Pac-12: Kyle Williams

Arizona-ASU: Present, future at issue

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
7:17
PM ET
On page 13 of Arizona State's weekly release you find the team's depth chart. You don't need to review it now. We'll come back to that in a bit. The immediate business at hand for the Sun Devils is their game Thursday with rival Arizona.

The matchup is meaningful, and not just because it's a rivalry game that divides the state. It's also meaningful because the Sun Devils are still angling for a bowl berth.

While there are already 70 bowl-eligible teams, and Arizona State can't win seven games, the amount required by NCAA rules on bowl eligibility when you play two FCS teams, as the Sun Devils have, they nonetheless have submitted a waiver to the NCAA Legislative Relief Committee for review, and the Pac-10 office is backing that appeal with "emails and phone calls," according to a conference spokesman, Dave Hirsch.

"It is our hope that the waiver receives full consideration," Hirsch wrote in an e-mail. This was first reported by the Arizona Republic.

[+] EnlargeDennis Erickson
Kyle Terada/US PresswireArizona State coach Dennis Erickson only has 13 seniors on his 2010 roster.
So the Territorial Cup may or may not serve as a launching point for the Sun Devils in 2011. For one, they could lose; they are the underdogs in Tucson, where the 'Zona Zoo can be a bit of a problem. And, if they win, it might not be their last game, with the Holiday, Sun or Las Vegas bowls being potential options if the NCAA grants the waiver.

But now let's return to that depth chart. Just two likely starting position players against the Wildcats are seniors: receiver Kerry Taylor and defensive tackle Saia Falahola, who is listed as a co-starter with Bo Moos. In fact, the Sun Devils only have 13 total seniors. The only area in which graduations hits hard is with the specialists: both kicker Thomas Weber and punter Trevor Hankins are seniors.

That youth, coupled with a 5-6 record that includes four defeats by four or fewer points, suggests the Sun Devils could be pretty salty in 2011. As in: Top-25, top-third of the Pac-12 salty.

But, alas, coach Dennis Erickson wouldn't play along with this line of thinking -- Thursday as a potential launching point for promising 2011 campaign -- which is probably wise. He does have a game to get ready for, you know.

"I don't know if you can look at it as that. You've got to look at it as what it is," he said. "We're worried about what is going to happen Thursday, not next year. But when they're young like that, with some of the guys we've got coming back, you look forward to the next year -- when this year is over with."

As for the Wildcats, the present situation is they are headed to a good bowl game, but they'd like to show up at that game without a sign saying "Four-game losing streak!" blinking over their collective heads. A win, and they likely head to the Alamo Bowl. A loss, and they might end up the Holiday Bowl if Washington beats Washington State.

Coach Mike Stoops doesn't beat around the bush when assessing why his team's fortunes have been sagging of late after they played into the nation's top-10 earlier in the season.

"We've played better teams down the stretch, teams that emphasize running the football," he said. "Our inability to stop the run consistently has led a little bit to our demise."

The last three foes -- Stanford, USC and Oregon -- each rushed for more than 200 yards in wins over the Wildcats, including 389 yards on the ground from the Ducks. But the Sun Devils, not unlike the Wildcats, are a passing team. Arizona ranks No. 1 (314 yards passing per game) and the Sun Devils second (288.2 yards per game) in the Pac-10 in passing.

Speaking of passing, both teams have interesting quarterback situations, which will be interesting heading into the offseason and spring practices as well.

When Sun Devils starter Steven Threet suffered a concussion early against UCLA, Brock Osweiler came off the bench and was brilliant, passing for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He'll start Thursday, and if he plays well, expect there to be another tight QB competition in Tempe before the 2011 season.

As for the Wildcats, Nick Foles is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and likely will get preseason All-American attention in 2011. He threw for a career-high 448 yards at Oregon last week. Still, backup Matt Scott did enough in two starts while Foles was hurt to make a big impression on Stoops.

"It will be a conversation for another day how we move forward with both of these players moving into their senior year next year," Stoops said.

In other words, he wants Scott to anticipate playing a role next fall as more than a pure backup.

