Pac-12: Terrell Reese
The Wildcats quarterbacks combined for six passing touchdowns -- including four from Matt Scott, who completed 22 of 35 passes for 315 yards. Arizona threw 55 times and ran 43 times in addition to working through several different scenarios.
“I shouldn’t expect too much with the first year in the system, but with Matt Scott I’m going to expect a lot,” head coach Rich Rodriguez told the Tucson Citizen. “And I think Matt can deliver.”
Tyler Slavin caught three touchdowns and Richard Morrison caught a pair. Dan Buckner hauled in the sixth.
Safety Marquis Flowers brought in the lone interception of the day and linebacker Jake Fischer matched a team high with six tackles after missing all of 2011 with a knee injury.
The day was marred, however, by another knee injury. Safety Adam Hall tweeted Saturday night that he tore his ACL -- a similar tear to the one he had last spring that kept him out of all but one game in 2011.
The three-way quarterback competition isn't settled, but head coach Todd Graham said he'd like to see someone take the lead before the end of the spring session, writes Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.
Michael Eubank threw three touchdowns -- a pair to Gary Chambers and a third to Rashad Ross. But he also threw a pair of interceptions.
Haller reports that Taylor Kelly looked effecient, throwing an 11-yard touchdown to tight end Max Smith and Mike Bercovici tossed three touchdowns -- all in the overtime session of the scrimmage.
Defensively, the Sun Devils forced a trio of turnovers and three times stopped the offense on fourth-and-1.
The Buffs ran a 42-play scrimmage with the emphasis on the offense. Head coach Jon Embree said he was happy with the performance of Connor Wood, who completed 7 of 10 passes for 137 yards and touchdowns to Jarrod Darden and Dustin Ebner.
"I thought No. 5 was sharp," Embree said. "He missed a couple of deep balls ... but I thought he played well."
Embree also said that running back Tony Jones separated himself from the rest of the pack and looked solid during the spring session. Jones carried four times for 23 yards on Saturday. Josh Ford, however, stood out with 141 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries -- though Colorado's defensive line has been patchwork.
Embree said that if Colorado wants to reach a bowl game in 2012, they are going to have to rely on some of the players coming in this fall.
"I still think it's achievable, but how far we go towards that goal and how we accomplish it, we're going to lean on some guys coming in," Embree said. "So how quickly -- and I told this to the seniors and the rest of the team -- how quickly you're able to help them assimilate, help them know how to practice, know how to work, will help us get to that goal.
"If you want to look at it as they're the bad guy because they coming here to compete for a job, then we'll all have the same fate -- we'll all be home for Christmas."
The Trojans secondary picked up a pair of interceptions -- one from safety Drew McAllister off of Cody Kessler and the other from cornerback Brian Baucham off of Matt Barkley -- as the defense outshined the offense at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Barkley completed 23 of 39 passes for 212 yards with a touchdown -- a 1-yard pass to Marqise Lee. Kessler (3-of-6, 68 yards) picked up the majority of his passing yards on a 44-yard touchdown to fullback Soma Vainuku.
"It was definitely a learning experience," Kessler told USC's blog.
Linebacker Hayes Pullard and cornerback Anthony Brown each had six tackles, while linebacker Dion Bailey added five stops. Cornerback Isiah Wiley had five deflections to go with his four tackles. There were three sacks (by defensive ends Devon Kennard, Greg Townsend Jr. and Morgan Breslin).
"I think the young linebackers are playing really well," Lane Kiffin told Erik McKinney of WeAreSC. "Like I mentioned, the defensive backs have improved a lot. That was really critical, especially with a new coach back there."
Quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 7 of 12 passes for 149 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions as the Utes' offense continues to find its rhythm under new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson.
“Brian wants to take more shots downfield than we have recently and we can do that now because we have the speed in the wideouts to create separation and we have quarterbacks who can throw with accuracy,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Our quarterback situation is the best it has been in years."
Dave Kruger, LT Filiaga and Trevor Reilly all recorded sacks for the defense and Terrell Reese returned an interception for 43 yards to go with a pair of tackles for a loss.
