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October 9, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Kevin Gemmell

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:00 PM)

Hey gang. Just a head's up, our chat might be temporarily interrupted as I'm expecting a call from Hroniss Grasu anytime in the next 90 minutes for this week's Friday Q&A. If we have to break for a few, I'll make it up on the back end. With that, what have you got for me today?

Eric (Tacoma, WA)

After an incredibly emotional finish and heartbreaking loss to Stanford last week, coach Sark was obviously fired up about a few things in that game including Stanford faking injuries and the final call of the game. His comments after the game on the local KJR AM I think were absolutely blown out of proportion by the national media, which took it as an opportunity to stir up some drama between him and coach Shaw. I think this distraction is something dragged on by the media just to add flame to the fire. My feel, however, is that it wasn't as big of a deal as it appeared and I highly doubt Sark and the Huskies are still looking back at last week with a big day against the "O's" on the horizon.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:02 PM)

Let's just get the elephant in the chat out of the way early. No, I don't think his comments were overblown by the media. He was ticked, but he also knew exactly what he was doing when he said what he said. By firing the first shot directly at Stanford's bow, Shaw had to respond the only way that he did, which was a complete denial and standing up for his guys. I think Sark's biggest mistake was calling out a coach -- that's crossing a line of professionalism. There were better ways to handle it. He might have a legitimate gripe, but he had to know the firestorm that would follow by making those comments.

Pete DeStefano (Berkeley, CA)

How can people not see that the ball hit the ground in the Stanford/Washington game? Pretty obvious. How is this a contraversy?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:03 PM)

First off, if this is the Pete I think it is, great to hear from you, buddy. Hope you're doing well. To your question, I think the fact that the Pac-12 office confirmed the call gives Stanford some more credibility on this end. I think it was close enough that at warranted the scrutiny it got, but anytime you have a close call in the fourth quarter on a final drive, it's going to be debated up and down.

John (SLC)

Utah needs to play perfect in order to win against Stanford. What are other area Utah needs to improve beside not turning ball over?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:05 PM)

Something I'm writing for later this afternoon is that Utah is 3 of 27 on third downs in its last three games. A lot of that has to do with too many third-and-longs. They have to do a better job on first and second down -- especially against a front seven like Stanford's that can get after it. I'd say that's the biggest key going into this game.

ben (seattle)

best press box in pac 12

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:05 PM)

Haven't seen all of the new, upgraded pressboxes yet so I can't be sure. I'll say there aren't any bad ones.

Mike (Cali)

I think Washington exposed the fact Stanford may lose this year...more than once. I even see ND being a tough game for this team, let alone Oregon. Thoughts??

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:07 PM)

Ted and I have always held the belief that it would be really, really hard to go undefeated, so I wouldn't be shocked if Stanford and/or Oregon drop a game this season. Too early to tell on Notre Dame, but I think right now Stanford is a superior team based on common opponents.

Jon (Atlanta / GA)

Hey Kevin, which team has shown the most improvement since last year, in your opinion?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:07 PM)

I think it's a toss up between Utah and Washington State. The Utes are really, really close to breaking through and this week is a huge test for the Cougs to make a statement in the North.

Ryan (Portland)

Do you see this as a make or break game for the Cougs/Beavs bowl hopes? Feels like that, as the schedule gets brutal down the stretch for both teams.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:08 PM)

Absolutely. This is a huge opportunity for both teams given who they have down the stretch. I think this is going to be a really, really interesting game. Not sure who I'm picking yet ... and that says something about the way the Cougs are playing right now.

Cody B (SLC)

Have you heard anything on Jake Murphy? Rumor is he might be out for the rest of the year with a broke wrist.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:09 PM)

He had surgery on Monday, which Whittingham confirmed on his radio show, and it's likely he's done for the year. Big loss, because there isn't a ton of depth at the position.

John (Chandler, AZ)

Two part question: Is Deone Bucannon the best safety in the Pac-12 and is he the mid-season Pac-12 Defensive MVP?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:09 PM)

He's in the conversation. Not sure who the "best" is yet. And I'd put him in the running for midseason MVP along with Trent Murphy, Morgan Breslin, Anthony Barr, Alden Darby and a whole bunch of other guys.

James (CA)

Hogan last week - bad game or Husky defense? And do you see him picking it up against the Utes?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:10 PM)

Both -- career lows as a starter all the way around. The bigger issue that I think is getting overlooked is four-straight games with an interception. That's troubling.

