Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ted Miller of ESPN Gets It

It was a sad day in the Pacific Northwest when Ted Miller hitched up the U-Haul to the back of the SUV and headed to Scottsdale to begin working for ESPN. What is the Seattle PI's and the Pacific Northwest's loss is the Pac Ten's, and the entire nations gain. Ted Miller is the best Pac Ten writer in the business, and he may just be its best college football writer.

I have to say I am a little jealous because Scottsdale isn't a bad place to live nine months out of the year when you are working from home. Take away the scorching summer months and you pretty much have paradise.

What sets Ted apart is that he knows what he is writing about. Miller is a keen evaluator of talent, he can gaze across the practice field and figure out who has been working out over the Summer, and who is just doing the usual posturing. In his time at the PI he never was wrong either, all his predictions pretty much were solidly nailed.

You can't put anything over on Miller because he knows the game as well as the coaches do. That being said he doesn't come off with a superior attitude, he just tells it like it is day, after day. If you email Ted with a question chances are pretty good he is going to get back to you on it. you have to like a guy that is in touch with the fans.

Most writers upon moving to Scottsdale would be spending most of their time on the golf course submitting articles from their Blackberry, not Ted, he is cranking out story, after story on his blog at a pace that is just frightening to the other writers who are trying to keep up with him. He wrote more the first week on the job than Molly Yanity of the PI has written during the entire off season. Ted is simply an animal, and it is obvious he has a passion for what he is doing.

The WSU Blog ran a pretty funny column on him the other day showing various photo's of Ted through the years with some hilarious comments on where they thought he was in life when the pictures were taken. The good boys over there were unabashed in explaining the man crush they have on Teddy Ballgame.

The most important thing about Ted is he has taken the time to understand the sports blogosphere. While most sportswriters ignore this section of the sports universe Ted has embraced it. Every day Ted gives out links to the credible stories being written on the West coast by veteran bloggers. It was just the other day that my friend Nestor at the UCLA Blog commented that most of the local sportswriters don't get it as far as blogs are concerned, but Ted on the other hand takes the time to peruse what is out there each day and gives us all a little credit when we write something decent.

Enjoy Ted while he is still assigned to the Pac Ten. A guy with his talent is going to keep climbing at a place like ESPN which has the ample ceiling he deserves.

If you haven't checked out Ted's blog yet just click on this line and you will be magically transported to his fantastic Pac Ten blog, it is a must read every single day.

Arizona State Preview

Dennis Erickson did what he usually does in 2007 and that is lead a college football team to victory. Arizona State wasn't exactly devoid of talent, but the new coach put together an impressive first season molding a fractured team back together officially ahead of schedule.

The biggest concern the Sun Devils have in 2008 is the offensive line. The unit allowed over four sacks per game and ranked 117th in the nation in that category. With both tackles and center Mike Pollak gone, the o-line has some huge holes to fill. They hope junior college transfer Tom Njunge and converted defensive tackle Jon Hargis can come in and quickly fix the problem.

Here is where the magic of Erickson comes in, he didn't have a very good offensive line in 2007, but he was still able to light it up through the air, and on the ground against the majority of the schedule. expect him to figure out a similar solution in 2008.

If the offensive line can improve, the Sun Devils will have an explosive offense led by quarterback Rudy Carpenter. The senior threw for 3,202 yards and 25 touchdowns last season and if he is not sacked 54 times again ...ouch, Carpenter will have a much bigger year.

Receivers Chris McGaha and Michael Jones were Carpenter’s top targets last year and both are back. McGaha will catch more passes, but it is Jones who is the big play receiver and will take more trips to the endzone.

In the backfield Coach Dennis Erickson has a nice crop of backs to choose from. Keegan Herring led the way last year rushing for 815 yards, but Dimitri Nance and Shaun DeWitty should earn some carries as well. It is most likely that Herring will be the workhorse with Nance and DeWitty coming in for certain situations.

The pass defense was not all bad last year. In fact, giving up 228.9 yards per game through the air is actually pretty good in the Pac-10, but the secondary will have to replace corner Justin Tyron and safety Josh Barrett. Corner Omar Bolden was impressive during his freshman campaign and should be starting once again and he will likely be joined by juniors Terrell Carr or Travis Smith. Bolden is a kid who could develop in to an All American pretty quickly.

At the safety spots, Arizona State has a little more experience. Troy Nolan, Rodney Cox and Jeremy Payton are all experienced seniors. If Bolden can improve and become the shutdown corner the team needs, the pass defense could actually be even better in 2008. Keep an eye on Nolan who is one of the best in the conference.

The front four of the defense was responsible for a lot of the success the DB's had in 2007. Luckily for ASU, three of four starters return to the line. Ends Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez did a great job of getting into the opponents backfield and combined for 15 sacks and 25 tackles for loss and tackle David Smith is a fine clog up the middle. If the line can repeat its performance of 2007, the defense will shine.

In the end it really all comes down to the offensive line. If Erickson and his staff can improve on last seasons performance this could end up being a great team rather than a very good team.

How do you beat ASU?

First of all you need to out coach Dennis Erickson and his staff. UW played an excellent first half in Sun Devil stadium last year only to see it all fall apart in the third quarter when Erickson started making adjustments.

The one obvious thing that can be exploited is the offensive line. If you sack Carpenter all night and force him into bad decisions you can take advantage of that for awhile. A well disguised blitzing defense may be tough for this offense to handle.

The Devils can counter by simply handing the ball off to Herring who is a load to bring down no matter what the offensive line does, but if you can get a lead on them, force them to pass, and bring successful pressure you can beat these guys.

What do I think?

I think the Devils will be better in 2008, and will be one of the top three teams in the conference. That means Washington will not have the firepower to beat these guys at home in 2008. The ASU offensive line is a concern, but Erickson should be to make it adequate by the start of the season.

Defensively this will be one of the tougher teams in the Pac Ten. They had little problem with Washington is the second half last year in Tempe once they figured out how to contain Locker. That most likely will be the case in 2008 since the Devil defense should have the upper hand against the Husky offense.

I have to go with ASU even though this one is being played at Husky Stadium.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pac Ten Alley

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

I wonder if Oregon's Kevin Garrett will miss the opener. Kevin was suspended indefinitely from the team last week.

Coach Mike Bellotti announced yesterday that linebacker, Kevin Garrett, is suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. No details were forthcoming about what rules were broken.

Notes from media day in the Bay Area.

Coaches and players from the three local schools joined a few dozen members of the Bay Area press corps Monday in San Francisco for the annual media day.

Jim Harbaugh wants to get the QB decision out of the way early.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters he wants to know who his QB will be in "seven, eight, nine days." Tavita Pritchard and Alex Loukas are the leaders with Jason Forcier still in the mix.

The Arizona Wildcats are in good shape heading to camp.

The University of Arizona football team is reporting with a relatively clean bill of health.
While many of the other Pac-10 schools suffered key injury to a prominent starter during the 2007 season, the Wildcats escaped serious injuries, something they obviously would like to see repeated when the season starts Aug. 30 against Idaho.

Cal picks up a late JC addition to play tackle.

After orally committing in late June to attend UCLA, former Pinole Valley High School and Diablo Valley College offensive lineman Donovan Edwards has de-committed and instead accepted a scholarship offer to play at Cal for the upcoming season.

The Oregon State Blog is reviewing upcoming opponents.

Last season, Jim Harbaugh took over a struggling Stanford team that hadn't experienced a winning season since 2001 when Current UW coach Ty Williangham was the man in charge. Things hit rock bottom in 2006 when the Cardinal went 1-11, beating only the Huskies.

OSU coach Mike Riley thinks the offensive line will be his biggest challenge this fall.

"The (offensive line) is probably one of the biggest issues on our football team,'' said the coach, who is less concerned about losing his entire front seven on defense because of the likes of Victor Butler and Slade Norris - defensive bookends who combined for 19 1/2 sacks last season.

Some USC Trojan news with a Seattle slant.

Former USC defensive end and Seahawks first round pick Lawrence Jackson showed up to training camp on time, suited up and smile on. That's because Jackson just signed an $11.25 million, 5-year contract with a cool $6.2 mil signing bonus included. That's guaranteed money in the bank.

Pitchfork Nation isn't showing the Huskies much respect in picking them ninth in the conference. they even figure we will be 0-10 headed into the Apple Cup.

9) Washington Huskies. No team with a player as dynamic as Jake Locker will finish last in any conference. The problem is the rest of the team. No effective running back, their top returning receiver chalked up only 136 yards last year and the only defensive player worth a damn has a completely unpronounceable last name (Daniel Te'o-Neisheim). There's a significant chance they'll be 0-10 going into the Apple Cup with Oklahoma, BYU and Notre Dame on the NC docket and trips to Oregon and USC mixed in.

Bruin Nation comments on Ted Miller's blog report talking about the Bruins non conference schedule.

My guess is most folks assume Tennessee will beat UCLA. My guess is Bruins fans would utter a "drat" and move on. I don't think they'd react the same to losses to Fresno State or BYU. They'd immediately register their first pang of doubt over Rick Neuheisel. It might be the lightest of flickers, but it would appear.

My pals over at the WSU blog dream are desperately seeking Ted Miller.

You know, when we first started this blog (my uncle Sedihawk and me) we did so for two REALLY important reasons. The first really important reason? Sedihawk thought that a blog would be the perfect platform for writing about the Cougs all day without having the correspondence be traceable over our respective company e-mails. And he was right!!!! But the second reason was mutually understood, yet at times painfully unspoken: BOTH Sedihawk and I desperately wanted to be Ted Miller.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

USC Preview

The Trojans finished last season at 11-2. The year was capped off by a blowout win against Illinois in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans lost a total of 10 players in the draft, but that’s nothing new for a team that has a B squad that could likely win 9-10 games a year. With 13 returning starters it will be interesting to see if Pete Carroll can take this team to yet another National Championship.

UW has been very competitive with these guys under Willingham, but while possible victory has been there, the more poised team has seized it in the fourth quarter. Carroll and the Trojans know how to finish, they win the fourth quarter, and they own November.

The biggest question on the offensive side of things is whether QB Mark Sanchez is going to be able to lead this team to another Pac 10 title, if not look for current backup Mitch Mustain to come in and get a shot.