Luke Matthews and Kenneth Scott both had touchdown catches. DeVonte Christopher had two catches, but led the receivers with 70 yards.
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To the notes.
Mike from Fullerton, Calif., writes: What are the chances that Barkley puts up better numbers than Luck this year? Barkley is now in his third year as a starter and second with his offensive coordinator. He has what appears to be a budding college superstar in Robert Woods and long list of unproven but talented skill players around him. He obviously needs some help at o-line but if they can even give him some protection he should be able to convert. Luck is coming off a monster year with a new HC and lost his number one WR. i know luck has a dump truck load of good TE but so does SC. With an unproven o-line and talented but raw RB's isn't it foreseeable that Barkley just starts hurling it all over the field?
Ted Miller: That could happen.
Barkley actually attempted more passes in 12 games last year than Luck in 13 games. Luck passed for more yards -- 257 yards per game compared to 233 -- because he completed 71 percent of his passes compared to 63 percent for Barkley.
Both teams want to be balanced, so the likelihood is neither will abandon the running game. But Stanford is better off on the offensive line, so it might be able to stick its desire to maintain balance more than the Trojans, who are thin and questionable on the O-line. And USC is more talented at receiver.
If I were betting, I'd guess Barkley's numbers are going to be better in 2011 than 2010 while Luck's will remain about the same -- mostly because it's difficult to be much better passing than Luck was in 2010.
Eric from Mountain View, Calif., writes: Ted, your post today about the New Mexico Bowl was the first I heard the Rose Bowl will not be on New Years Day. To whom do I direct my vitriol over this?
Ted Miller: I understand the tradition of the Rose Bowl always being played Jan. 1, but New Year's Day falls on a Sunday this year, meaning it could be in conflict with the NFL schedule. So no bowl games will be played on Jan. 1.
Here's the BCS release on the scheduling:
As a result of continued uncertainty involving the upcoming National Football League schedule, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) group today announced a change in dates for three of its upcoming bowl games in order to avoid possible conflicts with NFL Monday Night Football.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl will be played Tuesday, January 3; the Discover Orange Bowl will be played Wednesday, January 4; and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will be played Thursday, January 5. The Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO will remain Monday afternoon, January 2, and the Allstate BCS National Championship game remains Monday, January 9th.
“We consulted the involved parties and made a careful decision to choose dates that will ensure a prime-time showcase for our student-athletes while also being mindful of the potential for change in the NFL’s schedule,” said BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock. “At this point in time, we want to create certainty in a somewhat uncertain scheduling environment.”
Jeff from Boston writes: With their new defensive coordinator, how good can UCLA's safeties be? Best tandem in the PAC12? I expect BIG things from Tony Dye and Riley, especially with how good our D-line can be.
Ted Miller: Tony Dye and Dietrich Riley are a very good tandem, but there are a lot of good safety tandems in the Pac-12. Dye is a proven quantity who should emerge from the Rahim Moore's considerable shadow this fall, while Riley is a touted 2010 recruit who has flashed plenty of ability.
I'd rate Stanford (Delano Howell and Michael Thomas) and Oregon (John Boyett and Eddie Pleasant) ahead of Dye-Riley at this point, in terms of best tandems. And Washington State's Deone Bucannon and Tyree Toomer are pretty good, too.
Keep in mind USC's T.J. McDonald, California's Sean Cattouse, Oregon State's Lance Mitchell and Washington's Nate Felner are back this fall, while talented youngsters not unlike Riley -- Arizona's Marquis Flowers, Arizona State's Alden Darby, Utah's Terrell Reese and Washington's Sean Parker -- will be trying to make their marks.
Safety, in fact, seems like a strong position in the conference this fall.
Michael from Salt Lake City writes: When viewing your entry about ASU's schedule I noticed there was no mention of having to play a pivotal game at Utah on Oct. 8, one week before ASU plays Oregon. If you over looked the games importance, my hope is that ASU will too? This could be a huge trap game for ASU, as they look ahead to a top ten matchup the following week. My guess is that the winner of the Oct 8th game will represent the south in the Pac 12 title game.
Ted Miller: I mentioned the game without typing "Utah."
