Pac-12: Silas Redd

Pac-12 results from the NFL combine

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
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Raise your hand if you thought Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney would run a faster 40-yard dash than Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas at the NFL combine.

Put your hand down, liar.

Granted, it was still only by a hundredth of a second -- Gaffney ran 4.49 and Thomas 4.50 -- but, still, Thomas built his reputation on speed, while Gaffney's was more on toughness and vision. It ranked as one of the surprise performances among Pac-12 players over the weekend at the NFL combine.

[+] EnlargeBishop Sankey
AP Photo/Michael ConroyWashington running back Bishop Sankey made a move up draft boards with his performance at the NFL combine.
Sunday proved to be a great day for Washington running back Bishop Sankey, who might have jumped Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey on some draft boards, according to ESPN's John Clayton.

From Clayton's story:
There may not be a running back who could entice a team to use a first-round pick, but the backs who ran Sunday looked great. Bishop Sankey of Washington may have entered the combine as the No. 3 halfback, but his stock probably rose with a 4.49 40 time along with a good show of lifting strength. Tre Mason of Auburn displayed second-round numbers with his 4.5. Both backs might have jumped ahead of Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona, who had a 4.70.

Sankey ranked No. 2 among running backs with 26 reps on the bench press and his 40-time was tied for No. 9.

Another one of the weekend's big winners was Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, who turned in the fastest 40 among receivers. His time of 4.33 was second to only to Kent State running back Dri Archer, who ran a 4.26.

Cooks, who set Pac-12 single-season records with 128 catches and 1,730 receiving yards this year, also turned in the fastest time registered in the 60-yard shuttle (10.72) at the combine since at least 2006. During that same time period, he's tied for the fastest time in the 20-yard shuttle (3.81) with Tennessee cornerback Jason Allen from 2006.

Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the John Mackey Award winner, has a stress fracture in his foot that is expected to need six to eight weeks to recover, according to a report from the Tacoma News Tribune. Due to the injury, Seferian-Jenkins was able to participate only in the bench press. He put up 20 reps, which ranked tied for No. 10 among the 15 tight ends who participated.

See the complete list of Pac-12 invitees.

Here are the Saturday and Sunday results from the Pac-12 players in the 40 and bench press:

Running back

Gaffney, Stanford: 4.49/did not lift
Sankey, Washington: 4.49/26 reps
Thomas, Oregon: 4.50/8 reps
Carey, Arizona: 4.70/19 reps
Silas Redd, USC: 4.70/18 reps
Ryan Hewitt, Stanford (fullback): 4.87/did not lift
Marion Grice, Arizona State: Did not participate
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (transferred from Oregon): 4.51/15 reps

Wide receiver

Cooks, Oregon State: 4.33/16 reps
Paul Richardson, Colorado: 4.40/did not lift
Shaquelle Evans, UCLA: 4.51/13 reps
Josh Huff, Oregon: 4.51/14 reps
Marqise Lee, USC: 4.52/did not lift

Offensive line

Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA: 5.04/25 reps
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford: 5.28/26 reps
David Yankey, OG, Stanford: 5.48/22 reps
Marcus Martin, C, USC: did not run/23 reps

Tight end

Colt Lyerla, formerly of Oregon: 4.61/16 reps
Anthony Denham, Utah: 4.77/did not lift
Jake Murphy, Utah: 4.79/24 reps
Richard Rodgers, TE, California: 4.87/16 reps
Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: did not run/20 reps
Xavier Grimble, USC: did not run or lift

Quarterback

No Pac-12 quarterbacks are at the combine, which is a rarity. The conference has sent at least one every year since at least 1999, which was as far back as we could go to find combine rosters.

USC’s improved offense under Coach O

November, 13, 2013
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Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports
USC has improved offensively since Ed Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin as head coach.
In an interview with ESPN Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell, USC RB Javorius “Buck” Allen described USC’s transition to interim coach Ed Orgeron, “It hasn't been difficult. We all love Coach (Orgeron). He's a player's coach. He loves us, and he wants to see us happy and have fun. We really play off of that, and we want to win for him.”

USC is 4-1 under Coach Orgeron and its offense seems to have found an identity. USC has turned to its run game, led by Allen and Silas Redd, which has opened up the passing game for Cody Kessler and the Trojans.

Orgeron’s return to the run
USC is averaging 181.2 rush yards per game under Ed Orgeron, which is comparable to its average in the first five games of the season under Lane Kiffin. However, the Trojans are running more often on early downs and finding success in doing so.

In their past five games, the Trojans have run on 70 percent of their first-down plays, an increase of eight percentage points from their first five games. They have averaged 5.8 yards per rush and gained a first down on 22 percent of their first-down rushes in those games.

Success on first down has resulted in increased efficiency on third down. USC ranked 112th in the FBS through its first five games with a 28 percent third-down conversion rate. With Orgeron at the helm, the Trojans have increased that rate to 36 percent, including 52 percent in their past two games.

Buck Allen’s emergence
The biggest difference in USC’s running game has been the emergence Javorius “Buck” Allen. According to sources, Allen was one of USC’s most productive backs in training camp, but he did not get many carries at the start of the season. Those carries went to Tre Madden and Justin Davis, who were both productive, but recently went down with injuries.

Even before the injuries to Madden and Davis, Allen was given a chance by Ed Orgeron. In five games under Orgeron, Allen has gained 327 yards, including at least 130 in each of his past two games. He is averaging 8.8 yards per rush and has added an element of speed that complements the bruising style of Silas Redd.

Allen’s speed has allowed him to turn the corner on opposing defenses. He is averaging 11.4 yards per carry outside the tackles and seven of his 23 rushes have gained at least 10 yards. Overall, he leads the Trojans with seven rushing touchdowns, including four outside the tackles, despite ranking fourth on the team with 51 carries.

Improved QB play
Under Orgeron, USC is attempting more passes per game and its average pass distance is one yard farther downfield than when Lane Kiffin was the head coach.

Orgeron and new play caller Clay Helton have cut back on USC’s bubble screens, which were a staple of Lane Kiffin’s offense. After attempting more than five screens per game under Kiffin, USC has attempted just nine screens in five games (1.8 per game) under Orgeron and have relied more heavily on the arms of their quarterbacks.

Cody Kessler has responded to the increased responsibility by posting a 65.5 opponent-adjusted QBR in his past five games. He completed 81.6 percent of his passes and averaged 11 yards per attempt in his past two games against Oregon State and California.

The most noticeable difference for USC’s quarterbacks is on third down. In their past five games, they have converted a first down on 32 percent of their passing plays (pass attempts + sacks) and have a 54.1 Total QBR on third down. In comparison, they converted 22 percent of their passing plays and had an 11.1 third-down Total QBR in the first five games of the season.

USC’s quarterbacks will be challenged on Saturday against Stanford’s stout defense. The Cardinal rank seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency and are coming off of a game in which they held Oregon’s Marcus Mariota to a season-low 46.5 Total QBR.

