Pac-12: Terrell Turner

Top Pac-12 newcomers

April, 3, 2012
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Most Pac-12 teams will have new faces on hand this spring -- early-entry high school or JC players or transfers -- who are expected to provide immediate help, if not win starting jobs.

Here are seven we expect to make a mark in 2012 (feel free to comment on how you can't believe we left out so-and-so).

LB Brian Wagner, Arizona: Wagner was prolific tackler at Akron, collecting at least 100 stops in three years as a starter and earning All-MAC honors in two out of his three seasons with the Zips. He might not have top-flight Pac-12 speed, but the Wildcats are fairly desperate at linebacker.

QB Connor Wood, Colorado: Wood, a Texas transfer, was expected to win the job even before Nick Hirschman re-injured his foot. But with Hirschman out, it's Wood's offense -- at least for the spring. In the fall, Jordan Webb, a two-year starter at Kansas with two years of eligibility remaining, is expected to join the fray.

DE Arik Armstead, Oregon: The true freshman arrives in Eugene this spring after one of the more closely watched recruiting sagas on the West Coast. While more than a few folks believe the 6-foot-8, 280 pounder is a prototypical left OFFENSIVE tackle, he's going to at least start off on defense at Oregon. He's athletic enough to play end, and could immediately be in the picture to replace the departed Terrell Turner.

TE Caleb Smith, Oregon State: The Beavers use both a tight end and an H-back, and Smith, a touted recruit from Kentridge High School in Renton, Wash., looks like a good candidate to replace departed -- and productive -- H-back Joe Halahuni. He could challenge sophomore Connor Hamlett, the backup tight end in 2011, for the starting job.

DE Brandon Willis, UCLA: Willis' wanderlust has been almost comical -- he's transferred between UCLA and North Carolina twice -- but he was once a touted recruit and could compete for immediate playing time on an experienced but underachieving Bruins D-line.

RB Kelvin York, Utah: York, a 5-foot-11, 225-pound transfer out of Fullerton College, picked the Utes over a host of suitors. At the very least will be Robin to John White's Batman. It's also possible they could be 1A and 1B, almost splitting carries equally.

RB/WR Antavius Sims, Washington: Sims is a JC transfer who signed with the Huskies in 2011 but didn't qualify academically. He was expected to play cornerback, but has been shifted to offense so he can use his speed both as a runner and receiver.

Video: Oregon's Terrell Turner

January, 2, 2012
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Oregon defensive end Terrell Turner talks about hanging in against a tough Wisconsin offense.
LOS ANGELES -- If reporters weren't going to ask Nick Aliotti interesting questions this week, well, maybe he'd ask them a few.

[+] EnlargeNick Aliotti
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireWhile Oregon's offense gets all the hype, Nick Aliotti's defense has also shined this season.
"I always find it interesting, not to be religious or anything like that, because I don't want to go there," Oregon's defensive coordinator said. "But it's always kind of like, we're praying for a win and they're praying for a win. So who's going to answer who?"

Pause for deep thought. Breathe in, breathe out.

Leave it to Aliotti to take a redundant question about Oregon needing to prove it can win a "big one" and turning it into a grounds for philosophical speculation.

What Aliotti was praying for likely was something engaging and different to talk about. There was clockwork predictability to the questions about his defense as it prepares for the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. Here's a guess you could name them yourself.

1. How will Oregon's smaller defense handle Wisconsin's superior size? 2. How does Oregon hope to contain the Badgers' balanced attack with running back Montee Ball and quarterback Russell Wilson? 3. Does it bother him that his defense is overshadowed by the Ducks' flashy offense?

"All I know is last year, all we heard was how Auburn and Oregon were going to go up and down the field," he said of the national championship game last January. "That didn't quite happen."

The Ducks lost, of course, 22-19 on a last-second field goal, but that was the Tigers' second-lowest point total of the season.

There is some resignation to Aliotti -- "I'm trying to answer your question here," he repeatedly said to reporters -- because he'd like for his defense to get more credit, but he also knows that Oregon's national perception is gaudy uniforms and gaudy offensive statistics. That obscures how solid the Ducks' defense has been and is again this season.

