Pac-12: Sean Parker

You remember the three-headed monster, right? It's about returning production that will scare -- terrify! --opponents. Or not.

On offense, it's elite combinations at quarterback, running back and receiver.

On defense, it's elite combinations of a leading tackler, a leader in sacks and leader in interceptions.

This year, we're breaking things down by division. We've already done offense for the South and North divisions. Wednesday we looked at defenses in the South.

Next up: North Division defensive three-headed monsters.

1. Stanford

LB A.J. Tarpley, DE Henry Anderson, S Jordan Richards

The skinny: The Cardinal lose their top tackler (Shayne Skov) and top sack guy (Trent Murphy). But there are others ready to take control. Tarpley has long been one of the league’s most underappreciated linebackers (93 tackles last season) and Anderson’s return boosts a front seven that should continue to party in the backfield. Richards is solid at one safety spot, though there are some questions about who will play opposite him. The Cardinal still boast the top defense in the league until proven otherwise.

2. Washington

LB Shaq Thompson, DE Hau’oli Kikaha, DB Marcus Peters

The skinny: The Huskies have some losses, like everyone else in the country, but there is plenty of talent coming back for the new coaching staff to work with. That returning production is enough to slot them No. 2. Thompson continues to get better with each season and appears on the verge of a breakout year. Kikaha has not-so-quietly turned into one of the Pac-12’s most feared rushers (13 sacks last season) and Peters is back after making five interceptions last season. They lose some leadership with the departure of Sean Parker and there's some question marks in the secondary. But this should be a salty group in 2014.

3. Oregon

LB Derrick Malone, DE/OLB Tony Washington, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

The skinny: Despite losing Avery Patterson, Brian Jackson and Terrance Mitchell, the secondary still boasts one of the top defensive backs in the country in Ekpre-Olomu. Mitchell led the team with five picks in 2013, but a lot of teams opted not to test Ekpre-Olomu. Malone is back after making 105 tackles, and Rodney Hardrick should be on his heels as top tackler. The linebackers should be a strength. Washington returns after recording 7.5 sacks to go with 12 tackles for a loss. Now, if they could just get off the dang field on third down ...

4. Oregon State

S Tyrequek Zimmerman, DE Dylan Wynn, CB Steven Nelson

The skinny: Zimmerman brings his 104 tackles back from last season and the return of OLB Michael Doctor, the team’s leading tackler in 2012, should be a nice boost. Replacing the production of Scott Crichton and his 7.5 sacks will be difficult. Linebacker D.J. Alexander and Wynn should see their share of time in the backfield. Nelson, a former junior college transfer, had a spectacular first season with the Beavers with a team-high six interceptions (tied with Rashaad Reynolds) and eight breakups.

5. Washington State

LB Darryl Monroe, DT Xavier Cooper, ?

The skinny: Do-all safety Deone Bucannon is gone after leading the team in tackles (114) and interceptions (6). He was an All-American for a reason. Monroe is an obvious choice for tackles, and Cooper is the obvious choice for sacks. But the secondary is wide open. Mike Leach has essentially said all four spots in the secondary are up for grabs. Clouding the issues is the future of cornerback Daquawn Brown, who has legitimate experience but also some legal hurdles to overcome.

6. California

S Michael Lowe, LB Jalen Jefferson, S Avery Sebastian?

The skinny: We all know about the defensive injury issues the Bears had last season, which is why Lowe returns as the leading tackler and tied for the lead in interceptions with one (the Bears only had five all last season). Jefferson returns with the most sacks, and Kyle Kragen appears to be a good fit for the scheme. (Remember when Kameron Jackson had three in one game!) We’ll see how oft-injured but talented Stefan McClure fares at safety. Getting Sebastian back from injury will help in the secondary. The pass rush should be improved with Brennan Scarlett’s return.

Take 2: Expectations for Washington

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
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Three of the Pac-12's nine bowl games are in the books and the league is 2-1 against a trio of Mountain West teams. Up next is Washington against BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Friday night (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). What can we expect from yet another game that has a team going through a coaching transition? Good question.

[+] EnlargeKeith Price
Stephen Brashear/Getty ImagesKeith Price will lead an experienced group of Washington seniors into the Fight Hunger Bowl on Friday night.
Ted Miller: We saw USC play well with an interim coach. We saw Boise State fall flat with an interim coach. Now it's Washington's turn.

Do the Huskies, after coach Steve Sarkisian bolted for USC, taking much of his staff with him, show up for the Fight Hunger Bowl focused and motivated? Do they play inspired football for former Husky great Marques Tuiasosopo, who was named interim coach?

Or do they flop against a good BYU team that is perfectly capable of embarrassing an AQ conference team. Just ask Texas.

The Huskies are dealing with further intrigue. What about defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox? Is he shortly off for USC? Or will he surprise many and remain in Seattle? Then there's defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi, who is being investigated by the NCAA following allegations that he paid for private tutoring for Husky football recruit Andrew Basham.

Lupoi was almost certainly headed to USC after the bowl game, but now his future is in jeopardy.

It's fair to ask how much Wilcox and Lupoi themselves are focused and motivated for this game.

The Huskies have a good group of seniors, led by quarterback Keith Price, who are probably going to need to play an even bigger leadership role than usual in this one for Washington to win. Further, the guys who will be back next year are playing to impress new coach Chris Petersen, who likely will take a dim view of an indifferent effort.

There's been a lot of chaos surrounding the Huskies since the end of the regular season. Sometimes teams can transform chaos into an efficient, focused performance.

And sometimes they can't.

Kevin Gemmell: I think Ted hit on the key word late in his take -- leadership. When you compare the situations with USC and Boise State, you saw a Trojan team that was focused, united and rallying around common causes. For some, it was a not-so-subtle tribute to former interim coach Ed Orgeron. For others, it was a showcase before jumping to the NFL. And for still others, it was finding some closure to what has been an otherwise roller-coaster year. Whatever the reason, it all worked. It was chemistry by way of chaos.

Washington is in a similar situation to Boise in the sense that its coach left freely and wasn’t forced out the door, as was the case with Lane Kiffin and Orgeron at USC. There’s a psychological sting that goes with a coach essentially saying, “I prefer to be there, not here.” The Broncos couldn’t bounce back from that -- or the stream of controversy that followed them in Hawaii.

