Pac-12: Travis Cobb

All-Pac-10 bowl team

January, 14, 2011
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Who distinguished themselves during the bowl season? Here's our All-Bowl Team.

Offense

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesAndrew Luck's performance helped key Stanford's blowout win against Virginia Tech.
QB Andrew Luck, Stanford: Luck completed 18 of 23 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns in the Cardinal's 40-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Discover Orange Bowl. He also rushed for 15 yards and was sacked just once.
RB Chris Polk, Washington: Polk rushed for 177 yards on 34 carries with a touchdown in the Huskies win over Nebraska in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
RB Jeremy Stewart, Stanford: Sophomore Stepfan Taylor actually rushed for more yards, but Stewart, a senior who's battled injuries throughout his career, had 99 yards on just five carries, including a 60-yard touchdown against Virginia Tech.
WR Jeff Maehl, Oregon: Maehl caught nine passes for 133 yards with a long reception of 81 yards in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.
WR David Douglas, Arizona: Douglas caught six passes for 91 yards in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: Fleenor had a career night in the Orange Bowl, catching six passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
OL Jonathan Martin, Stanford: Stanford rushed for 247 yards and allowed just one sack. Martin will be an All-American candidate in 2011.
OL Chase Beeler, Stanford: Beeler, the consensus All-American center, is the brains behind the bullies, leading one of the nation's best lines.
OL David DeCastro, Stanford: The first-team All-Pac-10 performer had a number of key blocks against the Hokies.
OL Senio Kelemete, Washington: Kelemete has a chance at All-Conference honors as a senior.
OL Cody Habben, Washington: The Huskies rushed for 268 yards and allowed no sacks versus Nebraska. A nice way for the senior right tackle to go out.

Defense

LB Mason Foster, Washington: Foster had a game-high 12 tackles, including two sacks in the Huskies win over Nebraska.
LB Shayne Skov, Stanford: Skov had a game-high 12 tackles, with three sacks and another tackle for a loss against the Hokies. He also broke up a pass.
LB Casey Matthews, Oregon: Matthews had six tackles, split a tackle for a loss and, most important, forced the late fumble from Cameron Newton that set up the Ducks touchdown that tied the count 19-19 late against Auburn.
LB Victor Aiyewa, Washington: Aiyewa had three tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in the Holiday Bowl.
DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington: Ta'amu dominated inside, recording a sack and recovering a fumble against the Cornhuskers.
DE Hau'oli Jamora, Washington: The true freshman had three tackles for a loss and a sack versus Nebraska.
DE Kenny Rowe, Oregon: Rowe was second on the Ducks with nine tackles, four of which came for a loss. He also had a sack and a forced fumble.
CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Harris had three tackles, two pass breakups and an interception. A second interception was not upheld by replay officials.
CB Richard Sherman, Stanford: Sherman had just one tackle against Virginia Tech. It appears that the Hokies, who completed just 16 of 31 passes, decided not to throw his way.
S Delano Howell, Stanford: Howell had an interception, a sack and four tackles in the Orange Bowl.
S Nate Felner, Washington: Felner had four tackles and an interception in the Huskies win over Nebraska.

Special teams

K Rob Beard, Oregon: There wasn't a lot of great kicking this bowl season in the Pac-10, but Beard connected on a 26-yard field goal against Auburn and scored a 2-point play on an option pitch.
P David Green, Stanford: Green didn't punt much in the Orange Bowl, but he did average 46 yards when he did (three times).
KR Travis Cobb, Arizona: Cobb returned five kickoffs for 179 yards, with a long of 64 yards.