No, Oregon is not as good as Alabama or LSU on defense. No, it won't send eight or nine guys to the NFL. But the Ducks did hold LSU to 273 yards, which is comparable to the 239 the Tigers had against the Crimson Tide. And Oregon did hold Auburn to fewer points than the Crimson Tide did in 2010 (28).

Aliotti wants to explain things, but he knows -- "I'm not trying to pat myself on the back; I'm giving you a long-winded answer" -- that a nuanced explanation often doesn't get much traction with an audience in search of simple -- simplistic? -- black and white numbers.

So what most see is this: Oregon’s defense ranks 59th in the nation in total yards, while Wisconsin's ranks eighth. Decisive advantage Badgers, correct? Well, Aliotti would note if he were typing this (and do you really know he's not?) that the Ducks and Badgers yield similar numbers on yards per play: Oregon 4.93, Wisconsin 4.85. And the Ducks are slightly better on third down.

You've heard this before, right? Because the Ducks' offense works so quickly, it ranks last in the nation in time of possession while also ranking third in scoring with 46.2 ppg. That meant more possessions for opposing offenses, which is why Oregon faced more plays than any team in the nation -- 1,005 -- other than Oklahoma State, which saw 1,008. Wisconsin's defense, with the benefit of an an offense that ranks 22nd in time of possession, only saw 786.

"So it's simple math," Aliotti said. "You play 80 plays, 4 yards a play is 320 yards. You play 60 plays, 5 yards a play is 300."

Speaking of math, Wisconsin's offensive line averages 6-foot-5, 320 pounds. The Ducks average 275 pounds among their eight regularly rotating defensive linemen. It's one thing to give up 25 pounds to a line that averages 300 pounds, like Stanford, but giving up 45 pounds is something else entirely.

Isn't it?

"It doesn't mean anything," defensive end Terrell Turner said. "The way our defensive line coach trains us, we can play against guys who are 7-foot-8, 390 pounds."

So there.

As for Ball and Wilson, Aliotti believes first down will be key. The Badgers convert 54 percent of their third-down plays, which ranks No. 1 in the nation, largely because they rarely face third-and-long.

"If they are in second-and-5 or less a lot of the game, then it will be hard to get them out of their rhythm," Aliotti said.

And second-and-5 is a great time for play-action, Wilson's forte. With senior Anthony Gildon highly questionable, the Ducks will be extremely young at cornerback, with redshirt freshmen Terrance Mitchell and Troy Hill as well as true freshman Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. While the Badgers are a power-running team, they are extremely efficient passing the ball, with Wilson throwing 31 TD passes and two receivers who caught at least 50 balls for more than 800 yards.

Of course, no one thought Oregon would hold Auburn and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton to 22 points last year.

It's clear that Aliotti and the Ducks respect the Wisconsin offense. And they are accustomed to being overlooked and dismissed. But there were a few times this week when Ducks defenders looked like cats purring with canaries in their mouths.

Said Aliotti, "We can't divulge any of the weaknesses because we'd have to kill 'ya."

Video: Oregon's Terrell Turner

December, 31, 2011
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Oregon defensive end Terrell Turner talks about the Wisconsin offense, its size and how much the Ducks need to win a BCS bowl game.

Video: Oregon's Carson York

December, 30, 2011
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Oregon offensive lineman Carson York talks about the heroic acts of offensive tackle Mark Asper and the Ducks running game.

Exiting the spring: Oregon

April, 28, 2011
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Oregon concludes spring practices with its spring game on Saturday. Here's a brief primer.

Spring game: 4 p.m. ET at Autzen Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Here’s the link to the Oregon spring game on ESPN3.com.

Questions answered: The Ducks lost five starters from the defensive front seven, but this one may be more a reload rather than rebuild. This is due in large part to the experience of the so-called new guys, most of whom saw significant action last fall. Ends Dion Jordan and Brandon Hanna -- returning starter Terrell Turner sat out with a leg injury -- and tackles Ricky Heimuli, Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi all played well. At linebacker, Kiko Alonso takes over in the middle for Casey Matthews, while Michael Clay, Josh Kaddu and Boseko Lokomobo capably man the outside spots. More depth is provided by Dewitt Stuckey and Derrick Malone.

