Pac-12: Xavier Kelly
Arizona: Weakside linebacker
Why the competition? Xavier Kelly, who earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors last year, graduated.
Candidates: Junior Paul Vassallo (6-foot-3, 240) vs. sophomore R.J. Young (5-foot-11, 232)
The skinny: The Wildcats are replacing all three starting linebackers from 2009, but this spot is the only one on the post-spring depth chart that includes an "OR" between the two candidates as Derek Earls is No. 1 in the middle and Jake Fischer is tops on the strong side. Vassallo is a touted JC transfer who enrolled in January and is still learning the speed of the game. Young's advantage is he knows the system. He saw action in 12 games last year and recorded six tackles, though most of his playing time came on special teams. It's also possible that the defensive coaches might do some experimenting in the fall with different schemes and, perhaps, position changes. In any event, the starter at "Will" linebacker is TBD.
2009 overall record: 8-5
2009 conference record: 6-3 (tied for second)
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)
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.
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.
Robert from Seattle writes: Who does the Pac-10 ultimately answer to? The fans or to the presidents? A follow-up not-so-quick question. If the Pac-10 wants to survive as a conference, what do they do?
Ted Miller: Who does the Pac-10 answer to? Easy: $.
Commissioner Larry Scott's charge going forward is to maximize sports revenue, which means football and men's basketball (but mostly football). Of course, he doesn't want to completely compromise the culture and values of the conference -- academic or otherwise -- but my guess is his first interest is revenue.
He has two basic issues ahead of him that he'd like to have a handle on before he goes off to negotiate new media/TV deals after the first of the year (the Pac-10's contracts with Fox and ESPN-ABC expire after the 2011-2012 academic year).
The first is expansion: Would adding teams increase revenue per team? The 10 existing members want their pie slices to grow, not get smaller, with expansion. So he's looking for teams that: 1. are interested in joining the Pac-10; 2. would increase revenue. Much of that, of course, is tied to the idea of creating more value -- real and perceived -- when negotiating new TV contracts.
The second issue -- if he cannot bring the presidents an expansion plan that works -- is defending the Pac-10's interest if expansion becomes the rage back east.
If, suddenly, a 16-team Big Ten and 16-team SEC are nose-to-nose for domination, Scott has to figure out what that means for the Pac-10. At the BCS meetings, Scott said he doesn't necessarily believe that would force the Pac-10 to follow the leaders. Maybe. But maybe not.
It's possible that the new, powerful super-conferences would make demands, such as second automatic berth in BCS bowl games (and perhaps an option for a third) as well as other special accommodations. That could create a significant revenue imbalance.
Moreover, Scott has to be aware of what might happen if there is a long-term and significant revenue imbalance between the Pac-10 and the super conferences.
For example, what happens if the SEC-16 starts to pay assistant coaches an average salary of $750,000, while Pac-10 assistants average just $250,000? Or think about this: What if Florida offered Mike Stoops $2.5 million to leave Arizona to become the Gators defensive coordinator? Or what if the existing imbalances in facilities become so pronounced that a significant percentage of recruits from southern California start heading east?
The Pac-10 could suddenly learn what it feels like to be a non-AQ conference. Heck, it could become a non-AQ conference.
Still, as I wrote on Thursday, we are wallowing in speculation and hypotheticals.
Ultimately, Scott's job is simple: He's going to try to improve the Pac-10's position in the marketplace, but, failing that, he needs to at least maintain it.
Matt from Athens, Ga., writes: When is the last time a USC player was not drafted in the 1st round? Does that point to any talent drop-off at USC or is it more particular players not fitting teams' needs in a given year?
Ted Miller: Last time? All the way back to ... 2007.
This is a good note from the Orange County Register though: "In the 75-year history of the National Football League draft, USC (63), Miami (56) and Ohio State (53) have produced the most first-round selections. On Thursday night in the 2010 first round, they combined for zero."
As for USC's talent, I don't think this is a moment to say the sky is falling. USC figures to have perhaps six players go in the next two rounds: Everson Griffen, Taylor Mays, Charles Brown, Damian Williams, Joe McKnight and Anthony McCoy. That ain't too shabby.