Some Pac-10 numbers to chew on

September, 28, 2010
9/28/10
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Some numbers that might interest you.
  • The Pac-10 is 10-4 vs. other BCS conferences.
  • The Pac-10 is 2-4 vs. the WAC and Mountain West.
  • The conference's overall record vs. FBS foes is 15-9 (.624).
  • Arizona ranks fourth in the nation in total defense (230.75 yards per game) and is tied for third with Oregon in scoring defense (11 ppg).
  • Three Pac-10 QBs rank in the nation's top 25 in passing efficiency: No. 11 Andrew Luck of Stanford, No. 14 Matt Barkley of USC and No. 25 Nick Foles of Arizona.
  • Four Pac-10 teams rank among the top 15 in the nation in pass efficiency defense: No. 2 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford, No. 11 Arizona and No. 15 California.
  • Oregon is No. 1 in the nation with 57.75 points per game. Stanford is No. 4 with 48 ppg.
  • Oregon and Stanford have both allowed only one sack so far this year. Stanford leads the conference with 14 sacks. Oregon is tied for second with 11.
  • Stanford is tied for No. 1 in the nation with a 100 percent scoring rate in the red zone. Its 26 red zone opportunities -- 18 TDs -- also is the most in the nation.
  • Oregon RB LaMichael James is No. 2 in the nation with 158.83 rushing yards per game. Cal's Shane Vereen is 22nd with 106.5 ypg.
  • Arizona's Travis Cobb is No. 1 in the nation in kickoff return average (37.83 ypr).
  • Oregon's Cliff Harris is No. 1 in the nation in punt return average (28.14 ypr).
  • Arizona State's Trevor Hankins is No. 1 in the nation in punting, averaging 51.07 yards per boot.
  • Oregon is No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin (2.75). The Ducks have forced 18 turnovers -- three more than any other team -- and lost seven.
  • Oregon State is the only team in the nation that has yet to lose a turnover.
  • The Beavers rank 119th in the nation in third-down defense. Opponents are converting 58.7 percent of third-down plays into first downs. Meanwhile, the Beavers' offense is 115th in the nation in third down conversion percentage (26.5 percent).
  • Arizona State ranks last (120th) in the nation in penalty yards per game (93.8 ypg). USC ranks 118th (90 ypg).

Pac-10 players of the week

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
4:53
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Arizona quarterback Nick Foles, UCLA linebacker Patrick Larimore and Arizona kick returner Travis Cobb have been named Pac-10 Players of the Week by the conference office.

Foles, a junior from Austin, Texas, led Arizona to a 34-27 upset of No. 9 Iowa. He completed 28 of 39 passes for 303 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He engineered a nine-play, 72-yard game-winning drive in the fourth quarter after Iowa completed a 20-point rally to tie the game at 27-27 mid-way through the fourth quarter. On that drive, he was 5-of-6 for 76 yards, including a 4-yard scoring strike to junior receiver Bug Wright. It was the third time in his 13-game career as a starter that Foles led a game-winning drive when tied or trailing in the fourth quarter of a game.

Larimore, a sophomore from Santa Clarita, Calif., collected a career-high and team-high 11 tackles (10 solos), including three for loss, forced a fumble and broke up a pass in UCLA’s 31-13 win over No. 23 Houston. Houston entered the game averaging 576 yards of total offense, but were limited to 360 yards (108 rushing, 252 passing) by the Bruins.

Cobb, a senior from Rocky Mount, N.C., tallied 148 kick return yards on three returns, including a 100-yard return for touchdown. It was the second return for a score in his career. It was the longest by an Arizona player since Chris McAlister’s 100-yarder at Hawaii in 1998. Cobb’s 37.8 yards per return average ranks No. 5 in the nation.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were running backs Shane Vereen of California, and Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State, quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford, running backs Johnathan Franklin of UCLA and Allen Bradford of USC, and wide receiver Marquess Wilson of Washington State. Also nominated on defense were defensive end Brooks Reed of Arizona, linebackers Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State and D.J. Holt of California, defensive tackle Brandon Bair of Oregon, linebacker Dwight Roberson of Oregon State, cornerback Michael Thomas of Stanford, and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey of USC. Also nominated for special teams play were returner Omar Bolden of Arizona State, defensive back Brian Jackson of Oregon, wide receiver/returner James Rodgers of Oregon State, punter Jeff Locke of UCLA and wide receiver/returner Robert Woods of USC.

Pac-10 rewind and look ahead

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
2:15
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The aftermath of "Measuring Stick Saturday."

Team of the week: Arizona looked like it might blow out Iowa when it led 27-7 in the third quarter, but it actually might be more meaningful that the Wildcats held on to win 34-27 after major adversity struck. The Wildcats showed heart. And poise. Moreover, by giving up their own pick-six and a horrible special-teams miscue, the Wildcats' victory can't be written off with the, "Well, Iowa played a sloppy game" excuse.