Questions unanswered: The defense was mostly in control this spring, and a lot of that was due to three new starters on the offensive line. Things aren't settled there other than tackles Mark Asper and Darion Weems and guard Carson York. Further, the Ducks are replacing their top two receivers, Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis, and that may be a spot the requires help from a touted crew of incoming freshmen.

Spring stars: Jordan was an intriguing prospect when he switched to defensive end last season. Now he's starting to look like a player. Alonso missed last season due to suspension -- he also was injured -- but he's brought a physical presence to the middle of the defense. Running back Lache Seastrunk has played well enough to earn touches at a deep position. Spring always provides good walk-on stories, and the Ducks have theirs in Ramsen Golpashin, a fifth-year senior who's in the mix at offensive guard. Now some of you less sentimental sorts might not be thrilled with what a senior walk-on winning the job says, but let's see the glass as half-full.

Injury updates: Arizona, ASU, UCLA and Oregon

April, 5, 2011
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Injuries are a drag, but they are one of the key elements of spring football. Avoiding them is not unlike adding a couple of five-star recruits.
  • At Arizona, Ryan Finley reports safety Adam Hall and running back Greg Nwoko will undergo knee surgery next Tuesday. Just last week, former Wildcats co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown -- now running Colorado's defense -- was raving to me about Hall's potential. The prognosis is both players will be out seven months. The Wildcats are deep in the secondary, but Nwoko's loss puts pressure on the backfield, where injury-prone Keola Antolin is the starter.
  • At Arizona State, there's no official word on the severity of knee injuries to cornerback Omar Bolden and receiver T.J. Simpson, but the general feeling isn't terribly positive. Reports Doug Haller, both injuries "are considered serious, and possibly season ending." The Sun Devils probably can find some answers at receiver, and there's experience at cornerback, but replacing a first-team All-Pac-10 cornerback is not easy to do.
  • At UCLA, the news is better. Offensive lineman Jeff Baca, who broke his ankle last week, could return "sometime in August," according to the Orange County Register, which could mean a full-speed return in September. Baca, a fourth-year junior, was a projected starter at tackle.
  • At Oregon, defensive end Terrell Turner, the lone returning starter on the Ducks' D-line, was on crutches with his lower left leg immobilized in a cast. Coach Chip Kelly previously told the Pac-12 blog that Turner would miss spring practice with a "leg" injury, so this is consistent with the pre-spring prognosis. Dion Jordan has stepped in for Turner with the first-team defense.
On Friday, we looked at offensive three-headed monsters -- the best quarterback, running back, wide receiver troikas -- so it also makes sense to also look at their defensive counterparts, the best threesomes from each of the three levels of defense: defensive line, linebacker and defensive back.

Here's the tally from last season, if you are interested.

1. Arizona State

DE Junior Onyeali, LB Vontaze Burfict, CB Omar Bolden

The Skinny: No question on No. 1 here. Onyeali was the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Burfict is the nation's best inside linebacker. Bolden was unanimous first-team All-Pac-10.

2. Stanford

DE Matt Masifilo, LB Shayne Skov, SS Delano Howell

The Skinny: Masifilo, the lone returning starter on the Cardinal defensive line, was honorable mention All-Pac-10, as was Skov, who was playing as well as any linebacker in the conference over the final third of the season. Howell was second-team All-Pac-10.

3. California

DE Trevor Guyton, LB Mychal Kendricks, S Sean Cattouse

The Skinny: Guyton had 8.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks despite being a part-time starter. Kendricks was second-team All-Pac-10. Cattouse earned honorable mention.

4. Oregon

DE Terrell Turner, LB Josh Kaddu, CB Cliff Harris

The Skinny: Two solid returning starters and a second-team All-Pac-10 cornerback who figures to be a preseason All-American after earning second-team honors from the Associated Press and Walter Camp Football Foundation in 2010.

5. Washington:

DT Alameda Ta'amu, LB Cort Dennison, FS Nate Fellner

The Skinny: Ta'amu earned honorable mention All-Conference honors and seemed to find himself over the latter half of the season. Dennison had 93 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions. Fellner tied for second in the conference with five interceptions.

6. Arizona

DT Justin Washington, LB Paul Vassallo, CB Trevin Wade

The Skinny: Washington's numbers fell off when he got banged up, but he still had 11.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks as a redshirt freshman. Vassallo was honorable mention All-Conference. Wade had an off year last fall, but was second-team All-Pac-10 in 2009.

