While you were on vacation... Washington

August, 17, 2011
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The 11th of 12 quick updates on offseason Pac-12 goings on.

Washington in a sentence
  • While QB Jake Locker is gone, the Huskies feel like they have turned a corner under third-year coach Steve Sarkisian after winning four consecutive games to finish 2010 -- including a Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska -- but a number of young players will need to come through for them to exceed last season's win total.
The big issue
  • While most of the focus will be on new starting quarterback Keith Price, youth on the offensive line and at linebacker might be more worrisome.
Quick hit news
  • Starting cornerback Quinton Richardson suffered a high ankle sprain in preseason camp and is likely to miss the opener against Eastern Washington.
  • Touted redshirt freshman running back Deontae Cooper will miss a second consecutive season due to a knee injury.
  • Washington and Oregon were the only two Pac-12 programs that didn't experience any coaching staff turnover this offseason.
  • Two touted in-state recruits, receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins have played well in preseason camp and might end up winning starting jobs.
  • JC transfer Antavius Sims and freshmen receiver Marvin Hall and running Kyle Lewis have yet to join the team as they still await approval of the NCAA Clearinghouse.
  • More roster attrition: fullback Zach Fogerson and defensive tackle Chris Robinson "retired" due to recurrent injuries. Fullback Kimo Makaula transferred to Idaho State.
  • Husky Stadium will begin a $250 million renovation in November that should be completed in advance of the 2013 season. Washington will play the 2011 Apple Cup against Washington State and all 2012 home games at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks stadium near downtown Seattle.

'Dynamic combinations' in Pac-12

August, 17, 2011
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The Pony Express Award, which recognizes "dynamic combinations" of players, has released a watch list of 50 combos, and seven are from the Pac-12, including two apiece from Stanford and Washington.

Here are the "dynamic combinations" from the Pac-12.

Washington: RB Chris Polk (JR), WR Jermaine Kearse (SR)
USC: QB Matt Barkley (JR), WR Robert Woods (SO)
Stanford: QB Andrew Luck (JR), WR Chris Owusu (SR), TE Coby Fleener (SR)
Arizona: QB Nick Foles (SR), WR Juron Criner (SR)
Washington: DT Alameda Ta’amu (SR), LB Cort Dennison (SR)
Stanford: OT Jonathan Martin (JR), G David DeCastro (JR)
Oregon: QB Darron Thomas (JR), RB LaMichael James (JR), RB Kenjon Barner (JR)

You can review the entire watch list here.

Prince plays well in front of stars

August, 17, 2011
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The stars were out at UCLA's practice Wednesday, but the biggest news came from a Prince.

With rapper/designer/businessman Sean "P. Diddy" Combs watching with his son, Justin -- a Bruins recruit -- quarterback Kevin Prince turned in his best work since, well, since the win over Texas on Sept. 25.

Prince completed 11 of 17 passes in 11-on-11 work, with two of his incompletions due to drops, per the Los Angeles Times.

“I thought it was maybe as good a practice as he has had,” coach Rick Neuheisel told reporters afterwards.

Combs wasn't the only star on hand. As reported by ESPN LA, "Former UCLA basketball players Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Baron Davis were there, along with Olympic sprint champion Maurice Green and former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, turning UCLA's sideline into an ESPY-like red carpet."

Wait ... where did Johnson play college ball? Oh, never mind.

Prince missed spring practices after knee surgery and has been consistently outplayed by Richard Brehaut up to this point. But with Brehaut sidelined with a foot injury, Prince turned in his best work.

The Bruins will hold a scrimmage on Saturday’s that likely will be critical toward Neuheisel naming a No. 1 quarterback. It's unclear whether Brehaut will be ready to go by then.

Before preseason practices, the job seemed Prince's to lose. Then Brehaut surged and Prince struggled.

Now it's Brehaut who needs to get healthy to rejoin the competition.

Video: Is USC a top-10 team?

August, 17, 2011
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Mark Willard and Andy Kamenetzky debate whether USC is a top-10 team this season and how many times they will win.

