Pac-12: Parker Orms

Today, we finish our preseason position reviews.

Here's how we do this. We provide three evaluative categories: "Great shape," "Good shape" and "We'll see."

Hint: You'd prefer your team to be in "Great shape."

"We'll see" doesn't mean you're going to stink at said position. It means just what it says -- we'll see, because there's no way at present to know.

You can review last year's rankings here.

Up next: Safety. Teams in each category are listed in alphabetical order.

GREAT

Arizona: Jourdon Grandon, Tra'Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis return with a combined 78 starts. On Thursday, Tevis, a former walk-on, was named to the Bronko Nagurski watch list for the nation's best defensive player. Safety is a clear strength for the Wildcats.

Oregon State: Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman both begin Year 3 as starters. Combined, they have 345 career tackles and neither has missed a game the past two years. Murphy was an all-conference honorable mention selection last year.

UCLA: Between Randall Goforth, Anthony Jefferson and Tahaan Goodman, the Bruins are loaded with talent at safety. Both Goforth and Jefferson were named all-conference honorable mention last season, but Goodman has the potential to be the best of the group. Tyler Foreman, a well-regarded recruit, will be coming off his redshirt.

USC: Despite losing Dion Bailey early to the NFL, USC still has the potential to have one of the best safety combinations the conference. Su'a Cravens might have been the best freshman safety in the country last season. Who he'll play next to remains a bit of a question, but if it's Josh Shaw -- who is proven at both safety positions -- or someone else, possibly Leon McQuay III, USC will be in great shape.

GOOD

Arizona State: One of only two returning starters for the Sun Devils on defense is safety Damarious Randall, which, by default, will rise expectations for his performance. The competition for the other starting spot still needs to run its course, but many expect Marcus Ball, who missed last season with an injury, to win the job.

Stanford: Jordan Richards is a potential All-American at strong safety, but the spot opposite him remains the biggest question mark on the Stanford defense. The vacancy, created by Ed Reynolds' early departure for the NFL, resulted in the coaching staff moving a pair of offensive players -- QB Dallas Lloyd and receiver Kodi Whitfield to safety. Those two will compete with Zach Hoffpauir, who spent the spring playing baseball, and Kyle Olugbode.

WE'LL SEE

California: Much like the case at linebacker, the Bears return several players that have started games, but based on the defense's performance last year, it's hard to generate much optimism. The best thing going for the group is the return of Avery Sebastian, who was a starter before going down with an Achilles tear in the first half of the first game last year (at which point he already had 10 tackles and a pick). He'll likely line up next to Michael Lowe.

Colorado: Jered Bell is back, but the Buffs need to replace Parker Orms, who was a fixture in the starting lineup the last two seasons. Tedric Thompson, Marques Mosley and Terrel Smith have all started games in the past and they'll compete with Ryan Moeller, who is coming off his redshirt.

Oregon: Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson ran out of eligibility which makes safety one of question marks facing Oregon headed into 2014. Pencil in Erick Dargan, a fifth-year senior that has contributed throughout his career, at one spot, but the other isn't as clear. Issac Dixon is probably the favorite, but Tyree Robinson should push him.

Utah: After three years of starting at safety, Eric Rowe split his time between corner and safety in the spring and will likely wind up playing more cornerback. That move leaves the safety spot a little hazy. Tevin Carter, who started his career as a receiver at Cal, went to a junior college and sat out last season due to academic issues, is expected to have one spot. Brian Blechen, who missed last season with an injury, should have the other. Although, Blechen could play linebacker, which would likely result in Charles Henderson at safety.

Washington: The Huskies don't return either starting safety, but have a large group of talented players vying for playing time. It's probably too early to make safe predictions on who will start, but Brandon Beaver, Trevor Walker, Kevin King and Thomas Vincent are all in the mix. UW also signed three safeties to its most recent recruiting class.

Washington State: If you were to name the individual player who meant more to his team's defense than any other last season, Deone Bucannon might have been that pick. Without him, the Cougars have a likely pair of starters in Isaac Dotson, a former quarterback, and Taylor Taliulu, who lost his starting job late last year.
Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues with the safeties.

