Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: September 4, 2011 2:00 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
1. It was a rough week for the Pac-12.
The non-conference slate is usually something the Pac-12 takes pride in but Larry Scott would certainly like to forget week one of the season on the field and concentrate on expansion off of it. Record-wise, the conference did ok at 8-4. Look deeper however, and you'll see some serious flaws. Washington allowed their first ever FCS opponent to throw for 473 yards and three touchdowns on them before Desmond Trufant made a last minute interception. USC, too, held on thanks to a last minute pick and Oregon State lost to an average FCS team in Sacramento State. Rick Neuheisel's seat got warmer with a loss to Houston and, in the week's flagship game, Oregon got pushed around by an LSU team dealing multiple off the field issues. Yes other conferences struggled this weekend, and yes the Pac-12 can rebuild their reputation, but it was just not a great start to the 2011 season out West.
2. Stanford is the conference torch-bearer for now.
There's no question it will be extremely tough for Oregon to get back into the national title race given the back-to-back losses to SEC teams and the way they were manhandled in the opener. Is it impossible for them to end up in New Orleans? No, but it will be a long climb back to the top five to be in that position again. That leaves Stanford as the most likely Pac-12 representative that can make a run. They certainly have the quarterback as Andrew Luck spread the ball around to several new targets as the Cardinal rolled San Jose State 57-3. Their schedule looks even easier now too as they host Oregon and wrap up with an even more suspect Notre Dame team. They have the best player in the country and now it's their turn to lead the charge until the Ducks roll into Palo Alto for the head-to-head showdown to take it back from them.
3. Robert Woods is a special player.
After being limited throughout parts of spring practice and fall camp, it's clear that the Freshman All-American is a key cog in the USC offense. Woods caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns and simply was the Trojans' offense against Minnesota. His quarterback was pretty sharp too, as Matt Barkley completed a school-record 34 passes despite an average-at-best offensive line in front of him. There were plenty of quick passes to Woods Saturday afternoon, but his burst and ability to break tackles are a good reason why he's wearing former great Steve Smith's number. The offense trailed off in the second half but if there's one bright spot for Lane Kiffin watching the film, it's that Woods is a star.
4. Where does Oregon State go from here?
Mike Riley didn't really know what kind of team he had this year and after week one, he really might not know. The Beavers played more freshmen in a game than they have in the last 16 years and even then, it's hard to figure out how they dropped their home opener to an FCS school that was 6-5 last season. It does appear that the team has found a replacement for Jacquizz Rodgers after true freshman Malcolm Agnew rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Katz was not sharp at all, completing 50 percent of his passes with an interception before being replaced at halftime. With so many question marks, Riley and company better figure some things out quickly as they'll travel to a very impressive Wisconsin team next week.
5. Why is Oregon throwing the ball so much?
Yes LSU's defense was good and yes, it was certainly swarming anytime an Oregon player touched the ball. That still doesn't explain why the Ducks couldn't run the ball Saturday night and Chip Kelly had Darron Thomas throw it an eye-popping 54 times. That was the most attempts by a quarterback on the team in over seven years. Seven. It's just not like Kelly's team to purposefully try to establish the run early and often either. Once they got behind you can understand them going to the air but rarely has the run-pass split been like it has been against LSU (and feel free to go back to last year against Auburn too). LaMichael James was held under 60 yards on the ground for his second straight game and it appeared he never could find daylight. Whether that's because he's a half-step slower or because the rebuilt offensive line couldn't create a hole is something the coaching staff will have to figure out. Bottom line, it has to be concerning to see Thomas drop back to throw as much as he did.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Bryan Fischer, Chip Kelly, Darron Thomas, Desmond Trufant, Houston, Jacquizz Rodgers, LaMichael James, Lane Kiffin, Larry Scott, LSU, Malcolm Agnew, Matt Barkley, Mike Riley, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Woods, Ryan Katz, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Stanford, Steve Smith, UCLA, USC, Washington, Wisconsin
Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 3:58 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Oregon State star wide receiver James Rodgers has had a tumultuous 10 months since suffering a season-ending knee injury against Arizona last October. Rodgers has undergone two knee operations and a difficult recovery process, but the redshirt senior has finally been granted permission from doctors to return to the field.