As far as we know, there has been no such piddling player controversies for the Huskies. And the fact that Petersen “preferred” Washington to Boise State takes a lot of the sting out of Sarkisian “preferring” USC to Seattle. There weren't many coaches in America who could inject that much immediate confidence into a program. Petersen was one of them.

Plus the Huskies are heavy when it comes to leadership. Price, Bishop Sankey, Sean Parker and solid lines on both sides of the ball give this team a solid core. This is a group that should be poised and motivated against a BYU team that, as Ted notes, has the potential to hang with an AQ team.

Bowl season is all about motivation. BYU, which plays with a perennial chip on its shoulder, has won six of its last seven bowl appearances -- including four straight. This is a team that knows how to win in the postseason and always plays with plenty of motivation.

But I think Washington has equal motivation. When Washington is at its best, it is a top 25, top 20 or even top 15 team. And for a group of seniors who have seen this program reinvent itself over the last four to five years, going out with a win cements their legacy. That should be motivation enough.

Pac-12 names all-conference team

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
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The Pac-12 has announced its first- and second-team all-conference squads and postseason awards for 2013.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Carey
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsPac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Ka'Deem Carey was the only unanimous first-team pick.
Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey has been named the league's offensive player of the year. Arizona State defensive lineman Will Sutton joins an elite fraternity, earning his second straight Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award. Washington's Steve Emtman is the only other player to win the league's defensive player of the year award in back to back years (1990-1991).

UCLA's Myles Jack earned freshman of the year for both offense and defense with his 70 tackles as a linebacker and seven touchdowns as a running back. This is the first time since the awards were introduced in 2008 that the same player has won both sides.

Arizona State coach Todd Graham is the league's coach of the year for guiding the Sun Devils to a conference record of 8-1 and winning the South Division. The Sun Devils host Stanford this weekend in the Pac-12 championship game.

The team is selected by the Pac-12 head coaches.

Offensive player of the year: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, DE Arizona State
Freshman Offense and Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Jack, RB/LB, UCLA
Coach of the Year: Todd Graham, Arizona State

First team offense

QB Marcus Mariota, So., Oregon (2)
RB Ka'Deem Carey, Jr., Arizona (2)
RB Bishop Sankey, Jr., Washington
WR Brandin Cooks, Jr., Oregon State
WR Paul Richardson, Jr., Colorado
TE Chris Coyle, Grad., Arizona State
OL Evan Finkenberg, Grad., Arizona State
OL Hroniss Grasu, Jr., Oregon (2)
OL Marcus Martin, Jr., USC
OL Xavier Su'a-Filo, Jr., UCLA (2)
OL David Yankey, Sr, Stanford (2)

First team defense

DL Ben Gardner, Sr., Stanford
DL Trevor Reilly, Sr., Utah
DL Will Sutton, Sr., Arizona State
DL Leonard Williams, So., USC
LB Anthony Barr, Sr., UCLA (2)
LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford (2)
LB Shayne Skov, Sr., Stanford
DB Deone Bucannon, Sr., Washington State
DB Alden Darby, Sr., Arizona State
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Jr., Oregon
DB Robert Nelson, Sr., Arizona State
DB Ed Reynolds, Sr., Stanford (2)

First team specialists

PK Zane Gonzalez, Fr., Arizona State
P Tom Hackett, So. Utah
RS Ty Montgomery, Jr., Stanford
ST Soma Vainuku, So. USC

Second team offense

QB Taylor Kelly, Jr., Arizona State
RB Tyler Gaffney, Sr., Stanford
RB Marion Grice, Sr. Arizona State
WR Ty Montgomery, Jr., Stanford
WR Jaelen Strong, So., Arizona State
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jr., Washington
OL Jamil Douglas, Jr., Arizona State
OL Cameron Fleming, Sr., Stanford
OL Andrus Peat, So., Stanford
OL Isaac Seumalo, So., Oregon State
OL Khalil Wilkes, Sr. Stanford

Second team defense

DL Scott Crichton, Jr., Oregon State
DL Taylor Hart, Sr., Oregon
DL Devon Kennard, Sr., USC
DL Hau'oli Kikaha, Jr., Washington
DL Tenny Palepoi, Sr., Utah
LB Carl Bradford, Jr., Arizona State
LB Myles Jack, Fr., UCLA
LB Hayes Pullard, Jr., USC
LB Chris Young, Sr., Arizona State
DB Dion Bailey, Jr., USC
DB Osahon Irabor, Grad., Arizona State
DB Marcus Peters, So., Washington
DB Rashaad Reynolds, Sr., Oregon State

Second team specialists

PK Vincenzo D'Amato, Sr., California
P Travis Coons, Sr., Washington
RS Nelson Agholor, So., USC
ST Erick Dargan, Jr., Oregon
ST Joe Hemschoot, Sr., Stanford
ST Ryan Hofmeister, Jr., UCLA

RS: Return Specialist
ST: special teams player (not a kicker or returner)
(2): Two-time first-team selection

Honorable mention

Arizona: LB Marquis Flowers, Sr.; DL Tevin Hood, Sr.; WR Nate Phillips, Fr.; DB Jared Tevis, Jr.; LB Scooby Wright, Fr.

Arizona State: DL Davon Coleman, Grad.; Gannon Conway, Sr.; ST D.J. Foster, So.; ST De'Marieya Nelson, Jr.

California: DL Deandre Coleman, Sr.; QB Jared Goff, Fr.; WR Bryce Treggs, So.

Colorado: RB Mike Adkins, Fr.; LB Addison Gillam, Fr.; PK Will Oliver, Jr.

Oregon: WR/RS Bralon Addison, So.; WR Josh Huff, Sr.; OL Tyler Johnstone, So.; DL Wade Keliikipi, Sr.; LB Derrick Malone, Jr.; RB Byron Marshall, So.; DL Tony Washington, Jr.

Oregon State: OL Grant Enger, Sr.; TE Connor Hamlett, JR.; QB Sean Mannion, Jr.; DB Ryan Murphy, Jr.; DB Steven Nelson, Jr.; ST Terron Ward, Jr.