Key stretch: Is Arizona State just a solid bowl team, or something bigger? The Sun Devils will know by Oct. 16, after a six-game stretch that includes two tough nonconference games, two games with top South Division rivals and winds up with a trip to Oregon.
The "two games with top South Division rivals" would be USC and Utah.
As for the game being a "trap," I'd expect not. To me, a trap game is one that potentially might be overlooked. The Sun Devils would be well-advised not to overlook the Utes and I don't think they will.
Jim from Bellevue, Wash., writes: I've been reading your articles since you were at the Seattle PI. Normally I think you do great work, but I've noticed lately a lack of OSU info on your "lunch links". Is that because there is just no news of late from OSU, or is it because they finished 5-7 last year, or are there too many teams to cover now in the new PAC12 and OSU is getting the slight? What gives?
Ted Miller: You can blame the Pac-12 blog for a lot of things: the weather, the economy, the inexplicable popularity of "The Situation." But not a lack of links for Pac-12 programs.
I want to find links for every school, every day, but I have to depend on the work of others. When you don't see a link from your school, know that I spent more time looking for -- and failing to find -- one than with the schools that actually get a link that day. Not finding links makes my life harder, not easier.
A lack of Oregon State links? It's because I couldn't find any articles. The present explanation for the lack of Beavers links has to do with this little baseball team of theirs taking up all their beat writers' time.
Kona from Phoenix writes: I have two wonderful questions that your blog followers are dying to know:(i) How many emails do you get in your mail bag per week?(ii) What do you feel the odds are of a person getting their question posted and answered on your blog? A ball park estimate is fine.Bonus Question: Which university in the PAC-12 has the best mascot? It is a tough call with newcomer Colorado in the mix, but I still will not cross the Devil, so my vote is for ASU.
Ted Miller: ESPN.com is a busy place. I get a lot of mail. Not sure exactly how many. I know it's too many to read each week. I often hear from friends that they sent me a note and I never responded but that's typically because I didn't read their message.
Odds of getting a question posted? Not sure. I give the mailbag a first glance Friday morning and start flagging questions that catch my fancy. Then I start typing. I try to get a handful of diverse topics and tones. My general feeling, depending on the week, is I will review about 50 notes to get five to seven questions.
Mascot? The Tree.
Tom from Chicago writes: You sound like a real loser writing a USC article like an opposing fan. Just remember, your bosses at ESPN are bigtime USC fans. I'm sure they'll enjoy reading your biased rubbish. Furthermore, I'm sure your measely paycheck reflects your opinions. Enjoy your six pack of cheap bear and deli sandwich. You wish you were a Trojan.
Ted Miller: You misspelled "measly."
And, yes, I could use a turkey sandwich and a cold Bud right now.
What happened: The Utes had a handful of goals this spring, including installing a new offense with coordinator Norm Chow, finding a backup QB behind Jordan Wynn, figuring out a pecking order at running back and completely rebuilding the secondary. Based on the scrimmages, the defense is ahead of the offense in achieving those goals. With Wynn sitting out after shoulder surgery, neither Tyler Shreve nor Griff Robles was able to consistently assert himself, so it's possible that new JC transfer Jon Hays could get into the picture this fall. It didn't help that a couple of key players were banged up on the offensive line. Things were encouraging on defense, where a number of youngsters stepped up to fill voids on the line and in the secondary.
What's ahead: The big question in preseason camp will be getting Wynn up to speed with Chow's offense, then figuring out who the backup will be. Former rugby star Thretton Palamo was the surprise star of the running back competition, but that competition is on-going with John White and Harvey Langi. All three figure to get plenty of touches. A number of players who missed much or all of the spring with injuries will re-entering competitions in August. Pecking orders don't seem firm at defensive end and in the secondary just yet.
Spring stars: Palamo, at 6-foot-2, 237 pounds, is intriguing because of his raw mix of size and speed. Sophomore DE Joe Kruger was a consistent presence on the edge. Redshirt freshman receiver Dres Anderson moved past junior Reggie Dunn on the two-deep. Terrell Reese, Michael Walker, Tyrone Morris-Edwards and Damian Payne have eased concerns at safety. Junior cornerback Ryan Lacy had a nice spring. When healthy, John Cullen and Tony Bergstrom give the Utes a strong combo at OT.