The offense only brings back 4 starters, and only 1 on the offensive line. Guard Jeff Byers will see a whole new crowd of faces around him, but there is plenty of young talent ready to step up.

At wide receiver and running back there is a load of potential, and it just might be who emerges first this fall who gets the starting nod. It looks as though you will see another running back by committee attempt with Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight, and C.J. Gable.

McNight was a pretty high profile recruit that most expect to compete for a Heisman Trophy before he leaves. He didn't dominate last year, but not a lot of freshman do. He could come out and really do some nice things in 2008.

At the receiving end of things look for big years from returning starters Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton, but don’t be surprised if sophomore David Ausberry steals the show. One of the most interesting thing to watch this camp will be the WR's because there is so much depth and talent at the positions. Pete Carroll predicts a real fight for playing time among this talented group.

This defense could be scary good this season even with the loss of DT Sedrick Ellis and LB Keith Rivers in the first round of the draft. Though the line might not be what it was in ’07, senior DT Fili Moala is a beast up front.

Many believe they have the best starting LB’s and DB’s in the country. Rey Maualuga is being considered the best inside linebacker and they are saying Brian Cushing just might be the best OLB there is.

The safety combination of Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison is top notch, and don’t be surprised if they both don’t end up All-Americans this year.

If this team struggles a bit it might be at the corner spot opposite of Sr. Cary Harris and in the middle of the defensive line. On offense they need to stop the scoring decline, and that means they need better production running the ball. Sanchez is the starter at QB, but if he doesn't make the wheels turn Mustain will step up and get his shot.

How do you beat USC?

The USC offense has been in decline since the Reggie Bush years, and even though it was USC, that was a once in 20 year type of squad they put together back then. If you stay close as Washington has done you get a chance to beat them in the fourth quarter.

The key to beating these guys is being able to run the ball, take time off the clock, and keep it close. The Trojans don't score as many points as they used to, and as we saw with Stanford they can lose when they make mistakes.

What Do I Think?

After the last couple of years you would figure we are about due for a victory against these guys, but it won't happen in the Coliseum this season. USC has the ability to shut down the Washington offense, and they probably only need around 2o points to win the game. I think the USC defense will be dominating this year.

Washington and USC always keep it close, if you look at the history of the series you won't see too many blowouts on either side, this year will be no exception.

Once again I have to give the nod to the Trojans who should be able to shut down the Husky offense.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Monday Morning Wash

We are getting close to the opening of training camp which begins on August 3rd. No official word yet on if there are any academic, of behavioral casualties with the veteran players, but there are always a few things lingering out there academically, and behavior wise this time of year. Every school always has kids going through summer school scrambling for some extra credits, and some that run into problems off the field over the summer.

There is a possibility that incoming freshmen QB Dominique Blackman, RB Demitrius Bronson and DT Craig Noble may not be available this season, and could possibly delay their enrollment until January according to Ty Willingham.

Willingham points out that they did that with Devin Aguilar, and Anthony Boyles last season and it worked out fine.

Of the three the best bet at this point to make it in before school would be Craig Noble who has qualified GPA, and SAT wise, but only needs to pass the California HS exit exam. Craig could be here sometime in early August if he passes the test. Showing up late for camp pretty much guarantee's that he would redshirt this season unless he comes in and physically blows everyone away.

Molly Yanity of the PI has this snippet on Demetrius Bronson.

According to Bronson's trainer, Ryan Riess, Bronson is taking summer classes with the hope of getting to fall camp as soon as possible. However, if he can't get the results before mid-August, Bronson may end up enrolling in January.

From what we are hearing Jermaine Kearse, and Cody Bruns have been the most impressive freshman WR's during informal workouts since they arrived in campus. Chances are both will be in the rotation this fall and get plenty of playing time. Chicago walk on Sr. Charles Hawkins also figures to get some substantial playing time after continuing to impress. Things can change though once contact begins.

Coach Tyrone Willingham commented to Seattle Times columnist Bud Withers that linebacker E.J. Savannah may have more to worry about beyond his arm injury before he takes the field again. You never know exactly what anything means with Ty speak, but E.J. appears to be in the dog house again.

Ted Miller of ESPN put together a list of the ten best LB's in the conference.

It's not easy being a linebacker in the Pac-10 if you don't play at USC. From Lofa Tatupu, to Keith Rivers to, now, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, the Trojans lead the charge at the position and receive the national plaudits.


Don Ruiz of the Tribune reports that Washington football coach Tyrone Willingham acknowledged Thursday that questions about his job security are causing high school recruits to delay commitments to the Huskies.

“We’re in good position,” Willingham said at Pacific-10 Conference media day. “But the key is, they’re waiting. They want to see how we do. Everybody’s talking to them about the situation with the head coach. They’re just waiting to see, that’s all. But the vibes are all there: They’re ready to go; they’re ready to jump.”

Season Tickets

Washington sold 43,516 season tickets in 2007, which represented a gain of nearly 1,000 over the previous season. The UW is currently sitting at 43,048 season tickets sold for the upcoming season. A healthy football program would sell close to 60,000 season tickets. It doesn't take much to get people back on the bandwagon, just a winning season, a bowl game, and the expectation of possible BCS contention in 2009.

In 2001, the program sold more than 63,000 season tickets, how the might have fallen.

Picture Day

Husky Picture Day has been set for August 9th! This annual FREE event will be held at Husky Stadium on August 9th from 1:30pm to 3:30pm. This is your chance to get on the field and get autographs from your favorite Husky Football players and coaches.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ranking the Pac Ten by Positions - Defense

We continue our unit ratings of the Pac Ten Conference. The Pac Ten isn't really known for it's defense, the last great defensive teams in the conference were in the 1990's. The Steve Emtman led National Champion Huskies may have been one of the best defensive teams in the history of college football.

Since those days the conference has opened up. The West Coast formation, and now Spread offense variations have taken over from the days of the "I" formation, and student body right. The Pac Ten is a high scoring, free wheeling, pass the ball all over the field type of conference.

All that being said this may be the year that defense has a big say about who is going to win the conference. Oregon, USC, and Arizona State are all picked to be at the top of the conference this year, and one thing they have in common is the ability to slow the high speed offenses of the other conference teams down.

Team Defensive Ratings

Defense wins championships, and that is why USC will be most writers favorite to win the Pac Ten in 2008, and contend for a national championship despite declining offensive production.

The Trojans only concerns will be filling some holes at cornerback, and on the defensive line. Keep an eye on Taylor Mays who is a man among boys, and his backfield mate at safety Kevin Ellison. Oregon is going to be right behind these guys with what I think is one of the best defensive backfields in college football led by Patrick Chung.

Oregon State graduated a lot of their defense, but they have some quality experienced depth stepping in. California's LB's are second only to USC. Dennis Erickson at ASU is known for his offensive coaching prowess, but he also has fielded hard hitting defenses at all his stops.

Washington had one of the worst defenses in the country in 2007, but will improve significantly in 2008 with the addition of new DC Ed Donatell and the arrival of a lot more talent, experience, and depth.

Keep an eye on Stanford, the Cards one of the best young LB corps in the conference, and plenty of players who gained experience the hard way last year.
  1. USC....The talented Trojans LB's give them a slight edge over the Ducks. This could end up being the nations best defense.
  2. Oregon....The Ducks aren't that far behind the Trojans on this side of the ball. The cornerbacks could be the nations best, and while Patrick Chung lacks the flash of a Taylor Mays, or Kevin Ellison, he is just as effective.
  3. Arizona State....The Sun Devils will continue to field a well coached and over achieving defense in 2008. Erickson teams know how to hit, go after the ball, and make adjustments that win football games.
  4. California....The Bears are led by one of the top group of linebackers in the nation. They young and talented depth at DB. The question marks are up front, but they have the bodies to fill in.
  5. Oregon State....One of the nations top defenses will be almost completely rebuilt in 2008 and still be potentially pretty good. The questions are mostly at LB. The DL is being rebuilt by some kids that played quite a bit last year.
  6. Washington....The Huskies should be significantly improved with a new DC, and an influx of some good young talent. Expect a lot of growth from this unit in 2008 even though there are questions on the interior of the defensive line.
  7. Stanford....Harbaugh is getting some good traction going. The Card's hung with a lot of teams early in the season, and as depth improves they are going to start winning some games.
  8. UCLA....The Bruins have some holes to fill here and there. As usual they have great young talent on the roster, plus a very good DC, but there will be some growing pains.
  9. WSU...The Cougs are installing a 4-3 defense that will attack and stack the box in order to stop the run. I think they will be pretty weak on the inside.
  10. Arizona....Not a great year to have to rebuild the defense without many spare parts when you are going to sporting one of the more high powered offensive teams in the the West.

Defensive Line

Why are we picking USC in the top slot? They have some holes to fill but they do it with some of the best young players in the country. I don't see any Outland Trophy winners in this group as most of the Pac Ten is rebuilding the interiors of their lines, but there will be some very good DE's in the league this year led by Washington's Daniel Teo Nesheim, and Oregon's Nick Reed.

  1. USC....DT Fili Moala and DE Everson Griffen return with the other spots being filled by the usual consumate HS All Americans. Griffen is a guy to watch because he had an excellent spring.
  2. Oregon....DE Nick Reed is probably the best DE on the coast this year. He isn't fancy, but he gets the job done. On the inside the Ducks are filling some holes in the depth with JC's.
  3. Arizona State...David Smith, Dexter Davis, Luis Vasquez have the experience and talent to be one of the better lines on the coast. Davis is one of the top DE's on the coast this year.
  4. Oregon State....DE's Victor Butler and Slade Norris, played a ton last season. Pernnell Booth and a newcomer will man the inside. Keep an eye on Simi Kuli who could be a stud.
  5. UCLA....Brigham Harwell is great when healthy. Brian Price is a rising star, but the Bruins are thinner than you like to see outside. Incoming freshmen Damien Holmes and Datone Jones probably will be in the rotation right away out on the ends.
  6. California....The Bears are switching to a 3-4 to take advantage of one of the better LB corps in the country. Tyson Alualu and Rulon Davis will man the ends, and Derrick Hill, and Mika Kane will rotate inside. Keep an eye on DE Cameron Jordan who is ready to break out.
  7. Stanford...The Cardinal returns five letterman to the defensive line, led by a couple of All-Pac-10 candidates, senior DE Pannel Egboh and junior DT Ekom Udofia. Egboh is just a stud and will be a very high draft pick.
  8. Washington....Daniel Teo Nesheim could be an all league player at DE this year, but he will be flanked by three new starters led by DT Cameron Elisara, and DE Darion Jones. The Huskies actually could turn to a true freshmen to play beside Elisara at DT. The massive Fr Alameda Ta'amu could be the answer, but playing a freshman is a reach.
  9. Washington State....Andy Mattingly moves to DE from LB and will be flanked by Kevin Kooymann. A’I Ahmu and Matt Eichelberger take over the middle. No word yet on DT Andy Roof who was suspended for assault charges, and alcohol violations. Keep an eye on Kooyman who could surprise.
  10. Arizona....DE Jonathan Turner has been suspended indefinitely, no word on when he will return. Too bad because even though he is an underachiever he was the only kid with experience on this line. The interior is just a mess as the Wildcats struggle to fill the holes with position changes.