Stanford: DL Henry Anderson, Sr.; DB Alex Carter, So.; OL Kevin Danser, Sr.; DL Josh Mauro, Sr.; P Ben Rhyne, Sr.; DB Jordan Richards, Jr.; LB A.J. Tarpley, Sr.

UCLA: OL Jake Brendel, So.; ST Jayon Brown, Fr.; P Sean Covington, Fr.; TE Thomas Duarte, Fr.; WR Shaq Evans, Sr.; WR Devin Fuller, So.; DB Randall Goforth, So.; QB Brett Hundley, So.; DB Anthony Jefferson, Jr.; LB Eric Kendricks, Jr.; DL Cassius Marsh, Sr.; DL Ellis McCarthy, So.; DB Fabian Moreau, So.; OL Alex Redmond, Fr.; DL Eddie Vanderdoes, Fr.; LB Jordan Zumwalt, Sr.

USC: P Kris Albarado, So.; RB Javorius Allen, So.; WR Nelson Agholor, So.; DB Su'a Cravens, Fr.; OL Kevin Graf, Sr.; TE Xavier Grimble, Jr.; QB Cody Kessler, So.; WR Marqise Lee, Jr.; DB Josh Shaw, Jr.; DL J.R. Tavai, Jr.; OL Max Turek, So.; DL George Uko, Jr.

Utah: WR Dres Anderson, Jr.; OL Vyncent Jones, Sr.; DB Keith McGill, Sr.; PK Andy Phillips, Fr.; LB Jason Whittingham, So.

Washington: OL Dexter Charles, So.; PK Travis Coons, Sr.; OL Mike Criste, Jr.; OL Micah Hatchie, Jr.; DB Sean Parker, Sr.; QB Keith Price, Sr.; DL Danny Shelton, Jr.; LB Shaq Thompson, So.

Washington State: OL Elliott Bosch, Sr.; WR River Cracraft, Fr.; PK Andrew Furney, Sr.; DB Damante Horton, Sr.;

Some notes on the teams:

By School: Arizona State and Stanford placed the most players on the first team with six selections each.

By Class: Of the 27 first-team selections, two are graduate students, 11 are seniors, nine are juniors, four are sophomores and one freshman.

Unanimous: Only one player was named on the first-team ballot of all 12 head coaches -- RB Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona.

Two-time Selections: Ten players are repeat first-team selections from last year.

All-Academic: Two first team All-Pac-12 performers also were named to the Pac-12 All Academic second team -- RB Bishop Sankey of Washington and DB Ed Reynolds of Stanford, while Washington defensive lineman Hau'oli Kikaha was named to the All-Pac-12 second team and Pac-12 All-Academic first team. Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly earned second-team honors on both the Pac-12 All-Conference and All-Academic teams.
Tags:

USC Trojans, Stanford Cardinal, Oregon Ducks, Pac-12, USC Trojans, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers, Jordan Zumwalt, Washington Huskies, UCLA Bruins, Devon Kennard, Arizona State Sun Devils, California Bears, Tyler Gaffney, Stanford Cardinal, Deandre Coleman, Utah Utes, Will Sutton, Colorado Buffaloes, Todd Graham, Arizona Wildcats, Oregon Ducks, Xavier Su\'a-Filo, Andy Phillips, Shayne Skov, Keith Price, Evan Finkenberg, Sean Parker, Soma Vainuku, Cassius Marsh, Xavier Grimble, George Uko, Hayes Pullard, Marquis Flowers, Taylor Kelly, Hroniss Grasu, Josh Huff, Sean Mannion, Eric Kendricks, Paul Richardson, Anthony Barr, Taylor Hart, Wade Keliikipi, Chris Coyle, Anthony Jefferson, Cody Kessler, Chris Young, Brett Hundley, Vincenzo D'Amato, Kevin Graf, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jordan Richards, Shaq Evans, Deone Bucannon, Bishop Sankey, Danny Shelton, Marqise Lee, Khalil Wilkes, Kevin Danser, David Yankey, Davon Coleman, Dion Bailey, Alex Carter, Alden Darby, Terron Ward, Dres Anderson, Randall Goforth, Derrick Malone, Damante Horton, Connor Hamlett, Isaac Seumalo, Andrew Furney, Henry Anderson, Gannon Conway, Scott Crichton, Rashaad Reynolds, Ka'Deem Carey, Andrus Peat, Shaq Thompson, Will Oliver, Ben Gardner, Trevor Reilly, Ty Montgomery, A.J. Tarpley, Cameron Fleming, Trent Murphy, Su'a Cravens, Byron Marshall, Ben Rhyne, Josh Mauro, Nelson Agholor, Josh Shaw, Ellis McCarthy, Marcus Mariota, Erick Dargan, Joe Hemschoot, Devin Fuller, Leonard Williams, Max Turek, Grant Enger, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Jared Tevis, Marcus Martin, Keith McGill, Marcus Peters, Ed Reynolds, Jamil Douglas, Bryce Treggs, Elliott Bosch, Tony Washington, Marion Grice, Eddie Vanderdoes, Ryan Murphy, J.R. Tavai, Carl Bradford, River Cracraft, Myles Jack, Thomas Duarte, Alex Redmond, Jake Brendel, Dexter Charles, Mike Criste, Tom Hackett, Bralon Addison, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Travis Coons, Robert Nelson, Tyler Johnstone, De'Marieya Nelson, Jaelen Strong, Tenny Palepoi, Steven Nelson, Tevin Hood, Micah Hatchie, Vyncent Jones, Jason Whittingham, Addison Gillam, Scooby Wright, Zane Gonzales, Sean Covington, Kris Albarado, Hau'oli Kikaha, Fabian Moreau, Javorius Allen, Jayon Brown, Osahan Irabor, Ryan Hoffmeister, Nate Phillips, Mike Adkins

Q&A: Washington's Sean Parker

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
4:30
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So far this season, Washington’s pass defense has been the best in the Pac-12. But it faces a big challenge this week when the No. 15 Huskies head to No. 5 Stanford. Safety Sean Parker took a few minutes this week to chat with the Pac-12 blog about the growth of the defense the last couple of seasons and Saturday’s matchup with the Cardinal.