7. USC

DE Armond Armstead, LB Chris Galippo, FS T.J. McDonald

The Skinny: This actually could be one of the best threesomes in the conference, but Armstead and Galippo have injury issues and only put up middling numbers last fall. McDonald was second-team All-Pac-10 in 2010.

8. Washington State

DE Travis Long, LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, SS Deone Bucannon

The Skinny: Long was honorable mention All-Conference, Bucannon, who started as a true freshman, and Hoffman-Ellis were the Cougars' top two tackles in 2010.

9. UCLA

DE Datone Jones, LB Patrick Larimore, SS Tony Dye

The Skinny: A solid threesome that is down here more because it gets an "incomplete." Jones missed all of last season with a foot injury, but, if healthy, he's an All-Conference sort. Larimore was solid in seven games before suffering a shoulder injury. Dye led the Bruins in tackles and earned honorable mention All-Pac-10.

10. Colorado

NG Will Pericak, LB Jon Major, FS Ray Polk

The Skinny: Pericak earned honorable mention All-Big 12. Major was the Buffaloes leading tackler before he blew out his knee in Game 7 (a knee injury also killed the junior's true freshman season). Polk was the second-leading tackler.

11. Utah

DE Derrick Shelby, LB Chaz Walker, CB Conroy Black

The Skinny: Honestly don't know how to rank the Utes here. Shelby and Walker are returning starters -- Walker earned second-team All-Mountain West honors. Black was the top backup cornerback last season. But Star Lotulelei might be the Utes' best defensive lineman, and Brian Blechen has moved from strong safety, where he was very good, to linebacker. How highly do the Utes think of him? They list him as an All-American candidate.

12. Oregon State

DE Dominic Glover, LB Rueben Robinson, S Lance Mitchell

The Skinny: Three returning starters, but none of them even earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors. Mitchell was the Beavers' third-leading tackler, Glover had 2.5 sacks, and Robinson split time with Tony Wilson.

Oregon could be down three defensive starters

October, 19, 2010
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Oregon could be without three defensive starters against UCLA on Thursday after tackle Zac Clark (groin), end Terrell Turner (toe) and cornerback Anthony Gildon (ankle) didn't practice on Tuesday.

As Ken Goe pointed out in The Oregonian, a Tuesday practice this week is like a Thursday practice before a Saturday game.

Goe projects that "Wade Keliikipi will start in place of Clark, Dion Jordan in place of Turner and Cliff Harris in place in of Gildon."

While losing three starters is never good, the Ducks are deep on defense and play a lot of guys. All three of the backups are experienced and accomplished.

The Ducks also will be without backup running back Kenjon Barner, who suffered a head injury at Washington State on Oct. 9.

Here's a practice report from the Eugene Register-Guard.

Opening camp: Oregon

August, 9, 2010
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Oregon opens preseason camp today. Here's a quick look.

Who's back: Nine starters on offense, eight on defense, P Jackson Rice

Big names: RB LaMichael James, LT Bo Thran, WR Jeff Maehl, DE Kenny Rowe, LB Casey Matthews, DT Brandon Bair

What's new: The Ducks staff returns intact for Chip Kelly's second year as head coach. They will be breaking in a new QB after Jeremiah Masoli was given the boot.

Key competition: The QB battle between senior Nate Costa and sophomore Darron Thomas will be the conference's most-watched competition. Things also are uncertain at left cornerback, where freshmen Terrance Mitchell and Avery Patterson eclipsed the more experienced Cliff Harris during the spring. There's an "Or" between Dion Jordan and Terrell Turner on the depth chart at defensive end. And things are unresolved at kicker, where Rob Beard will try to hold off freshman Alejandro Maldonado, who has Lady Gaga in his corner.

Breaking out: The 6-foot-7 Jordan is an intriguing talent. James' backup Kenjon Barner, a dynamic athlete, will get plenty of touches. Maehl surged late last season and could turn in an All-Conference season. While listed as a backup, LB Michael Clay has consistently drawn raves. FS John Boyett, LB Spencer Paysinger and DT Brandon Bair also appear poised to be in the All-Conference picture.