Best game: Arizona State-'s 20-19 loss at Wisconsin was a back-and-forth affair that was far more entertaining than most thought it would be going in. And, even though it was a dispiriting defeat, the Sun Devils seemed to announce that they will be a factor instead of an afterthought in the Pac-10 this season.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
Bob Stanton/Icon SMIIn addition to throwing four touchdown passes, Andrew Luck also rushed for a score in Saturday's win.
Biggest play: Just after Iowa tied Arizona 27-27, and all the momentum going the Hawkeyes' way, quarterback Nick Foles hit David Roberts for 38 yards on first down to the Iowa 34. Eight plays later, the Wildcats scored the winning points. After the game, offensive tackle Adam Grant said he knew Arizona would win after that completion.

Offensive standout(s): Foles and Stanford's Andrew Luck share the honor. Foles completed 28 of 39 passes for 303 yards with two TDs and an interception. For the season, the nation's 14th-rated QB has completed 79 percent of his passes. Luck completed 17-of-23 for 207 yards with four TDs. He also rushed three times for 69 yards, with a 52-yard TD run. For the season, the nation's third-rated passer has 10 TD passes and no interceptions.

Defensive standout(s): Lots of possibilities from Arizona, but in the interest of diversity: Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict and UCLA linebacker Patrick Larimore. Burfict looked like the best defensive player on the field at Wisconsin, rolling up 10 tackles, two for a loss, with two pass breakups. Larimore had 11 tackles, three for a loss, a forced fumble and two pass breakups against Houston.

Special teams star (s): This is a hard one because the conference produced a bunch of big plays on special teams. Arizona's Travis Cobb went 100 yards for a TD on a kickoff return against Iowa. Arizona State's Omar Bolden went 97 yards for a TD on a kickoff return versus Wisconsin. USC's Robert Woods went 97 yards for a TD on a kickoff return at Minnesota. We may have left someone out.

Smiley face: After two bad losses that had UCLA fans turning away in disgust, the Bruins got off the canvas and whipped No. 23 Houston 31-13. It was a good effort on both sides of the ball, and it indicated that the Bruins can't be counted out in the conference.

Frowny face: Jake Locker and Washington wilted on a big stage against Nebraska. They were overmatched on both sides of the ball, and the Nebraska coaches clearly had a better plan and had their team better prepared.

Thought of the week: Notre Dame, at 1-2, isn't an elite team, but both of the Fighting Irish's losses came against now-ranked Big Ten teams in tight games. If Stanford goes into Notre Dame and delivers a whipping, the Cardinal will be taken seriously by the rest of the nation.

Thought of the week II: The eyes of the college football nation will be on Boise State-Oregon State on Saturday, and many AQ conference fans without a horse in the race will be rooting for the Beavers to knock the Broncos out of BCS bowl -- and national championship game -- contention. Conversely, all of the non-AQ fans (other than TCU and Utah), will be rooting on the Broncos. Oh, and all the BCS haters will be rooting against the Beavers, too, because they favor chaos in the system.

Quote of the week: "You know what's funny? Nobody gave us a chance. They said the defense couldn't make plays. They were giving us all kinds of letter grades that were bad, and we took it personal." -- UCLA safety Rahim Moore

Quote of the week II: "I know they lost their running back, Toby Gerhart, but that's a more veteran team than we saw last year. That's a veteran offensive line and they are impressive." -- Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe after losing at Stanford 68-24

Quote of the week III: "I didn't really hook up with anybody." -- Locker after he completed 4 of 20 passes with two interceptions against Nebraska

Big games this weekend: While Stanford is at Notre Dame and Oregon State is at No. 3 Boise State, the rest of the Pac-10 gets started with the conference schedule (though Washington has a bye). The two red-letter games: California at Arizona and Oregon at Arizona State. Will the Bears bounce back against a Wildcats team still drunk on its win over Iowa? And can a clearly improved Sun Devils squad keep up with the high-powered Ducks.

Arizona needs a drive

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
11:36
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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona just went up 21-7 on Iowa after Travis Cobb went 100 yards on a kickoff return.

