Pac-12: Walter Thurmond

Pac-12 players in the Super Bowl

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
5:30
PM ET
Another Super Bowl is in the books, and Pac-12 alumni played a major role in the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos. Is it any surprise that the team with the most Pac-12 players won the game? (Hint, hint, Mr. Elway).

In all, there were 16 active players on both rosters: 11 for the Seahawks and five for the Broncos. There are other Pac-12 players on the rosters or practice squads, but they were either injured, suspended or inactive for XLVIII.

The standout was former USC linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was named MVP for an inspired defensive performance. The Pac-12 had hit a bit of an MVP dry spell. After John Elway (Stanford) won the MVP in 1999, the league went more than a decade without having an MVP. Now it has two in the last four years after Aaron Rodgers (Cal) was MVP of XLV, and now it's Smith's turn.

Here’s a look at how the the Pac-12 alumni performed.

Seattle Seahawks
  • Doug Baldwin, WR, Stanford: Started at wide receiver. Led the Seahawks with five catches for 66 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. Also had an assisted tackle on special teams.
  • Derrick Coleman, RB, UCLA: Recorded one tackle on special teams.
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Caught four balls for 65 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown.
  • Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal: Started at running back. Carried 15 times for 39 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.
  • Brandon Mebane, DT, Cal: Posted three tackles, including a tackle for a loss.
  • Zach Miller, TE, ASU: Started at tight end. Had one catch for 10 yards and recovered an onside kick.
  • Mike Morgan, LB, USC: Appeared, but did not record any stats.
  • Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Started at left cornerback. Posted three tackles (two solo) with one pass defended. Left game with an injury in the fourth quarter.
  • Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Crowned Super Bowl MVP. Returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown and recovered a fumble to go along with 10 tackles (six solo) and a defended pass.
  • Walter Thurmond, CB, Oregon: Started at cornerback. Posted three tackles (one solo).
  • Max Unger, C, Oregon: Started at center.
Denver Broncos

Taylor Mays hurting after draft tumble

April, 24, 2010
4/24/10
11:19
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The NFL draft teaches hard lessons. Two USC players are learning that now: Taylor Mays and Everson Griffen.

Mays would have been a first-round pick last year. I know folks believe his perceived weaknesses would have revealed themselves on film Insider then just as they did this season. But the 2008 USC pass defense was simply extraordinary in large part because of Mays playing an intimidating and impenetrable center field.

So Mays blew it by coming back for his senior season. And he now knows this.

As for you, San Francisco 49ers fans: Didn't you guys do fairly well a few years back with another hard-hitting former USC safety? I got a $5 bill right here that says Mays is going to become an outstanding NFL safety.

Griffen is another story: First-round talent with questions about his attitude and work ethic. (Keep this in mind about Mays: his work ethic couldn't be any better).

Who would have thought that Washington's Daniel Te'o-Nesheim would go before Griffen? Te'o-Nesheim is superior to Griffen in only one way but its a critical one: motor. Griffen's is questionable, Te'o-Nesheim's is not.

The lesson here is that being good isn't enough. The NFL cares about the entire package. And NFL teams don't want players who aren't self-starters, who don't motivate themselves.

Take note incoming five-star recruits.

Here are the Pac-10 picks to this point (11:15 a.m. ET ).

First round
DE Tyson Alualu, California, Jacksonville (10)
RB Jahvid Best, California, Detroit (30)

Second round
DT Brian Price, UCLA, Tampa (35)
S T.J. Ward, Oregon, Cleveland (38)
TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona, New England (42)
S Taylor Mays, USC, San Francisco (49)
RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford, Minnesota (51)
OT Charles Brown, USC, New Orleans (64)

Third round
TE Ed Dickson, Oregon, Baltimore (70)
WR Damian Williams, USC, Tennessee (77)
LB Donald Butler, Washington, San Diego (79)
DT Earl Mitchell, Arizona, Houston (81)
DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Washington, Philadelphia (86)
OG Shawn Lauvao, Arizona State, Cleveland (92)
CB Kevin Thomas, USC, Indianapolis (94)

Fourth round
DE Everson Griffin, USC, Minnesota (100)
CB Alterraun Verner, UCLA, Tennessee (104)
CB Walter Thurmond, Oregon, Seattle (111)
RB Joe McKnight, USC, New York Jets (112)

Oregon defense expects to be better this fall

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
7:49
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EUGENE, Ore. -- Quick: Who had the best defense in the Pac-10 last year?