Brian (Denver)

How can you not include Washington in your list of "most improved"? As a Stanford fan, I'm feeling fortunate to have escaped with a W. Last year (although they beat us), UW was very inconsistent. This year they are a top-15 team.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:11 PM)

That's fair. I think the expectations were a lot higher for Washington this year that this is about what we expected. Your point is well-taken.

Marc (San Francisco)

Can you remind everyone that even if the incomplete pass wasn't overturned, UW still was behind by 3 pts with no timeouts. Everyone is acting like they were robbed of a touchdown pass that would have won them the game, there was still a lot of work to do.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:11 PM)

That's the point I was trying to make in my mailbag yesterday. One play doesn't make an entire game.

Kevin H. (Mt. Angel)

With the Lyerla departure do you think Oregon may be cracking the whip to prevent another stretch of bad behavior? A big strong athletic kid but did have his disruptions in the last 6 months.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:13 PM)

Sounds like both parties left on good terms -- for whatever that is worth. Ted wrote a pretty strongly-opinionated column on the subject a couple of days ago that should be a must-read. From a PR standpoint, looks like it was handled pretty well.

Carson (Phoenix)

What do you see as the coug's "best case scenario" from here on out?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:14 PM)

Winning this weekend, for sure. And then getting one more win -- whether it's one of the Arizona schools or Utah, whatever. Getting to the postseason would be a huge step forward.

Will Sutton (Tempe AZ)

Why can't our defense stop anybody? Weren't we supposed to be one of the better units in the league? Who's to blame?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:15 PM)

It's not that you aren't stopping folks, it's that you aren't stopping folks late in games. There have been a few dropped interceptions, which doesn't help. At some point you have to give credit to the other guys for making plays, but the pressure from the front seven hasn't been as strong as we thought.

Wally (Milwaukie)

Kevin, I'm a little mystified about this talk that Marcus Mariota hasn't been "tested'. Looking back to last year I remember a scintillating contest with the ballyhooed Trojan and the 'golden' boy Matt Barkley. That game pulled the rug out from under Monte Kiffin and turned up the heat on his son. And while it didn't end as a 'W' I recall Marcus getting the ducks within a FG during overtime at Stanford. Are there real questions, or is this just another jag for writers that can't think about anything else to write about?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:17 PM)

I think a lot of that revolves around Oregon being tested this year -- not specifically Mariota. I think Oregon's win over Tennessee looks a lot better after the Vols pushed Georgia (though an injured Georgia team). Mariota has been tested plenty. I just think people want to see how much he's grown up against a ranked opponent. And they'll get that chance this weekend.

Husky Season Ticket Holder (Hopefully not Houston)

I am being forced to attend a family wedding in Houston on saturday. What is the best excuse you can come up with to make sure I can watch the dawgs and also see Gameday in Seattle? PS Which mascot head does corso pick?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:19 PM)

I'd say upset stomach. Retreat to the wash room and stream the game on your phone/tab. You might get the occassional "you OK in there?" question every 20 minutes or so. But if you are yelling or groaning, it will add to the ruse. Predictions come out tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.

Chris [via mobile]

What's your favorite part of being a Pac-12 blogger?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:19 PM)

Weekly chats. (And working with Ted).

Walt White (Norfolk, VA)

Good afternoon Kevin. Do you think Mark Helfrich should've put in extra effort to retain Lyerla? Put on your jumpsuit and gas mask...let's cook.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:20 PM)

Not necessarily. He struggled with a few drops and appeared to be more of a distraction than a viable addition.

Treebeard (Stanford)

'Upset' stomach - Nice, possibly unintentional, pun

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:21 PM)

Totally unintentional. But good call.

Xander (San Diego)

Do you think Utah will be a contender for the South Division title any time soon? If so how many years til?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:22 PM)

I'd give them at least 1-2 more years to have a full recruiting cycle as a Pac-12 team. Also, they'll start getting the full share of Pac-12 money next year and the new facilities will dazzle recruits. They are close.

Jim (Grand Junction, CO)

Is USC just waiting for Jack DelRio to become available/announce or are they really scouting the field right now?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:23 PM)

From conversations I've had with folks, there is no hurry, so don't expect much until late Nov., early Dec.

Trojan1981 (FT BRAGG)

What up Kevin? What can we look forward this week of college Football?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:23 PM)

Pure, unadulterated awesomeness.

