Pac-12: Phillip Garcia

Pac-10 lunch links: Wildcats O-line hurting

December, 14, 2010
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child, well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food.

Preseason position reviews: offensive line

July, 26, 2010
It's hard to imagine too many conferences will be as experienced on the offensive line as the Pac-10 in 2010. One would think that's a good thing. A really good thing.

Eight teams welcome back four or more starters. Only Arizona State, with one full-time and one part-time starter back, and USC, with three starters returning, have more than one void to fill.

This is a much different situation than last year, when the position was a huge question for most conference teams (other than USC, which, nonetheless, dramatically underachieved last fall).

Of course, returning starters aren't everything: Both UCLA and Washington State welcome back four starters, but both units probably still keep their fans up at night because of the poor production in 2009. And both were experienced units heading into last fall.

So where do things stand?

Great shape
  • Oregon: The Ducks not only welcome back all five starters, they welcome back all 10 members of their 2009 two-deep.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal have four starters back from what might have been the best offensive line in the Pac-10 last year.
  • Arizona: The Wildcats have four starters back and a fifth lineman, Phillip Garcia, who started two games last year.
  • Oregon State: Four starters are back and the re-emergence of oft-injured tackle Wilder McAndrews could bolster depth.
  • California: Four starters are back from a talented line that underachieved in 2009 -- see 31 sacks surrendered.
Good shape
  • USC: Three starters are back and all three have NFL futures. Beyond them, though, there's a lack of experience and depth.
  • Washington: Four starters are back from a unit that struggled at times in 2009. Depth also is a question.
We'll see
  • UCLA: Four starters are back, but Nik Abele, projected to fill the void at LT, was forced to retire due to neck problems. Bruins ranked ninth in rushing and gave up 29 sacks in '09.
  • Washington State: Four starters are back, and JC transfers should help, but Cougars couldn't block anyone last year.
  • Arizona State: The Sun Devils lost four starters from a crew that ranked eighth in rushing and gave up 27 sacks. Both projected starting tackles haven't played a down of college football.

Pac-10 lunch links: USC has competition at LB

March, 26, 2010
Happy Friday.

Some pre-spring Arizona notes

March, 5, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Will have a lot more from Arizona spring practices, but here are some notes and depth chart updates after a round of interviews.
  • Coach Mike Stoops said he still hasn't decided who will call plays on offense and defense. He said that he'll make that decision after evaluating his options during spring practices. Stoops lost both coordinators this offseason -- Sonny Dykes on offense and Mark Stoops on defense -- and replaced them with co-coordinators, Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell on offense and Greg Brown and Tim Kish on defense. Only Brown, who came from Colorado, wasn't already on staff.
  • Three key players will sit out this spring. Starting guard Vaughn Dotsy had back surgery on Wednesday. Running back Greg Nwoko is still recovering from a shoulder injury. Projected starting defensive tackle Dominique Austin is out with a toe injury.
  • While Nick Foles is the No. 1 quarterback, coaches are emphasizing that backup Matt Scott will play a role this year. And if he outplays Foles this spring, the QB competition will be on again in the preseason.
  • The Wildcats are replacing all three starting linebackers from 2009. Junior college transfers Paul Vassallo and Derek Earls are listed as the first-team "Will" and "Mike" linebackers, respectively. Jake Fischer is No. 1 at "Sam."
  • Joe Perkins steps in for Cam Nelson at free safety, while Marcus Benjamin replaces Devin Ross at cornerback opposite Trevin Wade.
  • With Austin out, JC transfer Jonathan Hollins steps in at defensive tackle besides nose tackle Lolomana Mikaele.
  • Richard Morrison has moved from quarterback to receiver.
  • With offensive lineman Adam Grant getting a sixth year of eligibility, he slides in at left tackle with Phillip Garcia opposite him on the right side. Colin Baxter is the center and Conan Amituanai is the left guard. With Dotsy out, Jovon Hayes, Chris Putton and Trace Biskin will get looks.

