Pac-12: Sheldon Price

UCLA Bruins spring wrap

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
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UCLA Bruins

2012 record: 9-5
2012 conference record: 6-3 (First in South Division)
Returning starters: Offense: 6; Defense: 6; Kicker/punter: 1

Top returners: QB Brett Hundley, OL Xavier Su'a-Filo, LB Anthony Barr, WR Shaq Evans, LB Eric Kendricks, LB Jordan Zumwalt.

Key losses: RB Johnathan Franklin, OL Jeff Baca, TE Joseph Fauira, DE Datone Jones, LB Damien Holmes.

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Johnathan Fraklin (1,734)
Passing: Brett Hundley* (3,745)
Receiving: Shaq Evans* (877)
Tackles: Eric Kendricks* (149)
Sacks: Anthony Barr* (13.5)
Interceptions: Andrew Abbott, Sheldon Price (4)

Spring answers
  1. When in doubt, form a committee: There is no replacing Johnathan Franklin, UCLA’s all-time leading rusher and a finalist for the Doak Walker award last season. But the hope is that a group of backs can combine to replicate his production. Jordon James looks like he might have a leg up as the leader of the committee, though Paul Perkins and Malcolm Jones had solid springs. Steven Manfro and Damien Thigpen shouldn't be counted out, either, heading into fall since the coaches have said they are fine with using five backs in a game.
  2. The corps stepping up: The coaches were extremely pleased with the production of the wide receiver corps this spring. Devin Fuller might have had the strongest spring of the group -- though returning leader Shaq Evans (60 catches, 877 yards, three touchdowns) still figures to be the primary target. Jordan Payton, Kenneth Walker, Eldridge Massington and Devin Lucien round out what should be a solid group.
  3. LB depth: Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Zumwalt make up a fantastic linebacking unit. Barr and Kendricks were among the national leaders in production last year. But this spring the Bruins saw the emergence of players like Aaron Wallace, Kenny Orijoke and Taylor Lagace and Aaron Porter. Defensive depth was a big concern for the Bruins last year. And for now, at least, it looks like they have solidified the two-deep at all the linebacking spots.
Fall questions
  1. Speaking of depth: The Bruins return the bulk of their offensive line -- but as we learned in the Baylor game when two linemen went down -- you can never have enough depth on the line. Finding backups will be key. And while players like Ben Wysocki stepped up this spring -- showing he can fill in at tackle or guard -- there will be plenty of competition with some good offensive linemen joining the team this fall. The starting five might be close to set -- but nothing is solidified.
  2. Secondary issues: As in issues in the secondary, not secondary concerns. Ishmael Adams and Anthony Jefferson looked solid at cornerback and Brandon Sermons and Randall Goforth stepped up at safety. Though it’s likely that several, if not all four spots, will still be up for grabs come August. A highly-rated group of recruits join the secondary in the fall and playing time in the secondary is expected to be highly contested.
  3. Looking for leaders: Franklin, gone. Jeff Baca, gone. Datone Jones, gone. Damien Holmes, gone. These were leaders who rallied the troops when times were tough and, in their own ways, pulled their respective units together. Head coach Jim Mora talked about the importance of leadership and said it can’t be forced. Rather, it has to happen organically. He said he started to see some guys develop this spring, but the next few months before they meet for fall camp will be very telling in regards to who takes this team on their shoulders.

Pac-12 spring preview: South Division

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
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Here are some keys and storylines to watch this spring in the South Division. Yesterday Ted looked at the North Division.

ARIZONA WILDCATS

Start date: March 3

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. New battery: The Wildcats are looking to replace a top-notch quarterback-center combo in Matt Scott and Kyle Quinn. The rock-solid duo helped produce one of the top offenses in the league. Jesse Scroggins and B.J. Denker are among those in the mix to run the offense and several returning offensive linemen are versatile enough to move around. Chris Putton and redshirt freshman Beau Boyster could be in the mix at center.
  2. Many happy return(er)s: Arizona returns a big chunk of its offensive production -- including running back Ka'Deem Carey and receiver Austin Hill. Both should be on all sorts of preseason teams and awards watch lists. But behind the big names, there's also David Richards, Johnny Jackson, Tyler Slavin and Garic Wharton back in the mix.
  3. No learning curve: Last spring, the talk was about Rich Rodriguez calling out his team for its lack of physical conditioning. The fact that the majority of the team understands what is expected -- and they don't need to spend the whole spring learning new systems, should be a huge help. Consider that the Wildcats return their entire defense from a group that was, at times, shaky, but will certainly benefit from another full season of playing in the 3-3-5 scheme.
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

Start date: March 19

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. Plugging the middle: One of the few losses to ASU's roster is middle linebacker Brandon Magee -- a leader on and off the field and an all-around heck of a player. Carlos Mendoza looks to be a good fit -- though he's likely to miss spring while continuing to recover from a shoulder injury suffered against Illinois. Folks might remember his two interceptions before going down for the year.
  2. Catching on: Unlike last spring, the Sun Devils have their quarterback. And he's a good one. Now, they need to find folks he can throw to. JC transfers De'Marieya Nelson (H-back, 6-3, 230) and Jaelen Strong (WR, 6-4, 205) are both big bodies who could step in and contribute immediately.
  3. Wait and see: The kicker here is a lot of these players who are expected to compete won't arrive until the fall. So in the meantime, a lot of the younger players and redshirts will get a ton of reps in the system. And speaking of kicker, don't underestimate how much of an impact Josh Hubner made at punter. Iowan Matt Haack, who arrives in the fall, is a rugby-style kicker who can kick with either foot. That's just cool.
COLORADO BUFFALOES

