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Friday, May 6, 2005
Pac-10 spring recap

By Brett Edgerton
Special to

Arizona Wildcats
2005 Schedule
9/2 at Utah
9/10 Northern Arizona
9/17 Purdue
10/1 at California
10/8 at USC
10/15 Stanford
10/22 Oregon
10/29 at Oregon State
11/5 UCLA
11/12 Washington
11/25 at Arizona State

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 8, Defense: 7, Kicker/punter: 2

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Mike Bell* (1,024 yds)
Passing: Richard Kovalcheck* (880 yds)
Receiving: Syndric Steptoe* (446 yds)
Tackles: Darrell Brooks* (73)
Sacks: Andre Torrey (5)
Interceptions: Antoine Cason* (4)

Spring Answers: Second-year coach Mike Stoops said he is determined to develop a tough, physical running game that opponents fear. This spring was a good start. Bell picked up where he left off last year and will get the ball in several different situations during his senior season. Meanwhile, Gilbert Harris and Chris Henry provide some bruising strength up the middle. Henry, who runs a 4.3 at 230 pounds, looks especially dangerous. ... When Kovalcheck returns from injury in August, he'll be pleased to see juco transfer B.J. Vickers. During the scrimmages, the big and physical receiver muscled down several up-for-grabs passes and will be quite a weapon on the outside. It's a dimension of the passing game that hasn't been around Tucson in years. ... It appears there is finally some depth on the defensive line. The Wildcats lose two starters, but they feel fine after the emergence of end Copeland Bryan and tackles Yaniv Barnett and Byron Smith, a junior college transfer dropped by Nebraska after some off-the-field trouble. Byron was a model citizen this spring and is projected to start at the nose position.

Fall Questions: When only one team in the country scores less than you, your questions are generally catered toward the offense. So for starters, will the 'Cats average more than 14.9 points a game in 2005? As always, everyone will look to the quarterback for answers. Kovalcheck became the starter midway through last year and was fairly impressive, especially in a shocking win over rival Arizona State. The sophomore did have offseason back surgery, though, and was unable to work with the offense. So not only does he need to have to prove '04 wasn't a fluke, but he needs to stay healthy. He's the only quarterback on the roster with any game experience. ... TE Steve Fleming was a weapon in a passing game that didn't have many. He was not only a good blocker, but a good receiver. The coaches seem to like juco transfer Brandyn McCall, but he's still considered raw. ... How will the linebacking situation sort out? The unit lost two starters and the replacements aren't exactly set. 'Zona was happy to get Spencer Larsen back from a Mormon mission, but then he broke his foot the first week of spring. Ronnie Palmer passes the eye test, but has been slow to pick up the system. And Randy Sims is still a bit of an unknown.

Arizona State Sun Devils
2005 Schedule
9/1 Temple
9/10 at LSU
9/17 Northwestern
9/24 at Oregon State
10/1 USC
10/8 Oregon
10/22 at Stanford
10/29 Washington
11/5 at Washington State
11/12 at UCLA
11/25 Arizona

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 8, Defense: 6, Kicker/punter: 2

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Hakim Hill (566 yds)
Passing: Andrew Walter (3,150 yds)
Receiving: Derek Hagan* (1,248 yds)
Tackles: Justin Burke* (95)
Sacks: Jordan Hill* and Kyle Caldwell* (7 each)
Interceptions: Emmanuel Franklin* (4)

Spring Answers: Despite losing its starting center, the Sun Devil O-line is actually better -- and it was already good to begin with. Standout Grayling Love shifted from tackle back to his natural position in the middle, and Chaz White, a starter two years ago, will move into Love's left tackle spot. It's unquestionably the team's strongest area. ... No one really knows where sophomore Rudy Burgess is going to play this fall, but they know he'll be playing somewhere. An extremely talented athlete, the track star can pretty much do it all. In the spring, he continued to prove he could be used at tailback, returner, wideout or in the slot. ... You might already know Arizona State features what might be the best WR-TE combo in the country in Derek Hagan and Zach Miller. What you might not know is those on the inside are already calling redshirt freshman Nate Kimbrough the next Hagan. ... The linebackers were hitting everything in sight this spring. Dale Robinson and Jamar Williams were no surprise, but sophomore Robert Jones was. With his performance, he went from special teams contributor to projected starter on the weakside.

