Pac-12: Milton Knox
- The Pac-10 will have an "up" year -- enough that it could be the No. 2 conference in the land, writes SI.com's Stewart Mandel.
- Oregon coach Chip Kelly shared his thoughts with Tom Dienhart on his experiences overseas on the coaches' tour.
- Who are USC's five most indispensable Trojans?
- The Los Angeles Times reports that UCLA tailback Milton Knox has decided to transfer.
- ASU defensive end James Brooks has rejoined the team after missing most of the spring to deal with a personal issue.
Jones had two of the Bruins' eight sacks and recovered a fumble as the new "revolver" offense failed to find a consistent rhythm. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow told the LA Times that the Bruins "didn't play with any fire."
While quarterback Kevin Prince had mostly shown improvement this spring, he struggled on Saturday, completing just 5 of 13 passes for 72 yards with an interception. There were lots of three-and-outs by the offense.
The offensive star was kicker Kai Forbath. The 2009 Lou Groza Award winner was 4 for 4 on field goal attempts, connecting from 44, 34, 51 and 57 yards.
Also on the plus side was running back Derrick Coleman, who emerged from spring practices ahead of Johnathan Franklin and Milton Knox. Coleman rushed for 64 yards and a TD on six carries. Franklin had 18 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Here's some video from the game.
Celebrities on hand watching the game included soccer superstar David Beckham, New England Patriots stars Tom Brady and Wes Welker, NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, whose son plays receiver for the Bruins.
You can review spring game stats here.
- UCLA's season will be determined by both lines. There's plenty of speed and skill and quarterback Kevin Prince looks ready to take a significant step forward, but the lines -- particularly the offensive line -- continue to be works in progress.
- That said: The Bruins running game -- dormant the past few seasons -- showed signs of life. For example, on a third and 7 play, Milton Knox converted with a tough run on a draw play. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow said the tailback job is down to three candidates: Johnathan Franklin (nine carries, 37 yards in the scrimmage), Derrick Coleman (9-25) and Knox (7-24). In the fall, a strong recruiting haul of freshmen arrives who immediately will jump into the mix.
- The Bruins new "pistol" offense, which features some spread-option elements, has inspired some skepticism, but Prince ran a version of it in high school and he's got good speed -- he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash during testing. There were some intriguing moments, but a couple of bad shotgun snaps surely will concern the coaches. Coach Rick Neuheisel said: "There's a lot of moving parts in this stuff. If we're going to be in this stuff and we're going to say that this is who we are and try to get to that point, we've got to be a heck of a lot better at it than this. If we can't get that done in 15 practices, then we have to ask ourselves if it's prudent to stay in it and that's where we are.''
- Backup QB Richard Brehaut went 3 of 11 in the Bruins first scrimmage, but he was much better Friday, completing 11 of 17 passes for 106 yards with touchdowns of 16 and26 yards. Prince was 7 of 11 for 87 yards with a 37 yard TD.
- The Bruins are looking for receivers to step up behind Taylor Embree, Nelson Rosario and Josh Smith, who's out with a knee injury. Randall Carroll and Ricky Marvray both had good scrimmages and perhaps made statements. Carroll's grab of a 37-yard TD pass from Prince despite tight coverage from Sheldon Price was the play of the day. Runnerup: Morrell Presley got behind coverage for a 44-yard reception. And Jerry Johnson had a fancy leaping reception on the scrimmage's first drive.
- Kicker Kai Forbath will be one of the best weapons in the Pac-10 -- he's darn near automatic. The first-team All-Pac-10 kicker and likely preseason All-American was good on four field goals attempts from outside 40 yards, with a long of 46.
- Defensive end Datone Jones had a sack and a tackle for a loss on a reverse. He looks like a potential All-Conference player, along with linebacker Akeem Ayers and safety Rahim Moore. Defensive tackle Nate Chandler, a converted tight end, had two sacks.
- There was a scare when center Kai Maiava, who's battling Ryan Taylor for the starting job, went down with a knee injury. He walked off, though, and Neuheisel described the injury has a "sprain."
Here are top competitions in the conference this spring.
Arizona State, quarterback
Top candidates: junior Steven Threet, junior Samson Szakacsy, sophomore Brock Osweiler
This one is wide-open, particularly with a fresh set of eyes in offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone now overseeing things. All three have some playing experience. No one has a lot. Or was particularly impressive when he played. Threet, a Michigan transfer, might be the frontrunner, based on early scuttlebutt, but that might just be folks leaning toward the unknown, new guy. Issue with Szakacsy is whether his arm strength will be consistent because he's struggled an elbow injury.
Oregon State, quarterback
Top candidates: sophomore Ryan Katz and junior Peter Lalich
How much of a competition will this really be? Katz has steadily improved and owns a clear advantage over the Virginia transfer before spring practices start. Both have good arms, though at least one Oregon State beat writer has taken to calling Katz "Nolan" Ryan Katz. Still, Lalich has playing experience -- albeit limited -- and he could make a move during the spring that could make things interesting in August.
Top candidates: Senior Kevin Riley, sophomore Beau Sweeney, junior Brock Mansion
This is an interesting one. Riley has started 22 games, but he's been consistently inconsistent. Coach Jeff Tedford said the competition will be open this spring, just as it was last year when Riley triumphed over Mansion and Sweeney. This time, Sweeney, who eclipsed Mansion on the depth chart last fall, will be the top challenger. Is Riley really going to lose his job as a senior? Well, it happened just across town at Stanford last year, with fairly positive results.
