain West was very good for us. It was a good run."

Colorado coach Jon Embree on what his team needs to do to win:
"We've got to attack. We can't just sit back. I'm an honest person. We are not good enough to just line up and say we're going to beat you. From a talent standpoint, we're not at that elite level yet."

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