Pac-12: Mike Cavanaugh
- Some more on Matt Scott being invited to the NFL Combine.
- Former Sun Devil LeQuan Lewis signs with the Bears.
- Is Cal going to ditch the white helmets?
- Colorado signed a bunch of smart guys.
- Fishduck breaks down how Oregon's zone blitz stymied Kansas State.
- Oregon State offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh turns down USC for the same position.
- Some more on the return of Tyler Gaffney.
- Priest Willis made his commitment to UCLA official over the weekend.
- USC's recruiting class finishes third in the conference in consensus rankings.
- Dennis Erickson might bring some offensive consistency to the Utes.
- A look at Washington's in-state recruiting.
- The Cougars put together a very underrated recruiting class.
- Athlon Sports ranks the best football-basketball coaching duos in the league.
Don't be surprised if ... Beavers offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf becomes a hot head-coaching candidate when new starting quarterback Ryan Katz posts surprisingly strong numbers this fall.
If the above line is giving you a sense of deja vu, it should. We wrote the same thing about Sonny Dykes last year, and Arizona's offensive coordinator was hired this past offseason as Louisiana Tech's head coach.
Langsdorf, who doubles as the Beavers' quarterbacks coach, will be a head coach within the next two years -- at least he should be -- and if Katz puts up impressive numbers as a first-year starter, a sharp AD somewhere will snatch him away from what many feel is the Pac-10's best collection of assistant coaches before the 2011 season.
Why? In his six seasons as offensive coordinator, the Beavers have posted five of their top-nine all-time seasons of total offense.
Remember the early careers of quarterbacks Matt Moore, Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao? One word: Yucky. Remember their late careers? Two words: Dramatic transformation. Canfield earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 and joined Moore in the NFL.
The fly sweep with James Rodgers and the "Wild Beaver" formation with Jacquizz Rodgers lining up at quarterback? Those innovations were executed by Langsdorf, who took over play-calling duties from head coach Mike Riley midway through the 2008 season.
Langsdorf is young enough -- 38 -- to be young and old enough to be experienced (14 years coaching, with three years in the NFL and CFL). Character? In 2007, he donated a kidney to Laurie Cavanaugh, the wife of Beavers offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh.
And, really, isn't it time that Riley developed a coaching tree? Is there any college coach who is a better role model for the best way to be?
Langsdorf learned to evaluate talent from Riley, who's built a top-25 program and NFL pipeline without ever ranking in the top 25 in recruiting. He's learned how to gather and cultivate a loyal, accomplished staff from Riley. He's learned how to win under less-than-ideal circumstances from Riley. He's learned how to conduct himself with class from Riley.
He also probably learned a bit from his father, Ed Langsdorf, who coached at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., Danny Langsdorf's alma mater, for 20 years before becoming a scout for the San Diego Chargers.
No assistant coach is a sure thing when he makes the leap to head coach. But Langsdorf feels pretty close to it, particularly in the right circumstances.
If Oregon State surges this year on offense, and Katz stands out as another Langsdorf pupil, it's hard to imagine Langsdorf won't raise more than a few eyebrows among ADs looking for a go-getter to jump-start their program.
2009 overall record: 8-5
2009 conference record: 6-3 (tied for second)
Offense: 8, Defense: 7, punter/kicker: 2
Top returners: RB Jacquizz Rodgers, WR James Rodgers, C Alex Linnenkohl, DT Stephen Paea, DE Gabe Miller, LB Dwight Roberson, CB James Dockery
Key losses: QB Sean Canfield, LB Keaton Kristick, LB David Pa'aluhi, DE Matt LaGrone
2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)
Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers* (1,440)
Passing: Sean Canfield (3,271)
Receiving: James Rodgers* (1,034)
Tackles: Keaton Kristick (95)
Sacks: Stephen Paea*, Gabe Miller* (3)
Interceptions: Lance Mitchell* (3)
1. Cool Katz: Sophomore Ryan Katz entered the spring as the favorite to win the quarterback job and he didn't disappoint. He has a big arm and good mobility. All he is missing is experience. He'll enter fall camp as the clear leader, while Peter Lalich and Cody Vaz compete for the backup job.
2. There are plenty of offensive weapons: Everything starts with the Rodgers brothers, running back Jacquizz and receiver James, but it doesn't end there. Receivers Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop and tight end/H-Back Joe Halahuni will give Katz plenty of options when he distributes the football.
