Pac-12: Travis Feeney

We're continuing our preseason position reviews. Please, hold your applause until we are finished.

Here's how we do this. We provide three evaluative categories: "Great shape," "Good shape" and "We'll see."

Hint: You'd prefer your team to be in "Great shape."

"We'll see" doesn't mean you're going to stink at said position. It means just what it says -- we'll see, because there's no way at present to know.

You can review last year's rankings here.

Up next: Linebacker. Teams in each category are listed in alphabetical order.

GREAT SHAPE

Oregon: The Ducks are in great shape with inside linebackers Derrick Malone and Rodney Hardrick returning next to outside linebacker Tony Washington. The only departure they’ll have to account for is Boseko Lokombo, and that spot appears destined for Tyson Coleman once he’s completely healthy following a knee injury that sidelined him for the Alamo Bowl. Sophomore Torrodney Prevot is one of several talented young players to keep an eye on when the Ducks empty their bench during blowouts.

Oregon State: The Beavers are deep at linebacker with D.J. Alexander, Jabral Johnson and Michael Doctor projected to start in their 4-3 scheme. Rommel Mageo was a starter down the stretch last season and should see plenty of playing time, as will Caleb Saulo and Darrell Songy.

USC: Only outside linebacker Devon Kennard is gone from a a solid group that should have a rather seamless transition playing in new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox's 3-4 defense. Hayes Pullard and Anthony Sarao figure to start inside, with Jabari Ruffin or Quinton Powell playing outside opposite J.R. Tavai.

Washington: The Huskies weren’t fully stocked during the spring, but figure to have one of the best groups in the conference with John Timu playing between Shaq Thompson and Travis Feeney. Cory Littleton can be listed at defensive end or outside linebacker -- UW calls him a rush end -- and is coming off a productive sophomore season.

GOOD SHAPE

Colorado: Addison Gillam led the Pac-12 in tackles per game last year (8.9) and will likely start between sophomore Kenneth Olugbode and senior Woodson Greer. The Buffaloes have depth, too, with Brady Daigh, a reliable backup for Gillam, and outside linebacker Deaysean Rippy, who sat out last season after transferring from Pittsburgh. Rippy was listed as an alternative starter to Greer on Colorado’s post spring depth chart.

Stanford: There might not be a more difficult task in the conference than replacing outside linebacker Trent Murphy and inside linebacker Shayne Skov, both of whom drew All-American accolades in multiple season. Inside linebacker A.J. Tarpley, already a three-year starter, is one of the conference’s unheralded players and outside linebacker James Vaughters is poised for a breakout senior season. Kevin Andersen has seen a lot of playing time over the past two years at outside linebacker, but the other inside spot needs to be ironed out.

UCLA: Like Stanford, the Bruins have a tough task in replacing Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt, but have two talented returners in Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack. UCLA could very well end up one of the best groups in the conference pending the development of Kenny Orjioke, Deon Hollins, Isaako Savaiinaea and Zach Whitley.

Utah: Junior Jason Whittingham is a potential first-team all-conference type player and the Utes are high on Jared Norris, who started seven games last year. The group looked even better when Miami-transfer Gionni Paul was projected to contribute, but the start to his season is expected to be delayed by a broken bone in his foot. Uaea Masina, after contributing on special teams last year, will likely see a lot of playing time.

Washington State: Darryl Monroe and Cyrus Coen return as starters and Tana Pritchard, who saw his role grow as the season went along, will be leaned on heavily. The final spot up for grabs is the ‘buck,’ which looks like it will come down to Kache Palacio, a slight favorite who started at the end of the season, and Ivan McLennan. Chester Su'a could also make some noise after missing last season with an injury.

WE'LL SEE

Arizona: The Wildcats need to replace three-year starter Marquis Flowers and two-year starter Jake Fischer. Scooby Wright started 12 games as a true freshman last season and gives the Wildcats a good piece to start with, but we’ll take a wait-and-see approach once the other pieces are in place. The good news is that Arizona has recruited well at linebacker.

Arizona State: Salamo Fiso returns, but having to replace three of the four starters from a year ago leaves more questions than answers. Early-enrollee D.J. Calhoun drew rave reviews during spring practice, but will have to beat out redshirt junior Antonio Longino for a starting job. Eriquel Florence (devil), and Laiu Moeakiola/Marcus Washington (spur) were also listed as starters at the end of spring practice.

Cal: Jalen Jefferson, Michael Barton and Hardy Nickerson are all back, but after last season’s defensive woes it’s hard to go in with much optimism. The situation at linebacker is clearly better than it was last year, but that’s not inspiring enough not to erase speculation.