Last year's game between these two was a defensive-minded thriller, a 20-17 Arizona victory that was heartbreaking for the Sun Devils. ASU receiver Kyle Williams made a spectacular catch in the end zone to tie the game at 17, but just moments later he muffed a punt that set up the Wildcats' game-winning field goal. Afterwards, their was a brief fight at midfield as tempers flared.

Expect another tight one in this underrated rivalry.

"They are much improved football team than they were a year ago," Stoops said. "They are way better offensively. They have an identity."

If Stoops' team prevails, it figures to return to the national rankings -- it's already No. 23 in the BCS standings -- and then play in a quality bowl game against a nationally ranked Big 12 team.

It's not yet certain what a win would mean for the Sun Devils in terms of the postseason. But an upset victory might be viewed this way in the big picture: As a launching point for justifiable optimism heading into 2011.

Arizona State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
10:00
AM ET
Arizona State

2009 overall record: 4-8

2009 conference record: 2-7 (ninth)

Returning starters

Offense: 3, Defense: 4, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners: K Thomas Weber, DT Lawrence Guy, LB Vontaze Burfict, DE James Brooks

Key losses: WR Kyle Williams, WR Chris McGaha, RB Dimitri Nance, OT Shawn Lauvao, DE Dexter Davis, LB Travis Goethel, LB Mike Nixon

2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Dimitri Nance (795)
Passing: Danny Sullivan (1,939)
Receiving: Kyle Williams (815)
Tackles: Mike Nixon (73)
Sacks: Lawrence Guy* (4.5)
Interceptions: Mike Nixon, Jarrell Holman, Ryan McFoy (3)

Spring Answers

1. Help at receiver: Even though the Sun Devils lost their top two receivers, Kyle Williams and Chris McGaha, the position appears fairly solid, particularly with Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad, who would have started for the Ducks in 2009, and JC transfer George Bell performing well this spring.

2. Em-Bolden: Cornerback Omar Bolden looked like the budding star he was supposed to be as a true freshman, but he struggled mightily as a sophomore and then missed 2009 with a knee injury. Entering spring, there were questions about whether he could regain a starting spot. No longer. Bolden may have turned in his best work yet this spring and should be a leader in the secondary.

3. For the defense: The Sun Devils lost seven starters from their outstanding 2009 defense, but they may be even better this fall. There's lots of speed and young players who excelled in 2009, most particularly linebacker Vontaze Burfict, had a year of seasoning in which to mature and refine their game.

Fall questions

1. Who's the QB? Before spring, many expected Michigan transfer Steven Threet to win the job. At the end of spring, sophomore Brock Osweiler instead emerged as the leader. In the fall, Samson Szakacsy rejoins the competition after sitting out spring drills, hopefully with a healthy arm. All three are capable, so there may be a few more plot twists before this one is resolved.

2. What about the O-line (again!)? The Sun Devils were already replacing two starters on the O-line when veteran guard Jon Hargis injured his knee, ending his 2010 season before it began, so there are lots of questions. For instance, will Zach Schlink and Matt Hustad be available? Both are talented but have been riddled with knee problems. And: Are JC transfer Brice Schwab and redshirt freshman Evan Finkenberg ready for Pac-10 play? Both are slated to start at tackle. It doesn't matter who plays QB if the O-line can't get the job done.

3. What about maturity? Sure, there's loads of talent on defense, but look at the sorts of guys who graduated: end Dexter Davis and linebackers Mike Nixon and Travis Goethel. Each were smart, savvy players and strong locker room guys. In other words, leaders. It's unclear who will fill their shoes. Even with those guys, the Sun Devils had over 1,000 yards in penalties last year -- 200 more than any other conference team. Smarter, more disciplined play might make a difference in close games.

Pac-10 lunch links: Have Cougars found a stud on the D-line?

April, 26, 2010
4/26/10
2:30
PM ET
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

In and out: A look top, eligible Pac-10 transfers

February, 25, 2010
2/25/10
10:53
AM ET
Athlon has a nice list of college football transfers who may have a significant impact this fall, including a number who transferred to -- and from -- Pac-10 programs.