Start date: March 7

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. Meet your QB: Whomever it will be. There are five on the roster and a sixth coming in. Safe to say, quarterback play was extremely inconsistent last season for the Buffs. With an entirely new coaching staff coming in and installing the pistol, this could be one of the more interesting and wide-open position battles in the league.
  2. Curious defense: One needs only to review Colorado's national rankings last year to realize they struggled. As one Buffs insider mentioned to me, they were ranked No. 1 in a lot of categories. Unfortunately, that "1" was followed by two more numbers. Only three defensive ends have playing experience. However a secondary that lacked experience in 2012 has a lot more looking into 2013.
  3. Receiver options: The Buffs welcome back Paul Richardson, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Colorado's premier offensive playmaker will be a nice veteran presence to whomever wins the quarterback job. Grayshirt Jeff Thomas also is back. An improved passing attack should help give the quarterback some confidence and open up the running game.
UCLA BRUINS

Start date: April 2

Spring game: April 27

What to watch:
  1. Life after Franklin: The Bruins say goodbye to the best statistical back in school history -- leaving a huge void in the backfield. Johnathan Franklin was a great presence for young quarterback Brett Hundley, but now someone has to step up to fill that role, either solo or along with a committee. Look for Jordon James, Steven Manfro and Damien Thigpen to all get looks.
  2. New No. 1: The Y-receiver, aka hybrid tight end, was filled wonderfully by Joseph Fauria -- Hundley's favorite red zone target. Darius Bell and Ian Taubler both had looks last year, but Fauria too will be tough to replace. Shaq Evans, Devin Fuller, Jordan Payton and Devin Lucien round out a pretty good receiving corps.
  3. Secondary solutions: The Bruins must replace two corners and a safety -- Sheldon Price, Aaron Hester, Andrew Abbott -- and there isn't a ton of starting experience. Randall Goforth has five starts, but veterans such as Brandon Sermons and Anthony Jefferson have more special-teams experience than actual secondary play. Keep an eye on the secondary too when the Bruins start fall camp to see if any freshmen jump into the mix immediately.
USC TROJANS

Start date: TBD

Spring game: April 13
  1. New defensive scheme: The Trojans will move to a 5-2 defensive scheme under Clancy Pendergast, and the spring drills will be the first opportunity to see the defense in action. The Trojans will have an experienced front seven, but four new starters are expected in the secondary.
  2. Replacing Barkley: Max Wittek got the first extended audition in the battle to take over for Matt Barkley, but he didn’t do enough in two late-season starts to claim the job. Cody Kessler and freshman spring enrollee Max Browne also will be looking to take the reins at one of the glamour positions in college football.
  3. Lane Kiffin on the hot seat: The Trojans are coming off a disappointing season, and the fans are howling in protest, but so far his boss Pat Haden has maintained full support for his coach. Now is the time for Kiffin to show why that support is warranted. -- Garry Paskwietz, WeAreSC
UTAH UTES

Start date: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Erickson impact: The biggest question was what sort of role Dennis Erickson would play in the offense once he arrived. We'll know sooner than later. He already has talked about putting an identity on the Utah offense. That starts in spring when routines are established and expectations are set. And with Erickson on board to give the offense a push, the expectations will be much higher.
  2. Wilson maturing: That leads us to the presumptive starting quarterback -- Travis Wilson -- who jumped in midseason after Jordan Wynn got hurt and Jon Hays struggled to produce. Wilson went from OK to pretty good in just a few weeks. A nice jump considering his experience level. With an entire offseason knowing he'll be the starter -- and with Erickson and Brian Johnson molding him -- it will be interesting to see what progress he makes this spring.
  3. D-line makeover: The Utes lose some talent on the defensive line -- specifically All-American defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Look for DE/LB Trevor Reilly to spend more time with his hand down. Tenny Palepoi, LT Tuipulotu and JC transfer Sese Ianu could all see time in the mix at defensive tackle.
What does 2013 hold for the Pac-12? If you buy Mark Schlabach's early Top 25, then it looks like a pretty good start for the conference.

Schlabach taps five Pac-12 teams in his 2013 Top 25 -- including two of the top three. Oregon checks in at No. 2, with Stanford right on the Ducks' heels at No. 3. Oregon State is at No. 15 followed by UCLA at No. 21 and USC rounds out the pack at No. 25.

Here's what Schlabach has to say about each program:

2. Oregon Ducks: Another Chip Kelly flirtation with the NFL appears to end once again with Oregon's coach staying in Eugene. It looked as though Kelly might be filling one of several NFL job openings after the Ducks' win over Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. With or without Kelly, Oregon figures to maintain its frenetic offensive pace and contend with Stanford in the Pac-12 North. As many as eight starters on offense and seven on defense could be back from a team that finished 12-1. Quarterback Marcus Mariota ranked in the top 10 in the country in passing efficiency in his first season as a starter, throwing 32 touchdowns with only six interceptions. The Ducks will miss tailback Kenjon Barner, who is leaving after running for 1,767 yards with 21 touchdowns, but they'll still have De'Anthony Thomas and promising freshman Byron Marshall. Linebackers Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, the team's top tacklers, also are departing.