Notes: Players who won't play in the spring game for precautionary reasons or injuries include Jordan Wynn, Star Lotulelei, Joape Pela, Matt Martinez, Vyncent Jones, J.J. Williams, Sam Brenner, Greg Bird, Tony Bergstrom, James Aiono, DeVonte Christopher, Lei Talamaivao, Chaz Walker, Kendrick Moeai, Ryan Lacy, Dallin Rogers and John Cullen, among others. Others such as Brian Blechen, Conroy Black, Joe Kruger and Derrick Shelby will play only in the first half.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
TUCSON, Ariz. -- First things first: Arizona's first spring practice Wednesday afternoon will be open.
When a reporter asked coach Mike Stoops after his pre-spring meet-and-greet with reporters whether practice would be open, he replied, "Yeah, sure. Whatever."
He then added he'd close things when reporters started annoying him again.
Anyway, how about this new, mellow Mike Stoops, eh? Bowl victories and new contracts sometimes have that effect.
- The pre-spring depth chart stacks the offensive line, which lost three starters, like this: left tackle Phillip Garcia, guard Mike Diaz, center Colin Baxter, right guard Vaughn Dotsy and tackle Adam Grant. As far as former starting center Blake Kerley, he's sitting out while recovering from a knee injury suffered last fall, and Stoops implied that he'll have a tough time dislodging any of the interior three. Stoops seemed particularly high on Dotsy, a sophomore. Grant is good to go after knee surgery, while Garcia will be limited this spring for the same reason. "This line can be every bit as productive as we had a year ago," Stoops said.
- Three JC transfers will participate in spring practices: offensive linemen Shane Zink and Jack Julsing and cornerback Marcus Benjamin. Benjamin will battle Trevin Wade to start at one corner, while Zink and Julsing likely will provide depth on the line.
- Former starting receiver Terrell Reese, who was suspended indefinitely last year, has been given the boot. Running backs Xavier Smith and Terry Longbons and defensive tackle Hans Philipp also won't be back in 2009.
- Stoops has high hopes for his defense, which welcomes back seven starters: "This is the best group that we have had coming back," he said. "This defense will be the most athletic we've had ... We have the potential to be a great defense."
- Two linebacker spots need to be filled. The first unit on the depth chart has Sterling Lewis on the strong side, with Vuna Tuihalamaka in the middle and Xavier Kelly on the weak side. Lewis started five games last year; Kelly eight. Tuihalamaka played in 13 games and recorded 23 tackles.
- The general theme with the quarterback competition between Matt Scott and Nick Foles was this: The runner, Scott, has a better arm than he gets credit for, and the same can be said for the mobility of the pocket passer, Foles.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Ten things to consider, underline or anticipate heading into the weekend.
1. We should know fairly quickly if USC solved its run defense problems: What stood out more than anything in the Trojans loss to Oregon State was their poor run defense, with true freshman Jacquizz Rodgers rushing for 186 yards and USC's defensive linemen and linebackers struggling to get off blocks. Oregon is the nation's No. 4 rushing team and its passing game is still trying to find its rhythm with juco-transfer quarterback Jeremiah Masoli running the show. Ergo: The Ducks will immediately challenge the Trojans up front.
2. Who will start at quarterback for California and what will it mean?: Coming off a 42-7 victory in which your quarterback doesn't throw an interception is a curious time to renew a quarterback competition, but that's just what Bears coach Jeff Tedford did. And based on news reports this week, both sophomore starter Kevin Riley and senior challenger Nate Longshore -- who started 26 games before losing out to Riley -- practiced well, with neither surging ahead or falling behind. So Tedford said he'd wait until pregame warmups to announce who will start against Arizona State. How much of this is gamesmanship, and how much of an advantage does this garner Cal, if any? Here's a guess that the tag goes to the incumbent, and Riley remains the starter, with Longshore seeing spot action, which was the plan entering the season.