3. Solid in the secondary: The Beavers will be experienced -- not to mention big -- in the secondary, with three starters back from 2009 and all four first-teamers measuring over 6-feet. James Dockery and 6-foot-2, 219-pound Brandon Hardin are the corners, while Lance Mitchell, 230-pound Cameron Collins and Suaesi Tuimaunei have combined for 29 starts at safety.
1. Front seven issues: Taylor Henry stepped up at defensive end after Matt LaGrone quit the team, but what's unclear is if he can hold off touted JC transfer Dominic Glover as the starter. Things also are fluid at linebacker. Will Keith Pankey be 100 percent by fall camp after missing spring with a torn Achilles tendon? Will Tony Wilson or Rueben Robinson step in at middle linebacker?
2. How will the offensive line shake out? Starters Grant Johnson and Michael Philipp missed spring with injuries, which forced line coach Mike Cavanaugh to do some mixing and matching. The good news was the re-emergence of tackle Wilder McAndrews, who almost quit due to persistent wrist problem. It's possible that McAndrews could take over at left tackle and Philipp could move inside to guard. Then Johnson and Burke Ellis could compete at the other guard.
3. Who is Katz’s backup? The story of spring might have been Katz's impressive effort, but Vaz also deserves note. His rise is more about how well he played than Lalich not producing. Considering how often a backup quarterback is needed, this will be an interesting competition to follow during fall camp.
That's due in large part to the maturation of fifth-year senior Sean Canfield, who may be the front-runner to become first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback.
And a lot of credit for Canfield's and the offense's success is due to Beavers coordinator Danny Langsdorf, who took over play-calling duties mid-way through last season from head coach Mike Riley.
The "Wild Beaver" formation with running back Jacquizz Rodgers adding throwing to his already substantial running and receiving repertoire? That's Langsdorf, who is a rising star on one of the best coaching staffs in the Pac-10.
How tight is that group? Well, Langsdorf, in 2007, donated a kidney to Laurie Cavanaugh, offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh's wife.
Seeing that the Beavers, who play host to Washington on Saturday, are riding their typical late-season surge toward the top-half of the conference -- and are still in the Rose Bowl race -- it seemed like a good time to check in.
Give me a general assessment of the offense -- what's going well right now and what concerns you?
Danny Langsdorf: We've been pretty balanced. We've been able to run the ball and off of that our play-action has opened up. Occasionally, we'll hit a flier or reverse that is important to our run game -- it has a little bit of deception to it. Anytime you can run the ball and have some things off of it, you are able to open up a lot of different stuff. I would say we didn't run the ball great last week [against California] and had to do some things in the passing game to make up for it. That was a bit of a concern. If we can get back to running the ball successfully, it really helps us out a ton.
You're the quarterbacks coach: Canfield is playing as well as any quarterback in the conference. For you, what was his breakthrough moment?
DL: That's a good question. I think it dates back to last year. He was coming back from [shoulder] surgery and it was hard to tell how he felt. About midseason last year, [then-starting quarterback Lyle Moevao] goes down against Arizona State and [Canfield] goes in at a point where we were pretty sure he was ready to go but he hadn't really taken any meaningful snaps. So he goes in early in the game against Arizona State and ended up winning the game for us and playing pretty well. I think from that point on he really had some confidence. I think he had some trust from our team. He goes and wins [two] in a row after that. I think with that Arizona State game, after that he kind of turned the corner. I think that gave him great confidence going into the spring and starting off the season.
Then there's the unfortunate side of that coin. Former starting quarterback Lyle Moevao has had a tough senior year for a variety of reasons, most particularly injuries. How have you handled him and how is he doing?
DL: He's obviously very disappointed. I think the only thing I was able to share with him was I went through the same thing my senior year in college [Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.], I got hurt and didn't get to play much. So I had been there before and know what he's going through. I think just being able to be there for him in that sense. And, obviously, he did so much good stuff for our team, so many great things last year. To have his season end the way it did -- to not even get started, really -- is really a shame. But I think because of his character, he's such a great guy, that he's been a very good leader for our guys and vocal. He's been a real help to our team, even through his injuries. He's such a positive person you can't help but like being around him. He continues to be a leader for us.
Do you sometimes feel like a mad scientist trying to figure out ways to get the Rodgers brothers the ball?
