Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pac Ten Alley

California is coming to town this week and it will be interesting to see how the Huskies play with Jake Locker likely out for the game. Ty keeps hinting that he could still play, but most of that is just to keep Jeff Tedford planning for two QB's. Anyone who saw Jake at the press conference yesterday had to admit that his chances of playing Saturday are pretty slight. He may be one tough kid, but that is a tough injury to recover from in a week.

Backtalk with Johnny B

Nathan Ware, and I are a day late with our backtalk column this week. Losing can be physically exhausting even if you are just watching from the stands, or on TV. This was one of those weeks where we had to dig a bit to keep it interesting because so much had been hashed over from the game already. Now many times can you talk about the play Jake got hurt on?

John: Let's start off with the question all inquiring minds are asking. It's third and two; we are driving down the field with plenty of time left, why throw the ball when you have two downs left to pick up the yardage?

Nathan: UW Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano said he wishes he could have a "do over" on that play call. Throwing a fade route was certainly a risky play call considering the circumstances. At the time, UW was running the ball fairly effectively. There were several curious calls during the game, though. The two-point conversion, the offensive drive in the first half that had three straight deep balls, going for it on fourth down in the 3rd quarter, etc. I'd like to have a "do over" on the whole game.

Pac Ten Alley

Lets take a walk down the West Coast to see what the neighbors are up to.

California is having a down year after being rated as high as #2 in the polls at one time this year. For the Bears there is still hope as they play a team that is struggling more than they are this week. It was only a few years ago when the Bear faithful would have been excited about a season like this. Expectations have now changed and they are looking for scapegoats.

There are only two games left in the Cal football team’s season and finally someone is taking responsibility for the Bears’ fourth loss in five games. Certainly no one wants to point fingers, but the person who should be admitting to his own failures has finally spoken. Quarterback Nate Longshore is owning up at last to his mistakes after a 24-17 loss to USC, and it’s about time. For the first time this season, he admitted that he was fallible, and it was a relief to hear someone say it at last. “It’s just culmination of the loss of this season,” Longshore said about why he was taking the loss to the Trojans so hard. “I haven’t been playing well enough to win. That’s what it comes down to and I’ll be the first one to say that. Our guys have been playing hard out there. I just need to make some more plays and give us that opportunity to win.” Despite Longshore’s lackluster play throughout the game, the Bears still had the chance to force the game into overtime. After Forsett rumbled 34 yards down the sideline on Cal’s last drive, the Bears had the ball on USC’s 36-yard line. On the next play, senior wideout Robert Jordan went out on a hook route on the near sideline. But there was a hesitance to Longshore that has
plagued him all year and that was not present in his 3,000-yard campaign last season. There was a hesitance in his throw, a hesitance in his reaction. And when Longshore threw the ball, there was Terrell Thomas, waiting for the interception.

We are going to have a Q&A next week with the boys from the WSU blog. It should be pretty entertaining stuff. You have to hand it to the Cougs this year for looking better almost every week.

It's never a good thing to see your starting TE on crutches. Especially a TE who happens to lead all Pac-10 TE's in catches with 52 (did you know Collins ranks 6th in the entire conference in catches per game? Not bad for a guy who ran a "wind-aided 5-flat 40"!). But things are looking up for Collins, as Doba says he is now probable for Saturday.

Guess what the topic is at UCLA this week?

As far as I am concerned, it is all about the coaching search now . The soft L.A. media can try to make excuses for Dorrell; he can act like he's still working on the future; but it doesn't matter. Dorrell is gone. If I'm somehow wrong, so be it; but I am going to concentrate on the all-important task of looking for a new coach. Of course, I'm not the one who will make the decision, though I sort of wish I were. I wish that I could be sure that Dan Guerrero and whomever he chooses to help with the process are going to do it in the right way: systematically, thoroughly and patiently. Please don't rush this hire just to try to save a few recruits whom you are probably not going to lose anyway. Please don't make it impossible to get a really good coach by turning him off with demands that he keep Walker or any of the other assistants; let him have a free hand in recommending his own choices. And don't do what UCLA usually does: rush this process because it somehow feels uncomfortable to be looking, and you feel it is embarrassing to be turned down by your first or even your second choice. All that ultimately matters is that you end up with the best possible coach, even if it should take you three months to get him.

