Tag:PAc-12
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:47 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 2:35 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Colorado

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 Colorado.

Spring Practice Starts: March 10

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive, 2 specialists

Three Things To Look For:

1. Can the Buffs find a quarterback? After four years as an off-and-on starter, Tyler Hansen has (finally?) graduated and left Jon Embree with the first quarterbacking decision of his young Colorado tenure. The job was expected to be a spring battle -- and possibly a fall one -- between sophomores Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman, but after offseason surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot, Hirschman amazingly broke the same bone in his right foot last weekend and will miss all of spring drills. As the only quarterback on the Buff roster to have taken a collegiate snap, Hirschman might have been the slight favorite, but now that honor falls to Wood as he duels redshirt freshmen John Shrock and Stevie Joe Dorman. From Wood's perspective, spring camp will be a key opportunity to put some distance between himself and Hirschman before the latter returns for fall camp. But for Embree, who winds up winning hte job will be less important than that someone does--and that process starts this weekend.

2. Are there any playmakers out there? If Embree's going to improve on 2011's 92nd-ranked offense, he's going to have to do it the hard way--in addition to Hansen, the Buffs have also lost leading rusher Rodney Stewart and four of their top five receivers, including starting tight end Ryan Deehan. The cupboard isn't bare -- rising junior receiver Paul Richardson and one-time highly regarded tight end recruit Nick Kasa both look poised for breakout seasons -- but it remains to be seen if any of the candidates at running back or any others at receiver or tight end are ready to become serious Pac-12 contributors. Given that whoever wins the quarterback job is going to experience some growing pains along the way, any help Embree can find for his future QB (or QBs) is going to be something valuable indeed.

3. Front seven: same question? The good news for the Colorado defense is that things can't get a lot worse than last year's 114th-place finish in yards per-play allowed (or the 102nd-place finish in total D) no matter what personnel they do or don't return. The bad news is that improvement will nonetheless have to come without their best defensive player in 2011, linebacker Josh Hartigan, who led the team in both sacks and tackles-for-loss on his way to Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors. (No Buff defender made either the league's first or second teams.) As with the offense, there's several promising pieces for Embree to work with: senior nose tackle Will Pericak, junior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, and linebacker Jon Major should all be capable of spearheading a step forward. But for the Buffs just to reach respectability in the rushing defense department -- a year after giving up the nation's 112th-worst mark per-carry -- someone (or several someones) will have to be more than "promising," and more like Hartigan.

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: March 7, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:03 pm
 

Scott: Summertime before reaching BCS consensus

Posted by Bryan Fischer

LOS ANGELES -- Although the most recent BCS meetings wrapped up two weeks ago in Dallas and the NCAA tournament is fast approaching to steal headlines, discussion about the future of the college football postseason continues to bubble to the surface.

Speaking at the league's annual basketball tournament Wednesday evening, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott cautioned that any movement toward a specific postseason proposal would likely be months away from emerging.

"Once we start to get to the point where a consensus is emerging around a model or two, that's when conferences will be asked to kind of officially vote on something," Scott said. "It's a little hard to predict when exactly but it's probably summertime.

"I don't know if there will be a point where our conference declares exactly what it supports until there's a specific proposal in front of us. We're kind of far from that point and there's a lot more work that I need to do and my colleagues from other conferences need to do to narrow options and think of all the implications."

One of the few details to emerge about any new BCS deal over the past few months is that Scott and the Big Ten's Jim Delany prefer that only conference champions to be eligible for any sort of postseason playoff or plus-one. SEC commissioner Mike Slive, speaking to the Birmingham News earlier Wednesday, naturally disagreed with the notion, no surprise considering the all-SEC nature of the national championship game in January.

Approximately 50 proposals different have been presented to decision makers over the past few months and it seems that just about the only thing that anybody can agree upon is that the process will continue to evolve before everybody comes together again.

"It's an iterative process," Scott said. "The concepts will get more specific. I've been in constant contact with our AD's and presidents over the last few months - with our partners at the Rose Bowl in terms of priorities. We're starting to talk about options."

Which ones, exactly, remain to be seen.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:01 pm
 

Keenan Allen to miss spring practice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Cal quarterback Zach Maynard really enjoyed passing to Keenan Allen last season, but he's not going to be able to this spring.

Cal announced in a press release on Wednesday afternoon that the team's leading receiver in 2011, Allen, won't be participating in spring practice this year thanks to an ankly injury. While the release did not go into specifics on Allen's ankle injury, it did say that he'll be undergoing surgery on the ankle on Thursday.