3. As usual, Rudy, not the run game, will be the key for Arizona State: Dennis Erickson said the Sun Devils need to run the ball more, period. The return of running back Keegan Herring from a nagging hamstring injury should help the Sun Devils sagging (110th in the nation) ground attack. But that won't change the basic fact that quarterback Rudy Carpenter is Arizona State's centerpiece, its singular star who will determine this team's fate almost every week. The speedy Herring might break a run or two for a big gain, but the Sun Devils will live or die by the pass in this game and the rest of the season.
4. Washington's new quarterback Ronnie Fouch won't wilt at Arizona: Don't be shocked if the Huskies offense puts up some points against the Wildcats with Fouch, a redshirt freshman, making his first start on the road after Jake Locker was lost to a broken thumb. Fouch has looked solid in limited action and seems confident in his abilities. More than a few folks have noted that he's already a more accurate passer than Locker. He might inject energy into a sagging team that may, in fact, be grateful to be away from its unhappy home fans.
5. Notre Dame will attack Stanford's secondary: Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen is rapidly improving and is developing timing with his young, talented receiving corps. Stanford's secondary is mediocre at best -- it allows opponents to complete 65 percent of their passes -- so the Cardinal will rely on pressure to keep Clausen in check. Stanford is second in the Pac-10 with three sacks a game, and the Fighting Irish offensive line is still figuring things out. But if Clausen gets time on his home field, he'll pick the Cardinal apart.
6. Rick Neuheisel's UCLA honeymoon will end if the Bruins lose: Neuheisel talked about noticeable improvement in the Bruins loss to Fresno State, but moral victories don't inspire a fanbase. And losing at home to the Cougars, a bad team even before it became a M.A.S.H unit, could cause some early grumbling in our win-now-or-else culture. UCLA should win going away. They should run right at the Cougars sagging defense and pressure redshirt freshman quarterback Marshall Lobbestael into making mistakes as he makes his first start on the road. Most of the schedule will be an uphill slog for the Bruins, so they shouldn't treat a rare weekend as a favorite as a time to relax.
7. Arizona should score 50: Arizona had a bye week to prepare for Jake Locker, and now they don't even have to deal with the annoyance of a running quarterback who can play keep-away from the Wildcats potent offense. And that offense will be rested and reloaded as it faces one of the nation's worst defenses. Tight end Rob Gronkowski figures to be completely back to form after missing the first three games with mono. Also, receiver Terrell Reese returns from a suspension, giving quarterback Willie Tuitama another option in the Wildcats potent spread attack.
8. Who will lead USC's tailback-by-committee this week?: Joe McKnight had emerged as first among equals in USC's crowded running back depth chart, but then he fumbled and was mostly ineffective in the loss to Oregon State. This past week, Allen Bradford, who had fallen off the radar, expressed frustration to coach Pete Carroll about his lack of carries. More than a few observers piped in that Stafon Johnson is being underused. And C.J. Gable remains the most complete back the Trojans have. The chatter won't matter if USC runs for 200-plus yards and rolls to victory -- success has always been Pete Carroll's justification for trying to distribute the ball among so many talented backs without establishing a consistent pecking order. But another meandering performance by the offense, particularly the rushing attack, might force a philosophy change.
9. Cal's offense won't be worse without Best: Well, of course, there will be some dropoff without the playmaking of speedy Jahvid Best, who's expected to return from a dislocated elbow on Oct. 18 at Arizona. But Shane Vereen is pretty fancy, too. Sure, Best has two 80-yard touchdown runs, but Vereen has an 81-yarder to his credit and he went 39 yards for another score for good measure. Vereen is averaging 69.8 yards rushing per game and a stout eight yards per carry. He also has 10 catches for 44 yards, so, like Best, he's also a good receiver. If Arizona State's defense exhales
because it doesn't see Best in the backfield, that could be a critical mistake.