OTHER POSITION REVIEWS:
I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah.
All players are equal, but some players are more equal than others. That's the basis of our Most Important Player series.

First off, quarterbacks are excluded to make things more interesting. It goes without saying, for example, that Oregon's Marcus Mariota is the Ducks' most important player.

And most important doesn't necessarily have to be "best." An All-American's backup can be pretty darn good, too.

Our most important guys are players who could swing a win total one way or the other, based on their living up to expectations. Or their absence.

Washington: S Sean Parker

2012 production: Tallied 77 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two interceptions with six passes defended. He also forced three fumbles.

Why Parker is so important: As stated above, quarterbacks are excluded from this series. But we never said anything about excluding the quarterback of the defense. And that's exactly what Sean Parker is for the Huskies -- a quarterback at safety who headlines a surging secondary.

There are a lot of different directions to go with the Huskies. Running back Bishop Sankey is an obvious choice. He's a 1,400-yard rusher who has quickly climbed from by-committee option to A-list playmaker. Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are strong options as well.

Defensively, there are some good linebacker options in Shaq Thompson, John Timu or Travis Feeney. All could fill this space.

But Parker, who was selected by his teammates as a captain last year, is the guy who makes everything click.

"Tremendous player. Great leader. Really exemplifies what we want back there," said head coach Steve Sarkisian.

As documented, the Huskies' defense made huge strides in 2012 -- particularly in the secondary -- in their first year under defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. And if they hope to be a Top-25 team -- as many have them slated -- that defense will have to keep improving. Parker will have to keep improving.

He stepped up in some of Washington's biggest games last year. He forced a fumble, had five tackles and a tackle for a loss in the win over Stanford. Against Oregon State he broke up three passes and had an interception that stopped an early drive deep in Washington territory.

This year's schedule isn't quite as daunting. But they still play in the Pac-12 North and they have to travel to Arizona State and UCLA -- not to mention the home opener against Boise State in a rematch of last year's bowl game. But there is plenty of leadership on the Huskies this year and Parker, an all-league honorable mention pick last season, is considered the leader of the leaders.

He's started in all 13 games each of the last two seasons and has been through the peaks and valleys of the program. The Huskies have a chance to ascend to peaks they haven't reached in a decade. If they do, chances are Parker plays a huge role in getting them there.
What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?

Pac-12 2012 awards announced

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
5:50
PM ET
The Pac-12 conference has announced its 2012 individual honors and all-conference first and second teams as voted on by the coaches.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, DE, Arizona State.
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon.
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Williams, DE, USC.
Coach of the Year: David Shaw, Stanford.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Marcus Mariota, Fr., Oregon
RB Kenjon Barner, Sr., Oregon
RB Ka’Deem Carey, So., Arizona
WR Marqise Lee, So., USC
WR Markus Wheaton, Sr., Oregon State
TE Zach Ertz, Sr., Stanford
OL Hroniss Grasu, So., Oregon
OL Khaled Holmes, Sr., USC
OL Brian Schwenke, Sr., California
OL Xavier Su’a-Filo, So., UCLA
OL David Yankey, Jr., Stanford

SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Matt Scott, Sr., Arizona
RB Johnathan Franklin, Sr., UCLA
RB Stepfan Taylor, Sr., Stanford
WR Austin Hill, So., Arizona
WR Robert Woods, Jr., USC
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, So., Washington
OL Jeff Baca, Sr., UCLA
OL David Bakhtiari, Jr., Colorado
OL Sam Brenner, Sr., Utah
OL Kevin Danser, Sr., Stanford
OL Sam Schwartzstein, Sr., Stanford

FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Scott Crichton, So., Oregon State
DL Dion Jordan, Sr., Oregon
DL Star Lotulelei, Sr., Utah (2)
DL Will Sutton, Jr., Arizona State
LB Anthony Barr, Jr., UCLA
LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford
LB Chase Thomas, Sr., Stanford (2)
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, So., Oregon
DB Jordan Poyer, Sr., Oregon State
DB Ed Reynolds, Jr., Stanford
DB Desmond Trufant, Sr., Washington

SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Henry Anderson, Jr., Stanford
DL Morgan Breslin, Jr., USC
DL Ben Gardner, Sr., Stanford
DL Datone Jones, Sr., UCLA
LB Kiko Alonso, Sr., Oregon
LB Michael Clay, Sr., Oregon
LB Brandon Magee, Sr., Arizona State
DB Deone Bucannon, Jr., Washington State
DB Alden Darby, Jr., Arizona State
DB T.J. McDonald, Sr., USC
DB Nickell Robey, Jr., USC