What to watch in the Pac-12: Week 11

November, 7, 2013
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A few storylines to keep an eye on this week in the Pac-12:

  1. The big one: No. 5 Stanford will host No. 3 Oregon on Thursday night in a game that is sure to send shock waves throughout the Pac-12 and BCS Standings. A win for the Ducks likely re-catapults them back over Florida State and into the No. 2 spot of the BCS rankings -- the outcome of Alabama-LSU pending. A victory for the Cardinal keeps their national championship hopes alive, but they’d still need some help along the way to pass Ohio State and Florida State. This is just the second time that two Pac-12 teams have met while ranked in the top five of the BCS standings. The last time was No. 4 Arizona State and No. 5 Oregon in 2007.
  2. [+] EnlargeByron Marshall
    Scott Olmos/USA TODAY SportsByron Marshall leads the Oregon rushing attack at Stanford on Thursday night.
    Edges matter: Per the brilliant number crunchers at ESPN Stats & Info, the Cardinal will have to contain the Ducks when they try to run outside. Oregon averages 8.7 yards per rush outside the tackles, second among all AQ teams behind Wisconsin. Last season, Stanford forced Oregon to run 63 percent of the time between the tackles. And when the Ducks did get outside, the Cardinal were able to contain them to the tune of just 29 yards, 1.9 yards per rush and 1.3 yards before contact. In Oregon’s other games last season, they averaged 108.1 yards per game outside the tackles.
  3. The other side of the ball: We know about Oregon’s offense. We know about Stanford’s defense. How about when roles are reversed? The Cardinal offense hasn’t been all that productive of late, averaging just 21.6 points over its past three games. Oregon’s defense yields just 16.9 points per game -- seventh-best in the country. Turnovers will obviously be a premium for both defenses. Stanford has a zero turnover margin with 11 takeaways and 11 giveaways. Oregon, however, is plus-13 with 23 turnovers gained to 10 turnovers lost.
  4. Quotable: Always good for a one-liner, Stanford coach David Shaw was asked earlier in the week about De’Anthony Thomas’ comments that he expects the Ducks to score at least 40 points. “I don’t have an issue with that,” Shaw said. “He’s a confident young man, and they put it on film. They’ve done it. So I have no problem with that if that’s his mentality. I’m just glad he only said 40.” Seeing as Shaw has a penchant for the us-against-the-world approach for his team, here’s betting he had a different message for his defense behind closed doors.
  5. South showdown (1): UCLA heads to Tucson, where it hasn’t won since 2003 -- the first year of the Karl Dorrell era. Both teams have already achieved bowl eligibility. Both teams sit at 3-2 in conference play. Now it becomes a question of pecking order. Ka’Deem Carey has rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 straight games, which is tops in the FBS. The Bruins snapped their two-game losing streak with a win over Colorado last week. Brett Hundley posted the third game of his career with two rushing and two passing touchdowns and he accounted for 345 yards of total offense. Keep an eye on how things play out in the first 30 minutes, because the Bruins are 13-0 under coach Jim Mora when they lead at the half.
  6. South showdown (2): The Sun Devils look to strengthen their foothold on the South with a trip to Utah -- a team they blasted in Tempe last season. In fact, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he has “horrible memories” of last season's loss and called it one of Utah’s poorest performances since joining the Pac-12. The obvious sidebar here is it’s the first time Utah offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson is facing the team he used to coach. But Whittingham said Erickson is a pretty even-keeled guy and he doesn’t expect sentiment or emotions to play a role. Whittingham also said that quarterback Travis Wilson is healed from his hand injury and won’t wear a glove. Across the field, ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly is coming off of a seven-touchdown game on the road at Washington State.
  7. Trojans rolling: Since making the coaching switch from Lane Kiffin to interim coach Ed Orgeron, the Trojans have gone 3-1, including a convincing 31-14 win last week on the road at Oregon State. For the second time this season USC had a pair of running backs post 100-yard games with senior Silas Redd rushing for 140 yards and Buck Allen collecting 133 yards (8.3 yards per catch) and 3 TDs. Allen was USC’s fourth different back to rush for 100 yards this season. Marqise Lee is also coming off an outstanding performance, grabbing five passes for a season-high 105 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Beavers. Cal is still looking for a conference win, but should have some more confidence after an improved showing last week against Arizona.
  8. Bowl eligible: So far there are six teams already bowl eligible (Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA) with two more on the verge of becoming eligible this week. USC, because of the 13-game regular season schedule sits at 6-3 overall and needs to pick up a win at California to get a spot in the postseason. Washington is at 5-3 with a visit from Colorado. Both teams are favorites, which would give the league eight teams headed to the postseason with the legitimate potential for two more (Utah and Washington State). Both have four wins and Colorado still has an outside shot. Cal is the only Pac-12 team eliminated from bowl eligibility.
  9. Star power: Two of the nation’s elite offensive playmakers square off in Seattle when Colorado visits Washington. Buffs wide receiver Paul Richardson has 57 catches for 984 yards with eight touchdowns and continues to close in on several of Colorado’s single-season receiving marks. Washington counters with running back Bishop Sankey, who enters the week as the nation’s No. 3 rusher, averaging 145.3 yards per game. He’s coming off a career-best 241-yard performance against Cal and ranks fourth nationally with 12 rushing touchdowns.
  10. Taking a breather: There are two teams on bye this week with Oregon State looking to refocus after dropping back-to-back games against Stanford and USC and Washington State taking its second bye week in the past three. The Beavers, who are already bowl eligible, close the season with two of their final three on the road; at ASU, home to Washington and at Oregon for the Civil War. With four wins, the Cougars need to win two more to teach the postseason. They are also on the road for two of their past three with dates at Arizona next week and home to Utah before closing out the Apple Cup in Seattle.

Tuesday mailbag: Can Mac get it done?

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
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Just cause it’s the mailbag doesn’t mean I mail it in.

Trojan Nation in (Downtown LA) writes: For the mailbag ... Kevin! You picked USC to lose against Oregon State. You Picked USC to lose against Utah. When are you going to show us Trojans some love and admit that we're a good football team with great talent who are WINNING despite going through what no other college team in college football has to. Would any other team in college football be doing as well as SC is if it had the same restriction put unfairly upon them??? I think not!

[+] EnlargeEd Orgeron
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesEd Orgeron's Trojans have managed to overcome plenty of obstacles this season.
Kevin Gemmell: I did, and I did. But I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to the ASU fan who berated my Washington pick a couple of weeks ago: Where were the mailbag notes thanking me for my support when I picked USC over Notre Dame and Washington State or Utah State? Though I will admit, your note was far more polite and playful, which is appreciated.

Color me egg-faced, because you’re right, USC is doing some pretty incredible things considering the roller coaster ride the program has been on with the sanctions and the coaching change and the injuries it has sustained.

When it comes to close games, I tend to lean toward the home team. And given USC’s lack of recent success in Corvallis, I took the best data I had available and made a decision. I was wrong. Ted was right, so a tip of the cap to him.

What impressed me most about USC was the power running game. Getting Silas Redd back has obviously helped, but Justin Davis goes down, Tre Madden exits and Buck Allen steps in and absolutely throttles Oregon State. Say this for USC’s depth, it’s bad in a lot of places, but it’s freaking awesome at tailback.