Fall Questions: Perhaps Sam Kellar's stellar performance in last year's Sun Bowl win, when he lit up Purdue in place of the injured Walter, raised fan expectations a bit too high. Against what was a decimated secondary, Kellar never really found much of a rhythm this spring -- receiving a "C" from coach Dirk Koetter. ASU needs more than Kellar's C-game if it wants to make the big splash everyone is expecting. ... Burgess had a fabulous spring, but Koetter doesn't want him to be a full-time back. Can anyone on the Sun Devils fill that role, though? Everyone knows the situation surrounding Loren Wade, who was booted off the team as he prepares for his murder trial. Cornell Canidate, the younger brother of Trung, is still battling injuries that have limited him for two years. And with Randy Hill recovering from a torn ACL and Preston Jones nursing a shoulder injury, converted LB Antone Saulsberry was running with the first-team by the end of spring. ... What to makes of this injury-riddled secondary? At the open corner spot, R.J. Oliver is still bothered by the foot injury that sidelined him in '04, while Chad Green is coming off three surgeries on three different parts of his body. At safety, starter Emmanuel Franklin is out due to personal reasons and his status won't be known until late summer, while Josh Barrett was out all spring with a shoulder injury. Please check back in August.

California Bears
2005 Schedule
9/3 Sacramento State
9/10 at Washington
9/17 Illinois
9/23 at New Mexico State
10/1 Arizona
10/8 at UCLA
10/15 Oregon State
10/22 Washington State
11/5 at Oregon
11/12 USC
11/19 at Stanford

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 6, Defense: 3, Kicker/punter: 2

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: J.J. Arrington (2,018 yds)
Passing: Aaron Rodgers (2,566 yds)
Receiving: Geoff McArthur (862 yds)
Tackles: Ryan Gutierrez (79)
Sacks: Ryan Riddle (14.5)
Interceptions: Tim Mixon* (3)

Spring Answers: Arrington was a stud, but the talk around Cal is Marshawn Lynch might be even better. As a backup, he scored 10 TDs and averaged nearly nine yards a carry. As a starter, one can only imagine. In the spring scrimmages, Lynch simply refused to go down -- in one instance rumbling 95 yards for a touchdown. In addition, backups Marcus O'Keith and the incredibly quick Justin Forsett were so impressive, former starter Terrell Williams can't even climb higher than fourth. ... It doesn't hurt that four of five starters return on an O-line anchored by All-American center Marvin Philip. ... When a team loses six of its starting front seven on defense, red flags are sure to go up. The situation, though, doesn't appear as dire as it might look on paper. At end, Tosh Lupoi started all of 2003 before a foot injury kept him out last fall. Then his replacement, Steve Kelly, was knocked out after just three games. Both are back and will join JC All-American Nu'u Tafisi, who earned high praise in practice. Meanwhile, an improved Brandon Mebane and redshirt sophomore Albert Ma'afala, a Jeff Tedford favorite, shore up tackle. At linebacker, the one to watch is junior college transfer Desmond Bishop, who all but wrapped up a starting spot this spring. ... In the secondary, don't forget about Donnie McCleskey. Touted by some as an All-American candidate last summer, the senior roverback was limited to just two starts because of an injured shoulder. He's back full-speed.