The Wildcats points have come off a blocked punt -- an 8-yard drive -- a pick-6 and a kickoff return.

Arizona has run eight offensive plays. Iowa 25. Iowa has 176 yards. The Wildcats 77.

Good for Arizona for getting ahead 21-7 anyway it could.

Still.

We really haven't gotten to see what the Arizona offense can do against the Hawkeye defense. And the Iowa offense is moving the ball well vs. the Wildcats.

Things are going to eventually settle down. You'd think. And then the game will be about drives. Probably.

If there's anything to be concerned over with a 21-7 lead, that is it. Iowa has shown it can drive. We don't know yet with Arizona.

Pac-10 links: Cougar turns life around

August, 20, 2010
8/20/10
2:30
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Happy Friday.

Arizona WR Dean suspended after arrest

June, 22, 2010
6/22/10
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Arizona wide receiver Delashaun Dean was arrested over the weekend on weapons charges and has been suspended from the team, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

The newspaper reported that coach Mike Stoops said in a statement that Dean was suspended "due to a violation of team rules."

Dean was charged with one count of misconduct involving weapons on Saturday. He is scheduled to appear in court next week, according to the report.

Dean, a senior, was the Wildcats fourth-leading receiver in 2009, catching 42 passes for 396 yards, though that's a bit misleading because the top four receivers all caught between 42 and 48 passes. He was expected to be a key part of an offense that welcomed back at a lot of quality experience, particularly at the skill positions.

If Dean isn't reinstated, senior Travis Cobb is listed behind him on the spring depth chart, though the Wildcats might shuffle the lineup. Cobb caught only one pass last year. Spring standout Gino Crump, listed behind Juron Criner at the "X" receiver, is a possibility.

Arizona spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
10:30
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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: Arizona co-offensive coordinator Seth Littrell, Part II

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
9:00
AM ET
Part II of a chat with Arizona's co-offensive coordinator Seth Littrell, who will call the offensive plays this season.

Read Part I here.

We know the established guys: Give me some names of youngsters or former reserves who impressed you.

Seth Littrell: A guy who not a lot people have heard about who had a pretty solid spring was two guys at receiver. Gino Crump, who transferred here last year from West Virginia, has really done some good things and is developing his skills. His deal when he got here was he was inconsistent catching the football, but he did a better job hanging onto the football this spring. He didn't drop as many balls. Also a guy in the same category is Travis Cobb, who is always impressive because he's extremely fast. He can really stretch the field. The biggest thing with him was getting comfortable in the offense. He did a lot better this spring than he did last fall when I don't know how comfortable he was. He was pretty impressive in practices just going to get the football. Nick would drop back and throw a fade route and it would look like it was going to be overthrown by 10 yards and Cobb just runs and gets it. Pure speed, he's probably the fastest guy on our team. Then there's Taimi Tutogi. He played a few games last year and didn't redshirt and played as Chris Gronkowski's backup. But this spring he's really come along. We've done a lot of things with him, from the fullback position to putting him on the line as a tight end, or lining him up at tailback, which we've done in a few practices. He's a guy who, if he develops and gets that confidence as a running back, or fullback, H-back, the more we can expand his role even to tailback also. There's a lot of guys who stepped up and had good springs. Some young O-linemen. It's hard to say one guy. There's a lot of young guys who did some good things this spring.

What will be different about the offense next fall compared to what we saw in 2009?

SL: Hopefully, we'll be better. Without giving away too much, we're going to do some different things, things we were even talking about before Coach Dykes got the head job at Louisiana Tech. We're always looking to expand and looking to get better. I feel like this spring we've done some evaluations of what we feel like we need to do to be a top offense in the country. Even with Coach Scelfo coming in, bringing a new set of eyes and being able to evaluate some of the things we were doing. Sometimes it's good to have something from the outside looking in to give you a different perspective. We've been looking at some of the stuff he did at La-Tech. They were very successful there.

Tell me about how Coach Stoops decided that you would call plays?