Now the Trojans are 3-1 since the coaching change, playing inspired defense and pushing people around on the lines. So yes, you are a good football team with great talent who is winning.

I’m not sure what to expect from USC down the stretch. But here’s a spoiler alert, I’m going to go out on a limb and pick you guys this week.


Ryan in New York writes: Kevin, Nice article on the new coach at CU. I wish them well this weekend and for the rest of the season. Snarky and spiteful? Ouch. I'll try and get back to my playful self. Let's be clear: I don't love UCLA, but Jim Mora's done a nice job and has handled himself admirably. I just think the media loves to over-hype sometimes, and given the Bruins' most impressive performances have been close losses, I do believe they need to win a meaningful game to earn so much praise. Keep up the good work and give your partner-in-crime a shout out, too.

Kevin Gemmell: This is why Ryan is one of my favorite mailbaggers. He flew off the handle a bit last week. I called him on it and had to reel him back in. And he comes right back with another note. The dedication is appreciated.

First, thanks for the kudos on the Mike MacIntyre story. I know the wins and losses aren’t there. And I don’t think anyone expected a massive swing in the win column in just one season. But he’s a proven rebuilder and recruiter, and I think he’s got the program moving in the right direction.

Regarding UCLA, I still consider the win in Nebraska to be a meaningful game. Not just because of the tragic circumstances that led up to it, but simply for how explosive UCLA looked in that second half when everything was clicking. We got a glimpse of a team with remarkable offensive and defensive potential and saw firsthand that when it’s clicking, it can hang with anybody.

Now, it wasn’t clicking the past couple of weeks, and it clicked off and on against Colorado. A lot of that has to do with youth and injuries.

Right now ASU looks like the team to beat in the South. But I’m not banking on anything in this final month. With USC yet to play UCLA, and the Bruins and Sun Devils yet to play Arizona, a lot can, and probably will, happen.


Mahalo in Honolulu writes: Hey Kevin, most of us Buff fans are happy with the new coach, yet are still skeptical on the outlook for the future -- primarily because of recruiting. High school kids don't have any memory of the glory days, the facilities are bleh, and the product on the field is, well, you know. What would you do to sell CU to the kids that can come here and help Mac build the Buffs to a contender?

Kevin Gemmell: Your skepticism is valid. You’ve been jilted a few times over the past five or six years.

I don’t know Mike MacIntyre as well as I do some of the other coaches. We’ve met a few times and speak on the phone every week during the teleconference. And for the story last week, he was gracious with his time and gave me an extended phone interview.

But there is a sense when talking to the man that he’s going to at least get the program back to respectability or go down with the ship trying. He’s a no-excuses guy. His pedigree is phenomenal, and there is no question about his dedication to the program.

That’s what you sell. You buy into the man, not the facilities or the school’s record 25 years ago. Take, for example, linebacker Addison Gillam. He had committed to MacIntyre at San Jose State. And when Mac changed to Colorado, Gillam followed. Here’s a young man who had a chance to go to an 11-win team, ranked in the Top 25 and moving into the Mountain West, a very respected non-AQ conference. But he followed MacIntyre because he believes in the man and the vision. He wants to be a part of something special -- building up a program from scratch and restoring it.

There is something admirable about that. And I think that’s MacIntyre’s greatest asset in recruiting.

And though the wins aren’t there yet, I think we definitely see a fiery, competitive team on the field. One playing with much more confidence than we’ve seen the past couple of seasons.


Daniel in Pittsburg writes: Hey Kevin, as a diehard Stanford fan and family member, I'm curious to know what your projected BCS standings would be if Stanford beats Oregon? I would also like to know if a Baylor victory would also play a role? Thanks Kevin.

[+] EnlargeKevin Hogan
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesEven if Stanford and Kevin Hogan beat Oregon, the Cardinal may need help from some other teams.
Kevin Gemmell: Everything plays a role. A butterfly flaps its wings in Uzbekistan and the Colley Matrix blue screens.

I think Stanford would still need help, even if it beat Oregon, for the obvious reason that there are still undefeated teams in front of the Cardinal. If Florida State and Ohio State were to lose, then we could see the Cardinal jump into that No. 2 spot if they were to beat Oregon. And if Alabama loses, obviously the rest of the field moves up. So Stanford’s best chance is to beat Oregon and hope for an assist from a Syracuse or Florida, an Indiana or a Michigan, or an LSU or Auburn.

Assuming everyone else wins, Stanford beating Oregon would further supplant Florida State as the No. 2 team and strengthen Ohio State even more as one of the few undefeated teams. Perhaps Stanford gets a couple of No. 2 or No. 3 votes in either of the human polls, but I’m not sure voters would spring them over an Ohio State team that hasn’t lost in almost two seasons.

As for Baylor, I think it would enjoy a nice bump if it beat No. 10 Oklahoma. But I don’t think it would be enough to vault the Bears over Stanford if the Cardinal beat Oregon. If Stanford loses, it’s moot, because it will drop. If Baylor loses, it’s moot, because the Bears will drop. Both teams need to win to keep pace, and I think Stanford’s win would be viewed as more significant, so I don’t see Baylor jumping the Cardinal.


Joe Bruin in Westwood writes: Hey Kev ... Joe Bruin here. As a fan (and a mascot), I seem to be a little too worried about my team, especially after the games against Stanford and Oregon. I concur with Coach Mora when he said the team seemed to have a "hangover" from those games. Is it just me, or did the win against Colorado not look too impressive? Should I be worried about this team? Or will the Bruins get back in the swing of things?

Kevin Gemmell: I’d be concerned about this game coming up. The Bruins haven’t won in Tucson since 2003, Karl Dorrell’s first season, and Ka’Deem Carey is obviously one of the nation’s most elite playmakers. I know a lot of focus is on the Nov. 23 date with Arizona State -- and rightfully so -- but the Bruins still have a couple of tough tests in Arizona and Washington before that showdown.

However, Brett Hundley actually turned in the best quarterback performance of the week, per ESPN’s Adjusted QBR rating (note, adjusted reflects opponent’s strength).

Here’s the other side of it. As I said earlier, Colorado is a better team than it was last fall so give those guys a little credit for coming in and not being intimidated.

I think Colorado provided a nice little test (when was the last time we typed that?) for UCLA to knock off some of the rust from the back-to-back losses. The Bruins figured a few things out, and the offensive line got some more experience.

And Mora has shown that he can rally the troops when they are down. And I wouldn’t call the Bruins down right now. I’d just say they have a tough November ahead of them.
On Thursday morning, the best thing Week 10 had going for it was that it was right before Week 11. It was seven more days of watching the water boil till we could get to the Oregon-Stanford showdown -- the game we’ve been speculating about and talking about and writing about and blogging about and message-board-flaming about for the past nine months.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Carey
Matt Cohen/Icon SMIKa'Deem Carey rushed for his 11th straight 100-yard game in Arizona's win over Cal.
Week 10 was supposed to be filler material; B-roll compilation highlights; a stop-gap to sate us before the game we all want to see. But as it turned out, Week 10 was pretty darn entertaining. For what little buck there was, there was decent amount of bang.