Top candidates: junior Derek Earls, junior Paul Vassallo, senior C.J. Parish, sophomore R.J. Young, sophomore Jake Fischer
Coach Mike Stoops talked last fall about being thin at linebacker behind his three senior starters, so this wide-open -- and fairly urgent -- situation isn't a surprise. Earls and Vassallo are JC transfers who are already enrolled and were not brought in to watch from the sidelines. Parrish, Young and Fischer were listed on last year's depth chart but combined for just 16 tackles.
Stanford, running back
Top candidates: sophomore Stepfan Taylor, senior Jeremy Stewart, sophomore Tyler Gaffney.
Just so you know: quarterback Andrew Luck was Stanford's second-leading rusher last year behind Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart. All three candidates have experience, though Stewart is coming back from a knee injury. An incoming freshman, such as Anthony Wilkerson, could join the fray in the fall.
UCLA, running back
Top candidates: sophomore Johnathan Franklin, junior Derrick Coleman, sophomore Milton Knox, sophomore Damien Thigpen, senior Christian Ramirez
This is a logjam of talented players who have yet to break through -- note that senior fullback Chane Moline became the go-to guy by the end of the 2009 season. However the pecking order establishes itself this spring, expect the outstanding incoming freshmen class -- Malcolm Jones, Jordon James and, if he stays at running back, Anthony Barr -- to get a chance to break into the rotation.
Well you've heard about love givin' sight to the blind
My baby's lovin' cause the sun to shine
She's my sweet little thang....she's my pride and joy!
- Arizona linebacker Xavier Kelly is stepping up. The Wildcats shouldn't take Washington State lightly... but...
- Arizona State has a new staring cornerback, but the big news is talented freshman defensive tackle Corey Adams needs back surgery and is done for the season.
- California won't keep rolling if it doesn't get better, but the Bears are still a possibility for Pac-10 runner-up.
- Oregon and Stanford have had many happy returns this year. LeGarrette Blount shouldn't come before his team.
- Oregon State's visit to California features two of the nation's best running backs.
- Stanford has some tough tests ahead, starting with Oregon on Saturday.
- UCLA may give the ball more to running back Milton Knox. And might the backfield get some new talent?
- USC quarterback Matt Barkley is still hurting after the loss at Oregon, and he thinks Ohio State was louder than Autzen. Is coaching a problem for USC -- and we're not talking about Pete Carroll.
- Washington QB Jake Locker looked pretty good at practice, while Nick Holt talks defense.
- Some Washington State notes. What did Paul Wulff say on his radio show?
- A look at the Pac-10's hot coordinators. And ranking the Pac-10 tailbacks.
UCLA is making things hard on itself for Kansas State's visit.
Starting cornerback Courtney Viney is among four UCLA players who have been suspended from the Bruins game Saturday against the Wildcats.
Also suspended by coach Rick Neuheisel for violating undisclosed team rules were freshman running back Milton Knox and freshmen wide receivers Morrell Presley and Randall Carroll.
The players will participate in practices during the one-game suspension.
“When you are a member of a team, you have a special commitment to the entities that make up that unit and to those that you represent,” Neuheisel said in a statement. “When someone falls short in that regard, there have to be consequences, and then, we move on.”
UCLA already is scrambling to figure out who will start at quarterback Saturday after starter Kevin Prince broke his jaw late in the Bruins victory at Tennessee. That will fall to either true freshman Richard Brehaut or senior Kevin Craft.
Viney's absence could be a challenge to fill. He ascended to the starting job only after Aaron Hester suffered a cracked fibula in the opener against San Diego State. Hester is still a few weeks away from returning.
Viney's backup is true freshman Sheldon Price.
Knox, No. 3 at tailback, has 57 yards on 11 carries this season. Carroll and Presley both have one reception.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Things are always interesting with Rick Neuheisel, and his first season coaching UCLA was no exception.
The Bruins opened with an overtime win over Tennessee. Then went splat, 59-zip, at BYU. And so started a decidedly inconsistent season.
With poor play at quarterback, no running game and a porous offensive line -- and that's sugarcoating things for the woeful offense -- UCLA finished 4-8 and in eighth place in the Pac-10.
|Joe Nicholson/US Presswire|
|Rick Neuheisel was 4-8 in his first season at UCLA.|
But Bruins fans felt a lot better after Neuheisel fetched a highly rated recruiting class, which reignited whispers that -- just maybe -- USC should start looking over its shoulder and worrying about its football, er, monopoly in Los Angeles.
Spring practices don't crank up until April 2, but it seems like a good time to check in.
Let's look back on 2008: What were you happy with and unhappy with?
Rick Neuheisel: I thought our team played hard, but we lacked the proficiency to be a good team. We never got any consistency as an offense. Defensively, we hung in there most games, but we weren't stout enough to be a three-and-out type team. Our kickoff situation put us in a field position deficit because we weren't able to kick the ball off very far. We'd end up having to go long distances with respect to field position. We've got a lot of things to get better at if we're going to be a better football team. But the influx of new, young talent, the great effort in weight room and so forth, I think is going to lead to that.
How exited are you that the whole 'Neuheisel is back' won't be the big story this year?
RN: I'm excited the focus will be on our football team. Obviously, this was a program that needed a kick start with respect to the recruiting and excitement and that stuff. We were fortunate to have a big win at the start of the season that reminded folks how fun football can be. Now it's up to us to deliver that on a more regular basis. Obviously, if we could get to a bowl game this year, that would be a step in the right direction. I think a year from now, we're going to be a team that can compete for the top prizes.
You guys got a lot of publicity about your recruiting success on signing day.
RN: Recruiting went well. Recruiting went really well. It was kind of a validation of what I thought all along: That you can recruit at UCLA. That if you do it the right way and go after the right guys you can deliver. I was pleased to see that was possible.