Fall Questions: Rodgers is no longer waiting in the Green Room, but Cal fans are still waiting on his replacement. After coming over from San Francisco City College, Joseph Ayoob was all but given the job by the local media. But the staff threw the whole playbook at him this spring and it didn't always create the prettiest result. The strong-armed redshirt freshman Nathan Longshore, who signaled in the plays and attended all the meetings last year, never let Ayoob get a firm grasp on the job. Tedford isn't tipping his hand on this one. It'll be an August call. ... Another concern is at receiver. The Bears lost their top four and it's fair to say none of the four scholarship guys that competed in the spring are go-to material at this point. What about top-five high school receiver DeSean Jackson? Or Ayoob's teammate at CCSF, Lavelle Hawkins? They need to step in immediately this fall. ... As good as some of the newcomers might look, there aren't many certainties with this defense. Out of the 14 players on the front seven's two-deep, just two are seniors. Many are unproven in game situations. ... Some of the junior college additions have been discussed above. Some are set to report in August. Among the large group are five juco All-Americans. How fast can they all contribute? And can these newcomers match the performance of the 2003 group? That class included Rodgers, Arrington and Riddle. They turned out OK.

Oregon Ducks
2005 Schedule
9/1 at Houston
9/10 Montana
9/17 Fresno State
9/24 USC
10/1 at Stanford
10/8 at Arizona State
10/15 Washington
10/22 at Arizona
11/5 California
11/12 at Washington State
11/19 Oregon State

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 7, Defense: 7, Kicker/punter: 0

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Terrence Whitehead* (1,144 yds)
Passing: Kellen Clemens* (2,548 yds)
Receiving: Demetrius Williams* (593 yds)
Tackles: Jerry Matson (78)
Sacks: Devan Long* (7.5)
Interceptions: Aaron Gipson* (4)

Spring Answers: As Oregon officially opened up the offense to multiple-receiver formations, it helped to have multiple receiving options available. The Ducks believe they can legitimately go seven-deep in the rotation. As far as newcomers, JC transfer James Finley brings the height, while incoming freshman Derrick Jones brings a speed UO hasn't seen since Sammie Parker left. ... For a 1,000-yard rusher, Whitehead didn't seem to get a lot of credit last season. He's not overly fast, but he's a workhorse and reminds new O-coordinator Gary Crowton of his first back at BYU, Doak Walker-winner Luke Staley. Sophomore Terrell Jackson and highly touted frosh Jonathan Stewart won't let Whitehead slack off. ... The D-line lost two starters, but looks like it can be just as lethal. DT Haloti Ngata and DE Devan Long are only getting better, while Matt Toeaina and his cousin, Victor Filipe, filled those holes quick. ... Now and in the future, here's a name to look out for: Patrick Chung. Believe it or not, he started practices last season when he was just 16 years old. Now at the ripe ol' age of 17, Chung is winning over the coaching staff and might be starting at the Rover spot by the end of the year.

Fall Questions: Crowton traveled to the University of Florida this spring and is officially on the crowded Urban Meyer/Bowling Green/Utah spread-option bandwagon. So for the first time in over two decades, the Ducks will deviate from their standard two-back, two-receiver system. How will the current players adjust to this night-and-day change? The initial signs were less than stellar. Clemens, for one, didn't exactly tear it up. ... It doesn't help that three starters have departed from the O-line and that only three returnees have any meaningful game experience. That's no way to christen a new offensive system. ... It's a very similar situation at linebacker. Only three players have played in the fall and a walk-on currently sits atop the depth chart at one of the spots. The JC players brought in to help out were very slow to adjust during the spring. ... The secondary was terrible in '02 and '03, and only slightly better in '04. This group still gave up way too many big plays, with opposing receivers averaging 13 yards per catch. With the entire unit returning, there's no excuse for there not to be rapid improvement. ... The kicking game was sporadic at best. Paul Martinez, who lost his punting job last fall, is taking on the coach's son, Luke Belloti, at placekicker. As for punter, David Dittman recently transferred and left a junior college kid and a walk-on to battle it out. Neither competition is very reassuring to the Ducks.

