Oregon Ducks: California Bears

Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.

But first, you now have a full bag of Twitter handles that are required reading.

You have mine here. You have Kevin Gemmell's brand spanking new 140-character depot.

And you have our veteran Tweeters and new Pac-12 blog insiders, Chantel Jennings -- here -- and Kyle Bonagura -- here.

That is 560 characters that nine out of 10 doctors recommend -- and this is the 10th doctor.

To the notes!


Nick from Sacramento writes: If Sonny Dykes wins 5 games this season, with a new AD, think he sees season 3?

Ted Miller: Short answer: Yes.

I also think that if he wins four or even three games and the Bears are far more competitive on both sides of the ball than they were in 2013, he deserves a third season, unless things go haywire off the field. While Dykes didn't inherit an entirely empty cupboard from Jeff Tedford, there were certainly issues, and then the Bears' injury woes last season were among the worst I've witnessed -- UCLA fans, you could equate it to your 1999 season, when Bob Toledo was practically walking around campus asking guys to suit up.

Dykes hasn't been perfect. Most notably his hiring of Andy Buh as defensive coordinator didn't work out. But he also deserves credit for making a handful of changes on his staff this offseason, including the hiring of Art Kaufman to run his defense.

Of course, when a football coach of a struggling team sees the athletic director who hired him depart, he knows he is losing an important administrative relationship. ADs and the coaches they hire in revenue sports are tied at the hip. When one suffers, so does the other. In this case, with Sandy Barbour leaving, Dykes is now less secure than he was last week. And it's notable that we rated him as the least secure Pac-12 coach even before this news.

The question now turns to the sort of AD Cal has in mind to replace Barbour. There are plenty of athletic director types out there. Some move deliberately. Some are more impulsive. I've been told by more than a few savvy ADs that it's important to hire your own football coach because you would rather be judged by what you have done than what your predecessor did.

Yet, as with most things in college football, there is an easy solution: Winning.

If Dykes goes 4-8 this season and gets back to the postseason in 2015 with quarterback Jared Goff as a third-year starter -- and his team is academically and behaviorally sound -- I suspect we'll see him around for a while.


Tom from Seattle writes: Saw your QB blog about the PAC-12 and the comments on Utah's QB Travis Wilson -- "When healthy, Wilson has been a solid performer with good upside. "Are we talking about the same Travis Wilson that is the 11th ranked PAC-12 QB in conference play two years running and leads the world in INT's? Still love your blogs, though!

Ted Miller: Yes.

First, Wilson, despite playing with an injury for three games, ended up grading out fairly well, ranking 47th in the nation in ESPN.com's Total QBR. Sure, that is only ninth in the Pac-12, but in the conference of quarterbacks, it's important to keep a national perspective when we are evaluating what might constitute a "solid performer."

Second, see if you notice anything in these numbers. Can you guess when Wilson got hurt? What you see is a pretty good quarterback through six games and the bottom falling out during the next three conference games. Again, "when healthy Wilson has been a solid performer..." When he was bad last season, he wasn't healthy (other than the UCLA disaster).

What about that "good upside" part? Well, let's not forget that Wilson was a true sophomore last season. He was thrust into service prematurely in 2012 and played fairly well considering the circumstances. When the Utes were 4-2 after beating Stanford, he looked like a guy who could lead the Utes into the South Division race.

For comparison's sake, consider that Oregon State's Sean Mannion had a 127.1 rating with 18 interceptions as a redshirt freshman starter. Wilson finished with a 129.7 rating last season.

But thanks for loving the blogs. Most awesome people do.


Paul from Albany, Ore., writes: Losing Brandin Cooks is going to be very difficult on the Oregon State offense and this fact has been pointed out numerous times. What has not been pointed out is that this same dialogue was stated the prior year when Markus Wheaton was lost to the NFL. Yes Cooks had a better year last than Wheaton did one earlier. But why has so little been written about the common denominator in both seasons -- Sean Mannion?? He is returning and yet all you folks write about is the losses he has sustained. How about digging into the idea that maybe he is a key factor in helping these receivers achieve their lofty status?

Ted Miller: Well, after passing for 10,436 yards and 68 touchdowns in three seasons, Mannion certainly merits a tip of the cap. And he has improved each year, which is a good thing.

I'd also contend he gets plenty of credit. For one, we ranked him fourth among Pac-12 quarterbacks, which is saying something when all four qualify as All-American candidates. And NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. knows who he is, ranking him the nation's No. 2 senior quarterback Insider.

But this will be a revealing year for Mannion. For one, he's a senior. This is his last chance to make a statement as a college quarterback and as an NFL prospect. Second, for the first time, he doesn't have a proven, NFL prospect at receiver.