The good news is that head coach Jeff Tedford also said that Allen would "be back for summer workouts and fully recovered for the season."

Of course, while that's good news for Cal, Allen not being around this spring could be bad news for the aforementioned Maynard. After an up-and-down season in 2011, Maynard enters spring practice competing with Zach Kline for the starting quarterback job. Kline is a highly-touted member of Cal's latest recruiting class.

Having a receiver like Allen around, whom Maynard is very comfortable with, would help his chances in the quarterback battle this spring.

Allen led Cal with 98 receptions, 1,343 receiving yards and 6 touchdown catches in 2011 as a sophomore.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Slive: plus-one shouldn't be champions-only

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Few individuals -- if any -- will have as large a say in the construction of the impending college football "plus-one" as SEC commissioner Mike Slive. And as of Wednesday, the construction Slive has in mind is one that won't be exclusive to conference champions.

Speaking to the Birmingham News, Slive said that he was "willing to have a conversation" about restricting the field to champions only, but that it wasn't his preference--no surprise, considering it was his conference that wedged its teams into both slots in the 2011 national title game.

"[I]f you were going to ask me today, that would not be the way I want to go," Slive said. "It really is early in the discussions, notwithstanding what some commissioners say publicly. There's still a lot of information that needs to be generated."

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott previously stated his support for admitting conference champions only, though we're not sure that veiled "some commissioners" jibe from Slive is a shot across Scott's bow or not.

What we are sure of is that Slive is more open to Jim Delany's proposal for on-campus semifinals than Scott's regarding league champions. While stopping well short of endorsing the Big Ten-backed suggestion, Slive also noted some of its benefits and kept the door well open to its consideration.

"There are plusses and minuses to that concept," Slive said. "One is that you're playing a couple games to determine the national champion and to make it a home game for somebody has always been perceived as a competitive advantage ... You have to look at that. The other side is there would be the question of fan travel and the ability to travel to one or more games. You guarantee good attendance (on campus) -- for one team.

"It needs to be looked at carefully. It's on the table and it should be on the table."

Slive also again declined to reveal details on the SEC' 2013-and-beyond scheduling arrangements and said the league wasn't interested in expanding beyond its current 14 teams. Of more interest was his comments on the league's ongoing television negotiations, reopened since the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri.

"They know who we are and what we have," Slive said. "None of our schools will be hurt financially (in 2012-13). But that's just today. It's tomorrow that's the real issue. The discussions are very important. They're longterm. We'll leave it at that."

Knowing that Slive's entire willingness to entertain expansion was -- very likely -- motivated first-and-foremost by a desire to rework the league's (mostly) static 15-year TV deal for something closer to the Big Ten and Pac-12's rapidly expanding, league network-driven contracts, could his emphasis on the "very important" "longterm" be commissioner-speak for a push for an SEC Network? 

We'd be stunned, frankly, if it means anything different. Slive's opinions and preferences on the plus-one matter a great deal where the rest of college football is concerned--but when it comes to the distant future of his own conference, those negotiations may be even more critical.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:07 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 10:25 am
 

Report: 4 Arizona players arrested in party brawl

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE (3/8): Assault charges against Eric Bender-Ramsay have been dropped, though the trespassing charge remains.  Ebbele and Grandon, still facing assault charges, were held out the Wildcats' spring practice on Wednesday.   


Four Arizona football players have been arrested after a fight broke out at a party, according to a local report.

The Daily Wildcat, citing police reports, detailed the charges against sophomore cornerback Jourdan Grandon, sophomore offensive tackle Fabbians Ebbele, sophomore offensive lineman Eric Bender-Ramsay, and sophomore safety Jared Tevis.

Grandon, Ebbele, and Bender have all been charged with criminal trespassing and assault, while Tevis collected only a trespassing charge. According to the report, Tevis was invited to a party and showed up with his teammates and former Wildcat Joshua Robbins. When Tevis and the group were asked to leave because the others were not invited, Robbins reportedly shoved a woman and upon being slapped - punched her in the face.

A small brawl broke out at the party, and then things escalated. (via: The Daily Wildcat)

The players left after the brawl, but before leaving said, “We will be back with our homies.” A short time later, the players returned “in a group of between 10 and 30,” and a man later identified as sophomore offensive tackle Fabbians Ebbele forcibly entered the home and “began punching everybody he could reach,” according to the report, including the resident who was initially assaulted and her brother.

People at the party told officers the UA players entered the home and began assaulting male members of the party while several women attempted to stop another fight from happening. One woman was pushed up against the wall by Robbins. Robbins continued to push other female guests and residents.