Arizona: The Wildcats have a lot of experience at safety with a combined 78 starts between Jourdon Grandon, Tra'Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis. All three of their backups on the AdvoCare V100 Bowl depth chart -- Anthony Lopez, William Parks and Jamar Allah -- also return.

Arizona State: Damarious Randall returns as one of the more talented safeties in the conference after a season in which he finished tied for third on the team with 71 tackles. Marcus Ball is a strong candidate to eventually earn the job next to Randall, but he's still working his way back from a clavicle injury that cost him the 2013 season. Laiu Moeakiola, who appeared in 10 games last year as a reserve, James Johnson, Jayme Otomewo and Ezekiel Bishop are other names to watch.

California: Cal started five different players at safety last year and four of them -- Michael Lowe, Cameron Walker, Avery Sebastian and Damariay Drew -- will be back. Sebastian began the year in the starting lineup and had an interception and 10 tackles before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear in the first half of the season opener. Look for him to regain his starting job next to Lowe.

Colorado: The Buffs need to replace SS Parker Orms, who had 26 career starts and 10 last season, but FS Jered Bell will return. All three of the players competing to replace Orms -- Marques Mosley, Terrel Smith and Tedric Thompson -- have started at least three games. Smith redshirted last season after he underwent shoulder surgery and has 19 career starts.

Oregon: The Ducks lose both Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson from a secondary that has consistently been among the nation's best. Fifth-year senior Erick Dargan, Patterson's high school teammate, looks to slide into his first full-time starting role after three years of meaningful contributions on both special teams and reserve duty. Opposite him, Issac Dixon is the presumed favorite with Tyree Robinson and Reggie Daniels also in the mix.

Oregon State: The Beavers have both Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman back for their third year as starters, which should help soften the blow of losing CB Rashaad Reynolds. A few others to watch are sophomore Cyril Noland-Lewis, Justin Strong, Brandon Arnold, Zack Robinson and walk-on Micah Audiss, who was No. 2 behind Zimmerman in the season-ending depth chart.

Stanford: Ed Reynolds' early departure for the NFL creates the one real unknown spot for the Cardinal. Two former offensive players -- QB Dallas Lloyd and WR Kodi Whitfield -- are in the competition for the vacant spot, as is Kyle Olugbode. Zach Hoffpauir will join the competition once baseball season is over. The winner will play next to Jordan Richards, a senior who has started the past two seasons and played regularly as a freshman.

UCLA: Starters Randall Goforth and Anthony Jefferson are both back after being named all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season. Two names to watch are Tahaan Goodman and Tyler Foreman, both of whom arrived as part of the Class of 2013.

USC: Su'a Cravens and Josh Shaw are back, but the Trojans will have to replace Dion Bailey, who left early for the NFL after converting to safety from linebacker last year. Shaw could wind up back at corner, which would open the door for Leon McQuay III. Gerald Bowman got a medical redshirt after appearing in three games last year and should provide depth.

Utah: Veteran Eric Rowe is set to begin his fourth year as a starter in the Utes' secondary, but he'll play next to a new player with Michael Walker out of eligibility. Charles Henderson was Walker's primary backup last season, but look for junior-college transfer Tevin Carter -- a former Cal Bear -- to challenge him for the starting job.

Washington: The Huskies are looking to fill both starting spots and will likely do so with young players. Sophomores Brandon Beaver, Kevin King and Trevor Walker all saw spot duty last year and the program signed an impressive crop of high school safeties, including Bellevue's Bishard “Budda” Baker.

Washington State: Replacing Deone Bucannon means replacing one of the school's all-time greats at his position. Isaac Dotson looks like the favorite to take that spot, but will be pushed by David Bucannon, Darius Lemora and true freshman Markell Sanders, who arrived for spring practice.



The Senior Bowl released its watch list for the 2014 game and 38 players from the Pac-12, representing 11 of the 12 schools, are on the list.

Arizona State leads the way with seven players, followed by Stanford and UCLA with six each. Arizona is the lone Pac-12 school not represented.