3. Stanford Cardinal: After playing in three consecutive BCS bowl games and winning the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio this season, Stanford might be poised to join the ranks of the perennial BCS national championship contenders. The Cardinal didn't miss a beat after losing Heisman Trophy finalist Toby Gerhart in 2009, coach Jim Harbaugh in 2010 and quarterback Andrew Luck in 2011. Not many programs in the country are equipped to overcome those kinds of losses, proving Harbaugh and current coach David Shaw haven't built a flash-in-the-pan program. Stanford might bring back as many as seven starters on offense and nine on defense if a few of its talented underclassmen don't leave early for the NFL draft. The Cardinal will miss senior tailback Stepfan Taylor, who ran for 1,530 yards with 13 touchdowns, but quarterback Kevin Hogan figures only to get better with more experience. The Cardinal look as if they're in the top 10 to stay, especially with uncertainty at USC.

15. Oregon State Beavers: You knew that, after back-to-back losing seasons, it wouldn't be very long before coach Mike Riley had the Beavers back in the thick of the Pac-12 race. After starting 6-0, OSU lost four of its final seven games, including a disappointing bowl defeat. But with nine starters on offense and seven on defense coming back in 2013, Oregon State should have things turned around for the long run. Riley needs to settle on a starting quarterback; he shuffled between Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion throughout the 2012 season. The Beavers lose top receiver Markus Wheaton, but they'll have three senior starters on the offensive line, which is always a good commodity to have. Cornerback Jordan Poyer is another big loss on defense. The Beavers will play Stanford, USC and Washington at home next season and Arizona State and Oregon on the road.

21. UCLA Bruins: UCLA coach Jim Mora's first season ended with a thud; the Bruins lost their last three games to finish 9-5. If they can get better protection up front -- they gave up 52 sacks, second-most among FBS teams -- they'll have a chance to be even better in 2013. UCLA started three freshmen on the offensive line this past season, and they were exposed in the Bruins' 49-26 loss to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. The good news: Quarterback Brett Hundley is back after throwing for 3,740 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a freshman. The bad news: Tailback Johnathan Franklin, who ran for 1,734 yards with 13 touchdowns, is departing. UCLA will also have to rebuild its secondary; cornerback Sheldon Price and safety Andrew Abbott, who each picked off four passes, are leaving. After playing seven home games this past season, UCLA plays at Nebraska and will have to play Oregon and Washington during the regular season, which it didn't do in 2012.

25. USC Trojans: The Trojans can't be this bad, right? After starting 2012 at No. 1 in most preseason polls, USC limped to a 7-6 finish, including a listless 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. Quarterback Matt Barkley is gone, along with receiver Robert Woods, who was unhappy about his production and bolted for the NFL draft. Record-setting receiver Marqise Lee is coming back after catching 118 passes for 1,721 yards with 14 touchdowns last season. Freshman Max Wittek started the last two games after Barkley suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and goes into spring practice as the anticipated starter in 2013. The Trojans should have back seven starters on offense and eight on defense, so there's enough returning talent to get things turned around. USC fans are wondering if coach Lane Kiffin is the man to do it, though.

Instant analysis: UCLA 38, USC 28

November, 17, 2012
11/17/12
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PASADENA, Calif. -- A wild game in Southern California ended with the crowning of a Pac-12 South champion and clear power shift in Los Angeles. Here’s how it all went down at the Rose Bowl.

It was over when: Johnathan Franklin dashed for a 29-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the game -- extending UCLA’s lead to 38-28.

It was really over when: Sheldon Price blocked a 38-yard USC field goal attempt with 1:31 left in the game.

Game ball goes to: For as poised and impressive as redshirt freshman Brett Hundley was, it’s got to be Franklin, who blew up in a big way by rushing for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.

Unsung hero: UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks had a monster game, notching eight tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.

Stat of the game -- 14: The number of UCLA points off of turnovers.

What it means for UCLA: The Bruins claim the Pac-12 South. Depending on what happens in tonight’s Stanford-Oregon game, UCLA might control the outcome of who wins the North. If Stanford wins tonight, the Cardinal could wrap up the North next week when they travel to UCLA. It’s a bizarre scenario. Or, UCLA could get a crack at the Ducks if Oregon wins tonight. Either way, there are no asterisks this year for the Bruins.

What it means for USC: For starters, a lot of looking in the mirror. The turnovers were killers, and now they have to close out a disappointing year -- against an undefeated Notre Dame team -- knowing they have no shot at playing in a BCS bowl game. This was the cherry on USC’s bummer sundae.

Lunch links: Oregon vs. the SEC

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
2:30
PM ET
You just better start sniffin' your own rank subjugation jack 'cause it's just you against your tattered libido, the bank and the mortician, forever man and it wouldn't be luck if you could get out of life alive.
 

Stat attack! Some Week 7 Pac-12 numbers

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
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Here is a quick look at some Pac-12 numbers and how they stack up nationally.

You can see Week 6 numbers here.

Number to the left is national rank.

