Tag:Juron Criner
Posted on: March 3, 2012 5:47 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Arizona

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Arizona.

Spring Practice Starts: March 5

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: Six offensive, five defensive, two specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1.  Is Matt Scott as snug a fit for Rich Rodriguez's offense as he seems to be? Many college football fans have probably forgotten about Scott, but that's not his fault; the fifth-year senior and de facto Wildcat starter made highly successful cameos in both 2009 and 2010 before injuries and the emergence of Nick Foles consigned him to the bench. Though he's not going to be Pat White or Denard Robinson, Scott has more than enough mobility to be a weapon on the run -- his two 2010 starts yielded more than 130 combined yards on the ground -- and sufficient accuracy to keep defenses plenty honest. In short, Scott should be exactly the sort of quarterback Rodriguez would have wanted to inherit, a sort of Tate Forcier-type with vastly more experience (and vastly less, you know, academic ineligibility and such). If spring camp shows signs that Scott's picking the offense up as quickly as Rodriguez would want, the Wildcat offense could be something dynamic come the fall.

2. Are you sure? Who are the difference-making skill-position players? If Rodriguez was handed a nice housewarming gift in the person of Scott, on paper he hasn't been nearly as lucky at running back or wide receiver. Both the Wildcats' leading rusher from a year ago (Keola Antonin) and receiver (All-American Juron Criner) have departed, not to mention the team's second- and third-leading receivers as well--2,232 receiving yards in all. The good news is that rising sophomore Ka'Deem Carey should be ready to build on a promising debut season in the backfield, and that 6'4" senior Dan Buckner should have a breakout season in the receiving corps; the bad news is that if they're not, Scott may be forced to shoulder a heavier load than even he's capable of carrying.

3. Can the defense stay healthy? With Rodriguez's old ace defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel back in his staffing fold -- a failing at Michigan that, more than any other individual factor, led to Rodriguez's downfall in Ann Arbor -- the Wildcats shouldn't lack for defensive know-how. And in safety tandem Adam Hall and Marquis Flowers, defensive linemen Justin Washington and Kirifi Taula, and linebacker Jake Fischer, Castell will have some tools to work with. But that assumes those tools stay healthy--Fischer tore an ACL in spring camp 2011 and missed the entire season, a blow from which the linebacking corps never seemed to truly recover. If Casteel can get out of this spring with all of his key pieces intact, the Wildcats should be able to take a step forward on the defensive side of the ball in 2012.

To check in on the rest of the Pac-12 and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 9:09 am
 

Arizona WR Criner (appendix) questionable

Posted by Chip Patterson

Arizona star wide receiver Juron Criner is back on the practice field, but still not cleared to play after undergoing an appendectomy last week.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that Criner was on the field Wednesday, running around but still unable to fully practice with the team. The senior wideout underwent the operation Sept. 5,, just days after lighting up Northern Arizona for 151 yards and a touchdown in the season opener.

Criner was back with the team a day earlier than expected, and head coach Mike Stoops called it "a positive step." The doctors will evaluate Criner on Thursday, and he could be cleared for practice, or even the Wildcats' Pac-12 opener against No. 6 Stanford on Saturday.

Quarterback Nick Foles is off to a hot start this season, already racking up 810 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Having Criner on the field will be necessary if the Wildcats want to keep up with Andrew Luck in what many expect to be a shootout in Tucson.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:12 am
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Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:10 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 1:24 am
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Sep 10)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. I'm not sure who Texas' quarterback is, but I know it shouldn't be Garrett Gilbert. While the Longhorns' win against BYU on Saturday night wasn't pretty, wins should be enough these days in Austin. And it seems more and more apparent that those wins aren't going to come very often when Garrett Gilbert is lined up under center. On Saturday night Gilbert completed only 2 of his 8 passes. Which is the exact same number of passes he completed to BYU defenders. Then, led by backups Case McCoy (7/8 57 yards) and David Ash (2/3 35 yards) the Longhorns were able to come back from a 13-3 deficit at halftime to squeeze out the victory. Hell, even Jaxon Shipley had a better night throwing the ball for Texas, completing his only pass to Ash to ice the game.

What truly sparked the Texas offense, however, was the combo of Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley -- McCoy to Shipley? What year is this? -- on the touchdown drive that finally put Texas ahead in the fourth quarter. I'm not sure if Texas should start McCoy next week, Ash, or just use a combination of the two, but it should not be Garrett Gilbert.