Oregon State Beavers
2005 Schedule
9/3 Portland State
9/10 Boise State
9/17 at Louisville
9/24 Arizona State
10/1 Washington State
10/15 at California
10/22 at UCLA
10/29 Arizona
11/5 at Washington
11/12 Stanford
11/19 at Oregon

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 7, Defense: 7, Kicker/punter: 2

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Dwight Wright (784 yds)
Passing: Derek Anderson (3,615 yds)
Receiving: Mike Haas* (1,379 yds)
Tackles: Trent Bray* (122)
Sacks: Bill Swancutt (11.5)
Interceptions: Mitch Meeuwsen (6)

Spring Answers: The quarterback position is still an issue, but the Beavers didn't need any questions answered on the receiving end. Everyone stayed healthy -- and that was the most important thing. Haas is a legitimate superstar, leading the league in both receptions (86) and yards (1,379) in 2004. Joining him are three other returnees who posted 400 yards or more last fall. That group includes a physical beast in TE Joe Newton, who hauled in 56 catches for 687 yards last year. ... Charles Burnley came over from the secondary to help out at tailback and turned into a pleasant surprise. He'll provide some nice depth, but the top of the depth chart is still a mystery. The good news is a neck-and-neck battle for the No. 1 spot raised the level of play from sophomore Yvenson Bernard, more of an inside threat, and junior Jimtavis Walker, more of an outside guy. ... Try to find a deeper linebacking crew in the Pac-10. Everyone returns and everyone is in one piece, led by starters Trent Bray, Keith Ellison and Chaz Scott. ... Meeuwsen was a big loss at free safety, but special teams contributor Lamar Herron stepped in and looks like a future star.

Fall Questions: The entire offseason was a PR nightmare. The off-the-field distractions ranged from the bizarre (stealing a ram) to the dumb (offering marijuana as cab fare) to the inconceivable (knocking a National Guardsman unconscious before he was redeployed to Iraq). Is it all out of their system now? The Beavers don't need this kind of drama during the season. ... They do need a quarterback, though. Just when it looked like UCLA transfer Matt Moore had taken a lead, sophomore Ryan Gunderson went out and had the better spring game. Most insiders believe Moore has the slight edge, but this thing has August dual written all over it. ... Whoever wins the job won't have a very deep line in front of him. Replacing two starters only takes two more away from a thin backup pool. ... Sophomore DE Jeff Van Orsow is no Swancutt. Will the Beavers be able to sustain a consistent pass rush from that side? ... And what about both the vacated cornerback spots? Coaches feel pretty good about Keenan Lewis on the right side, but the other spot will almost certainly be left to a pair of incoming junior college transfers. Out of high school, Aaron Miller signed with Oklahoma and Edorian McCullough with Texas. Will they make everyone remember why they were so highly recruited in the first place?

Stanford Cardinal
2005 Schedule
9/10 at Navy
9/17 UC-Davis
10/1 Oregon
10/8 at Washington State
10/15 at Arizona
10/22 Arizona State
10/29 UCLA
11/5 at USC
11/12 at Oregon State
11/19 California
11/26 Notre Dame

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 10, Defense: 5, Kicker/punter: 2

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: J.R. Lemon* (440 yds)
Passing: Trent Edwards* (1,718 yds)
Receiving: Alex Smith (706 yds)
Tackles: Oshiomogho Atogwe (77)
Sacks: Jon Alston* (10)
Interceptions: Atogwe and Leigh Torrence (4 each)

Spring Answers: Getting rid of the program's losing mentality was a start. Keep in mind this was a team that featured six NFL draftees and won just four games last season. The latter number should never be greater than the former -- period. Bringing in Walt Harris offered instant credibility to the players, who enthusiastically bought into his system this spring and honestly believe a bowl game is attainable in 2005. That's a positive start. ... Returning 10 starters on offense doesn't hurt, either. At receiver, Stanford obviously needs plenty of bodies to run the West Coast offense Harris is installing. Having Evan Moore and Mark Bradford back helps, but the real star of the scrimmages was fifth-year senior Gerren Crochet. He's been used sparingly in the past, but the coaches fell in the love with his speed on the outside and actually list him ahead of Moore on the post-spring depth chart. Smith was a stud at tight end, but the staff actually feels pretty good about that spot, too. Both Patrick Danahy and Michael Horgan look like capable replacements. ... If Timi Wusu can ever stay healthy, the linebackers should be strong. Keep an eye on sophomore Michael Okwo on the inside. The coaches are extremely high on him.