The SEC dominated the list with 72 players, followed by the ACC (48), Big Ten (46) and then the Pac-12.

The list, which is made up of more than 400 players vying for 110 roster spots, isn't set in stone. Additional players can be added throughout the year.

You’ll note some players are listed out of position -- mostly because they are expected to fluctuate back and forth. For example, USC’s Morgan Breslin is listed as a DE, but he’ll spend just as much time at OLB this season in USC’s new scheme.

You can see the complete watch list here. And here’s the breakdown from each Pac-12 team.

Arizona State (7)
  • Chris Coyle, TE
  • Alden Darby, S
  • Marion Grice, RB
  • Osahon Irabor, DC
  • Kevin Ozier, WR
  • Will Sutton, DT
  • Chris Young, OLB
California (1)
  • Deandre Coleman, DT
Colorado (2)
  • Gus Handler, C
  • Parker Orms, S
Oregon (5)
  • Taylor Hart, DT
  • Josh Huff, WR
  • Wade Keliikipi, DT
  • Boseko Lokombo, LB
  • Avery Patterson, DC
Oregon State (1)
  • Rashaad Reynolds, DC
Stanford (6)
  • Tyler Gaffney, RB
  • Ben Gardner, DE
  • Ryan Hewitt, FB
  • Trent Murphy, LB
  • Shayne Skov, LB
  • David Yankey, OG
UCLA (6)
  • Anthony Barr, LB
  • Seali’i Epenesa, DT
  • Shaq Evans, WR
  • Cassius Marsh, DE
  • Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE
  • Jordan Zumwalt, LB
USC (5)
  • Morgan Breslin, DE
  • Kevin Graf, OT
  • Devon Kennard, LB
  • John Martinez, OG
  • Silas Redd, RB
Utah (2)
  • Tenny Palepoi, DT
  • Trevor Reilly, LB
Washington (2)
  • Sean Parker, DC
  • Keith Price, QB
Washington State (1)
  • Deone Bucannon, S

Colorado Buffaloes season preview

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
10:30
AM ET
We continue our day-by-day snapshots of each Pac-12 team heading into the 2013 season in reverse alphabetical order with the Colorado Buffaloes.

Colorado

Coach: Mike MacIntyre (16-21, 0-0 at Colorado)

2012 record: 1-11, 1-8 Pac-12 South

Key losses: OT David Bakhtiari, TE Nick Kasa, OLB Jon Major, DT Will Pericak, FS Ray Polk.

[+] EnlargeMike MacIntyre
AP Photo/Brennan LinsleyMike MacIntyre is charged with turning around Colorado after making a winner out of San Jose State.
Key returnees: C Gus Handler, TB Christian Powell, WR Tyler McCulloch, S Marques Mosley, DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, P Darragh O'Neill, WR Paul Richardson, Derrick Webb.

Newcomer to watch: It’s too early to tell which one, but three freshmen wide receivers -- Elijah Dunston, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo (ironically numbered 1, 2 and 3) -- are all making a case to be in the rotation and two-deep.

Biggest games in 2013: The season opener against Colorado State (Sept. 1) is always a big one, and the rivalry with Utah (Nov. 30) is starting to take shape.

Biggest question mark: While no official word has come down on who will start at quarterback, it’s looking more and more like Connor Wood will at least begin the season as the starter. So we can at least put a partial check mark there. The biggest question is really what sort of progress -- if any -- we’ll see in Mike MacIntyre’s first season as the new head coach. He comes in with solid credentials and was Mr. Fix-It at San Jose State. But with the new job comes a new set of challenges. Chief among them, the proverbial challenge of “changing the culture.” MacIntyre made it clear that he wants to win and compete immediately, and he believes that his players have bought in. We’ll see how much on Sept. 1.

