Pac-12: Ryan Davis
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Quick hits from around the conference...
Talented by oft-injured reserve receiver Brandon Smith suffered a knee injury Saturday. ... The Sun Devils continue to await word from the NCAA Clearinghouse on whether super-recruit linebacker Vontaze Burfict has academically qualified. Burfict is practicing with the team. ... Reserve defensive tackle David Bertrand has left the program. ... Coach Dennis Erickson reiterated that he will call plays this fall.
Wide receiver Verran Tucker, who missed spring due to academics, suffered an undisclosed injury after Sunday's practice. ... Receiver Michael Calvin, who's coming back from an ACL injury, has played well during the first few practices. ... Devin Bishop will be challenged at weakside outside linebacker by JC transfers Ryan Davis, Jarred Price and Jerome Meadows, though Price and Meadows could play inside. ... Matt Summers-Gavin is playing first team left guard, the position on the offense line that is most up for grabs.
Redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James, who was injured during the spring, has looked good thus far and is the frontrunner to win the backup job behind LeGarrette Blount.. .. Receivers Jeff Maehl, Tyrece Gaines and Diante Jackson sat out Sunday's practice with injuries. ... Two recruits, Cliff Harris and Justin Brown, haven't reported because they still await a verdict from the NCAA Clearinghouse.
The Beavers begin practices today at 2 p.m. ... Sean Canfield will begin preseason practices as the No. 1 quarterback. Last season's starter, Lyle Moevao, will be taken along slowly as he comes back from shoulder surgery. ... With Jacquizz Rodgers also coming back from shoulder surgery, and backup Ryan McCants out with a knee injury, one of the key preseason competitions is at backup tailback between freshmen Jovan Stevenson and Ashton Jefferson.
Offensive lineman Chris Marinelli may miss most of camp because of a chronic left shoulder problem. ... Offensive tackle Allen Smith hasn't been cleared to practice.
The Bruins reported on Sunday. ... Defensive end Chinonso Anyanwu will be sidelined for at least three months due to hip surgery. ... Wide receiver Osaar Rasshan has retired due to injury. ... Fullback Jayson Allmond will not report until NCAA Clearinghouse issues have been resolved.
Shane Horton switched from safety to weakside linebacker. ... Senior linebacker Luthur Brown and freshman safety Patrick Hall aren't practicing because of academic issues. ... Sophomore tight end Blake Ayles, who missed the end of last season and spring practice because of a knee injury, has looked good in practices thus far. ... Cornerback Shareece Wright (neck) and running back Allen Bradford (hip) also have been cleared to practice.
Center Matt Sedillo left the team. ... Johri Fogerson has moved from safety to tailback. ... A pair of JC transfers, offensive Daniel Mafoe and defensive tackle Johnny Tivao, haven't qualified academically. ... Receiver Vince Taylor and running back Brandon Yakaboski will miss camp with a knee injuries. ... Oft-injured safety Jason Wells has been cleared to practice.
Coach Paul Wulff is serving a three-day suspension due to NCAA penalties he incurred while coach at Eastern Washington. ... Sophomore Marshall Lobbestael returned to practice after off-season knee surgery. He is competing with Kevin Lopina for the starting job. ... Linebacker Louis Bland and backup center Alex Roxas have not been cleared to practice due to injuries. Senior Jason Stripling stepped into Bland's spot. ... Defensive tackle Bernard Wolfgramm is practicing but his back problems are still causing him issues. ... Guard Kevin Freitag will miss the season due to toe surgery. ... Defensive lineman Qwayshawne Buckley failed to qualify academically.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The main points:
- Kevin Riley continues to lead the quarterback competition because he's done nothing to lose his perch, nor have Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney done anything to advance ahead of him. Riley's lead, which will be contested again in fall practices, would be more decisive if Mansion hadn't rallied late in spring.
- Running back Jahvid Best, probably the West Coast's top Heisman Trophy candidate, is running again after elbow and foot surgeries. It appears he'll be ready to play by the beginning of fall practices.
- The competition at receiver will be intense in the fall, particularly after Marvin Jones and Alex Lagemann asserted themselves this spring. With Nyan Boateng, Verran Tucker and Jeremy Ross the leading returning players, and talented Michael Calvin returning from injury, there are six possibilities for primarily three lead spots.
- The defense generally dominated spring practices and this unit could end up as the best in the Pac-10, despite the loss of three of four starting linebackers. As for the LB corps, the plot may thicken there when a trio of touted JC transfers arrives in the fall, led by Ryan Davis.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
A lot has been going on at California during the offseason.
|James Lang/US PRESSWIRE|
|Jeff Tedford is comfortable with the high expectations for his team entering the 2009 season.|
Accomplished offensive line coach Jim Michalczik left to become Washington's offensive coordinator -- and then bolted for a post with the Oakland Raiders. He was replaced by Steve Marshall.