SL: The biggest thing with this offense is we are all part of this offense. Obviously, one guy has to be designated to call the plays. In the course of the game, we're all having input. Even though I may be calling the offense, we've called it all week, we have a script, we pretty much know what we're going to do situationally throughout a game. When you're calling it, obviously you've got to get some type of game-time rhythm, know the situations and how to set stuff up. But also at the same time, Frank is going to be in the box with me. Coach Bedenbaugh will be on the field with [receivers coaches Garret Chachere and Dave Nichol]. Really, honestly, it's a matter that coach Bedenbaugh has to be on the field with the O-linemen. That's a huge role for him, being around the linemen the whole game, making adjustments. It would be pretty difficult for him to call plays from down there. Not to say he couldn't because he could but it's really just a matter of me being in the box.

Football coaches, by nature, are fiery guys, as you know from working with the Stoops brothers. Sometimes the collaborative process can get pretty animated: Think everybody will be able to get along?

SL: I don't think there's any doubt. We're all pretty passionate. I've been around coach Stoops for a long time. I played offense [at Oklahoma], but I played under Bob Stoops at OU and Mike Stoops was the D-coordinator. And I've been under [Mark] Mangino and Mike Leach and a lot of different guys. Everybody has their own fire and passion. Obviously, I've only coached with them [at Arizona] for one season but we've been around each other. One thing about Mike is he's passionate about the game but nothing is ever personal. It's about business and winning football games. He knows I'm the same way. We've always gotten along and always had a great relationship. It's going to be no different.

Q&A: Arizona co-offensive coordinator Seth Littrell, Part I

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
5:51
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In 2000, Seth Littrell was a fullback and captain of Oklahoma's national championship team.

In 2004, he was a graduate assistant at Kansas.

In 2010, he became the Arizona Wildcats' co-offensive coordinator. And, at 31, will be the youngest play-caller in the Pac-10 and one of the youngest in the nation.

It's been a quick climb through the coaching ranks for Littrell. And there's pressure, sure. Wildcats coach Mike Stoops tapped him to fill the job capably manned last fall by Sonny Dykes, who's now Louisiana Tech's head coach, over two more veteran assistants, line coach and co-coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh and quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo.

While Littrell goes to great lengths to play down the distinction of calling plays, it's clear that Stoops believes he's got a talented young coach who's up to the job.

The good news is Littrell has a lot to work with. Seven starters return from an offense that averaged nearly 32 points per game in Pac-10 play, including quarterback Nick Foles.

With the Wildcats concluding spring practices last weekend, it seemed like a good time to check in with Littrell.

So give me the rundown of the offense this spring: What are you happy with? What didn't go as well as you wanted it to?

Seth Littrell: Overall, we were pleased. The biggest thing was the effort. We did some different things offensively that we haven't done in the past, trying some new things out to maybe fit us a little bit better personnel-wise with some guys. I think our players really enjoyed it. So overall they were pretty focused and intense. There was good competition. We had a lot of guys with a lot of returning experience so the hardest thing with that a lot of times is they get bored. We tried to find different ways to keep it exciting and keep it enthusiastic. They were willing to come out and work to become the No. 1 offense in the Pac-10, which is always what our goal is. Probably the most disappointing thing was we came out flat in the spring game. I thought we had good work for the most part leading up to that. We were pretty basic and vanilla in the game, but I was a little disappointed in how flat we were. We didn't make plays we'd made all spring. We dropped too many balls, which hadn't been a problem. Way too many turnovers. Things we didn't have issues with during the spring just kind of popped up in a game-type atmosphere. But that's really the only disappointment I had.

Nick Foles, I wouldn't say faded a bit late in the season, but he didn't have a good Holiday Bowl: Where did he get better this spring?

SL: Overall grasp of the offense. In Nick's defense, he played pretty well early in the season but each and every game we put more on him. I don't know if he faded out but looking back on it maybe we had a little too much offense. Maybe he wasn't ready for all that. That's not an excuse for him. He'd only played a few games -- he redshirted and played a few games at Michigan State [from where he transferred] -- so he's still pretty young. We probably could have kept it a little safer for him, not put so much on him. I think the thing he's really improved in is understanding the offense. Understanding that not every play has to be a touchdown. It's about moving the chains and being productive and getting the ball into other guys' hands. He doesn't have to be the superstar. There's 11 guys on the field and everybody has a role to play. He's just one part of that 11.