Total offense (yards per game)

6. Arizona, 553.83

7. Oregon, 541.67

8. UCLA, 529.0

Note: You'd think these numbers would go down in Pac-12 play but Arizona feasted against a Stanford defense that was supposed to be elite.

Passing offense (yards per game)

4. Arizona, 370.83

8t. Oregon State, 339.5

15. Washington State, 312.0

20. UCLA, 403.67

Note: Good to see Pac-12 offenses throwing the rock, but it's interesting that you probably don't have the first-team All-Pac-12 QB on these four teams. Well, unless Arizona's Matt Scott keeps putting up ridiculous numbers.

Rushing defense (yards per game)

4. Oregon State, 67.25

6. Stanford, 77.2

22. USC, 112.8

26. Utah, 114.8

Note: Oregon falls out of the top 25 after giving up 208 yards rushing to Washington. All four of these run defenses will need to step up this weekend.

Scoring defense (points per game)

12. Arizona State, 13.6

23. Oregon State, 17.0

Note: The Sun Devils also are 10th in the nation in total defense (276.2 yards per game), the only Pac-12 team ranked among the top 25 in that category after Washington and Stanford got hit hard over the weekend.

Third-down defense (percentage)

1. Oregon State, 20.41

10. Oregon, 29.17

12. Stanford, 29.76

20. UCLA, 31.46

Note: These defensive numbers are showing you how the Beavers might survive the loss of QB Sean Mannion.

Sacks per game

3. Arizona State, 4.2

7. USC, 3.4

9. UCLA, 3.3

13. Washington State, 3.17

16. Oregon, 2.85

20. Stanford, 2.8

Note: USC will be getting after Keith Price this weekend. And Arizona State will be attacking Marcus Mariota on Oct. 18.

Rushing yards per game

7. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA, 133.33

12. Kenjon Barner, Oregon, 121.17

15. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, 112.0

16. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona, 111.67

Note: The plot thickens for the Pac-12 rushing title. Taylor was banged up against Arizona. The Cardinal will need him at Notre Dame, which is playing A-list defense.

Passing efficiency

10. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State

21. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Note: A pair of first-year starters are leading the way. Where are the veteran QBs? USC's Matt Barkley is 27th here, and we expect him to continue to climb.

Receiving yards per game

4. Marqise Lee, USC, 129.8

7. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State, 124.5

9. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State, 121.5

16. Austin Hill, Arizona, 101.33

20. Marquess Wilson, Washington State, 92.17

Note: Hill is the newcomer here. He and Dan Buckner give the Wildcats an A-list tandem just like USC and Oregon State.

Sacks (per game)

2. Scott Crichton, Oregon State, 1.5

5. Will Sutton, Arizona State, 1.3

6. Travis Long, Washington State, 1.25

12. Morgan Breslin, USC, 1.1

21. Anthony Barr, UCLA, 1.0

21. Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado, 1.0

26. Carl Bradford, Arizona State, 0.9

Note: No Pac-12 player recorded double-digit sacks in 2011. It appears several have an opportunity to do so this year.

Interceptions (per game)

1t. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State, 1.0

4t. Sheldon Price, UCLA, 0.8

7t. Deone Bucannon, Washington State, 0.67

9t. Dion Bailey, USC, 0.6

9t. Ed Reynolds, Stanford, 0.6

20t. Brandon Magee, Arizona State, 0.5

20t. Jonathan McKnight, Arizona, 0.5

20t. Kameron Jackson, California, 0.5

Note: The sack numbers combined with the interceptions numbers make this clear: Life ain't easy for Pac-12 QBs.

Pac-12 weekend rewind: Week 3

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
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Taking stock of the third week of games in the Pac-12.

Team of the week: Stanford didn't just beat No. 2 USC, it physically dominated the Trojans in a 21-14 victory, the Cardinal's record fourth consecutive win in the series. First, there was the post-Toby Gerhart Era. Then there was the post-Jim Harbaugh Era. Then there was the post-Andrew Luck Era. Maybe it's just the Stanford Era? The Cardinal is now squarely in the Rose Bowl race. And maybe the national title hunt.

[+] EnlargeJosh Nunes
Kyle Terada/US PresswireCardinal quarterback Josh Nunes had one of the biggest plays of the week in the Pac-12.
Best game: Utah's 24-21 win over BYU wasn't pretty. It wasn't, really, even deserving of a "best" tag. But it was really weird, particularly the ending, and weird is often noteworthy. On a weekend when four games came down to the fourth quarter, the Holy War had the most breathless finish because it had two breathless finishes.

Biggest play: On third-and-10 from the 50 in the fourth quarter, Stanford QB Josh Nunes was under pressure. He scrambled and found himself bottled up and cut off. Yet a player not exactly known for his athleticism juked the USC defense and cut for a 13-yard gain and a first down. Two plays later, he hit TE Zach Ertz for a 37-yard TD and a 21-14 lead, the final margin of Cardinal victory.

Biggest play II: California had No. 12 Ohio State on the ropes. The score was tied with just under four minutes left in the game, and the Buckeyes faced a third-and-7 from their 28-yard line. QB Braxton Miller was forced from the pocket, but the Bears secondary gagged and let Devin Smith get free behind the coverage. The ensuing 72-yard TD pass provided Ohio State its 35-28 margin of victory.

