Pac-12: New York Giants

Six from Pac-12 in latest Kiper mock draft

February, 16, 2011
Mel Kiper has done his second mock draft for this spring's NFL draft, and it features six Pac-12 players.

While no conference player is projected to be among the first 10 picks, there's a strong presence over the first round's second half.

The Pac-12 players Kiper projects ending up in the first round are:

No. 13: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (Detroit)
No. 17: Cameron Jordan, DE, California (New England)
No. 18: Tyron Smith, OT, USC (San Diego)
No. 19: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (New York Giants)
No. 21: Akeem Ayers, DE, UCLA (Kansas City)
No. 30: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (New York Jets)

Pac-12 players fighting for 1st-round spots

February, 11, 2011
Todd McShay has released his third mock NFL draft, and six Pac-12 players are projected to be picked in the first round. Those players are:
Locker was the most-watched player at the Senior Bowl. Here's what McShay has to say after the smoke cleared -- and before the NFL combine: "Locker's stock took a big hit this season, but we still think he will come off the board in the first round. The Seahawks are not completely settled at quarterback and could do worse than bringing in a local hero with a lot of upside, and if they don't pull the trigger, we could see a team trade back into the late first round to get Locker"

Further, Steve Muench lists five underclassmen who did not crack the first round in McShay's latest projection but could use pre-draft workouts to boost their stock and work their way into the top 32 picks, and UCLA free safety Rahim Moore tops the list. Writes Muench:
If he looks fluid during drills at the combine his stock could jump. The Jets pick at No. 30 overall and have a need at free safety, where Brodney Pool and Eric Smith are both unrestricted free agents. Moore's strength is in coverage and he can hold up on the back end of a blitz-heavy scheme like the one the Jets run.

Pac-10 lunch links: Vontaze Burfict update

August, 5, 2010
I don't say he's a great man. Willie Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.

Opening the mailbag: How do we divide the Pac-12?

February, 12, 2010
Happy Friday.

To the notes.

Donald from Eugene writes: If the PAC10 actually does expand to 12 teams, the conventional wisdom is they would create North and South divisions. However, that would leave NW schools with the distinct possibility of not traveling to Southern California for two straight seasons thus killing recruiting (see Big12 North.) Wouldn't it make more sense to try the "AFC/NFC" split and put for instance UW, UO, Stan, UCLA, UA and CU in one division and the other six in the other? The teams would still play their traditional rival, it just would be out of division. That way every team will be assured of traveling to the Bay Area and SoCal on a regular basis.

Ted Miller: Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.

I've been a bit surprised by how so many people have pooh-poohed the idea of Pac-10 expansion -- read: Colorado and Utah -- simply because of the supposedly calamitous results of a North-South split.

How will the Northwest schools survive without an annual visit to recruiting hotbeds in California [insert sob]!

As Donald notes: Fine, then forget the whole North-South thing and let's go with much more felicitously named "Ted" and "Donald" divisions.

My division is USC, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona State, Utah and Oregon State.

Donald's division is UCLA, California, Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon.

(Please, that was random. Don't read anything into which teams I selected).

Each Pac-12 team plays five divisional games as well as its traditional rival in the other division annually (we announce the first annual hate-fest between Utah vs. Colorado!). Each team then rotates two games among the other five teams in the other division.

Note how the Oregon-Washington rivalry gets preserved! And how we kept Jim Harbaugh and Lane Kiffin in the same division, which I am certain will be great fun.

That's eight conference games, which means teams then can load up on patsies for their four-game nonconference schedule -- if they wish -- which would mean more bowl-eligible teams and more seasons with two BCS bowl teams.

Sure, some conference hits and misses will provide an advantage. But that's how it is in every conference that doesn't play a round-robin schedule.

In a few years, media pundits would go, "Sheesh! The Pac-12 has 10 bowl-eligible teams! What a conference!"

What about losing the convenience -- and cost-effectiveness -- of regional travel provided by North-South divisions? Well, travel would remain mostly like it is now. So big deal.

By the way, though Donald and I are clearly brilliant, this has been done before. There's an obscure constellation in the college football universe know as the "Atlantic Coast Conference," which is broken up into the the "Heather" and "Dinich" divisions. Or they might be the "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions, I forget.

And, by the way, as a son of the South, I can tell you that there ain't no coast near Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke or Virginia.

Kevin from Phoenix writes: I have to take issue with the Spring Rankings. Arizona replaces 12 starters? I'd be curious to know what math you used to get 12 out of nine.

Ted Miller: OK.

Arizona's departing 2009 starters, per its depth chart.

Offense (5): WR Terrell Turner, OT Mike Diaz, OG Herman Hall, OT Adam Grant, HB Chris Gronkowski.

Defense (7): DT Earl Mitchell, NT Donald Horton, LB Sterling Lewis, LB Vuna Tuihalamaka, LB Xavier Kelly, FS Cam Nelson, CB Devin Ross.

The list doesn't including TE Rob Gronkowski because he sat out the entire season.