Quote: Kelly on the QB competition: “It’s always a question mark when you lose your quarterback. We have two competent players in Nate Costa and Darron Thomas who will battle it out in preseason camp. Both are prepared and worked really hard for it. All of our offensive line, receivers and running backs are back. They will have a supporting cast around them.”

Notes: James and Beard will be suspended for the season-opener against New Mexico because of off-field issues... Talented backup LB linebacker Kiko Alonso was suspended for the season after he received a DUI... Receivers Tyrece Gaines and Diante Jackson were both declared academically ineligible and are not expected to return to the team... Receivers receiver Jamere Holland and Garrett Embry also were dismissed from the team.

Don't be surprised if... Oregon

August, 2, 2010
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Sixth in a series of Pac-10 thoughts that might come from unusual angles.

Don't be surprised if ... Oregon has the No. 1 defense in the conference.

Maybe you shouldn't be surprised with this one, considering eight starters are returning from a defense you could argue was the best in the conference in 2009.

Yes, Oregon didn't rank atop the final Pac-10 stats. But considering every team plays different nonconference schedules -- with a variety of degrees of difficulty -- it's not unreasonable to discount those games and only review conference games. And in conference play last year, Oregon ranked No. 1 in total defense (316 yards per game) and No. 2 in scoring defense (22.7). Big plays? The Ducks led the conference with 36 sacks and were second in forced turnovers with 25.

(I pointed this out to another Pac-10 coach and he replied, to paraphrase, "Fair enough. But they also didn't have to face the Oregon offense." The Ducks were No. 1 in scoring and No. 2 in total offense in the conference).

As for those three departed starters, tackle Blake Ferras was a fairly pedestrian player. Safety T.J. Ward was an outstanding player, but he missed half the season with an ankle sprain, so John Boyett, who started 10 games, qualifies as a returning starter. The only significant hole is at end with the loss of Will Tukuafu. But the tandem of Dion Jordan and Terrell Turner is an intriguing combination that figures to be more athletic.

The linebacking crop is fast, experienced and deep. Watch out for Michael Clay, whom some observers believe is as good as anybody on the defense. The secondary welcomes back six players with starting experience, though it remains unclear who will start at left cornerback, with true freshmen Terrance Mitchell and Avery Patterson topping the depth chart. End Kenny Rowe led the conference with 11.5 sacks and tackle Brandon Bair might be the conference's most underrated player (just ask coach Chip Kelly).

There's plenty of experience and speed and solid depth. Some youngsters, including true freshman tackle Ricky Heimuli and redshirt freshmen Wade Keliikipi, a tackle, and Anthony Anderson, an end, should bolster depth on a line that should run eight-deep.

Oregon hasn't ranked among the top 40 in total defense since 2004. It hasn't had a "special" defense since 1994, when the "Gang Green" led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl. While Oregon fans through the years have had a love-hate relationship with coordinator Nick Aliotti, the Ducks defense in 2010 has a chance to be Oregon's best in years.

USC and Arizona State should both should have good defenses. UCLA and Oregon State also should be solid. If Arizona answers questions at linebacker, it will be among the conference's best.

But the unit with the fewest questions is Oregon.

A look back at 2007 recruiting

July, 21, 2010
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The 2007 recruiting class members are either seniors or redshirt juniors this fall, so they should be the backbones of most Pac-10 team's starting lineups.

Therefore, it seems like a reasonable moment to look back and review some recruiting hits and misses. (And, yes, we did this last summer with the 2006 class, which you can review here -- Ducks fans should get a kick out of it).

As for the 2007 rankings, USC ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. Oregon, at No. 23, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25.

Scout.com ranked USC No. 2 in the nation, Oregon ninth, and California 12th. The rest of the Pac-10 went, in order, Washington (29th in nation), UCLA (36th), Arizona State (38), Oregon State (40), Stanford (43), Arizona (49) and Washington State (54).

Here's an overview.

Arizona

Class: 17

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (DE Apaiata Tuihalamaka, TE Rob Gronkowski)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (RB Nic Grigsby, CB Trevin Wade, WR William Wright, K Alex Zendejas)

Misses: Tuihalamaka, QB Bryson Beirne,

Verdict: Obviously, the biggest catch of this class, Gronkowski, is gone. Otherwise, a lot of these guys qualify for the "where are they now?" file.