And, finally, offensive coordinator coach Frank Cignetti, after just one season in Berkeley, was hired for the same post at Pittsburgh.
Coach Jeff Tedford then quickly replaced Cignetti with Andy Ludwig, who'd just been hired away from Utah by Kansas State.
With all the transition on the offensive coaching staff, Tedford decided to delay the start of spring practice by four days, with practices now beginning on March 14.
Still, it seemed like a good time to check in with Tedford and get his thoughts on things heading into spring.
First, tell us about new offensive line coach Steve Marshall: How might his approach be different than the man he replaced, Jim Michalczik?
Jeff Tedford: Steve brings some great experience and knowledge from some of his college stops -- Tennessee, Virginia Tech, UCLA -- and then moving into the NFL, so he brings a great deal of knowledge and experience from all different backgrounds of offense. It's a great fit for what we're doing. Being a two-back offense, he comes from that background. I think it's a natural fit for him and for us. I also think he's going to bring an added dimension to our offense. Anytime you get new guys coming in there are going to be new ideas.
Same with Andy Ludwig: What does he bring to the staff that might be different?
Tedford: Not a whole lot is different to tell you the truth because there is a lot of familiarity there in our backgrounds. He followed me [as offensive coordinator] at Fresno State; he followed me to Oregon. We've been in touch a lot over the years. And, obviously, being a guy who just went 13-0 at Utah and beating Alabama in the bowl game, there's a couple of things that he brings -- some spread concepts -- that we've dabbled in a little bit. But the familiarity of our offense to him; he's not starting from scratch. More than anything he's going to bring some stability to the offense.
Tedford: I don't think there are regrets. I just wish one of them would have taken it over. There were plenty of opportunities for one guy to take it over, here and there. But we didn't play consistently enough at that position for that to happen. We ended up having to go back and forth through the season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Just like the Pac-10 coaches, you've got questions heading into spring.
Eric from Pullman writes: Some more information about the [Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael] alcohol incident has been brought forward and it appears that the initial reports from [The Daily Evergreen] were not correct. Cougfan.com has some updated info on the incident (although I'm sure you have probably figured that out by now. I figured i would send it to you since I'm sure multiple Cougs have already emailed you calling you an idiot for posting misleading information, but it wasn't your fault and I just wanted to say thanks for doing a great job covering the Pac-10 this season!)
Ted Miller: Eric thanks for the link. And the compliment is even better.
My inclination was to avoid this question. But we may be able to learn something about "news events" that could be valuable.
First, the second story corrected the other in one significant way, revealing that that Lobbestael, 19, was arrested for "minor exhibiting the signs of having consumed alcohol" instead of "minor in possession of alcohol."
Sounds like splitting hairs, but it's about being correct.
Other than that, however, no set of "facts" was established with a firmer foundation.
Clearly, we two versions of an event: 1. The Pullman police; 2. One that could be termed coming from Lobbestael's camp.
The Daily Evergreen story included this:
Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said the police found Lobbestael passed out in a Dodge pickup parked in front of the Pullman Police Department.
"He was slumped over with a grocery bag of vomit between his feet,” Tennant said.
The rebuttal story said Lobbestael was not passed out and added this:
A different news report later quoted a Pullman police officer saying Lobbestael was "slumped over with a grocery bag of vomit between his feet." CF.C has since learned it was instead a car trash bag, similar to what someone might put on a stick shift that contained some McDonald's wrappers and other garbage, but no "vomit."
The second story cites "reliable independent sources," who appear to be saying Cmdr. Tennant isn't telling the truth.
What really happened?
We don't know.
In general, it doesn't seem that hard to fill in some blanks here, but we're going to stay away from speculating.
Getting caught drinking when you are underage has consequences. Getting caught drinking when you are underage and you play for a BCS conference football team means those consequences include news stories.
Is underage drinking the worst crime known to man? No.
I talked to Lobbestael just a few weeks ago. Seemed like a great kid. I've only heard good things about him, too. You might even read into this arrest story that he ended up getting in trouble because he was trying to help the girl in question, who I've been told is his out-of-town girlfriend.
When I finish typing this, I really won't think any less of him. My guess is you won't either. And he'll probably still start at quarterback for the Cougars in 2009.
Ryan from Atherton, Calif., writes: I just read your article about "big shoes to fill". I was surprised that you did not mention the three pairs of linebacker shoes that need to be filled in Berkeley. How do you think Cal's young and inexperienced linebackers will perform this season? Also, any ideas on who the starting linebackers will be besides Mohamed?
Ted Miller: It might sound silly, Ryan, but I just said to myself, "Bigger shoes? Center Alex Mack or those three LBs?"
Mack, at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, seemed like he had bigger shoes.