After being MIA this spring, these guys need to step up

May, 21, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Guys get hurt, need surgery and time to rehab. Or they get suspended. Or they need some, er, extra time to work on their grades.

In other words, while their teammates are fighting -- and sweating -- to retain or win jobs, they stand on the sidelines watching. Or sitting on a stationary bike. Or dressed in a red jersey.

Still, most fans pencil them into the lineup, worry-free.

To which we say: We shall see.

C Blake Kerley & OT Phillip Garcia
: Kerley had started 29 games before injuring his knee last year, and in his absence Colin Baxter entrenched himself at center. Garcia is an intriguing talent who was limited this spring after knee surgery. Both of these guys could fight into the starting lineup. Or they could provide capable depth. Or they could stand on the sidelines.

OT Matt Hustad: Hustad, a sophomore, is athletic and physical and if he were healthy he'd find a spot on the Sun Devils' beleaguered offensive line. But after two years of knee issues that's starting to become a significant "if."

RB Jahvid Best
: We know, we know. Jahvid's fine! Foot and elbow surgery? No worries. That hip issue last year? Didn't look like it hurt him in 2008, did it? All is well. Heisman Trophy here we come ... wheee! But, honestly, Cal fans, aren't you eager to read about him practicing again?

RB LaMichael James: James' potential is beguiling. He's the lightning -- taking Jeremiah Johnson's place -- to match with LeGarrette Blount's thunder in the backfield. But he missed spring with a shoulder injury and he'll need to prove himself in the fall.

QB Lyle Moevao
: Moevao "Wally Pipped" Sean Canfield last year, and it appears Canfield might return the favor this fall. Moevao missed the spring after shoulder surgery -- just like Canfield last year -- and he's fallen behind Canfield in the quarterback competition because of that -- just like Canfield last year. Of course, Moevao is a scrapper, so counting him out might be a mistake.

OT Allen Smith
: Smith and his pesky patella, which killed his 2008 season and which he re-injured this spring. He's an NFL talent, and he could answer a lot of questions on the Cardinal offensive line, but he's got to stay healthy and it doesn't appear that he can.

TB Christian Ramirez
: The Bruins' coaches must love Ramirez because he still tops the depth chart after being academically ineligible last year and being limited most of spring with a bum hamstring. With two other tailbacks already opting to transfer, the pressure is on Ramirez to reward his coaches' faith.

TB Joe McKnight
: McKnight sat out practice with injuries (skip). McKnight sat out practice with injuries (skip). McKnight sat out practice with injuries (skip). Hey, he's a great talent, but my biggest memory of him last year wasn't a play -- it was of him sitting in a golf cart watching practice. Did they bring the golf cart back this spring?

S Jason Wells
: Remember this guy, Husky fans? I didn't until Seattle Times beat writer Bob Condotta reminded me. He's a two-year starter who suffered a knee injury in 2007 that killed his 2008 season and then missed spring with an Achilles injury. The Huskies have a lot of issues in their secondary and Wells could help. If he's healthy, that is.

DT Bernard Wolfgramm
: The JC transfer redshirted last year yet was listed as a starter on the pre-spring depth chart. But he's had persistent back issues, which limited him this spring, so it's hard to say what he could give the Cougars in 2009. And they really need some help on the defensive line, so Wolfgramm's health is a critical issue.

Spring football Q&A: Arizona coach Mike Stoops

April, 8, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Arizona finishes spring practices Wednesday, and coach Mike Stoops doesn't see many holes heading into the summer.

Sure, the Wildcats are replacing some good players, such as quarterback Willie Tuitama, receiver Mike Thomas, linebacker Ronnie Palmer and left tackle Eben Britton. But Stoops seems confident he's got guys who can step up and get to another bowl game.

Or maybe more than just any bowl game.