Pac-12 lunch links: Prince still struggling

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
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Pedro offers you his protection.

SI ranks Stanford over Oregon (or does it?)

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
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While Sports Illustrated picked Oregon to win the Pac-12 -- over Utah in the first conference championship game -- it ranked the Ducks behind Stanford in its preseason top-25.

SI tapped Stanford fourth and Oregon fifth in its top-25. It also has Arizona State 17th and USC 20th.

Alabama is No. 1. Oregon's season-opening opponent, LSU, is No. 3.

This actually isn't incongruous. The SI.com Pac-12 preview was done by highly respected Eugene Register-Guard columnist George "The Animal" Schroeder, while the top-25 is a magazine thing that operates independently.

Pac-12 nonconference foes in the top-25 other than LSU include No. 9 Nebraska (Washington), No. 12 Wisconsin (Oregon State), No. 13 Oklahoma State (Arizona) No. 15 Notre Dame (USC, Stanford), No. 19 Ohio State (Colorado) and No. 22 Missouri (Arizona State).

Does any other AQ conference play eight nonconference games versus top-25 foes?

What do you think?

Here's SI's top-25.

1. Alabama
2. Oklahoma
3. LSU
4. Stanford
5. Oregon
6. Florida State
7. South Carolina
8. Boise State
9. Nebraska
10. Arkansas
11. Texas A&M
12. Wisconsin
13. Oklahoma State
14. Michigan State
15. Notre Dame
16. Virginia Tech
17. Arizona State
18. TCU
19. Ohio State
20. USC
21. Mississippi State
22. Missouri
23. West Virginia
24. Auburn
25. Florida

USC to Miami: Karma is a harsh mistress

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
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The word of the day is "Schadenfreude."

"Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others," says Merriam-Webster.

That aptly describes the feelings at USC, where Trojans fans surely are grinning ear-to-ear over revelations of myriad alleged NCAA rules violations at Miami, most of which occurred under the watch of former athletic director Paul Dee.

Yes, the same Paul Dee who was the Committee on Infractions chairman in the USC case. Yes, the same Paul Dee who said, "high-profile athletes demand high-profile compliance."

Or, in the case of Miami under his watch -- 1993-2008 -- what appears to be the worst compliance IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

Know what Dee told the Palm Beach Post about the allegations of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, who is presently chilling in jail for his part in a $930-million Ponzi scheme?

Dee told the Post, "We didn't have any suspicion that he was doing anything like this. He didn't do anything to cause concern."

Let that sink in for a second.

Or how about this from Dee? Here he waxed sell-righteously -- and inaccurately -- over the USC case: “This case strikes at the heart of the principles of amateurism.” ("Inaccurate" because booster pay-for-play strikes at the heart of amateurism, not agents trying to lure players AWAY from amateurism).

Or this from Dee's Infractions Committee report on USC? “The general campus environment surrounding the violations troubled the committee. At least at the time of the football violations, there was relatively little effective monitoring of, among others, football locker rooms and sidelines, and there existed a general postgame locker room environment that made compliance efforts difficult.”

You want questionable monitoring? Shapiro, whose activities were supposedly unknown to Dee, once picked a fight with Miami's ... wait for this ... director of compliance!

In the press box. During a football game.

From the Yahoo! Sports report:

Shapiro, intoxicated, said he confronted Miami’s head of compliance, David Reed. According to a witness to the event, an incensed Shapiro was stalking through the Orange Bowl press box at halftime when he spotted Reed.

In a rage, Shapiro began cursing at the compliance director, calling him a “sissy” and other derogatory names, while attempting to draw him into a fight. In Shapiro’s mind, Reed was part of the problem in a slumping Miami program, largely for what Shapiro thought was too much oversight on relationships between players and boosters. And in Shapiro’s mind, that was worth fighting picking a fistfight with the head of compliance in a crowded press box.


That. Is. Rich.

The good news, USC fans, is you are not alone in your outrage. My guess is Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel does a fine job summarizing your thoughts here. This image is particularly well-wrought.