"After consultation with the physician, James Rodgers has been cleared to practice in a limited fashion for a to-be-determined amount of time," head coach Mike Riley announced in a prepared statement.
Riley said that there would be more meetings with the physician and more information in the coming weeks, but for Beaver fans any positive news is encouraging regarding Rodgers' health. The wideout was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing the final seven games of the 2010 season. James brother, Jacquizz, led the Beavers in rushing last year picking up 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns. James will be wearing Jacquizz's number (No. 1) in 2011, and has the potential to have an equally impressive impact if he can stay healthy. Rodgers serves not only as a dangerous deep threat but is also is the focal point of Oregon State's return game when healthy.
Oregon State will kick off fall camp Aug. 8.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:17 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:21 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- Following a video production that would have made Steven Spielberg proud, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott kicked off the conference's inaugural Pac-12 Media Days from Los Angeles Tuesday morning. Though he didn't make bold proclamations about the state of NCAA affairs like some of his peers, Scott did extoll the virtues of the league on the heels of landing a big new media deal.
"The last 12 months have brought monumental change to the Pac 10 conference, now the Pac 12," Scott said. "The conference moniker, Conference of Champions, has been well earned and embraced over the years. And this past year was no exception.
"This is a new era for the conference as we embrace the future, and the addition of Colorado and Utah very much helped us secure a landmark media agreement that's going to provide for unprecedented exposure nationally for the conference.
Scott focused on the accomplishments of the conference both on and off the field, noting that two players were finalists for the William Campbell Trophy, the so-called "academic Heisman." Of course, he also mentioned the fact that the league put two teams in BCS bowls and is returning two returning Heisman finalists.
"The Pac 12 brand of football, if I can describe it that way, is as dynamic as any in college sports. Year after year we seem to produce the best quarterbacks and the most sophisticated offenses in the country," Scott said. "All five of the quarterbacks that are here with us today uphold the standard of play that legends before them set."
Plenty of coaches and players also talked about their teams heading into the league's first year, here's some highlights from Pac-12 North:
- "This is always a favorite time of the year because the players have been working hard all summer long and now it's timed to get back to work," head coach Jeff Tedford said. "The chemistry, I'm really excited about this team with the leadership, the work ethic, the team chemistry. I'm really pleased with how they've come together and their work ethic. Very eager to compete."
- The Bears failed to go to a bowl last year but, according to Tedford, they were a handful of plays away.
"Last season we fell short of that, and we're not hiding from that," he said. "We understand that there is a very fine line between winning and losing, and we're six points away from being 8-4 last year."
- Tedford said he will be more involved with play calling this season as a result, hoping to improve a Cal offense that floundered down the stretch last season.
"Offensively we need to improve. We were not close to the consistency that we needed to compete at a high level," Tedford said. "Zach Maynard has been named the started and he earned it."
- With the departure of the team's leading rusher Shane Vereen, Tedford is counting on one of his incoming freshmen to compliment his inexperienced returnees at the tailback position.
"We recruited four tailbacks and I'm excited to see what they can do," he said. "I really think we'll have one back or two be solid contributors."
- Tedford said it would be a little bit different playing two Thursday games and one on Friday. The Bears are also playing the majority of their "home" games at AT&T Park due to construction on Memorial Stadium.
"Wherever those lines are, that's what were going to focus on," he said.
- The 10th year head coach was also asked about Will Lyles since the program purchased a scouting package from the now infamous high school scout.
"I'm not concerned one bit," Tedford said. "I wouldn't know Will Lyles if he were in this room."
- Ducks head coach Chip Kelly knew right away the questions about the program's NCAA investigation were coming early and coming often.
"I know the one everybody is waiting to have answered but we sent out a release earlier," Kelly opened his remarks to the media with. "We've cooperated fully with (the NCAA) and will continue to cooperate them."
For more on Chip Kelly's comments on the Lyles situation, click here.
- Kelly's appearance wasn't completely about the cloud hanging over his program. Fresh off a BCS National Championship game appearance, the Ducks head coach is experiencing quite the roster turnover and focused on other issues.