Forecast: The media doesn’t have much faith in the Buffs, picking the team that went 1-11 last season to finish last again in the Pac-12 South. This might be one of those situations in which the team shows improvement -- just not in the win department. Remember, San Jose State appeared to take a step back in MacIntyre’s first season, going 1-12, but it was during that time that he was establishing his schemes and philosophies, and in Year 2 they went 5-7. By the third season, the Spartans were 11-2 (10-2 under MacIntyre) and ranked in the top 25. No one is saying the Buffs will be ranked in three seasons, and most people probably aren't expecting it. The Pac-12 is a different animal than the now football-less WAC, but it's not wrong to hope for a postseason berth in the next 3-5 seasons.

And this season, the Buffs are loaded with young players who gained a ton of experience last season. They return 17 starters (eight offense, nine defense) including a young secondary that took its licks last season. Mosley, Kenneth Crawley and Yuri Wright all started last season, and Greg Henderson and Parker Orms are the veterans of the group. Up front defensively, Uzo-Diribe is a talented pass-rusher, and linebackers Derrick Webb and Paul Vigo should be the anchors on defense.

Offensively, they lose Bakhtiari to the NFL and Alex Lewis announced a transfer, which was followed by some bizarre and unfortunate circumstances. But they get Richardson back after he missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the most explosive wide receivers in the country and should give the Buffs a stretch-the-field threat they were lacking.

Powell also quietly put together a strong second half last season, posting a pair of 100-yard games and four touchdowns over the final five. If they can plug the left side of the line (it’s looking like veteran Jack Harris at left tackle and Kaiwi Crabb at left guard), he could inch closer to 1,000 yards on the ground after posting 691 and a 4.4 yards per carry average last season.

There is talent on Colorado’s roster, but, as what's becoming a trend with Colorado, fans are going to have to be patient until the new staff figures out how best to use it.
Spring is a time of improvement. But who is improving the most? Your bloggers debate the position groups they expect to be better in 2013.

Ted Miller: One of the most memorable images of the bowl season was Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz getting sacked by Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

It went like this: Sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack. And sack.

I will now pause while all of you hassle Oregon State fans about that so we can then resume requisite decorum.

[+] EnlargeAlex Okafor
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsOregon State's offensive line gave up 10 sacks in a loss at the Alamo Bowl.
All good? Well, enjoy it now, because the Beavers aren't going to yield that sort of quarterback feast in 2013. In fact, the Beavers offensive line, which was actually vastly improved in 2012 compared to the previous fall, is going to be pretty salty this go-around.

Four of five starters are back, and there are experienced backups and a solid group of youngsters providing depth. Among those returning starters is true sophomore Isaac Seumalo, who will push Oregon's Hroniss Grasu for the title of "Pac-12's best center." He and guard Grant Enger were honorable mention All-Pac-12 last year.

That's a good start, but the best news might be that talented but mercurial left tackle Michael Philipp, who has 35 career starts, is playing "the best ball of his life" according to head coach Mike Riley. The entire unit has 88 career starts, and experienced sophomore Gavin Andrews is the frontrunner to replace Colin Kelly at right tackle.

Further, projecting improvement is logical, just based on how much better the unit was in 2012 compared to 2011, if at least we can forget the Alamo. The Beavers rushed for just 86.9 yards per game in 2011, which ranked 118th in the nation. They improved to 124.2 in 2012. In the 12 games before getting Alex Okafor'd, the Beavers yielded 23 sacks, compared to 27 in 12 games 2011.

But an offensive line looking good is often about more than the line itself, and the skill components of the offense should help the Beavers cause up front. Running back Storm Woods stepped up last year, falling just short of 1,000 yards. He'll get that total this fall, and his backup, Terron Ward, is solid. Taking another step forward in the running game will help protect whoever wins the starting quarterback job, where two veterans, Vaz and Sean Mannion, are competing.

Part of winning the quarterback job will be pocket presence. As in, get rid of the freaking football before you get sacked.

In 2011, the Beavers had one of the worst offensive lines in the Pac-12. Next fall, count on it being one of the best.

Kevin Gemmell: Sometimes, you just have to go out on a limb. So here and now, I'm declaring that Colorado's pass defense is going to be better in 2013. Bold statement? Perhaps. Well, not really.

When you consider the numbers it's really not too much of a stretch. Because they actually can't get much worse.