Nothing was particularly earth-shattering or landscape-altering. But there was just enough entertainment value and drama to remind us why we tune in to every Pac-12 game. Not just the ones with ranked teams.

Taylor Kelly was nothing short of brilliant with his seven-touchdown performance in Arizona State's victory Thursday at Washington State. It wouldn’t be a Halloween game without something scary happening. And the scary happening in Pullman was that the Sun Devils scored 55 points and Marion Grice didn’t have a single touchdown.

USC took its Corvallis curse and shoved it right down Oregon State’s front seven as Silas Redd and Buck Allen combined for 273 rushing yards. The Trojans are now 3-1 since the coaching change.

California gave Arizona a scare and was an onside kick away from making things really interesting. But Ka'Deem Carey did what Ka'Deem Carey does best and rushed for his 11th straight 100-yard game -- tops in the FBS.

And UCLA got back to form against a Colorado team that came to play. The drama in Pasadena, Calif., wasn’t breathtaking, but Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau looked extremely poised, and there was a sense that, even down 18 points in the fourth quarter, the Buffs believed they could win. And yes, even in defeat, it’s nice to see a little swagger out of the Buffs. I like seeing Liufau, a true freshman, shove back when Anthony Barr, a probable top-five draft pick, was penalized for excessively slamming the quarterback. I like the entire Colorado offensive line rushing to its quarterback's defense. And I like that Barr came right back and hit Liufau on the next two plays.

The Sun Devils look like the team to beat in the South, but USC and Arizona have climbed back into the hunt and UCLA isn’t going to go gently -- especially after knocking off some of the rust from its two-game losing streak to Stanford and Oregon.

We can pretty much eliminate Oregon State from the race in the North after it lost another conference game. Combined with the loss to Stanford, the Beavers are in a pretty deep hole. It’s not impossible, but they’ll have to run the table over their final three games against ASU, Washington and Oregon, plus get a little help along the way.

However, the next Pac-12 game to be played will feature the Nos. 2 and 5 teams in the country. The speculation will soon come to an end and will be replaced with actual results. Said results could be a 21-point Oregon win or a three-point Stanford victory. Neither would be completely shocking.

The Ducks and Cardinal have split their past four meetings, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The Cardinal got the better of the rivalry last year in one of the most thrilling games of the 2012 season. Two years ago in Palo Alto, Calif., it was the Ducks who dominated with a 23-point victory.

The wait is almost over. We can officially stop looking over the horizon and focus on the game that could have massive Pac-12 and BCS implications.

But before we do, a tip of the cap to Week 10. Thanks for making things fun. We’re glad we stuck around to watch.

Pac-12 names players of the week

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
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Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey has been named the Pac-12’s offensive player of the week, along with defensive player of the week Jordan Richards of Stanford and special teams player of the week Zane Gonzalez of Arizona State.

Here’s some more on the trio and other nominees per the Pac-12’s release:
Carey, a junior from Tucson, Ariz., carried the ball a school-record 40 times for 236 yards and a game-clinching touchdown as Arizona beat Utah 35-24 on Saturday night at home. He gained 30-yards on his first carry of the game and ran for a 44-yard touchdown on his last carry with 90 seconds remaining to secure the Wildcats‘first Conference win. The 236 rushing yards is Carey’s second-highest career tally and third-highest in Arizona single-game history. The reigning national rushing champion now leads the nation with 161.0 rushing yards per game.

Richards, a junior from Folsom, Calif., intercepted two passes, broke up another pass and recorded a team-leading 10 tackles as Stanford rebounded after its first loss of the season to take down No. 9 UCLA 24-10 on Saturday afternoon. Both of Richards’ interceptions set up Stanford touchdowns, which proved to be the difference in the game. It was his first multi-interception game of his career.

Gonzalez, a freshman from Deer Park, Texas, set a career-high for field goals, going 4-for-4 in the Sun Devil’s 53-24 win over No. 20 Washington at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday. He has connected on 11-straight field goal attempts and is 15-of-18 on the season. Gonzalez scored 17 points in the game, bringing his season total to 80 points and ranks No. 5 nationally in scoring at 11.4 ppg.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterbacks Sean Mannion of Oregon State and Connor Halliday of Washington State; running backs Marion Grice of Arizona State, Byron Marshall of Oregon, Tyler Gaffney of Stanford, and Silas Redd of USC and tailback Michael Adkins of Colorado. Also nominated for defensive player of the week honors were defensive linemen Sione Tuihalamaka of Arizona, Will Sutton of Arizona State, Scott Crichton of Oregon State, Leonard Williams of USC and Trevor Reilly of Utah; and safety Randall Goforth of UCLA. Also nominated for special teams player of the week honors were kickers Conrad Ukropina of Stanford and Ka’imi Fairbairn of UCLA, Utah punter Tom Hackett; wide receiver/punt returner Nelson Agholor of USC; and Arizona running back Terris Jones-Grigsby.
The Trojans got a treat Tuesday afternoon when former NFL All-Pro Ray Lewis addressed the team before practice, and nobody was more moved by what the two-time Super Bowl champion had to say than senior tailback Silas Redd.

[+] EnlargeSilas Redd
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillSilas Redd led the Trojans' rushing efforts last season against Notre Dame and will be counted on again this weekend.
"I don't think I blinked once while he was talking," said Redd, who grew up idolizing the legendary Ravens linebacker.

Lewis gave an eye-opening speech, with one quotation, in particular, standing out to Redd.

"'Effort is between you and you,'" Redd said, echoing the words of Lewis, now an ESPN NFL analyst. "It's not about anybody else."

It's a message Redd embodied with a gritty performance during USC's 38-31 victory over Arizona last week.

The Penn State transfer led the Trojans with 905 yards on the ground in 2012 but missed the first five games of the current campaign after tearing his meniscus in the spring and then undergoing two surgical procedures. Having returned to practice full time in the week leading up to USC's clash with the Wildcats, he wound up playing a much bigger role in the contest than he might have imagined.

With the Trojans leading by seven points late in the fourth quarter and starter Tre Madden sidelined with a hamstring injury, USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton leaned on Redd heavily, and he more than came through. Redd carried the ball on seven consecutive plays and picked up three first downs -- the last of which came on a clutch third-and-8 play that allowed the Trojans to run out the clock.

"I wasn't expecting it, but I was ready for it," Redd said of the extended fourth-quarter opportunity. "I think it sent a message that I can be trusted in that situation. You know, I'm the senior back, so my name was called and I was able to deliver."

He ultimately finished with a team-best 80 rushing yards on 19 carries. It was a remarkable outing for someone who hadn't played a down in a live game since USC's 21-7 Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech.

Thanks to extensive rehab work, time spent in the film room and countless mental reps, however, Redd was prepared for the chance that came his way, and his performance has provided a boost of confidence as he gears up for the rest of the season.

"It's definitely something that I can build off of, and this week's practice has been great so far," Redd said. "I feel like each day my knee is getting stronger, and my wind is getting back. I'm just trying to stay focused."

That's welcome news for USC interim coach Ed Orgeron's offensive coaches. The veteran Redd adds a unique dimension to a talent-laden tailback unit that also includes Madden, Justin Davis, Javorius Allen and Ty Isaac. Against the Wildcats, each of the five backs made a significant contribution as the Trojans amassed 249 total rushing yards.