Jason (Vancouver, WA)

Would you be shocked if Oregon dominated Washington the way the Ducks have all of their other opponents this year?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:24 PM)

Not much shocks me anymore in college football. I've seen a lot in my years, so if Washington loses by 24, I wouldn't be shocked. If Washington wins by 24, well, maybe a little shocked at that. I do think this one will be closer than the 26-point margin of victory the Ducks have averaged over the last nine games.

Adam (PDX)

Is Stanford the only team that has a chance to stop the Ducks? Kinda seems like it, sadly.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:25 PM)

I suppose we'll find out this weekend, won't we?

ed (Nor Cal)

UCLA certainly doesn't want to get caught looking past Cal this week, but what are their chances of beating Stanford or Oregon in the weeks ahead? Is their current ranking (11th) legit?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:26 PM)

I think it's legit. They are a good football team and I think the rest of the country recognizes it, which is why they are enjoying a top 15 ranking. I think they could win either game -- both two in a row on the road will be tough.

DC (Denver, CO)

USC still has to play Arizona with a bunch of banged up starters and a young QB...how do see tomorrow night's game unfolding?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:27 PM)

No clue. I talked to Coach O and a couple of players and they seem like they have a renewed sense of excitement. The teams have split the last four meetings and I think the last six have been decided by a touchdown or less, so expect an interesting/tight game.

johnny 5(panolam) [via mobile]

whats you're over/under on the game in Pullman on passing attempts?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:27 PM)

90. And I'm leaning toward the over.

Big Red (Oregon)

I feel like Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are not getting enough love nationally. Sean has played outstanding. Every team OSU plays knows that they are going to throw, and throw a lot. Without Sean and Brandin the Beavs could be 1-4

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:28 PM)

I think the stigma of losing to an FCS team is weighing heavily on OSU's national perception. But if they keep putting up those numbers -- and if they are able to do it against Stanford -- folks will notice.

Abhi (Tempe)

Looks like all the fuss about ASU was just a waste of time. I see them going 4-3 the rest of the way (losses to Wash, UCLA, one more trap game) and ending up 7-5 about the same as last year. What do you think ?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:29 PM)

I wouldn't say that. I think they are around where we thought they'd be, give or take a win. I figured 2-2 in the two-game stretch seemed about right. More importantly, they won against a Pac-12 South team and they are still very much in the hunt for the Division title. Likely going to come down to that UCLA game, which is what we've been saying for the last six months.

Rich Rod (Tucson)

How do you see my 2014 season turning out? We seem to have an influx of offensive talen via transfer.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:30 PM)

I think Arizona is going to be pretty scary next year. Someone joked their scout team might be better than their first team. And if they get Hill back, look out, South.

Ute Boi (SLC)

Over under on how many interceptions Travis Wilson has on Saturday? How big of an effect will it have on the game?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:32 PM)

That was as pretty uncharacteristic game from Travis. Keep in mind he was 9-3 on touchdown/interception ration before that game. A lot of those weren't his fault. But Stanford's defense has a pretty good streak of games with at least one takeaway (25 or 26, something like that) so I wouldn't be shocked to see a couple of turnovers.

Tim (ATL)

Is stanford's poor offensive performance against UW a sign that they lost more from last year's team than people thought, or just the UW is an elite D (in the conference, at least)?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:34 PM)

I think Washington's defense is really good. Sometimes QBs just have a bad game, and I thought Hogan had a bad game. We'll see if he bounces back before we start calling Stanford's offense into question.

JP (El Paso)

There are a ton of great QB's this year in the conference. What is your pick for top QB in the conference so far? And who do you see as being the best "NFL fit" QB?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:35 PM)

So hard to tell because each one fits into their own different scheme. Mariota is perfect for what Oregon does. Hundley is perfect for what UCLA does. Mannion is perfect for what Oregon State does etc. etc. I think Mariota and Hundley have a great shot at being elite quarterbacks and I wouldn't be shocked to see Mannion, Hogan, Kelly, Price all get looks.

Scooby Doo (Tucson)

Was Scooby Wright's first game a fluke? He seems to have tailed off a bit.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:36 PM)

Don't think so. He's a true freshman linebacker -- that's a tough assignment. Think he's going to be a stud for next few years.

