Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pac Ten Alley

Not much news on Tuesday coming out of the Washington camp. Monday's practice lacked tempo after the off day. Wednesday marks the final two-practice day of camp. UW will have it's final scrimmage on Thursday, then they start their game week preparations for Syracuse. Expect most of the position battles to be sorted out after they grade the scrimmage.

On the injury front Willingham expects to have everyone ready to go except freshman Nick Wood who had surgery on wrist. Wood will be ready to go in a few weeks and is expected to redshirt this season anyway.

Willingham has a new policy (though he claimed it's an old policy) on talking about injuries. He's not going to give us specifics. He said a handful of players have not signed a waiver that allows him to talk about specifics. So, he is taking a blanket approach and won't talk about any.

LB Mason Foster continues to impress and push for immediate playing time. No word on the status of Donald Butler who has been slowed by having to recover from knee surgery. Expect Vonzell McDowell, and Nate Williams to play this year, both have been looking better every day in practice. That can also be said of all four freshman RB's who are giving JR Hasty a run for his money to back up Louis Rankin who observers say looks like a big time all league back entering the season.

Luke Huard has been a welcome addition to the coaching staff helping out with the Quarterbacks. Luke gives Lappano a lot more time to work on other aspects of the offense. Look for Luke to have a long coaching career at the college level. It would be great if the NCAA would allow the coaching staffs to increase by one member because they always seem to be a man short which means one of the units is always lacking as much direction as they deserve.

When Ryan Bush was recruited by Gilby, the folks at Dawgman touted him as a ready made center. Right now it is doubtful he will make it four years, let alone five. Running the stairs this late in camp is always is a bad sign when everyone else is in full pads practicing. I think the coaches have made a strong statement that if you are not in shpe when camp rolls around you are going to suffer. I feel sorry for Ryan, but I am also sure that every single offensive lineman had an eye on him as he was running, and it made a serious impression.

Back-up center Ryan Bush was not in pads, but running stadium stairs. I wouldn't be surprised if Bush has worked his way out of that No. 2 job. He was yanked in Saturday's scrimmage after two bad snaps for walk-on Greg Christine. Bush appears to be out of shape and could be on the downward move.

Kudo's to Greg Christine on his way up the depth chart. Christine was a highly touted invited walk on that has put himself in the position to win a scholarship. Christine was one of those guys who went to the Bumble Bee Gym this Summer for those hellacious workouts. Fetters from Dawgman said that he had a good chance to get a scholarship one day when he arrived on campus.

UW recruit Dominique Blackman has been reportedly reinstated to his Carson HS football team. No details available other than Brand X says he was back with the team. That is good to hear.

One note on Husky basketball, it looks like Venoy Overton is going to qualify after raising his grade point this past Summer by taking extra classes. He still has to be approved by the NCAA clearing house, but it looks like he is in good shape according to various sources.

The Husky basketball team is now practicing together to get ready for a five game roadtrip against pro teams in Greece. Keep an eye on Wolfinger, he is back on the court building stamina. Keep your fingers crossed that his foot stays healthy.

One interesting note I came across today that Bob Condotta commented on was the University of Miami's decision to leave the Orange Bowl and move to Dolphin Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The Orange Bowl is around nine miles from the Miami campus, and Fort Lauderdale is twenty one miles from the Miami campus. Long time fans and students will be inconvenienced by the move, plus the team will be losing the exclusivity it has enjoyed at the Orange Bowl. They might not realize it, but they will always be second fiddle tenants at Dolphin Stadium.

I have seen the stadium recently, and it does need a lot of work, but they are leaving a lot of tradition behind. The University of Minnesota did the same thing a couple of decades ago and has always regretted it. UM is currently building a new stadium on campus.

Pac Ten Alley

Now it is time to take our weekly walk down the coast to see what the neighbors are up to. We start off this week with Oregon State which received more bad news. It hasn't been a great off season for the Beaver's.

Riley said Stroughter, who had not practiced in nearly two weeks, had been coping with the recent deaths of two relatives, as well as the death of Beavers assistant coach Jim Gilstrap last month. Gilstrap recruited Stroughter.

Stroughter, who was a third team All-America as an all-purpose player in 2006, was the Beavers top receiver and one of the nation's top punt returners. Stroughter had his biggest game against the Huskies in '06, with seven catches for 223 yards and an 80-yard touchdown.
Riley said he expected Stroughter, who has a redshirt year remaining, to return next season.

