Pac-12: Omar Bolden
In all, there were 16 active players on both rosters: 11 for the Seahawks and five for the Broncos. There are other Pac-12 players on the rosters or practice squads, but they were either injured, suspended or inactive for XLVIII.
The standout was former USC linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was named MVP for an inspired defensive performance. The Pac-12 had hit a bit of an MVP dry spell. After John Elway (Stanford) won the MVP in 1999, the league went more than a decade without having an MVP. Now it has two in the last four years after Aaron Rodgers (Cal) was MVP of XLV, and now it's Smith's turn.
Here’s a look at how the the Pac-12 alumni performed.
- Doug Baldwin, WR, Stanford: Started at wide receiver. Led the Seahawks with five catches for 66 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. Also had an assisted tackle on special teams.
- Derrick Coleman, RB, UCLA: Recorded one tackle on special teams.
- Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Caught four balls for 65 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown.
- Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal: Started at running back. Carried 15 times for 39 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.
- Brandon Mebane, DT, Cal: Posted three tackles, including a tackle for a loss.
- Zach Miller, TE, ASU: Started at tight end. Had one catch for 10 yards and recovered an onside kick.
- Mike Morgan, LB, USC: Appeared, but did not record any stats.
- Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Started at left cornerback. Posted three tackles (two solo) with one pass defended. Left game with an injury in the fourth quarter.
- Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Crowned Super Bowl MVP. Returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown and recovered a fumble to go along with 10 tackles (six solo) and a defended pass.
- Walter Thurmond, CB, Oregon: Started at cornerback. Posted three tackles (one solo).
- Max Unger, C, Oregon: Started at center.
- C.J. Anderson, RB, Cal: Two carries for 9 yards with a long of 6 yards.
- Zane Beadles, OL, Utah: Started at left guard. Recovered a Knowshon Moreno fumble.
- Omar Bolden, S, Arizona State: Appeared, but did not record any stats.
- Winston Justice, OT, USC: Active, but did not play.
- Brock Osweiler, QB, ASU: Active, but did not play.
LB Vontaze Burfict, once thought a sure first-round draft pick, had a notoriously bad combine showing at the end of February, both with his measurables and his interviews, and cornerback Omar Bolden didn't run the 40-yard dash, which might have caused some scouts to question his surgically repaired knee.
We have good news on both fronts. While Burfict still doesn't seem to be in A-list shape, he seems to be arriving at a better level of maturity. From the Arizona Republic:
Burfict didn't do many media interviews during his time at ASU, but he was among the last to leave Sun Devil Stadium. He answered every question, including those about his work ethic the past two seasons.
"I blame that on myself," he said. "Just immaturity. I'm growing up and realizing what the world is about and just trying to work harder in everything I do. ... This is where I want to be, so I just got to stay dedicated."
If Burfict stays dedicated — both to his football craft and to growing up — he's going to be an outstanding NFL linebacker. And if he's fueled by skeptics, he should know there are plenty of them out there now.
As for Bolden, Doug Haller reports he ran a 4.45 40. That's a good but not great time, but it will surely get him back on draft boards.
His biggest problem now, however, is his apparent inability to run fast. Harris clocked a 4.64 40-yard dash Tuesday, a pedestrian time for a prospective NFL cornerback.
Writes ESPN.com's Steve Muench:
Former Oregon CB Cliff Harris played in just six games in 2011 before being dismissed form the team, so he needed a solid week both on and off the field. No word yet on how he interviewed, but Harris did not perform as well as expected during drills. He stumbled early on, didn't show great body control overall and failed to field the ball cleanly, including two double-catches in the final drill.
It's also worth noting that the defensive backs end their session with a ball-skills competition, and an excited Harris punted the ball after that second double-catch. While it's good to see competitive spirit coming out and it's important not to exaggerate here, Harris should be more careful and avoid drawing any kind of attention that could be viewed as negative. He needs to show teams he's not going to be a distraction going forward.
Harris wasn't the only Pac-12 DB to run poorly. Former California safety Sean Cattouse ran a 4.74.
Former Arizona CB Trevin Wade ran a middle-of-the-pack 4.59. Former Arizona State CB Omar Bolden didn't run the 40, but did lead all defensive backs with 24 reps at 225 pounds.