2. Steele Jantz is a bad, bad man. You know, if you have a name like Steele Jantz, that's a lot to live up to. I mean, you need to save the world from an asteroid or catch a school bus full of first graders after it goes over a cliff if you're going to have any hope of being as awesome as your name. Or you can just deliver a performance like the one Jantz did against Iowa on Saturday afternoon. With Iowa State not exactly expected to compete for a Big 12 title, this was Iowa State's Super Bowl, and Jantz is going to Disneyworld. He threw for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns, answering every touchdown that Iowa scored to keep the Cyclones in the game and force overtime. He then converted a big third down in the second overtime which led to the winning touchdown run by James White, giving the Cyclones the opportunity to destroy the interim Cy-Hawk Trophy.

3. I can't figure James Franklin out. It's only been two games for Franklin as Missouri's quarterback, and he has me as confused as any player ever has. He throws passes that float like wounded ducks that cause me to think they're going to be intercepted everytime, yet on Friday night, he completed 26 of those helium bombs for 319 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading Missouri back from a 14-point deficit to force overtime against Arizona State. I'm still not totally sold on his ability as a passer, but he showed that he can make the throws that he has to, even if I can't help but think that a team with a secondary better than Arizona State's -- like Oklahoma -- will have a field day against him.

4. Oklahoma State's defense is improving. Now that statement comes with a caveat. Yes, the Cowboys allowed 34 points against Louisiana-Lafayette in their opener, but 14 of those points came on interception returns, and another 14 of those points came when the game had long been decided. On Thursday night against Arizona, the Cowboys defense allowed only 14 points in the entire game, and though Arizona was without Juron Criner, that's still something to be proud of. The thing is, in two games the Oklahoma State defense has given up 759 yards of total offense, but it's not giving up points. At the end of the day, an offense can rack up as many yards as it wants against a defense, but if it's not putting up points it doesn't really matter. The Cowboys are doing a good job of keeping opponents out of the end zone, and with that offense, that's more than enough.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:27 am
 

Arizona WR Juron Criner (illness) out for OSU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Thursday's primetime rematch of the 2010 Alamo Bowl will be missing one of the marquee attractions with Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner missing the game due to a medical condition.

Criner, arguably the most important target for quarterback Nick Foles, had hoped to play against the Cowboys but his undisclosed condition kept him from traveling with the team to Stillwater, according to The Arizona Republic.

Foles connected with Criner 6 times in the Wildcats' opener against Northern Arizona for 151 yards and a touchdown. There are plenty of talented receivers on the Arizona roster, but few provide the home-run threat that Criner does on the field.

"Our offense, as you can see from a week ago, is not just one player," head coach Mike Stoops said earlier this week. "Juron has a big play knack, but we have other players that can make plays."

Someone will need to step up and make plays if the Wildcats expect to hang with the high-powered Cowboys in Stillwater. Oklahoma State showed little has changed in their production since the departure of Dana Holgorsen, putting up 61 points and 666 yards of total offense against Louisiana-Lafayette in their season opener. Quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 24 of 29 passes for 388 yards for three touchdowns for the Pokes, but he also tossed three interceptions - two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Foles still has plenty of weapons to hang with Weeden if Thursday turns into a shootout, and the 6-foot-5 senior showcased them against Northern Arizona. Six different receivers had at least four receptions, and Foles' five touchdown passes were spread to five different teammates. He'll need every single one of those receivers to step up on Thursday if the Wildcats want to exact revenge on the Cowboys for the 36-10 loss suffered nearly nine months ago in the bowl game.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 9:10 am
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Pac-12 team

Posted by Bryan Fischer

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here is one writer's choices for the preseason All-Pac-12 team.

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Andrew Luck, RsJunior, Stanford

For those that know him, Luck's decision to return to Palo Alto and pass up millions as the sure-fire first pick in the NFL Draft wasn't surprising. Following a season in which he passed for 3,338 yards and tossed 32 touchdowns against just eight interceptions, the native Texan just wanted to complete his degree - in architectural design. The Heisman runner-up does a pretty good job on the field of designing plays that end in a completion (71% of the time last year). He's not bad at running the ball either but earns his spot on the first team as the top signal-caller in the Pac-12.

Also watch for: The conference of quarterbacks is a pretty appropriate for the Pac-12 considering there are a number of players who can give Luck a run for his money. USC's Matt Barkley is a possible first round pick as well and has a talented receiving corps at his disposal. Oregon's Darron Thomas will put up big numbers through the air and on the ground and could take the top spot by beating Stanford. Arizona's Nick Foles and Utah's Jordan Wynn are also in the conversation.