You guys made huge strides last year, but it seems like this year you are really putting it all together. What’s it been like to see this group mature over the last couple of years?

[+] EnlargeSean Parker
Jesse Beals/Icon SMIWashington safety Sean Parker says Pac-12 offenses are hard on DBs.
Sean Parker: It’s been great to see. Everyone is bonding and everyone is putting together their own piece of the puzzle. That’s what we’ve been talking about these past few weeks. Everybody has a piece. Go out there and give all out of your piece. And at the end you put it all together. And you can see the progress this season.

Already three interceptions for you. Is the game moving that slow or are you moving that fast?

SP: I feel like I’m moving that fast. I love this defense. It’s my second year in it and I got smarter over the off season with the little things. I’m knowing what I’m seeing and I’m just going.

Playing on the road was an issue for you guys last year. Do you feel like the win at Illinois was a step in the right direction for you guys from a maturity standpoint?

SP: Absolutely. Last year we feel like we gave games up when we were on the road. And it didn’t feel good when we got back to Seattle. We wanted to change that. We took that to heart and we’ve been coming out with our heads on fire and playing fast. That’s how we expect to play no matter where we are.

A big challenge this week with Stanford. You were on the field two years ago when they set a school rushing record, and then last year you guys got the better of them at home. Can you take anything from either of those games?

SP: We’re not totally different teams. It’s the same quality of athlete. It’s going to be a physical game. Big O-line, they run the ball a lot and they run it until you stop it. And they have some good athletes so we have to matchup and bring our A-game. Stop the run and stay on top of the pass.

What needs to happen defensively for you guys to get a win? What do you see as the key to the game?

SP: Everything is key to this game, but I’d say tackling. It’s a championship game for us. That’s how we feel and that’s how we’re preparing. We have to tackle. They run the ball and their backs are good at making people miss and then we have to watch the play-action. They also have an athletic quarterback. We have to stop the run and make the quarterback go from side to side.

There were some big expectations for you guys this year. So far you’ve lived up to it. How have you seen this team handle the hype?

SP: We concentrate on things that matter. Not what other people think or say. We still have to play the games. We treat each other like family. We all look out for each other. One way or another, we know we have to get it done.

This week you’ll see Stanford and their power running game, then Oregon’s spread, then Arizona State’s version of the spread, then the Bear Raid, then Colorado’s pistol. It seems like every week there is different offense and a different challenge to prepare for. How tough is it to be a defensive player in the Pac-12?

SP: It’s real tough. The conference is filled with guys that can make plays at receiver, running back even quarterbacks. It’s hard as a DB. You have to have eyes on everything and you have to be disciplined. Being disciplined cuts down on big plays. As a defender you have to try to be two steps ahead of the offense all the time.

What’s something about you that would surprise people?

SP: I’m right in the middle. I have eight siblings and I’m right in the middle.

At the deepest roots of David Shaw’s coaching philosophy is an unwavering belief in run-first football. That's never going to change. Still, that doesn’t mean the Stanford head coach can’t be just a little bit giddy over what his offense -- specifically the passing attack -- has done so far this season.

Fashioned as Tight End U the past couple of years because of the presence of now-NFLers Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, the Cardinal wide receivers have made their presence felt in 2013 after previously yielding the spotlight to the Tree Amigos in 2011 and Twin Towers in 2012.

Through the first four games of 2012, Stanford receivers had just 26 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns. As a unit, they had just six receiving touchdowns all year. It’s a different story this season. Through the first four games, Stanford receivers have accounted for 42 catches for 770 yards and nine touchdowns.

“It’s what we started to see in spring last year,” Shaw said. “... We feel like we have these guys ready to impact games. It’s fun to see their hard work pay off and them being viable options for us.”

As a result of the wide receivers taking first chair in the passing game, the tight ends have just three catches for 14 yards and zero touchdowns.

[+] EnlargeDevon Cajuste
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonDevon Cajuste broke out last week against Washington State with two long TD receptions.
The Cardinal will need all the firepower they can get when they host No. 15 Washington on Saturday. So far it has been Ty Montgomery as the featured receiver. After a strong freshman campaign, Montgomery was hampered by injuries last season. But he has emerged so far with 20 catches for 327 yards and four touchdowns. Devon Cajuste had a breakout performance last week and has 10 catches for 244 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Michael Rector rounds out the crop of receivers who have reached the end zone, catching three balls for 119 yards and two scores.

But it’s not just the increased targeting of receivers -- it’s also the maturation of quarterback Kevin Hogan, who is delivering the downfield strike with precision and efficiency. In last week’s blowout win over Washington State, he threw three touchdowns of 30-plus yards (33, 45 and 57 yards). That doubled Stanford’s number of 30-plus-yard touchdown passes this season and matched the total of big strikes it had all last year.

“He grows a little bit each week,” Shaw said. “We took more downfield passes this week, and he did a good job of finding guys and hitting them in stride. He understands things better. He sees things better. He’s getting more in the flow of the season, and we go into every game knowing that every defense we play is going to give us something we haven’t seen before, and he’s done a good job recognizing it, coming to the sidelines, talking about it and ready to make adjustments.”

Washington’s secondary should provide an ample test. The Huskies have yet to allow a 200-yard passer and have given up only one touchdown through the air all season. Heading into Saturday’s matchup, the Huskies have the top passing defense and pass efficiency defense in the Pac-12.

“They have a great deal of speed on the perimeter with Montgomery and Rector,” said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. “Those guys can stretch the field more so than they have in the past. They put a lot of stress on you, because you want to commit yourself to defending the run, which you have to do when playing Stanford, but then the challenge is how do you not give up the big plays? They pose a lot of challenges that way. Hogan is throwing the deep ball really well right now. When guys are open he’s hitting them. That’s the other piece to the puzzle.”

After seeing a mostly tight-end-heavy Stanford team during his career, Washington safety Sean Parker said he’s excited for the opportunity square off against the Cardinal receivers.