"We're a confident group right now," Redd said. "We know that each one of us can play this game, and we know that when we get out there, it's our individual time to deliver for our team. I think that we take pride in that."

USC is No. 39 nationally in rushing, averaging 200.3 yards per game, but the Trojans face a big test this coming weekend when they go up against intersectional rival Notre Dame. Spearheaded by a stout defensive line that features Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix III and Sheldon Day, the Fighting Irish defense currently ranks No. 23 against the run, allowing just 122.3 yards per game.

For Redd, it's a challenge he's looking forward to.

"It'll be my first time [going to South Bend], and I'm excited," Redd said. "They're huge, and it's going to be tough getting those guys off the ball, but we have some things up our sleeve."

And with Madden's status for Saturday's matchup still up in the air, there's reason to believe the USC offense will be calling on Redd with great frequency once again.

"This is what I came here for," Redd said. "I'm ready to contribute again, and whenever my name is called, I'll be ready for it."

What to watch in the Pac-12: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
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A few storylines to keep an eye on this week in the Pac-12:

1. Title game rematch: UCLA and Stanford will face each other for the third time in the last 10 months. Only this time it’s the Bruins who are the higher-ranked team, coming in at No. 9 after Stanford slid to No. 13 following its loss at Utah. Remember all of those side-to-side swing passes that Dennis Erickson and Utah used to keep Stanford off balance? Remember who worked for Erickson at ASU? Yep, Noel Mazzone. And UCLA loves to hit its receivers in the flat. Keep an eye on what happens after the second-half kickoff, as well. The Bruins are outscoring opponents 71-0 in the third quarter this year. Stanford has a 12-game home winning streak -- third longest in the nation -- and is 10-1 at home against ranked opponents since 2009. Stanford hasn’t lost consecutive games since the middle of the 2009 season.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
Allen Kee/ESPN ImagesMarcus Mariota and the Ducks are expected to be one of the top two teams when the BCS standings are released on Sunday.
2. BCS time: The first Harris Poll of the season was released Sunday and featured four Pac-12 teams in the top 25: Oregon (2), UCLA (9), Stanford (12) and Washington (25). The first BCS standings will be released this week -- which comes on the heels of the announced selection committee for the College Football Playoff that starts next year. We’re all expecting Oregon to be in one of the top two spots. Question is, where will UCLA or Stanford land?

3. North vs. South: Two more critical North versus South showdowns this week with UCLA traveling to Stanford and Washington heading to Arizona State. The UCLA-Stanford game takes center stage for obvious reasons. But Washington-ASU has all the makings of a thriller. This is one of those 50-50 games that either team needs to win to show they belong in the upper tier of the Pac-12. The quarterbacks, Keith Price and Taylor Kelly, are obviously the mechanisms that make their teams go. But Washington running back Bishop Sankey (899 yards) has rushed for at least 125 yards in five of six games and ASU gives up almost 170 yards per game on the ground. Look for him to probably break 1,000 for the season by the final whistle. On the flip side, ASU’s Marion Grice already has 15 total touchdowns. He had 19 last year, so look for him to eclipse that mark in the next couple of games.

4. Making up is hard to do: Colorado will face Charleston Southern this week as a makeup for the Sept. 14 game against Fresno State that was canceled because of severe rain and flooding in Colorado. Charleston Southern is a perfect 7-0 on the year and is receiving votes in the Sports Network FCS College Football Poll. The Buffs are looking to get to 3-3 for the first time since 2010. And they are making a change at quarterback with Sefo Liufau stepping in after going 18 of 26 for 169 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions in relief against Arizona State.

5. No. 5? The Cougars are looking for their fifth win for the first time since 2007. Tough draw, however, this week with a trip to Oregon. The Ducks are averaging 56.8 points per game and are second in the country in total offense with 630.5 yards per game.

6. Taking care of the ball: Speaking of Oregon, quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Heisman frontrunner through the first half of the season, continues to impress with turnover-free performances. Though his completion percentage is down from last year, he hasn’t thrown an interception in 165 pass attempts this year -- which extends a streak dating back to last season of 233 attempts. His last interception was against Stanford. During that stretch, he’s completed 100 passes for 1,724 yards and 17 touchdowns. Receivers Josh Huff and Bralon Addison have 27 catches each for a combined 1,054 yards and 11 touchdowns.

7. Rebuilding the brand: Nothing can unite the USC fan base like a win against Notre Dame. Better yet, a win at Notre Dame. The Trojans won their first game of the Ed Orgeron era and look to follow it up against the Irish. Neither team is ranked, but the names carry a lot of weight. This is a game that could re-energize the Trojans moving forward. Marqise Lee and Morgan Breslin have both practiced and it’s looking like both will play. That should be a huge boost after getting running back Silas Redd back last week.

8. Momentum building? What do the Utes do with their big win over Stanford? Do they keep the momentum rolling? They have to go on the road for four of their next six -- including leaving the state for the first time this season when they travel to face Arizona. The Wildcats are still looking for their first conference win, though quarterback B.J. Denker had a strong statistical performance in the loss last week to USC, completing 28 of 44 passes for a career high 363 yards and four touchdowns.

9. Who needs a running game? The Pac-12’s top two passing offenses square off with Oregon State’s trip to Cal. OSU quarterback Sean Mannion has six straight games of 350 passing yards and the Beavers lead the conference with 433.2 passing yards per game and 25 passing touchdowns. Cal averages 371.3 yards in the air -- second in the league, but just 11 passing touchdowns, third worst. The Bears can move it, they just haven’t been able to convert yards into points.

10. No off week: For the second straight week, all 12 schools will be in action. This was supposed to be a bye week for Colorado, but the Charleston Southern game fills the void. Next week Arizona State and Washington State are on bye. It will be the first of two byes in three weeks for the Cougars, who will have opened the year with eight straight games following this week’s matchup with Oregon.

Midseason report: USC

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
7:00
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It’s not too often that a midseason report includes the impact of a coaching change but such is the reality for the 2013 Trojans.

USC entered the season under Lane Kiffin and went 3-2 –- including two losses in the Pac-12 -- before athletic director Pat Haden decided it was time to make a change. Longtime defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was named as the interim coach, and he instantly set about putting his touches on the program, including the popular gesture of returning cookies to the USC training table.

The Trojans won their opening game under Orgeron by holding on against Arizona, but now things get tougher with a road trip to South Bend to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and then a return home to play Utah, which just beat Stanford. Games against the Cardinal and UCLA also await down the road.

Look for Orgeron to continue developing the Trojans' run game behind a deep group of tailbacks that includes Tre Madden and Silas Redd. The big unknown right now for the offense is the status of Marqise Lee, the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner who suffered a knee injury against Arizona State and has not returned. On defense, the front line has been a bright spot with Leonard Williams, Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin but the secondary has struggled at times, particularly at the corner position.

Offensive MVP: Madden -- A former linebacker who sat out the 2012 season with a knee injury, all Madden did to open the season was rush for more than 100 yards in four of the Trojans' first five games.