  • Last nationally in pass defense efficiency.
  • Last nationally in passing touchdowns allowed (39).
  • 118th out of 120 schools in interceptions (3).
  • Colorado surrendered five or more passing touchdowns four times in 2012.

But fear not, Ralphie retinues, because it's going to get better. And here's why.

Last year Kenneth Crawley took 642 snaps at cornerback -- second most ever for a Colorado true freshman. Marques Mosley took 524 -- fourth most. Yuri Wright took 310 -- 12th most. That's 1,476 snaps from true freshmen in the secondary. And with each snap -- hopefully -- they learned a little something about college football and the speed of the game.

This is a quarterback driven league. Consider some of the quarterbacks Colorado faced in 2012; Brett Hundley, Taylor Kelly, Matt Barkley, Marcus Mariota ... those are high-efficiency guys operating high-efficiency offenses. The end result was almost predictable when you throw three true freshmen -- just three months removed from high school -- against some of the best quarterbacks and wide receivers in the country.

Here's your diploma. Now go cover Robert Woods. It was trial by thermonuclear detonation.

But just as the ugliness of 2012 was predictable, so is the expectation of improvement in 2013. With a year of experience and a full offseason in a collegiate training program, those pups are going to get better. It's even possible that by 2014 Colorado might have the most experienced defensive backfield in the league consisting of some of the Pac-12's most feared pass defenders.

Safety Terrel Smith is the veteran of the group and behind Mosley at the other safety spot is another senior in Parker Orms. Behind Crawley are a pair of juniors -- Josh Moten and Harrison Hunter. There is a some good depth. The Buffs actually have 17 players listed as DBs on their roster. Numbers aren't the problem.

Plus there are two full-time coaches working the secondary -- Charles Clark handling the safeties and Andy LaRussa working with the cornerbacks. Both of them were with Mike MacIntyre during his San Jose State reclamation project. No one is expecting them to be a lockdown defense overnight. But with the experience gained last season, they should show respectable improvement.
Want to see many of the names that will be featured on Colorado's defensive depth chart next fall?

Go here.

The Buffaloes are going to be young next fall on both sides of the ball, but particularly on defense. Lots of freshmen will play -- guaranteed. And that is by design. Defensive coordinator Greg Brown and head coach Jon Embree made something clear during spring practices to the returning players: "Impress us now, or get replaced by incoming freshmen."

[+] EnlargeGreg Brown
Chris Williams/Icon SMIDefensive coordinator Greg Brown will be working with a lot of freshmen this fall, including eight on the defensive line.
There's a reason for the likely youth movement: The Buffs were lousy on defense in 2011, ranking last in the Pac-12 in scoring (36.5 points per game) and 10th in total defense (439.3 yards per game). Further, Pac-12 quarterbacks feasted on the secondary, which yielded not only the most touchdown passes (34) -- six more than anyone else -- but also grabbed the fewest interceptions (seven) in the conference.

If Colorado is going to move up in the South Division pecking order during the program's second year in the conference, those numbers need to improve.

Colorado finished spring drills last weekend, so it seemed like a good time to check in with Brown to look back and look ahead to the fall.

First off, last year your official depth chart was a 3-4 scheme. This spring, you guys started out with a 4-3. Can you give me a Cliffs Notes version of your base scheme?

Greg Brown: It's really still the same. We're like last year but like most teams can play either, kind of multiple up front.

When you went over film from last year, what stood out to you as issues with the defense?

GB: Too many big plays were given up. Too many points were scored. We had a laundry list of a lot of things. Too many injuries. The roster was thin. It was one of those years we'd like to see not repeated.

The Big 12 is hardly an offense-poor conference. You've coached there and the Pac-12. Were there any adjustments for your players moving from the Big 12 to Pac-12?

GB: Absolutely. Not to take anything away from the Big 12. That's a terrific league that stands on its own merits, that's for sure. But you just have some unique offensive minds in the Pac-12, different styles of attack that we had not seen in the Big 12. There's nobody in the Big 12 that plays the same style as Oregon. Nobody plays the same style as Stanford or Washington. They are all unique and were tough styles to contend with. We've got a lot of offensive-minded head coaches and very innovated offensive coordinators.

