Pac-12: Minnesota Vikings

Pac-12 lunch links: Nothing Snoopy

June, 27, 2012
We all wanna know how low can you go.
I said wo-ah, race you to the bottom!

Final Pac-12 NFL draft tally

May, 1, 2011
The Pac-12 provided 37 players to the NFL draft over the weekend, one fewer than the SEC, which led all conferences.

If the six combined picks from Colorado and Utah are taken away from the conference, the old Pac-10 provided NFL teams 3.1 draft picks per team, also just behind the SEC at 3.17.

Here's where the Pac-12 players went:

First round
No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Second round
7. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: Tennessee
10. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Houston
13. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: Denver
21. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Chicago
24. Shane Vereen, RB, California: New England

Third round
13. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC: Tennessee
20. Mason Foster, LB, Washington: Tampa Bay
25. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: San Diego
29. Christopher Conte, S, California: Chicago
33. Sione Fua, DT, Stanford: Carolina

Fourth round
5. Jordan Cameron, TE, USC: Cleveland
19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon: Philadelphia
21. Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado: Kansas City
27. Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford: Cleveland

Fifth round
8. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah: Minnesota
9. Gabe Miller, DE, Oregon State: Kansas City
14. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State: Atlanta
23. Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Seattle

Sixth round
2. Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford: Cincinnati
14. Caleb Schlauderaff, OG, Utah: Green Bay
17. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC: San Francisco
19. David Carter, DT, UCLA: Arizona
22. Allen Bradford, RB, USC: Tampa Bay
24. Mike Mohamed, LB, California: Denver
32. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: Green Bay
38. Zach Williams, C, Washington State: Carolina

Seventh round
12. D'Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona: Minnesota
24. Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado: New York Jets
30. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: Green Bay
37. Stanley Havili, FB, USC: Philadelphia
38. David Ausberry, WR, USC: Oakland
39. Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Seattle

By Pac-12 school:
Arizona (3)
Arizona State (1)
California (4)
Colorado (4)
Oregon (1)
Oregon State (3)
Stanford (4)
UCLA (3)
USC (9)
Utah (2)
Washington (2)
Washington State (1)

The final tally by automatic qualifying conferences:
SEC... 38
Pac-12... 37
Big Ten... 36
ACC... 35
Big East 22
Big 12...19

Nebraska was a big swing to the Big Ten from the Big 12 with seven picks. With Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 provided 30 selections.

This was the tally through three rounds:
SEC: 20
ACC: 19
Pac-12: 15
Big Ten: 13
Big 12: 9
Big East: 4

Kiper's final 'Big Board' before NFL draft

April, 27, 2011
ESPN draft guru has released his final 'Big Board' before the NFL draft begins Thursday.

So where did your favorite former Pac-12 players end up? Well, truth be told, all the conference players listed ended up in the same place they were on the last Big Board.

Here's where they rank and what Kiper has to say about each.

No. 13 Cameron Jordan, DE, California
: Frame and skills capable of handling 3-4 or 4-3 defensive end duty. Has top athleticism, smarts and speed for defensive end position.

No. 16 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
: Excellent size and speed combination, Smith quietly shut down receivers all season. Character issue overstated in eyes of many personnel folks.

No. 17 Tyron Smith, OT, USC
: A future blindside tackle. Fallen some after a quick rise. Good frame, athleticism and quickness. Has added bulk.

No. 22 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
: A physical specimen, has great length and has added bulk to his long frame. Could be moved along offensive line to provide help early in NFL career.

No. 25 Jake Locker, QB, Washington
: In eyes of evaluators, rebounded some with good workouts, interviews after combine. Arm, attitude, athleticism all there. Accuracy the question.

In Todd McShay's latest mock draft from April 20, he projected six Pac-12 players being picked in the first round, but not Locker.

Here's how he ordered the players and where he sees them going.

No. 9 Tyron Smith (Dallas)

No. 12 Jordan (Minnesota)

No. 21 Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona (Kansas City)

No. 22 Solder (Indianapolis)

No. 23 Jimmy Smith (Philadelphia)

No. 32. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA (Green Bay)

Arizona State fired up about new uniforms

April, 13, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A great man once sagely noted, "It is better to look good than to feel good." But Arizona State hopes to look good, feel good and play, er, well in its new uniforms.

The Sun Devils, the favorites in the Pac-12 South Division in 2011, unveiled their new uniforms and pitchfork logo on Tuesday, but a handful of players got a sneak peek last week when they were asked to don the new duds for promotional photos.

That required keeping the new look a secret, which wasn't easy.