Wrong. It was Oregon.

At least the Ducks had the best defense if you compare only Pac-10 games, which seems reasonable because of the broad range of relative difficulty with the nonconference schedules.

Oregon ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 vs. conference foes in rushing defense (118.6 yards per game), No. 1 in total defense (316 yards per game), No. 1 in sacks (3.1 per game) and No. 2 in scoring defense (22.7 points per game).

(Some snarky sorts might point out that these numbers are skewed for a significant reason: Oregon's defense didn't have to play its offense, which was No. 1 vs. conference foes with 41.7 ppg).

Therefore, it's understandable that some Ducks might be affronted when pundits wonder whether Oregon, once viewed as the consensus conference favorite and a potential national title contender, will go south in 2010 because of the season-long suspension of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

"We took it as an insult because we're not just the quarterback position," linebacker Spencer Paysinger said.

Coach Chip Kelly has this to say about his defense: "We're going to be better than last year."

In one sense, the Ducks must replace four starters: end Will Tukuafu, tackle Blake Ferras, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Walter Thurmond. But Ward and Thurmond missed significant action due to injury, so their backups actually qualify as returning starters.

Kelly believes he's two-deep at every spot on the depth chart. The loss of a pair of defensive linemen? He ticks off 10 guys he believes can contribute in 2010 and is particularly high on a guy who was a reserve tight end last year: sophomore Dion Jordan, who's moved to defensive end.

Jordan is 6-foot-7, 240 pounds and runs a 4.6 40-yard dash, according to Kelly.

"I think he's going to be a special, special player," Kelly said. "He's going to be the next really good football player here. He's shown it in just five practices. There are times he's unblockable."

Unblockable is good.

Moving speedy Eddie Pleasant from strongside linebacker to rover gives the Ducks secondary another physical presence -- as the hard-hitting Ward was -- while also opening up opportunities for Bryson Littlejohn, Bo Lokombo, Josh Kaddu and Michael Clay to get on the field at linebacker.

So how does Paysinger anticipate the Ducks defense will be different in 2010?

"We have a lot more speed," he said. "And hunger."

Pac-10 lunch links: What does Moos mean for WSU?

February, 24, 2010
2/24/10
2:30
PM ET
It was the machines, Sarah. Defense network computers. New... powerful... hooked into everything, trusted to run it all. They say it got smart, a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond: extermination.

Pac-10 top-30: Then and now

January, 26, 2010
1/26/10
4:17
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Some of you may recall we ranked the top-30 players in the Pac-10 during the 2009 offseason.

There were some hits and misses.

With national signing day just around the corner, it shortly will be time to put the 2009 season to bed and start looking ahead.

But first we're going to re-rank the top-30 based on what actually happened this fall.

For reference, here is the preseason list. Feel free to critique.

1. Taylor Mays, S, USC
2. Jahvid Best, RB, California
3. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
4. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
5. Kristofer O’Dowd, C, USC
6. Brian Price, DT, UCLA
7. Damian Williams, WR, USC
8. Syd’Quan Thompson, CB, California
9. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon
10. Walter Thurmond, CB, Oregon
11. Jake Locker, QB, Washington
12. Joe McKnight, RB, USC
13. Dexter Davis, DE, Arizona State
14. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Oregon
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA
16. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC
18. Will Tukuafu, DE, Oregon
19. Josh Pinkard, DB, USC
20. Reggie Carter, LB, UCLA
21. Stafon Johnson, RB, USC
22. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State
23. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, DE, Washington
24. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State; Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
25. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
26. Tyson Alualu, DE, California
27. Devin Ross, CB, Arizona
28. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State
29. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
30. Everson Griffen, DE, USC

What we can tell you in advance of our post-season list is there are plenty of new names, considering six players were knocked off the list for missing all -- or at least significant portions -- of the year with injuries (or in one high-profile case a suspension):

3. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
5. Kristofer O’Dowd, C, USC
10. Walter Thurmond, CB, Oregon
14. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Oregon
21. Stafon Johnson, RB, USC
29. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona

Nos. 30, 29 and 28 will be posted this afternoon.