“Every year we play receivers that stretch the field,” Parker said. “We’re used to defending down the field and having to man up their key guys. Knowing them, it is a turnaround because we’re used to seeing them running the ball and they get to different formations when they run the ball and then pass off of that. We have to be better with our eye discipline and what we see.”

Perhaps the most important statistic yet to be mentioned is that Hogan is still perfect as a starter (9-0). The Cardinal have won 12 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the country behind Ohio State, and Hogan is 5-0 against opponents ranked in the top 25. Against ranked opponents, he’s completing 70 percent of his throws with eight touchdown passes and four interceptions, averaging 186 yards per game. He also has added two touchdowns on the ground with an average of 38 rushing yards per game.
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

Video: Washington safety Sean Parker

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
5:30
PM ET
Washington safety Sean Parker talks about 2012's defensive improvement and the poor finish to the season.

Preseason position reviews: safety

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
7:00
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Safety is a strong position in the conference. Only UCLA has almost no experience returning to man the middle of its back-half, while the battle for the two All-Pac-12 teams should be tight.

So how do things stack up?

GREAT SHAPE

[+] EnlargeStanford's Ed Reynolds
Ed Szczepanski/US PRESSWIREStanford's Ed Reynolds had six interceptions last season, returning three for a touchdown.
Stanford: Just as Oregon might have the best combination of cornerbacks in the nation, so do the Cardinal at safety. Ed Reynolds is a preseason All-American and Jordan Richards is an all-conference sort. Devon Carrington -- recall a certain notable play in the Oregon game -- is a strong No. 3. Stanford yielded just 13 touchdown passes last year.

Oregon: The Ducks welcome back Erick Dargan and Brian Jackson, but Avery Patterson is back from injury, so expect him to break back into the starting lineup. Again, this might be the nation's best secondary, with the Cardinal also in that discussion.

Oregon State: We're already on record noting Ryan Murphy could be poised for a breakout season, but veteran Tyrequek Zimmerman also is back. Depth is a little questionable. The Beavers, who welcome back three of four secondary starters, ranked third in the conference in pass efficiency defense in 2012.

GOOD SHAPE

USC: Although the Trojans lost mainstay T.J. McDonald, they welcome back Josh Shaw, who mostly played corner last year, and Dion Bailey, who mostly played linebacker. Both were mostly out of position and are highly skilled. Throw in big-time talents such as frosh Leon McQuay and Su'a Cravens, and there aren't many teams that wouldn't trade their safeties for USC's. And no more Tampa 2 confusion also should help.

Arizona State: Team leader Alden Darby was second-team All-Pac-12 last season as the Sun Devils led the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense. Redshirt freshman Viliami Moeakiola topped the post-spring depth chart at free safety, but the competition remains open heading into fall camp. Watch out for Damarious Randall.

Washington: Sean Parker is back, and he was honorable mention All-Pac-12 a year ago. Redshirt freshman Brandon Beaver is competing with experienced senior Will Shamburger for the other spot.

Arizona: Everyone is back in the Wildcats secondary, and just like the cornerbacks, the safeties will look good if the pass rush is at least adequate. Former walk-on Jared Tevis was a revelation last season, while Jourdon Grandon also returns. Tra'Mayne Bondurant is a hybrid linebacker/safety sort. Patrick Onwuasor was kicked off the team.

Washington State: Deone Bucannon was second-team All-Pac-12 last season and he packs a punch, while Casey Locker also is a returning starter. Sophomore Taylor Taliulu is in the mix. What holds the Cougars back here, not unlike Arizona, is poor 2012 pass efficiency defense.

Utah: Eric Rowe is back and he's flashed plenty of potential, but Brian Blechen is -- wisely, the Pac-12 blog thinks -- moving back to linebacker. Though Tevin Carter was listed as an "Or" beside Rowe on the post-spring depth chart, expect him to compete with Tyron Morris-Edwards for the spot opposite Rowe. Charles Henderson offers depth.

California: Michael Lowe is a returning starter, but he was listed behind Alex Logan on the post-spring depth chart. Avery Sebastian is solid at strong safety. Again, this seems like a solid crew, but Cal gave up 32 touchdown passes last season, second most in the conference.

WE'LL SEE

UCLA: It was a big blow when Tevin McDonald, brother of T.J. and the secondary's lone returning starter, got kicked off the team. It also didn't help when the career of the star-crossed Dietrich Riley ended because of injuries. Sophomore Randall Goforth is the likely starter at free safety, while touted incoming freshmen Tahaan Goodman and Tyler Foreman figure to be in the mix opposite him. There are plenty of opportunities here for youngsters and veterans to make a fall camp move.

Colorado: The Buffaloes lose Ray Polk, but there's no lack of returning experience here among Josh Moten, Terrel Smith, Parker Orms, Marques Mosley and Jered Bell. But, as we noted with the corners, when you rank last in the nation in pass efficiency defense, it's difficult not to rank a "we'll see."

You can see previous previews here:

Quarterback

Running back

Receiver

Tight end

Offensive line

Kicker

Linebacker

Defensive line

Cornerback

Pac-12 media day primer

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
10:00
AM ET
Two weeks and counting. Ted and I are gearing up for media day. Are you? Here's what you should know.

When: July 26

Where: Sony Studios, Los Angeles

Who will be there (all times PT):
UPDATE: Arizona State informed me Friday morning that it has decided to bring Will Sutton instead of safety Alden Darby. This is a good thing because Sutton was the league's defensive player of the year last season, and his presence helps bolster his name -- and the program -- in the eyes of the national media.

Who won’t be there: The biggest name missing is Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, who led the nation in rushing last season. Coaches tend to bring veterans and guys with experience. Yankey is a great spokesman for Stanford and a good candidate, but I know others wouldn't mind hearing some thoughts from Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan.