"It was real hard," center Garth Gerhart said. "All my buddies, the offensive linemen, are like, 'Show me some pictures!' My brother [Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart], guys on the Stanford team I know. They all wanted to know."

Added receiver Gerell Robinson: "Students, fans, parents, grandparents -- everybody was trying to figure out the big secret. I'm just happy it's over."

While the all-black combination was popular among their teammates, Robinson and Gerhart both said they favored the black jersey, gold pants combo.

The pitchfork replaces Sparky, which now becomes just the team mascot.

"It's different. I like it," Robinson said. "It's more aggressive. Sparky had a smile on his face."

But does it matter? Some. Image isn't everything, but it touches on the psychology of competition: You might play better if you like the way you look. Still, new uniforms aren't going to win games.

"As far as stepping between the lines, it really doesn't," Robinson said. "All the uniform talk stops once you walk out of the locker room. You've still got to play football."

But what about recruiting?

"If it was about uniforms, I would have gone to Oregon, signed, sealed and delivered," Robinson said. "They had the best ones at that point in time. It will give us an even playing field in recruiting. Everybody wants to see what's new. Nobody wants to be characterized as an older tradition."

Pac-10 top 25 from 2010: No. 8

March, 10, 2011
We continue our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.

Note: Because we are ranking players based on this past season, it's Pac-10, not Pac-12.

Here are the preseason rankings (click each name to read the blurb).

[+] EnlargeCal's Cameron Jordan
AP Photo/Ben MargotCal's Cameron Jordan forced offensive coordinators to account for him on every play.
No. 8. Cameron Jordan, DE, California

2010 numbers: Jordan finished with 62 tackles -- tops among Bears defensive linemen -- including 12.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He also forced three fumbles, broke up four passes and recovered a fumble.

Preseason ranking: No. 15

Making the case for Jordan: While Cal had a disappointing season, Jordan put it all together as a senior. The first-team All-Pac-10 selection may end up as the first conference player drafted by an NFL team this spring. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper presently projects him as going 18th overall in the first round. These rankings aren't based on NFL draft projections; they are based on what happened this season. But we'd be lying if we said that Jordan isn't a few notches higher due to the way he dominated at the Senior Bowl and put up impressive numbers at the combine. That further verified Jordan's maturation as a player. He began his career as a pure talent with good bloodlines -- his father, Steve, made the Pro Bowl six times as a tight end for the Minnesota Vikings -- and ended up as the best player on a defense that ranked first in the Pac-10 in yards surrendered (319 per game) and third in scoring (22.6 ppg). He was effective versus the run as well as rushing the passer and forced offensive coordinators to account for him on every play.

No. 9. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
No. 10. Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
No. 12. Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
No. 13 Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
No. 14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 15. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
No. 16. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
No. 17. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 20. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
No. 21. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25. Shane Vereen, RB, California

Getting to know Colorado

February, 11, 2011
Colorado is new to the Pac-12 but old to the Big 12, so it makes sense to check in with Big 12 blogger David Ubben to get his take on the state of the Buffaloes as they welcome new coach Jon Embree.

Just who are these Buffaloes? What are their strengths and weaknesses and how will they fit into the Pac-12, specifically the Pac-12 South?

We went looking for insights and Ubben obliged.

Ted Miller: Well, David you -- and the Big 12 -- have to say goodbye to Colorado, with the Buffaloes looking to their future out West in the Pac-12. First of all, give Pac-12 fans a CliffsNotes description of the state of the program. Things haven’t gone so well in Boulder lately. Why?

David Ubben: Colorado is certainly in rebuilding mode as they kick off a new start under coach Jon Embree after firing Dan Hawkins in the middle of the 2010 season. They bring back two stars in quarterback Tyler Hansen and running back Rodney Stewart. But fitting those guys into Embree's new system and greatly improving from their 5-7 record seems like asking a lot.

Hawkins came to Boulder promising big things but never delivered. As for why it didn't go well? Any number of reasons. One that angered fans is Hawkins' tendency to play less talented players who knew the system well over more talented players that maybe didn't have as solid of a grasp of what they wanted to do on the field. Embree has said he'll do essentially the opposite, so I guess that's a start in the eyes of fans.

TM: OK, let’s look forward then. Tell Pac-12 folks about Embree, his new staff and the talent the Buffaloes have returning. What are strengths and what are question marks heading into the 2011 season?