Members of the party identified Grandon after he “punched a female guest in her face with a closed fist and began punching other females in the face.” Tevis was also present during the altercation but none of the victims observed him assaulting anyone.

When officers saw the Navigator speeding away from the house, they pulled the car over to the side of the road for a “high risk” stop. Everyone inside of the car, which included Tevis, Robbins, Grandon, and Ebbele, was removed from the car, along with junior defensive tackle Justin Washington, who was not charged in the incident.

The school has not released an official statement yet, but the assumption would be that some kind of suspension is in order for at least Grandon, Ebbele, and Bender. Ebbele is expected to start at tackle this season, and Grandon was expected to see significant playing time in the secondary.

Needless to say, this is not the kind of distraction new head coach Rich Rodriguez wants during spring practice. The Wildcats started Spring Practice March 5, for three things to look for check out the Arizona Spring Practice Primer.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:21 am
 

Embree: new kickoff rules could be dangerous

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The NCAA adopted rule changes on kickoffs for the 2012 season with the hope of reducing injuries, but not everybody thinks that will be the case. Colorado head coach Jon Embree can see a situation where the new rules may lead to even more injuries on kickoffs than before.

The new rule has kickoffs coming from the 35-yard line rather than the 30, in hopes that more kicks will go through the end zone and lead to a touchback. Coverage teams will only be allowed a 5-yard head start in 2012 as well. Rules that, theoretically, should reduce injuries.

However, it's the fact that touchbacks on kickoffs have been moved from the 20-yard line to the 25 that Embree believes may lead to trouble. He told the Daily Camera that it will lead to coaches kicking short on purpose

"I think you high pooch it and cover it," Embree said. "What I think will happen is if you get effective at that, you're putting the other team even more at risk than what the rule intended because unless he fair catches it, he can really take a shot because everyone is closer obviously.

"It will be interesting to see how that plays out. If you get a guy who can kick it to the 7-yard line every time, you can mishandle it and then you will have collisions. It will be interesting to see if they tweak this rule over time. The returner has to have good judgment and a good feel. You're never used to fair catching kickoffs, even though that is something you can do. There are a lot of timing issues that go into a kickoff return that now you're going to have to figure out as a return guy."

It will be interesting to see if Embree's theory is right this fall, and whether or not coaches will adapt to the rule as he suggests they will, or if they prefer booting the ball through the end zone and taking the risk of a touchdown return out of play. 

Whatever the new kickoff rules lead to, we won't know for sure until, well, kickoff.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:54 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: USC


Posted by Bryan Fischer


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 USC.

Spring Practice Starts: Wednesday, March 6.

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14.

Returning Starters: Nine on offense, eight on defense and both specialists.

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Dealing with expectations.

USC safety T.J. McDonald and quarterback Matt Barkley are easy to tell apart if you see them walking around Heritage Hall or roaming around the Coliseum but they could not be more alike on paper after a remarkable run to close out last season. Both are captains, suit up in the cardinal and gold wearing number seven, each runs half the team and, most importantly to the Trojans in 2012, Barkley and McDonald announced they would return to school for their senior seasons on back-to-back days in late December. After two years without a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, the message both talked about was so clear that it's become the program's unofficial motto as they head into spring practice: unfinished business.

In many ways, this is about where everybody expects USC to be year-in and year-out given the program's history. A No. 6 ranking in the AP Poll to close out 2011 and, with 19 starters returning and a favorable schedule, expectations are running high for the first time since Lane Kiffin took over in Los Angeles.

"I really don't think it's expectations as much as it is being free - we kind of feel like we're being let out of prison," Kiffin said. "It's normal now. It's refreshing not to have the negative distractions. People will talk about expectations and all of that but the good thing is we have practice at dealing with that from our time here before."

USC will likely end up as the preseason No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country and despite scholarship limitations, will bring in ninth-ranked recruiting class with several five-star playmakers to supplement the group that will head out to Howard Jones field. It may be a return to normal with the national spotlight once again on Troy and Heisman candidate Barkley but for this group, it is something new. While the media will certainly be swarming like they did in the good old days and accolades and praise will come early and often, it's worth remembering that from the seniors to the freshman, this team hasn't faced anything like these expectations before. Will they play too loose or be wound too tight? It's something to keep tabs on.

"This is all about going out and preparing really well and practicing hard," Kiffin added. "It has been very refreshing to not deal with so much negativity and distractions, some of which was based on me and some on the sanctions."