  Tom Hauck/Getty Images
  Arizona coach Mike Stoops says he feels good about his overall depth heading into the 2009 season.

The Wildcats started early and now will be the first to finish spring practices. It seemed like a good time to check in with Stoops and see how things looked in Tucson.

First question has to be about the quarterbacks: How do Matt Scott and Nick Foles stack up with one practice left this spring?

Mike Stoops: They both have done some really good things. I think we can win at this level with both players. We don't feel like we're in any need to name a starter at this point. I can probably see both guys playing. Whether we did that in a constant way, I don't think that would be it. But I could see, early on, us playing both to see how they perform in games. It's not something we would like to do, but they are a little bit different styles of quarterback. Matt gives you that ability to run and create plays with his feet. Nick is a more prototypical, drop-back quarterback. They're different but I think both of them could give us a chance to win. We're very pleased with their growth. They still have a lot of work to do. We probably won't name a starter until seven to 10 days before our first game against Central Michigan. And it's possible both could play in that game.

Biggest position change before practices began was Robert Golden from cornerback to strong safety: How did that play out?

MS: That's been probably one of the best moves we've made. We now can get our best four or five DBs on the field at the same time. And it's really been an easy transition for him. He seems very comfortable. He's been easy to coach. We've been very pleased with that move. It puts Trevin Wade, who led our team in interceptions last year -- and he only played 100 and something snaps -- on the field. Robert had corner ability, corner speed, but he gives us great versatility to cover the field now, which you have to do vs. these spread offenses.

Any other guys change positions during the spring?

MS: Nope. That was the biggest move for us.

Tell us about some guys who really improved their stock this spring, guys when went from backups to potential starters.

MS: We feel like our offensive guards played really well, Conan Amituanai and Mike Diaz. Diaz -- you asked about a personnel change -- Diaz could move from left guard to left tackle. He has the range to play tackle. And that gives Conan, who has really stood out with his development and his attitude and confidence, a chance. He's a 320-pound guy who can really play physically. [Guard] Vaughn Dotsy is another guy I'm pleased with, played last year as a true freshman. Our line has a chance to be very athletic and physical. Other guys: Greg Nwoko, our third running back, has had a great spring -- he's a freshman from outside of Austin, Texas. I feel good about our overall depth, but our biggest concern might be depth at linebacker.

(Read full post)

More Arizona notes from Stoops presser

March, 4, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

TUCSON, Ariz. -- First things first: Arizona's first spring practice Wednesday afternoon will be open.


When a reporter asked coach Mike Stoops after his pre-spring meet-and-greet with reporters whether practice would be open, he replied, "Yeah, sure. Whatever."

He then added he'd close things when reporters started annoying him again.


Anyway, how about this new, mellow Mike Stoops, eh? Bowl victories and new contracts sometimes have that effect.

Some notes:

  • The pre-spring depth chart stacks the offensive line, which lost three starters, like this: left tackle Phillip Garcia, guard Mike Diaz, center Colin Baxter, right guard Vaughn Dotsy and tackle Adam Grant. As far as former starting center Blake Kerley, he's sitting out while recovering from a knee injury suffered last fall, and Stoops implied that he'll have a tough time dislodging any of the interior three. Stoops seemed particularly high on Dotsy, a sophomore. Grant is good to go after knee surgery, while Garcia will be limited this spring for the same reason. "This line can be every bit as productive as we had a year ago," Stoops said.
  • Three JC transfers will participate in spring practices: offensive linemen Shane Zink and Jack Julsing and cornerback Marcus Benjamin. Benjamin will battle Trevin Wade to start at one corner, while Zink and Julsing likely will provide depth on the line.
  • Former starting receiver Terrell Reese, who was suspended indefinitely last year, has been given the boot. Running backs Xavier Smith and Terry Longbons and defensive tackle Hans Philipp also won't be back in 2009.
  • Stoops has high hopes for his defense, which welcomes back seven starters: "This is the best group that we have had coming back," he said. "This defense will be the most athletic we've had ... We have the potential to be a great defense."
  • Two linebacker spots need to be filled. The first unit on the depth chart has Sterling Lewis on the strong side, with Vuna Tuihalamaka in the middle and Xavier Kelly on the weak side. Lewis started five games last year; Kelly eight. Tuihalamaka played in 13 games and recorded 23 tackles.
  • The general theme with the quarterback competition between Matt Scott and Nick Foles was this: The runner, Scott, has a better arm than he gets credit for, and the same can be said for the mobility of the pocket passer, Foles.