"I looked at our roster coming in here and I think we have 11 or 12 seniors, and we'll have 47 either freshmen or red shirted freshmen," he said. "It's a good time for us. We're excited. We start on August 8, and we have an interesting game to start the season on September 3rd that has every one of our players attention, and we'll work as hard as we can to prepare for that game on September 3rd against a really, really good LSU team."
- Luckily for Oregon's explosive offense, the Ducks aren't hurting for talent despite being young.
"LaMichael (James) is the returning Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's number one running back," Kelly said. "I've always believed that to win football games you have to be able to run the football. And we've led the Pac-10 in rushing in the last four years. Total offense the last four years, scoring offense the last four years, and LaMichael's a huge part of that."
- Kelly said he hasn't made any decisions on suspended players Kiko Alonso and Cliff Harris. Both players are working out with the team but their status for opener and beyond is still up in the air.
- Incoming recruit D'Anthony Thomas, "Can flat out run," according to Kelly and the coaching staff will figure out a way to incorporate him into the offense. Lache Seastrunk is one of the players that's a possibility to be the third string running back behind James and Kenjon Barner but nothing is set in stone because no one grabbed hold of the position in spring practice.
- "We're excited to be here at the dawning of the Pac-12 conference," veteran coach Mike Riley said. "But we're going to really, really have to grow a lot through fall camp and through our season. We had five guys that had off-season surgeries and missed spring practice. So as we get back into this thing, we'll have to grow a lot and be ready to compete all the way down the stretch, get better every day."
- As someone who has just about seen it all over the years, the new format with two divisions and not playing everybody every year will take a bit of getting used to for Riley but he was excited about the changes.
"I've been in the conference a long time now, 11 years, and I've seen the competition rise to where every week is like the Super Bowl," he said. "So I think it's going to be really, really competitive."
- The Pac-12 put on a seminar with their head of officiating on Monday in order to better educate the media about some of the new rules going into effect in 2011. The one rule that has drawn the most criticism is the new celebration rule, which Riley says is just something the players will have to adjust to.
"It's going to be an emphasis for the officials early," he said. "Whether or not you agree with the rules, this is what it is. I think it's going to be to a point where you're going to have to be really careful."
"You've got to deal with it," senior safety Lance Mitchell said. "When it affects the team, it's just bad all around and you have to keep it under control."
- One of the key players for the Beavers is all-everything athlete James Rodgers, who is coming off his second knee surgery but should be able to contribute this season.
"The one thing you can never do with James is count him out," Riley said. "He's been deemed ahead of schedule but I'm going to play this conservatively."
- Rodgers' brother, Jacquizz, was the team's leading rusher for the past few years but left early for the NFL, a decision Riley said was a good one despite the criticism "Quizz" took. Though there's some talent at the position to replace him in the offense, it will be a wait and see approach until one player separates from the pack.
"We don't have a number one back that can replace Quizz today," he said "I think if we look at that group it will probably be running back by committee."
- Riley expects the team to be very solid on defense and expects Jordan Poyer and Michael Doctor to be key contributors among others.
He also said key contributor Joe Halahuni will be ready going into the fall camp after having surgery in April.
- So what's David Shaw's deal? Apparently, it's much like Jim Harbaugh's, the man he replaced in Palo Alto.
"The differences are minimal because our biggest differences are we have different personalities," Shaw said. "We have the same goals and same competitive drive. We like to teach. I see myself as a teacher and that's the environment we've created down there."
- For Shaw's Heisman Trophy front-running quarterback Andrew Luck, not having much a transition between the two head coaches has been invaluable.
"It's definitely nice not to have to learn a new scheme, a new offense," Luck said. "Coach Shaw recruited me. He's been instrumental in my growth as a football player and ever since I've been on campus. So continuity was definitely something that a lot of the players were hoping for when the coaching change was being made. It's definitely been easier for me, I think.
- Luck was sporting a rather large beard for his media day appearance and according to him, the first time he's grown one. Though he's not sure if he's keeping it, the humble star did make news by announcing that he would indeed be leaving Stanford after this season.