But, seriously, it seems to me that replacing a center as good and as smart as Mack with a player who's seen little to no time at the position will be a bigger challenge than promoting three linebackers, particularly when the potential replacements saw action last season.
Talked to coach Jeff Tedford today for a Q&A that runs Wednesday. Not to bite off my own feature, here's what he said when I asked him about the LBs.
We have some guys, thankfully, who got a lot of playing time last year. Those guys who left us are big-time players, who were very productive for us, especially when we went to a 3-4. But Eddie Young started at an outside linebacker last year. Devin Bishop moves inside and he's a guy who's ready to step up. Mike Mohamed played a lot for us last year. Mychal Kendricks, who was a true freshman, played a lot. We feel pretty good about those guys. And giving us a little bit of depth there are some of our junior college guys, Ryan Davis and Jarred Price and Jerome Meadows are three JC linebackers coming in to give us a little bit of depth, too.
And a guy I forgot to mention is D.J. Holt. He's inside and he played quite a bit last year as well. We're not starting from scratch. These guys have been on the field and have a lot of ability.
So my guess is Mohamed and Young can be penciled into two spots, with Bishop, Kendricks and Holt and the JC guys competing for the other two voids.
Honestly, I think Cal will be fine at LB.
Aaron from Ocala, Fla., writes: What is the big deal about Mike Thomas running a faster 40 time than Percy Harvin? ... Also, Harvin's main attribute was never his straight line speed anyway. Anyone who paid attention to Florida knows that RBs Will Demps and Chris Rainey are faster than Harvin, and that WR Louis Murphy is only a hair behind Harvin (as the combine proved). What makes Harvin such an effective football player is his quickness, explosiveness, and change of direction.
Ted Miller: Aaron wrote a lot more about Harvin, but you get his point.
The big deal to me was that, until the combine times were published, it would never have occurred to me that Thomas was faster -- any which way -- than Harvin.
Did any of you think Thomas would run a better 40 than Harvin?
Harvin is a wonderful, thrilling player and will be picked well before Thomas. And rightfully so.
But I'm a Thomas fan -- both as a player and person. I think he's going to help a team smart enough to take him off the board on the first day of the draft.
Mitch from San Jose writes: Ted, I think I would enjoy your perspective on guys like Nick Reed at Oregon who were outstanding college performers (even on a national level), but don't even get an invitation to the NFL Combine. How do these guys cope? What must that be like for them? And what are their options?
Ted Miller: I could answer this, but I'm going to do you a favor and turn you over to the best NFL writer in the nation (who doesn't work for ESPN.com, that is).
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News talked to Reed
about not getting invited to the combine and explains why the NFL went that direction.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Reed. I have to admit every time I interviewed him I thought, "How does this guy do it?" Defensive ends are supposed to look like Jevon Kearse or Julius Peppers.
Reed ain't much to look at. But production is production and he's gotten past a lot of offensive linemen in his career who are now playing in the NFL.
Joseph from Everett, Wash., writes: With Sark bringing in a new, pro-style offensive system, do you think Jake Locker's skills will be under utilized because he will no longer do what he does best (run) or do you think Sark will instill some running plays for Jake to continue to use his athleticism on the ground? P.S. You said it will take Huskies @ least 3 years to get back to .500? You are scaring me, Sir!
Ted Miller: Without question, the best offense for Washington in 2009 with Jake Locker would be a spread-option that features lots of Jake Locker right and Jake Locker left with a mix of Jake Locker up the middle.
He knows that offense. He's good at it. It works with the Huskies personnel.
And Jake Locker is a baaaaad man with the ball in his hands.
That said, it will be better for Locker's NFL prospects and, in my opinion, the Huskies program in the long run, to adopt more of a pro-style offense.
Sarkisian can help Locker prove he can play QB in the NFL. And, along the way, a message will be sent to all the golden-armed prep passers on the West Coast that they don't have to fret about the proliferation of the spread-option scheme.
And I promise Locker will run plenty next year, even from pro sets.
As for three years to .500... I thought I typed -- during a ESPN.com chat -- that the Huskies would get there within three years.
My guess is there's a real shot for .500 by Locker's senior season in 2010.
Robert from Seattle writes: Simple question Ted - is it good for USC to be so dominant in the pac ten?
Ted Miller: Not if you're UCLA.
Or Arizona. Or Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington or Washington State.
But if you're USC, it's great.
If you're asking if it might benefit the conference to have another team win the conference and play for a national title, I'd say absolutely without a doubt.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Per the Contra Costa Times' Cal blog:
Cal has received a letter of intent from junior college defensive end Ryan Davis. This comes as a mild surprise because last week Davis had switched his oral commitment from Cal to Washington. But reports were last night that Davis was once again considering Cal and the Bears were working hard to get him.