Biggest play III: BYU had a first-and-10 on the Utah 25-yard line, down 10-7 in the third quarter. Lined up in a shotgun formation, QB Riley Nelson wanted to change the play. While he was barking signals, his center delivered the snap, which rolled past an unaware Nelson. Utah's Mo Lee scooped up the loose ball and rambled 47 yards for a TD. The Utes would need those points in a 24-21 win.

Offensive standout: Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor was the best player on the field against USC. He rushed 27 times for 153 yards and a 59-yard TD and caught five passes for 60 yards and a 23-yard score in No. 21 Stanford's upset win over No. 2 Trojans.

Defensive standout: UCLA CB Sheldon Price matched a school record with three interceptions in the Bruins' 37-6 win over Houston.

Special teams standout: Not a lot to choose from. Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas returned four punts for 87 yards against Tennessee Tech, though he did fumble one.

Smiley face: Cal RB Brendan Bigelow brought life to the Bears by doing his best De'Anthony Thomas at Ohio State, rushing for 160 yards on just four carries -- yes, an average of 40 yards per carry! He had touchdown runs of 81 and 59 yards, and both were spectacular. Might he give the Bears offense a weapon that turns around their season?

Frowny face: Can anyone kick a freaking field goal? USC has no kicker, and Arizona, California, Oregon, Stanford and Utah were a combined 1-for-10, with the Bay Area schools going 0-for-6.

Thought of the week: Two of the Pac-12's five unbeaten teams will go down this weekend because of head-to-head matchups. Arizona travels to Oregon, while UCLA plays host to Oregon State. We'll get a better measure of contenders and pretenders this weekend.

Questions for the week: Is Oregon's Thomas ready to make a Heisman Trophy statement against Arizona? The set-up seems perfect: an ESPN game against a questionable defense. With USC and QB Matt Barkley going down, the Heisman race has opened up. Can Thomas be his fancy self and win the affection of the pundits?

Pac-12 helmet stickers

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
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It was a weird, wild weekend in Pac-12 football. As with any wild weekend, there are heroes who emerge. Let’s honor a few of them, shall we?

Sheldon Price, UCLA: The senior cornerback matched a school record by recording three interceptions in UCLA’s 37-6 win over Houston. For the game, the Bruins had five picks.

Stepfan Taylor, Stanford: The senior running back was equal parts bruising and shifty during the Cardinal’s 21-14 upset of USC. Taylor rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown to go with five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Utah: Big ups to the Utes for keeping it together in the face of adversity this week and pulling off a win over (1) their biggest rival and (2) a ranked team. Special acknowledgement to defensive tackle Star Lotulelei for his blocked field goal and his six solo stops (a team high). Things don’t seem as glum in SLC as they did this time last week.

Gabe Marks, Washington State: The freshman wide receiver caught six balls for 126 yards, which included a 52-yard touchdown, in the Cougars’ win over UNLV.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon: Though he tossed an interception, he still completed 21 of 28 balls for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Through the first three weeks, he’s completing 75.5 percent of his throws.

Matt Scott, Arizona: The Wildcats quarterback threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another while helping Arizona total 689 yards of offense and 43 first downs. He was a crisp 30-of-36 for 288 yards in the air to go with 61 yards on nine rushes.

UCLA, Arizona both roll

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
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UCLA and Arizona were big winners against ranked teams last week. And they pounded lesser foes this weekend.

Arizona 56, South Carolina State 0: It wasn't as close as the final score suggests. The Wildcats had 43 first downs. South Carolina State had eight. The Wildcats outgained the Bulldogs 689 yards to 154. Arizona will get a big test next weekend at Oregon.

UCLA 37, Houston 6: Cornerback Sheldon Price grabbed three of the Bruins five interceptions in blowout win over Houston. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 110 yards as the Bruins outgained Houston, which beat UCLA last year, 568 yards to 388. The Bruins host Oregon State on Saturday.

UCLA spring game wrap

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
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UCLA head coach Jim Mora learned this spring that he hasn't learned enough -- which is why he's postponed his announcement on the Bruins starting quarterback to Aug. 16.

"I said before the spring we'd like for someone to reach out and grab it. But if they didn't, we weren't going to force it," Mora said after the spring game at the Rose Bowl Saturday. "And we're not going to force it, until the 16th. Then we're going to force it.

"I think what we gain by waiting is I want to keep a competitive environment and quite frankly I don’t think that anyone has really reached out and grabbed it enough for me to make that decision yet."

Knowing that Saturday's scrimmage would not be a deal-breaker for any of the quarterbacks, they went out, played loose and put up some pretty decent numbers against an injury-depleted, soft-serve defense.

Richard Brehaut completed 12 of 16 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns. Brett Hundley was 12-of-20 for 185 yards, a score and an interception (he also ran for an 18-yard touchdown) and Kevin Prince was 8-of-11 for 101 yards and two scores.

"It was fun to see our quarterbacks have success early," Mora said. "I think we have to really temper that with the knowledge that defensively we were really just playing two defenses ... we weren't really pressuring. But I still was impressed with their performance. I thought we caught the ball well, ran the ball well."

Brehaut has also decided to focus all of his attention on the football team and won't be rejoining UCLA's baseball team.