DL: It's been fun. They are so much fun to try to move around to different formations. They are so talented. We've started throwing a little bit with Quizz and doing some things that are pretty fun for the guys. They're exciting to watch. As long as they are working, it's all good. I think there is some challenge to create different wrinkles off of what has been successful. You can't overdo it and get away from some things you need to be good at. But at the same time, it sure adds some spice to the offense and I think the players have fun with it.
I saw you guys in August and thought you might struggle on the offensive line. You did for a bit, but not it seems like those guys are playing well. What happened?
DL: I think they came together as a group. We did struggle early on and part of it was getting beat one-on-one. I think that helping the guys with our backs and tightends and then the quarterback getting rid of the ball faster has all been helpful to our protection schemes. It takes a little bit of time for a front-five to come together as a group. I think we've changed a little bit in our protection to help them out also. We're throwing the ball a little faster, not as many deep, drop-back throws. I think all of that has helped us.
Before you started calling the plays the middle of last year, how did you and Mike Riley split up responsibilities before that?
DL: We still work very closely with the game plan. I think, through our discussions and film study, we put a plan in place. I think his time commitments made it hard to be prepared to call a game. I wouldn't say we've changed a whole lot. Obviously the play-caller is different. But our plans are put together with a lot of hours discussing it. We've created a plan where both of us are on the same page. He'll throw his two cents in and I'll obviously listen and take the suggestions. It's been pretty good. It's been a pretty smooth transition. I don't think people would notice that much is difference even though the play-caller has changed.
I have had a couple of coaches tell me some things are a little different -- how are things different with you calling the game?
DL: That's a good question. I guess we're, lately, a little bit more empty, emptying the backfield out a little more, releasing the tailback. Part of that was a commitment to making Quizz a little bit more of a receiving threat than just a runner. That's shown up. I don't know how many catches he has , but he's got a bunch. That's really helped us because it's added another real threat in the passing game. I think that is probably a little bit of an evolution that we've gotten to. I wouldn't say the run plan is different. I'm trying to think about how you'd notice -- our "Wild Beaver" stuff is a little bit different. Other than that, we've been running stuff that we've been doing for a long time. We're trying to create some wrinkles off of it and expand and evolve, but our base stuff is pretty much the same as it's been.
Obviously there's a lot to play for this year, but you've got a lot of guys coming back in 2010. That said, you've got to find a new quarterback. How will that stack up?
DL: That will be a very important spot to fill. We've had experienced leaders at that position for a couple of years now. Anytime you break in a new one, it can be scary. We've got some young kids [redshirt freshman Ryan Katz and junior Peter Lalich] who we are really excited about, but you can't simulate live competition very well in practice. There are always growing pains with a youngster. But we do have some talent at that position. It think if we can help him out with some veteran guys to surround him we'll be OK there.
Mike Riley is a prince of a guy with the media. Does he have a dark side that we are missing? Does he secretly have a horrible mean side behind closed doors?
DL: Oh, he's awfully mean to me [laughs]. What you see is what you get with him. That's the beauty of it. There's no hidden agendas. There's no false pretense with him. You watch him on TV or on the sidelines and he's smiling. It's the same stuff he's saying to me on the phones. We'll be in the middle of an important part of a game and he'll say something like, 'Man, isn't this fun!' He says stuff that you don't think a guy would say at a time like that. That's just how he is. He's relaxed and poised. He's pretty good to work for that way. He doesn't undress you and swear at you. He talks to you. He encourages you. And he'll get mad. But you don't see it very often.
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme.
- Arizona is worried about the Wild Bear.
- Will freshman quarterback Brock Osweiler bring Arizona State fans change they can believe in?
- California running back Jahvid Best makes an appearance on campus.
- It's unclear how LeGarrette Blount will fit in for Oregon, but he will fit in somehow.
- Oregon State is better in large part because its O-line is better, but that's not a surprise because Mike Cavanaugh is a heck of a coach.
- Nice story here recalling Stanford's upset of USC in 2007.
- UCLA is being cautious with quarterback Kevin Prince, who suffered a concussion against Washington. Pullman might be a little nippy for the Bruins.
- USC offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates says blame him, not quarterback Matt Barkley. The Trojans' defense has struggled. Tackle Jurrell Casey has not.
- Receiver Jermaine Kearse has emerged for Washington.
- The revolving door at quarterback -- it appears that freshman Jeff Tuel won't play against UCLA because of a knee injury -- makes it hard for Washington State to refine its passing attack.