Here's our take.

Incoming Pac-10 transfers:

QB Steven Threet, Arizona State (from Michigan) -- Threet finally has found a system that works for him with the Sun Devils after his previous schools -- Georgia Tech and Michigan -- changed coaches and adopted option offenses that didn't fit his skill set. He'll compete with Brock Osweiler for the starting job this spring (Samson Szakacsy will be limited because of a continuing elbow problem).

WR Aaron Pflugrad, Arizona State (from Oregon): Go ahead and pencil in Pflugrad as a starter at a position of need for the Sun Devils, who lost their top-two receivers, Chris McGaha and Kyle Williams.

WR Josh Smith, UCLA (from Colorado): The Bruins have a lot of guys back at receiver, but those guys weren't terribly explosive last year. The hope is that Smith will add some big-play capability.

TE Joseph Fauria, UCLA (from Notre Dame): While the Bruins lost Logan Paulsen and Ryan Moya, Fauria will combine with junior Cory Harkey -- and perhaps hybrid receiver Morrell Presley -- to give the offense plenty of punch at the position.

Outgoing Pac-10 transfers:

QB L.D. Crow, UCF (from Stanford) -- Crow was stuck behind Andrew Luck. 'Nuff said.

QB Chris Harper, Kansas State (from Oregon) -- Harper never seemed comfortable at Oregon and said upon transferring that he wanted to be closer to home. He's a talented athlete but raw as a QB.

RB Raymond Carter, Colorado State (from UCLA) -- Couldn't break through in Bruins' crowded backfield.

RB Aundre Dean, TCU (from UCLA) -- See Carter.

WR Vidal Hazelton, Cincinnati (from USC) -- Big things were expected out of him at USC -- he was the Trojans' leading receiver in 2007 -- but he got hurt early in 2008 and decided to transfer over an apparent conflict with coaches over whether he could redshirt or not. Trojans could have used him in 2009.

DT Kaniela Tuipulotu, Hawaii (from Arizona): He started seven games in 2008 but slid down the depth chart -- injuries were an issue -- and opted to transfer to his home state.

Three Pac-10 players join 'Nation' vs. Texas

January, 21, 2010
1/21/10
12:40
PM ET
Three Pac-10 players are on the "Nation" roster in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game on Feb. 6:
You can see the complete rosters here.

List of NFL combine invitees

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
4:53
PM ET
Here's a list of the Pac-10 players invited to the NFL combine, courtesy of The Sporting News.

First of all, it's incomplete. Underclassmen will be added later, such as USC receiver Damian Williams and UCLA DT Brian Price. And a number of seniors also will get invitations.

My immediate guess is that Washington linebacker Donald Butler and Oregon defensive end Will Tukuafu will end up receiving invitations, among others.

Arizona: DT Earl Mitchell, CB Devin Ross

Arizona State: DE Dexter Davis, LB Travis Goethel, OT Shawn Lauvao, WR Chris McGaha, WR Kyle Williams

California: DE Tyson Alualu, WR Nyan Boateng, CB Syd'Quan Thompson, WR Verran Tucker.

Oregon: RB LeGarrette Blount, TE Ed Dickson, CB Walter Thurmond, S T.J. Ward.

Oregon State: QB Sean Canfield, OLB Keaton Kristick.

Stanford: TE Jim Dray, RB Toby Gerhart, OT Matt Kopa, DE Erik Lorig.

UCLA: OLB Kyle Bosworth, CB Alterraun Verner.

USC: OT Charles Brown, C Jeff Byers, RB Stafon Johnson, S Taylor Mays, TE Anthony McCoy, G Alex Parsons, CB Josh Pinkard, CB Kevin Thomas.

Washington: DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.

Sporting News All-Pac-10 team

December, 17, 2009
12/17/09
2:44
PM ET
Here's The Sporting News' All-Pac-10 team. It's got enough different guys that it's worth taking a look at.

For comparison, here's the Pac-10 blog's All-Pac-10 team. And here's the Pac-10 coaches All-Pac-10 team.