Harris will get an opportunity to run again during individual workouts with NFL scouts, as will Bolden, who's status on draft boards won't be established until he shows how well his surgically repaired knee is responding.
Feeling good, Louis!
- Not specifically an Arizona story, since Davonte Neal committed to Notre Dame, but still, weird story as he switches high schools.
- Former ASU DB Omar Bolden was tops among his peers in the bench press at the combine.
- A Q&A with former Cal linebacker Zack Follett.
- Former Colorado offensive lineman Ryan Miller knows what's up with the defensive line prospects.
- George Schroeder of The Register-Guard asks how significant are Oregon's proposed violations?
- Some more news on former Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers and the combine.
- Stanford's hunt for a new quarterback is officially underway with spring drills.
- Torii Hunter Jr. taking a long hard look at UCLA football.
- The folks at ESPNLosAngeles continue their position-by-position breakdown of USC. Next up, the offensive line.
- Some more on Utah hiring former graduate assistant Ilaisa Tuiaki to coach the fullbacks and tight ends.
- Bob Condotta continues his position overview -- this time focusing on Washington's linebackers.
- A breakdown of spring priorities for each Pac-12 school, including a look at Washington State's quarterback situation.
- Some thoughts from an Arizona perspective on Davonte' Neal odd recruiting journey, which ended at Notre Dame. More details here.
- Former Arizona State CB Omar Bolden has a lot to prove at the NFL combine.
- Here are the Bay Area players headed to the NFL combine, and a quick preview of them here.
- Former Colorado QB Tyler Hansen has been working out with Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn, and he senses no tension between the two.
- What are the odds Oregon wins the national title?
- Oregon State might undergo a recruiting realignment with its coaches.
- Former Stanford QB Andrew Luck is working out with a QB guru before he heads to the NFL combine.
- Former UCLA defensive coordinator Joe Tresey found another job. A review of the Bruins highly rated recruiting class.
- How do things stack up at QB for USC behind Matt Barkley?
- A shot at casting a movie about Washington State football.
Muench on Polk:
Polk is coming off a somewhat underwhelming performance at the Senior Bowl, where he didn't look as quick as he appears on film, so running well in Indianapolis would help Polk regain some momentum. He's said he expects to run in the 4.4-second range in the 40, which would be well below the four-year combine average (4.60) for running backs.
The link also includes a very cool, behind-the-scenes video of former USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil training for the combine, plus five additional players to keep an eye on, including former Arizona State defensive back Omar Bolden, who enters the workouts with some medical questions.
You can see the complete list of invitees here. And here's the schedule -- things don't really start rolling until Thursday.
There are plenty of subplots for the Pac-12 players on hand.
- Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is among a handful of quarterbacks vying to be the third quarterback off the board after Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin. And, by the way, you might want to toss Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler into the mix there, too.
- Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden, who sat out the entire 2011 season, will try to prove his knee is 100 percent.
- Will Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict be able to rehabilitate his image, both with a strong performance and convincing interview? The scuttlebutt for him since the start of the season has been almost entirely negative, with the latest being this: He's a "fake tough guy." Even worse than rumors like that is the more measurable claim that he may show up out of shape.
- Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris, who essentially missed the entire season due to suspension, will need to show some newfound maturity. And he'll need to test well to distract from the challenge he may face producing that.
- Oregon running back LaMichael James could substantially boost his stock will an impressive 40-yard dash, which would prove he has elite speed and offset size concerns.
- The same could be said for Washington running back Chris Polk, whose biggest knock is an apparent lack of top-end speed.
- Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas, a surprise early entry into the draft, will get a chance to prove he's worthy.
- Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu entered the 2011 season looking like a potential first-round pick, but his stock slid with a lackluster season. He also didn't impress during Senior Bowl practices. But 330 pound DTs are hard to find, particularly ones as athletic as Ta'amu. A good combine could get him back on the first-day radar.
- Receivers Chris Owusu of Stanford and James Rodgers of Oregon State also need to overcome health issues. Rodgers needs to show his quickness is back after major knee surgery. Owusu will need to address issues with multiple concussions.
