Pac-12: Michael Willis
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The tenth of 10 quick updates on offseason Pac-10 goings on.
Washington State in a sentence
- Washington State will be the consensus pick to finish last in the Pac-10, but hope lies in players developing a comfort level with coach Paul Wulff's systems and young talent stepping up.
The big issue
- The Cougars ranked last in the conference in scoring offense and scoring defense, so there are a lot of issues. But if one were to be tapped it would be rushing defense. The Cougs ranked last in the nation -- 119th -- against the run last fall, and just two members of the front seven are back.
Quick hit news
- Five players won't return, including 2008 starting cornerback Romeo Pellum. Also gone are receivers Michael Willis and Michael Vandenkolk and corners Kevin Frank and Devin Giles.
- It received a lot of local publicity and inspired suggestions that Wulff was running a loose ship, but no charges were filed against defensive backs Leandre Daniels and Tyree Toomer in connection with an alleged theft of four bicycles on June 9. Turned out the bikes in question had been abandoned. Just like the players originally claimed.
- WSU had a long list of injured players during spring practices. The tentative, early report is generally positive, with most expected to be available by the season opener vs. Stanford on Sept. 5, if not the start of camp on Aug. 9. Linebacker Louis Bland, who's coming back from knee surgery, probably is the most worrisome. He'll be limited at the start of camp and may not be ready for Stanford.
- Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael is listed as an "OR" on the depth chart with Kevin Lopina. Lobbestael also is coming back from knee surgery but he's expected to be fully engaged in the quarterback competition.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
I never knew that you liked Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain.
- Washington State is banged up, but Cougar quarterbacks connected with eight different receivers and completed 17 of 26 passes for 220 yards in a scrimmage over the weekend. Also on that link is an interesting interview with WSU AD Jim Sterk talking about the proposed move of the Apple Cup to Seattle's Qwest Field. Some Cougar notes, including items on the suspensions of cornerback Romeo Pellum (team rules violation) and receiver Michael Willis (DUI charges).
- California running back Jahvid Best's budding good health bodes well for his budding Heisman Trophy candidacy. And what about Jacquizz Rodgers and the Heisman?
- Oregon's first spring scrimmage gets a gentleman's C. JC transfer Terrance Montgomery, however, led a fairly strong performance by the defensive line.
- Eight touchdown passes -- EIGHT! -- highlighted Oregon State's first scrimmage on Friday night, with Sean Canfield contributing four. There's enough linebacker to go around for Oregon State to share.
- UCLA's offense sputtered on Friday, but defensive tackle Brian Price looked good. Quarterback Kevin Prince wasn't happy with how he played.
- Updating Washington's depth chart.
- Ranking the Pac-10's defensive tackles.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
It's a little-known fact that links are a good source of Vitamin C.
- Arizona might have found its next Antoine Cason in a Golden freshman cornerback, say Greg Hansen and John Moredich. Up front, the pressure is on players like end Ricky Elmore to help the Wildcats inexperienced defense hold its own.
- Arizona State WR Mike Jones hit .184 in the Yankees farm system this summer, so he's obviously saved some juice as he tries to improve on his 10 TD receptions from a year ago. It's never good when your starting tailback is having shoulder issues before full-contact starts. On the other side of the ball, the primary concern is the interior defensive line, where some young guys might see action. Dan Zeiger's notebook also included this about freshmen who could see action:
"Conventional wisdom is that three true freshmen -- Bass, receiver Gerell Robinson and defensive lineman Lawrence Guy -- are expected to play this season. But a number of others are getting every chance to make an impression. Such newcomers as linebackers Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee and offensive linemen Zach Schlink and Patrick Jamison have received practice action with the second team.
- California's new 3-4 defense has been installed. Now it's a matter of figuring out who plays where, with key battles at the fourth LB spot and at nose guard. Two critical things in Jonathan Okanes' practice report: 1. TB Jahvid Best appears completely healthy; 2. Both QBs, Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley, are playing well, with Longshore even showing some mobility. And Rusty Simmons agrees, noting Best might return both punts and kickoffs. Of course, the QB debate hasn't abated in the blogdom.