The Pac Ten is loaded at linebacker this season. Cal, and USC sport arguably the two best LB crews in the country. UW, Oregon, UCLA, and ASU aren't that far behind. Keep an eye on the young group at Stanford, those highly recruited kids can really play and may surprise in 2008.

  1. USC....Rey Malauga and Bryan Cushing are both potential first round draft picks, and most feel the Trojans have the most talented group of LB's in the country.
  2. California....Zach Follett, Anthony Felder, and Worrell Williams make up one of the better trio's in the country. In most years you would rate this group #1 in the conference.
  3. Washington....EJ Savannah, Mason Foster, and Donald Butler are a solid crew of LB's. The Huskies also have the luxury of experienced depth behind them. Trenton Tuiasosopo is starter 1-B in the middle, and will be a plus when the Huskies rotate into a 3-4 at times.
  4. Stanford...Clinton Snyder, Chike Amajoyi, Pat Maynor are the the strength of a young and improving Cardinal defense. This is a real promising group of young players.
  5. Oregon....Kevin Garrett, John Bacon, and Casey Matthews are solid on the outside, but the questions are in the middle.
  6. UCLA....Kyle Bosworth, Reggie Carter, and John Hale make up a solid group at LB.
  7. Arizona State....Four players with starting experience return, headed by junior Travis Goethel at strongside. Gerald Munn's, Ryan McFoy, Mike Nixon, and Morris Wooten will all compete for spots.
  8. Oregon State....Isaiah Cook, Bryant Cornell and Keaton Kristick have some big shoes to fill as OSU completely rebuilds one of 2007's best defenses.
  9. Washington State....The Coug's will start three seniors, Greg Trent, Kendrick Dunn, and Cory Evans, nothing special going on here as Andy Mattlingly moves to DE.
  10. Arizona....Ronnie Palmer is the lone returning starter. He will be flanked by Adrian McCovy and Xavier Kelley.

Defensive Backs

How many first round picks are you going to have out of this group? Mays, Ellison, Chung, Byrd, and Thurmond will all get that type of consideration in the spring.

  1. Oregon....Corners Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond team with Safety Patrick Chung to lead one of the nations best defensive backfields.
  2. USC....Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison are the two best safeties in the country and likely first round draft picks. Cary Harris will help the Trojans rebuild at CB.
  3. Oregon State....Seven players who started a game last season are back in the secondary. The best of a strong group is 5-11, 182-pound CB Brandon Hughes. S Al Afalava, one of the most violent hitters in the Pac-10.
  4. Arizona State....CB Omar Bolden is expected to have a breakthrough year as he develops into a lockdown threat. S Troy Nolan led ASU's tough defensive backfield in 2007.
  5. California....The Bears return nine defensive backs who lettered last season. Syd’Quan Thompson, and Chris Conte will be at CB. Marcus Ezeff and Bernard Hicks will be the safeties.
  6. Washington....The Huskies finally have some depth, and talent to work with at DB. Results looked pretty good this spring. A very physical Quinton Richardson and Sr Byron Davenport will start at CB. The Huskies are deep and talented at safety with Nate Williams, and Victor Aieywa emerging this spring. A very solid Jason Wells returns after suffering a knee injury early in 2007 to try to regain his starting job.
  7. Stanford....The secondary returns seven lettermen from a year ago, including four defensive backs with starting experience. Junior Kris Evans and senior Wopamo Osaisai split time at one cornerback spot. Juniors Bo McNally and Austin Yancy are back at safety after starting all 12 games a year ago. This is a group that has some serious upside.
  8. UCLA....Alterraun Verner has potential lockdown talent at CB, but the Bruins are rebuilding back here. Keep an eye on CB Courtney Viney, he might end up being a real good one. Brett Lockett, and Aaron Ware take over at safety.
  9. Arizona....Marquis Hundley and Devin Ross take over at CB. Nate Ness and Cam Nelson are returning starters at safety. This isn't a marquee group at this point.
  10. Washington State....The Coug's have problems with talent, and depth in the secondary. Xavier Hicks, and Chima Nwachukwu are the projected safeties. Alfonso Jackson and Markus Dawes will be the CB's. Nothing but shallow unproven depth behind the starters.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pac Ten Media Day

Back in the day there used to be something called the Pac Ten Skywriters Tour. All the writers from the major papers on the West coast that covered college football used to go on a junket to visit all the schools in the conference to interview the coaches and take in a practice at the expense of the conference. It was quite the cocktail party, and it did a great job promoting the conference to kick off the season.

The following article is written by current Seattle Times "WSU" beat writer Bud Withers when he was working for the Seattle PI back in 1992. If you are too young to remember the Skywriters tour this piece gives you a great look at that slice of Pac Ten history.

Skywriters was born in 1961 to drum up interest in football back in the days of the five-school Athletic Association of Western Universities. Befitting the times, the conference paid for hotels and travel and the schools supplied the eats. The agreement was tidy: Eat our food, drink our drinks, fly our planes, just write nice things about us. The participants did.

The skywriters tour ended back in 1992, and the modern day watered down version is something called Pac Ten Media Day. The head coaches fly into LA with one of their top players and members of the media get to listen to a series of very boring press conferences during the morning followed by a buffet.

Gone are the days when the media used to party with the coaches to kick off the season. Back home the fans eagerly read every morsel written in the newspapers about their favorite teams since the media outlets were so limited back then in comparison to today.

As in the old days the press votes on how they think the standings will be at the end of the season and surprise, USC once again has been selected as the pre season favorite to win it all followed by Arizona State, Oregon, and California.

What is surprising to me was the predicted 5th place finish of UCLA. I think that one was a tip of the hat to the coaching staff Rick Neuheisel has put together rather than the holes he will have to fill in Westwood. The poll always had, and still has a strong California lean since four of the schools from the conference hail from the Golden State.

I have no idea who had the audacity to vote California as #1, but we know for sure it wasn't Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury. Cal has some good talent, but I think they are closer to Washington than they are Oregon, USC, and Arizona State.

Oregon at #3 is a little low when you realize how much talent that squad has. The Duck running backs, and defensive backfield are pretty scary.

ASU doesn't have as much talent, but they do have Dennis Erickson, and his game day coaching and adjustments make up for a lot of inadequacies such as a very average offensive line.

1. USC (38 first-place votes), 389 total points
2. Arizona State, 330
3. Oregon, 295
4. Cal (1), 274
5. UCLA, 204
6. Oregon State, 192
7. Arizona, 185
8. Washintgton, 139
9. Stanford, 76
10. Washington State, 61

Here is a snippet from Ty Willingham reported by Bob Condotta.

Willingham was also asked about the team's close losses last season and what UW can do to prevent them. He said the coaches looked at three things --- the team's conditioning, coaching, and the team's mentality in those situations. He said the Huskies "beefed up our conditioning a little bit'' to make sure that isn't a factor; will make sure that the coaches "clearly understand those situations, making sure that our guys understand how to handle those situations''; and will work on making sure the players look at those situations with a "glass half-full'' mentality and "that they are looking for great things to happen in those situations.''

He might have added that he fired possibly his two best friends in football, TE/ST Coach Bob Simmons, and DC Kent Baer during the off season to bring in some new blood to eliminate some of the mistakes that haunted the previous three squads.

Oregon State Preview

The Beavers are coming off a pretty impressive season where they finished 9-4 overall and 3rd in the Pac 10 at 6-3 with a strong finish. There is once again hope that this rebuilding version of the team can have another winning season under head coach Mike Riley, who is 47-38 in seven seasons at Oregon State.

Jake Locker was knocked out of the game and taken to the hospital the last time these two teams played. Despite that the Huskies were driving for the win deep in Beaver territory in the last minute only to squander the opportunity by not running hard inside the tackles. There won't be a lot of love between these two teams when they meet in Seattle this year.

The Beavers lost 10 starters from last season’s squad, and will only have 3 starters coming back on defense.

With seven starters returning on offense, this unit could be able to put up some impressive numbers this season. Lyle Moevao, and or Sean Canfield need to markedly improve for that to become a reality.

Whoever ends up at quarterback should have no trouble finding targets as Sammie Stroughter is a big time player and the team has young talent in sophomores Darrell Catchings and James Rodgers, and solid veteran talent in seniors Shane Morales and Chris Johnson.

The Beavers are high on redshirt freshman Ryan McCants at running back, but have some solid back up options in junior college transfer Jeremy Francis and true freshman Jaquizz Rodgers.

There are three returning starters on the line and on paper the team only needs to find a center and right tackle. The key is the return to health of guard Jeremy Perry , the Beavers are thin on the OL, and his healthy return will boost the unit.

Oregon State produced the best rush defense in the country last season, but all four starters on the line are gone. The team hopes that because it used a deep rotation that they will be able to produce another solid unit here. It looks like pass rushing specialist Victor Butler will get a shot at one of the end spots along with junior college transfer Simi Kuli. Pernnell Booth if healthy could be a solid defensive tackle, but missed most of spring with an ankle injury. Kuli is still waiting for word on his eligibility, but the Beaver coaches are optimistic.