Kenny from Florence, Ariz., writes: I don't understand your logic in your spring power rankings. Putting USC, Oregon State, Cal, UW, & Stanford all above Arizona. Is it because of the Holiday Bowl performance? Ok well let's remember what happened during the Pac-10 conference season: Arizona beat USC in LA, Oregon St. in Corvallis, Stanford in Tucson.

Ted Miller: The Holiday Bowl performance was fairly yucky. But that's not why I rated Arizona seventh.

As you will note from above, the Wildcats lose three starting offensive linemen, three linebackers, both defensive tackles and two very good defensive backs.

And most of those guys weren't just starters -- they were mainstays (five second-team All-Pac-10 guys, including four on defense).

That's a lot to replace, particularly with two new coordinators. And keep in mind that the Wildcats will be using two pair of co-coordinators in 2010 after using just one guy in each role last year.

There may be a period of adjustment there.

It's perfectly reasonable to believe the Wildcats will plug-and-play and away they will go. But I will put them at No. 7 -- in a very deep Pac-10 -- until I see what those plugs might look like.

And I will be in Tucson during spring practices, so perhaps I will be impressed. I typically am when I watch a Mike Stoops team practice.

Kai from Castro Valley, Calif., writes: If someone were to go back in time and tell the 2000 Ted Miller how much teams have changed (i.e. number of bowl appearances in 2000-2009 compared to 1990-1999), which team do you think you wouldn't believe changed this much? In other words which team had the most phenomenal change good or bad from the start to the end of the decade? (Personally it's WSU for me).

Ted Miller: If the 2000 me met the 2010 me he tell me to get to the gym and lay off the beef and bourbon.

There are so many surprises in the decade.

The biggest surprise would be Washington, the 11-1, 2000 Pac-10 champion, winning 12 games from 2004-2008.

The second biggest surprise would have the rise of USC under Pete Carroll -- "USC hired Pete Carroll?" the 2000 me would ask. "That surely was a colossal failure!"

The third biggest surprise would have been the rise of Washington State: 30 wins, three consecutive top-10 rankings from 2001-2003. And Mike Price leaving the Cougars for Alabama. And how that turned out.

The fourth biggest surprise would be Oregon State's sustained success. I mostly thought that 2000 was a brilliant flash of football serendipity. It wasn't.

Gordie from Pasadena, Calif., writes: Let's say the Pac-10 picks up Utah and Colorado, and the Big Ten picks up Missouri. So does that mean the Big 12 becomes the Big 10 and the Big Ten becomes the Big Twelve (since it already has eleven teams)?

Ted Miller: Ha! Nice.

Gary from Portland writes: Recruiting revealed, the layers peeled back like an onion.

Ted Miller: Hit that link: You will be amused.

Ethan from San Francisco writes: You win... I have no idea where your Thursday quote [above the "Pac-10 lunch links"] came from.

Ted Miller: Glad you asked because it comes from one of my all-time favorite novels: Don DeLillo's "Underworld."

It's a dense, 800-plus-page read, so it won't be everyone's favorite brew, but the first 60 pages are set around Bobby Thomson's home run -- "The shot heard round the world" -- to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers and win the New York Giants the 1951 National League Pennant.

Go to a bookstore and read those 60 pages. It's some of the best writing you will ever read.

Pac-10 Q&A: USC LB Chris Galippo

September, 11, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images
Chris Galippo is eager to show what he can do in the middle of USC's defense.

Chris Galippo has suffered through two back surgeries and waited patiently to take his spot in the middle of the USC defense.

He's paid his dues. So, yes, he's eager to show he can be the Trojans next great linebacker.

Galippo, sophomore, is a tackling machine. He recorded 381 tackles at Servite High in Anaheim, Calif., where he also blocked 10 kicks. And he led the Trojans with nine tackles -- three for a loss -- in their season-opening 56-3 victory over San Jose State.

The former USA Today and Parade Magazine prep All-American will step into the national spotlight for the first time Saturday at Ohio State. He will lead a defense that is replacing eight starters, including all of the members of perhaps the best crew of linebackers in college football history.

But before he does that, we wanted to check in and get his measure before he steps onto the field at the Horseshoe.

From the film of the San Jose State game, what were some things you weren't happy with?

CG: Tackling. Tackling personally and as a unit is something we have to emphasize this week. Not only because the opponent requires it. It was the the first game and it was the first time we were full-speed against a real opponent. But there were times when guys weren't bringing their feet, running through tackles and were slipping off stuff. But it's stuff that can be easily corrected if it's emphasized and pushed -- and I know it will be because Coach [Pete] Carroll told us it will be.

Your thing is you make a lot of tackles -- you're always around the ball. Against San Jose State, you also made a lot of tackles for a loss. Do you feel like you have a sixth sense -- something beyond reading your keys -- that you can anticipate what's about to happen with an offense?