Offensive MVP: Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford

Defensive MVP: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

Coach of the year: Chip Kelly, Oregon

ALL-PAC-10 OFFENSE

QB Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon

RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State

WR James Rodgers, Oregon State

WR Damian Williams, USC

TE Ed Dickson, Oregon

OL Chris Marinelli, Stanford

OL Jeff Byers, USC

OL Kenny Alfred, Washington State

OL David DeCastro, Stanford

OL Charles Brown, USC

K Kai Forbath, UCLA

KR Chris Owusu, Stanford

ALL-PAC-10 DEFENSE

DE Ricky Elmore, Arizona

DT Brian Price, UCLA

DT Earl Mitchell, Arizona

DE Everson Griffen, USC

LB Mike Mohamed, California

LB Mason Foster, Washington

LB Mike Nixon, Arizona State

CB Syd'Quan Thompson, California

CB Trevin Wade, Arizona

S Taylor Mays, USC

S Rahim Moore, UCLA

P Trevor Hankins, Arizona State

PR Kyle Williams, Arizona State

Arizona State season recap

December, 9, 2009
12/09/09
5:24
PM ET
Arizona State was a lopsided team this year -- good defense, bad offense. And the good wasn't good enough to cover for the bad.

The Sun Devils ranked first or second in the conference in just about every defensive category, while they ranked eighth or worse in just about every offensive category.

Senior quarterback Danny Sullivan fought hard to make things work, but there wasn't enough talent around him to make up for his shortcomings. ASU was a play or two away from winning much of the year, see four losses by five or fewer points.

The end-result was a season ruined for a second year in a row by a six-game losing streak, not to mention a second-consecutive losing season for the program for the first time since 1946-47.

That landed coach Dennis Erickson on the hot seat by season's end, which is probably the reason he fired longtime coaching pal Rich Olson, the beleaguered offensive coordinator.

Offensive MVP -- Receiver Kyle Williams.

Williams caught 57 passes for 815 yards with eight touchdowns. His 48 points led the Sun Devils.

Defensive MVP --Linebacker Mike Nixon.

Nixon not only was the leading tackler for the stout Sun Devils defense, he also was a mature, stabilizing leader on a unit that sometimes showed too much youthful energy (hello, Vontaze Burfict). Nixon finished with 73 tackles. He also had six tackles for a loss, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick.

Turning point -- Arizona State was fighting all season to find its rhythm, but the game that seemed to ensure it wouldn't be found was the 23-21 loss to California on a last-second field goal on Oct. 31. That was the second and most heartbreaking loss of a six-game losing streak to end the season -- at least until the finale vs. Arizona.

What's next -- The Sun Devils need to get better on offense -- duh -- and that starts on the offensive line and then moves on to what figures to be a spirited quarterback competition this spring between Brock Osweiler, Samson Szakacsy and Michigan transfer Steven Threet, who may be the frontrunner. Erickson figures to start next season on the hot seat, so the Sun Devils may need to get to a bowl game to keep him secure.

Pac-10 helmet stickers, Week 13

November, 29, 2009
11/29/09
10:06
AM ET
Who stood out in week 13?

Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: Toby Heisman ran for 205 yards on 29 carries with three touchdowns in the Cardinal's 45-38 win over Notre Dame. He also threw an 18-yard touchdown pass and caught a pass for 33 yards. He ranks second in the nation in rushing with 144.67 yards per game and his 26 rushing touchdowns leads the nation -- only one other player has more than 20. And he's piled up his numbers against probably the toughest schedule of all the major candidates.

Danny Sullivan, QB, Arizona State: Not every college player gets his fairytale ending. But, Danny, would you settle for respect? The maligned Sullivan, in his final college game, came off the bench and led an impressive Sun Devils comeback from a a 14-0 deficit against Arizona, tying the score at 17 with 2:02 remaining on a beautiful fourth-and-12 pass from the Wildcats 14-yard line to a diving Kyle Williams. Sullivan completed 14 of 28 passes for 168 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. And, even though Arizona State ended up a 20-17 loser, Sullivan should walk away feeling redeemed.