Dee, Miami's AD during most of the period covering Shapiro's allegations, is retired and no longer under NCAA jurisdiction. Still, it seems only fair he should spend a day at USC's Heritage Hall wearing a sandwich board with the word "Hypocrite."


And if you need more, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports adds his thoughts.

It's one thing to ignore Shapiro. It's an insult to our intelligence for any high-ranking Miami administrator to say they had no idea what he was all about.

"Karma," said one individual affected by that USC decision, "is a b----."


Read the entire Yahoo! Sports story here.

Schadenfreude isn't a good thing. In fact, too much of it imperils your soul. Or, to employ more moderate terms, makes you no fun to be around.

But, at least for today -- OK, for a week or so -- Dee-light in the Dee-liciousness of it.

Pac-12 top 25 for 2011: No. 9

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
11:30
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Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see the final post-2010 top 25 here. It doesn't, however, include players from Colorado or Utah.

9. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon

2010 numbers: Harris ranked No. 2 in the nation in punt returns (18.8 yards per return), with his four returns for touchdowns ranked first in the nation. He didn't become a starter until midseason, but he led the Pac-10 in interceptions (6) and passes defended (23). He returned one interception for a touchdown. He also had 33 tackles and recovered a fumble.

2010 ranking: No. 22

Making the case for Harris: Harris' playmaking earned him All-American attention after the 2010 season and before this upcoming campaign. He is an elite talent who needs to be more disciplined -- on and off the field -- and it's telling that he only earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors last season, behind cornerback teammate Talmadge Jackson (Harris was first-team as a punt returner). It also might be wise to revisit comments from defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. While some Oregon fans believe Harris is a superstar and budding high NFL draft choice, it's more accurate to see him as an unfinished product. But if he ever puts it all together, he could be something special. He did account for five touchdowns last year and grabbed an interception in the national title game -- just missing on a second due to a questionable call. Harris enters the season on indefinite suspension and will miss at least the LSU game. That is accounted for here, with a ranking slightly lower than he might deserve. If he grows up as a player and young man, expect him to be higher when we rank things again at season's end.

10. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

11. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford

12. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

13. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington

14. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

15. Delano Howell, S, Stanford

16. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California

17. Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado

18. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington

19. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford

20. Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State

21. Robert Woods, WR, USC

22. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

23. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

24. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

25. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

Best case-worst case: Colorado

August, 17, 2011
8/17/11
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Second in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-12 teams.

Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction. You can read last year's versions here.

We're going in reverse order of my post-spring power rankings (which might not be identical to my preseason power rankings).

Up next: Colorado

Best case

Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz shook his head.

"If Colorado is the worst team in the Pac-12 South, I'd hate to play in the Pac-12 South," said the touted Warriors QB after the Buffaloes sacked him five times and intercepted him twice in a 42-20 victory that ended a 17-game road losing streak.

Says new Buffs coach Jon Embree, "We don't have too much time to feel good about this. We have to go back home and watch film of last year's game with California. That should make us sick."

That 52-7 defeat to the Bears is a major reason many old school Pac-10 fans don't think too much of the Buffs. But after Colorado prevails 24-21 in a highly physical contest, it becomes clear the Buffs have been underestimated.

"Colorado has been underestimated," the Pac-12 Blog insightfully observes.

After whipping Colorado State, the 3-0 Buffs head to Ohio State brimming with confidence, though pundits believe the Buckeyes -- even down a few players -- have too much talent to lose, particularly inside the Horseshoe.

Down 21-17, with two minutes left, QB Tyler Hansen drives the Buffs to the Buckeyes 17-yard line. On third-and-10, he connects in the corner of the endzone with Paul Richardson.

But the officials rule Richardson didn't have possession when his landed. The play is reviewed but not overturned. Ohio State survives.

"What did I think of that call?" Embree asks. The term "pregnant pause" is used in 17 of 23 game stories the following day.

After whipping Washington State to improve to 4-1, the schedule gets tougher. Andrew Luck picks apart the Buffs secondary in a 41-20 loss at Stanford. An overtime win at Washington is followed by consecutive defeats to Oregon and Arizona State.