Michael from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Your Pac-10 predictions discount an Arizona team the returns almost the entire talent-ridden offense that, despite new coordinators, will run the same offense. As for the defense, it's still a Stoops team that always ranks high defensively, star talent or not. What's keeping the Cat's out of Pac-10 favorites?
Ted Miller: First, those aren't "predictions" -- they are "power rankings." They are based at the present moment. Things can change (and probably will).
A few points.
First, Arizona not only lost two coordinators, it lost two very good coordinators in new Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and new Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. That can't be written off. The new foursome of co-coordinators are all smart, respected coaches, but it's prudent to take a wait-and-see attitude to how this unusual arrangement will work out going forward.
Second, Mike Stoops knows defense, without a doubt. But just like everyone else he needs players. As for "always" ranking highly: The 2007 unit ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring defense and fifth in total defense.
Third, the 2010 defense must replace seven starters, including both defensive tackles, all three linebackers and half its secondary. That seven includes three second-team All-Pac-10 players from each level (tackle Earl Mitchell, linebacker Xavier Kelly and free safety Cam Nelson). Moreover, they are counting on a pair of JC transfers to start at linebacker. I'm skeptical of JC transfers until proven otherwise.
Now, despite all this, the Wildcats still look like a bowl team -- in large part because, as you note, the offense should be able to score on anybody. Therefore, they are a member of what I see as the Pac-10's extremely competitive and deep middle. I rank USC, Oregon and Oregon State as a clear top three. But from Nos. 4 to No. 8, you could arrange and re-arrange teams and not get much of an argument from me.
Luke from Philadelphia writes: I am a fan/follower of PSU and the Big Ten. But I am really excited about what looks like a lot of changes out there in Pac-10 country. Naturally I hate USC, so seeing them humbled last year was awesome. It's great to see the rest of your conference rise up and bring more drama to the season and the Rose Bowl. What's the feeling out there in the west? Did Pac-10 fans traditionally feel proud of USC for being the football flagship and thus feel sad about their becoming mortal in 2009? Or are they as happy as I am to see some drama in the conference, even if it means the Pac-10 could actually lose a Rose Bowl or two?
Ted Miller: Not getting a sense of any sadness from the other nine teams of USC slipping back -- potentially slipping back, I should type -- particularly when I was in Westwood last week.
A wide-open Pac-10 is more fun. For a while there, it felt like everyone was playing for second place behind the Trojans, though it's important to note that three times during the Pete Carroll Era, USC only shared the title with another conference team (2002, 2006, 2007).
As for pride in USC, it was more a case of a desire for more sympathy and less "Pac-1" ridiculousness. The Trojans would have dominated any other conference just as they did the Pac-10 from 2002-2008.
Would they have won seven consecutive SEC titles? Probably not. But I also think that if USC had played in the SEC, it would have won more national titles during that span.
Gerald from Norcross, Ga., writes: How's the Eric Berry versus Taylor Mays comparison looking?
Ted Miller: Fair to say that Berry is the decisive winner after going No. 5 overall. Heck, Pete Carroll even rated Mays below Texas' Earl Thomas by taking Thomas over Mays with the No. 14 pick.
And how about this: Who would have thought that Mays wouldn't even be the first Pac-10 safety selected (Cleveland just picked Oregon's T.J. Ward with the sixth pick of the second round)?
Tough day for Mays no doubt. But he'll eventually get drafted and have plenty of opportunities to prove his doubters wrong.
Craig from Corvallis, Ore., writes: Do you think that a super conference for the Pac-10 would be considered if it partially revived the old Southwest Conference? The conference could have two divisions, the pacific and southwest. The Pacific would be composed of the original Pac-8 members. The Southwest would include the Arizona schools and six Texas schools. Unfortunately, some of the old Southwest members would have to be left out (I know Arkansas would not mind, they are probably very happy in the SEC). I think the best fit would include: Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, SMU, TCU and Texas Tech (or Rice). It would be a bold move by Larry Scott but very interesting for the world of college football. I think it would be interesting to see SMU brought back to the forefront of college football after their long dark-age.
Ted Miller: The Country-Western Conference!
It would be even better if you dropped Baylor and added Oklahoma, though that breaks from your old Southwest Conference theme.