"I'm viewing this as my last college football season and approaching it as such," he said.
- On the opposite side of the ball for The Cardinal, Shaw will be using to co-coordinators on defense with Derek Mason and Jason Tarver.
"We do have co-coordiators," Shaw said. "The mix of those two guys are phenomenal. They're like an old married couple, they finish each others' sentences."
- Wide receiver and ace return man Chris Owusu missed six games due to injury last year and will be a key part of the offense this year with an inexperienced group of receivers - if he can stay healthy.
"I haven't said anything to Chris except play every game," Shaw said. "We need Chris Owusu to play every game. We've got a talented but inexperienced receiving core around Andrew."
- If there was one person in the room who was really excited to be a part of the inaugural Pac-12 Media Day, it was Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.
"Being a Southern California guy and being raised in this thing when it went from Pac-8 to Pac-10, to Pac-12, it's just exciting," Sarkisian said. "I think for us as the University of Washington and our program as we're growing, we couldn't be in a better conference at you a better time for the exposure needed for us and for this conference."
- Sarkisian talked at length about the Huskies' brand of football as the team moves on from the Jake Locker era.
"I think we've got a football team that you saw at the end of last season starting to play a brand of football that we believe in, that is one that is physical that believes in running the football and playing sound defense," Sarkisian said. "We're fortunate to have veteran leadership as we grow but we're still a very young football team. We've played 16 true freshmen last fall. And we've got veteran leaders."
- There's not much that can get a head coach going than talking about his quarterback and the former signal-caller-turned-coach had no problems praising starter Keith Price but cautioning that they would take it slow in his first year as the starter.
"He's a kid that comes to work with a smile on his face," Sarkisian said. "But the reality of it is we're not going to be able to rely on that quarterback position like we were able to with Jake for two years. It's going to be more on relying on Chris (Polk), and Jesse Callier of running the ball, then utilizing the one-on-one matchups on the outside with the Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, Kevin Smith, and maybe the emergence of a newcomer in Kasen Williams.
- With someone new behind center, many expect Polk to carry the offense on his back, something he accepts but realizes he can't really do if the team is to be successful.
"It's not necessarily on my back, because the game of football is not based off individual performances," Polk said. "So if our O-line's not working and the running game's not working and the passing game's not working."
- A few players, such as Semisi Tokolahi and Sione Potaoa'e, might be limited once the Huskies break for fall camp but the team should be close to full strength once the pad comes on.
"For the most part we're healthy," Sarkisian said. "We look good. Our guys are transforming their bodies and look great."
- Washington State was picked last in the North Division but if there is one encouraging sign for the Cougars, it's on defense with some players who are young but have starting experience.
"There's a good chance that we'll start just one or two seniors on defense," head coach Paul Wulff said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to take a big step on defense."
- Wulff signaled out running back Rickey Galvin, wide receiver Kristoff Williams and linebackers Sekope Kaufusi and Alex Hoffman-Ellis as players who he expects to make the leap to key contributors.
- Despite being at the bottom of the conference standings for awhile, Jared Karstetter said that the Cougars are being taken more serious by other Pac-12 programs.
"Yeah, I think we were more competitive especially the end of last year," he said. "Any sort of lack of respect that we feel as a team, I think that we just use that as motivation to go out there on game day and compete and prove ourselves.
- Wulff talked at length about the type of player he recruits and specifically said the staff is looking for players with their head on straight.
"We've gone about our business to recruit the right type of person," Wulff said. "Great football players that can help you build a team. We go after guys that fit our profile."
- With a good quarterback with plenty of experience behind center in Jeff Tuel and an improved defense, Wulff thinks the team can build on last season and move up in the pecking order.
"I know through spring football, we were executing things we'd never done," he said.