CG: It's an instinct -- I don't know if you'd call it a sixth sense or anything like that. I think it comes from preparation and from seeing things over and over again. The more you see things, the more you're around things, you can kind of anticipate things. The more you're around your brothers and sisters you can anticipate how they will react. It's the same thing in football. The more you see the more you can anticipate. Watching film yesterday, we saw that San Jose State kept running that sweep with their receivers. They ran it twice but on the third time in the film -- and I didn't remember that I did this -- but in the film when the receiver starting coming, I just started walking up and they snapped and we made the play in the backfield. It's just about catching on and being smart enough to figure out what the offense is trying to tell you. The offense speaks a language to you, it's your job to interpret that language.

Road games are hard on offenses, but what does it mean for a defense to walk out in front of 100,000 people who don't like you?

Chris Galippo: It's a little different. When their offense is on the field, they won't be as loud -- at least until they get a first down or something like that, then the crowd erupts. So you have to get used to the rhythm of the crowd and use it to your advantage. You've got to thrive on turning the volume down instead of turning it up like when you're playing at home. But defense, to me, is so much different than offense. It's not so much assignments -- you go out there, you light your head on fire and you knock somebody out. I feel like it's a little more free.

Does this team thrive on hostile environments? Some of these guys talk like they enjoy being on the road more -- like, 'We're USC. We're the big show. We're taking over your stadium.'

CG: It's my first year starting but I love traveling. I love getting on the plane with the team, being on the plane for five or six hours, going across the country, being in a hostile environment, being in a hotel with people kind of looking at you funny. It's different. Then going out onto the field, 55 players and the coaching staff. It's like, that's it, those are our guys, all these other -- 100,000 or whatever -- that's all them. It's a cool feeling.

Give me your impressions of Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

CG: He's a big guy. Anytime you've got a big guy like that with the speed he has it's going to be a tackle-emphasis week. Our tackling has to be spot on. He's not a guy you can just arm tackle. He sheds tackles and he can throw on the run. He's very dynamic in what he can bring to a football game. You've really got to be on your toes. He's the kind of guy that you stop an offense on first and second down and it's third and 15 and you drop back in coverage and all of the sudden he breaks for a first down. You've got to be ready for the those situations. And ready after those situations to go, 'OK, let's go another three.'

How much of a mentor was Rey Maualuga for you?

CG: Rey's a little more quiet. A little more to himself. As much as he's so crazy and out there on the field I think he's a little more to himself off the field. But there is so much from his game that I can take from him and add to mine. In the linebacker room, looking at guys like [Brian Cushing] and Rey and Kaluka Maiava, they were guys who did things well but did things differently from each other -- everyone's got something that you can take and add to your game. Even with Coach Norton as a player. You can watch the way he prepared and his intensity on the field, the way that he carries himself -- everyone around you has something to can take from them and use and bring to your own game. So physically standing behind Rey in practice and watching him make plays -- there were so many things that he does that make him who he is.

Have you seen the movie "Top Gun" with Tom Cruise? Would you say you're more Ice Man and Rey's more Maverick? [Galippo says, "Yeah," but his expression seems to say, "That movie came out before I was born."]

You seem like a more cerebral player, a guy who's not going to go nuts for the kill shot -- and maybe leave his gap to do so.

CG: Yeah. Yeah. I consider my strengths to be my discipline, my preparation because I'm not the most athletic guy. I'm not the biggest guy, the strongest guy, the fastest guy, but I'm going to be the toughest and take care of things I can control. You can't control the body you were born into, the shell you carry around. You can prepare in the off-season but I've been injured and had things I can't control. But I can control how tough I am and my technique. And in football, it doesn't matter how big you are, as long as you've got the attitude, you can knock anybody out.

Do you think it might help this defense that you don't come into the season with all the magazine covers?

CG: Yeah, there's a humbleness. Besides [two-time All-American safety Taylor Mays], there's no one on our defense who is Mr. Football or a Butkus candidate -- any of that. Which is a little different from the past. When we were walking down the Trojan Walk last Saturday, it was like me, Malcolm Smith, Will Harris, Jurrell Casey and Matt Barkley was behind us. We were walking and no one even noticed us. They were all yelling at Matt. It's humbling because it's like, "I'm a starter, too!" But you've got to earn it. If anything, it helps us because it keeps us grounded and give us motivation -- something to work for.

Give me a scouting report on the linebackers you play with: Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan.

CG: Malcolm is a little bit of me and a little bit of Mike. Mike is legitimate 4.3. That's unheard of as a linebacker. He's got long strides. Taylor is the fastest guy on the team but Mike could race all our running backs and probably beat them. Malcolm is very heady. He's got a nose for the ball. But he's got his brother in him [former USC and current NY Giants receiver Steve Smith] -- he's got receiver-like feet. And he's fast. He runs a 4.4. He's smart and has moxie and is poised, but he also packs a punch. The guy can hit. Those two guys flanking me make me so much faster. I'm like Mr. 4.8, but I've got it up here [Galippo taps his head]. We help each other out a lot.

So you Smith and Morgan: Let's come up with a nickname. You're not just the no-name guys, right?

CG: We can let other people come up with that. We've got such great coaches that we'd be crazy not to do what they say. As long as we do what they say, we're good enough athletes that, if we stick with the game plan, we can shut anybody down.

That's not very catchy.

CG: [Laughs]



Saturday, 11/1