Defensive MVP: Williams -- The Trojans are ranked among the top-20 defenses against the run and in sacks and tackles for loss. That starts up front with Williams, a dominant big man who is second on the team in tackles (36) and is tied for the team lead with 7.5 tackles for loss.
video

LOS ANGELES -- It was symbolic, in a way, to see the way the USC Trojans captured a 38-31 victory on Thursday night over the Arizona Wildcats.

[+] EnlargeUSC
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsTrojans players were able to celebrate big plays and, most importantly, a win in their first game with interim head coach Ed Orgeron.
The last time USC faced Arizona, in November of 2012, the Trojans held a commanding second half lead that they were unable to hold on to and the Wildcats ended up coming away with a 39-36 victory. The loss was the start of a 4-7 skid over 11 games that eventually cost former coach Lane Kiffin his job.

Fast forward to the first USC game under interim head coach Ed Orgeron and a similar pattern developed. The Trojans jumped out to an early lead -- thanks in large part to a pair of early Cody Kessler touchdown passes, each of which traveled over 60 yards -- and were seemingly in control with a 21-point lead early in the fourth quarter before Arizona closed the gap to a single touchdown with a few minutes left in the game.

But this night was different and it was all due to the emotion Orgeron has infused in the Trojans.

It has been less than two weeks since Orgeron took over, but the signs were present from kickoff that things were going to be different. During the Trojan Walk, Orgeron was out in front with a big smile and high fives for the fans outside the ropes. When Orgeron and the team walked down the stadium steps onto the field, they were joined at midfield by the player’s families, something that had not been done before.

By the time the team came out for the opening kickoff -- led by former All-American Keyshawn Johnson in his No. 42 Ronnie Lott jersey -- the crowd was enthusiastic and vocal in their support. This wasn’t just any night for the USC football program, it was a chance for a new start. Gone were the clouds that had enveloped the team under Kiffin and, no matter how much Arizona fought back, there was a just a sense that nothing was going to spoil the Orgeron celebration for the Trojans.

And this game was very close. Each team had more than 500 yards of total offense and neither side committed a turnover. New USC offensive play-caller Clay Helton did a good job of spreading the ball around; Nelson Agholor hauled in seven passes for 161 yards and a touchdown while serving as the top receiver with Marqise Lee out and all five healthy scholarship tailbacks carried the ball. Silas Redd saw his first action of the year after spring knee surgery and ended up leading the Trojans with 19 carries for 80 yards.

Unfortunately for USC, the troubles in the secondary that were present against ASU reared their head again. Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker -- known more for his running ability -- completed touchdown passes of 57, 45, 28 and nine yards to help keep his team in the game. The Wildcats also had balance with the strong running of Ka’Deem Carey, who had 21 carries for 138 yards.

By the time Arizona pulled within a single touchdown with just over four minutes left to play, there might have been some who thought it was going to be 2012 all over again. Ironically, the Trojans prevented another Wildcat comeback by doing what they couldn’t do last year -- use the running attack to finish off the game.

During this past offseason, Kiffin had referenced the inability to close out last year’s Arizona game as the need to establish more of a physical run game. Thursday, when the Trojans got the ball back one last time, they were able to finish the job. It was Redd, Redd and more Redd. Seven rushes, no passes, three first downs, the clock down to zeroes and a bright spot in the land of Troy.

After the game, Orgeron ran up the Coliseum tunnel to adoring cheers from the fans. It was also clear how much this game meant to the players as Kessler talked about how the team would go to war for Orgeron because of how much he cares about them. Orgeron summed it up best when he described the emotion he had from seeing the players get the much-needed win.

“I’m happy for the players,” Orgeron said. “I like seeing them feel good about themselves. The key is, after all these guys have been through, we won the ball game.”

It might only be one game but it could be a sign of something more. The loss last year to Arizona set the Trojans on one path and it will be interesting to see if the victory over the Wildcats this year will get things headed in a different direction.
While the USC passing offense sputtered throughout a good portion of the team’s 30-13 victory over Hawaii in Week 1, the Trojans showcased a ground game that was effective from the get-go -- even without the services of veteran ball carriers Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan. This success was in large part due to a couple of tailbacks who were making their collegiate debuts in the backfield -- redshirt sophomore Tre Madden and true freshman Justin Davis.

Keying a rushing attack that generated 192 yards against the Rainbow Warriors -- over 40 yards more than USC averaged a season ago -- both players ran with confidence and physicality, reflecting the mindset that the Trojans coaching staff worked hard to instill during the offseason. Not surprisingly, Madden and Davis drew praise from USC head coach Lane Kiffin on his Sunday night media call.

[+] EnlargeTre Madden
AP Photo/Eugene TannerSophomore Tre Madden ran for 109 yards in his first in-game running back action since high school.
“I thought that the run game was very efficient, especially for two running backs that had never played running back in a college game ever before,” Kiffin said.

It was Madden -- who played sparingly at linebacker and on special teams as a freshman before sitting out the 2012 season after tearing ligaments in his knee -- who led the way, getting the nod as the starter and rushing 18 times for a game-high 109 yards. And despite the fact that he hadn’t seen action in a live game since Nov. 26, 2011, the former Mission Viejo (Calif.) standout quickly settled into his role.

“After the first play I was back in the swing of things,” said Madden following the Trojans’ practice on Tuesday. “The nerves were building up before the game, and it was a long day leading up to it, but once I got on the field everything felt good. I felt comfortable with the game plan, the offensive line did well and [fullback] Jahleel [Pinner] did well in front of me. It definitely felt good to get that game out of the way and under my belt. Now I can look forward and just concentrate on getting better every week.”

Davis, who enrolled at USC this past January after starring at Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln, had the pregame jitters as well. But like his older counterpart, they were overcome once he took his first carry late in the first quarter.

“I was definitely nervous beforehand, but that’s just a normal part of the game,” Davis said. “Once you get into it and get a couple of snaps, it’s just like it is in high school.”

Amassing 74 yards and one touchdown on the ground, Davis’ rushing total would have possibly exceeded the century mark if not for a 15-yard loss that he took on a play where he recovered his own fumble. Still, as a whole, there’s more than a few positives that the young freshman can take away from his outing.

“I can definitely build off of my performance,” Davis said. “Experience is one of the best things you can have. The more experience that I get, the better I’m going to be.”

In Davis and Madden, as well as Javorius Allen -- who chipped in with 18 yards on four carries -- Kiffin and Co. found a rotation at tailback that could wind up being the ultimate formula for success ... at least as far as the USC run game is concerned.

“As a running back corps we all jelled together, and you could see that in the game,” Davis said.

Added Madden, “As a whole, I think the tailback unit did some good things. It was awesome having that three-running back rotation.”

Up next for the Trojans is a Washington State defense that, while fast and aggressive, did give up 297 yards on the ground last Saturday to Auburn.

Focused on taking the next step in their progression as a group, however, you can be certain that the USC tailbacks won’t be taking any opponent for granted.

“They fly around on defense,” said Madden on what he’s seen of the Cougars on film. “We just need to have physical practices -- like we did today -- to get ready. We need to get the game plan down and just get better every day.”
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

Best case-worst case: USC

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
4:30
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This is the sixth in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-12 teams.

Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction. You can read last year's versions here.

We're going in reverse order of my post-spring power rankings (which might not be identical to my preseason power rankings).

Up next: USC

Best case

Lane Kiffin glowers at the ocean from his Manhattan Beach home. He is disquieted, even with his favorite Eric Clapton song playing in the background. The waves roar at him under an unusually cloudy August day in Southern California.

"Now is the season of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of Bruin," he says. "And all the clouds that Mora'd upon our house, in the deep bosom of the ocean buried."

Kiffin picks up a copy of the LA Times. He throws it onto a pile where ESPN Magazine, Sports Illustrated and the Orange County Register lay. "Hot seat, hot seat, hot seat!" he says. "I have been rudely stamp'd!"

He turns on the TV and with an exaggerated, irritated emphasis, he flips the channels until he arrives on ESPN.

"And therefore — since I cannot prove a media favorite -- to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain," Kiffin says. "And hate the idle pleasures of these Pac-12 days!”

He watches interviews of UCLA coach Jim Mora, Stanford coach David Shaw and Oregon coach Mark Helfrich. He smirks.

He says, "Winning is the thing wherein I'll catch the catch the conscience of the Pac-12 kings! And keep my job."

A few days later, on Aug. 23, Kiffin stands before reporters.

"Cody Kessler is going to be our starting quarterback," Kiffin says. "He doesn't have the biggest arm and he's not built like an NFL quarterback, but he played this best during fall camp. I like his moxie. Sometimes even USC needs moxie."

USC rolls over Hawaii and Washington State, dominates Boston College and thrashes Utah State. Kessler throws just one interception against 10 touchdown passes, while the defense dominates, not yielding more than 20 points during the 4-0 start. The Trojans rise to No. 10 in the national rankings.
Kevin Gemmell: Boy, the Trojans drowned those first four teams in malmsey butt.

Ted Miller: What's malmsey butt?

Gemmell: It's ... I have no idea. I was just trying to stick to your Richard III deal.

Things, however, go off the tracks at Arizona State. The Trojans are flagged eight times for 85 yards and turn the ball over three times in the first half as they trail the Sun Devils 21-3.

"Have we eaten of the insane root that takes the reason prisoner?" Kiffin barks in the locker room. "Men, settle down. We only need to focus on one thing. Win the next play. Stop over thinking this. Win the next play. Beat the guy in front of you. Win the next play and then do it again. That is all."

Kessler throws three touchdown passes to Marqise Lee in the third quarter, and Silas Redd, Justin Davis and Tre Madden wear down the undersized Sun Devils defense in the fourth, as the Trojans roll to 42-24 win.

During the bye week, a column on the front of the LA Times sports page asks: "Is Kiffin becoming a good coach?"

Scoffs Kiffin, "Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit and lost without deserving."

The Trojans blow out Arizona and head to Notre Dame at 6-0. Lee turns South Bend into his own little play pen, catching four touchdown passes and going the distance on a kickoff return.

The fourth-ranked Trojans roll over Utah and then, with Lee on the cover of Sports Illustrated, head to Corvallis.
Gemmell: Just tapping some things into the "Uh Oh Calculator" here. We've got USC going to Corvallis and USC on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Miller: And don't forget my 3,000-word story on the certainty that the Trojans would play for the national title this week!

The Trojans miss a 27-yard field goal with 20 seconds left and Oregon State prevails 28-27, which is USC's fourth consecutive loss in Corvallis.

USC bounces back with a win at California. Then No. 7 Stanford comes to town, fresh off a loss to No. 2 Oregon. The Cardinal have won four in a row in the series with USC and five of the last six matchups.

"Stanford has just dominated us," Kiffin says in his Tuesday news conference. "They are a more physical team than we are. So we're going to need to find ways to make this game less about the line of scrimmage."

On the first play after the kickoff, Kessler lines up behind center and hands off to Redd. On second and 6, he lines up in the shot gun. On third and 1, he rushes the Trojans to the line of scrimmage, takes the shotgun snap and connects with Lee for a 30 yard gain.
Announcer: It appears that Lane Kiffin is going to run an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Basically his two-minute offense.

Color analyst: Of course, Stanford saw the nation's best up-tempo offense last week against Oregon, and it faces a lot of up-tempo schemes, but you have to think this is a bit of a curveball for defensive coordinator Derek Mason.

USC takes a 14-10 lead into halftime.

The Trojans get a stop on Stanford's first possession of the second half. They take over on their 31. Kessler is back under center. On first down, he pitches to Redd for six yards. On second down, he pitches to Redd for four yards. On first down, he pitches to Davis for three yards. On second down, he pitches to Davis for 10 yards.
Announcer: Well, cut off my legs and call me shorty. After running a no-huddle offense and throwing 29 times in the first half, Kiffin has pulled a page from John McKay's old playbook.

Color analyst: Student body right, student body left. An I-formation, a simple toss with big linemen and a fullback leading the way. It seems Kiffin, after calling Stanford physically dominant all week, might have been playing opossum.

The Trojans rush for 210 yards in the second half against the nation's No. 1 run defense and win 35-20.
Miller: That was genius, Lane! Like I've said all along, you should call your own plays. It's your team and I've always thought you were a great play caller.

Kiffin: That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain — At least I am sure it may be so with the Pac-12 blog.

Miller: Lane, you need to lighten up. That's the next step. Maybe you should read some Christopher Moore?

Kiffin: Knavery's plain face is never seen till us'd!

The Trojans, who climb to No. 4 in the national polls, batter Colorado and improve to 11-1. Up next: No. 10 UCLA, which is 9-2, having only lost to Oregon and Stanford. The battle for the Victory Bell also will decide the Pac-12 South Division title.

"Do I remember my non-block that allowed Anthony Barr to sack Barkley and end his USC career?" Trojans offensive tackle Aundrey Walker says, rephrasing a reporter's question. "The one in which Barr made fun of me at Pac-12 media day? The one that typified our 2012 season? The play that should haunt me until I redeem myself? No. I've not thought about that once."

The Trojans score on their first five possessions and blow out the Bruins, who turn the ball over five times. Barr doesn't even touch Kessler all day. With 2:30 left, Kiffin goes for 2 to make the final count 51-0.
Kiffin: Well, we beat them 50-zip in 2011, so I didn't want the same final number again.

Reporter: It will be construed that Lane Kiffin was running up the score, that he has no conscience.

Kiffin: Conscience is but a word that cowards use, devised at first to keep the strong in awe.

No. 2 Oregon beats the Trojans 33-31 in the Pac-12 championship game when Alejandro Maldonado kicks a 58-yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

Lee wins USC's eighth Heisman Trophy.

The Ducks whip Alabama 40-10 to win the national title. The Trojans dominate previously unbeaten Ohio State 42-17 in the Rose Bowl. The final polls rank Oregon No. 1 and USC No. 2.

UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington also win bowl games, with seven Pac-12 teams finishing ranked in the final polls.

"Good," says Kiffin. "We want Oregon and UCLA and the rest of the conference to be strong. It's no fun to rule the weak."