List of NFL combine invitees

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
4:53
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Here's a list of the Pac-10 players invited to the NFL combine, courtesy of The Sporting News.

First of all, it's incomplete. Underclassmen will be added later, such as USC receiver Damian Williams and UCLA DT Brian Price. And a number of seniors also will get invitations.

My immediate guess is that Washington linebacker Donald Butler and Oregon defensive end Will Tukuafu will end up receiving invitations, among others.

Arizona: DT Earl Mitchell, CB Devin Ross

Arizona State: DE Dexter Davis, LB Travis Goethel, OT Shawn Lauvao, WR Chris McGaha, WR Kyle Williams

California: DE Tyson Alualu, WR Nyan Boateng, CB Syd'Quan Thompson, WR Verran Tucker.

Oregon: RB LeGarrette Blount, TE Ed Dickson, CB Walter Thurmond, S T.J. Ward.

Oregon State: QB Sean Canfield, OLB Keaton Kristick.

Stanford: TE Jim Dray, RB Toby Gerhart, OT Matt Kopa, DE Erik Lorig.

UCLA: OLB Kyle Bosworth, CB Alterraun Verner.

USC: OT Charles Brown, C Jeff Byers, RB Stafon Johnson, S Taylor Mays, TE Anthony McCoy, G Alex Parsons, CB Josh Pinkard, CB Kevin Thomas.

Washington: DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.

Pac-10 lunch links: Will Aaron Corp transfer?

December, 31, 2009
12/31/09
2:00
PM ET
I'm afraid I'm gonna have to pull rank on you. I didn't want to have to do this. I'm with the Mattress Police. There are no tags on these mattresses.

Preseason vs. postseason All-Pac-10 teams

December, 10, 2009
12/10/09
6:30
PM ET
Before listing my preseason All-Pac-10 team in August, I wrote this: "Perhaps this list will be much different by mid-December."

So take a look.


Some changes are obvious. Gronkowski, Best, Thurmond and O'Dowd were switched out because of injuries. That also applies in large part to Carter, who played with a sprained knee much of the season.

Some nagged at me a bit.

Safety: Nelson had a great season at safety, but Moore led the nation with nine picks. I know lots of you folks aren't impressed with the way Mays played this year, but most coaches and scouts don't share your opinion. He's still going to be a first-round pick.

Offensive line: Baxter and Lauvao did nothing wrong. Peat just had a very good season, while Alfred in some ways gets a tip of the cap for a great career playing in obscurity for a lousy team.

Defensive end: Davis and Tukuafu have had great careers, and it was hard to leave off Arizona's Ricky Elmore, who led the conference in sacks. Just how things go.

Quarterback: Masoli is preseason All-Pac-10, puts up great numbers, leads his team to the Rose Bowl and drops off the first team? Yeah, I winced at that, too. But Canfield had a great year and put up great numbers. And, yes, it matters that he is a senior and Masoli will be back next fall.

Gang Green, take 2: Oregon's defense is surprisingly stout

October, 28, 2009
10/28/09
8:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Oregon's defense doesn't pencil out. It's clearly very good, but it shouldn't be.

The Ducks lost six starters, four of whom were NFL draft picks, from a 2008 defense that ranked 82nd in the nation in total defense and 78th in scoring defense. T.J. Ward was a returning starter at free safety, but he's only recently returned to action after being injured in the first half of the season-opener at Boise State. Cornerback and team captain Walter Thurmond III, generally considered the Ducks' best player, blew out his knee on Sept. 26.

Look at it like this: Name a defensive starter for Oregon.
AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Linebacker Spencer Paysinger and the Oregon defense have surprised many with their performance so far this season.