Syracuse continues to get ready for Washington on August 31st.

Back to the Dome for practice this morning. The Orange worked in full pads. Officials were present. Though Greg Robinson went through the introduction stuff as he met with the striped group before practice, he ought to be on a first-name basis because they've been present so much. Yesterday, I mentioned that freshman Max Suter might be working his way onto the second unit at free safety. Today, he was on the third line working behind Donta Herrod. It's likely those guys are rotating in their competition for the second spot.

Looks like Hamdan has the edge at Boise, but there is going to be a significant drop off in talent this year on the Bronco roster.

Before the first scrimmage, I would’ve said Bush Hamdan looked like the front-runner. He made all the right plays and was acting like the leader of the team. But his hand injury made him take a backseat. He still is always out there, helping out other players, but doesn’t have the swagger he did before. My educated guess would say Taylor Tharp will start, but once Hamdan is totally healthy, he very well could take the job if Tharp faulters at all. Tharp’s a great kid, a smart leader and an accurate passer. He doesn’t have Hamdan’s arm, but he’s consistent, and that’s what BSU may need with a new QB. I saw Taylor play in high school in Boulder, Colo., and he knows how to make just about every throw on the field. He is still No. 7 in state history in passing yards.

Ohio State has named its starting QB which is a little anti-climatic.

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: On August 28 at about 12:20 p.m. – a few minutes into OSU coach Jim Tressel’s first game-week luncheon, a horde of reporters will go scrambling to their keyboards to frantically send their web sites a bulletin: “Todd Boeckman to start OSU opener!” Stop-the-presses stuff? Hardly. For all practical purposes, Tressel named his opening-day starter when he prepared the spring-practice depth chart in March and put Boeckman as No. 1.
All through spring ball and two weeks into fall camp, the media monitored Tressel’s every word on this competition, and it’s silly. The way Tressel looks at it, Boeckman has seniority and deserves first crack at the job. Period. That meant that barring a complete choke job between March and September, Boeckman would start the opener.

UCLA's back up QB has gone down with a hamstring pull. As we all know they can take awhile to heal. Ben Olsen of course is firmly in command of the starting job.

Cowan's short-term availability was in question after he appeared to pull his hamstring.UCLA should know more today about Ben Olson's backup, and whether it will be Cowan or Bethel-Thompson when the Bruins open the season Sept. 1 at Stanford."He tweaked his hamstring, but I don't know (how badly) yet," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said after Monday's afternoon practice. "I pulled him out immediately so he didn't do it again. He wanted to go back in. We don't know the extent of it, but (Bethel-Thompson) has to be ready to be the second guy in case it's a prolonged issue."After the play, Cowan hobbled back to the huddle, then to the sideline. He did a couple of deep knee bends, and grabbed his hamstring afterward.Bethel-Thompson, a red-shirt freshman from San Francisco's Balboa High, received few reps during the first two weeks of training camp.

If you are a HS All American you expect to play right away, even if you are at USC. The Trojans have stockpiled so much talent over the last five years that kids who are not at the top of the depth chart are looking to transfer. This also can hurt recruiting when opposing coaches can make a very good case about the lack of immediate playing time at USC.

With two players leaving USC in the past week, Trojans coach Pete Carroll was concerned enough about rumors cornerback Shareece Wright might transfer to meet with the sophomore. Wright said he considered transferring but never took any steps toward leaving.

UA had 7,500 people show up to it's public scrimmage where they unveiled a vanilla look at their new offense. Nice to see some excitement, but there have been a lot of reports of Willie Tuitiama being laid out in practice by the UA defense.

The University of Arizona offense is supposed to be more wide-open and explosive.
The Wildcats say it will be, but they were more vanilla than rainbow sherbet in the only public scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday night with tailback Chris Jennings getting most of the work.
There was no reason to do much more with Jennings getting the job done both on the ground and in the air. The senior starter rushed for 42 yards on nine carries, and caught nine passes for 98 yards. Jennings also scored twice on runs of 3 and 1 yards. "In this offense you can do a lot of everything. "I like that," Jennings said. "I'm going to have to make sure I work extra hard during the week so I have the stamina for the game. "The Wildcats went with a lot of swing passes, quick tosses to receivers and didn't look for the long ball much in front of a crowd of nearly 7,500 at Arizona Stadium.