NFL scouts are presently wondering if Wheaton and Cooks made Mannion look good. If Mannion is a more efficient player this season with a less stellar supporting cast in the passing game and, yes, wins a couple of big games, his stock will rise both when it comes to college kudos and NFL love.


Wayne from Mesa, Ariz., writes: A few weeks ago, the PAC-12 announced a new start time window for football: 11:00am. A few stories circulated the announcement, but I have not seen anything since. Has there been much feedback regarding this start time? From my standpoint, while it provides needed content for that time slot on the PAC-12 Network, it's way too early for the fans, especially in a region where we are used to late afternoon and night games.

Ted Miller: We did a poll and 58 percent of 5,391 respondents were positive about the 11 a.m. window.

I generally agree with that result. While 11 a.m. isn't ideal, it's better than having four games kickoff at 7:30 p.m. PT. A lot of Pac-12 fans have been complaining about a surfeit of late kickoffs. This is a response to that complaint. My guess is those who will now complain about the early kickoff will be fewer in numbers.

It's important to note a few things about the 11 a.m. window.

Wayne, I notice you are from Arizona. If you are a fan of Arizona or Arizona State, you won't have to worry about an 11 a.m. kickoff, at least not until late October. The Pac-12 has no interest in fans melting into puddles in their seats.

It's also unlikely the 11 a.m. kick will be the day's marquee game. That still will almost always fall into primetime windows, be that on ET or PT.

I suspect the 11 a.m. kickoff will mean more TV eyeballs for what might seem like middling games. While some folks are worried about competing with SEC or Big Ten games at 2 p.m., I don't see that as an issue. Some viewers will tune in because they care more about the Pac-12. Some will tune in because they like to watch more than one game at once. Those who don't care about the Pac-12 wouldn't watch with any kickoff time.

Some don't like the 11 a.m. kickoff because it means waking up early to drive to the stadium, and it cuts into tailgating time. But I'm not sure if these party-hardy folks are looking at the big picture.

First, there will be some encouragement for fans to arrive Friday evening. That only means more fun. Then, on Saturday, you get the 8 a.m. bloody mary at the stadium with eggs and bacon and country ham from this guy. Yummy. Then you have a postgame tailgate and time for a dinner and -- potentially -- a nice evening to tool around the old college digs.

The socially creative among you will be emailing me at season's end telling me the 11 a.m. kickoff rocked.


Emily from Los Angeles writes: You want a heartbreaking loss? What about the 3OT game between USC and Stanford?

Ted Miller: You mean a game that featured big names, ranked teams, controversy, late heroics and three overtimes could be heartbreaking?

I was there. Really entertaining, strange game. Hated how it ended, though. Not in terms of who won, but that it was about a sloppy and unfortunate turnover rather than a dramatic play.


Trevor from Portland writes: We got an article about Pac-12 heartbreakers, and it left out the biggest heartbreaker of the decade. Cam Newton fumbled, he wasn't down by forward progress. Cliff Harris was in. Michael Dyer was down. I'm still not over it.

Ted Miller: I was there for that one, too.

The Ducks were so close to a national title. It was the only time I can recall that Chip Kelly expressed regret about his game plan and some in-game decisions, as that sort of navel gazing wasn't his thing.

That is the thing about close games. They are a thrill to win and excruciating to lose. They also are why we love sports. While we love the winning, there is also a masochistic side to us that enjoys the social aspects of wallowing in misery among friends.

(Thousands of fans from various, struggling Pac-12 outposts immediately go, "Who... us?")

Pac-12 lunch links

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
2:30
PM ET
Way back on the radio dial a fire got lit inside a bright eyed child. Every note just wrapped around his soul, steel guitars to Memphis all the way to rock 'n roll.

Position U: Running backs

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
10:00
AM ET

Who really deserves to claim the title of "Running Back U" for the 2000s?

1. Arkansas (104 points)
In perhaps the biggest upset at any position, Arkansas can call itself “Running Back U” for the 2000s. Certainly Darren McFadden played the biggest role in the Razorbacks’ claim, but he got an assist from Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis. Those former backfield mates are among six Arkansas running backs who have been drafted since 2001, helping the Hogs barely edge Oklahoma for the top spot.

Award winners: McFadden, Walker (2006, 2007), Camp (2007).
Consensus All-Americans: McFadden (2006, 2007).
First-team all-conference: Fred Talley (2002), Cedric Cobbs (2003), Darren McFadden (2005, 2006, 2007).
NFL first-round draft picks: Jones (2008), McFadden (2008).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Cobbs (Round 4, 2004), Knile Davis (Round 3, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Hillis (Round 7, 2008), Kiero Small (Round 7, 2014).