The Buffs could use a bye, but the schedule says 13 consecutive weeks, none off. Most of the whining, nonetheless, comes from the beat writers, who start to wish hotel room keys still had numbers on them.

The Buffs bounce back and upset USC, which guarantees them bowl eligibility, but lose to Arizona when QB Nick Foles lines up with five receivers and throws for 425 yards and four TDs against a game but overmatched secondary.

Colorado outlasts UCLA in the Rose Bowl when linebacker Jon Major blows up Bruins receiver Taylor Embree, who for a moment appeared to catch a game-winning TD pass.

"He's my son and I love him and I wish that it wasn't him on that play," Embree says, "But I really wanted to win this football game."

The 7-5 Buffaloes head to Utah, which is 7-4, with the apparent stakes being a berth in the Sun Bowl. The game is billed as a rivalry game between the Pac-12's two new members.

"Do you guys see this!" an enraged Embree says to his team during a meeting Monday before the game. He holds a bike above his head that it appears someone has vandalized with cheap, red spray paint.

"This is my 15-year-old daughter's bike. Look what they did to it! It used to be black and gold, our beloved colors. And now it is Utah red! Those, those, Utes... they made her cry!"

The meeting room erupts. "They made coach's daughter cry!" rages 6-foot-8 guard Ryan Miller. "We must crush them, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of their women!"

It will become known as the "Red Bike Incident." Utes fans will alternately revel in it or deny involvement. Years hence, college football historians will lean back and sagely say, "Yep, that was when those Buffs and Utes really started to hate each other. Might be the most vicious rivalry in all of college football."

Colorado prevails 28-27 in a game that features 195 yards in penalties. The Buffs then stomp Clemson in the Sun Bowl and finish 9-5.

Embree's recruiting class ranks 15th in the nation. The Big 12 falls apart. Nebraska finishes last in the Legends Division of the Big Ten.

The snow comes early and often and is most righteous.

Worst case

A team that can't win on the road and has a highly dubious secondary is not a good thing when you're facing a QB like Hawaii's prolific Bryant Moniz, who throws for four TDs against the Buffaloes.

And so Jon Embree's debut as Colorado's coach becomes an 18th consecutive road defeat, 44-35. Embree isn't happy.

"I'm not happy," Embree says.

The Buffaloes try to rally around the embarrassment of their 52-7 defeat at California last year, but they don't have anyone in the secondary who can cover receiver Keenan Allen, who catches three TD passes in a 38-20 Bears victory.

The Buffs beat state rival Colorado State, but the schedule becomes unforgiving thereafter. It doesn't help that injuries start to pile up.

They get rolled at Ohio State, picked apart by Washington State QB Jeff Tuel and blistered by Stanford QB Andrew Luck. An upset win at Washington ends the road losing streak -- the Huskies are struggling to throw the ball with new QB Keith Price -- and briefly stops the bleeding. At least until Oregon hangs 55 on the Buffs in a game that foregrounds Colorado's lack of team speed.

That becomes the first of four consecutive defeats. Though they win a sloppy game at UCLA, they go down hard at Utah, which captures the South Division crown.

A 3-10 finish is blamed on former coach Dan Hawkins, as are poor early snow accumulation and flu symptoms lots of fans seem to be having. Further, fans no longer burst into song each time Jon Embree's name is mentioned.

"I'm not happy," Embree says. "We need to get faster. We need to get tougher."

Nebraska loses the national championship game to Oklahoma, one of two BCS bowl teams from the nation's best football conference, the Big 12.

"Well, at least we signed the top five prospects from the state of Colorado," Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini says after the game.
This will be embarrassing to Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris and quarterback Darron Thomas. And to the Ducks and coach Chip Kelly.

It's details of the dashboard camera footage from an Oregon State Police patrol car, acquired by KATU News in Eugene, during the June 12, 4:30 a.m. traffic stop of Harris for driving 118 mph.

The first revelation is Thomas was Harris' passenger. It seems Thomas has bad luck being a passenger with teammates, see previous incidents with safety Eddie Pleasant and former QB Jeremiah Masoli.