Defensive end Will Tukuafu? Good for you. He's long been an underrated player. Clay Matthews? Actually, Oregon's middle linebacker is "Casey" Matthews, but it's the same gene pool, so that's not too bad.

It's a no-name crew that has been riddled by injuries -- Willie Glasper, who replaced Thurmond, also was lost for the year to a knee injury -- yet here Oregon is, ranked 19th in the nation in both total defense and scoring defense.

When Washington scored a fourth-quarter touchdown in a 43-19 defeat last weekend, it was the first TD against the Ducks' defense in 15 quarters.

How can this be? 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.

There are a lot of explanations, though.

"They're being very aggressive and they've really been aggressive mixing their odd front and their 4-2 front," said USC coach Pete Carroll, whose Trojans visit Oregon on Saturday. "It's been problematic for their opponents. They've had a lot of pressure and a lot of plays in the backfield."

That's true. Oregon ranks third in the Pac-10 and 10th in the nation in sacks (3.14 per game) and is 25th in the nation in tackles for a loss (7.0 per game).

UCLA had just 211 yards and didn't score an offensive touchdown against Oregon. Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel said the Ducks play hard, play their gap responsibilities and are good tacklers.

California's only points against Oregon in a 42-3 defeat came after the Ducks fumbled the opening kickoff. The drive totaled minus-8 yards. Coach Jeff Tedford said Oregon has speed at every position, which will be critical in the matchup with the Trojans.

"I think Oregon's defense is going to match up pretty favorably [with USC]," he said.

Washington moved the ball at times against Oregon, but the Ducks recorded four sacks and forced three turnovers, one of which concluded a first-half goal-line stand. Coach Steve Sarkisian said Oregon isn't giving up big plays, which has been a problem in the past.

"They're making teams drive down the field and not get yards in chunks," he said.

As for Oregon's longtime defensive coordinator, Nick Aliotti, he gives a jovial shrug. Why is his defense so good? Beats him.

"If I had the answer to that, I would bottle it," he said.

Maybe it's better chemistry. Maybe the focus and work ethic are better.

Of course, Aliotti is being a bit coy. There have been some scheme tweaks.

Coaches who have played the Ducks, as well as Carroll, note Oregon has diversified its defensive alignments and is running more zone blitzes.

"Yeah, we're doing more of that," Aliotti said after a brief pause. "I'm trying not to give away all our secrets."

Aliotti also admitted he's not trading out personnel groups as much, which can disrupt a defense's rhythm and sometimes lead to confusion. He also talked about the coaching staff being "on the same page," which suggests some staff changes, specifically the addition of defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, have helped.

Linebacker Spencer Paysinger, one of the returning starters you've never heard of but is, nonetheless, a really good player, said he likes how the defense is playing more aggressively and is "able to put bodies on people instead of just dropping into zones."

He's also noticed how the defense's play has turned Aliotti's frown upside down. More than a few Oregon fans have groused about Aliotti's defense through the years because it didn't match the typically high-powered offense. When Aliotti defended his defense, some rolled their eyes.

Those complaints are rarer these days.

"He does have a smile on his face," Paysinger said. "He knows his defense has been lights out the past few games."

While Aliotti clearly is enjoying the defensive renaissance -- he's coached at Oregon 19 seasons, split between three different tenures -- he's also quick to note the season is only seven games old and, oh by the way, USC is coming to town.

He's not ready to talk about this crew as the second-coming of his "Gang Green" unit just yet.

Not that he's ruling out a new nickname at some point.

"Maybe we'll give them something fancy at the end of the year," he said.

Oregon can start thinking about USC

October, 24, 2009
10/24/09
9:40
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
 
 Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
 Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli returned to the lineup to throw for one touchdown and rush for two.

SEATTLE -- Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is thinking about food. First, a big meal on the short plane ride home after the Ducks 43-19 win over Washington on Saturday. Then some vanilla ice cream when he gets home. On Sunday, he'll eat some breakfast with a grin on his face.

Only after that will he start thinking about USC.