Duck's scrimmage at Nike campus. You have to wonder why they just didn't do it in Phil Knight's backyard? According to the report the Ducks were pretty sloppy. Let's hope they can duplicate the performance against UW in Seattle this Fall.

After last Saturday's second scrimmage of the fall camp, held in Beaverton at the Nike campus, the Ducks have not committed any turnovers -- which is good news for Mike Bellotti, after the Ducks lost 14 fumbles, Dennis Dixon threw 14 interceptions, and Brady Leaf threw four more last season.

On another note Phil Knight has just pitched in 100 million for a new basketball arena on the UO campus.

Phil Knight proved again that he's the University of Oregon's No. 1 fan with the announcement Monday that he and his wife, Penny, will donate $100 million to the UO athletic department. The gift is the largest ever to the UO, perhaps the largest private gift in state history, and among the largest ever to a university athletic department. It will be used to establish the Oregon Athletics Legacy Fund, a financial reserve aimed at bolstering the department's finances and ensuring that it will continue to be one of the few self-supporting university athletic programs in the nation.

The injury list at Stanford keeps growing longer, which makes me think they have a major conditioning problem down there that will take some time to turn around.

Stanford safety Bo McNally practiced Monday for the first time since suffering a broken hand last month and hopes to be ready for the season opener, Sept. 1 against UCLA. Receiver Mark Bradford did not practice, and his status for the opener is uncertain, Coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh didn't get into specifics about Bradford, except to say, "He's got an injury that is keeping him out right now," and, "He'd be playing if he could." Asked if Bradford would be ready for the UCLA game, Harbaugh replied, "Don't know right now." Bradford said last week that he had tendinitis in his knee but insisted it's "nothing that will set me back." He also said his heart was "beating real fast" just thinking about playing in the opener. Bradford missed virtually the entire 2006 season because of a foot injury.

A look at the center of California's offensive line.

Alex Mack is, in the words of a fellow Cal offensive lineman, "an all-around gentleman. He's polite to everyone, respects everybody. Every parent he meets, he'll shake their hand and introduce himself." As for his treatment of defensive linemen? "He'll open the door," Mike Tepper added, "then slam it real quick in their face." Mack, a junior center, has been named a preseason All-American by multiple publications, and is on the watch list for a handful of postseason awards. He was an All-Pacific-10 first-team pick last year, and is one of Cal's best linemen in recent memory. "He's a special guy," Coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's an All-American center. Any time you have a guy like that who has that experience and can direct traffic and play as well as he does, it's very important."

A lot of people are thinking with Erickson in command the Devil's will start off the season 7-0, but I think they need a lot of work, maybe a season of work to get on the same page as the new head coach.

Tight end Dane Guthrie, who transferred from Florida and has yet to impress, has been moved to defensive end and has regained the form that had him so highly regarded coming out of Miami's Killian High School. Erickson notes his natural instinct and ability for the position, adding that his "great hip explosion," among other things, will make the switch permanent. The move came out of desperation after losing DE Luis Vasquez, DE Tranell Morant, and DT Saia Falahola to injuries that will threaten each of their respective playing time over the first month of the season.

Brinkhater isn't very optimistic, and even rates the Huskies above the Cougars, but not by that much.

Not into a whole lot of blather given the current state of affairs on Neo-poop Island. So, here's my two-second run down. For more info, check out Sedi-Hawks AOL stuff. Or pick up the latest issue of Lindy's and sit (or smoke) on the pot for a while. Whatever you choose, this is how Brinkhater sees it

Just when we were starting to feel real good about Hawaii the wheels start to fall off. Rigging drug testing? Sex with groupies? Widespread use of Marijuana? Where do you think this is? Honolulu?

University of Hawaii athletic officials on Monday said they will look into allegations raised by a former receiver, including the claim that school officials and players manipulated NCAA-mandated drug tests.Ian Sample, who recently published a book chronicling the 2006 season entitled, Once A Warrior, released unpublished material on his blog about excessive drinking, widespread use of marijuana, sex with groupies and rigged drug tests. Sample, who now plays professional football in Japan, wrote that he's "convinced the 'random' tests are not random at all."

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