Tom (Onlydevilfan, NJ)

Can Asu ever turn the corner? Seems like every year its sleeping giant this and potential that.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:36 PM)

For ASU, turning the corner would be winning the Division. And they still are in the hunt for that.

keith (logan)

would it be a shock if stanford lost in slc? and if that did happen would that put them in the race for the south division?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:37 PM)

Don't think it would be a shock. SLC is a tough place to play. A conference win would certainly help, but it would be against a North Division team and they are already one game behind UCLA in the South Division. I think it would serve as more of a signature win for a team that could use one.

B (Seattle)

Over-under on over-under questions you're going to get today?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:37 PM)

I'm already at 425 that haven't been answered. Trying...

Bruinfan (Westwood)

There's no way UCLA is looking past Cal after what happened last year? Also how susceptible is Stanford to a letdown at Utah?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:39 PM)

Agreed. Zero chance. Besides, that's not how Mora looks at things. I promise Mora is showing that game film over and over reminding them what happens when you make mistakes. As for a Stanford letdown, certainly possible. As I said previously, I think Utah is a pretty good team and tough at home.

David (San Francisco)

Kevin! The 7-11 across from The Hut burned down! No more late night taquitos! Conspiracy theorists say the school did it so they had space to build their Gemmell shrine.. (As a Duck fan I personally think Washington is responsible for this) Is Mondo Burrito next?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:40 PM)

NO!!!!!!!!!! That's the worst news I've heard in a long time. The shrine would be cool.

biggeazy in the heart of Husky Nation [via mobile]

Kevin Kevin Kevin. I'd love to discuss "ref gate" but there's bigger fish to fry. I think UW's secondary is being overlooked (not by you) by many. Every QB they've faced has had his worst game to date. They lead the conference in pass efficiency defense. Not to mention Hogan had just got done torching WSU with the nation singing his praises. My question to you isn't whether or not our secondary is good rather whether or not, based on opponents faced, it's thr best in the conference to this point?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:42 PM)

Based on who they have played, they are certainly in the conversation. Really curious to see how they fare against Oregon -- because I've seen Washington's secondary be really, really good at stopping the run. Obviously that's going to be a huge key to the game this weekend.

Jon (Idaho)

With another 5-7 season does Whit start to feel the heat?????

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:42 PM)

Not sure. His next win will be his 75th... and you have to do a lot of good to reach 75 wins. I still say give them four years in the Pac-12 before you start talking about a coaching change.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Hey! How about answering one of my questions? Do you think one of the top defensive coordinators in the conference (Pendergast, Mason, or Wilcox) will be head coaches this time next year?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:43 PM)

If not next year, then within 2-3 years for one of those guys.

B (Seattle)

Walter vs Dexter. Who wins in a cage match?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:43 PM)

Uh, Dexter, obviously.

Burke (The Dam Dam)

What is the pass/run split for the Beavs this weekend?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:44 PM)

Looks like Storm Woods is going to be back, which should help. But right now, based on who they have at QB and receiver, I'd say at least 65 percent pass. I have a feeling it's going to be that kind of game.

Gowazzu02 (Pullman)

No love for Breske in top D coordinator talk?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:45 PM)

He's done an outstanding job. I think the question was which guys were going to be up for HC jobs and I don't think Breske has a big enough name yet to be in that conversation, especially coming from an FCS school. Still, can't overlook the job he's done because it's been outstanding.

Paul (Portland)

Does Mariota have his helmet hanging up in the fourth this week?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:46 PM)

Probably not.

Johnny Foosball (Merica)

Did you play football? If so what was your position?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:47 PM)

Football in high school. OLB. Rugby in college, prop.

Preston (Tempe)

Kevin, considering ASU's road woes the past few years, I was wondering how exactly does a team prepare for a road game that is different than a home game?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:48 PM)

It's tough to simulate climate, crowd noise, etc. But that's what they try to do. Dunk footballs in a bucket of water when a wet environment is expected. Blasting crowd noise on speakers, etc. That's the best you can do. Other than that, it just comes down to be comfortable playing in a hostile environment. That comes with maturity and confidence.

JBag (Monmouth, OR)

How about Trent Murphy actually practicing jumping to block passes at the line then actually getting it done in a big time situation? Does anyone else practice it like that.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:49 PM)

Pretty sure every team practices that. He's just a stud at it.

Sum ting wong (China)

Who are your top 3 players you have interviewed in the last couple of years?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:49 PM)

Hmmm... last three years ... Terrence Stephens, Kenjon Barner ... Brandon Magee are all in the mix.