This is an interesting idea, and not a bad one. I think the chances of something like this happen are decidedly remote, but I've read ideas that were far worse.
To the notes.
Donald from Eugene writes: If the PAC10 actually does expand to 12 teams, the conventional wisdom is they would create North and South divisions. However, that would leave NW schools with the distinct possibility of not traveling to Southern California for two straight seasons thus killing recruiting (see Big12 North.) Wouldn't it make more sense to try the "AFC/NFC" split and put for instance UW, UO, Stan, UCLA, UA and CU in one division and the other six in the other? The teams would still play their traditional rival, it just would be out of division. That way every team will be assured of traveling to the Bay Area and SoCal on a regular basis.
Ted Miller: Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
I've been a bit surprised by how so many people have pooh-poohed the idea of Pac-10 expansion -- read: Colorado and Utah -- simply because of the supposedly calamitous results of a North-South split.
How will the Northwest schools survive without an annual visit to recruiting hotbeds in California [insert sob]!
As Donald notes: Fine, then forget the whole North-South thing and let's go with much more felicitously named "Ted" and "Donald" divisions.
My division is USC, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona State, Utah and Oregon State.
Donald's division is UCLA, California, Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon.
(Please, that was random. Don't read anything into which teams I selected).
Each Pac-12 team plays five divisional games as well as its traditional rival in the other division annually (we announce the first annual hate-fest between Utah vs. Colorado!). Each team then rotates two games among the other five teams in the other division.
Note how the Oregon-Washington rivalry gets preserved! And how we kept Jim Harbaugh and Lane Kiffin in the same division, which I am certain will be great fun.
That's eight conference games, which means teams then can load up on patsies for their four-game nonconference schedule -- if they wish -- which would mean more bowl-eligible teams and more seasons with two BCS bowl teams.
Sure, some conference hits and misses will provide an advantage. But that's how it is in every conference that doesn't play a round-robin schedule.
In a few years, media pundits would go, "Sheesh! The Pac-12 has 10 bowl-eligible teams! What a conference!"
What about losing the convenience -- and cost-effectiveness -- of regional travel provided by North-South divisions? Well, travel would remain mostly like it is now. So big deal.
By the way, though Donald and I are clearly brilliant, this has been done before. There's an obscure constellation in the college football universe know as the "Atlantic Coast Conference," which is broken up into the the "Heather" and "Dinich" divisions. Or they might be the "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions, I forget.
And, by the way, as a son of the South, I can tell you that there ain't no coast near Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke or Virginia.
Kevin from Phoenix writes: I have to take issue with the Spring Rankings. Arizona replaces 12 starters? I'd be curious to know what math you used to get 12 out of nine.
Ted Miller: OK.
Arizona's departing 2009 starters, per its depth chart.
Offense (5): WR Terrell Turner, OT Mike Diaz, OG Herman Hall, OT Adam Grant, HB Chris Gronkowski.
Defense (7): DT Earl Mitchell, NT Donald Horton, LB Sterling Lewis, LB Vuna Tuihalamaka, LB Xavier Kelly, FS Cam Nelson, CB Devin Ross.
The list doesn't including TE Rob Gronkowski because he sat out the entire season.
Kenny from Florence, Ariz., writes: I don't understand your logic in your spring power rankings. Putting USC, Oregon State, Cal, UW, & Stanford all above Arizona. Is it because of the Holiday Bowl performance? Ok well let's remember what happened during the Pac-10 conference season: Arizona beat USC in LA, Oregon St. in Corvallis, Stanford in Tucson.
Ted Miller: The Holiday Bowl performance was fairly yucky. But that's not why I rated Arizona seventh.
As you will note from above, the Wildcats lose three starting offensive linemen, three linebackers, both defensive tackles and two very good defensive backs.
And most of those guys weren't just starters -- they were mainstays (five second-team All-Pac-10 guys, including four on defense).
That's a lot to replace, particularly with two new coordinators. And keep in mind that the Wildcats will be using two pair of co-coordinators in 2010 after using just one guy in each role last year.
There may be a period of adjustment there.
It's perfectly reasonable to believe the Wildcats will plug-and-play and away they will go. But I will put them at No. 7 -- in a very deep Pac-10 -- until I see what those plugs might look like.