- Chris Dufresne looks at how the BCS bowl picks might go, and he thinks USC could end up in the Sugar opposite Alabama. Laissez le bon temps rouler!
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Seventh in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-10 teams, starting at the bottom and working up from my vote in the Pac-10 media poll.
Up next: Oregon State
After dispatching Portland State, Oregon State begins preparations for a visit to UNLV.
Following indifferent practices early in the week, coach Mike Riley and coordinators Mark Banker and Danny Langsdorf nearly break down in tears trying to explain to their players that the Rebels are a very dangerous team.
The Beavers don't listen. They trail by five with less than a minute left with the ball on their 28. No time outs.
But just when it looks like the Beavers are going to commit another early-season braincramp, James Rodgers, on third-and-10, takes a screen pass from Sean Canfield and zigzags 185 yards -- it only counts for 72 in the official books -- for the game-winning score.
"Golly," Riley says. "Whew."
The Beavers return to Reser Stadium the next weekend knowing they dodged a cream-pie-in-the-face, and tear apart a rebuilding Cincinnati defense in a 45-20 win. Jacquizz Rodgers rushes for 186 yards and Canfield throws two touchdown passes to James Rodgers and a third Darrell Catchings.
"I think that Rodgers kid should be a Heisman Trophy candidate," Bearcats coach Brian Kelly said.
Which one? "The short one," Kelly replied.
The Beavers outlast Arizona in overtime, nip Arizona State 28-27 when Sun Devils kicker Thomas Weber misses a 55-yard field goal for the upset and overcome 155 yards rushing from Stanford running back Toby Gerhart in a 30-24 victory.
"We're learning to win the close ones," said Riley, who's 12th-ranked team heads to No. 10 USC amid considerable hype focused on the Beavers massive upset in 2008.
The Trojans bottle up Jacquizz Rodgers, who gashed them a year ago, but the Beavers defense keeps things tight until late in the third quarter.
Then USC, however, asserts itself. First, Damian Williams gets behind the Beavers secondary for a 69-yard touchdown. Next, Taylor Mays returns a Canfield interception 38 yards for a score. USC wins 35-17.
The Beavers bounce back with a 24-17 win over UCLA, setting up a marquee showdown with No. 3 California.
California takes a 27-21 lead on a 42-yard run from Jahvid Best with 1:49 remaining. The Beavers get the ball back on their 20 with two time outs. Canfield completions to Catchings, James Rodgers and tight end Howard Croom give them a first down on the Cal 40. A surprise draw play for Jacquizz Rodgers gains 25 to the Bears 15, and the Beavers call time out with 39 seconds left.
Canfield sees Jordon Bishop get a step on the coverage and hurls a fade to the corner of the end zone. But cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson recovers and grabs the ball away from the redshirt freshman, icing the Bears win.
The Beavers take out their frustrations on Washington and Washington State. That sets up a Civil War with a Holiday Bowl berth as the stakes, with 10th-ranked Oregon and 12th-ranked Oregon State both sitting at 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-10.
A year before, the Beavers defense crumbled at home against the Ducks spread-option. This time, the Beavers return the favor, with the Rodgers brothers combining for nearly 400 yards of total offense in a 41-24 victory.
Oregon State then accepts a Holiday Bowl invitation opposite No. 9 Texas. The contrast between the humble Beavers and the powerful Longhorns is the theme of the week.
Until game time, when the Longhorns realize they don't have two guys who can block tackle Stephen Paea, who sacks Colt McCoy three times -- the third a blindside hit early in the fourth quarter that knocks McCoy unconscious.
The Beavers roll 35-20 and end up one of three Pac-10 teams ranked in the final top-10 of both polls.
The sun rises in the East and Oregon State starts 2-3 annually.
The Beavers beat Portland State to open, but the retooled secondary can't contain UNLV receivers Ryan Wolf and Phillip Payne in a 33-30 upset defeat. They bounce back in a win over Cincinnati, but the offense sputters in losses to Arizona and Arizona State.
Coach Mike Riley opts to bench Sean Canfield in favor of Lyle Moevao, who struggled during preseason practices to get his shoulder back to full-strength after off-season surgery.
Moevao leads the Beavers to a thrilling overtime win over Stanford, but USC sacks him three times and intercepts him twice in a 41-17 loss.