The second revelation is this exchange:
Patrolman: “Who’s got the marijuana in the car?”
Harris: "We smoked it all."

Cliff, not the best choice of response.

At this point, it's worth emphasizing that on the video Harris takes and passes a the field sobriety test. He wasn't charged with an alcohol or drug-related offense.

Harris is, however, under indefinite suspension -- he will miss at least the opener against LSU -- while Thomas hasn't been -- and won't be, according to Kelly -- penalized for being in the car.

Harris was was driving a rented 2011 Nissan Altima with a suspended license. He has since paid fines for the driving violation. The car had been rented by an Oregon employee.

During the traffic stop, Harris said the car belonged to his "girlfriend."

Oregon has made no statement on potential NCAA violations, other than announcing an indefinite suspension of Harris and that it was conducting its own investigation to see if rules were broken. The woman in question previously told The Oregonian that Harris and a friend paid her in full for the rental.

More details from The Oregonian.

Of course, this is mostly water under the bridge. Kelly told reporters after practice Tuesday that he knew about the marijuana suspicion and that he wasn't going to punish Thomas "for being a passenger" (per Tweet from Chris Courtney of EDuck).

Still, seeing the video won't make anyone associated with the program proud.

The state trooper asks Harris, Thomas and his other passengers: “How do you think [Kelly would] like it if I called and told him you guys are doing 118 miles an hour down the freeway -- the star football players on the team?”

The reply from an unidentified voice, “No sir, he wouldn’t appreciate it.”

That's the truth.

Seven Pac-12 players on Playboy AA team

August, 16, 2011
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Seven Pac-12 players were named to the Playboy preseason All-America team.

Here are the Pac-12 players on the team.

QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
RB LaMichael James, Oregon
OT Matt Kalil, USC
OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State

Kick returner: James Rodgers, Oregon State
All-purpose player: Cliff Harris, Oregon

Nice tip of the cap to Rodgers, whose status -- despite positive early-camp reports -- still remains unclear after two offseason knee surgeries.

Here's the entire team:

THE 2011 PLAYBOY PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM

COACH OF THE YEAR
STEVE SPURRIER – SOUTH CAROLINA

QUARTERBACK
ANDREW LUCK – STANFORD
6’3”, 235lb, junior

RUNNING BACKS
LAMICHAEL JAMES – OREGON
5’9”, 185lb, junior
TRENT RICHARDSON – ALABAMA
5’11”, 224lb, junior

WIDE RECEIVERS
RYAN BROYLES – OKLAHOMA
5’11”, 185lb, junior
JUSTIN BLACKMON – OKLAHOMA STATE
6’1”, 210lb, junior
ALSHON JEFFERY – SOUTH CAROLINA
6’4”, 233lb, junior

CENTER
MIKE BREWSTER – OHIO STATE
6’5”, 300lb, senior

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
SEANTREL HENDERSON – MIAMI
6’8”, 345lb, sophomore
RILEY REIFF – IOWA
6’6”, 300LB, junior
MATT KALIL – USC 6’7”, 295lb, junior
JONATHAN MARTIN – STANFORD
6’6”, 304lb, senior

KICK RETURNER
JAMES RODGERS – OREGON STATE
5’7”, 188lb, senior

PLACE-KICKER
DAVID RUFFER – NOTRE DAME
6’1”, 176, grad student

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
QUINTON COPLES – NORTH CAROLINA
6’6”, 275, senior
JARED CRICK – NEBRASKA
6’6”, 285lb, senior
BRANDON JENKINS – FLORIDA STATE
6’3”, 258lb, junior
JEREL WORTHY – MICHIGAN STATE
6’3”, 305lb, junior

LINEBACKERS
TANK CARDER – TCU
6’3”, 237lb, senior
VONTAZE BURFICT – ARIZONA STATE
6’3”, 252lb, junior
LUKE KUECHLY – BOSTON COLLEGE
6’3”, 235lb, junior