And I will be in Tucson during spring practices, so perhaps I will be impressed. I typically am when I watch a Mike Stoops team practice.
Kai from Castro Valley, Calif., writes: If someone were to go back in time and tell the 2000 Ted Miller how much teams have changed (i.e. number of bowl appearances in 2000-2009 compared to 1990-1999), which team do you think you wouldn't believe changed this much? In other words which team had the most phenomenal change good or bad from the start to the end of the decade? (Personally it's WSU for me).
Ted Miller: If the 2000 me met the 2010 me he tell me to get to the gym and lay off the beef and bourbon.
There are so many surprises in the decade.
The biggest surprise would be Washington, the 11-1, 2000 Pac-10 champion, winning 12 games from 2004-2008.
The second biggest surprise would have the rise of USC under Pete Carroll -- "USC hired Pete Carroll?" the 2000 me would ask. "That surely was a colossal failure!"
The third biggest surprise would have been the rise of Washington State: 30 wins, three consecutive top-10 rankings from 2001-2003. And Mike Price leaving the Cougars for Alabama. And how that turned out.
The fourth biggest surprise would be Oregon State's sustained success. I mostly thought that 2000 was a brilliant flash of football serendipity. It wasn't.
Gordie from Pasadena, Calif., writes: Let's say the Pac-10 picks up Utah and Colorado, and the Big Ten picks up Missouri. So does that mean the Big 12 becomes the Big 10 and the Big Ten becomes the Big Twelve (since it already has eleven teams)?
Ted Miller: Ha! Nice.
Gary from Portland writes: Recruiting revealed, the layers peeled back like an onion.
Ted Miller: Hit that link: You will be amused.
Ethan from San Francisco writes: You win... I have no idea where your Thursday quote [above the "Pac-10 lunch links"] came from.
Ted Miller: Glad you asked because it comes from one of my all-time favorite novels: Don DeLillo's "Underworld."
It's a dense, 800-plus-page read, so it won't be everyone's favorite brew, but the first 60 pages are set around Bobby Thomson's home run -- "The shot heard round the world" -- to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers and win the New York Giants the 1951 National League Pennant.
Go to a bookstore and read those 60 pages. It's some of the best writing you will ever read.
Well you've heard about love givin' sight to the blind
My baby's lovin' cause the sun to shine
She's my sweet little thang....she's my pride and joy!
- Arizona linebacker Xavier Kelly is stepping up. The Wildcats shouldn't take Washington State lightly... but...
- Arizona State has a new staring cornerback, but the big news is talented freshman defensive tackle Corey Adams needs back surgery and is done for the season.
- California won't keep rolling if it doesn't get better, but the Bears are still a possibility for Pac-10 runner-up.
- Oregon and Stanford have had many happy returns this year. LeGarrette Blount shouldn't come before his team.
- Oregon State's visit to California features two of the nation's best running backs.
- Stanford has some tough tests ahead, starting with Oregon on Saturday.
- UCLA may give the ball more to running back Milton Knox. And might the backfield get some new talent?
- USC quarterback Matt Barkley is still hurting after the loss at Oregon, and he thinks Ohio State was louder than Autzen. Is coaching a problem for USC -- and we're not talking about Pete Carroll.
- Washington QB Jake Locker looked pretty good at practice, while Nick Holt talks defense.
- Some Washington State notes. What did Paul Wulff say on his radio show?
- A look at the Pac-10's hot coordinators. And ranking the Pac-10 tailbacks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Just about every Pac-10 team feels good about its linebackers.
Not an easy position to rank.
- UCLA: Senior Reggie Carter was second-team All-Pac-10, up-and-coming sophomore Akeem Ayers and senior Kyle Bosworth man the two outside positions, while sophomore backup Steve Sloan started nine games last year.
- Oregon State: Keaton Kristick was second-team All-Pac-10, and the two-headed monster on the weakside -- Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey -- is back. Sophomore David Pa'aluhi -- a mixed martial arts fighter -- is promising in the middle.
- USC: Yes, USC gets the benefit of the doubt, despite three new starters. By season's end don't be surprised if Chris Galippo, Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith look like the conference's best unit.