"For me, football has always been the priority," he told Peter Yoon of ESPNLosAngeles. "I wanted to give baseball the opportunity because I knew I can play baseball, but right now I think my time is going to be best spent with the football team and developing that leadership role."

Receivers Jerry Johnson (five catches, 125 yards) and Tyler Scott (three catches, 113 yards) both caught a pair of touchdowns. Running back Steven Manfro continued a strong spring with seven catches for 105 yards, a pair of carries for 20 yards and he also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

"He's really shown up in every practice we've had," Mora said of Manfro. "He's had a play or two in ever practice we've had and he did the same tonight ... he's electric out there. He's fun."

Defensively, there were also some highlights. Cornerback Sheldon Price turned in a pick-six -- headlining four interceptions for the Bruins secondary (two from Price) -- and Datone Jones tallied a pair of sacks.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said he's not too concerned about not having a starting quarterback coming out of spring.

"I don’t think it’s stressful at all because I think I’ve got some good players at that spot," Mazzone said. "Now it’s stressful when you leave spring and you don’t think you have anybody. That is stressful."

Pac-12 lunch links: Petersen in mix at UA?

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
2:30
PM ET
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, honey,
don't you know that I love you?
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, baby,
don't you know that I'll always be true?

Pac-10 lunch links: Barkley's status still unclear

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
2:30
PM ET
Attention. Tonight's movie has been 'M*A*S*H.' Follow the zany antics of our combat surgeons as they cut and stitch their way along the front lines, operating as bombs and bullets burst around them; snatching laughs and love between amputations and penicillin.

Preseason position reviews: cornerback

August, 5, 2010
8/05/10
2:09
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The good news for all those big-name Pac-10 quarterbacks? Every conference team has questions at cornerback.

And, for the first time in Pac-10 blog history, no one earns a "Great shape" tag.

Only one cornerback who earned All-Pac-honors is back: Arizona's second-teamer Trevin Wade. Only one other returning corner, Washington's Desmond Trufant, even earned honorable mention.

Three teams welcome back both starting corners from 2009: Oregon, Stanford and Washington. But the Ducks have moved Javes Lewis to rover, and a pair of true freshmen -- Terrance Mitchell and Avery Patterson -- are battling for the starting job opposite Talmadge Jackson. Stanford and Washington? They ranked eighth and ninth in the conference in pass efficiency defense last season.

USC and Arizona State are replacing both starting cornerbacks, but both actually look fairly strong at the position with plenty of returning experience and athleticism.

A number of teams might end up pretty good at the position. But no one looks like a sure-thing during the preseason. (Heck, we thought California was a sure thing in 2009 and things didn't exactly go according to plan).

So how do things stack up?

Great shape
  • No one.
Good shape
  • Arizona: Wade is an All-American candidate, and Marcus Benjamin showed he can play with a good performance against USC in 2009. And Mike Stoops always has good cornerbacks, so we won't dwell on the questionable depth.
  • Oregon: Probably not a lot of worry here for the Ducks. Injuries in 2009 earned young players experience, and Oregon did rank third in the Pac-10 in pass efficiency defense. Still, it remains uncertain who will start opposite Jackson, with the freshmen outplaying the more experienced Cliff Harris and Anthony Gildon during the spring.
  • Arizona State: On the one hand, both starters are gone from a unit that ranked second in the conference in pass efficiency defense. On the other, Omar Bolden would have been a starter if he didn't get hurt, and Deveron Carr, Osahon Irabor and LeQuan Lewis give the Sun Devils a nice mix of talent and experience.
  • USC: Shareece Wright was academically ineligible last season, but he might end up first-team All-Pac-10. He might, in fact, be the conference's best cover cornerback. Torin Harris and T.J. Bryant are battling for the other spot in a secondary replacing all four 2009 starters.
  • Washington: Trufant is an up-and-comer, Quinton Richardson is experienced, and backups Vonzell McDowell and Adam Long have starting experience, so the Huskies should be much improved here in 2010. The operative word, though, is "should."
  • UCLA: It isn't easy to replace an Alterraun Verner. Sheldon Price returns at left cornerback after a good freshman season as a starter, and Aaron Hester has potential on the opposite side. Undersized junior Courtney Viney is an experienced third option.
  • Oregon State: James Dockery is solid and new starter Brandon Hardin is big -- 6-2, 215 pounds. There's respectable depth. But the Beavers gave up 23 touchdown passes in 2009, tied for the most in the conference. Of course, the Beavers cornerbacks suffered last season because of an anemic pass rush. That might change in 2010.
We'll see
  • Stanford: If the Cardinal is going to take another step forward, it must get better in pass coverage. Three players who started last seaon are back: Richard Sherman (who's a sure-thing at left corner), Corey Gatewood and Johnson Bademosi. But opponents completed 63 percent of their passes with 23 touchdowns against those guys. Might redshirt freshman Terrence Brown make a move?
  • California: Syd'Quan Thompson is gone; is Darian Hagan back? As in the 2008 version, not the one who lost his job and got buried on the depth chart in 2009. After being touted as one of the best secondaries in the country, the Bears finished 111th in the nation in pass defense in 2009. Bryant Nnabufie, who started four games in 2009, is listed No. 1 opposite Hagan, but Josh Hill (a five-game starter) and Marc Anthony and redshirt freshman Steve Williams are in the mix.
  • Washington State: The Cougars feel pretty good about junior Aire Justin and sophomore Daniel Simmons, who was the defense's best cover corner before he got hurt midway through last season. But it's hard to ignore that the Cougars ranked 112th in the nation in pass efficiency defense with opponents completing nearly 67 percent -- 67 percent! -- of their passes.