DU: He's stocked his coaching staff with quite a few Buffaloes, but most of the names would be more recognizable as players. The biggest name is his offensive coordinator, former Buffs great Eric Bieniemy, who spent the past few years coaching Adrian Peterson as the running backs coach at the Minnesota Vikings. They also swiped Bobby Kennedy, a Boulder native, from Texas to coach receivers.

Last year, they ran the ball pretty well, and Stewart is back. He's a small, shifty back that seems way, way underrated. He rushed for more than 1,300 yards last year, and the only Big 12 backs who had more were Daniel Thomas and Kendall Hunter, who should be drafted this year. They lose tackle Nate Solder, another first-round pick, but Ryan Miller is back, and he's an all-conference level guard.

The big question for them next season will be if their defense can stop the pass -- which my sources tell me, is pretty important in the Pac-12. Maybe not as important as in the Big 12, but still necessary for big success. Both corners from last year, Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith, should be drafted. They weren't great at stopping the pass last year (9th in the Big 12) so it's hard to see them being better at it next year.

TM: OK. Good stuff. Let’s wind it up. How would you have projected them in the Big 12 next fall? And do you have any feeling for how they might do in the new Pac-12 South?

DU: They definitely looked like a team in the bottom third of the Big 12 next year, and it seems like it'll be tough for them to finish in the top half of the Pac-12 South in 2011.

Right now, it's just about being competitive and maybe stealing a game or two that people didn't think they'd win. If that happens enough, a bowl game isn't out of the question. We don't have any idea what to expect out of an Embree-coached team, and that could be a good or a bad thing. We won't know for sure until next year, but if Embree can bottle up whatever Colorado had inside of them the way they played down the stretch last season after Hawkins was fired, it could be a real surprise 2011 for the Buffs.

Pick six? Pac-10 in McShay mock draft

November, 10, 2010
ESPN draft guru Todd McShay has released his first mock 2011 NFL draft Insider, and he projects six Pac-10 players to be selected in the first round.

Those picks are as follows:

No. 1: Stanford QB Andrew Luck (Buffalo Bills)

No. 8 Washington QB Jake Locker (Minnesota Vikings)

No. 11 UCLA LB Akeem Ayers (San Diego Chargers)

No. 13 Oregon State DT Stephen Paea (St. Louis Rams)

No. 28 California DE Cameron Jordan (New England Patriots)

No. 30 UCLA S Rahim Moore (Baltimore Ravens)

Opening camp: Stanford

August, 9, 2010
Stanford opens preseason camp today. Here's a quick look.

Who's back: Eight starters on offense, seven on defense and both specialists

Big names: QB Andrew Luck, FB-LB Owen Marecic, C Chase Beeler, WR Ryan Whalen, KR Chris Owusu, DT Sione Fua

What's new: A lot. Vic Fangio is the Cardinal's new defensive coordinator after spending the previous 24 years coaching in the NFL, including the last four with the Baltimore Ravens. Pep Hamilton is the new receivers coach after spending the last three seasons as quarterbacks coach of the Chicago Bears. The highly respected Randy Hart takes over the defensive line after a year at Notre Dame (his tenure at Washington started with Gil Dobie and lasted through Tyrone Willingham). Derek Mason takes over the secondary after three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Brian Polian will coach special teams after spending the previous five campaigns at Notre Dame. Lance Anderson has switched from coaching defensive tackles to LBs.

Key competition: Other than CB Richard Sherman and SS Delano Howell, things are fluid in the secondary. The competition over the lone void on the offensive line -- right tackle -- includes fifth-year senior, Derek Hall, and a sixth-year senior, James McGillicuddy. Coby Fleener and Konrad Reuland will compete at tight end. As for backup QB, redshirt freshmen Robbie Picazo and Josh Nunes are battling, but the athletic Alex Loukas, who's been doubling as a safety, might get the call, if needed.

Breaking out: Owusu seems primed to transform from a fast guy to a deep threat. LB Shayne Skov should take a step forward after an impressive debut as a true freshman. The TE position is stacked, with four guys 6-foot-6 or taller who could do damage. LT Jonathan Martin and RG David DeCastro, both sophomores, are two of the conference's most promising linemen.

Quote: Coach Jim Harbaugh on Luck: “You look at Andrew and you wonder what makes a youngster that good. You know it has some to do with mom, dad, God; he has such talent. He has tremendous arm strength. He is as accurate as any quarterback I’ve seen. He is athletic and can run with the football. He rushed for 400 yards last year. He is a brilliant kid, not just book smart, but also with football."