2. Oklahoma (102 points)
When someone like Adrian Peterson has been on your campus, you have to start there when discussing Oklahoma running backs. But one of the main reasons the Sooners racked up such a considerable point total is the Big 12’s unusual practice of honoring fullbacks on its all-conference team. In addition to the Petersons and DeMarco Murrays, there are also several blocking backs included in the Sooners’ 12 all-conference running backs who made our list.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Peterson (2004).
First-team all-conference: Quentin Griffin (2002), Peterson (2004, 2005, 2006), J.D. Runnels (2005), Brody Eldridge (2007), DeMarco Murray (2008, 2010), Matt Clapp (2008), Trey Millard (2011, 2012, 2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Peterson (2007).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Griffin (Round 4, 2003), Murray (Round 3, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Runnels (Round 6, 2006), Patrick (Round 7, 2008), Trey Millard (Round 7, 2014).

3. Alabama (100 points)
Arkansas’ Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams had better pick it up this season, or the Alabama train is going to roll to the top spot. The Crimson Tide once again has one of the nation’s most talented backfields with T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry set to join the likes of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy as top point producers from Alabama.

Award winners: Ingram, Heisman (2009); Richardson, Walker (2011).
Consensus All-Americans: Ingram (2009), Richardson (2011).
First-team all-conference: Kenneth Darby (2005), Ingram (2009), Richardson (2011), Lacy (2012), Yeldon (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Ingram (2011), Richardson (2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Le’Ron McClain (Round 4, 2007), Glen Coffee (Round 3, 2009), Lacy (Round 2, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Ahmaad Galloway (Round 7, 2003), Darby (Round 7, 2007), Brad Smelley (Round 7, 2012).

4. Auburn (86 points)
Auburn hasn’t been as flashy as its in-state rival -- the Tigers don’t have a single award winner or consensus All-American in the 2000s -- but few schools have been as consistent at developing solid tailbacks. Perhaps the most memorable names are the stars from the undefeated 2004 team -- Ronnie Brown and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams -- but Rudi Johnson, Kenny Irons, Ben Tate and Tre Mason all made big impacts at Auburn, as well.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: None.
First-team all-conference: Johnson (2000), Williams (2003, 2004), Brown (2004), Irons (2005, 2006), Michael Dyer (2011), Mason (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Brown (2005), Williams (2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Heath Evans (Round 3, 2001), Johnson (Round 4, 2001), Irons (Round 2, 2007), Tate (Round 2, 2010), Mason (Round 3, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Jay Prosch (Round 6, 2014).

4. Wisconsin (86 points)
Montee Ball is Wisconsin’s only major award winner and consensus All-America tailback from the 2000s, but the Badgers have an impressive tradition of turning out 1,000-yard rushers. Among the program’s top producers from this era are 2001 first-round pick Michael Bennett, Brian Calhoun and Anthony Davis, among others. Ball posted huge yardage and touchdown totals in 2011 and 2012 -- which explains why he was a two-time All-American and won the 2012 Doak Walker Award -- but it’s the run of consistency at running back that makes Wisconsin a producer of top rushers.

Award winners: Ball, Walker (2012).
Consensus All-Americans: Ball (2011, 2012).
First-team all-conference: Davis (2001), Calhoun (2005), P.J. Hill (2006), John Clay (2009), Ball (2011, 2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: Bennett (2001).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Calhoun (Round 3, 2006), Ball (Round 2, 2013), James White (Round 4, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Davis (Round 7, 2005), Bradie Ewing (Round 5, 2012).

6. Oregon (82 points)
Although the Ducks have ranked among the nation’s top programs over the past half-decade, LaMichael James’ 2010 Doak Walker Award is the only major award that an Oregon player has won at any position in the 2000s. James is the Ducks’ top point producer out of the backfield in recent years, but they also won points with backs like Maurice Morris and Onterrio Smith before Chip Kelly’s rushing attack turned Oregon into the offensive juggernaut that we see today.

Award winners: James, Walker (2010).
Consensus All-Americans: James (2010), Kenjon Barner (2012).
First-team all-conference: Smith (2002), Jonathan Stewart (2007), James (2010, 2011), Barner (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: Stewart (2008).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Morris (Round 2, 2002), Smith (Round 4, 2003), LaMichael James (Round 2, 2012), De’Anthony Thomas (Round 4, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Barner (Round 6, 2013).

7. USC (78 points)
Reggie Bush was actually a two-time All-American, but we aren’t factoring the 2004 nod he received because that was as an all-purpose player, not a running back. Nonetheless, Bush’s standout 2005 season was the main points driver as the Trojans cracked the top 10 largely because of the former No. 2 overall NFL pick’s accomplishments. It bears mentioning, however, that USC has already had eight running backs drafted in the 2000s.