Arizona State

Class: 24

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (C Garth Gerhart, WR Kerry Taylor, CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, OG Matt Hustad)

Misses: OL Po'u Palelei, LB Oliver Aaron

Verdict: This is a decent class, particularly when you factor in the contribution of the since-departed JC signees, such as LB Morris Wooten and DE Luis Vasquez. And there are several non-starters who will contribute this year.

California

Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (OT Matt Summers-Gavin, P Bryan Anger, LB D.J. Holt, WR Alex Lagemann, OT Mitchell Schwartz, S Sean Cattouse, S Chris Conte, OG Justin Cheadle, DE Cameron Jordan, RB Shane Vereen).

Misses: QB Brock Mansion, CB D.J. Campbell

Verdict: Obviously, ESPN.com's Scouts Inc., missed with its evaluation of this solid recruiting class, particularly when you consider RB Jahvid Best, WR Nyan Boateng and LB Devin Bishop were significant contributors before their tenures were done. Jordan and Vereen obviously were well underrated. And there were 21 running backs better than Best?

Oregon

Class: 29

ESPNU top 150 players: 1 (DE Kenny Rowe)

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (Rowe, WR D.J. Davis, LB Casey Matthews, CB Talmadge Jackson, OG Carson York, TE David Paulson, OG Mark Asper, WR Jeff Maehl, S Eddie Pleasant, DE Terrell Turner).

Misses: DT Myles Wade, S Malachi Lewis

Verdict: When you toss in DE Will Tukuafu, WR Aaron Pflugrad (a starter who transferred to Arizona State) and WR Terence Scott, this is a good, if not great, class. Three or four of these guys should be All-Conference players.

Oregon State

Class: 35

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (HB Joe Halahuni, S Cameron Collins, WR Darrell Catchings, CB Brandon Hardin, FB Will Darkins, DE Taylor Henry, LB Keith Pankey, WR James Rodgers)

Misses: CB David Ross, RB Reggie Dunn

Verdict: We don't have the time to go back and retrace the maneuvers that are part of managing a 35-man recruiting class (each class can only include a maximum of 25 members, but there are lots of ways to fudge numbers). Obviously, there are the Beavers typical crew of so-called diamonds in the rough -- hello, James Rodgers -- but here's a guess that coach Mike Riley winces over some of these names. Certainly not a lot of production from the six JC guys.

Stanford

Class: 19

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Six (P David Green, CB Corey Gatewood, LB/FB Owen Marecic, TE Coby Fleenor, DE Thomas Keiser, DE Matt Masifilo)

Misses: QB L. D. Crow, S Sean Wiser

Verdict: An interesting class considering that six of the eight lowest rated players are on the Cardinal's preseason two-deep depth chart, including three starters. In terms of skill positions -- see the two QBs -- this class doesn't measure up.

UCLA

Class: 11

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (QB Chris Forcier, RB Raymond Carter)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (LB Akeem Ayers, LB Glenn Love, LB Steve Sloan, DT Nate Chandler, OT Mike Harris)

Misses: Forcier, Carter

Verdict: This is a very small but highly productive class collected by former coach Karl Dorrell -- note that it includes DT Brian Price, who bolted early for the NFL. The only busts were the two highest rated players, Forcier and Carter, and JC LB Mike Schmitt. The other eight members are either on the two-deep or, in Price's case, already in the NFL.

USC

Class: 20

ESPNU top 150 players: 10 (RB Joe McKnight, LB Chris Galippo, RB Marc Tyler, S Marshall Jones, DE Everson Griffen, QB Aaron Corp, WR Ronald Johnson, OT Martin Coleman, DT DaJohn Harris, C Kris O'Dowd)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (LB Chris Galippo, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristofer O'Dowd, LB Malcolm Smith)

Misses: S Marshall Jones, OT Martin Coleman

Verdict: Obviously, this class, ranked No. 1 in the nation, was overrated, even when you factor in that McKnight, Griffen and Damian Williams already are in the NFL, and NT Christian Tupou would be a second-year starter if he didn't blow out his knee this spring. Lots of guys who never contributed or left the program.