RUNNING BACK

LaMichael James, RsJunior, Oregon

The Doak Walker Award Winner as the nation's best running back last season, James is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. He was the NCAA's leading rusher last season with 1,731 yards and is in position to break just about every Oregon record left in the books. He's not the biggest back but he does deliver the most production on the field.

Chris Polk, Junior, Washington

Polk burst on to the scene with a 1,000 yard season his freshman year and ever since then has been in the conversation for all-conference honors. He can catch the ball out of the backfield (4th leading receiver last year) and it will be tough to stop him from having another big season with the Huskies' offense revolving around him.

Also watch for: Stanford's Stepfan Taylor was Toby Gerhart's replacement last year and should be able to build on a very good breakout season. Newcomer Rodney Stewart from Colorado is a bright spot for the Buffaloes and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin should put up some good numbers in the school's Pistol offense.

WIDE RECEIVER

Robert Woods, Sophomore, USC

Woods wasn't even supposed to be the best receiver at his high school but he nevertheless turned into a Freshman All-American and was the Trojans' most consistent pass catcher. He should surpass his total of 792 receiving yards easily this year as Barkley's favorite target.

Jermaine Kearse, Senior, Washington

The speedy Kearse averaged 16 yards a catch last year in route to a 1,000 yard season as the Huskies most consistent receiver. He doesn't get the attention nationally that he deserves but with a talented receiver group around him in 2011, he could be freed up to torch a few secondaries even with a new quarterback.

Also watch for: Arizona's Juron Criner is 1c as far as Pac-12 receivers go. Marquess Wilson out of Washington State is the best receiver no one has heard of and sophomore Kennan Allen is a dynamic playmaker for Cal. If healthy, Stanford's Chris Owusu is in the mix, as is Oregon State's James Rodgers.

TIGHT END

David Paulson, Senior, Oregon

Expected to take on a bigger role in the offense, Paulson has a great pair of hands and managed to sneak behind linebackers fairly often last year to average 17.4 yards a catch.

Also watch for: This position is surprisingly deep and even newcomer Ryan Deehan from Colorado could emerge as the top guy in his new conference. Oregon State's Joe Halahuni has to stay healthy but is a big target and Stanford's Coby Fleener will put up good numbers with Luck throwing to him all season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Garth Gerhart, RsSenior, Arizona State

Named to the Remington Trophy Watch List, Gerhart is one of only three returning centers in the conference and is looking to step out of his older brother's (Heisman finalist Toby) shadow.

Guard David DeCastro, RsJunior, Stanford

The anchor for a line that only gave up 13 sacks all season, the Lombardi Award candidate is excellent in space while pass blocking.

Guard Ryan Miller, Senior, Colorado

Miller can play either guard or tackle and the mammoth 6-foot-8, 295-pounder is excellent in space and one of the top guards in the country.

Tackle Matt Kalil, RsJunior, USC

A possible first round draft pick if he chooses to leave early, Kalil has the size and the pedigree (older brother Ryan is a starter for the Carolina Panthers) to be the next great Trojan left tackle.

Tackle Tony Bergstrom, Senior, Utah

Bergstrom has started every game the past two seasons and did not allow a sack during the regular season.

Also watch for: Oregon guard Carson York is a key player for the Ducks and Bay Area tackles Jonathan Martin (Stanford) and Mitchell Schwartz (Cal) give defensive ends fits all game long.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

End Junior Onyeali, Sophomore, Arizona State

Not the biggest end on the field but he's a terror off the edge. With the quickness and speed of a linebacker, he's not someone the offensive tackle enjoys blocking.

End Datone Jones, RsJunior, UCLA

He missed all of last year with a broken foot but seems back and better than ever. He can play the run just as well as the pass and is the anchor for the Bruins' line.

Tackle Alameda Ta'amu, Senior Washington

The rock of the Huskies defense, he closed out the year strong. He ends up commanding double teams due to his size (6-foot-3, 337 pounds) and ability.

Tackle Justin Washington, Sophomore, Arizona

Washington has the quickness of an end but he's inside and makes his presence known. He had six sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss as a true freshman last season.

Also watch for: Colorado's Will Pericak and Josh Hartigan are a great tandem from Boulder and Washington State's Travis Long is under the radar but excellent as well. USC's Nick Perry and George Uko are both primed for a break out year.

Linebackers

Vontaze Burfict, Junior, Arizona State

There's talk of him being more mature and a better leader which is actually a bit scary for opponents considering he is one of the quickest, most instinctive linebackers in the game and someone you don't want to get hit by.