FIRST-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Vince D'Amato, Jr., California
P Jeff Locke, Sr., UCLA
RS Reggie Dunn, Sr., Utah
ST Jordan Jenkins, Sr., Oregon State

SECOND-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Andrew Furney, Jr., Washington State
P Josh Hubner, Sr., Arizona State
RS Marqise Lee, So., USC
ST David Allen, Sr., UCLA

ALL-PAC-12 HONORABLE MENTION
NOTES
  • By School: OREGON and STANFORD placed the most players on the first team with five selections each, followed by OREGON STATE with four.
  • By Class: Of the 26 first-team selections, 14 are seniors, five are juniors, six are sophomores and one freshman.
  • Unanimous: Only one player was named on the first-team ballot of all 12 head coaches--WR Marqise Lee of USC.
  • Two-time selections: Two players are repeat first-team selections from last year--DT Star Lotulelei of Utah, LB Chase Thomas of Stanford.
  • All-Academic: Two players were named to the first team on both the All-Pac-12 Team and the Pac-12 All-Academic Football Team--P Jeff Locke of UCLA, OL Khaled Holmes, USC. In addition, OL Kevin Danser of Stanford, DL Ben Gardner of Stanford and Michael Clay of Oregon were named second-team All-Academic and second-team All-Pac-12.
Tags:

Datone Jones, USC Trojans, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers, Washington Huskies, UCLA Bruins, Alex Debniak, Johnathan Franklin, Jeff Locke, Arizona State Sun Devils, Joseph Fauria, Matt Barkley, California Bears, Kenjon Barner, Usua Amanam, Markus Wheaton, Keelan Johnson, Stanford Cardinal, Jordan Poyer, Damien Thigpen, Will Sutton, Stepfan Taylor, Colorado Buffaloes, Wes Horton, Dion Jordan, Matt Scott, Arizona Wildcats, Brandon Magee, Oregon Ducks, Xavier Su\'a-Filo, Travis Long, Justin Glenn, Desmond Trufant, Vince D'Amato, Daniel Simmons, Chase Thomas, Deveron Carr, Shayne Skov, Evan Finkenberg, Isaac Remington, Dan Buckner, Sean Parker, Cassius Marsh, Robert Woods, Xavier Grimble, George Uko, Nickell Robey, Hayes Pullard, Keenan Allen, Taylor Kelly, Chris McCain, Hroniss Grasu, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Cooper, T.J. McDonald, Jake Fischer, Anthony Barr, Taylor Hart, Kiko Alonso, Osahon Irabor, Brian Schwenke, Steve Williams, Terrance Mitchell, Drew Schaefer, Michael Clay, Ryan Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins, Levine Toilolo, Chris Coyle, DeAnthony Thomas, Andrew Abbott, Kyle Quinn, Brett Hundley, Jake Fisher, Terrence Stephens, Terrence Brown, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams, Jordan Richards, Shaq Evans, Deone Bucannon, Tony Burnett, David Shaw, Bishop Sankey, Danny Shelton, Marqise Lee, Kevin Danser, Rashad Ross, Sam Schwartzstein, David Yankey, Drew Terrell, John White IV, Dion Bailey, Austin Hill, Star Lotulelei, Brian Blechen, Jake Murphy, Alex Carter, Alden Darby, Joe Kruger, Reggie Dunn, Trevor Romaine, Colt Lyerla, Isaac Seumalo, Tevita Stevens, Andrew Furney, Andre Heidari, Sean Sellwood, Josh Hubner, Kyle Negrete, Henry Anderson, Scott Crichton, Rashaad Reynolds, Ka'Deem Carey, Shaq Thompson, D.J. Foster, Brendan Bigelow, Ben Gardner, Trevor Reilly, Darragh O'Neill, Andrew Hudson, Ty Montgomery, Cameron Fleming, Trent Murphy, Sam Brenner, Kevin Hogan, David Bakhtiari, Marcus Mariota, Yuri Wright, Kenneth Crawley, Leonard Williams, Grant Enger, Brandin Cooks, Jared Tevis, Travis Feeney, Avery Sebastian, John Martinez, Ed Reynolds, Daniel Munyer, Elliott Bosch, Morgan Breslin, Darryl Monroe, Marion Grice, Carl Bradford, Nate Fakahafua, Silas Redd, Jeremiah Poutasi, Jake Brendel, Christian Powell, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Brett Bartolone, Teondray Caldwell, Andrew Seumalo, Daniel Zychlinski, David Allen, Jaxon Hood, Alex Lewis, Marques Moseley, Will Perciak, Wade Keliikippi, Cyrus Coen