Notes: The Cardinal has switched to a 3-4 defense, with Thomas Keiser and Chase Thomas switching from defensive end to outside linebackers. ... Marecic will go both ways. He will start at inside linebacker and also see significant action at fullback, his position last year. ... Harbaugh said that senior Jeremy Stewart, though listed second on the depth chart behind Stepfan Taylor, is the top candidate to replace Toby Gerhart at running back. ... Four-time Pro Bowl selection Chester McGlockton will serve as a defensive assistant.

Jordan, California seek to defy expectations

May, 13, 2010
Shortly after California's final spring practice ended, the Bears erupted in cheers in the locker room. But it wasn't for themselves. Or even about an ending. It was about a surprising beginning.

[+] EnlargeCameron Jordan
AP Photo/Ben MargotCameron Jordan embraces the fact that neither he nor Cal is garnering much national attention.
Their former teammate, defensive end Tyson Alualu, was picked 10th overall in the NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Boom! He was a millionaire.

Cameron Jordan was among those cheering. He said he wasn't surprised the player who manned the opposite end of the line from him over the past two seasons was selected 10th overall. Nor, he said, did he consider that he was only a year away from finding where he might fall on draft day.

"I didn't even think about that part," the 6-foot-4, 282-pound senior defensive end said. "I was just happy and excited for him."

Jordan has the talent to become a first-round pick. Presently, he likely will be projected, much like Alualu was last May, as a second- or third-round selection.

He's flashed plenty of tantalizing ability, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors the past two seasons. He had 48 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks last fall. He also had five quarterback hurries, which suggests a lot of "what might have been." Not unlike Cal's 2009 season.

Last fall, Jordan looked like a potential All-Pac-10 selection, just as the Bears looked like a top-10 team and a threat to unseat USC atop the conference. More than a few Cal fans reacted angrily when Jordan was left off the Pac-10 blog's ranking of the conference's top 30 players.

Why did the Bears -- and Jordan -- fall short?

"There were multitude of reasons," Jordan said. "It seemed like after that first loss some guys were rattled and didn't really come back."

That would be the visit to Oregon, where the Bears swaggered into Autzen Stadium ranked sixth in the nation and staggered out 42-3 losers.

As for the defense -- which was mostly mediocre, despite eight returning starters from a unit that ranked among the nation's top-30 teams in nearly every statistical category -- Jordan said "some of it had to do with a lack of adjustments."

That's fairly general, but there was unhappiness with Cal's scheme last year. This led coach Jeff Tedford to say repeatedly during the offseason that the Bears would be more aggressive when attacking the quarterback.

New coordinator Clancy Pendergast will run more stunts and blitzes out of the Bears 3-4 front, which could benefit Jordan, who faced a lot of double teams last fall.

"Hopefully, it will free me up to get in the backfield more often," Jordan said. "I got a lot more one-on-ones this spring, and that only makes my day."

Jordan reportedly had a good spring. Here's what Pendergast said about him in a Q&A with the Pac-10 blog: "He's been very receptive. He pays attention to detail. He's very interested. When you have a guy like that, with his potential skill set, he can have an opportunity to make plays. So he's bought into the system and he's doing the different things that we are asking him to do within the scheme. So far so good."

Jordan has good bloodlines. His father, Steve, played at Brown and then 13 years in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, earning six invitations to the Pro Bowl. A gifted athlete, the young Jordan has always been a strong pass rusher, with good speed for his size. He's fallen short a bit with his strength in run support.

That might be changing. Jordan said he focused on that area.

"I'm more confident in my run game," he said. "It's been getting better every year. My freshman and sophomore year, I knew I wasn't a great run stopper. Pass rush yes. My junior year, I was a little bit more confident. Now, I'd like to say I'm one of the better guys on the unit against the run. I'm already confident in my pass rush abilities."

The next step, he said, is being so confident in his ability to defeat blocks that he focuses his attention on reading the action in the backfield: "Sometimes I get too focused on the man in front of me instead of what play can actually happen in the backfield."

Cal doesn't figure to get much preseason attention. Most projections will dump the Bears into the conference's muddled middle. That probably means Jordan, too, won't get too much preseason hype.

He seems fine with that.

"Coming in under the radar, there's no pressure on us. No one is looking at us," he said. "If we are under the radar, all we have to worry about is what we can do as a team, not what everybody else thinks we can do."

It's possible that by doing just that, the Bears might end up cheering in December -- and again in the spring when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calls Jordan's name.

Pac-10 lunch links: Smack talk between USC, UCLA

May, 3, 2010
If we are going to pay this much for crab it better sing and dance and introduce us to the Little Mermaid!