Five storylines:
  1. Hitting? Scott is expected to announce the league's health and safety initiative, which will limit how much hitting can be done in practice. This isn't a new concept, but the league jumped in front of it by being the first to make a conference-wide mandate.
  2. Bowl updates? We know the status of the Rose, Alamo, Holiday, Kraft Fight Hunger and Sun bowls. Not sure if the rest of the lineup for beyond this season will be announced at media day. But one of us will ask.
  3. New coaches: This is the meet-the-world opportunity for the new head coaches in the league: Dykes, MacIntyre and Helfrich. Expect the requisite questions on the difficulty of changing cultures and rebuilding programs.
  4. Preseason poll: Is there any fodder better than preseason polls? Oregon or Stanford? Stanford or Oregon? ASU, UCLA or USC? Your Pac-12 bloggers will be submitting their ballots this weekend after a visit to the Oracle of Delphi, a seance channeling Nostradamus and a dartboard.
  5. Quirky questions: With the access of media day comes the spectacle of media day. Granted, it's not as bad as some of the quirks at Super Bowl media day. But there's bound to be a couple of left-field questions -- and they'll probably be directed at Leach, who is great and usually has fun with them. Last year he was asked which Pac-12 coach he'd go hunting with and which Civil War generals he'd compare some of his players to.

Ted and I will be trying something new this year (we think). Instead of the on-the-stage posts, we'll be doing a live chat during the entire stage session and bringing you info real time. So take note of the times (in Pacific, to save you the math) and be ready to interact.

Media day lineup set

June, 18, 2013
6/18/13
1:00
PM ET
Last week, Ted gave you the rundown of which Pac-12 players will be attending media day on July 26. Now the on-stage lineup has been set.

We'll be there to bring you each team's summary "On stage..." post like we did last year, as well as "Seen and Heard" posts, a multi-story notebook and plenty of videos.

We can't make any promises that the entire Google-web won't collapse and Utah's "On Stage" post won't disappear like it did last year (Ted still feels really bad about that one), but he told me he's going to slip the IT guy at Sony Studios a $20 just in case. (Anyone needing a refresher on that story can check out the final question from this mailbag last year.)

Here's the lineup so you can start planning ahead.

9 a.m. Larry Scott, Pac-12 Commissioner

9:15 a.m. Washington State - Coach Mike Leach, Elliott Bosch (OL), Deone Bucannon (DB)

9:30 a.m. California - Coach Sonny Dykes, Bryce Treggs (WR), Nick Forbes (LB)

9:45 a.m. Washington - Coach Steve Sarkisian, Keith Price (QB), Sean Parker (DB)

10:00 a.m. Oregon State - Coach Mike Riley, Brandin Cooks (WR), Rashaad Reynolds (DB)

10:15 a.m. Oregon - Coach Mark Helfrich, Marcus Mariota (QB), Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB)

10:30 a.m. Stanford - Coach David Shaw, David Yankey (OL), Shayne Skov (LB)

10:45 a.m. Break

11:00 a.m. Colorado - Coach Mike MacIntyre, Paul Richardson (WR), Chidera Uzo-Diribe (DE)

11:15 a.m. Utah - Coach Kyle Whittingham, Jake Murphy (TE), Trevor Reilly (DE)

11:30 a.m. Arizona - Coach Rich Rodriguez, Terrence Miller (WR), Jake Fischer (LB)

11:45 a.m. USC - Coach Lane Kiffin, Marqise Lee (WR), Hayes Pullard (LB)

12:00 p.m. Arizona State - Coach Todd Graham, Taylor Kelly (QB), Alden Darby (S)

12:15 p.m. UCLA - Coach Jim Mora, Xavier Su’a Filo (OL), Anthony Barr (LB)

Pac-12 players attending media day

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
1:00
PM ET
The official start to the countdown to the Pac-12 College Football Season begins for most media folks at media day (for the Pac-12 blog, there is no start or finish line, just one continuous super-marathon of joy).

This year Pac-12 media day is Friday, July 26 at the Sony Studios Lot in Culver City, Calif. The Pac-12 coaches will be in Bristol, Conn., talking to ESPN folks the two days before the LA event, and yours truly will also be there, making himself profoundly annoying.

In LA, Kevin and I will be there, diligently polishing the bland overflow of verbiage into shiny nuggets of fun and useful information.

But the chief question on your mind is this: Who shall tell you reporters about how offseason workouts were the best IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD and that this team has great chemistry and leadership?

Glad you asked. Each team brings its coach and two players, one offense, one defense.

And here they are:
Arizona: LB Jake Fischer, WR Terrence Miller
Arizona State: QB Taylor Kelly, S Alden Darby
California: WR Bryce Treggs, LB Nick Forbes
Colorado: WR Paul Richardson, DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe
Oregon: QB Marcus Mariota, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Oregon State: WR Brandin Cooks, CB Rashaad Reynolds
Stanford: OG David Yankey, LB Shayne Skov
UCLA: OLB Anthony Barr, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo
USC: WR Marqise Lee, LB Hayes Pullard
Utah: TE Jake Murphy, DE Trevor Reilly
Washington: QB Keith Price, S Sean Parker
Washington State: S Deone Bucannon, C Elliott Bosch

The most glaring omission is Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton, who is only the defending Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. The second most glaring is Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, who only led the nation in rushing last year.

Carey's excuse is offseason, off-field trouble. He's not talked to reporters since a series of knuckle-headed events. Many of you might recall his last public quote not being particularly admirable.

Sutton's omission was coach Todd Graham's decision, according to the Sun Devils sports information department, though it's no secret Sutton isn't a huge fan of interviews, despite being pretty good at them and never receiving any bad publicity (at least that comes to mind).

Darby was selected for his "leadership." The problem with that explanation is it chips away at Sutton, fairly or unfairly, as in: Is he not a good leader, too? And everyone wants to talk to Sutton, a preseason All-American who notably opted to return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft.

Things certainly will be quieter at Arizona State's table. If Sutton attended, many of the reporters on hand would have written, "Will Sutton is unblockable and Arizona State is going to be good" stories. Now they won't, which means less buzz for the team.

Does it matter? It certainly won't blow up a season. But there are probably a few AP voters on the East Coast who will, as a result, know less about the Sun Devils before they fill out their preseason ballots. In college football, where you start does matter in terms of where you finish.
All players are equal, but some players are more equal than others. That's the basis of our Most Important Player series.

First off, quarterbacks are excluded to make things more interesting. It goes without saying, for example, that Oregon's Marcus Mariota is the Ducks' most important player.

And most important doesn't necessarily have to be "best." An All-American's backup can be pretty darn good, too.