- A guy the Pac-12 blog is curious about: Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The conference defensive player of the year seems like a guy who might surprise folks and push into the early rounds.
- The Pac-12 is sending a strong group of offensive linemen into the combine, with USC's Matt Kalil and the Stanford tandem of Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro likely first-round picks. But what about the other seven guys? Who might step up and generate some buzz? Perhaps Cal's Mitchell Schwartz?
Up next: Arizona State
Offense: It's difficult to find too much fault with an offense that averaged 446 yards and 33.15 points per game, numbers that ranked in the top-five of the Pac-12 and top-30 in the nation. Quarterback Brock Osweiler broke through in his first full year as a starter into an A-list quarterback and leader, while receiver Gerell Robinson also found himself after an up-an-down career. When healthy, running back Cameron Marshall was one of the top-five or so backs in the league. Lots of credit should go to coordinator Noel Mazzone -- now with Jim Mora's staff at UCLA -- who in two years transformed an anemic offense into a potent one. Questionable areas? The Sun Devils sometimes struggled to convert touchdowns in the redzone, were mediocre on third down and couldn't seem to put together decisive drives in the fourth quarter of games during their second-half collapse.
Defense: The Sun Devils get graded on a negative curve, as their mediocre numbers feel much worse based on the talent on hand, starting with the Pac-12's most disappointing player: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict had long been a difficult presence in the locker room, but his liability on the field previously had been only about boneheaded penalties -- notably personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct calls. The problem this season was he missed tackles, couldn't get off blocks and disappeared during long stretches of games. And this isn't a sour grapes, "Vontaze won't talk to the media" deal. He didn't even earn honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors from the coaches vote. It's fair to wonder how things might have gone if two unit leaders, cornerback Omar Bolden and linebacker Brandon Magee, hadn't suffered season-ending knee injuries. The Sun Devils gave up 419 yards and 26 points per game and were bad against the pass, yielding a 66 percent completion rate. During the five-game losing streak to end the season, the defense gave up 40 points per game.
Overall: The Sun Devils played two seasons. The 6-2 start was, at worst, a B+. The 0-5 finish was an F, and it felt even worse based on the early season optimism. Further, the collapse got coach Dennis Erickson fired, and the process of hiring Todd Graham to replace him couldn't be described as a well-oiled machine finding a candidate that reinvigorated the fan base. Then Osweiler surprises many with his decision to bolt to the NFL. The program, in fact, feels pretty low at present. Still, the Sun Devils won six games and played in a bowl game. The season can't be considered a total failure. Just close to it.
- Arizona and new coach Rich Rodriguez are on their honeymoon, while many other schools are only dating.
- Some Arizona State analysis from CB Omar Bolden.
- Some post-game thoughts from California's win over Arizona State.
- Colorado coach Jon Embree hopes the win over Utah is a springboard for his program.
- Oregon gets another home game against UCLA for its seniors.
- What went wrong for Oregon State?
- A Stanford recruiting roundup.
- Amid reports that he will be fired, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel claims the Bruins are headed in the right direction.
- Considering how USC evolved into one of the nation's best teams.
- The loss to Colorado was costly for Utah.
- Washington now rests and awaits its bowl fate.
- As of this typing, there is no final decision on the fate of Washington State coach Paul Wulff.
- Things didn't bounce Arizona's way the last time it visited Washington.
- It's not certain when -- or if -- Arizona State CB Omar Bolden will return this season.
- California QB Zach Maynard feels more comfortable.
- Colorado redshirt freshman QB Nick Hirschman is likely to make his first college start at Arizona State, replacing injured starter Tyler Hansen.
- An update on Oregon CB Cliff Harris' driving status. More on that here as well as some notes, one of which says QB Darron Thomas expects to play against Washington State.
- Oregon State's youngsters are coming of age.
- What to watch with USC-Stanford. This union is pushing the pile.
- For better or worse, UCLA stands pat. A familiar name will boost the depleted Bruins corps of WRs.
- USC's offensive line is better but it hasn't yet arrived. QB Matt Barkley is ready to go head-to-head with Andrew Luck.
- Utah expects to get its top playmaker back for Oregon State's visit.