Washington

Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (WR Devin Aguilar, LB Alvin Logan, LB Cort Dennison, SS Nate Williams, LB Mason Foster, CB Quinton Richardson, DE Kalani Aldrich, K Erik Folk)

Misses: DE Emeka Iweka, DT Nick Wood

Verdict: You read the names of the seven highest-rated players in this class and you have one reaction: Terrible. But then you see six defensive starters among the lower rated guys. Still, the Huskies defense is a huge question mark. How it performs this year will tell you how this class should be rated.

Washington State

Class: 26

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (CB Aire Justin, WR Daniel Blackledge, C Andrew Roxas, OG B.J. Guerra, SS Chima Nwachukwu)

Misses: WR Deon Ford

Verdict: Not much should be expected from Bill Doba's final recruiting class, and this one doesn't deliver much sizzle. A couple of solid hits, though, including a couple of departed JC transfers.

Arizona spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
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ARIZONA

2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 6-3 (tied for second)

Returning starters

Offense: 9, Defense: 4, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners: QB Nick Foles, WR Juron Criner, RB Nic Grigsby, C Colin Baxter, CB Trevin Wade, DE Brooks Reed, DE Ricky Elmore

Key losses: WR Terrell Turner, OT Mike Diaz, DT Earl Mitchell, LB Xavier Kelly, FS Cam Nelson, CB Devin Ross

2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Keola Antolin* (643)

Passing: Nick Foles* (2,466)

Receiving: Juron Criner* (582)

Tackles: Devin Ross (81)

Sacks: Ricky Elmore* (11.5)

Interceptions: Trevin Wade* (5)

Spring Answers

1. So far so good with four coordinators: It was only a first run through spring practices but the Wildcats new arrangement with both offensive and defensive co-coordinators seemed to work well throughout spring practices. For one, it appears they've got a plan for the press box and play calling. Further, it helps that coach Mike Stoops is familiar with sharing a coordinator job (he shared the defensive job at Kansas State). It also probably helps that all four guys seem to like each other.

2. There's a lot of skill here: Start with quarterback Nick Foles. Then there's Juron Criner, who is as physically talented as any receiver in the Pac-10. Then there's Bug Wright, David Douglas, Delashaun Dean, Travis Cobb and Gino Crump. And Nic Grigsby, Keola Antolin and Taimi Tutogi in the backfield. Lots of guys who can do things with the ball in their hands.

3. The ends are the beginning: Ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed are a good start for a rebuilding defense that lost seven starters. If a defense can pressure the quarterback -- and Elmore and Reed can -- that makes things easier everywhere else.

Fall questions

1. How will Matt Scott be used: While Scott lost the starting quarterback job to Foles early last season, the coaches still think he's capable of helping the offense, particularly with his speed. Scott also looked like a more confident and refined passer this spring -- guidance from new QB coach Frank Scelfo helped -- so he figures to have a few personal packages inserted into the game plan. And if Foles falters or gets hurt, Scott is a nice plan B.

2. How quickly will the new LBs pick things up? It's not easy to replace seven starters, but it seems particularly burdensome to have voids at all three all LB spots. Things are even more difficult when you're counting on a pair of JC transfers -- Derek Earls in the middle and Paul Vassallo on the weak side -- to immediately step into the starting lineup. The Wildcats will be fine in the secondary -- watch out for incoming freshman Marquis Flowers to get into the mix -- because that's Stoops' specialty. And there's some intriguing talent at defensive tackle, including redshirt freshman Sione Tuihalamaka. But the linebacker question wasn't answered this spring.

3. Paging Nic Grigsby: Grigsby can be a dynamic player with the ball. He's got home run speed and 2,424 career rushing yards. He averages 5.3 yards per carry. He's a good receiver out of the backfield. But he needs to find a way to stay healthy, which he didn't this spring or much of last year. With capable players like Antolin, Tutogi, Greg Nwoko and Daniel Jenkins eager for touches, at some point coaches might just sit Grigsby and go with guys who can stay on the field.

Q&A: Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti

April, 30, 2010
4/30/10
3:00
PM ET
Part II of a Q&A with Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.

Read Part I here.

Let's take it through the three levels: How does the defensive line stack up? Obviously, we know about end Kenny Rowe and tackle Brandon Bair. Who steps in for end Will Tukuafu and tackle Blake Ferras?