DEFENSIVE BACKS
JAYRON HOSLEY – VIRGINIA TECH
5’11”, 170, junior
CHASE MINNIFIELD – VIRGINIA
6’0”, 185, senior
STEPHON GILMORE – SOUTH CAROLINA
6’1”, 194, junior
MARK BARRON – ALABAMA
6’2”, 218, senior

PUNTER
DREW BUTLER – GEORGIA
6’2”, 214, senior

ALL PURPOSE PLAYER
CLIFF HARRIS – OREGON 5’11”, 165, junior

ANSON MOUNT SCHOLAR/ATHLETE
KELLEN MOORE – BOISE STATE
Quarterback
6’0”, 191, Senior

Who's got the youngest team in the Pac-12?

August, 16, 2011
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Coaches love to say, "We're young." Sometimes it's true. Sometimes it sounds like an excuse. Sometimes it's both.

Being young often is a negative -- experience is important -- but a lot of fans immediately start to imagine all those young players combining the talents that earned them starting jobs with experience in future seasons.

So which Pac-12 teams are "young"?

We went through the latest conference depth charts available and counted how many projected starter are freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores.

A qualifier. This is an inexact science. For one, many teams list more than 11 starters on one or both sides of the ball. We've included all position players listed as a No. 1 on the depth chart. Second, starting lineups are still fluid, so some of these guys might not end up as starters and some youngsters won't emerge until the final days of preseason camp.

But this is a best guess.

Washington (11):OG Colin Tanigawa (RFr.), OG Colin Porter (So.), OT Erik Kohler (So.), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TFr.), QB Keith Price (So.), WR Kevin Smith (So.), DE Hau'oli Jamora (So.), OLB Princeton Fuimaono (So.), OLB John Timu (TFr.), Rush Josh Shirley (RFr.), SS Sean Parker (So.).

Reaction: It's fair to say that if the Huskies improve upon their 7-6 finish of a year ago, there will be plenty of reasons for optimism in 2012. Must, however, make note that the Huskies list 24 positions on their depth chart, so, for example, "Rush" end Josh Shirley isn't an every-down player.

USC (9):OT Kevin Graf (So.), OG Aundrey Walker (TFr.), WR Robert Woods (So.), FB Soma Vainuku (TFr.), RB Dillon Baxter (So.), DT George Uko (RFr.), LB Dion Bailey (RFr.), Hayes Pullard (RFr.), CB Nickell Robey (So).

Reaction: These young players will form the foundation of a program trying to weather severe scholarship restrictions due to NCAA sanctions.

Washington State (9):WR Marquess Wilson (So), OG John Fullington (So.), FB Jared Byers (So.), DT Kalafitoni Pole (RFr.), LB Sekope Kaufusi (So.), LB C.J. Mizell (So.), CB Nolan Washington (So.), SS Deone Bucannon (So.), CB Damante Horton (So.).

Reaction: A nice crew of young players for coach Paul Wulff. Will be get to enjoy them as they become veterans?

Arizona (8):WR Richard Morrison (So), OT Mickey Baucus (RFr.), OG Chris Putton (So.), OT Fabbians Ebbele (RFr.), DT Justin Washington (So), NT Sione Tuihalamaka (So.), CB Jonathan McKnight, FS Marquis Flowers (So.).

Reaction: The Wildcats are young on both lines. On the plus side, all five O-line starters will be back in 2012.

Colorado (6):WR Paul Richardson (So), OT David Bakhtiari (So), C Daniel Munyer (RFr.), OT Jack Harris (So), DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe (So), CB Parker Orms (So.).

Reaction: There could be a seventh youngster on this list, depending on how things shake out at cornerback. Richardson is a guy you will hear about this fall. A little surprised by the youth on the O-line.

Stanford (5):OG Kevin Danser (So.), FB Ryan Hewitt (So.), DE Ben Gardner (So.), OLB Trent Murphy (So.), CB Barry Browning (So.).

Reaction: These guys -- all new starters -- will be critical for the Cardinal this fall, at least if it wants to remain a top-10 team.