Pac-10 deep & thin: Stocked and depleted positions

June, 2, 2010
6/02/10
5:40
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At what position is the Pac-10 deep? At what position in the Pac-10 thin? Here's the second of three parts taking a look at just that.

(By the way, some of you wondered about QB. The Pac-10 is, without question, the nation's deepest conference in terms of quarterbacks -- and it would have been deeper if not for a certain Duck making a very, very poor decision. But that's so obvious and been written about so much that we're not including it in this three-part package).

Deep: Running back

[+] EnlargeJacquizz Rodgers
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireJacquizz Rodgers is one of several talented running backs returning to the Pac-10 this season.
Why is it deep? Six of the top-10 running backs from 2009 are back, and four of them rushed for more than 950 yards. Eight teams welcome back a player who qualifies as a starter or at least an experienced veteran. Only Arizona State and Stanford, which is replacing Heisman Trophy runnerup Toby Gerhart, are uncertain at the position. But it's not just about starters. There's depth. Most teams can point to one or more solid backups, not to mention there are a number of elite incoming freshmen recruits expected to immediately contribute.

The big names: Start with Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, the conference's top Heisman Trophy candidate, and Oregon's LaMichael James, who has All-American potential. They combined for just under 3,000 yards and 35 TDs in 2009. Then there's Washington's Chris Polk (1,113 yards rushing), California's Shane Vereen (952 yards, 12 TDs) and Arizona's Nic Grigsby, who rushed for 1,153 yards in 2008. The Wildcats, in fact, have their top four rushers back, including Keola Antolin, who's rushed for over 1,100 yards and 14 TDs over the past two seasons. USC and UCLA are both experienced in the backfield and have highly rated freshmen recruits who figure to be in the mix, particularly USC's Dillon Baxter, who was spectacular this spring. Washington State has three of its top four rushers back.

Thin: Cornerback

Why is it thin? Three of the four All-Pac-10 cornerbacks are gone: UCLA's Alterraun Verner, California's Syd'Quan Thompson and USC's Kevin Thomas. Each of them were NFL draft picks. Only second-teamer Trevin Wade of Arizona returns. In fact, only one returning CB even earned honorable mention all-conference recognition (Washington's Desmond Trufant). Only Oregon, Stanford and Washington welcome back both starting CBs from 2009, and each of them is hardly settled at the position after spring practices. Arizona State and USC are replacing both corners, though the return of Omar Bolden from injury and Shareece Wright from academic ineligibility should bolster the Sun Devils and Trojans, respectively.

Fill the void? Wright might turn out to be the conference's best cover corner and a top NFL draft pick. Wade had five interceptions last year and could earn national attention. Bolden had a great spring after missing last season with an injury and suffering through a disappointing sophomore year. Trufant, UCLA's Sheldon Price, USC's Torin Harris and Oregon's Cliff Harris are youngsters who might break through. Oregon's Talmadge Jackson and Oregon State's James Dockery are veterans who could take the next step.

Pac-10 Q&A: UCLA defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough

May, 25, 2010
5/25/10
11:00
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UCLA's must replace six starters on defense, including three first-team All-Pac-10 performers.

That is a cause for concern.

On the other hand, safety Rahim Moore, linebacker Akeem Ayers and end Datone Jones are future high NFL draft picks who provide a cause of optimism.

Although the Bruins walked away from spring practices with some questions -- particularly at two linebacker spots -- and an obvious need for some youngsters to immediately contribute, there's enough talent for them to again rank as one of the Pac-10's top defenses.

[+] EnlargeChuck Bullough
Rose Palmisano/Icon SMIChuck Bullough needs to identify some new leaders on his defense.
Here's what coordinator Chuck Bullough had to say.

You lost a lot of guys who saw a lot of action: Who's going to be hardest to replace?

Chuck Bullough: All of them were good. The hardest to replace? It's really different aspects. Obviously, Brian Price being such a disruptive force up front -- that's a guy you're going to miss. Then we have our two linebackers. Reggie Carter was a four-year starter, so obviously his experience, him knowing everything. He was a team leader of the defense. And obviously Alterraun Verner, who was one of the best corners to ever play here. But we have young guys who played well in spring who we hope can step up. Now, I don't know if they will be at the same level as those guys were because those guys were obviously seniors and these guys are younger. But these guys have the ability to get to that level.

How might the 2010 defense be different than the 2009 unit?

CB: We'll be a little younger. We lost those five seniors. But the guys who played this spring -- [middle linebackers] Steve Sloan and Patrick Larimore -- played really well. Replacing Kyle Bosworth at "will" linebacker we've got [Sean Westgate] and we moved a safety down there, Glenn Love, who played real well and was a real surprise of spring. They have a chance to be comparable to the guys from last year. We moved Nate Chandler over from tight end to defensive tackle. He's a big 6-foot-5, fast with great feet. Between him and David Carter and a couple of the young puppies coming in, we'll replace Brian Price. Well, a Brian Price only comes along every once in a while with his explosiveness. But these guys are good football players. The guy stepping in for Verner would be Sheldon Price. He was a freshman last year but he started as a true freshman just like Verner did. It all depends on them taking that next step and being leaders. We lost all our leadership. So I think, with the defense, it will have to be seen as to who takes over the leadership role with these guys gone, when it comes to the fall and it's time to play games, who are the leaders of the defense.