NA: It's a little bit too early to tell but I think that Zac Clark, in my mind, cemented himself as one of the top tackles, probably a starter at this point. And the combination of Dion Jordan and Terrell Turner will take Tukuafu's place. Who will end up starting there? It may be series by series. We'll just have to see what happens when we get back here in the fall. The D-line I feel very good about. I have no worries about where our D-line is, even though we lost some very good football players. I like what we've done. I like how we've progressed. We're on track to be as good as we were last year.

Heard a lot about Dion Jordan as just a pure physical specimen. Tell me what he's done transitioning from a tight end to a defensive end.

NA: The guy is just relentless. He chases the ball. For a smaller guy -- in that he doesn't weigh a whole lot [listed at 223 though he's likely closer to 240] -- he knows how to use leverage and his body very well and can run like the wind. He can really, really move. He's going to be a surprise. A lot of people are going to say, 'Wow, where did this guy come from?' I think he's the surprise of spring camp. I'm very pleased with him. He's an excellent pass rusher. He's really doing more than I thought he'd do, physically, at the line of scrimmage. So that's exciting.

You guys seem wealthy at linebacker -- a lot of speed -- what's going on there? Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews are established guys, what about at strongside linebacker?

NA: We're still going to have to figure that thing out, but it's not something I don't feel comfortable with. I like where we are there, too. What will happen is, when we get Josh Kaddu back, he and Boseko Lokombo and Bryson Littlejohn will fight that one out. But I feel good about those guys. You're catching me off of spring and not mid-way through the season, but I really like the way our defense played and practiced and I think we've got a chance to be pretty darn good.

I've read a couple of things about linebacker Michael Clay, too. Sounds like he'll see a lot of actions.

NA: No question. Michael Clay will get a lot of action. He played a lot for us last year, too. That's no surprise really. He came in here not acting like a freshman. He came in acting like he's been doing this all along. He'll help us with a lot of valuable downs next year.

The secondary: You guys had a whole bunch of injuries last year, but it seems like that's going to pay off now because a lot of young guys got playing time.

NA: Right. You know when I look at our defense, cutting to the chase, I think we are going to be just as talented on the D-line, if not more talented. We'll be faster. You never like to compare one team to the other, but I think we can be just as good and probably faster and obviously more experienced than what we were. The linebacker crew, with Kaddu and Bo at SAM, that gave us an opportunity to move Eddie Pleasant back into the secondary [from starting linebacker]. We'll be just as strong at linebacker, though [backup middle linebacker] Kiko Alonso will be out for the year after tearing his knee. That hurts the two-deep on the inside a little bit. That's a bad injury for us. But we should be just as good there. And with [safety] John Boyett playing a lot of downs last year and [safeties] Javes Lewis and Marvin Johnson all playing because of T.J. Ward going down early that should help. With Pleasant back there, I feel real good about the safeties. When we get a healthy [cornerback] Talmadge Jackson back, he's a guy who's played a lot of football for us, and then we're looking at Cliff Harris, Anthony Gildon, Scott Grady and Terrance Mitchell who are going to be the other corner. We have a chance to be as good if not better than we were last year.

Defense dominates Ducks scrimmage

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
9:57
AM ET
Neither of Oregon's quarterbacks fighting for the starting job was able to get much going against the fast Oregon defense during the first scrimmage of the spring, which included 122 plays at Autzen Stadium.

Senior Nate Costa completed 8 of 21 passes for 77 yards, while sophomore Darron Thomas was 8 of 22 for 101 yards and an interception. The defense limited the offense to less than 40 percent passing and 3.3 yards per carry on 64 rushing attempts for 211 yards.

Former tight end Dion Jordan -- dubbed the "Praying Mantis" by defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti -- continued to be impressive at defensive end, recording a sack for a safety. JC transfer Isaac Remington and Brandon Hannah also recorded sacks. Mikey Dosen and Terrell Turner grabbed interceptions.

Chip Kelly
Courtesy of Andy McNamaraChip Kelly took a break from his coaching duties to film a segment with Ted Miller and Darron Thomas.
It might have helped the defense a bit that running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner did not see any action after the second series.

Here's an account from The Oregonian. And from Rob Moseley's blog.

And Andy McNamara's account on "Duck Feed" includes statistics.

By the way, some of you have complained about the camera work in this video. I've forwarded the concerns to cameraman Chip Kelly.

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