You guys were heavy on D-linemen in the recruiting class. How many first-year players do you anticipate playing next fall?

GB: We brought eight (defensive linemen) in. We're thinking at least half that amount, probably higher. Between the defensive line, which is eight-slash-nine because we've got a guy who could go either way, and we've got five cornerbacks, and the great majority of those guys are going to play. They won't redshirt. We're not counting on anybody redshirting. We'll see if they can't do it yet, then they'll have to. But other than that, we have no numbers. Spring ball was a feat to get accomplished. Because of our lack of numbers, we ended up doing so much seven-on-seven because we didn't have the D-line to do it [full scrimmage]. We really didn't have the secondary to do much seven-on-seven,either. It was largely a battle of walk-ons this spring at Colorado. We're welcoming with open arms all the incoming troops because they are going to play.

Give me a couple of names of standouts this spring? Who impressed you?

[+] EnlargeChidera Uzo-Diribe
Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI Defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe has made an impression on coaches this spring.
GB: [Defensive end] Chidera Uzo-Diribe, he had a very good spring. He's got skill. He's got speed. He's got size. And he's tenacious. He's a good player. He played last year for us and was fine but he stepped up this spring and filled a void -- we had two defensive ends graduate. He stepped up and really became a guy. He would be the top dog in the D-line. If there is one other defensive lineman who can play, it's Will Pericak. He's a good player -- steady, consistent. He's been around the block. Has size. He's played for a long time here. Good player. You've got those two up front. After that, there's really nobody to write about [on the defensive line]. We're just waiting on the young kids to get here.

How about linebacker?

GB: Linebacker-wise, our best player is Doug Rippy. He's our captain, a team leader. He ended up missing, from the Washington game on last year, missing the season. He tore his ACL in that game and he was held out of spring ball and can't do anything yet. But we're looking to get him back. Jon Major is another 'backer who is back, has a lot of experience. He's a jack of all trades for us, can do a lot of things. Smart, can rush the passer, cover. He makes plays. He's good. Linebacker is where the most numbers are back. After that, you've got some guys who have played. Derrick Webb has played. He can run and hit. Then there's a smattering of younger kids who have some ability. They just haven't proven anything yet. They're up and coming.

And then the secondary?

GB: We've got one returning guy. That's Ray Polk; he's a safety. Good player. Big kid who can run and hit. Been starting here a long time. Good future in front of him. Ray's issue was he could only do non-contact stuff during spring. He had surgery on a torn ligament in his wrist. So he did seven-on-seven and that was probably it. The next one to talk about back there would be [cornerback] Greg Henderson. He came in as a true freshman and won a starting job. He took advantage of the opportunity and won a job and he kept it all year. He continually progressed every week. This spring, he got better as you'd expect. They come in as freshmen and just look to survive, which he did more than ably. But we're looking for improvement this year and looking for him to be a guy. He's athletic. He can run, he's smart. And he's tough. And as much as anything, he stayed healthy. After him, a guy who is a good player for us, is Parker Orms. He plays nickel, safety and corner. He plays all three. Good athlete, tough kid. He missed quite a bit of the year. He only played five games for us. And he got hurt this spring, which is unfortunate. He tore his hamstring. He played three days of spring then tore that thing. In the five games he played for us last year, we either won or had a chance to win because he allowed us to do things on defense we could not do when he was not in there.

So the freshmen will be in the mix pretty quickly in the secondary, too?

GB: Oh, no question. We told all the kids on defense this spring, particularly on the D-line and in the secondary, "OK, all you guys, here is your chance. This is your chance. We don't want to hear anything in the fall about, 'Hey, I'm not getting any reps.' Here is your chance now! Because believe it or not, in the fall with those kids coming in, they are going to get all those reps. We'll see what you guys can do now.' And here come the new kids. We know who has helped us in the past. For the rest of the spots? Hey, we're plugging in brand new kids and let's go.

How much can this defense improve in 2012?