Let's go through the three levels: What are you happy with concerning your defensive line and what concerns you?

CB: We feel very good about our D-line. Obviously, we lost both our tackles, but like I said, Nate Chandler came over and played really well. David Carter has improved. Both of those guys are big bodies -- 6-5 and 6-4, 290 and both of them can run. A tackle we have coming in, Cassius Marsh, who we've been keeping in touch with, is really strong for a freshman, which is usually the problem they have coming in and trying to play Pac-10 football from high school. They aren't strong enough. But he's really strong and he's got a nasty streak. So we're expecting him to have to be in the rotation. We've got a guy, Sealii Epenesa, from Hawaii, who's a big, huge body guy. We'll have to see if he can hold up strength-wise but he'll definitely have the ability down the road. Then we have a guy named [Wesley] Flowers who's coming in. We're not sure if he's a D-end or D-tackle yet. But defensive tackle-wise, I feel pretty confident with the switch-over with Nate and having those other guys step up and grow up and the young puppies coming in and being able to help -- they probably won't be able to start -- but they will be able to help. We'll play about four tackles a game. Defensive end, we lost Korey Bosworth, but we have Iuta Tepa and Keenan Graham who made big improvements during spring. Obviously, Datone Jones should become a dominant defensive line player at tackle and end. He's taken a step up. I project for him down the road that he will be a first-round draft pick. He's that good, that big, that fast and he's really hungry. The other two guys obviously didn't play much, so when the live action starts we'll have to find out about those two. And obviously we have [Owamagbe Odighizuwa] coming in -- one of the top defensive ends in the nation. Then again, can he learn the defense? He's got the ability. But you never know until they get here and try to learn the defense. Obviously there's a lot more scheme in college. So we came out of spring feeling pretty good defensive line-wise, compared to going in. Going in we didn't know what Nate Chandler had, we didn't know what Keenan Graham had, we didn't know that Datone had made such a big jump, which he did.

At linebacker, what does Akeem Ayers need to do to become an All-American sort of player?

CB: He's a guy who should be another high-round draft pick for the NFL. He's grown with the defense and he's probably the most athletic linebacker you're going to find. He's a guy who, the more he's in the system, every year, he's gotten better. His second year, we had to play him as a nickel linebacker because he couldn't mentally handle both base and be a nickel. Those were just two different spots. Last year, he could. This year, we feel he should be even more comfortable with the defense. He should not even have to think at all. He still had to think a little bit last year, I believe, but he should just react now because he knows the defense inside and out

How do the competitions at middle and weakside linebacker stand?

CB: I've mentioned Sloan and Larimore need to battle it out next fall and Westgate and Love got to battle it out in the fall. Both are open. Both will be competitions in training camp. They have three months here to improve and we'll see in training camp. But we've got four guys who we believe can play. They did a good job in spring and showed it. Now it's just going to be a training camp battle.

Rahim Moore is already an All-American: Where can he improve?

CB: He's started for two years. He's into the system for a third year. Now his role has become that he has to be the leader in the secondary. Verner was kind of the leader last year. Now Moore has got to be the leader.

Besides Moore, tell me about what's good and what concerns you in the secondary?

CB: We feel pretty good with our two safeties. Obviously, both Tony Dye and [Moore] have both played. They've started for two years now. That's where our veterans are in the secondary and the safety position. And obviously we have Dietrich Riley coming in who's a big-time recruit who is very bright. We expect him to be able to come in and contribute and play. And we've got some guys who've got another fall to improve. We feel good about the safety position. The corners, obviously I mentioned Price before. He's a second-year starter. He's a tall guy who's gaining weight. Last year, he didn't have enough weight. He was probably 160 pounds. He was too small. But he's gained 15 or 20 pounds, I think, without losing his 10.5 speed in the 100 [meters]. He could be a special player and it's his turn to take over at corner. Then we have Aaron Hester who was a starter before he broke his leg. He's another big, tall, long-armed guy who can run like the wind. We feel comfortable with him. We have Andrew Abbott and Courtney Viney behind those two who are two savvy veterans that we feel can play. And obviously we've got a couple of freshmen coming in. We've got Anthony Jefferson and Tevin McDonald. With Tevin McDonald, we don't know if he's a safety or a corner. We also have Shaq Richardson coming in. So we have some guys there. But it's hard to know with those rookies until they actually play. If those guys can play, they will just be bonuses.

When you lose six guys like you lost, most folks think you'll take a step back. Do you think the 2010 unit can be as good as your 2009 crew?

CB: I think it will be interesting who steps up and becomes a leader. The "mike" [middle] linebacker in my defense has always been that guy. He makes all the checks. So Sloan and Larimore, one of them -- whoever it is -- has got to step up. Reggie Carter grew up into that leadership role as he got older. In spring, we saw Datone and Ayers and Rahim take up that leadership role which last year was with the older guys. Those three guys should be the leaders because they've played so much and gotten a lot of accolades.

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