All three starting linebackers are gone, but Bryant Cornell and Keaton Kristick should step in nicely, and there are a number of others vying for the other starting spot. This is probably the biggest question mark on the defense, can the new LB's make an impact in 2008?

The secondary should improve on its 72nd ranked pass defense, as it returns three starters including both corners from last season in Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis. Al Afalava should be a force at safety and it looks like senior Bryan Payton will get a shot at holding onto the other starting spot. It will be interesting to see how the Huskies greet Aflalava in 2008 after the cheap shot he took on Jake Locker last season.

OSU is also rebuilding their special teams in 2008. Graduated is Alex Serna who tormented the Huskies over the past four years.

How do you beat Oregon State?

Teams should be able to run on the Beavers better in 2008 since they are rebuilding their front seven. The defensive backfield provides good run support, but they don't exactly resemble a lockdown group. The linebackers are raw, and unproven.

Offensively the lack of talent at the QB position, and the depth of the OL could hold back a potentially explosive offense led by some great skill players at WR, and RB. Opposing teams will try to force the OSU QB's into mistakes that score points.

OSU's defense was a great equalizer in past years because it made up for less than stellar play at QB, this year the Beavers won't have that luxury.

What do I think?

We have these guys at home, and we should be able to beat them in 2008. If you want to get to the next level you need to expect to beat Oregon State. Just because you expect it doesn't mean it will happen. People keep trying to downgrade the Beavers each season, and the excellent coaching staff keeps coming up with ways to win.

This should be a pretty close game, and what Washington needs to do is show they can put some points up on the Beavers and make them play catch up for a change.

Whatever the outcome of the game bet on the Beavers to be bowling somehwere again in 2008.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Arizona Preview

It took awhile for Arizona’s offense to start moving under OC Sonny Dykes, but by the end of the year things started to click. During the Wildcats’ three game winning streak in late October through November, the offense hung 48 points on Washington, 34 on UCLA and 34 on Oregon.

Washington's loss to Arizona last year was just sickening, and it killed any chance of the Huskies attaining the goal of a bowl game. Washington was the better team for most of the day, but in the fourth quarter Arizona rallied and scored at will against an inept Husky defense.

With ten starters returning on offense, this is a team that could put up a whole lot of points in a hurry. Tuitama has just about all of his weapons returning. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, H-back Delashuan Dean and receivers Mike Thomas and Terrell Turner give Tuitama plenty of quality receivers. However, the addition of junior college transfer Derick Barkum could be the long threat the team needs. Barkum has terrific speed, but he needs to prove that he can catch the ball in camp before he will see much time on the field this fall.

With the return of four of the five starting offensive linemen, Arizona hopes the running game will improve a bit. Even though the team does not want to run too often, it is still nice to rush for more than 76.8 yards per game. Nic Grigsby could be the answer after a decent freshman campaign, but he needs to improve in 2008 for the Wildcats to be a credible running threat.

The Wildcat defense needs to fill some major holes, only 3 starters return to a defense that ranked 53rd a year ago. This team’s front 7 is fairly small and could have trouble stopping the run, but might be able to use its speed to get after the opposing team’s quarterback.

Former fullback Earl Mitchell will make an attempt at moving to defensive tackle, but is only 265lbs. Ronnie Palmer is the only returning linebacker who had 83 tackles last season, but will need to play a much bigger role this year. It looks like D’Aundre Reed and Adrian McCovy will be the other starters here.

The team does return both starting safeties in Cam Nelson and Nate Ness, with Ness being the guy who could end up being special as he had 5 interceptions last season, and didn’t even start till halfway through the season.

The most glaring need is at cornerback where all world Antoine Cason and Wilrey Fontenot have graduated. In their place will be Marquis Hundley, Robert Golden and Devin Ross who have talent, but certainly lack in experience.

Arizona has to rebuild it's defensive line in 2008. Just about everybody who saw any significant playing time last year was a senior. Jonathan Turner has some experience at end, but sophomores Ricky Elmore, Lolomana Mikaele, Brooks Reed and D’Aundre Reed need to step up and at least provide some depth. To help address the problem former H-back Earl Mitchell and linebacker Apaiata Tuilhalamaka will see time on the defensive line.

How do you beat Arizona?

You don't let Willie Tuitama beat you through he air like Washington did in 2007. The Huskies made Willie who they had beaten up the previous two years look like a Heisman Trophy candidate last season.

Arizona is this years "Jekyll and Hyde" team. The Wildcats boast one of the conferences most explosive offenses, and probably its worst defense. You beat Arizona by exploiting their defense with long time eating drives that result in TD's effectively keeping the ball out of Tuitama's hands.

Despite the problems on defense Arizona should win more than they lose this season thanks to an easy conference schedule. That should be enough to save Stoops job. The Arizona program was in shambles when he took over, and it seems they are finally on the right track.

What do I think?

I think this one will be a toss up on the road, and a must win for both teams. Stoops saved his job last year by beating Washington on the road, and Willingham picked up a big nail in the coffin for another close fourth quarter loss. Former DC Kent Baer went into virtual hiding after this game, and was fired soon after the season concluded.

I have to go with Washington in this one because we should beat these guys on most given days if our offense develops a strong running game behind that experienced OL. I think the Wildcat offense will be great, but they are going to have their work cut out on defense. Control the ball, build a lead, and keep it away from Tuitama, especially in the second half and you win the game.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Evil "Notre Dame" Empire Strikes Back

The girls over at the Irish Band of Sisters Blog put together a little rebuttal to the Notre Dame preview I wrote this week, plus the extra comments I included to fill in anything the Irish faithful felt was missing. They open up with a couple of comments directed at your's truly.


Dropped on my head as a baby?

Little guy?

You must have forgotten eating the lead paint off my crib rails.

I am going to post the base of the article and include my comments in red. I have to tell you there isn't a lot of substance here, it is just the usual BS that we are Notre Dame, and because we are Notre Dame we are going to beat you because your Washington. Jake Locker can't even spell Tim Tebow let alone put on a Tim Tebow demonstration on the football field.

You have to like a guy that is loyal to his favorite team, but some of the comments, especially the one's about Oregon State, and Arizona lead you to believe he doesn't really know college football outside of South Bend, and it is very doubtful if he has ever even been to South Bend.

You either love Notre Dame, or hate Notre Dame. Once again here are some more good reasons to continue rooting against Notre Dame each week as the losses keep adding up.

Irish Rebuttal From Band of Brothers

There were a lot of responses across the ND message boards these past two days about John Berkowitz's preview of the Notre Dame - Washington game on Oct. 25. Although John put a lot of time and effort into his piece, I'm going to put my spin on this hotly contested debate.

Ok little fella, yes Notre Dame has a very strong contingent of Subway Alumni. Yes some probably have not had the chance to take in a glorious fall, football weekend in South Bend, but that doesn't mean they do not know a thing or two about football, especially Notre Dame Football! Also, Notre Dame is more like Northcentral Indiana, not Northwestern as he proclaims. Plus if he thinks the Huskies can beat BYU, then he's either, A) Dropped as a baby, or B) Very delusional.

(Since our family owns a summer home about twelve miles directly North of the Golden Dome we have a pretty good idea on the location. The Husky blog received around 40 posts from BYU fans who said I was spot on with the preview of their team, and quite few who felt UW would win the game. )

I definitely can think of a few teams that will be so-called "weaker" teams than Notre Dame that's on Washington's schedule. Arizona and Oregon State will definitely be down this season. Oh yeah, didn't the Irish beat UCLA last season? But what do I know, right?

(I don't think the Irish can beat UCLA, Oregon State, or Arizona in 2008. I'm not even sure if Washington will beat Arizona, and Oregon State. Arizona is actually up this season with one of the best offenses in college football. They do sport a defense that is almost as potentially bad as the Irish's. The Beavers have some holes to fill on defense, but they actually have the potential players to fill those holes, I wouldn't take them for granted with the players they have at WR, and RB. The point is the Irish will not be able to score enough points to stay up with the majority of Pac Ten teams in 2008.)

John's take is that Washington is this scoring machine. Yes the Huskies averaged over 4 touchdowns a game last season, while the Irish managed only a tad over 16 points per contest. On the flip side, Washington's defense was and IS a lot worse than the Irish! Kent Baer's stellar defense, which got him fired, gave up 31.6 points a game. ND's wasn't much better at 28.8, however a resurgence of talented Freshmen and Sophomores will be ready to make 2008 a season to remember. Oh yeah a guy named Tenuta should help too!

(You answered the question yourself, the Huskies averaged over 4 TD's per game against the toughest schedule in the country, and the Irish only averaged 16 points per game with a schedule that included such cupcakes as Duke, Stanford, Navy, and Air Force. Was Army, and Vanderbilt busy? Tenuta and Weis on the same staff....would love to be a fly on the walls during the meetings and at the all you can eat buffet. The chances those two inflated ego's are going to get along are pretty slim. Notre Dame's defense stunk in 2007, and there isn't much to indicate other than a new DC that they will be that much better in 2008. You lost your top DB this summer, and the national media thinks that your defensive line will regress this season, but what do they know, they just cover college football every week for a living. If 6-6 is a season to remember than the standards in South Bend are slipping. Make no mistake the Washington defense was the worst in our schools history in 2007, but there is reason for optimism that we can improve from absolutely terrible to simply average in 2008.)

The middle portion of his article is his little rant about Washington's offense and how unstoppable they are going to be. Fair enough, Notre Dame had a tough time of stopping the run. However, the Irish are going to be well tested before they face the Huskies. Also, Husky Stadium hasn't been intimidating to the Irish before, so I don't think it will be this time around too!

(Well tested, how about beaten down, and limping. This isn't your mother's Irish, this is a team full of doubt that had it's nose rubbed into the ground almost every weekend last season. They didn't lose close, they lost ugly, and when they lost ugly they figured out new ways to even look uglier the next week. You have to admit that game day coaching was pretty suspect in 2007, but hey, you rebounded against Duke, and Stanford.)