Tags: Alex Hoffman-Ellis, Andrew Luck, Bryan Fischer, California, Chip Kelly, Chris Owusu, Chris Polk, Cliff Harris, Colorado, D'Anthony Thomas, David Shaw, Derek Mason, Devin Aguilar, Heisman Trophy, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jake Locker, James Rodgers, Jared Karstetter, Jason Tarver, Jeff Tedford, Jeff Tuel, Jermaine Kearse, Jessier Callier, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Halahuni, Jordan Poyer, Kasen Williams, Keith Price, Kenjon Barner, Kevin Smith, Kiko Alonso, Kristoff Williams, Lache Seastrunk, LaMichael James, Lance Mitchell, Larry Scott, LSU, Michael Doctor, Mike Riley, NCAA, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Paul Wulff, Rickey Galvin, Sekope Kaufusi, Semisi Tokolahi, Shane Vereen, Sione Potaoa'e, Stanford, Steve Sarkisian, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Will Lyles, William Campbell Trophy, Zach Maynard
Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:33 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Barney Graff had been the head trainer for the Oregon State football team since 1997, when Mike Riley first came to Corvallis and brought him into the program. Now, after 14 years with the school, Riley dismissed his trainer amid questions and complaints about his performance. In a nutshell, Oregon State football players just weren't sure they could trust him, and had been letting Riley know that for the last couple of seasons.
"I think I can say we're just going a different direction with this medical situation," Riley told The Oregonian. "We're going to have new leadership, and a new culture."
That new culture being one where the players have confidence in what the trainer is telling them. While Riley wouldn't throw his former trainer under the bus publically and go into any further detail, according to the report, there had been quite a few complaints about Graff at Oregon State for a while. The first came in 2005 when outside linebacker Andy Darkins had to give up his football career after playing a number of games with a torn right biceps.
There were also the shoulder problems of quarterbacks Sean Canfield, Lyle Moevao and running back Jacquizz Rodgers. There is also the shattered knee of James Rodgers. Now, obviously, there's no way to really know that Graff deserves any of the blame for these or any injuries that have been suffered at Oregon State. I don't care how great of a trainer you are, football is a sport in which people are going to get hurt. That being said, if the players don't trust your trainer, and they're not being quiet about it, then you just don't have a choice. You have to replace him. Because if they don't trust the trainer and you keep him around then eventually they're not going to trust you, and if you can't earn your player's trust, then good luck getting them to buy into what you're trying to do with the program.
So regardless of Graff's abilities as a head trainer, this is just a move that Riley and Oregon State had to make.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Spring time is a time for learning. Ask any coach and you'll hear some derivative of, 'We want to get back to learning the fundamentals' at the beginning of their spring press conference. Now that spring practices have wrapped up for all of the Pac-12 schools though, it's time to figure out what we've learned from them. Here's a few things we've learned about all 12 teams (other than the fact that they're all very rich thanks to the new media deal).
What we've learned: The Ducks are still feeling out the offensive line situation, where they have to replace three of the starting five before taking on a top five team in LSU week one. Mark Asper is set at right tackle and Carson York returns at left guard but beyond that it's a few question marks. Expect the battles to start to continue with a few of the incoming freshmen to get a look once fall camp starts. Luckily the Ducks have two Heisman Trophy candidates in the backfield in running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Williams to smooth the transition as they can both hit the hole quickly with their speed. The defense seems set and will likely be better than last year's unit despite losing their leader, linebacker Casey Matthews, to graduation. Oregon still needs some receivers to step up but early enrollee Colt Lyerla figures to be in the mix early on offense.
What we've learned: Andrew Luck is good. But everybody already knew that. A few pieces around Luck still need to be ironed out though, namely at receiver and on the opposite side of the ball along the defensive line. By all indications the transition from Jim Harbaugh to new head coach David Shaw went smoothly but practices were closed so there's not a ton we can gleam from the Cardinal's spring. Luck led scoring drives on all three series he was in during the Stanford spring game and that's without running back Tyler Gaffney, who was playing baseball all spring. Having the best quarterback in college football seems to cover up a lot of holes.
What we've learned: The Sun Devils will be donning new uniforms in the fall and on top of looking pretty slick, they'll also be carrying the weight of expectations as the Pac-12 South favorite. Injuries were the story of the spring with starting corner Omar Bolden going down with a torn ACL early last year. He's expected to come back later in the season but that's a big blow on an otherwise solid and upperclassman-laden team. Wide out T.J. Simpson also injured his knee. The offensive line, an area of concern for years in the desert, appears to be at full strength and much improved.