Washington spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
6:30
AM ET
2011 overall record: 7-6
2011 conference record: 5-4 (3rd, North)
Returning starters: Offense: 8; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners
QB Keith Price, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Kasen Williams, S Sean Parker, CB Desmond Trufant, DT Danny Shelton, DE Josh Shirley

Key losses
RB Chris Polk, OT Senio Kelemete, WR Jermaine Kearse, DT Alameda Ta'amu, LB Cort Dennison

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)
Rushing: Chris Polk (1,488 yards)
Passing: Keith Price* (3,063 yards)
Receiving: Jermaine Kearse (699 yards)
Tackles: Cort Dennison (128)
Sacks: Josh Shirley* (8.5)
Interceptions: Sean Parker* (4)

Spring answers
1. For the defense: Coach Steve Sarkisian rebuilt his defensive staff around star coordinator Justin Wilcox, and the early returns are promising. And not just because of the coaches. There's more talent on defense than the Huskies showed during a terrible 2011 campaign. The chief task this spring, however, was blending in the new coaches -- five of them, including offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau -- with the players and Sarkisian's ways.

2. Secondary not an issue: The Huskies have some folks who can play -- and have played -- in the secondary, starting with cornerback Desmond Trufant and safety Sean Parker. There's also Justin Glenn, Greg Ducre, Will Shamburger and Tre Watson, a transfer from Central Washington. Plus, touted safety Shaq Thompson arrives in the fall, and redshirt freshman Travis Feeney is promising.

3. Not unskilled: There was reason entering spring to fret about the skill positions, other than quarterback. The Huskies lost running back Chris Polk as well as receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar. But, after spring, things seem at least solid. At tailback, it's probably going to be by committee with Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey, as well as junior-college transfer Antavius Sims and redshirt freshman Dezden Petty. And maybe Deontae Cooper comes back healthy? At receiver, James Johnson, Kasen Williams, Cody Bruns, who redshirted last season, and Kevin Smith (if healthy) give the Huskies a solid crew. Some redshirt freshmen and intriguing incoming players could also get into the mix.

Fall questions
1. Oooooo-Line? The Huskies should be welcoming back four starters, but guard Colin Porter was forced to retire due to injuries, and other guys were beat up this spring. If Colin Tanigawa, who missed all of spring with a knee injury, tackle Erik Kohler and center Drew Schaefer all come back healthy, then things should be OK. But that remains to be seen.

2. LB woes? It's still uncertain whether the Huskies will be primarily 3-4 of 4-3 on defense, so we don't know how things will shake out at linebacker. We do know that the Huskies were bad there last year. Three safeties -- Taz Stevenson, Nate Fellner and Evan Zeger -- moved to LB to bolster things, while John Timu, Princeton Fuimaono -- both returning starters -- Thomas Tutogi, Garret Gilliland and Jamaal Kearse are in the mix. Next to the offensive line, this is a position where fans should feel free to be concerned.

3. Backing up Price? Redshirt freshman Derrick Brown is No. 2 at present, mostly by default. But two touted freshmen arrive in the fall: Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles. Brown improved over the course of the spring, but the freshmen are good enough to challenge him immediately. And, keep in mind, the No. 2 QB isn't important until he becomes your most important player.

Q&A: Washington DC Justin Wilcox, Part II

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
12:00
PM ET
Continuing our Q&A with new Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.

Read Part I here.

Tell me about your defensive philosophy: What are the first things you tell your guys that need to happen?

Justin Wilcox: The first thing is you've got to develop an identity. The great thing is, from the core values Steve Sarkisian has implemented here in terms of the competitiveness, the toughness, the work ethic, those things have been ingrained in these kids. How they train, how they work, how they prepare. That is paramount to being a successful program. From our side of the ball, on top of everything Coach Sark stands for, the toughness and competing that we're going to emphasize to these kids, the big thing on defense, especially this day and age, is the execution. Effort and toughness -- you have to have those. They are non-negotiable. Unfortunately, they won't win you games. You can play with the greatest effort and the greatest toughness, but if you don't execute at a high level, you're going to play bad defense. What we need to focus on is being able to execute at a high level, down-in, down-out, up-tempo, for four quarters, even when we are tired. That's just conditioning your mind, conditioning your body. That's what we're focusing on. The scheme is important. There's no doubt. But how you execute the scheme is even more important. That's what we're focusing on this spring, getting good at what we do. There are a lot of different defenses, a lot of different ways to do things. Throughout the country, everybody's got a little bit different wrinkle. But at the end of the day, if you're a 3-4 team or a 4-3 team or a quarters team or a three-deep team, you've got to be good at what you're doing. That's what our focus is going to be. We've got to find out a little bit who we are in terms of personnel and what we think we can be good at. We're always going to be fundamentally driven. We've got to be great tacklers; we've got to be great at taking on blocks; and we've got to be great at covering people. That's what defensive football is. Whatever scheme we play, whatever coverages we play, it always goes back to tackling, taking on blocks and covering people. Those are the things that we're going to work on day-in, and day-out. You could have 800 defenses, and they could be the greatest defenses on the board, make the most sense and cover everything, but if you are not good at what you're doing, you're just flailing in the wind -- a jack of all trades, master of none. We need to find our identity of what we are going to be schematically, and then play better football. I know that sounds kind of boring but that's the truth. It's going to be fundamentals for us. And it's going to be execution.