Our most important guys are players who could swing a win total one way or the other, based on their living up to expectations. Or their absence.

Washington: S Sean Parker

2012 production: Tallied 77 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions with six passes defended. He also forced three fumbles.

Why Parker is so important: As stated above, quarterbacks are excluded from this series. But we never said anything about excluding the quarterback of the defense. And that's exactly what Sean Parker is for the Huskies -- a quarterback at safety who headlines a surging secondary.

There are a lot of different directions to go with the Huskies. Running back Bishop Sankey is an obvious choice. He's a 1,400-yard rusher who has quickly climbed from by-committee option to A-list playmaker. Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are strong options as well.

Defensively, there are some good linebacker options in Shaq Thompson, John Timu or Travis Feeney. All could fill this space.

But Parker, who was selected by his teammates as a captain last year, is the guy who makes everything click.

"Tremendous player. Great leader. Really exemplifies what we want back there," said head coach Steve Sarkisian.

As documented, the Huskies' defense made huge strides in 2012 -- particularly in the secondary -- in their first year under defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. And if they hope to be a Top-25 team -- as many have them slated -- that defense will have to keep improving. Parker will have to keep improving.

He stepped up in some of Washington's biggest games last year. He forced a fumble, had five tackles and a tackle for a loss in the win over Stanford. Against Oregon State he broke up three passes and had an interception that stopped an early drive deep in Washington territory.

This year's schedule isn't quite as daunting. But they still play in the Pac-12 North and they have to travel to Arizona State and UCLA -- not to mention the home opener against Boise State in a rematch of last year's bowl game. But there is plenty of leadership on the Huskies this year and Parker, an all-league honorable mention pick last season, is considered the leader of the leaders.

He's started in all 13 games each of the last two seasons and has been through the peaks and valleys of the program. The Huskies have a chance to ascend to peaks they haven't reached in a decade. If they do, chances are Parker plays a huge role in getting them there.
Unlike last year, there aren't nearly as many questions surrounding the Washington defense as the Huskies head into the final stretch before fall camp.

Last year a new scheme and new coaches were being installed, headlined by new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. The Huskies' defense was abysmal in 2011 -- so head coach Steve Sarkisian blew it up and started from scratch.

Now the Huskies are looking to build off of the momentum they gained in 2012 when they made huge strides in one year under Wilcox & Co.

"The numbers don't lie," Sarkisian said.

They certainly don't.

The biggest advances were in the secondary, where the Huskies jumped from 87th to 27th in pass efficiency defense, 106th to 31st in total defense, 108th to 39th in scoring defense and 116th to 23rd in pass defense. They had 17 interceptions last year compared to 10 the year before.

"Our secondary really had a very good season for us last year," Sarkisian said. "I thought Justin Wilcox, Keith Heyward, our secondary coach, really came in and did a great job. ... You look at the increase in play we had in the secondary -- our pass defense numbers, our ability to create turnovers -- I think really speaks volumes to their coaching and their ability to develop our players."


That's what Sarkisian is banking on in 2013 -- player development. More specifically, at the cornerback spot where they have to replace first-round draft pick Desmond Trufant. Sarkisian called the competition "healthy" this spring, but isn't anywhere closer to declaring anyone as the leader in the clubhouse for that starting spot. And it might end up being by-committee or which player has the hot hand that week. A few defensive backs have switched positions or spent time at safety and corner in an effort to make the defensive backfield deeper and more versatile.

With Marcus Peters, who started the final eight games opposite Trufant last season, back on one side, the competition heated up over spring between Travell Dixon and Greg Ducre. Sarkisian said that redshirt freshman Cleveland Wallace has also made a big push. Dixon is a JC transfer (once committed to Alabama) and Ducre had 15 tackles while appearing in 13 games last season.

"Desmond Trufant was a great player for us," Sarkisian said. "Anytime you have a first-round draft pick at corner it tells you the quality of player you have. But I think we've got some really capable guys that are stepping in."

If the Huskies can shore up that spot, expect the secondary to make even bigger strides in 2013. Sean Parker, who started all 13 games at safety, returns as the unquestioned leader of the secondary. Will Shamburger, who started two games last year, will see a larger role. But there's some good competition there as well. Tre Watson (who can pitch in either at corner or safety) is in the mix, and early enrollee Trevor Walker had a strong first spring. Brandon Beaver, who converted from corner to safety late last season but was limited in the spring, is also going to press for playing time.

Lots of names. But that also means lots of depth.

"We've got a good amount of talent back there," Sarkisian said. "It's about finding the right combination of those guys. For some of those guys who were redshirt players for us last year, Travell, Brandon, Cleveland, fall camp is going to be big for them. This spring was good to get the terminology and fundamentals and techniques after spending all year on the service team last year. There is a healthy competition going on back there and the end result is we're fortunate to have good depth and good coaches and we feel good about our pass defense when the fall rolls around."
WASHINGTON HUSKIES

2012 record: 7-6
2012 conference record: 5-4 (Fourth in North Division)
Returning starters: Offense 10; Defense 8; Kicker/punter: 2

Top returners: QB Keith Price, RB Bishop Sankey, WR Kasen Williams, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DB Sean Parker, LB John Timu, DE Josh Shirley, LB Shaq Thompson.
Key losses: CB Desmond Trufant, DB Justin Glenn, C Drew Schaefer, FB Jonathan Amosa.