Washington's defense: Quarterback Jake Locker was his spectacular self, but the Huskies defense deserves credit for pitching the first Apple Cup shutout in 45 years. The Huskies yielded just 163 total yards to Washington State in their 30-0 victory.

Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Smith not only returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown in the Trojans 28-7 win over rival UCLA, he also recorded a game-high 15 tackles -- the next highest for either team was nine -- with 1.5 tackles for a loss. Guess the shoulder is feeling better.

Heartbreak for Williams, Arizona State

November, 28, 2009
11/28/09
7:17
PM ET
Senior Kyle Williams transformed from hero to goat for Arizona State in what might be the most excruciating second of his life.

Williams, just over a minute after hauling in a diving touchdown reception that tied the Sun Devils with arch-rival Arizona late in the fourth quarter, muffed a fair catch on a punt, which set up the Wildcats game-winning field goal.

Arizona won 20-17 on a 32-yard chip shot from Alex Zendejas as time expired, but even the last-second finish failed to encompass the emotions of this one.

Start with Williams, who caught nine passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. For much of the day, he was the best player on the field.

Then there's maligned ASU senior quarterback Danny Sullivan, who came off the bench and completed 14 of 28 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He and Williams did nearly all their damage in the second half, when Arizona State charged back from a 14-0 halftime deficit.

After the Sun Devils tied the score with 2:09 left, they forced Arizona to go three and out. All the momentum was in their favor with just over a minute remaining.

On the ensuing punt, Williams signaled for a fair catch. He could have let the ball hit the ground. But he tried to catch it in the face of charging tacklers. The ball tipped off his fingers and was recovered on the first bounce by reserve cornerback Mike Turner on the Sun Devils 22-yard line.

The Wildcats ran three plays. And then kicked the field goal.

Williams was inconsolable. Bet there are even a few Wildcats fans who can feel for the guy.

And Sullivan was denied a chance at redemption. He's been booed and benched and doubted, yet he nearly created magic in the last football game of his career.

Nearly.

It's been a tough year in Tempe.

Arizona State, which finishes 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Pac-10, dominated the second half. But it lost.

Arizona improves to 7-4 and 5-3. The Wildcats can finished tied for second in the conference if they win at USC next weekend.

Arizona State closes gap to 14-10

November, 28, 2009
11/28/09
6:12
PM ET
A 96-yard touchdown drive for Arizona State has changed the feeling of this game.

Arizona State's maligned senior quarterback, Danny Sullivan, tossed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Williams to close the gap with Arizona to 14-10 with just under 12 minutes left.

It might have been the Sun Devils' best drive of the season.

Arizona has been sort of sitting back, apparently thinking the Sun Devils didn't have a comeback in them.

It appears the Wildcats were wrong.

So will Nick Foles and company answer?

Szakacsy bounces back for ASU after slow start

November, 21, 2009
11/21/09
5:13
PM ET
The early return on Samson Szakacsy as Arizona State's starting quarterback: He's mentally tough.

His second pass against UCLA went for a 68-yard pick-six to Alterraun Verner and he was sacked by Brian Price during a three-and-out possession on his second go-round.

But, instead of wilting on the road, the sophomore then led an 80-yard touchdown drive -- with an assist from tailback Dimitri Nance -- which he capped with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Williams.

Still, the Bruins finally got their offense on track with a 73-yard field goal drive and they lead the Sun Devils 10-7 in a huge game for both teams' bowl hopes.

Halftime: Cal 17, Arizona State 14

October, 31, 2009
10/31/09
5:21
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

California can't feel too good about being up only 17-14 over Arizona State at the break.

The Bears have piled up 218 yards and 15 first downs but have allowed the Sun Devils to hang around because of two mistakes.

The Sun Devils' first touchdown drive went just 3 yards after a Kevin Riley fumble, his second in Bears territory in the half. Their second went 80 yards on one play, a bomb from Danny Sullivan to a wide-open Kyle Williams.

Other than that, Arizona State had 92 yards in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Bears had a pair of 67-yard TD drives, which both ended with Riley touchdown passes.

Riley, despite the fumbles, continues to look sharp passing since his bad efforts vs. Oregon and USC. He's 15-of-23 for 182 yards at the half.