Pac-10 lunch links: Low expectations might be what Cal needs

April, 30, 2010
Happy Friday.

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

April, 26, 2010
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

Pac-10 Q&A: Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, Part I

March, 2, 2010
After an 8-5 season and the program's first bowl game since 2001, it's clear Stanford is on an uptick under fourth-year coach Jim Harbaugh.

So how far will that next step take the program in 2010?

Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIREStanford Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh has had to fill a lot of vacancies on his staff.
Spring practices began Monday -- the Cardinal split up their spring into two sessions or "mini-camps" -- with 17 starters back and a number of young players from nationally rated recruiting classes expected to compete for playing time.

But there are issues. Harbaugh has been trying to fill five voids on his coaching staff during the offseason, a task that appeared over until quarterbacks-receivers coach Ron Turner bolted for the Indianapolis Colts.

Moreover, the Cardinal will be breaking in a new 3-4 defensive scheme, not to mention trying to replace Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart.

That's a lot of change.

Harbaugh, however, seems to enjoy change. Consider that offensive players Alex Loukas and Owen Marecic will both change positions to defense (at least this spring). Loukas from quarterback to safety; Marecic from fullback to linebacker.

So what's up with the House of Harbaugh as spring starts? Seemed like a good moment to check in.

Part I today, Part II tomorrow.

So, the smoke has cleared after recruiting, give me the state of the Stanford Cardinal?

Jim Harbaugh: Every year is a new year. The team is going to find its identity. First and foremost going into spring ball is evaluating the players and finding their roles, whether they are starters or contributors. Anybody who could fill a role for us this season, we want to give him the license and opportunity to show that, show themselves.

You've had some fairly significant staff turnover: Tell me about the new guys, starting with new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

JH: Vic Fangio has a pretty well-known reputation in football. You come across people in your career in football, whether it's as a player or coach, and you think they are really damn good at what they do. Vic is one of the people I've been most impressed with, whom I've met associated with football.

And defensive line coach Randy Hart?

JH: We really felt when we played Notre Dame last year that his was the best coached defensive line that we played against or saw on tape. When he was available, that was the first call I made. From the first conversation I had with him, I knew he was the right fit here for us. Tremendous enthusiasm and energy and character.

And special teams coordinator Brian Polian?

JH: Like Randy, I didn't know Brian but I was always impressed with him when we played against his special teams units for three years -- Stanford vs. Notre Dame. They were good battles but I kind of felt they got the better of it. And the footprint he's always left in recruiting, we have not been able to match. So if you cannot beat 'em, join 'em.

And how about secondary coach Derek Mason?

JH: Derek is good. [Defensive tackles/outside linebackers coach Lance Anderson] had worked with Derek, and I'm very good friends with Leslie Frazier [the Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator] and Brad Childress [the Vikings head coach] and all those people had great things to say about Derek. I had never met Derek before but he is really, really good. I'm really impressed with him as a teacher. He's got an eye for football. Just impressive to watch him coach. A solid technician and teacher who has an excellent way about him.

Now I know that Ron Turner, who was hired to coach quarterbacks and receivers, left for the Indianapolis Colts.

JH: He left for the Colts. He viewed that as a better job. What more can you say?

How does a 3-4 base scheme make you guys better vs. the 4-3?

JH: It's base out of a 3-4 but that could still have some principles out of a 4-3. The evaluation of our personnel has never been more important than it is this spring, with new coaches and a new scheme. Even if that's the base, we'll do whatever is best to stop people. Vic's got experience in both of them -- in just about any defense that's ever been run.

How will you use Owen Marecic this year: Is he two-way, or his he now mostly an inside linebacker?

JH: He's a starting fullback on our team and a two-way player. At this point right now, it's too early to say who the starters are. We're evaluating. But he's running with the ones on defense and he's the starting fullback on our offense.

Part II on Wednesday: Replacing Toby Gerhart, Andrew Luck's increased role and Harbaugh talking about whether Stanford fans should fret about him leaving.

Pac-10 lunch links: Colorado to Pac-10 this summer?

February, 17, 2010
I think that, A) you have an act, and that, B) not having an act is your act.

Report: Carroll and Seahawks close to a deal

January, 8, 2010
Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks are "close" to coming to contract terms, the LA Times reported.

The Times reported that Carroll would leave USC to become the Seahawks head coach and team president for a five-year contract worth $7 million a year.

Carroll made $4.4 million annually as the Trojans coach.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, however, is reporting the Seahawks will interview Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday.

It appears that nothing is final, but Carroll's candidacy is obviously much more legitimate than when it's been reported in the past.