Lastly we'll go over John's infatuation with Husky QB Jake Locker:

I'll give John some credit that Locker is a good mobile QB. He did average 82 yards on the ground last season. In one of his responses to an Irish fan, John compares Locker to Florida's Tim Tebow. Yes, Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow. Ok, ok, ok, let's stop the man love and hippie dreams right there. Locker is no Tim Tebow. Locker has to be a good passer to be in the same breathe as Tebow. In fact, Locker is statistically the worst passer out of the O'Brien Preseason Watch List. Jake is one of two passers to have thrown more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (15). Wake Forest's Riley Skinner was the other QB in that category (12 TDs/13 Ints). Locker, however, has the worst completion percentage out of the entire group at 47.2%. There was only one other QB below 50%, Illinois' Juice Williams (48.4%).

(Ok, I admit it, most of the Northwest has a man crush on Jake Locker, and so do I. Jake had problems with accuracy in 2007, most first year starters do. He also had receivers that simply didn't hang on to the ball very well in 2007. We would usually count around six drops per game. that really skewed his average. Based on what we witnessed this spring, and over the summer Locker is improved, plus he will be throwing to an unsung bunch of young receivers who just may be the most talented group Washington has had in about twenty years.)

If you were wondering, Jimmy Clausen had 7 touchdowns to 6 interceptions, and completed 56.3% of his passes last season. Also I've heard plenty of folks complain about Clausen's age saying he wasn't a true freshman because he was 20, blah, blah, blah! Well I hate to break it to Washington folks, but Locker wasn't a true Freshman either. This will be his third year in Seattle, as he redshirted as a freshman. So technically Locker had the better advantage of being in practices of a entire season of the college game under his belt.

(I wasn't impressed with Clausen, in fact nobody was impressed with Clausen last year. He didn't make a good impression either when he reported in to Notre Dame camp last summer either. I think the kid has good potential, but he is going to spend a lot of time on his back again this season lining up behind the weak Irish offensive line. Everyone expects him to improve, and he better because 6-6 is a lofty expectation for this bunch of pretenders. Hey Jimmy the phone is ringing, and Damiel Teo Nesheim is on the line, and in your head.)

Finally, the media think the Irish will do better than John's perception of 6-6. In fact I've seen plenty of definite 7 or 8 win predictions. Just look at the video below to prove my point. There will always be doubters and haters of the Irish; but whatever way you slice it, Notre Dame has never lost to Washington and they'll definitely not let this happen this year either! I guess John and Husky nation just can't handle the truth!

(Anyone can pull a pro Irish video report out of their rear end. The season will be decided on the field, not by pre season media predictions. It is true Notre Dame has never lost to Washington, but the streak will end this year in Seattle. It is Irish fans that can't handle the truth, and the truth is your team isn't very good and is going to be stomped into the field turf by Jake Locker and company. Bring plenty of holy water, rosary beads, and bandages, you are going to need them.)

Huskies Secure First Verbal

Highly touted Bellflower, California QB Keith Price announced his intentions to attend Washington today becoming the first member of the 2009 Husky recruiting class.

Price is one of those kids who came in and lit up camps up and down the coast this summer to move up the ladder past higher rated recruits. Price is a mobile QB who will fit in well with what the Huskies are doing in the future. Price had offers from Nevada, and Utah, but other Pac Ten teams were also considering making offers. Scout considers Price a three star recruit, and the #66 QB in the country. Based on how well he did in camps this summer that rating could go up a bit because he seems to be peaking at about the right time.

Pac Ten Alley

Well as predicted the Notre Dame fans who read my preview over on Bleacher Report were less than impressed, in fact one of them thinks I should be permanently banned. Just last week I predicted Washington would beat BYU and over 40 Cougar fans thought my pre season analysis of their team was spot on. That didn't mean they didn't hope, or predict a different outcome which is fine.

Notre Dame fans are a completely different breed. The majority of them never attended school there, never have seen a game in person, and even haven't set a foot on the storied campus in Northwestern Indiana. Subway alumni as they call them have no problem defending their favorite school's football team even if they tend to ignore the fact that the current team is rebuilding. You have to admire the loyalty, and it is a big reason why the Irish have their own national TV contract on NBC.

One point of criticism about the article was fair, and that was the fact that I gave little information except for Jake Locker on why I expected Washington to beat the Irish. So I posted a reply which clears that up and hear it is. Since the blog is being nationally syndicated I am going to have to be more thorough, and not take for granted that everyone read the articles leading up to the next one.

Bleacher Report Response

When I wrote the article I expected this reaction from some of the Notre Dame fans. What can I say, I call it like I see it, and I think Notre Dame, Stanford, and Washington State are the weakest teams Washington plays this year.

I pick Washington because they simply have the ability to put up a lot of points on Notre Dame. On the flip side I don't see the Notre Dame offense being able to keep up. It isn't so much an improved UW defense, it is simply lack of faith in the Irish offense. I watched almost every ND game last year, and was just surprised by how bad they were. I know they will improve in 2008, but they have a lot of work to do to catch UW who actually had a good enough offense to win last year if there defense hadn't have been so horrible.

Another item is this preview was written about Notre Dame, not Washington per se, so if you want to read about what I think about the 2008 Washington Huskies visit the blog at and you will be able to find quite a bit of balanced information in articles written over the past six weeks. Think of this article as part of a continuing series that has been going on for six weeks. this is just the Notre Dame chapter. When it shows up unattached on Bleacher Report I can understand how it may not stand completely on it's own.

As far as Notre Dame in 2008 goes I haven't really read anything different out there in the national media that says anything different than what I am saying. Most people think that a 6-6 finish is possible, but the best years of this program are ahead of them.

I read some interesting posts here regarding the recruiting of Weis, and he has had nothing but extremely highly ranked classes since he arrived at Notre Dame. Recruiting hype however is very subjective, and you really can't figure out how a class will pan out for 3-4 years. Take Tom Lemming for example, everyone knows he is a ND homer who over rates every player ND recruits. Add an extra star, deserved, or undeserved for every player ND recruits.

Rick Neuhesiel had some very highly ranked classes at Washington, and in retrospect it meant nothing because his later classes simply didn't pan out and perform to expectations for various reasons. The current 5th year seniors at Washington were recruited by Neuheisel, and signed by Gilbertson. That class was highly rated and for most intents and purposes it has been a bust. Let me give you another example, Paul Hackett's tenure at USC, you Irish fans remember him? He had highly ranked classes that lacked balance, didn't perform, and he lost his job.

Weis has recruited well on paper, but he has to prove he can win with his own athletes. Remember he did quite well with the kids he inherited, and not so good with his own guys last year. Whose fault was it that he didn't have a QB ready to go after Brady Quinn?
Recruiting is much more than rankings from Scout/Rivals. It has to do with evaluation, and picking the right type of players to fit your system. That is why a team like Boise State went undefeated a couple of years ago and whipped Oklahoma in a BCS bowl game. How many of those BSU players were recruited by the Pac Ten?

As far as this years game goes Washington is going to run all over Notre Dame in Husky Stadium. UW has an impressive veteran offensive line, and that line is deep, and experienced. The Huskies also have one of the best fullbacks in the nation in Paul Homer, this kid is devastating blocker. The skill players are unproven, but they are extremely talented. RB/WR Chris Polk is being called the next Reggie Bush, and RB Brandon Johnson is a very good inside type of runner who racked up 100 yards in the second half against Cal last year when Rankin was sidelined by an injury.

UW is also rolling out a couple of TE's who will play for the first time in 2008 who were rated among the very best in the country coming out of HS. Remember this name, Kavario Middleton, the kid is an animal, and he should be seasoned to make an impact by the time the Irish roll into town.

Let's talk about Jake Locker for a second, this kid is for real and is built like an absolute horse. He is incredibly mobile. His accuracy, and general comfort running the offense has dramatically improved since last Fall. When running the ball he hits like a linebacker, and his speed would allow him to start at RB for most BCS teams. You can't control him, you can only hope to contain him. With the added touch and accuracy he is going to be load to handle for any team he plays against. Locker is one of those rare players who can take over a game, and raise the level of everyone around him.

Finally lets talk about the Husky defense. Do you Irish fans remember a guy named Kent Baer? Were you impressed buy him at all? Probably not, and at Washington he was villifed by not only the fans, but by former players, and coaches. He was simply a bad fit who also lacked the depth and talent to compete in the Pac Ten.

The new DC is former Falcon DC Ed Donatell, and he represents a significant upgrade. He is also arriving at the right time because for the first time since Willingham has arrived UW has depth and talent in the defensive backfield. UW also has one of the better linebacking groups in the conference. The Huskies are solid at DE, and Daniel Teo Nesheim has the potential to leave early for the draft and be first team All Pac Ten. Washington like almost every team in the Pac Ten is rebuilding on the interior, and if you want to pick an Achilles heal for the defense it will be here unless a couple if highly touted recruits can play right away.

Pac Ten Alley

Let's take a walk down the coast to see what the neighbors are up to.

Oregon lost the battle of the helmet clash to Texas A$M

ESPN is having a "Helmet Clash" competition and the Oregon vs Texas A&M round will end today. Oregon leads by a small margin at the time of this post.

California judge lifts the injunction, but the tree sitters winn continue to appeal.

After 19 months and more than 40,000 pages of documentation, a judge ruled to lift the injunction preventing the construction of an athletic center near UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller ruled Tuesday that the injunction will be lifted in seven days, when the judgment officially takes effect. The university has battled lawsuits brought by the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation over the construction of the center and the removal of 44 trees at the proposed construction site since December 2006. Miller postponed the dissolution of the injunction for a week in order to give the petitioners time to file an appeal. The petitioners can ask an appeals court to issue another injunction to halt construction. Not all of the parties may choose to appeal.

Oregon State will be rebuilding it's special teams in 2008.

Heading into 2008, the Beavers lose Serna, lose long snapper Joel Cohen, and still do not have a proven punter on the roster. We redshirted Kyle Harper last year, well, I thought we did, until I looked at this year's media guide and didn't even see HIM on the roster. According to our "two-deep" depth chart, Sean Sehnem is the punter. But there's another guy, Johnny Hekker, who's also listed as a punter. So we'll see how that goes.

Even USC is being shafted by it's Fox regional sports network.

Let's see if we can get this straight: Fox Sports cancels the Trojan Rewind show (30 minutes) and replaces it with a new Monday night show that will devote one-third of its hour to USC (20 minutes). That's progress? And we didn't even include the Pete Carroll press conference show that was also canceled.