Pac-10 newcomers to watch

February, 26, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Which Pac-10 newcomers might make a name for themselves this spring and put themselves into position to start or see significant action in 2009?

Let's take a look.


  • QB Nick Foles & OT Phillip Garcia: Foles is a sophomore transfer from Michigan State who will compete with Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne to replace Willie Tuitama. Garcia was a JC transfer last January, but the 6-foot-7, 340 pounder hurt his knee and missed the season. He's in the mix at left tackle.

Arizona State

  • S Keelan Johnson, RB James Morrison, DE Dean DeLeone: Johnson, a redshirt freshman, is the sort of athlete who could end up playing both ways. Morrison was a true freshman walk-on destined to play last year before he broke his ankle. He's back this spring. The 25-year-old DeLeone, a JC transfer, is already drawing raves for his weight room work.


  • WR Marvin Jones & LB Mychal Kendricks: Jones was a touted true freshman last year but hurt his knee and never broke through. Kendricks had 16 tackles and a sack as a true freshman and is a frontrunner to fill one of the three vacancies at linebacker.


  • DE Zac Clark & WR Lavasier Tuinei: Oregon has big-time needs on the D-line and at receiver, and these JC transfers will be given an opportunity to immediately ease those needs. Tuinei, at 6-foot-5, should give the Ducks receiving corps some size, while Clark will be eyeballing the vacancy left by Nick Reed.

Oregon State

  • WR Jordan Bishop & OT Colin Kelly: Receiver is a need area for the Beavers, and Bishop, a redshirt freshman, impressed on the scout team and during Sun Bowl practices. Kelly, a redshirt freshman, is in the mix on an offensive line that lost both starting tackles.


  • QB Andrew Luck, OG David DeCastro, TE Konrad Reuland: Luck almost lost his redshirt last year while Tavita Pritchard struggled, and he'll have a good chance to win the starting job. DeCastro is presently No. 1 on the depth chart, while Reuland is a transfer from Notre Dame.


  • QB Kevin Prince & TE Morrell Presley: Prince, a redshirt freshman, is the most likely candidate to unseat returning starter Kevin Craft. Presley, a true freshman, could make an immediate impact as a hybrid TE/WR.


  • QB Matt Barkley, DE Nick Perry, RB Curtis McNeal: Barkley, the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2009, could jump over Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp in the quarterback competition, while Perry, a redshirt freshman, is almost certain to be in the mix at end or perhaps outside linebacker. McNeal, a redshirt freshman, was a late arrival last year but made an impression with his explosiveness.


  • LB E.J. Savannah, C Mykenna Ikehara , WR Anthony Boyles: Savannah is not a newcomer -- he was the Huskies leading tackler in 2007 before finding his way into Tyrone Willingham's spacious doghouse and getting kick off the team. Pencil him in as a starter. Ikehara, a redshirt freshman, could replace Juan Garcia at center. Boyles, a redshirt freshman, was a touted recruit who didn't break through last year but is expected to be sharper this spring.

Washington State

  • DT Bernard Wolfgramm, CB Brandon Jones, RB James Montgomery: It's not unreasonable to go ahead and pencil in all three of these guys in as starters. Wolfgramm is a 2008 JC transfer who redshirted last year, while Jones and Montgomery both transferred from California.