What we've learned: Lots of injuries to deal with this spring with the Utes, who had several starters miss the spring game or spring all together. Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn was one such player who didn't get a chance to go through practices under new offensive coordinator Norm Chow but he's still expected to be the starter once fall camp opens. There are several players competing at running back and the staff is hopeful after Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo all had a good spring. Palamo becoming the starter is interesting because he's a former ruby player. Utes also seemed to figure out the replacements in the secondary which was something head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted to do.
What we've learned: There's some talent at USC but the depth is... lacking. The Trojans used to be able to stock pile four and five-star talent but it was evident that Lane Kiffin is doing some rebuilding with 49 out of the 85 scholarship players from the past two recruiting classes. That also means this is a young team but there's a lot to build around in quarterback Matt Barkley and wide out Robert Woods. The defense should be better than a year ago as players grow more comfortable with the system. The secondary should be much improved in particular. With 12 players out for spring and many freshmen expected to contribute, USC still has to figure a few things out in the fall.
What we've learned: Starting quarterback Nick Foles has a talented group of wide outs but he'll have to get the ball to them quickly. While every coach in the country wants their trigger man to get the ball out quickly, Foles has to do so mainly because he'll have an entirely new offensive line in front of him. At the moment both tackles will be redshirt freshmen who haven't played a game but they looked solid this spring. Both defensive ends (who were very productive) are gone but C.J. Parrish impressed everyone coming off the edge this spring. The secondary seems to be rounding into form and Texas transfer Dan Buckner should be a nice target for Foles.
What we've learned: The Bears' practices had to be moved off campus due to construction and that's pretty fitting considering that Cal football was, well, under construction this spring. The situation at quarterback seems to be Zach Maynard over Brock Mansion and Allan Bridgeford but none of the three seems to be particularly appealing based on reports. Jim Michalczik is back in Berkeley as offensive coordinator and we'll see what tweaks he makes but Jeff Tedford will be the play caller and quarterbacks coach this year. The defense will likely be the strength of the team, especially along the defensive line.
What we've learned: Not a ton about the team that will take the field in the fall. Quarterback Ryan Katz sat out with a broken bone in his wrist and all-everything athlete James Rodgers is rehabbing from knee surgery and might not make it back in time for the opener. The offensive line returns four of five and needs to play better but there weren't any indications they did so this spring. Terron Ward seems to have emerged as the favorite to replace Jacquizz Rodgers but there are plenty of players in the mix.
What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on offense out side of the running back position but at least the defense looks better. Being relatively healthy on defense is nice for the new staff and the defensive line looks like it can provide a nice pass rush. The quarterback battle is on hold until the fall but freshman Brett Hundley showed flashes and if he gets the playbook down, could end up the starter. Injuries along the offensive line were an issue once again.
What we've learned: Keith Price is the new starter at quarterback and has the task of keeping the Huskies afloat without Jake Locker and several other starters. Chris Polk has looked good at running back and is primed for another good season if he can deal with more defenders in the box. Three starters along the offensive line needed to be replaced and some of the battles will likely continue in fall camp. Early enrollee Austin Seferian-Jenkins made an impression and figures to make an impact on offense at tight end.
What we've learned: Everything is new for the conference's newest member. First time head coach Jon Embree takes over the reigns as the program tries to reset after a down couple of years. Tyler Hansen had a good spring in the new pro-style offense and the Buffs have a listed 17 starters coming back overall that gives them some hope this year. There's a bunch of questions on defense as the team moves to a more traditional 4-3 alignment from last year's 3-3-5. The front seven seems to be ok coming out of drills but replacing both corners is still a concern.
What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on the Palouse but there's hope this spring. The Cougars are set at quarterback with Jeff Tuel and former starter Marshall Lobbestael and the offensive line seems solid coming out of the spring. The front seven was impressive this spring and should be much improved from last year with a bit of depth Washington State hasn't had. Special teams is a bit of a concern and didn't really get worked out this spring.