Utah (5):OG Jeremiah Tofaeono (So), WR Dres Anderson (RFr.), DE Joe Kruger (So.), LB Brian Blechen (So.), SS Eric Rowe (TFr.).

Reaction: This feels like a list of guys who will -- at least one day -- get All-Conference consideration.

Arizona State (4):OT Evan Finkenberg (So), DT Will Sutton (So.), DE Junior Onyeali (So.), CB Osahon Irabor (So.).

Reaction: Ditto with the comment on the Utes. The Sun Devils are a veteran team, but this is a strong foursome of sophomores.

Oregon (4):C Hroniss Grasu (RFr), WR Josh Huff (So), DT Wade Keliikipi (RFr), DT Ricky Heimuli (So.).

Reaction: The two DTs are young but they are more talented than the Ducks 2010 DTs. Huff is expected to breakthrough this fall.

UCLA (4):OG Chris Ward (So.), F-Back Anthony Barr (So.), DT Cassius Marsh (So.), SS Dietrich Riley (So.).

Reaction: Going in, I thought UCLA would have a longer list. In fact, they likely will, seeing that there are plenty of undecideds on the depth chart.

California (3):WR Keenan Allen (So.), LB Dave Wilkerson (RFr.), CB Steve Williams (So.).

Reaction: Cal figures to play a lot of young players this fall, but at present it doesn't look like many will start.

Oregon State (3):OG Josh Andrews (So.), DE Scott Critchton (RFr.), OLB Michael Doctor (So).

Reaction: This low number shouldn't be surprising. Coach Mike Riley's system for success is development. He recruits guys who aren't there yet but get there after a few years in the program.

Lunch links: Backup QB issues at Arizona

August, 16, 2011
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Whereas the truth is that fullness of soul can sometimes overflow in utter vapidity of language, for none of us can ever express the exact human measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.

Pac-12 top 25 for 2011: No. 10

August, 16, 2011
8/16/11
11:00
AM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see the final post-2010 top 25 here. It doesn't, however, include players from Colorado or Utah.

10. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

2010 numbers: Martin has started 24 of 26 games over the past two seasons at left tackle.

2010 ranking: Unranked.

Making the case for Martin: Martin is our pick for the best offensive lineman in the Pac-12. He might be the NFL's pick for the best offensive lineman in college football, as the 6-foot-6, 304-pound redshirt junior is a candidate to be the first off the draft board next spring, though Mel Kiper rates Martin one spot behind USC's junior tackle Matt Kalil. Suffice it to say, he's an almost certain first-round selection. The preseason first-team Playboy All-American earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors last season after earning honorable mention as a redshirt freshman. Over those two seasons, Martin, the protector of quarterback Andrew Luck's blind side, and the Cardinal line yielded just 13 sacks total, while also leading rushing attacks that averaged 214 and 218 yards per game, respectively. Martin has earned preseason All-American notices from a variety of publications and is on the Outland Trophy watch list. Yes, we are sort of repeating what we typed about linemate David DeCastro -- No. 24 on this list -- with whom Martin forms the best returning line tandem in college football.

11. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
12. T.J. McDonald, S, USC
13. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington
14. Matt Kalil, OT, USC
15. Delano Howell, S, Stanford
16. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
17. Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado
18. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
19.
Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
20. Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State
21. Robert Woods, WR, USC
22. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
23. David Paulson, TE, Oregon
24. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
25. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

Five Pac-12 QBs on Manning list

August, 16, 2011
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Five Pac-12 players on are the 31-member watch list for the Manning Award, which is given annually to the nation's best quarterback.

The winner will be announced after the bowls in January and will be honored at a ceremony in New Orleans.

Conference USA and the Big 12 also had five players on the list, while the Big East, the Big Ten and the SEC each have three quarterbacks recognized.

The Pac-12 QBs are:

Matt Barkley, USC
Nick Foles, Arizona
Andrew Luck, Stanford
Darron Thomas, Oregon
Jordan Wynn, Utah

You can view the entire watch list here.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Friday, 11/28
Saturday, 11/29