- Washington WR James Johnson rebounds after sophomore slump.
- Washington State players are stung by criticism. A calf, not shoulder, injury may end QB Jeff Tuel's season.
Commandment VI: "Thou shall not take any opponent lightly, for thenst thou surely will get thou butt kickest."
(Note: We prefer to use the Codex John McKay, as translated by the Venerable Bede, instead of the Codex Fielding Yost, translated by Alcuin, per a directive from Charlemagne).
Woe to the team that overlooks an apparently weak foe. Ask any team that's lost to an FCS program. Or USC in 2007 against Stanford. Or Oklahoma last weekend.
Of the Sun Devils five remaining opponents, just one -- 4-3 California, which must come to Tempe for the season finale on Nov. 25 -- owns a winning record at present.
Further, the Sun Devils, 3-1 in Pac-12 play, appear to be in complete control of the conference's South Division. USC also is 3-1 in the conference but is ineligible for the postseason. Three of the four remaining South Division foes already have four conference defeats. The lone team in striking distance? UCLA, at 2-2.
Who believes UCLA, a 48-12 loser at Arizona last Thursday, is going to win the South? Anyone? [Crickets] Anyone? [Crickets].
So it would be very easy for the Sun Devils to start looking ahead to the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2.
Colorado coming to town on Saturday? Pfftt. The Buffaloes are 1-7 and have surrendered 145 points in their past three games. Just about all their good players -- receiver Paul Richardson, linebacker Doug Rippy, running back Rodney Stewart, etc. -- are hurt. Heck, QB Tyler Hansen is questionable after suffering a concussion in the 45-2 loss to Oregon.
At this point, one should re-read Commandment VI.
“I think in the game of football, sometimes you’ll see a team looking past another team," Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler said. "[This week] it will be a good test for us."
No doubt. The entire five-game stretch will be a good test of ASU's focus, which, if true, could yield substantial rewards. And things are looking up in other ways, too.
Sure, the 41-27 loss at Oregon still smarts, but as solid as the Sun Devils have been so far, they might bring a substantially better team to the championship game (sportswriters have no such prohibition on looking ahead). Recall how injury ravaged this team once was? Well, it's getting healthier after a bye week.
For one, defensive end Junior Onyeali, only the team's best pass-rusher, is expected to play against Colorado, his first action since hurting his knee at Illinois on Sept. 17. Offensive tackle Evan Finkenberg (knee) could be back this week but more likely will be ready for the trip to UCLA on Nov. 5. Further, running back Cameron Marshall and offensive tackle Aderious Simmons, who both have ankle injuries -- Marshall has continued to play through it; Simmons returned for the Oregon game -- used the bye week to get healthier.
Finally, there's the Omar Bolden question. Bolden, perhaps the best defensive back in the conference, who has not played this season after tearing his ACL in spring practice, has been cleared by doctors to practice.
"He was actually on the scout team the other day," coach Dennis Erickson "He’s moving around pretty well. I don’t know if or when he will play. It’s up to him and the doctors."
Adding an A-list cornerback -- he was a unanimous first-team All-Pac-10 pick last year -- to an already solid Sun Devils defense would be, well, huge.
You can follow Omar's progress on his Twitter page, where he Monday tweeted: "Cleared by my doctor from a medical standpoint..... Now I gotta get my #Swagger back!!!" And "I won't play unless I'm just as effective as I was 6 months ago.... Refuse to damage stock!"
So stay tuned.
As for not taking teams lightly, Erickson said the good news is his team is mature and senior-laden. And if they need a reminder of what can happen when they give a less-than-focused effort, they can just reference the Sept. 17 trip to Illinois, a 17-14 loss to a team that had no business being within two TDs of the Sun Devils.
There's no escaping the reality of the schedule. The Sun Devils should win their next five games and finish at 10-2, a record that should have them within striking distance of the top-10.
And who knows what could happen in one-game playoff to get to the Rose Bowl?
"We have some goals that we can achieve," Erickson said. "We will not achieve them if we do not win the next game and the next game and the next game."
And, of course, it all starts with THE next game, and nothing else.
But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here.
- Arizona WR Juron Criner is playing well again, but he's not impressive NFL draft gurus. And another receiver gets the call.