Tags: Allan Bridgeford, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brett Hundley, Brock Mansion, C.J. Parrish, Cal, Carson York, Casey Matthews, Chris Polk, Colorado, Colt Lyerla, Dan Buckner, Darron Williams, David Shaw, Harvey Langi, Heisman Trophy, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jake Locker, James Rodgers Terron Ward, Jeff Tedford, Jeff Tuel, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Michalczik, John White, Jon Embree, Jordan Wynn, Keith Price, Kyle Whittingham, LaMichael James, Lane Kiffin, LSU, Mark Asper, Marshall Lobbestael, Matt Barkley, Nick Foles, Norm Chow, Omar Bolden, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Robert Woods, Ryan Katz, Stanford, T.J. Simpson, Texas, Thretton Palamo, Tyler Gaffney, Tyler Hansen, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Zach Maynard
Posted on: March 2, 2011 11:49 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Oregon State already knew it would be down one Rodgers when star tailback Jacquizz Rodgers took his 3,877 career rushing yards and 46 touchdowns to the NFL a year early. But Mike Riley and the Beavers still expected to be able to rely on receiver/returner extroadinaire (and Jacquizz brother) James Rodgers, the preseason All-American who was lost for 2010 with a Week 5 knee injury against Arizona. Despite playing in a higher percentage of the season's games than typically allowed for a medical waiver, Rodgers was granted a fifth year of eligibility in January thanks to having not taken a redshirt year.
But will Rodgers even be able to use it? The answer is in doubt after the Oregonian reported that Rodgers has undergone a second surgery on the knee:
Rodgers' mother, Tasha Williams, said by phone Tuesday that as far as she knew, the surgery went well ...We obviously wish Rodgers the best of luck in his recovery efforts, but certainly not as hard as Riley's wishing; without James (and with Rodgers nursing his own injuries), the Beaver offense cratered down the 2010 stretch run, scoring 20 or fewer points in four of their last five games. With neither brother on hand, Riley (who the Oregonian notes has already made comments that might indicate he's not planning on having James available) could have a hard time finding enough playmakers to keep the heat off of quarterback Ryan Katz.
It's not a stretch to say the difference between a return to the Beavers' typical form under riley and a second straight bowlless disappointment might be how well Rodgers' knee recovers this offseason.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 3:20 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason Top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).
1. Baylor - The good news for Baylor: dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III is back along with most of the offense, and while he loses starting tailback Jay Finley to graduation, Finley's backups Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi provide an intriguing balance of power and speed -- they both return. In addition, RG3 gets his top five receivers back (all of whom caught at least 40 passes this year), and three-year starting lineman Philip Baker will be the anchor at center for a mostly intact offensive line. Yes, Baylor still looks wretched at times on defense (53 points to Oklahoma and 55 to Oklahoma State aren't exactly solid efforts), so there's no telling whether the Bears' losses on that side of the ball are addition by subtraction or not, but one thing's for sure: there'll be points put up in Waco in 2011.
2. Illinois - This spot would likely go to fellow "Leader" Penn State if it weren't for the fact that PSU's replacing Evan Royster, two leading receivers, its two best offensive linemen, and there's really no telling who's starting at QB in 2011. Oh, and most of the Penn State defense -- including two of three starting LBs -- is graduating too. Contrast that with Illinois , who found a star quarterback in freshman Nathan Scheelhaase this year and returns four of five starting offensive linemen. The Illini won't miss early declarant Mikel LeShoure much with Jason Ford (who's basically a human truck) waiting to take over at tailback. The defense will definitely miss Martez Wilson and Corey Liuget on the interior, on the other hand; those guys were anchors of a stout rushing defense and their backups are unremarkable. Still, Illinois' 2011 schedule looks primed for some upsets, and nine wins is hardly out of the question. If Wilson and Liuget were returning, Illinois would probably be in Dodd's Top 25, but it's not as if no borderline-Top 25 team has ever exceeded expectations after losing two juniors to the NFL.