"My mind is not on 'SC right now," he said. "I'm going to enjoy this win."

He added, "It will be tomorrow."

Oregon, like many teams, has a 24 hour rule, when coaches and players are allowed to celebrate a victory or mourn a defeat for only one day before moving on and focusing exclusively on the next foe.

Coach Chip Kelly might be more obsessive than most about not looking back or forward but living only in the moment. He's repeatedly harped on how each Saturday is a one-game season and each game should be treated like a national championship.

That allowed for him to say this, which is great fun when taken out of context, "We're playing USC for a national championship."

Ha! But get this: the Ducks-Trojans showdown on Halloween night in Autzen Stadium will showcase two Pac-10 teams with the potential to play themselves into the national championship picture, assuming, of course, that USC keeps up its end of the bargain and beats Oregon State on Saturday evening.

The Ducks, who've won six in a row since an opening night loss at Boise State, presently look like they could play with anybody. Aliotti's defense and Kelly's offense are both humming.

The offense got a huge boost from the return of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who hurt his knee on Oct. 3 and sat out the Ducks win at UCLA. After a slow start, he completed 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown and ran 11 times for 54 yards with two touchdowns.

He seemed to get bolder on each run, as if his knee was successfully passing a series of tests.

"I definitely gained confidence in my knee, cutting and whatnot," he said. "It was just one of those things where I take it safe at first."

While Masoli said he only felt "70-75 percent," it's clear that his presence stressed the Huskies defense.

"It's a big lift because they can't key on me because Jeremiah is incredible with the ball in his hands, so they have to pay attention to him, too," Ducks running back LaMichael James said.

James, a redshirt freshman, also gets a defense's attention. He seems to get better every week. His 154 yards rushing on 15 carries, which included a 56-yard touchdown run, was a school freshman record. It also was his fourth 100 yard game since replacing LeGarrette Blount in the starting lineup.

Oregon's special teams also are fairly sharp. The Ducks scored their first touchdown on a blocked punt. A fake field goal set up their second.

"(Oregon) just destroyed us on special teams," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Then there's Aliotti's defense. It gave up some yards -- 395, which is 115 more than the season average entering the game -- and it allowed its first offensive touchdown in 15 quarters, but it has become a swarming, no-name unit that seems a step faster than the opposing offense.

The Ducks had four sacks and forced three turnvoers, one of which concluded a first-half goal line stand.

"When this group gets flying, it kind of gets into a frenzy mode," Kelly said.

Injuries, particularly in the secondary, are a bit of a worry, though. The Ducks have already lost cornerbacks Walter Thurmond, perhaps the Ducks best player, and Willie Glasper. While safety T.J. Ward played for the first time since spraining his ankle at Boise State and made five tackles, cornerback Talmadge Jackson hurt his back, forcing Aliotti to play true freshman Cliff Harris and junior Chad Peppars.

It's not a good thing to face USC with a banged up secondary.

But Kelly and his players don't seem like the worrying sorts. Or the sorts who will allow USC, the seven-time Pac-10 champions, to get into their heads.

"They haven't had success too much in Oregon the past few years, so they'll definitely bring their A-game," said linebacker Casey Matthews, whose brother, Clay, starred for the Trojans last year.

Kelly said USC didn't come up when he talked to his players after beating Washington.

"This group is as focused a bunch of young men as I've ever been around," Kelly said. "They buy into everything we're talking about. And all we talk about is the next game."

And what about that next game?

Despite the blinders, Kelly knows it's going to be a circus.

"We've got a real, real big game coming up," Kelly said.

Halftime report: UCLA 3, Oregon 0

October, 10, 2009
10/10/09
5:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Ten years ago, would you have believed UCLA and Oregon would be 3-0 at halftime?



The Pac-10 is now a defensive league.

The Bruins lead on Kai Forbath's 52-yard field goal. And that's our scoring summary.

Oregon sophomore cornerback Anthony Gildon -- the Ducks third option at the position after Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper went down to knee injuries -- has been flagged twice for pass interference, but the Bruins have been unable to exploit the Ducks secondary, which is also missing safety T.J. Ward and was riddled with illness this week.