By the way, both Riley fumbles came on sacks by defensive tackle Lawrence Guy. Here's some advice to Cal: Block Guy.

Four first-half turnovers -- two apiece.

Will there be a mistake imbalance in the second half? It seems like Cal could take care of business if it gets out of its own way.

Pac-10 lunch links: Cal LB promises win at UCLA

October, 14, 2009
10/14/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Have you ever really thought about Santa Claus? The guy's in a big red suit flying around on reindeer because he craves the spotlight. He's a fame junkie. Guy's a clown! He's a megalomaniac. It's all a big show. He presents himself like, "Hey, I live to give gifts, look at me I'm so nice." He's getting paid. He's got a whole thing happening on the backside. Do you know they sell more of those little Santa statues and those Christmas trinkets than they do of the Buddha? Don't be a cheerleader for Santa Claus. Think about it. Watch the angles. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. You're better than that.
  • Arizona quarterback Nick Foles said the Wildcats won't be broken by their heartbreaking loss at Washington.
  • Arizona State's Kyle Williams has the numbers but he's more into wins.
  • California linebacker Mychal Kendricks hasn't lost his confidence as his Bears prepare for UCLA: "We can't lose again, and I don't think we will, either. Actually, I know we're not. ... We're going to win this week." The Bears are busing it to UCLA.
  • Looking backward and forward for Oregon.
  • An Oregon State freshman receiver got hurt at practice, and apparently our story about senior quarterback Lyle Moevao's long shot possibility to get another year of eligibility due to injury hardship provoked an unnecessary commotion. Sorry.
  • This Stanford quarterback is hoping to give Arizona more bad Luck. Or is that good Luck? The Cardinal may make some lineup changes before playing the Wildcats.
  • UCLA prepares to face Cal's Jahvid Best, but will linebacker Reggie Carter be ready to help?
  • USC has a new backup quarterback behind Matt Barkley and Aaron Corp isn't happy about being No. 3.
  • Washington is grinning at midseason, which is a big change. Interesting numbers from Bob Condotta: "Few really expected UW to be even [3-3] now and, frankly, the stats don't really support it. Washington ranks 106th in the nation in total defense, 74th in total offense and has been outgained in the past five games an average of 437 to 334 yards."
  • Keeping track of the injuries during Washington State's bye week.
  • Two respected columnists aren't happy with Pac-10 officiating -- first Bud Withers and then Jon Wilner.

Pac-10 players of the week

October, 12, 2009
10/12/09
3:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


No surprises with this week's Pac-10 players of the week.

Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, Washington linebacker Mason Foster and Oregon kick returner Kenjon Barner earned honors from the conference office Monday.

Rodgers, a sophomore, rushed 33 times for a career-high 189 yards (5.7 average) and four touchdowns in Oregon State’s 38-28 win against Stanford. He also had five receptions for 82 yards (16.4) to account for 271 all-purpose yards. The four rushing touchdowns tied the Oregon State single-game record. Rodgers’ brother, receiver James, was named offensive player of the week last week after the Beavers' win over Arizona State.

Foster, a junior, keyed the defense in the Huskies’ 36-33 win against Arizona. Most notably, he scored the game-winning touchdown on a 37-yard interception return off a deflected pass. He also posted a game-high 11 tackles, nine solo, including one tackle for loss.

Barner, a freshman, sparked Oregon in the Ducks’ 24-10 win at UCLA. With Oregon trailing 3-0, he returned the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards for a touchdown, and the Ducks never trailed again.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were wide receiver Kyle Williams of Arizona State, running back LaMichael James of Oregon and quarterbacks Jake Locker of Washington and Nick Foles of Arizona. Also nominated on defense were ends Lawrence Guy of Arizona State and Kenny Rowe of Oregon, safety Cameron Collins of Oregon State and linebacker Akeem Ayers of UCLA. Also nominated for special teams play were punters/kickers Johnny Hekker of Oregon State, Alex Zendejas of Arizona and Jeff Locke of UCLA.

SPONSORED HEADLINES