Shayne Skov, Junior, Stanford

Turned in a great sophomore campaign and is relentless with his pursuit of the play. He's an intense tackling machine who always seems to find himself around the football.

Mychal Kendricks, Senior, Cal

An experienced outside linebacker, he's sliding inside in the Bears' scheme this year. Athletic enough to be a disruption when dropping into coverage, Kendricks can also be found in the backfield. Often.

Also watch for: Patrick Larimore is the Bruins middle backer and their defensive stopper. Chaz Walker out of Utah and a healthy Chris Galippo from USC are both solid playmakers at times.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Corner Cliff Harris, Junior, Oregon

Though he's suspended for the opener, the ball-hawking corner will immediately give a boost to the Ducks secondary with his ability to cover receivers.

Corner Trevin Wade, Senior, Arizona

He had an off year last year but is the anchor of the secondary for the Wildcats and has good size and a knack for knocking away the ball.

Safety Delano Howell, Senior, Stanford

Howell has seen just about everything you can possibly throw at him and reads and reacts like the best of them. He's not just a cover guy either as he's a very good tackler.

Safety, T.J. McDonald, Junior, USC

One of the bigger players roaming the secondary, McDonald is following in his All-American father Tim's shoes. He's more comfortable in year two of Monte Kiffin's system and should see his level of play rise as a result.

Also watch for: Oregon's John Boyett is tough to face playing with Harris and Tony Dye at UCLA is a bright spot for the Bruins' defense last year.

Specialists

Kicker Erik Folk, Senior, Washington

The strong legged Folk is perfect on his PATs for his career and is seems to always come through despite any pressure in late game situations.

Punter Bryan Anger, Senior, Cal

Annually in the running for the Ray Guy Award for best punter, Anger has a big leg and usually can pin opponents deep in their own territory.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 9:55 pm
 

Stoops hopes Foles can overcome OL inexperience

Posted by Chip Patterson

On the surface, it has to be exciting as an Arizona fan to know that your starting quarterback, running back, and top four receivers from 2010 are returning for another campaign in 2011. But a closer look at the Wildcats reveals many more question marks past that. Replacing all five offensive lineman and six defensive starters is no easy task, and experience was an early topic for head coach Mike Stoops at Pac-12 Media Days.

"Offensively with the area of inexperience on the offensive line, we hope that that experience that we have at quarterback and receiver will help balance on out the inexperience we have on the offensive line," Stoops explained. But [the guys on the offensive line] are very athletic and very hard working, and I believe they can be more talented than the group that we had a year ago, and we're going to have to mold this group."

Other highlights from Arizona's time with the media in Los Angeles:

- While the defense is also inexperienced, Stoops believes that the strength in the unit will come from the back seven. He has faith with seniors Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo anchoring the unit that the linebackers could be his strongest position.

- Stoops addressed Juron Criner's personal issues, and things appear to be looking good for the fall. Criner had gone home to deal with some personal issues with his mother, and Stoops says that Criner feels much better about his mother's condition. Having Criner's size and playmaking ability will be crucial for Foles, particularly if he has to get the ball out early due to a green offensive line.

- Arizona was picked by the media to finish 4th in the Pac-12 South. Stoops, who has led the Wildcats to three straight bowl appearances, pointed out that the media never picks Arizona high - so it's not an unusual position.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:04 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Stoops says Arizona's Criner 'ready to go'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It sounds like this summer's Juron Criner story is going to have a happy ending.

Reports late last month claimed that Arizona's All-American wide receiver status for the 2011 season was "uncertain" after an "erratic episode" that had resulted in his hospitalization. But Wildcat head coach Mike Stoops told the Arizona Daily Star today that Criner was "here and ready to go" once the team's fall camp opens on Aug. 4.

"We anticipate him being the same player - or a better player - than he was a year ago," Stoops added.

Stoops declined to offer details on Criner's summer absence from a scheduled ESPN publicity event or address the prior reports, saying only that the Biletnikoff Award Watch List member was forced to deal with "family issues" that would remain "personal."

The news could not be any better for Wildcat fans who have already had to deal with four torn ACLs on the Arizona roster this offseason, inclduing starters Jake Fischer and Adam Hall.  Criner isn't only the Wildcats' best player at any position by a substantial margin; he accounted for 31 pecent of the 'Cats 2010 receiving yardage singlehandedly. If there was one player Stoops absolutely, positively could not afford to lose this offseason, Criner was him.

Fortunately, it doesn't look like Stoops will lose him after all. Pac-12 secondaries can officially start worrying again.




 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com