Quarterback report?

Kevin Prince and Nate Costa are both playing OK, but neither has strung a few good passing plays together.

Turning point: Oregon posted an impressive goal-line stand when two quarterback sneaks by Prince from the 1/2-yard line failed.

Stat of the half: Ducks are 1 of 6 on third down. Costa has played fairly well, but he hasn't been able to string together first downs.

Best player in the half: Ducks running back LaMichael James has 83 yards rushing on eight carries. Of course, one carry -- from the Ducks' 1-yard line -- went for 49 yards.

What Oregon needs to do; What UCLA needs to do: Both teams need the same thing. They need to keep playing stingy defense while finding an offensive rhythm. In a low-scoring game, turnovers are almost always critical. No turnovers so far. And both teams have made nice plays in special teams. In low-scoring games, field position is almost always critical. Wonder who gets to play on a short field more?

The future is now for the Oregon secondary

October, 8, 2009
10/08/09
4:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Yes, keeping up with Oregon's myriad injuries isn't easy. But Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard provides a helpful primer with this notebook.

To sum: Remember the talented 2008 secondary -- Patrick Chung, Jairus Byrd, Walter Thurmond and T.J. Ward -- which started 12 of 13 games together last year?

The crew starting at UCLA will be four entirely new parts -- a junior, two sophomores and a redshirt freshman.

Chung and Byrd are in the NFL. Thurmond suffered a season-ending knee injury. Ward is questionable for Saturday with a high ankle sprain. And Thurmond's senior backup, Willie Glasper, is also done for the season with a knee injury suffered this week.

That means the starting secondary figures to be sophomore Javes Lewis at rover (he started the first five games), redshirt freshman John Boyett at free safety (he's started the past four games for Ward), junior Talmadge Jackson at right corner (also a five-game starter) and sophomore Anthony Gildon at left corner (the third player to start in the spot this season).

Touted true freshman Cliff Harris also could be in the mix.

The Bruins are not a great passing team, but that rejiggered secondary surely raised an eyebrow or two in Westwood.

Toss in the likely absence of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (knee) and tackle C.E. Kaiser (shin), and the Ducks will face the Bruins without five starters (including running back LeGarrette Blount) on their preseason depth chart, and that only counts left cornerback once.

Prince ready to jaw with Oregon

October, 8, 2009
10/08/09
2:33
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


A week ago, this is what UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince had to say about the Bruins offense: "Mmfpt frupftah tarrump foof karvin crafff. Fanfyfroh."

For those of you who don't speak the same language as a guy whose broken jaw is wired shut, Prince said he thought Kevin Craft was doing a fine job in his stead but he couldn't wait to get back and help his team win because it's tough watching from the sidelines.

Prince will get his wish on Saturday when he steps back behind center and eyeballs No. 13 Oregon in the Rose Bowl. That's even more exciting than being able to eat and talk again.

"Talking, eating -- you never know how much you'd miss it until you can't do it anymore," Prince said.

Prince's jaw got rearranged in the waning moments of UCLA's victory at Tennessee. While he played the Bruins final series after the hit, it was fairly obvious that something was amiss, both to Prince and to anyone watching.

"If you were watching the broadcast, you could see I was spitting up blood and stuff," he said.

On the airplane home, a bite into a sandwich was excruciating. A clicking sound when he moved his mouth was disconcerting. X-rays revealed the fracture.

Craft, the senior backup who started in 2008, led the Bruins to a 23-9 victory over Kansas State but, after a bye week, the offense was stymied in a 24-16 defeat at Stanford.

Prince finally got his jaw unwired -- they actually use rubber bands these days -- on Sunday, though a pair of "arch bars" remain in place. While his schedule was tight between the doctor's appointment and a team meeting, he was able to hit a local Persian restaurant for a couple of beef kabobs.

"It was outstanding," Craft said.

Kabobs surely beat the smoothies and pureed foods he'd been eating for three weeks, which led to a five-pound weight loss. Prince's description of blended rice, beans and salsa sounded like his diet was not unlike a what is scattered across a bus boy's tray at the local taco joint.