USC faces ASU this week in the battle for what could be a Rose Bowl berth against Ohio State.

Defensive end Kyle Moore will see a hand specialist today because of a bruised nerve in his forearm that prevents him opening his hand and could place his status against Arizona State in doubt.``I can't extend my fingers at all,'' Moore said. ``It was numb (against Cal). I can't open my hand and grab anybody.''Moore wore a soccer shin guard on his forearm against Cal to protect the nerve but USC coach Pete Carroll said he was not sure how long Moore would be out.Moore is not practicing this week and vowed he would play against Arizona State on Thanksgiving.``I'll be back and play with one arm,'' he said

The house of Heat is reeling this week after a loss to Oregon, but they better buckle up that chin strap because USC is up next.

So we lost. The sting isn't as bad as it was immediately following the game, but the BCS is looking like a streatch barring a complete catastrophe, not that the 2007 college football season hasn't been without the unbelievable. More on that in a moment, but what the hell happened?We got beat by a better team but I think Oregon fans will admit that Saturday's game wasn't their best performance. There were several dropped passes by the Ducks, they were without superman Dennis Dixon for the fourth quarter, and the Oregon pass D was less than spectacular. While many doors were left open for ASU throughout the night, the Sun Devils couldn't seem to walk through any of them. Here's my list of gripes:

Michael at the Oregon Blog is letting the pictures do the talking this week, and why not, his Ducks may be the best team in the country.

Michael Wines over at the Oregon Blog has gone video happy this week. You really can't blame him because a picture tells one thousand words, and each of those video's help explain why the Oregon Ducks are now the best team in college football.

Arizona and Oregon square off on in a Thursday night game on ESPN.

Much is being made of the Oregon offense, and rightly so. But Arizona better account for No. 49, defensive end Nick Reed. The junior can be as daunting as Heisman Trophy favorite Dennis Dixon or tailback Jonathan Stewart. Reed doesn’t get the national exposure that he deserves. That could change with a nationally televised showcase against the Wildcats on Thursday in an ESPN broadcast. What makes Reed so good?

Stanford is getting a much needed bye so John Wilner is taking all your questions about Bay Area college football.

We’ve got 10 days worth of comments and questions to address here, so I’ll keep the intro short. One thing, though: Although I went back to Hotline posts from early last week for this item, I did not include questions that were asked from my Nov. 4 Associated Press poll — the reason being that I thought everything was a bit dated since I’ve done another ballot in the meantime (and since Ohio State has lost).

I had a lot of fun with Jake last week doing the Q&A for what turned out to be a pretty ugly game that should keep the rivalry charged into next year. I also get a kick out of the fact that Julia's Bra Shop is now a sponsor of his blog....way to go Jake!

Lyle Moevao had a good game for his first collegiate start, throwing for 109 yards on ten completions. I like the way Lyle went deep several times, and I wish he could have completed the deep ball to James Rodgers during the Beaver's second drive. I loved the block Moevao threw on DE Grayson Gunheim, in which he pancaked all 265 pounds of him on the turf. Riley said that Moevao was begging for that play. It's hard to grade Moevao at this point because we've hardly seen him, but I think the C+ is safe right now.

Hawaii keeps steaming along, and while they haven't cracked the top ten yet they should end up in a BCS bowl if they can beat UW at the end of the year.

Let's face it: There is not a powerhouse in college football this season. There are a lot of good teams, and maybe a great team or two. Who is to say that Hawaii is not one of them?Hawaii certainly has not played the schedules of some of these teams, but they haven't lost either. They have had close calls, as have the BCS conference teams, but each time they have risen to—and beat—the challenge. Looking beyond just record and schedule, there are other reasons why Hawaii's season merits inclusion in the title game.Everyone knows that road games in hostile environments are difficult for any team to overcome. Hawaii must deal with all that adversity after flying halfway across the Pacific Ocean.

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