- Oregon: Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews return, and Eddie Pleasant steps in for Jerome Boyd on the outside. There's good depth and good speed here.
- Arizona State: The Sun Devils have a lot of experience as well as young talent, but the starting crew of Travis Goethel, Gerald Munns and Mike Nixon doesn't possess top-end speed. And sophomore Shelly Lyons is hurt and the NCAA Clearinghouse hasn't yet cleared spectacular true freshman Vontaze Burfict.
- California: On the outside, Mike Mohamed and Eddie Young have plenty of experience. Inside, Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt are promising but green. The depth is solid.
- Arizona: The Wildcats are fast with Sterling Lewis, Xavier Kelly and Vuna Tuihalamaka, and Lewis and Kelly have starting experience. There's a pretty fair drop-off to the second unit.
- Stanford: Clinton Snyder will lead a solid crew that includes Will Powers and Chike Amajoyi. The uncertain status of Alex Debniak (knee) hurts.
- Washington: The Huskies have a solid triumvirate. E.J. Savannah returns after missing all of 2008 due to a suspension. He'll play outside opposite Mason Foster with Donald Butler in the middle. Depth is an issue.
- Washington State: Andy Mattingly's return on the strongside from defensive end should help. Jason Stripling is a senior on the weakside, but isn't terribly experienced -- he missed almost all of 2008 with a shoulder injury. JC transfer Alex Hoffman-Ellis will man the middle. He redshirted last year. It would help if undersized but quick Louis Bland was 100 percent because he would add much-needed speed.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
TUCSON, Ariz. -- First things first: Arizona's first spring practice Wednesday afternoon will be open.
When a reporter asked coach Mike Stoops after his pre-spring meet-and-greet with reporters whether practice would be open, he replied, "Yeah, sure. Whatever."
He then added he'd close things when reporters started annoying him again.
Anyway, how about this new, mellow Mike Stoops, eh? Bowl victories and new contracts sometimes have that effect.
- The pre-spring depth chart stacks the offensive line, which lost three starters, like this: left tackle Phillip Garcia, guard Mike Diaz, center Colin Baxter, right guard Vaughn Dotsy and tackle Adam Grant. As far as former starting center Blake Kerley, he's sitting out while recovering from a knee injury suffered last fall, and Stoops implied that he'll have a tough time dislodging any of the interior three. Stoops seemed particularly high on Dotsy, a sophomore. Grant is good to go after knee surgery, while Garcia will be limited this spring for the same reason. "This line can be every bit as productive as we had a year ago," Stoops said.
- Three JC transfers will participate in spring practices: offensive linemen Shane Zink and Jack Julsing and cornerback Marcus Benjamin. Benjamin will battle Trevin Wade to start at one corner, while Zink and Julsing likely will provide depth on the line.
- Former starting receiver Terrell Reese, who was suspended indefinitely last year, has been given the boot. Running backs Xavier Smith and Terry Longbons and defensive tackle Hans Philipp also won't be back in 2009.
- Stoops has high hopes for his defense, which welcomes back seven starters: "This is the best group that we have had coming back," he said. "This defense will be the most athletic we've had ... We have the potential to be a great defense."
- Two linebacker spots need to be filled. The first unit on the depth chart has Sterling Lewis on the strong side, with Vuna Tuihalamaka in the middle and Xavier Kelly on the weak side. Lewis started five games last year; Kelly eight. Tuihalamaka played in 13 games and recorded 23 tackles.
- The general theme with the quarterback competition between Matt Scott and Nick Foles was this: The runner, Scott, has a better arm than he gets credit for, and the same can be said for the mobility of the pocket passer, Foles.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Your hump day links.
- The world's most ridiculous protest is over: The California Tree Sitters were forced from their seats. The Bears are happy. As for the football side of things, here are some notes.
- Arizona LB Sterling Lewis did a good job stepping in for Xavier Kelly (sprained ankle) and will start at New Mexico. The Reed brothers, Arizona's Brooks and New Mexico's Lucas, won't face off because Lucas is redshirting.
- Despite a couple of pass-interference flags, Arizona State CB Omar Bolden is going to play his style. The Sun Devils LBs are hurting. Is GameDay coming for the Georgia game? Also here.