Fall Questions: So who leads this new West Coast attack? It was a huge learning curve for both quarterbacks, but Edwards seems a little more polished and it appears to have a slight edge over T.C. Ostrander. It's nowhere close to an insurmountable lead, though, and both will battle it out in the preseason. Harris said he wants a definite No. 1 by the opener, but it's not hard to see this one extending beyond August. ... Stanford does hope the running game's mediocrity is solved by then, though. The good news is nearly everyone is back. The bad news is everyone means the 114th-ranked group in the country. The O-line could stand for a little improvement, but the running backs cannot possibly average just 82 yards a game again. Now entering his senior season, the once-highly recruited Lemon has yet to put it all together. Three others are in the mix, but this group still lacks the speed that seems to always be absent on the Farm. ... Two problems spots on the defense are depth on the line and pretty much everything in the secondary. In 2004, Stanford gave up nearly 250 yards a game through the air, so maybe losing three starters isn't catastrophic. Nevertheless, Atogwe won't be easy to replace and no one seems to want one of the vacant corner spots.

UCLA Bruins
2005 Schedule
9/3 at San Diego State
9/10 Rice
9/17 Oklahoma
10/1 Washington
10/8 Cal
10/15 at Washington State
10/22 Oregon State
10/29 at Stanford
11/5 at Arizona
11/12 Arizona State
12/3 at USC

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 7, Defense: 8, Kicker/punter: 1

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Maurice Drew* (1,069 yds)
Passing: Drew Olson* (2,565 yds)
Receiving: Craig Bragg (483 yds)
Tackles: Spencer Havner* (125)
Sacks: Kevin Brown* (5)
Interceptions: Jarrad Page* and Matthew Clark (3 each)

Spring Answers: Wide receiver depth was addressed with the emergence of sophomores Marcus Everett and Brandon Breazell, who will flank the outside along with Junior Taylor. Opponents also need to watch senior TE Marcedes Lewis constantly. ... For those wondering about the team's missing linebacking trio, don't waste your time. Havner, Justin London and Wesley Walker will be fine by fall, out to prove why many consider the group one of the best in the country. In fact, Walker is in a battle just to keep his starting spot. Redshirt sophomore Bruce Davis starred after his move from defensive end, and might even force Walker to the middle. ... The Bruins don't seem to miss C.J. Niusulu, a malcontent who was booted off the team in the offseason. Junior Kevin Brown was absolutely dominant inside and sophomore end Brigham Harwell moved inside to tackle and looked more than adequate. The defensive line should be much improved.

Fall Questions: Incumbent QB Drew Olson insists he will return in time for fall drills after surgery on his ACL and MCL. It was thought the much-talked-about Ben Olson, who signed with the Bruins after a two-year Mormon mission, would offer a serious challenge, but he struggled to pick up the West Coast offense this spring and found himself in a fierce battle with senior David Koral and especially redshirt freshman Patrick Cowan. Coach Karl Dorrell said it's Drew Olson's job if he can play, but that doesn't mean he has a free pass. ... What about the status of Page? At one point, the standout strong safety was expected to be selected in June's MLB draft, but he is struggling mightily at the plate this season. Even if he's back on the football field in the fall, the Bruins still have to figure out the other safety spot. When Chris Horton returns from an injury in August, he'll likely battle Dennis Keyes. At cornerback, sophomores Trey Brown, Rodney Van and Michael Norris are competing for two spots. ... The punting situation is not the most pleasant one for UCLA. Redshirt freshman Aaron Perez didn't exactly take the job and run with it. If he doesn't get any better in August, the Bruins might consider giving kicker Justin Medlock double-duty.