Give me a CliffsNotes version of your scheme. It seems more teams are using 3-4, odd-front looks, and that's more your reputations, too, but you also seem kind of flexible.

JW: Yeah, that's fair to say. We're a little more 3-4, under-front, odd-front in our base downs. We've got to play more nickel and possibly some dime, depending on our personnel, because we will see a fair amount of 11-personnel, 10-personnel -- meaning one-back stuff. So we will practice that the first day, nickel and some dime, so we can try to get our best coverage matchups, which will give you more flexibility with what you can do, coverage-wise, when you have another DB out there. We need to find out, personnel-wise, throughout the spring, who we are. Who can we put the stress on? Who are the guys on our defense who we can say: This guy can win the one-on-one battles. And if we need to help protect another position, that we've got to build it around that. We'll install our base coverages out of our base group, our nickel coverages and all of our blitzes and fire zones, and then we'll kind of hone it in on what we think we'll be good at. You're going to do the scheme part of it, but we really need to practice the fundamentals and get good at it -- playing three-deep, playing quarters, playing press, taking on blocks and tackling. All those fundamental things that sometimes can get loose if you are not careful.

What have you seen on film from the guys you've got coming back: Did anything stand out?

JW: I'm excited. There's some good young talent. There are some edge player -- the Josh Shirleys, Hau'oli Jamora, [Andrew] Hudson -- those guys who are more edge-type guys. We've got some young defensive ends who we think have a chance, guys who haven't played a lot. There's a young noseguard who has flashed, Danny Shelton. You probably know about him. We've got to continue to develop our defensive ends and continue to develop in recruiting in terms of size and length. At linebacker, it's going to be very competitive there. We've got some guys who we might move around in terms of changing positions, to try to give us a little bit more flexibility at those spots. The secondary, there are some good young players. Obviously, you've got [cornerback] Desmond Trufant coming back. That's a big deal for us and we're excited for him. There will be some competition at corner. Greg Ducre, Marcus Peters, some freshmen who redshirted. At safety, you've got Sean Parker and some guys who played last year, Nate Fellner and Justin Glenn. There's a redshirt freshman who has flashed some, Travis Feeney. I'm trying not to miss anybody. The other thing is we'll play a lot of nickel, so developing that nickel position, and possibly a dime, because we have some of those body types. Again, we're trying to find out who are the best guys and who do we think gives us the best chance to win. If you get so rigid on, 'We're a 4-3 team, so we're going to play 4-3 no matter what,' but what if your fifth DB is better than your third LB, then you're kind of spinning your wheels and not playing with your best guys. We want our best guys out there.

How much can a defense improve from one year to the next? Do fans need to be patient, or do you feel like this defense can put up much better numbers than in 2011?

JW: It's hard for me to get into all that. I could stand on a soap box and say, 'We're going to do this, this and this,' but really it's going to be a product of what we accomplish this spring, in our offseason workouts and fall camp. As long as we are playing as well as we can possibly play, that's what I care about. The stats are what they are, as long as we are playing up to our capability that's what I am focused on. I don't think any of us are very patient. We want to play good defense. That's why we are here. That's what we spend our time trying to do. That's a multi-level question. For me to sit here and say, 'We're going to be here, here and here,' I have a hard time doing that.

Speaking of patience, your name is starting to pop up on lists of hot coaching candidates: How patient are you about getting a chance to be a head coach?

JW: I appreciate you saying that, but to be honest I never have thought that way. I've really not thought that way about moving jobs. I don't spend time getting involved in that part of it. All I really care about, for me, is that we are playing as good as we can play and we are coaching them as good as we can coach them and we're doing whatever is best for us for our team to be successful. That is really all that consumes me. I think once you start worrying about things that are out of your control, you are wasting time. All that drives my professional life is how we are going to play better, how are we going to improve, how are we going to coaching them better, how are we going to teach them better, how can we practice better.

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