- Oregon will be tested by Purdue QB Curtis Painter. RB Jeremiah Johnson returned to practice on a limited basis after injuring his shoulder. Scouting Purdue. Oregon has run well.
- No extreme depth chart changes for Oregon State in this full report from Mike Riley's press conference. It's time for the Beavers to play team defense.
- Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said that QB Tavita Pritchard remains his starter but other QBs will play against TCU Saturday, and that may include freshman Andrew Luck. So there's no QB controversy -- understand? A Stanford WR is unimpressed with one thing about TCU: its schedule.
- It appears that UCLA RB Kahlil Bell won't play at BYU. Yes, there is a little bit of a revenge angle for the Bruins, who are banged up. UCLA OC Norm Chow heads back to BYU.
- A view of USC from an Ohio columnist. And one from LA: Bill Plaschke thinks the Trojans should be plenty motivated by comments from an Ohio State WR about "class." RB Joe McKnight pretends to be OSU freshman QB Terrelle Pryor. Ohio State is playing for more than just a big-game win. Mark Sanchez feels good about his WRs.
- Washington LB E.J. Savannah is gone, granted his release from the Huskies. Unheralded freshman David Freeman takes over at RB. Art Thiel considers the plight of Jake Locker.
- Washington State will platoon QBs Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina, who has moved up the depth chart. It's not a QB controversy -- it's looking for a spark.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
These links are fighting through camp legs and are ready to hit someone other than a teammate.
- What time is it? Well, if you're at Arizona it's Xavier Kelly time -- mostly because it's no longer Spencer Larsen time. Kelly and his defensive mates intercepted four passes in a scrimmage Wednesday.
- Arizona State owns a questionable offensive line, but a few years ago Norco (Calif.) High School didn't -- yes, there's a connection there. The Sun Devils tight ends are unknown but working hard.
- California is strong at LB, so it should tell you something that freshman Mychal Kendricks is pushing hard for playing time (can tell you first-hand he's a good-looking player). Also, the story notes that incumbent kicker Jordan Kay is in a tight competition with walk-on freshman David Seawright. Post-practice reflections... starting quarterback announcement here... KIDDING!
- Oregon is under a cone of silence but Rob Moseley has a pass key, though it doesn't get him to the high-security level where it's revealed if Justin Roper has indeed caught Nate Costa in the preseason QB competition.
- Oregon State's backup CB James Dockery hurt his knee lifting weights and backup QB Sean Canfield won't be available for the opener so redshirt freshman Justin Engstrom will backup Lyle Moevao. And how's the rebuilt defense looking -- and how fast can it start?
- Like many teams, Stanford is tired and suffering "camp legs." Freshman receiver Chris Owusu is suffering from "camp knee injury" and will be out a few weeks. Owusu would have been a key contributor for a rebuilding receiving corps. Bud Withers checks in with Stanford.
- It's Tennessee Time at UCLA, the good news tidbit from that report is tackle Micah Kia is going to try to play with a broken hand. Talented frosh TB Aundre Dean is learning a valuable lesson -- Thou shalt not run up-right or the wrath of the safety shall taketh your breath. Bruins fans feeling blue (not pastel blue) should look to the interior of the DL for an optimism jolt. More on contributing freshmen.
- USC QB Mark Sanchez continues to recover quickly and, according to the LA Times Gary Klein, "If the junior has no setbacks, he will participate in all drills next week and probably start the opener." It's also possible that RB C.J. Gable will be ready for the opener at Virginia. Gable's ankle and hip injuries appeared fairly bad on Tuesday, but Trojans apparently heal quickly. He's probably the best all-around player in the Trojans backfield.
- Molly Yanity writes about the amazing recovery of Washington's All-Pac-10 center Juan Garcia, who could play against Oregon in the opener. It's Day 17 at Washington. Bob Condotta writes about Tyrone Willingham's closed practice policy.
- A look at Washington State's special teams, which haven't been very special in recent years. Considering the Cougars DL.
- Jon Wilner projects the BCS bowl games.
Final Hawaii 12 Colorado 21 Final Utah 26 Michigan 10 Final Georgia State 14 Washington 45 Final California 45 Arizona 49 Final 2 Oregon 38 Washington State 31 Final San Diego State 7 Oregon State 28