USC Trojans
2005 Schedule
9/3 at Hawaii
9/17 Arkansas
9/24 at Oregon
10/1 at Arizona State
10/8 Arizona
10/15 at Notre Dame
10/22 at Washington
10/29 Washington State
11/5 Stanford
11/12 at California
11/19 Fresno State
12/3 UCLA

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 8, Defense: 5, Kicker/punter: 1

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: LenDale White* (1,103 yds)
Passing: Matt Leinart* (3,322 yds)
Receiving: Dwayne Jarrett* (849 yds)
Tackles: Tatupu (104)
Sacks: Shaun Cody (10)
Interceptions: Grootegoed (5)

Spring Answers: Let's face it: the Trojan offense doesn't have a single weakness on paper. Leinart, Bush, White and others didn't participate, but did it really matter? There was an influx of new offensive coaches, but nothing in the system has drastically changed. The machine will run just fine, thank you. ... Back after a year-long suspension, junior RT Winston Justice was in great shape and won back his starting spot by the middle of spring practice. He's a difference-maker and a potential All-American. In fact, his return might allow Taitusi Lutui, last year's starter, to move over to left guard, where Jeff Byers and Drew Radovich are currently battling it out. ... With the top two tailbacks out, along with Hershel Dennis, all Desmond Reed and Chauncey Washington did were become the offensive stars of the spring. Did SC really need more depth at tailback? ... Sedrick Ellis didn't play a whole lot behind Mike Patterson, but that's about to change. While the spot next to him is up for grabs, the redshirt sophomore made competition at nose tackle a moot topic after his performance in the scrimmages. ... Before a minor injury late in drills, free safety Scott Ware was making plays all over the field. He was a bright spot for a secondary that was ravaged by injuries during practice. The senior will almost certainly be the starter after the graduation of Jason Leach.

Fall Questions: Besides the Leinart decision, it hasn't been the most pleasant offseason for the back-to-back champs. First, standout corner Eric Wright was accused of rape and his return is in doubt, despite his clearance from police. Then White confronted a freshman running back after insulting comments. Then, in a fight after a video game, WR Steve Smith allegedly broke the jaw of TE Dominique Byrd, who along with White and DT Manuel Wright, sat out the spring due to academics. The Trojans have been able to avoid a lot of this during their recent run. Byrd and White will almost certainly play in the fall, but are these distractions the first kinks in the armor? Or will everything be forgotten by the fall? ... With academic issues clouding his future, will Wright make himself available for the NFL's supplemental draft? With Cody and Mike Patterson now in the NFL, it would be a severe blow to the Trojans. ... If Wright doesn't return, his corner spot will join the middle linebacker position as August battles. CB John Walker returning from injury will help there, while Oscar Lua holds a tenuous lead in the middle. Both spots are ready for newcomers to contribute immediately. ... Kicker Mario Danelo was inconsistent and his kickoffs were significantly shorter than those of Ryan Killeen. Late arrival Troy Van Blarcom will get a shot in August.

Washington Huskies
2005 Schedule
9/3 Air Force*
9/10 California
9/17 Idaho
9/24 Notre Dame
10/1 at UCLA
10/15 at Oregon
10/22 USC
10/29 at Arizona State
11/5 Oregon State
11/12 at Arizona
11/19 Washington State
* -- at Qwest Field

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 8, Defense: 9, Kicker/punter: 2

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Kenny James* (702 yds)
Passing: Casey Paus* (1,476 yds)
Receiving: Craig Chambers* (408 yds)
Tackles: Evan Benjamin* (105)
Sacks: Manase Hopoi* (9)
Interceptions: Benjamin (3)