2. New staff and new look.

For the first time in the Kiffin-era, the still youthful head coach has had to deal with some staff turnover. While the big stage the program provides has attracted more than it's fair share of coaches looking to boost their resume, the fact that two coaches left so close to spring practice definitely added a question mark or two to the team's outlook. Scottie Hazelton will take over as linebackers coach and was a surprise pick by many but he brings a solid resume that includes being the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State last season as they won the FCS national championship. It's not a flashy hire by any means and it will be interesting to see how Hazelton deals with the level of competition taking a leap but luckily for him he'll have most of last year's linebacking corps back.

USC hasn't had a full-time secondary coach since right before the 2011 season following the sudden departure of Willie Mack Garza due to NCAA issues. Kiffin took his time in landing a replacement but lured Marvin Sanders out West after he had just taken over as FAU's defensive coordinator. Mostly known for his time as Nebraska's secondary coach, Sanders has coached several top NFL draft picks and contributed to some very good Cornhuskers defenses. He'll take over a group that needs some development but is among the deepest on the team, especially at safety.

"It's going to be refreshing to have a spring with all these guys in place," Kiffin said. "There will be some growing pains but we'll be rolling by the time we get to the fall."

The final hire might have drawn the most press given new receivers coach Tee Martin's place in Tennessee lore. Though his group dealt with drops in his final season at Kentucky, Martin is known for being a good recruiter and helped turn Randall Cobb into an All-American the year before. He'll have the best group of wide receivers in the country to work with this spring, led by All-Americans Robert Woods and Marqise Lee to go along with former five-star George Farmer.

3. Line depth.

The biggest question marks surrounding the Trojans are centered on the trenches. Four of the five offensive linemen return but replacing a top three NFL Draft pick in Matt Kalil will be not be easy despite the unit becoming the biggest surprise of the team last year. The interior of the line is the strength with Marcus Martin and John Martinez solid at the guard spots and All-American candidate Khaled Holmes leading the way at center. Kevin Graf will get first shot at replacing Kaili at left tackle while Aundrey Walker will be on the other side. Both played those positions in high school and, with several starts under their belt already, should ease some concerns. Beyond that though, and depth is still an issue until the fall.

The outlook at defensive line is not so rosy, with three starters gone and the Pac-12 leader in sacks impressing everybody at the NFL Combine. Pencil in Wes Horton and Devon Kennard at the end spot but depth behind them and who takes over at tackle will be the reason Ed Orgeron is up late at night (and not just the Red Bull). Those inside the program expect a lot out of sophomore George Uko.

"I'm really looking at seeing how well these tackles, Aundrey and Kevin do," Kiffin said. "I also really want to seeing the continued development of our defense with so much experience coming back and with two new coaches. I really want to be a dominant defensive team like (USC in) '02 or '03. Big five turnover or seven sack games, the type where you have just a suffocating defense."

If the Trojans are going to live up to expectations, figuring things out along the lines will be paramount this spring.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:17 pm
 

Report: Oregon WR Huff arrested on DUI charges

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Unfortunately for Chip Kelly and Oregon, traffic-related arrests are nothing new for Ducks. And thanks to wide receiver Josh Huff, they're going to remain nothing new for a little while longer.

The Eugene Register-Guard reported that Huff was arrested by Eugene police in the early hours of Saturday morning and charged with driving under the influence, as well as driving without a license and speeding. A police spokeswoman said Huff was pulled over at 1:22 a.m. after being spotted speeding in Eugene. Huff was taken to Lane County Jail and released to an acquaintance after completing sobriety tests.

An Oregon spokesperson said the Ducks were aware of the incident but would have no further comment or disciplinary action at this time.

Huff, a rising junior, is the Ducks' leading returning receiver at the wideout position, having caught 31 passes a year ago for 431 yards. Huff has also returned kickoffs and had more than 200 yards rushing as a freshman in 2010. Though Kelly is -- as always -- somewhat spoiled for choice when it comes to offensive playmakers, the departures of LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and Lavasier Tuinei means that Huff should nonetheless play a much more prominent role in the offense in 2012 than he did a year ago; any absence via suspension would likely have a noticeable impact, despite the presence of De'Anthony Thomas.

Complicating matters is that Huff's arrest will do nothing for his program's continuing image as one rife with discipline issues and petty lawlessness. Even if the charges stick, Huff's punishment isn't likely to be too stiff--but Oregon's history might make it stiffer than it would be elsewhere, and that punishment in turn could have serious on-field ramifications. It's safe to say Kelly has had better weekends.

Of course, Kelly also has bigger things to worry about right this second. For columnist Gregg Doyel's take on the Ducks' impending NCAA violations case, click here.

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