Pac-12: scrimmage042009

Sullivan tops at QB, but defense rules at Arizona State

April, 20, 2009
4/20/09
12:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona State's offense managed one major highlight -- a 35-yard touchdown run from Ryan Bass -- but the Sun Devils' defense dominated the spring game Saturday.

Read full accounts here and here.

Some main points:

  • Senior Danny Sullivan completed only 8 of 16 passes for 42 yards, but he didn't throw an interception as Samson Szakacsy (9 of 14 for 50 yards) and true freshman Brock Osweiler (7-14, 66 yards, two picks) did. Sullivan will enter the fall No. 1 on the depth chart, but the biggest news out of the weekend at the position was the departure of sophomore Chasen Stangel, who had fallen to No. 4. He is the second scholarship quarterback to bolt this spring, joining Jack Elway, though Elway will remain at ASU.
  • How good was the Sun Devils' defense? From the Arizona Republic: "There were three interceptions (Ryan McFoy, LeQuan Lewis and Josh Jordan), a fumble recovery (Clint Floyd), seven sacks (including a pair by Jamarr Robinson), four failed fourth-down conversions and 10 punts in as one-sided a conclusion to spring practice as anyone would care to witness."
  • The news wasn't all good for the defense: Defensive tackle Otis Jones tore his ACL. The redshirt freshman would have at least added depth on the defensive interior, and his loss increases the pressure for incoming freshmen Corey Adams and William Sutton to be as good as advertised.

Riley leads, but California QB competition will renew in August

April, 20, 2009
4/20/09
12:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Here are two thorough reviews of California's final scrimmage of spring practice: One & two.

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.

Corp vs. Barkley and more from USC scrimmage

April, 20, 2009
4/20/09
11:08
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

With five days until its "Trojan Huddle" spring game, it's a good bet that Aaron Corp will emerge from USC's spring practices as the No. 1 quarterback.

But it's becoming more apparent with each passing practice that recruiting gurus were right about Matt Barkley: He's special.

Still, the LA Times called Corp's effort in Saturday's scrimmage his "best all-around performance of the spring."

Corp completed 13 of 18 passes for 170 yards and rushed for 33 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass but he threw downfield a number of times and led three scoring drives.

And particularly noteworthy: Corp has yet to throw an interception the entire spring. This seems to be the most important detail at this point of the competition, according to the LA Daily News:

If there is a difference between the two quarterbacks, Barkley has thrown an interception in each of the three scrimmages. USC coach Pete Carroll referred to it as a "bone-head pick that we threw."

On the plus side for the true freshman, Barkley came back and played well afterwards, showing an ability to shake off an error.

Beyond the quarterbacks, there were some other noteworthy nuggets.

  • Before the Rose Bowl, the Pac-10 blog asked a Trojans beat reporter, "Who's that stumpy running back?" It was Curtis McNeal, a redshirt freshman who continues to make a case that he'll need touches next fall. McNeal (10 carries, 62 yards) and Marc Tyler (9 for 49) have taken advantage of injuries at that notoriously deep position to showcase their talents.
  • Defensive end Everson Griffen and tackle Averell Spicer are playing their way out of the doghouse. Griffen has 3.5 sacks in Saturday's scrimmage, which caused coach Pete Carroll to note that no one could block him. A focused and driven Griffen might be the best pass-rusher in the nation. Spicer, meanwhile, was last seen nationally getting flagged for critical personal fouls on consecutive plays in the Trojans' loss to Oregon State last fall. He had 1.5 sacks in the scrimmage and appears to have played his way back onto the first-team defense.
  • What might be motivating both Griffen and Spicer is a lot of young and hungry talent on the defensive line. Malik Jackson, who returned a Barkley interception on a screen pass for a 42-yard touchdown, is pushing Griffen, which is only a good thing.

Race for USC QB job remains tight

April, 19, 2009
4/19/09
9:34
AM ET

Posted by ESPN's Shelley Smith

LOS ANGELES -- After watching his quarterbacks perform in Saturday's penultimate scrimmage of the spring, USC quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said the race is so tight and so competitive that he and head coach Pete Carroll could take longer than expected to make a decision on who's No. 1.

"We went into it saying we were going to name someone at the end of spring, but it may be in the fall," Bates said. "These guys are all playing well. Each quarterback is moving the offense. It's a tough battle right now, it's a fun battle. It's not like we're worried; we're really happy."

These were Saturday's passing numbers:

  • Matt Barkley: 15 for 21, 186 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception
  • Aaron Corp: 13 for 18, 170 yards
  • Mitch Mustain: 3 for 6, 33 yards

Corp is mobile and looked very much like a leader on Saturday, running the offense decisively and seemingly effortlessly. Barkley said he felt good as well and was proud of the way he shook off the interception, which Carroll referred to as a "bonehead interception."

By watching the quarterbacks on the sideline, nobody would ever guess the battle is as competitive as it is. Barkley, Corp and Mustain (and fourth-string QB Garrett Green) are each All-Americans, and each wants this job as badly as the other. Still, they cheer one another on and talk constantly about what they did on the last series and how they could have done better. Why help the guy you're trying to beat out?

"To get better," Barkley said. "If you know that at your best you can beat your opponent -- we all have that mindset -- then why not push each other to be the best so you can get better?"

But high-fiving Corp after he moved the team into the end zone with ease, fueled by a spectacular 46-yard pass to Damian Williams?

"It's our team," Barkley said. "It's our offense scoring, so you got to be happy about that."

Carroll said he and Bates will talk this week after watching film and come to some sort of decision. His first impression was that each quarterback moved the ball well, and the tempo was good. The key now, with just a week left, is to finish strong and create a game-like situation for the final scrimmage of the spring next Saturday at the Coliseum.

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