Spring Answers: With nearly every practice closed, who would ever know? Nevertheless, although coaches weren't thrilled by their performance in the 3-0 spring game, the running backs received plenty of praise by the staff throughout drills. Louis Rankin was the star of the spring, but the Huskies still feel good enough about everyone else that a committee approach is the likely scenario. James Sims and Kenny James will contribute, while Ty Eriks and Johnie Kirton look like solid fullbacks. ... Even without Khalif Barnes, the Huskies O-line looked better off in the spring. Everyone is healthy for the time being and Joe Toledo added 30 pounds and moved from tight end to tackle in impressive fashion. ... Two starters from the solid linebacker group were out, but that gave coaches an opportunity to check out some decent talent such as Dan Howell, Tahj Bomar and Kyle Trew. When you're trying to rebuild a once-proud program, depth is always a good start.

Fall Questions: When you lose 10 games, there are plenty. Look no further than the quarterback position, where 24 interceptions and a 40 percent completion rate tell you all you need to know about last year's trio of Paus, Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell. With Oregon transfer Johnny DuRocher joining the fray, it became a four-way battle that no one appeared to win outright in the spring. Stanback likely holds a slight edge, but it's hardly a done deal. ... The receivers don't give UW fans much comfort, either. Chambers didn't really carry over the momentum with which he finished 2004 and both Quintin Daniels and Corey Williams were out with injury. And the tight ends don't look like they'll scare anyone in the fall. ... It's a desperate situation at cornerback. Both starters graduated and injuries limited the competition to three scholarship players in the spring. Junior college help can't get here fast enough. ... Fall competition is also coming for kicker Evan Knudson and Sean Douglas, both of whom continued their struggles this spring.

Washington State Cougars
2005 Schedule
9/1 Idaho
9/9 at Nevada
9/17 Grambling
10/1 at Oregon State
10/8 Stanford
10/15 UCLA
10/22 at California
10/29 at USC
11/5 Arizona State
11/12 Oregon
11/19 at Washington

2004 overall record:
Conference record:

Returning starters
Offense: 9, Defense: 6, Kicker/punter: 2

2004 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Jerome Harrison* (900 yds)
Passing: Alex Brink* (1,305 yds)
Receiving: Jason Hill* (1,007 yds)
Tackles: Will Derting* (93)
Sacks: Mkristo Bruce* (6.5)
Interceptions: Jeremy Bohannon (3)

Spring Answers: He was good last fall, but Harrison was simply phenomenal this spring. Teammates call him "The Ghost," because of the way he reads the field and slips out of sight in a heartbeat. The senior racked up long run after long run and looks like he's headed for a monster senior season. ... By the final scrimmage, Hill and Chris Jordan were out with injury, but the coaching staff still felt fine about its receiving corps. Sophomore Michael Bumpus looks like a future star and senior Troy Bienemann is a comforting presence at tight end. ... Overall, the offense looks a lot more confident than it did last season. The unit dominated for much of the spring and seems more mature and cohesive. That needs to carry over into the fall. ... On the defensive line, sophomore tackles Aaron Johnson and Ropati Pitoitua lost fat and added muscle and both are likely starters on a front seven that looks strong. The line is one of the few places where depth exists, while the three starting linebackers are veterans and nasty hitters.

Fall Questions: Who will be under center in the season opener? Despite missing the entire spring recovering from a broken foot, big Josh Swogger (6-6, 250) is still atop the depth chart heading into August. But redshirt sophomore Alex Brink, who started five games in place of Swogger last season, played well in the spring. This should be a fun one to watch during preseason practice. ... Three secondary starters, including both safeties, have departed. Husain Abdullah and Eric Frampton are the favorites at the safety spots, but the corner job opposite Alex Teems is wide open. Newcomers are expected to contribute immediately at all three positions. ... The secondary is thin and it's not alone. Depth is a worry spot nearly across the board, especially at running back and on the offensive line. In practice, there was a collective wince every time someone appeared even slightly nicked up. If the Cougars want to bounce back from their losing season, staying healthy is an absolute must.

Brett Edgerton is a researcher for ESPN. He can be reached at