Eric_Beaver (Beaverton)

Kevin, do you think this goverenment shut-down could have been avoided had the Beavers not lost to EWU to open the season? Butterfly effect?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:50 PM)

That's as good of a reasoning as the rest of the them. So we'll go with that.

Robert [via mobile]

What positional match up are you most looking forward to in the Oregon-Washington game? I think Bishop Sankey against Oregon's linebackers will be really interesting. Seems like it will be a chance for either Sankey to make a Heisman statement or Oregon's linebackers to show there wasn't much of a drop off after losing Jordan, Alonso, and Clay. Thoughts?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:51 PM)

I think it's going to be the question I answered earlier ... Washington's secondary stepping up in the run game. If Oregon's backs get to the second level, as they've been known to do from time to time, open-field tackling could be the difference.

The PC Police (USA)

Come on Kevin. Don't let something racist through like Sum Ting Wong.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:51 PM)

Ugh... didn't even notice that...

JBag (Monmouth, OR)

What color are you wearing right now? Yes, we will hold it against you if you are wearing purple.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:52 PM)

Haha. Blue polo shirt. Have to shoot a skype video with Ted after I get through with this.

Prich (Work)

W/out giving the answer away, have you decided on your UO/UW winner, yet?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:52 PM)

I have.

Michael Perkins (Corvegas)

If the beavers were to win ONE game from either Stanford or the Ducks who do you think they?d beat and why?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:52 PM)

Seems like they've been a tougher matchup for Stanford recently. Oregon has dominated the series.

Pavone (VA)

Kev what do you think of the Virginia Tech defense? Are they legit at this point? Can they make a bowl game on defense alone?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:54 PM)

Haven't studied them extensively since it's not the conference I cover. But I thought they were pretty strong in the Ga. Tech game. And they already have five wins, so I'd say they have a pretty good shot at a bowl game.

Jose Ole (Tucson)

OK - you have to pick only ONE type of ethnic food to eat for the rest of your life (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, etc...). What is it? And no, American isn't ethnic.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:55 PM)

Has to be mexican -- seeing as I live 15 minutes from Old Town. I could eat there every night.

Bill (Denver)

Chat's running out.... say something nice about the Buffs.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:55 PM)

Talked with Mac about the confidence of the team this week and he said there are tell-tale signs that the culture is changing. And he's seen all of them. Might not translate to wins this year, but he really likes what he sees from the team in practice and the locker room. That's a positive sign that a lot of folks don't necessarily see.

Joe (HIHWW)

Kevin, how much (if at all) does it hurt the Ducks in perception that Stanford gets Unbeaten UW and (theoretically) Unbeaten UCLA First?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:56 PM)

Doesn't. Ducks are No. 2 and receiving No. 1 votes. They won't slide unless they lose.

Papa John (Santa Barbara)

Be truthful now, Kevin. Have you ever faked an injury? Or have you ever coached anyone to "sit down"?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:57 PM)

One time I was blowing through chat answers so quickly that the next day Ted had to fake an injury because he couldn't keep up with my up-tempo typing. That's the closest I've come.

Jon (Idaho)

What is your nickname?

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:57 PM)

Not suitable for chat. But most of the folks here, for some reason, call me K-Bone. You can stick with that.

ben (seattle)

what will Kiffins next job be? If UW loses its OC could you see Sark bringing him here as a OC

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:59 PM)

Depends on what he wants to do. There will always be lower-level FBS teams that would love to bring him in as a head coach. Depends on whether he wants to be a head coach or a coordinator or go back to the NFL where he could get a job as a position coach. All up to him at this point.

Matt (Portland)

Kevin, why is your office so boring? You don't have much up in the office where you do your videos at.

Kevin Gemmell
  (2:59 PM)

Couple pictures of the kid, that's enough to get me through the day.

Tim (ATL)

i sure hope washington's secondary is making a lot of tackles... ha! that said, they better not focus too much on stopping the run or else huff and addison will make them pay deep...

Kevin Gemmell
  (3:00 PM)

Therein lies the problem trying to defend balanced teams. If the safeties step up too much, they'll get burned over the top. All about making the right reads and playing disciplined ball.

Kevin Gemmell
  (3:01 PM)

All right folks, that will do it for me. You've got Ted tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by and, as always, I hope your team wins.