3. Utah - Everything's going to come crashing down once Utah joins a "real" conference, right? Maybe not. If QB Jordan Wynn recovers from December shoulder surgery in time for the season (which he should, but six months of rehab can turn into nine without the patient doing anything wrong), he'll be a third-year starter with a reasonable set of returning players. Senior wideout/returner Shaky Smithson is sure to be missed, but this is college football; so it goes. And while Utah's schedule looks daunting, it really could be worse; the Utes miss both Oregon and Stanford in inter-divisional play, and neither BYU nor Pitt should be as tough of matchups as they'd have been over the past couple years. In addition, the schedule's pretty top-heavy, and it's easily possible that Utah wins at least five of six down the stretch. Head coach Kyle Whittingham keeps proving predictions wrong by not bolting for a paycheck elsewhere, and now he's got a chance to lead his Utes into battle in a real conference and destroy the "mid-major" label that's been dogging the program -- even through multiple BCS bowl wins! -- once and for all.
4. Oregon State - Meanwhile, in the Pac-12 North, the Oregon State Beavers have a chance to make noise. Yes, Oregon and Stanford are the class of the division and should remain so for the near future, but don't sleep on the passing skills of QB Ryan Katz , especially now that he'll have his first full season as a starter under his belt. With the game slowing down for him and with Markus Wheaton and James Rodgers both returning at WR (to say nothing of Joe Halahuni coming back at TE), Katz should be able to more effectively use his NFL-caliber arm to put some points up in Corvallis. The offense will miss Jacquizz Rodgers desperately, and while deserved, his jump to the NFL will likely cost the Beavers a win or two. So while the defense struggled in 2010 and stands to lose several seniors, it may not matter in a Pac-12 with several struggling offenses and an OSU attack that should set 30+ points per game as a goal. Scheduling a road date at Wisconsin might not have been the wisest idea, though. Still, look for a push from Oregon State to hit that eight-win mark, which against a schedule like this could mean a spot in the Top 25 when it's all said and done.
5. Tennessee - Dodd ranks eight SEC teams in his Top 25 (26, really, but whatever). We're not sure all will end up ranked at the end of the 2011 season, but one thing seems clear: of the four teams he left out -- Kentucky , Ole Miss , Tennessee , and Vanderbilt -- Tennessee's the closest thing to a contender of the four. No, the SEC East shouldn't spend its entire season on fire like last year, where South Carolina took the division trophy in a five-loss season, but Florida 's going to be experiencing major upheaval and Georgia will be missing A.J. Green (again). With Tyler Bray coming off a successful freshman campaign and returning starting RB Tauren Poole and deep threat wideout Justin Hunter , we could see the Vols make some noise. On defense, the only major loss is leading tackler Nick Reveiz ; Herman Lathers made strides along with the rest of the defense down the stretch, and the secondary returns intact. If there's ever a time to make a run in the East, it's -- well, okay, it was 2010. 2011's not a bad opportunity for the Vols either, though.
Tags: 2011 College Football, 2011 College Football Sleepers, 2011 Sleepers, 2011 Top 25, A.J. Green, Baylor, BYU, Corey Liuget, Florida, Georgia, Herman Lathers, Illinois, Jacquizz Rodgers, James Rodgers, Jarred Salubi, Jason Ford, Jay Finley, Joe Halahuni, Jordan Wynn, Justin Hunter, Kentucky, Kyle Whittingham, Markus Wheaton, Martez, Mikel LeShoure, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nick Reveiz, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Philip Baker, Pitt, Pittsburgh, RG3, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Katz, Shaky Smithson, South Carolina, Stanford, Tauren Poole, Tennessee, Terrance Ganaway, Utah, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:47 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Today is just not a good day to be an Oregon State fan. Not only do you have to watch your hated rival play for a national championship tonight, but now you're getting the news that one of the best players on your team won't be coming back to Corvallis next season. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers will be announcing his decision to forego his senior season at Oregon State and enter the NFL Draft.
The school will announce Rodgers' decision this afternoon in a teleconference at 2pm PST.
If there's any good news for the Beavers, though, it's that at least James Rodgers will be back next season. Even if he doesn't have his brother around with him.
Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 1,184 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. All told, in his three-year career with the Beavers, Rodgers tallied 4,933 yards rushing and receiving, with 51 touchdowns. That, my friends, is a lot of production to replace.