ASU wins the Pac Ten in simulation.

IGN writer Bill Barnwell conducted a simulation and analysis of the 2008 football season, conducted on EA Sports NCAA Football '09. It looks like ASU wins the Pac-10, apparently beating USC in the process and clinching a Rose Bowl Berth. Apparently, we lost to Oregon State at Corvallis in the simulation and finished the season ranked 5th. Since I haven't actually manned up and paid the $59.99 plus tax for the game, this is the closest I'm getting to the action right now. Interestingly enough, preseason favorite Georgia goes 7-5 on the year. This would be quite the season if it were actually to happen, even though the Rose Bowl doesn't turn out as we'd all hope.

UCLA talks about the proliferation of sports blogs in the newspapers and how they fail to interact with the fan blogs.

Achilles gave us a lot to think about in his post on blogs and traditional media coverage of UCLA. I agree with many of his points concerning how the newspapers in Southern California still hasn’t figured what to do with blogs. They – as in the main beat writers – who cover UCLA and other major athletic program in town still haven’t shown the ability to understand college football/basketball blogsphere and how to engage it both indirectly (by interacting with us) or directly (by launching their own effective blogs).

The WSU blog contribute's 133 reasons to love the Pac Ten.

With summer flying by and only 40 DAYS until the Cougs and the rest of the Pac-10 kick of the 2008 season, I thought we’d take a peek at how the conference schedules look this year. There are a couple things that jump out at me when I look at the 2008 Pac-10 schedule. First is that the non-conference schedules are looking tougher than in years past. That’s not to say that every school’s schedule is loaded with tough matchups – there are still some real softies on tap – but overall, I’d say the Pac-10 has stepped up the level of non-con competition.

Since nobody is writing about the Stanford football team lets's check in with the band since they are off double secret probation.

Spring Band is the LSJUMB's mercenary faction. Spring Band has no sporting event obligations, so it is free to wander around the Bay Area, playing for birthday parties, weddings, wakes, gun shows, and more. Fine weather (practically guaranteed) and Fun (guaranteed, or your money and Open Bar back) abound. It's an exciting time to be playing an instrument in tacky, awful clothing. We never know what's going to happen. For every game of downhill bowling outside a birthday party in San Francisco (true story), there is getting locked inside the fence during the lunch hour at a construction site (also a true story).

The classy team at the BYU Blog breaks down the Quarterbacks.

Hall returns for his junior season. Hall started in every game last year, and only missed time during a couple of short plays due to injury besides stepping out when games were well in hand. On the year, Hall had 298 completions on 496 attempts, a 60% completion rate. 62% or higher seems to be the real standard of excellence at BYU in terms of accuracy, so Hall has some room to improve. Those passes were good for 3,848 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the year, the #10 season all time for a BYU quarterback.

The Irish Band of Brothers is going to rebut yesterdays preview Notre Dame preview.

Tomorrow I'll post my rebuttal to this piece on why and how the Irish will prevail over the Huskies. So without further adieu, here's John's preview of the Washington game seen through the eyes from a delusional Husky fan. Sorry John I had to put that in there.

Hey, only my wife can call me delusional ;)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Notre Dame Preview

Washington has never beaten Notre Dame in a series that stretches back to the late 1940's. The series was renewed the last decade after the retirement and death of former Notre Dame AD legend Moose Krause. Krause swore that the Irish would never again schedule Washington after the Huskies paid off the refs to keep it close in a game at Husky Stadium back in 1949.

Time heals most things, and the Irish and the Huskies are now starting to play each other regularly. Since the series was renewed Washington has been outclassed by the Irish at home, and on the road. This year may prove to be different since both programs are trying to rebuild from one of the lowest points in their storied histories. UW just may have the edge going into this one.

Most Notre Dame fans blame Tyrone Willingham for most of the teams current problems. It is no secret that Ty didn't recruit that well at Notre Dame. It is also no secret that Weis did pretty well his first two years using Ty's players. The Irish fans are not enamored with Weis anymore after last years pathetic season. Notre Dame demands victories, and BCS bowl games every single year, there is little margin for error in South Bend.

Notre Dame is coming off one of its worst seasons in history and Coach Weis is on the very hot seat after being sainted his first two years as head man at ND. It’s hard to imagine the Irish repeating last year’s 3-9 campaign in 2008. They were blown out in their first five games, crushed 38-0 by rival USC, and lost to both Air Force and Navy, but 6-6 in 2008 is a more likely scenario.

The Irish, like Washington figure to field a better team in 2008. A much better team, in fact because of all the talent Weis has been stockpiling. Like Washington, the strength of the team is in the last two recruiting classes, so there is a major maturation process going on. Young talent aside, there are still major questions about this team on defense, along both lines, and most importantly from a psychological standpoint. This Irish have to figure who they are, what they represent, and how they are going to get there.

The Notre Dame offense was so bad last year that the defense's troubles sometimes escaped notice, but the fact is, this is a very average defensive unit. Notre Dame gave up 30 or more points in each of its first five games, then let Navy score 46 and Air Force score 41 before finding a groove in its last two games, but those games were against lowly Duke and Stanford.

The lone bright spot for the defense appeared to be in the secondary where three starters were supposed to return. Safety David Bruton had a great junior campaign and will be looked to as a leader during his senior season. The pass defense was ok last year and corners Terrail Lambert and Darrin Walls seemed adequate enough to handle just most receivers.

Walls unfortuantley left the team this summer to head home to deal with undisclosed personel problems which means the Irish defense is going to have another big hole to fill in 2008. Jr. Rasheon McNeil will try to fill the void left by Walls at CB.

Without tackle Trevor Laws, who is now in the NFL, the defensive line could be even worse than they were last season when they gave up nearly 200 yards a game on the ground. Linebackers John Ryan and Maurice Crum need to have big years if the defense is going to get a lot better.

Coach Charlie Weis has nine starters back from last year’s offense, including a couple good skill guys. You know the guy is on track to get it turned around because he has a top five recruiting class each season. The talent will be there, but Irish fans are questioning whether Weis can coach or not.

Leading the way for the Irish offense will be quarterback Jimmy Clausen (1,254 yards passing, 7 touchdowns, 6 interceptions) who almost certainly will be better this season than he was in 2007. Clausen has all the talent in the world; he just needs a little confidence, and some time to throw the ball.

Clausen's biggest hurdle this season is going to be wiping out the memories of 2007. The kid played way before he was ready, and only time will tell if he can recover psychologically from the beating he took last season.

Clausen loses his top target, reliable tight end Jon Carlson, so he will likely rely on promising receiver Duval Kamera, who caught 32 passes and scored four touchdowns in 2007.

Running back is a position of mild concern, though Robert Hughes showed some promise late last season, when he rushed for 110 yards against Duke and 136 against Stanford. The offensive line, which was quite frankly horrible in 2007 (Clausen alone was sacked 34 times), will be anchored by right tackle Sam Young.

How Do You beat Notre Dame?

You let Notre Dame self destruct and you punish them with Jake Locker all night. No way can the Irish defense deal with Locker at Husky Stadium. The Irish can't stop the run, and the defense still will be weak this season. UW just needs to hammer it all day to pick up its first W in the series.

What do I think?

I think Notre Dame will be one of the weakest teams we play all year. The Irish are down, and they were much worse than us last year. I am not buying the Jimmy Clausen hype, I will take Jake Locker, and our defense any day over this squad. The Irish have a lot of young talent, but until they get a years experience under their belt they will still struggle in 2008.

So Husky and Irish fans, that's right, I am predicting a Washington win over Notre Dame which means the Huskies win two out of three non conference games in 2008.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Monday Morning Wash

We have two weeks to go till camp opens up and until then don't expect a lot of news to come out of Montlake even though most of the freshman class is here taking summer bridge program classes.

I will be filling space over the next two week with more opponent previews, in fact I will be previewing Notre Dame tomorrow. Expect plenty of Irish fans to be visiting the blog, and some of the comments might not be so great because I think the Irish may be one of the weaker teams we play this season.

I also plan on finishing up the Pac Ten defensive ranking predictions later this week as time allows. I was reading some of the comments on the offensive predictions over on Bleacher Report and the UCLA fans weren't that thrilled with my appraisal of their offensive expectations in 2008.

I think the Bruins have a really strong coaching staff. The combination of Neuheisel and Chow is going to pay some serious dividends over the next few years, and don't forget that if Walker stays around as DC the Bruins will continue to be a strong defensive team. I just think the Bruins have way too many holes to fill on offense in 2008, and no matter what type of miracle workers Chow, and Neu are they still need the talent to work with.

Ted Miller is reviewing the kickers today on the ESPN Pac Ten blog. He rates UW's Ryan Perkins #6 in the conference. Ryan has pretty much stated that because of chronic knee injury he is going to hang it up early, and retire at the end of the year. I watched him struggle this Spring, and it seemed like he wasn't as good as last fall. Maybe he ends up doing PAT's, but I think kickoff's, and FG's will be done by Folk, or Ballman. Once again, if you are not reading Ted's blog you are missing out, nobody knows the Pac Ten, and can accurately evaluate talent like Ted Miller.

You may have missed this but Ernie Kent and Oregon have agreed to a contract extension. I find it interesting because Kent on the hot seat the last couple of years even though his teams have performed well.

University of Oregon Director of Athletics Pat Kilkenny and Head Basketball Coach Ernie Kent have agreed on terms for a new contract. The agreement constitutes an extension for Kent, and will also help ensure the stability of the program in the future. The terms of the new agreement extends the provision of a rollover clause in previous deals and runs through the 2012-13 season.

Dick Baird is at it again over at Dawgman. This week he comments on how college football has become a full time job even though the NCAA has cut way back on the time players and coaches spend together.

Years ago they (the dreaded NCAA) instituted the 20-hour work week for all student-athletes. It essentially limited all enrolled student-athletes to no more than that amount of time per week to include all practices, games, and any meeting or activities involving their coaches during their set seasons.

I am sure that there are plenty of things going on behind the scenes in recruiting as Washington is trying pretty hard to get the first recruit on board to get the ball rolling. As far as news goes nothing has been coming out the last few weeks over at Dawgman. There are plenty of quality kids interested in Washington, but at this time nobody on the list seems inclined to pull the immediate trigger.