Worst case

On Aug. 23, Kiffin stands before reporters.

"Max Wittek is going to be our starting quarterback," Kiffin says. "He didn't play as well as Cody Kessler in the spring or in preseason camp, but he's big and tall and has a good arm. He looks the part. You media sorts don't understand that it's better to look good than to be good."

Wittek plays fairly well during a 4-0 start -- Marqise Lee leads the nation with 768 yards receiving -- and he needs to because the Trojans new defensive scheme is inconsistent, yielding an average of 30 points in the season's first third.

The Trojans rise to No. 13 in the rankings.
Kevin Gemmell: We'll get a better measure of USC at Arizona State, Wittek's first road start against an A-list defense.

Ted Miller: The Sun Devils will certainly test the Trojans play caller.

Arizona State leads USC 24-20 with one minute left, but a long Wittek pass to Lee gives the Trojans a first and goal at the Sun Devils 1-yard line.

Consecutive QB sneaks are stopped for no gain by Will Sutton, Kiffin perhaps thinking he could fool the Sun Devils by running his quarterback at the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12.

After the Trojans final time out, Silas Redd is stopped by Sutton for no gain on third down. The clock says: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... baaaa! Game over. Arizona State wins.
Announcer: Three words: Clock freaking managment.

Color analyst: Just wow.

Kiffin: I'm still going to call plays.

After an off-week, the Trojans are flat in a 28-24 home loss to Arizona. They get buried 28-10 at Notre Dame, with Wittek throwing three interceptions.

USC athletic director Pat Haden release a statement saying he's "100 percent behind Lane Kiffin and there is no hot seat."

The Trojans slip Utah 20-17, go down at Oregon State but improve to 6-4 with a road win at California.

"Being bowl eligible while under NCAA sanctions is a good thing," Kiffin says. "USC fans are too greedy, always believing they can win championships."

Stanford runs over USC 30-10, but the Trojans pick up a seventh win at Colorado.

Up next: No. 10 UCLA, which has already clinched the Pac-12 South Division crown.
Miller: Did you know that when Richard III was whipped in the Battle of Bosworth Field it ended the Wars of the Roses and began the Tudor dynasty?

Gemmell: And for your purposes here, setting up an obvious connection, with Jim Mora/Richmond besting Lane Kiffin/Richard III and taking over the football dynasty in LA.

Miller: You want to do these best-case, worst-case stories next year?

Gemmell: No.

The Bruins batter USC 35-0, despite Mora clearing his bench in the fourth quarter and only calling running plays and no blitzes over the final five minutes. Anthony Barr has three of the Bruins five sacks, and Wittek is picked off twice.

"I know some Bruins fans want us to be merciless, but this program is about winning with class," Jim Mora says. "In Westwood, we hope to enrich this time to come with smooth-faced success, with smiling plenty and fair prosperous days!"

USC goes on to lose to Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, thereby finishing 7-7.

Bruins QB Brett Hundley leads the Bruins to an upset of No. 2 Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. Hundley, after winning the Heisman Trophy, announces he will return for his redshirt junior season. He then leads the Bruins to a Rose Bowl win over Ohio State.

A news conference is called in Heritage Hall.

"It's been a tough year," Haden says. "But I continue to believe Lane Kiffin is the coach who will lead the Trojans back to greatness."

Previous "Best case-worst case" posts

California

Washington State

Colorado

Utah

Arizona

USC Trojans season preview

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
10:30
AM ET
We continue our day-by-day snapshots of each Pac-12 team heading into the 2013 season in reverse alphabetical order with the USC Trojans.

USC

[+] EnlargeLane Kiffin
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireLane Kiffin enters 2013 on the hot seat, but the Trojans return 16 starters in an attempt to rebound from last year's disappointment.
Coach: Lane Kiffin (32-19 overall, 25-13 at USC)

2012 record: 7-6 (5-4 Pac-12)

Key losses: QB Matt Barkley, WR Robert Woods, OL Khaled Holmes, DB T.J. McDonald, DB Nickell Robey

Key returnees: WR Marqise Lee, RB Silas Redd, OL Kevin Graf, TE Xavier Grimble, TE Randall Telfer, LB Hayes Pullard, DL Leonard Williams, OLB Morgan Breslin, DB Dion Bailey, WR Nelson Agholor

Newcomer to watch: DB Su’a Cravens

Biggest games in 2013: at Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The cornerback position stood out in spring ball as an area that needs work. The Trojans have a new defensive coordinator in Clancy Pendergast, who runs a 5-2 scheme that relies on the corners to play a lot of man-to-man coverage. USC needs to replace both corners from 2012, although safety Josh Shaw did play some corner last year and can move back if needed. Keep an eye on sophomore Kevon Seymour to lock down one spot, as he showed a lot of promise as a freshman. The Pac-12 has some very good quarterbacks returning this year, and the USC corners will need to step up their play for the defense to be successful.

Forecast: There is a wait-and-see attitude for the Trojans this year after the disappointing results in 2012. The good news is there are 16 starters returning, including the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner in Marqise Lee. There are plenty of other talented skill players coming back on offense in addition to Lee, but one key spot that needs to be filled is at quarterback. Matt Barkley is gone after four years as the starter, and fall camp will see a continuation of the battle between Cody Kessler, Max Wittek and Max Browne to replace him. Wittek has the benefit of starting two games at the end of 2012 when Barkley was injured, but he struggled in the Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech. Kessler had a solid spring with zero interceptions in five scrimmages, and he carried that momentum through summer throwing sessions. Browne is a future talent who will likely redshirt with two veterans ahead of him. On defense, there is a lot of optimism that the change in scheme will bring positive results. Pendergast had the top-ranked defense at Cal in his first year on the job in 2010, and he has the players at USC to make a similar turnaround. The front seven is a bright spot, led by returning Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year Leonard Williams on the defensive line and Hayes Pullard at linebacker. Morgan Breslin had 13 sacks in 2012, and he moves to outside linebacker this year. Look for the Trojans to attack with this front from multiple angles and create a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Walter Camp watch list announced

July, 19, 2013
7/19/13
11:00
AM ET
The Walter Camp Award, given annually to the best player in college football, announced its 50-man watch list on Friday, and it includes nine Pac-12 players.

Price is obviously making the list based on his 2011 reputation. You could make an argument UCLA QB Brett Hundley and Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly deserve inclusion.

Here's the complete list:
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
Antonio Andrews, RB, Western Kentucky
Dri Archer, RB, Kent State
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana Monroe
Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona *
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina *
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
David Fluellen, RB, Toledo
Phillip Gaines, DB, Rice
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
John Hubert, RB, Kansas State
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami Fla. #
Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC *
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan *
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M *
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M #
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama *
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Louis Nix III, DE, Notre Dame
Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
Keith Price, QB, Washington
Silas Redd, RB, USC
Bradley Roby, DB, Ohio State #
Tyler Russell, QB, Mississippi State
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State #
Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame #
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Jason Verrett, DB, TCU #
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama

* 2012 Walter Camp First Team All-American
# - 2012 Walter Camp Second Team All-American

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