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Bishop Sankey* (1,439)
Passing: Keith Price* (2,726)
Receiving: Kasen Williams* (878)
Tackles: John Timu* (91)
Sacks: Josh Shirley*; Andrew Hudson* (6.5)
Interceptions: Justin Glenn, Shaq Thompson*, Marcus Peters* (3)

Spring answers
  1. Picking up the pace: We know the Huskies spent the spring installing a new up-tempo offense. How much of it was installed and how comfortable the players are running it remains to be seen. But Steve Sarkisian has made a point that his team needs to 1) do a better job keeping up with the up-tempo offenses in the league and 2) do a better job keeping teams on their heels. This philosophical switch seems to address both since the defense has been practicing against an up-tempo offense.
  2. Starting five: Many believe this is the best team Sarkisian has had since coming to Washington. And part of that might be that he finally has a healthy offensive line with quality depth behind the starters. The group of Micah Hatchie (LT), Dexter Charles (LG), Mike Criste (C), James Atoe (RG) and Ben Riva (RT) worked as the first-team starting five all spring. And former starters Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa, along with experienced backup Shane Brostek, give the Huskies quantity and quality up front.
  3. Progress of Price: The breakout player of 2011 and embattled starter of 2012, Keith Price, quickly shook off whispers of a quarterback competition with a strong spring that left Sarkisian feeling good about his third-year starter. He distanced himself from would-be challengers and, if he can return to that 2011 form, could have Washington in the top 25.
Fall questions
  1. After Price: It looks like Cyler Miles has established himself as No. 2 in the quarterback hierarchy, but the battle to be Price's understudy will continue into the fall with Derrick Brown and Jeff Lindquist still in the mix. The Huskies were one of only four teams in the conference last year to have the same quarterback start every game. So Price has proven his durability. But having a clear pecking order behind the starter can be equally important.
  2. Replacing Trufant: No easy task to replace Desmond Trufant, a staple in the Washington defensive backfield who at one point started 45 straight games. Marcus Peters is all but locked in on one side, leaving Greg Ducre and Travell Dixon battling it out on the other side. Tre Watson will also be in the mix.
  3. ASJ MIA: How long will Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Pac-12's top tight end, be out? Will he miss any games? He's been suspended indefinitely stemming from his DUI arrest and many are wondering if he'll miss at least the season opener against Boise State. Sarkisian pointed to the silver lining of the situation -- noting that his absence has allowed others at the position to get extensive work this spring. He also said Seferian-Jenkins is taking all of the proper steps to rejoin the team. There is little doubt he'll be the most dominant tight end in the league in 2013, and probably the country. The timetable for his return will be of great interest in the coming months.
When you ask Washington's second-year defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to describe his base scheme, his answer comes down to "somewhere in between a 4-3 and a 3-4," which means it's got a little bit of everything.

"This day and age, I think all defenses are multiple," he explained.

Wilcox turned in one of nation's best coaching jobs last fall. He took a defense that was among college football's worst in 2011 and made it more than respectable.

Improvement? The Huskies surrendered nearly 100 fewer yards and 12 fewer points per game than they did the previous season under Nick Holt. A unit that had been ranked 106th in the nation in total defense, ranked 31st. A unit that had been ranked 108th in the nation in scoring defense, ranked 39th.

And you could make a case that the Huskies talent was not appreciably better in 2012 than in 2011.

[+] EnlargeWashington's Justin Wilcox
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonThe Washington defense saw marked improvement under Justin Wilcox last season.
That said, it was far from perfect. The Huskies got pushed around by more physical teams (LSU, 41-3) and were worn out and outrun by up-tempo, spread teams (Oregon, 52-21, and Arizona, 52-17). And they turned in an execrable fourth quarter against Washington State, surrendering 18 points in a shocking overtime defeat.

In the other nine games, they yielded an average of 15.3 points per game.

So when you ask Wilcox what didn't please him, he goes general: "Consistency," he said.

Just like his defensive scheme, that encompasses a lot. For one, the Huskies still need to get bigger and faster and deeper. They have solid talent on defense but they won't yet be mistaken for Alabama or Stanford. To be consistent on defense, starters need to win one-on-one battles and there can't be a significant drop-off when the first-team guy is getting a necessary breather.

The Huskies also seemed to get overwhelmed at times, mentally as well as physically, particularly on the road. Washington played timidly in the first half at LSU, and both Oregon and Arizona had 21-point quarters at home to put those games away in the first half.

With eight starters back and improving depth, as well as a year of seasoning under Wilcox's coaching and schemes, Washington should take another step forward in 2013. It has two big questions: 1. Improving the pass rush, one of the few numbers that was statistically worse in 2012 compared to the previous fall; 2. Replacing cornerback Desmond Trufant, the most significant of two voids in the secondary and the defense as a whole.

The latter won't likely get done. While Trufant's play fell off a bit over the final third of the season due to his playing hurt -- "Dinged," Wilcox called it -- he's still a likely first-round NFL draft pick next week.

"I don't know if we have a guy on our roster who can replace what Desmond Trufant did," Wilcox said. "You try to get guys -- it might be one guy, it might be three guys -- to try and gain the productivity at the position he gave us."

Wilcox did say that cornerback Marcus Peters, who struggled at times opposite Trufant as a redshirt freshman starter, "has flashed." Senior Sean Parker is established at one safety spot, but the competitions at the other two secondary voids remain wide open as the Huskies prepare for their spring game on Saturday, Wilcox said.

As for the pass rush, that starts with junior rush end Josh Shirley, who Wilcox believes played better than was commonly thought among the Huskies fan base.

"He did a good job rushing the passer last year," Wilcox said. "He had six and a half sacks last year but he had the opportunity to have 12 or 13 if he would have finished better."

Shirley also forced six fumbles, tied for first in the conference.

It would be a huge boost if defensive end Hau'oli Jamora is able to come back in the fall after knee injuries killed his past two seasons, but that's not something Wilcox can count on. Jamora looked like a budding star as a true freshman starter in 2010.

"I love the guy. He works and is studying," Wilcox said. "He's doing everything humanly possible to get back ... that would be huge."

The idea, of course, is to "effect the quarterback with a four-man rush." Over-reliance on blitzing and rushing five or six guys is where a defense gets into trouble -- see the 2011 Huskies. It's also not just about sacks. It's about making a quarterback move and adjust and feel uncomfortable.

The challenge of every Pac-12 coordinator is the variety of Pac-12 offenses. There are a wide variety of up-tempo spreads that don't particularly resemble each other -- the Huskies are even going mostly no-huddle this spring -- and then there are pro style offenses such as Oregon State, Stanford and USC. A defensive coordinator in the conference can't scheme -- or recruit -- only one way.

So even with a year under his belt at Washington, expect to see some tweaks from Wilcox next fall.

What's his scheme?

Said Wilcox, "It's identifying what we think we can be good at and catering the scheme as best we can to fit the players were have."

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