Where does backup quarterback Matt Scott stand?

SL: I thought Matt Scott had an unbelievable spring. He's probably been one of the guys I've been most impressed with -- he's probably had the biggest jump of anybody. Coach Scelfo does an unbelievable job with those quarterbacks. [No. 3 QB] Bryson Beirne even had a good spring. Things [Scott] needed to work on, he worked on them and bought into it and worked each and every day. He's way more accurate than he was because of the things he's worked on with Coach Scelfo. Another thing is he really took it upon himself to study the offense. He wants to get involved and learn and it showed on the field.

You oversee the running backs: Are there concerns that Nic Grigsby might not be able to stay healthy?

SL: It may appear that way, huh? It wasn't only him, though. I was down to my fifth running back last year. We played five different guys. We had to get [fullback Taimi Tutogi] ready to take some snaps at tailback. It's always a concern for running backs. I've been around offenses that have been two or three years without one injury and they've been some of the smallest guys on the field. It's always a concern, as a running backs coach, keeping your guys healthy. But as long as we're doing what we need to do in the offseason with [strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond] and the weight room. As long as we are taking care of our bodies, I don't think that should be too big of an issue. I don't know how well we did that last year. Hopefully we learned a big lesson and are trying to protect ourselves better by taking care of our bodies and doing what is necessary in the offseason to prevent some of that.

Seems like you guys are fairly strong on the offensive line: How did they do this spring?

SL: They are a very solid group. Coach Bedenbaugh does an unbelievable job with O-linemen. Just how physical and tough those guys are. They are obviously the leaders on our offense. Everybody kind of looks to those guys and they set the tone. One thing we still have to develop is depth across the board. But when you talk about our first five -- and really up to seven or eight, we've got pretty solid guys -- we're pretty comfortable. As always, and it's the same across the country, everybody is looking for depth across the offensive line.

In Part II on Thursday, Littrell talks about youngsters who stood out this spring, changes in the offensive scheme and why he was tapped the play-caller.

Pac-10 players of the week

November, 9, 2009
11/09/09
4:19
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart and kicker Nate Whitaker and USC safety Will Harris are Pac-10 players of the week.

Gerhart and Whitaker played key roles in Stanford’s 51-42 upset win against No. 8 Oregon. Gerhart rushed 38 times for a school single-game record 223 yards and three touchdowns. With that performance, Gerhart raised his season rushing total to 1,217 yards, surpassing his own school single-season rushing record. He also has been named the National Offensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Whitaker was good on three-of-four field goal attempts. He connected from 29, 41 and 48 yards, with his only miss coming from 44 yards. He also was perfect on six PAT attempts.

Harris had two interceptions in USC's 14-9 win at Arizona State, returning one of them 55 yards for a touchdown. The other pick came in the end zone on the game’s final play. Harris also posted five tackles, four solo.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterbacks Sean Canfield of Oregon State, Kevin Craft of UCLA and Jeremiah Masoli of Oregon and center Colin Baxter of Arizona. Also nominated on defense were linebacker Keaton Kristick of Oregon State, end Ricky Elmore of Arizona and safety Rahim Moore of UCLA and cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson of California. Also nominated for special teams play were kick returners Travis Cobb of Arizona and Terrence Austin of UCLA and punter Bryan Anger of California.

Arizona is eyeballing Pac-10 title

November, 7, 2009
11/07/09
11:16
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona prepared for its rugged and defining home stretch by leaving no doubt from the opening gun against Washington State.

Travis Cobb returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and the Wildcats outgained the Cougars 470 yards to 187 in a 48-7 drubbing.

Arizona led 34-0 at the half and the Cougars didn't score into late in the fourth quarter.

Arizona (6-2, 4-1) controls its own Pac-10 fate, but its road ahead is difficult. The Wildcat next four games are: at California, Oregon, at Arizona State and at USC.

Still, the 18th-ranked Wildcats are just a half-game behind Oregon in the Pac-10 standings. If they win out, they go to their first Rose Bowl.

And it's becoming increasingly possible that the Pac-10 champ may end up with two losses and will prevail because of a complicated tie-breaking procedure.

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