- Arizona State CB Omar Bolden talks about the life of a college athlete.
- California is feeling good again, but intends to take UCLA seriously. Grading the Bears.
- It's not getting any easier for Colorado, as it visits Arizona State on Saturday. QB Tyler Hansen is questionable with a concussion.
- Cliff Harris finds his way back into Oregon coach Chip Kelly's doghouse. Setting up the Ducks game with Washington State.
- Oregon State is feeling better, getting ready for Utah. The Beavers just got sick of losing.
- Weekend rewind for Stanford.
- UCLA has lots of issues. Is it time to play QB Brett Hundley?
- Lane Kiffin reviews USC's win at Notre Dame. The report card is good.
- Utah is not who it thought it was. There are plenty of issues on offense, not just QB.
- Washington needs to regroup. RB Chris Polk makes history, doesn't car.
- Washington State QB Jeff Tuel is questionable for the Cougars game at Oregon.
- Arizona's defense is struggling. Mightily. Defensive tackle Justin Washington has been disappointing.
- Might injured Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden play this season? Running back Cameron Marshall gives the Sun Devils balance.
- California heads into its bye week.
- Colorado is struggling to get the running game going. Washington State will challenge the Buffs' secondary.
- Again, one of the reasons Oregon's defensive numbers are mediocre is the offense plays so fast.
- Oregon State tries to get back on track at Arizona State.
- Grading Stanford's bye week. More details here.
- A look at the UCLA-Stanford matchup. The Bruins get ready for Andrew Luck.
- A look at the USC-Arizona matchup. The Trojans need a turnover turnaround.
- Utah's first Pac-12 home game will be a big show. Checking in with quarterback Jordan Wynn.
- Washington linebacker Cort Dennison was spurned by his hometown Utes. With Hau'oli Jamora out, the Huskies shift the D-line.
- First look at the Washington State-Colorado matchup. Some further Coug perspective.
Lately things just don't seem the same
Actin' funny, but I don't know why
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
- Three keys for Arizona to get back on track.
- Arizona State's injured cornerback Omar Bolden reflects on the win against Missouri.
- Finding a way to win is a new thing for California.
- Colorado turns its attention to rival Colorado State.
- Oregon has a bit of a youth movement.
- Oregon State coach Mike Riley isn't scrapping a two quarterback system but he wants to run it differently.
- Grading Stanford's performance at Duke.
- UCLA has to do better than it did against San Jose State. Or else.
- Five observations about USC's win against Utah.
- Utah needs to refocus after tough loss at USC because BYU is next.
- Washington now faces its biggest test at Nebraska, which is certainly a familiar foe.
- Suddenly, statistics are fun for Washington State.
Don’t sing with a fake British accent. Don’t act like your family’s a joke.
Have fun, but stay clear of the needle. Call home on your sister’s birthday.
Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus. Don’t give it away.
- Keola Antolin and the other Arizona running backs did OK in the opener.
- With Missouri and ESPN coming to town Friday, Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict will have the spotlight: Does he step up or does he falter? Injured CB Omar Bolden keeps himself busy.
- There's reason for how at California after QB Zach Maynard was solid in his first start. A post-Fresno State review.
- Colorado's biggest concern is the struggle of its offensive line at Hawaii. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy vows improvement.
- No word from Oregon on the status of LB Kiko Alonso, CB Cliff Harris and RB Kenjon Barner.
- Does Oregon State have a QB controversy? Another take on that.
- It wasn't all good from Stanford.
- The status of UCLA QB Kevin Prince is uncertain after he suffered a concussion and a shoulder sprain. Grading the Bruins.
- USC RB Dillon Baxter isn't happy. Grading the Trojans.
- Utah gets ready to visit USC with heavy hearts. The Utes debut wasn't impressive, so what have they got for the Trojans?
- Washington's pass defense needs to get better against Hawaii. Cheer up Huskies, you're 1-0, that's what matters.
- Washington State coach Paul Wulff regrets the bad luck, not the decision to play QB Jeff Tuel, who fractured his clavicle in the opener. While the Tuel injury is bad, being 1-0 is good.
- Sometimes reports of doomsday are premature.