The natives in Seattle are starting to get restless, and Seattle Time's beat writer Bob Condotta wrote about it last week. He interviewed WR recruit Gino Simone who said that he and many recruits are waiting to see what happens with Willingham. One thing keeps ringing clear and that is the recruits like Willingham, and they want to play for Willingham.

I just have a gut feeling that Washington is going to be a much better team in 2008 despite the lack of experience at the offensive skill positions, and on the defensive line. I am betting that the Huskies finish with a winning record, go to a bowl, and Willingham is rewarded with a rollover type of extension which will help recruiting.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ranking the Pac Ten by Position - Offense

Ranking the Pac Ten, or any conference by position in the pre season is one of those less than meaningful pursuits that most of the media goes through as we approach the college football season. The teams with the most returning talent get ranked higher than the teams with the less experienced talent. Not a lot of brain surgery salad going on here.

The joy of college sports is change, and change happens every season. USC always gets rewarded because it is a given that they are refilling spots with HS All Americans while a team like Washington gets penalized even though they are currently replacing lesser talent with greater, but less experienced talent in the skill positions. To get the respect of the media you need to win some games.

The kids with no experience are always discounted, and rightly so, but they can be the difference makers that turn losers into winners. It really doesn't matter in the pre season because it all shakes out as the season goes on.

Overall Offensive Team Ratings

The team with the best defense will win the conference title in 2008, but having the fourth best offense could hurt the Trojans in 2008. I put Washington in the middle this year with Jake Locker at the helm surrounded by an unknown cast of talented newcomers. The Ducks may have a new QB, but they have the best offensive line, and debatedly the best stable of running backs in the Pac Ten. I think everyone is over rating California by prior reputation, the Bears are very similar to UW, and behind at QB. Nate Longshore really has to rebound in 2008 for the Bears to excel.

  1. Oregon....The Ducks have all the tools if Costa clicks at QB.
  2. Arizona....Tuitama has a decent offensive line, great recievers, and an All American Tight End.
  3. Arizona State....Erickson is an offensive genius, and he has the best QB in the Pac Ten. The offensive line is the Achilles heal of this outfit, and it will hurt in big games.
  4. USC....The Trojans have have been declining in offense, and a suspect offensive line could stifle the running game. Despite that they have exceptional skill guys and good depth at QB.
  5. Washington....You have Jake Locker, a very good offensive line, and talent at the skill positions that needs to mature. The key to the UW offense is Locker raising the level of the young players surrounding him.
  6. Washington State....The Cougs are loaded at receiver and on the OL, but they are breaking in a new QB. Tardy can be one of the best backs in the Pac Ten.
  7. California....Longshore is in a slump, and the Bears are rebuilding. I am not buying into the Bear rebound hype even though the OL is pretty good.
  8. Oregon State....Problems at QB will knock the Beavers out of a bowl this year. I also think they need a year to rebuild the OL.
  9. UCLA....The Bruins have questions at QB, and a potentially poor offensive line. The coaching of course is improved, but it will take a year or two to gather the right talent.
  10. Stanford....The Cardinal needs to put up some points this year to climb out of the basement.


The Pac Ten QB class is average this year with ASU Sr. Rudy Carpenter leading the bunch. UW So. Jake Locker has the most potential and could have a breakout season that could lead to a Heisman campaign in 2009.

  1. Arizona State....Rudy Carpenter is the top Pac Ten QB coming in to start the year. With Erickson as a tutor he will only get better this season. I really like his makeup, and he has plenty of guys to throw to if he can stay off his back.
  2. Washington....I don't think it is going out on a limb to pick Jake Locker at #2 since he has the more talent than any other QB in the league. His increased accuracy is going to pay off in 2008.
  3. Arizona....Willie Tuitama has the potential to put up some big numbers in 2008. He has a great stable of receivers to throw to.
  4. USC....The combo of Sanchez, and Mustain have some things to prove. USC offensive numbers have been going down, and neither of these guys is better than Booty. I am not bullish on the USC offense.
  5. California....Nate Longshore had a poor year in 2007, but most expect him to rebound under Tedford in 2008. I am not so sure. I think Cal is rebuilding and on an even par with UW this year.
  6. Oregon....I think Nate Costa is going to surprise some people in 2008. If he can stay healthy he may be one of the better QB's by mid season. Oregon has a machine that tends to reload, and the RB's are going to take pressure off the new QB.
  7. UCLA....Ben Olsen has experience, but if Cowan was healthy he would be #2 at UCLA. I don't expect Ben to last the season. Expect him to be knocked out early. I expect when UW plays UCLA they are down to a walk on at QB.
  8. Oregon State....Moevao, and Canfield are simply mediocre.
  9. WSU....Not much known about Rogers till he gets a game or two under his belt. Gary could surprise because he has a lot of talented skill players around him.
  10. Stanford....Pritchard beat USC, but will have to fight to keep his job. The QB situation won't sort itself out till the opener.

Running Backs

As usual the Pac Ten has some real studs that will be lining up in 2008. USC, and Oregon are loaded on paper. I actually favor the Ducks since I know what Crenshaw, and Johnson can do, but the addition of the power JC Blount puts them over the top. Joe McNight at USC could be primed for a big year, but SC hasn't been rushing well lately, and a rebuilding OL could hurt them. I rank Cal, and UW somewhere in the middle. the young kids they have are talented, but they need experience.

  1. Oregon....Jeremiah Johnson, LaGarette Blount, and Andre Crenshaw add up to one of the best backfields in the nation in 2008, in fact they may be as good as the Trojans on paper.
  2. USC....There is a possibility that every RB on the USC roster could start at any another Pac Ten school not named Oregon. The Trojans are loaded and will headline with Stafon Johnson, and Joe McNight in 2008. If they go down no problem, the Trojans are eight deep in quality TB's.
  3. ASU....Keegan Herring and Dimtri Nance are very solid, and they put up great numbers in 2007 running behind a less than stellar offensive line. The less than stellar OL returns, but Erickson is a miracle worker.
  4. UCLA...Kahlil Bell, and Raymond Carter will carry most of the load for a Bruin offense that will be challenged in 2008. Bell pounded UW last year in the fourth quarter.
  5. WSU....Dwight Tardy can be a money back for the Coug's, and they are going to need that with a new QB coming in. The key for WSU is keeping him healthy.
  6. Cal....I like Jahvid Best, and if he can stay healthy he may go over 1000 yards in 2008. The Bears have plenty of young talent waiting to prove itself.
  7. UW....I think Brandon Johnson will do very well between the tackles running behind a veteran offensive line. Add in the dimension and speed of Chris Polk and you have a changeup that may surprise teams. Paul Homer is the best FB in the league. UW also has some decent unproven depth that will come to light this season.
  8. Oregon State....Ryan McCants is a bruiser, and don't forget slotback James Rogers who can break some big ones. The question is can the QB create enough of a diversion, and will the OL open some holes.
  9. Arizona....Nic Grisby doesn't really impress me that much, but he gained 700 yards last season. Arizona will live on the arm of Tuitama. The Wildcats run enough to just keep you honest.
  10. Stanford....Anthony Kimble was very average in 2007, and I expect him to post similar numbers in 2008.
Wide Receiver

There is always plenty of receiving talent in the Pac Ten every year, but the team with the best bunch of receivers may struggle at QB. The best QB may end up with the best bunch of receivers by the end of the year.
  1. Oregon State...Darrell Catchings, James Rodgers, and Sammy Stroughter are proven commodities. The only problem will be a QB good enough to get them the ball. The quarterbacking at OSU is very suspect.
  2. Arizona State.....Jones and McGaha return with plenty of depth behind them. Erickson always has kids that can catch the ball, and with the conferences best QB they will put up some numbers.
  3. Arizona....Mike Thomas leads an experienced crew catching passes from one the better QB's in the West. Wth Tuitama at the helm UA can do some damage.
  4. USC....The Trojans are deep, young, and populated by HS All Americans who need to show us they can compete, chances are they will. Keep an eye on Hazleton, and Turner.
  5. Oregon...Jeff Maehl and USC transfer Jamere Holland look good on paper, but the Ducks have some rebuilding to do. Jaison Williams needs to stay healthy in 2008, and if he does he will be special.
  6. Washington State...Gibson and Willis looked good this Spring, but they need more depth to develop behind them. Gibson may be the best in the Pac Ten. We all discount the Cougs with a new coach, but Wullf will get some production with a veteran OL.
  7. UCLA....Offense is going to be a problem for these guys, and they are going to need to to develop some talent behind Everette. Neuheisel and Chow will get it done eventually, but the problems at QB, and OL are going to hurt this season.
  8. Washington....D'Andre Goodwin was the only sure thing to come out of Spring. He will be the go to man for Locker. Don't discount the addition of Chris Polk, and the other young guys, UW has as much talent as anyone, they just need experience.
  9. California is very much like Washington, they are rebuilding the entire unit, but they have the young talent to make considerable progress in 2008.
  10. Stanford....Richard Sherman is a stud, but the other young guys are going to have to come on in 2008 for Stanford to be respectable.

Tight End

You have the big three of Gronkowski, Dickson, and Paulsen followed by a complete crapshoot after that.

  1. Arizona....Rob Gronkowski is probably the best TE in America going into the 2008 season. He is another big reason why the Arizona offense is going to win enough games in 2008 for Mike Stoops to get an extension.
  2. Oregon....Ed Dickson is right up there with Gronkowski, and with a new QB who will rely on him in 2008 he is a very good bet to put up some big number.
  3. UCLA....Logan Paulsen will put up big numbers if he can shed the injury bug, his injury last season really hurt the Bruins.
  4. Oregon State....Howard Croom is a kid that I liked in 2007. He is a dependable receiver that blocks well.
  5. USC....The Trojans are starting over, but whatever they have on there bench is usually better than most of the starters in league. Keep an eye on Blake Ayles.
  6. UW....Washington has been in a serious decline at TE. Sr. Mike Gottleib who is simply average is the only serious returnee. Fr. Kavario Middleton, and RS. Chris Izbicki are going to emerge onto the scene and change all that. The TE position is back at UW if the new kids can block.
  7. WSU....The Cougs have serious blue collar depth in addition to Sr. Devin Frischknecht.
  8. California....Cameron Morrah should have a good year bailing out Longhshore.
  9. Stanford....Ben Ladner looks like he could make some noise as the Cardinal garbage man.
  10. Arizona State....The Sun Devils are starting over at this position in 2008. Look for them to go with the kid that can block the best to offset their OL problems.