"Some of it was gross," he said.

A broken jaw is a different sort of injury. Prince was able to do limited conditioning -- limited because he couldn't breathe through his mouth -- and some throwing while he was out. He showed some rust during practices Tuesday and Wednesday, but it's possible he will be more game-ready than if he were coming back from a more typical knee, ankle or shoulder injury. Prince broke his collarbone in high school and also missed his senior season with a knee injury, so he knows what it's like to return from an injury.

Still, a gimpy jaw might offer a whole different set of challenges for a player.

"I'm kind of curious to see myself," Neuheisel said of how sharp he expects Prince to be.

"The good news about this injury is he was able to run, so he stayed in shape. He was able to throw. There's nothing physically wrong with his ability to drop back and work his legs. I'm hoping the rust is minimal. Now he didn't take a lot of plays under center and have the stuff around him, but hopefully he's not been gone for so long that becomes difficult."

Neuheisel further pointed out that, considering Prince is a redshirt freshman, there wasn't much to get rusty in the first place.

Fact is, Prince's numbers in the first two games weren't better than Craft's in the last two. Prince completed 29 of 52 (55.8 percent) for 277 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Craft completed 35 of 58 (60.3 percent) for 390 yards with a TD and a pick. Craft's efficiency rating is slightly higher.

The general feeling, though, is Prince, the quarterback of the future, gives the Bruins a better chance to get the downfield passing game going, which stagnated against Stanford.

That won't be easy, though. The Oregon defense has been outstanding the last two weeks, surrendering only nine points combined to California and Washington State. The Ducks rank 20th in the nation in pass defense and are third in the Pac-10 with 13 sacks.

The Ducks like to gang up on the run and challenge a quarterback with unpredictable pressure. It's tough for any quarterback, but particularly for a redshirt freshman coming back from a major injury.

On the other hand, the Ducks lost a second starting cornerback -- Willie Gasper, who replaced Walter Thurmond -- for the season this week. They might be vulnerable in the secondary.

The more general measure for the Bruins is how they respond to their first loss. Both Prince and Neuheisel said the locker room after the Stanford game was more unhappy than they remembered it after any of the eight defeats in 2008. That might be a good thing.

"I'm pleased with the reaction to defeat," Neuheisel said. "Now it's got to manifest itself in some urgency to take care of the details so we play a cleaner game this weekend."

Masoli expects to be a backup at UCLA

October, 7, 2009
10/07/09
5:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli practiced on a limited basis Wednesday but he told the Eugene Register-Guard he expects to be Nate Costa's backup at UCLA on Saturday.

“It’s always tough to watch when you’re a competitor,” Masoli told the newspaper. “One of the things that helps me out, though, is I’m in the quarterback room and I see Nate knows his stuff, too, so it’s not as concerning for me. It’s just, as a competitor you want to be out there to help your team.”

Here's The Oregonian's take on Masoli, who suffered a bruised knee against Washington State.

Also, safety T.J. Ward suited up for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain at Boise State, but he told the paper he's not 100 percent, so his status remains questionable.

Finally, it appears that sophomore Anthony Gildon will replace cornerback Willie Glasper in the starting lineup. Glasper, who became a starter when Walter Thurmond suffered a season-ending knee injury, blew out his ACL on Tuesday.

Glasper second Oregon CB lost for season

October, 7, 2009
10/07/09
1:11
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Oregon has lost its second starting cornerback to a season-ending knee injury.

Senior Willie Glasper, who replaced senior captain Walter Thurmond in the starting lineup, is done of the year after injuring his knee during Tuesday's practice.

Glasper was hurt in a non-contact drill midway through the workout. An MRI on his right knee revealed the injury was season ending, though Oregon didn't specify the nature of the injury.

Glasper, who stepped into the starting lineup when Thurmond went down on the opening kickoff against California, recorded 11 tackles in five games this season, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and broke up two passes. Seven of those tackles were accumulated in the past two games.

He completes his collegiate career posting 65 tackles, one fumble recovery and one interception.

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