10. This is Washington State's best chance for a Pac-10 win, at least until the Apple Cup: UCLA should beat the Cougars. The Bruins also should have beaten the Cougars last year, but Washington State won 27-7, a game that became a significant nail in then-Bruins coach Karl Dorrell's coffin. UCLA is prone to distraction. It may look at the schedule and yawn. Moreover, the Rose Bowl is hardly a hostile environment these days, so redshirt freshman quarterback Marshall Lobbestael might not be overwhelmed in his first road start. The Cougars may, in fact, benefit from being on the road, considering they lost by an average of 56 points in their first two conference home games. This might not qualify as an upset alert, but it won't be written very often this season that Washington State actually has a shot to win.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Hope this weekend's game features more speed than my Internet connection in LA. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
- Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski might return from illness and play this week against New Mexico. WR Terrell Reese, arrested for DUI over the weekend, is the fourth Wildcat since May to earn a suspension from coach Mike Stoops. Yeah, but things are going well in the red zone.
- "Bring on Georgia" signs at Arizona State-Stanford game were made by a Georgia-based company, according to Jeff Metcalfe, one with significant ties to the SEC, by the way. Coach Dennis Erickson admitted he was fairly happy with how things went against Stanford, though he'd probably prefer that Keegan Herring's hamstring feel better.
- The final four Tree Sitters may be forced out in the next couple of days. Maryland, California's opponent Saturday, is struggling and may make some changes.
- The Oregon offense is rolling, but the competition hasn't been stellar so far. RB Jeremiah Johnson has been cleared to practice after hurting his shoulder against Utah State.
- Oregon State hopes to get better with Hawaii coming to town. The Warriors looked a lot better with QB Tyler Graunke running the offense.
- UCLA is a rallying around QB Kevin Craft. Quick injury update. There's a bit of déjà vu playing BYU again. Expectations are higher now.
- USC's offensive line will get a far bigger test against Ohio State. Some of the elite Trojans and Buckeyes know each other. USC expects to see Beanie.
- Heading up to Seattle to play Washington, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops doesn't want to talk about Pac-10 officials. Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham did, though, making more critical comments than he had after the game. RB Chris Polk may be out for the season. No time to pout with the Sooners coming to town.
- Washington State is headed to Baylor to try to find itself. Meet the Bears. Reflecting on the blowout defeat to Cal.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
- Arizona RB Nic Grigsby is on the cusp of breaking through after scoring three TDs in the blowout win over Toledo. Two other items from Arizona Daily Star: Tight end Rob Gronkowski might return for next week's trip to New Mexico and WR Terrell Reese has been suspended for academics and a DUI arrest.
- Arizona State was strong in all phases against Stanford, and credit is due coach Dennis Erickson for how his team stepped up. Of course, fans are already thinking about Georgia. Game notes.
- California may be really good, but it's also possible that Washington State is just really bad. It's fair to say, though, that Jahvid is among the Best in the Pac-10. But is he an Heisman Trophy candidate? Another encouraging tidbit: WR Nyan Boateng, who struggled in the opener, led the Bears with four receptions for 44 yards, but he was the only WR who had a decent day.
- Even with its backups playing much of the game, Oregon piled up a school-record 688 total yards against Utah State. The bad news is TB Jeremiah Johnson suffered a shoulder injury, which is why LeGarrette Blount had 132 yards on 18 carries. Has the Justin Roper Era begun? Notebook leads with getting TE Ed Dickson into the offense. What about the defense?
- Oregon State is licking its wounds after getting blown up at Penn State. So when does the second-half surge begin? Few Beavers played well, but one of the few was freshman Jacquizz Rodgers.
- Stanford just couldn't match Arizona State's firepower. It appears coach Jim Harbaugh plans to shuffle his QBs, and note that WR Richard Sherman aggravated his sprained knee.
- Looking at the UCLA secondary. This is why Rick Neuheisel said "Punting is winning."
- This isn't USC and Ohio State's first campfire together. A Small Buckeye trash talks USC. Might the Trojans get overconfident after watching Ohio State struggle against Ohio? The story behind USC DL coach Dave Watson's addiction to pain killers.
- Bob Condotta collects some reactions to the celebration call against Washington QB Jake Locker. Steve Kelly thinks the call was, er, bad. So did John McGrath. Condotta updates on safety Darin Harris, who made everyone nervous when he was carted off the field. Molly Yanity's take on the game, which BYU's offense dominated.
- After absorbing the worst loss in school history -- 66-3 vs. California -- Washington State may change QBs because Gary Rogers isn't getting it done.