Offensive Line

You can't win without the big uglies, and Oregon has done a great job developing the kids they recruit. If you ever watch them up close check out the lower bodies on those guys, it is just scary. Mike Denbrock has done a great jog rebuilding the offensive line at Washington, and the Huskies have plenty of depth and experience.

  1. Oregon....The Ducks have one of the better offensive lines in the country. Unger, and Tupou are the anchors of a strong, and agile offensive line. Are they as good as Oklahoma? The Huskies will find out early.
  2. Washington....If Garcia recovers early this line could be pretty damn good. Even if he doesn't the Huskies have the depth to make up for it. UW has lots of experience and depth in 2008. Remember these guys protected Locker well in 2007, and they opened up enough holes to produce a RB who ran for over 1300 yards.
  3. California....Alex Mack is one of the best Centers in the nation, but the Bears need to replace a tackle and a guard
  4. Arizona....The Wildcats bring back four starters from an offensive line that made modest strides, particularly in pass protection. The big void is at left tackle, where all-star Peter Graniello was a four-year starter.
  5. WSU....The one position of strength for the Cougars will be their offensive line, where they return four starters. Leading the way up front are the junior Kenny Alfred, a member of the Rimington Trophy watch list and the senior Vaughn Lesuma, a junior college transfer a year ago who is just tapping into his potential as an offensive tackle.
  6. USC....Jeff Byers is the only returnee in 2008, but the Trojans have the usual HS All Americans to plug in. USC's offense has been declining in production since the Leinhart days and rebuilding the offensive line is priority one at USC.
  7. Oregon State....The Beavers need to replace a center, and a tackle, but have been one of the better coached units on the coast under Riley.
  8. Stanford....It takes 4-5 years to develop an offensive line. Harbaugh is starting on year two but is making progress. Keep an eye on Alex Fletcher who is a rising star.
  9. Arizona State....This unit allowed four sacks per game last season. The Devils will be relying on JC's and position changes to fill the gap.
  10. UCLA....Micah Reed started eight games at guard last season and will shift to center. Tackles Alexis Landis, who was bothered by knee problems, and Micah Kia, who had troubles with consistency, are the only other linemen returning who started a game last season...ouch!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stanford Preview

Jim Harbaugh did a great job in his first year on the job getting his team ready to play each week. Depth being what it was the Cardinal wore down quickly as a large number of injuries hit the team.

Rebuilding the program at Stanford is a huge job, but the new stadium they opened last season is a big step toward getting the program back on its collective feet. Harbaugh needs to pick up some wins so the fans start returning to the farm. Husky fans who were in attendance last season probably outnumbered the Cardinal faithful.

Starting with offense ex Clover Park HS QB Tavita Pritchard led the Cardinal to a victory over USC, but the quarterback will have some competition from Alex Loukas and Michigan transfer Jason Forcier.

So who is the quarterback going to throw to? Bradford and Moore were great receivers when healthy. Junior Richard Sherman led the team with 651 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but the experience behind him is pretty much non-existent. Sophomores Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen and incoming freshman Chris Owusu will have to be ready to play big roles for the offense.

While the passing attack sorts itself out, running back Anthony Kimble will have to carry the offense. He only rushed for 509 yards last season, but Kimble could have a decent season behind an experienced offensive line. The return of Toby Gerhart, who only played in one game last season due to injury, will give the backfield some more weapons.

The defense has nine starters returning to the unit in 2008. Linebacker Clinton Snyder is coming off a great year in which he tallied 96 tackles, eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. The junior is expected to become even more of a leader on the field now that he is an upperclassman.

With Pat Maynor and Chike Amajoyi also back, the linebacker corps will be in pretty good shape. Amajoyi was a kid that Washington really wanted, and he is going to mature into a pretty good player.

Safety Bo McNally will lead the secondary. Corner Nick Sanchez needs to be replaced, but Stanford has Kris Evans, Corey Gatewood and Wopamo Osaisai who are more than capable enough to hold down the two spots.

The defensive line returns three starters, but inexperience at tackle could cause some problems down the road.

How do you beat Stanford?

You knock them out of the game early and don't let them hang around. It also helps if you schedule them in November when they are running out of players. UW didn't exactly dominate the Cardinal last year on the scoreboard, but a W is a W.

Most teams in the Pac Ten should beat Stanford because they have more overall talent and depth. Harbaugh has been recruiting extremely well and over the next couple of years the Cardinal should be back to full strength.

For Stanford to surprise in 2008 they need to avoid the rash of injuries that have plauged them over the last couple of years. Harbaugh has them playing inspired ball, but they simply keep running out of players by mid season.

What Do I Think?

Washington should never lose to Stanford, especially at home, but Willingham and company did exactly that two years ago when the Cardinal pulled off an unlikely upset during the worst season of their history. That loss started the negative drum roll on the shores of Montlake for Ty's head, and it prevented Washington from finishing the season at .500.

Jim Harbaugh is on the right track, and can steal a win from anyone as we saw when they upset USC last year, but Jake Locker isn't going to allow that.

Washington will have no problem scoring on these guys, and the Stanford offense will continue to sputter until they build a competent running game. Going into the season I would predict the Huskies to be a 17 point favorite in this game.

Hopefully it won't end up being our first victory of the year after opening with Oregon, BYU, and Oklahoma.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oklahoma Preview

The Oklahoma Sooners opened the 2007 with a 79–10 win over North Texas. They continued their powerhouse offensive performances and strong defensive performances with wins over Miami (51–13), Utah State (54–3), Tulsa (62–21), Texas (28–21), Missouri (41–31), Iowa State (17–7), Texas A&M (42–14), Baylor (52–21), and Oklahoma State (49–17). Oklahoma lost only two games in the regular season, Colorado (24–27) and Texas Tech (27–34).

The Sooners played against the Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 championship game and came away with a 38–17 win over the then #1 ranked Gary Pinkel led Tigers. Oklahoma then played in the Fiesta Bowl game against the West Virginia losing 48–28, to end the season with 11 wins and 3 losses.

I took the time to list the scores because my gosh, that is a lot of offense! Look for the Sooners to continue that high powered offense in 2008 because this team is loaded with returning talent, and perhaps the best offensive line in college football.

The Sooners averaged 6.4 yards per play on offense in 2007, the most for the team since 1987. QB Sam Bradford finished the regular season with the nation's No. 1 rated pass efficiency as just a freshman. Bradford threw for 3,121 yards and 36 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. With a talented and experienced offensive line in front of him and an army of weapons at his disposal, Bradford should continue to improve in his sophomore season.

The Oklahoma offensive line is led by future NFL players like Duke Robinson and Phil Loadholt. In fact, all five senior starters are back this season to create an offensive line that is most likely the best in the country.

The Sooners also welcome back wide receivers Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson. Iglesias led the team last season with 68 catches for 907 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Jermaine Gresham steps into the starting spot at tight end and appears to be someone to watch.

The TB tandem of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown combined for 1,375 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Murray is just a sophomore, but he possesses great speed and elusiveness. He could very well have a huge season.

The defense only returns six starters, but three of them are along the defensive line. Oklahoma will have to rely on the front four to control the line of scrimmage; at least until the back seven get settled. The front four were equally successful at stopping the run and the pass in 2007.

The defensive line returns most of the starters, as 3 of the 4 are back. With defensive tackles like senior DeMarcus Granger and sophomore Gerald McCoy its going to be tough getting any kind of push against these guys. Junior defensive end Austin English is a beast on the outside and his 9.5 sacks was the best on the team a year ago.

The team only returns one linebacker in senior Ryan Reynolds, but it looks like he is ready for the spotlight. Redshirt freshman Austin Box will start on the weak side with junior Keenan Clayton taking over the strong side.

The secondary is probably the weakest on this side of the ball, but they do have some pretty good talent coming back in senior strong safety Nic Harris and fellow senior Lendy Holmes at free safety. It looks as though junior Brian Jackson and sophomore Dominique Franks will team up at the two corner spots to start the season. Both played well in the spring, but it remains to be seen how that translates into the season.

How do you beat Oklahoma?

You need to slow down one of the nations best offenses, and take advantage of the back of the Sooner defense which is rebuilding. It helps that Washington is playing these guys at home. Husky Stadium isn't an easy place to play in, just ask USC, and Cal. Washington can beat anyone on a given day in Husky Stadium. UW is also due for a major upset!

Obviously Oklahoma will will have more experienced talent on the roster than Washington in 2008, but the Huskies have shown that they can hang tight with teams like USC, and Ohio State. Washington will be improved, and the Sooners can't take Washington for granted on the road. This game will be closer than most people think.

The key for Washington won't be the legs of Jake Locker, it will be his arm, UW needs to strike deep in this one to stay competitive.

What Do I Think?

Last time we played these guys in Norman we gave them a game. We broke out to an early lead, but just like last years Ohio State game overall talent, and depth began to take over in the latter stages of the game. I predict the same thing will happen this year at Husky Stadium. Oklahoma has a lot more experienced talent than Washington, and just like USC they are a recruiting powerhouse. The Oklahoma kids know how to win, and as the game goes on they tend to wear you down into making mistakes like Ohio State did to UW last year. I have to pick Oklahoma by ten points, but the game will be decided in the fourth quarter.

On a side note it would be great if Jim Owens is healthy enough to make the trip over for from Whitefish, Montana to see the game. JW hasn't been back since the statue dedication, and it would be great if he could make the trip to see his alma mater play against the team he coached for seventeen years.

If you look at the game on paper it is absolutely no contest, the oddsmakers will favor the Sooners by over twenty points no matter what the Huskies do in the first two games. You have what will probably be the best offense in the BCS going up against what was last year the worst defense in the entire country.

I think the UW defense will be much better in 2008, in fact you won't even recognize it, but Oklahoma will present the toughest test for the UW defense this season and will prevail in the fourth quarter.