Moevao starts poorly against UCLA, and Canfield takes over after halftime, leading the Beavers to a 24-20 win.
Riley, who's name is next to "players' coach" in the dictionary -- really, look it up -- finds his locker room divided for the first time in his coaching career.
"It's frustrating -- honestly, it's like flipping a coin," he says. "We've got two good young men who are both good quarterbacks but neither has been able to lead the offense consistently. We'll just evaluate them in practice and pick a guy Thursday."
Moevao earns the start again at Cal, but the offense isn't the problem. Heisman Trophy candidate Jahvid Best is. Best rushes for 194 yards and three scores as the No. 3 Bears roll 41-24.
Moevao leads a tight win over Washington and a blowout victory over Washington State, which gives the Beavers a sixth win and earns them bowl eligibility.
The Civil War doesn't turn out as ugly as 2008, but surging sixth-ranked Oregon makes a push for the conference to send two teams to BCS bowls with a 40-24 win.
The Beavers whip Utah 38-17 in the Poinsettia Bowl, with No. 3 quarterback Ryan Katz throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
"We're set up well for next year," Riley notes.
But then Mark Banker becomes the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, and coach Mike Cavanaugh becomes the offensive line coach for the New York Giants.
"Drat," Riley adds.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Popeye has his spinach. Oregon State linebacker Keaton Kristick has his coffee.
And it's fair to say his aggressive, attacking style -- see 14 tackles for a loss in 2008 -- comes off as fully caffeinated.
"I'm a coffee fiend. I love coffee. I can't go a day without coffee," said Kristick, sounding a bit like he's already had a cup or three.
|Jesse Beals/Icon SMI|
|Linebacker Keaton Kristick believes the Beavers' front seven will turn some heads this fall.|
It's not unreasonable to guess a young man leaving the warm, sunny climate of Fountain Hills, Ariz., for the, er, less warm and sunny clime of the Northwest would adopt coffee as a crutch to get through the dark days of a Corvallis winter.
But Kristick came to coffee before that. He had to get up early in the morning to drive a long distance to attend his private high school, St. Mary's in Phoenix.
It was there that Kristick, obviously fully awake on the football field, was first noticed by Oregon State assistant Mike Cavanaugh.
The Beavers were first and they were tenacious recruiting him. He was their type of guy -- a good athlete operating mostly under the radar who clearly loved playing the game.
While most other interest in Kristick came from the Mountain West Conference, Arizona State and Northwestern also made pushes.
Kristick never seriously considered the Sun Devils, though, which apparently annoyed then-coach Dirk Koetter.
"I wanted to get out and experience something new -- I wanted something green in my life," Kristick said. "Dirk Koetter didn't like me too much after that. I'd see him after games and I ran into him like three or four times [in Scottsdale]. He worked out where I worked out. There was small talk. It was kind of funny. Kind of uncomfortable."
Speaking of comfort -- and lack thereof -- the Beavers 2008 season can be largely summed up by two disparate experiences in Reser Stadium.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
This is a big blow for Washington: New Huskies offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik is leaving Washington for a job with the Oakland Raiders.
We're on record with our esteem for Michalczik, who is clearly one of the best offensive line coaches on the West Coast.
He created the Pac-10's most consistent rushing offense at Cal, and his line was equally impressive as pass-blockers. A lot of times a line is good at run blocking or pass blocking but not both.
He also took a number of under-the-radar line recruits and got them to the NFL, most recently All-American center Alex Mack, who could be a first-round draft pick this April.
Michalczik also was an impressive hire for Sarkisian because Sarkisian will call the offensive plays. That typically is an impediment for hiring a top-notch coordinator -- consider that's a chief reason Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt cited for bolting USC for Washington (other than a big raise, of course).
It's hard to imagine Sark being able to lure such a "name" guy for the post now, but we shall see.
Wonder if he'll try to tap the USC staff again? Perhaps he could attract USC offensive line coach Pat Ruel to Montlake with the offensive coordinator title and a three-year contract worth $350,000 annually?
Not likely, but who knows?
Or what about Oregon State offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh?
This is the second hire to accept a job with Sarkisian and then bolt without coaching a game. Utah receivers coach Aaron Roderick accepted a Sarkisian offer to take the same post with the Huskies but then changed his mind a few days later.
This leaves Washington with two openings on the offensive side of the ball, and offensive line and receivers are two areas where the Huskies underachieved last year.
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State