GB: You can. All these 15 defensive players who are coming in that we're looking to help us, you wish you could snap your fingers and be two years in the future, matured and bigger, strong, faster, eating on the training table, learning how to play. That would be nice. But the reality of it is there are going to be growing pains. These guys have some talent, but they also are going to be true freshmen and will make their share of mistakes. But, sure, we can improve. We have to manage what we're doing. We have an outstanding coaching staff on that side of the ball with Kanavis McGhee and Mike Tuiasosopo. They are great tacticians. As is linebackers coach Brian Cabral. We're looking for improvement.
You've got to break some eggs to make an omelet. And sometimes a coach gives players the boot to establish the culture he wants.

It appears that Colorado coach Jon Embree is willing to sacrifice his team's present for its future, as he has indefinitely suspended five players from a defense that is already thin, particularly in the secondary, where four of the five play.

And that secondary faces Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck on Saturday. Luck is generally considered a capable passer.

The five suspended players, according to the Boulder Daily Camera: CB Parker Orms, CB Ayodeji Olatoye, CB Paul Vigo, CB Josh Moten and LB Liloa Nobriga. None of the players were listed as starters on this week's depth chart.

According to the Daily Camera, all five were notified of the decision Wednesday and the entire team was told during a post-practice team meeting. Further:
None of the problems that led to the suspensions involved the police, but the rules violations were serious enough that CU is expected to announce today that none of the five will play again this season.

Whether the players remain with the program beyond this season remains to be seen.

It will be interesting to see how the Buffaloes react at Stanford. While these suspensions aren't devastating in terms of starting personnel, you'd guess each of these guys have relationships in the locker room with the guys left behind. That means there will be plenty of chatter, either for or against Embree's "my way or the end of my boot" methods.

The Daily Camera article is worth a read because it does a nice job of recalling Embree's prescient prediction of significant attrition last spring. I particularly like this quote:
"It's going to be hard because you have to go to class every day," [Embree] said in that spring interview. "It's going to be hard because you have to sit in the first three rows. I don't want your iPod on or your iPad or your laptop. I want you there, I want you prepared. I want you to have a pen, paper, book. I want you prepared and I want you to engage.

"It's going to be hard because of what you're going to do in the weight room and what's going to be demanded of you as a football player, how we expect you to study and prepare for the game. That's going to be hard for the guys because that requires consistency and discipline and they don't have that."

While it's purely speculative to try to figure out what these five may have done to fall out of favor, if the police or NCAA isn't involved, then it's likely that they fell afoul of Embree's specific demands that perhaps didn't exist during the Dan Hawkins era. And Embree wants his players to know he takes those demands seriously.

Every season true freshman make an impact and underclassmen become stars. Who might those guys be in the Pac-12 in 2011?

(Note: With "underclassmen to watch," we mostly stayed away from guys who made a significant impact in 2010, such as Arizona State defensive end Junior Onyeali, Colorado receiver Paul Richardson or California receiver Keenan Allen).

Underclassmen to watch

[+] EnlargeJonathan McKnight
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireArizona cornerback Jonathan McKnight has a bright future.
Jonathan McKnight, CB, So, Arizona: McKnight, younger brother of former USC running back Joe McKnight, might already be the best cover guy in an already good secondary.

Davon Coleman, DE, So, Arizona State: The junior college transfer -- a late signing for the 2011 recruiting class -- might already be the Sun Devils' No. 3 defensive end, and ASU needs him to step up after returning starter James Brooks quit the team.

David Wilkerson, OLB, RFr., California: While fellow outside linebacker Cecil Whiteside might be more heralded, Wilkerson was listed as a starter on on the post-spring depth chart.

Parker Orms, CB, So., Colorado: Orms was the starting nickel back in 2010 before he blew out his knee on the third play of the season-opener against Colorado State. He's now No. 1 at cornerback -- the Buffs more worrisome position -- despite sitting out spring practices.

Scott Crichton, DE, RFr., Oregon State: The Beavers have major questions at defensive end -- a traditionally strong position for their defense. While he didn't come from nowhere, it was a bit of a surprise to see Crichton atop the depth chart after spring practices.