- If Oregon receiver Jaison Williams has cured his dropsies, then he's going to the best receiver in the Pac-10 and the NFL will raise more than an eyebrow. That's a big IF, though. Speaking of "Ifs" at WR, the Ducks need Jamere Holland to get healthy and learn his plays. Here's a report on the helmet decal tribute to Todd Doxey, who drowned this summer.
- Oregon State's Rodgers brothers might be a problem for the rest of the Pac-10 for years to come. Here's a good story about a young man who found himself and now may help answer questions on the Beavers offensive line.
- The Bootleg talks to a few key Stanford freshmen. If I were a Stanford football fan, I'd subscribe to this Web site -- by far the best source for Stanford football and recruiting information.
- UCLA will vary its snap count this year (it always went on "one" in 2007). So hut... hut... hut--hut... HUT! And when they finally go, the ball will be better spread around under offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
- Brian Dohn also gives UCLA's pecking order in the secondary: "First team
Michael Norris and Alterraun Verner are the cornerbacks, Aaron Ware and Rahim Moore are the safeties. Second team Courtney Viney and Aaron Hester are the cornerbacks and Bret Lockett (suspended for first game) and Glenn Love are the safeties." By the way, that's true freshman Rahim Moore.
- This second item might worry USC fans just a little: OG Jeff Byers is sitting out with an enlarged spleen. And back injuries are starting to hamper the Trojans backup LBs. The important thing here isn't that frosh TE Blake Ayles is getting rock by an overzealous DB, it's that he's already running with the 1s and 2s.
- Bob Condotta looks at Washington's young defensive line. He also includes an item in his blog's practice report about a former player taking issue with coach Tyrone Willingham. Molly Yanity leads her notes with a quick hit on QB Jake Locker's conditioning -- it's good. That's good, because Locker told Don Ruiz he wants to complete 65 percent of his passes this season, which is considerably higher than his 47-percent rate in 2007.
- Washington State needs WR Michael Willis to step up, particularly after Daniel Blackledge suffered a hamstring injury. Willis brought his mom to town for support. And a Coug practice report.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
In January of 2008, the Seattle Times published a series, "Victory and Ruins," about Washington's 2000 Rose Bowl team, portraying it as a lawless group of renegades. The Times summarized the series:
The 2000 Huskies, winners of the Rose Bowl, stand as the UW's last great team. But an unprecedented look behind the scenes reveals an unsettling level of criminal conduct that was often excused or overlooked. Mistakes made then still haunt a program trying to rebuild.
The story had a national impact and inspired a wide-range of reactions, including my own.
This week, writer and ardent Huskies fan Derek Johnson published on his blog responses from a long list of players on the 2000 team. You probably wouldn't be surprised that most are angry (and a few include adult language).
If you followed the Times' series, it makes for an interesting read.
- A couple of things that I didn't include in my story on WSU receiver Brandon Gibson... He thinks backup quarterback Kevin Lopina is no slouch behind starter Gary Rogers: "I think Kevin Lopina has pushed Gary to play well." Wonder if Lopina might make a competition out of this? And Gibson gave me a list of players he thinks will break through in 2008: safety Myron Beck, receivers Daniel Blackledge and Michael Willis and defensive end Kevin Kooyman. He also talked about NFL buzz for center Kenny Alfred.
- University of Arizona school paper looks at the Wildcats summer chemistry experiment. Also includes this about a pair of hyped recruits: "Among the impressive freshmen are cornerback Robert Golden and wide receiver David Douglas." Believe the hype? The Wildcats sure could use a good corner.
- Wait... Tennessee visits UCLA and there's a NASCAR race that weekend? Near LA? What are the odds? Bet that sounds like a little slice of heaven for Vols fans -- a race on Sunday and a visit to the Rose Bowl on Monday (one that I'm guessing will be fairly successful). Link includes a ticket deal for both events.
- Arizona State AD Lisa Love gets some Love from the ASU student paper.
- Oregon lost the Helmet Clash to Texas A&M. That's got to hurt.
- It appears that Carson Palmer is having some post-quip regret after tweaking Ohio State.
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