Dietrich Riley, So, SS, UCLA: By the end of the season Riley and Tony Dye might be widely viewed as the best safety combo in the conference. Heck, they might already be.

Dres Anderson, RFr, WR, Utah: Anderson already looks like the Utes' No. 2 option after junior DeVonte Christopher.

Josh Shirley, RFr., LB, Washington: Shirley was such a force as a pass-rusher this past spring, they created a position for him: "Rush" linebacker.

Rickey Galvin, RFr, RB, Washington State: Galvin broke his arm at Oklahoma State on the first play of his college career, which ended his debut season. He's speedy and shifty and the Cougars really need him to provide a running threat to help out quarterback Jeff Tuel.

Impact freshmen

Hank Hobson, LB, Arizona: The Wildcats have major depth issues at linebacker. Hobson looks like the most ready-made guy in the incoming class. He might not start, but he's a good bet to be the No. 4 guy behind the starting three.

Stefan McClure, CB, California: While many Cal fans are more eager to see 325-pound nose tackle Viliami Moala, the Bears have depth issues at cornerback, and McClure is almost certain to be in the mix.

Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon: While Oregon needs help at receiver, and at least one one of the incoming guys is almost certain to climb into a prime spot in the rotation, we don't know who that will be. We feel pretty good projecting Lyerla as the Ducks' No. 2 tight end behind David Paulson.

James Vaughters, ILB, Stanford: The word most often used to describe Vaughters? "Beast." Stanford is solid at linebacker, but this guy is going to play, and and might well end up suggesting a second-coming of Vontaze Burfict by season's end.

George Farmer, WR, USC: There might be somebody who doesn't believe Farmer is a budding star but I have yet to speak with him. Even USC super-soph Robert Woods talks about Farmer's freakish skills.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: Seferian-Jenkins showed this past spring that he's ready for prime time. He's likely to be the Huskies' starting tight end. A runner-up for the Huskies, by the way, is receiver Kasen Williams, but he will join a deep, veteran crew of receivers.

Hope & concern: Colorado

May, 17, 2011
5/17/11
3:00
PM ET
Every team has hope heading into the offseason. And every team has concerns.

Ergo, we're going to run through the conference and look at the chief matters -- on the up and downside -- for each Pac-12 team.

Next up:

Colorado

Biggest reason for hope: Plenty of guys back from a team that just missed bowl eligibility.

Why exactly are so many folks so sure that the Buffaloes are going to get pushed around in the Pac-12 next year? Sure, they got pummelled at California, 52-7, but use schizophrenic California as a measuring stick at your own risk. Colorado also beat some good teams -- Hawaii, Georgia and Kansas State -- and finished one win short of bowl eligibility. Two losses were by a total of nine points, and, of course, there was that epic collapse against Kansas. So things could have been different in 2010, a season that cost Dan Hawkins his job. The Buffaloes have 14 starters back in 2011, including a veteran QB (Tyler Hansen) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Rodney Stewart). They also have an impressive young receiver (Paul Richardson), an NFL prospect on an experienced offensive line (guard Ryan Miller) and a key starter returning from injury (linebacker Jon Major). Further, they figure to be highly motivated for three reasons: 1. They will seethe over a lack of respect; 2. They will be energized by new coach Jon Embree; 3. They will be fired up for playing in the new Pac-12.

Biggest reason for concern: The secondary looks shaky.

Colorado started two cornerbacks last fall, Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown, who were NFL draft picks, yet they somehow were terrible against the pass. They ranked 112th in the nation in pass-efficiency defense, with opponents throwing 27 TD passes, which would have ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in 2010. Even more stunning: Opponents completed 68 percent of their passes against Colorado. That would have ranked last in the conference. Injuries were an issue, but that doesn't obscure the fact that Smith and Brown are now gone and it's unclear who will replace them. Two players listed No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart, cornerback Parker Orms -- a safety last year before blowing out his knee -- and strong safety Anthony Perkins, missed spring with knee injuries. Toss in the quality of quarterbacks in the Pac-12, and questions in the secondary are grounds for concern.

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