Award winners: Bush, Heisman (2005), Camp (2005), Walker (2005).
Consensus All-Americans: Bush (2005).
First-team all-conference: Bush (2004, 2005).
NFL first-round draft picks: Bush (2006).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Justin Fargas (Round 3, 2003), LenDale White (Round 2, 2006), Joe McKnight (Round 4, 2010).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Malaefou Mackenzie (Round 7, 2003), David Kirtman (Round 5, 2006), Allen Bradford (Round 6, 2011), Stanley Havili (Round 7, 2011).

8. Penn State (72 points)
Larry Johnson’s huge 2002 season accounts for much of Penn State’s point production -- he generated 52 points between winning three national awards, becoming a consensus All-American, winning first-team all-conference honors and getting drafted in the 2003 first round -- but the Nittany Lions have had five running backs drafted and Evan Royster also won all-conference honors in 2009.

Award winners: Johnson, Camp (2002), Maxwell (2002), Walker (2002).
Consensus All-Americans: Johnson (2002).
First-team all-conference: Johnson (2002), Royster (2009).
NFL first-round draft picks: Johnson (2003).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Omar Easy (Round 4, 2002), Michael Robinson (Round 4, 2006), Tony Hunt (Round 3, 2007).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Royster (Round 6, 2011).

9. Oklahoma State (70 points)
There’s nothing flashy about Oklahoma State’s point production here. No national awards, and just Kendall Hunter among its All-Americans. But the Cowboys have been outstanding at producing all-conference running backs, with Hunter (twice) and Tatum Bell ranking among their eight backs who made the coaches’ first team.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Hunter (2010.
First-team all-conference: Bell (2003), Dantrell Savage (2007), Hunter (2008, 2010), Keith Toston (2009), Bryant Ward (2009, 2010), Joseph Randle (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Bell (Round 2, 2004), Vernand Morency (Round 3, 2005), Hunter (Round 4, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Randle (Round 5, 2013).

10. California (66 points)
Considering how Cal shares a conference with splashy programs like Oregon and USC, perhaps it’s understandable that its success developing tailbacks might fly a bit under the radar. But just look at the Bears’ résumé, starting with Marshawn Lynch, Jahvid Best and J.J. Arrington. There have been some enormously productive tailbacks who got their start in Berkeley.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Arrington (2004).
First-team all-conference: Adimchinobe Echemandu (2003), Arrington (2004), Lynch (2006), Justin Forsett (2007), Best (2008).
NFL first-round draft picks: Lynch (2007), Best (2010).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Arrington (Round 2, 2005), Shane Vereen (Round 2, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Echemandu (Round 7, 2004), Forsett (Round 7, 2008).

10. Virginia Tech (66 points)
Frank Beamer’s Hokies are another bunch who trotted out productive tailback after productive tailback. Virginia Tech hasn’t won a national award and has only Kevin Jones among its All-America backs, but its list of all-conference backs -- including first-round picks Jones and David Wilson, along with Lee Suggs, Brandon Orr and Ryan Williams -- features some players whose running abilities fit perfectly with Beamer’s winning formula in Blacksburg.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Jones (2003).
First-team all-conference: Suggs (2000), Jones (2003), Orr (2006), Williams (2009), Wilson (2011).
NFL first-round draft picks: Jones (2004), Wilson (2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Suggs (Round 4, 2003), Williams (Round 2, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Jarrett Ferguson (Round 7, 2002), Cedric Humes (Round 7, 2006).

REST OF “RUNNING BACK U” RANKINGS
62 -- Boston College; 60 -- Michigan, Ohio State; 58 -- Stanford; 56 -- LSU, Miami; 52 -- Georgia Tech, Oregon State; 50 -- West Virginia; 48 -- BYU; 44 -- Arizona, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, TCU; 42 -- Texas; 40 -- Clemson, Iowa, Nebraska; 36 -- Kansas State, Rutgers; 32 -- Georgia, Minnesota; 28 -- Florida State, Louisville, Tennessee, UCLA; 26 -- Illinois, Maryland, Syracuse; 24 -- Virginia; 20 -- Colorado, North Carolina; 18 -- Baylor, Mississippi State, Wake Forest; 16 -- Florida, Northwestern, Washington, Washington State; 14 -- Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas Tech; 12 -- Iowa State, Kentucky; 10 -- Kansas, N.C. State, Texas A&M; 8 -- Missouri, Utah; 6 -- Arizona State, Duke, Indiana, Notre Dame; 2 -- Vanderbilt

Pac-12 lunch links

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
2:30
PM ET
Happy Friday the 13th!

Is the Pac-12 inexperienced?

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
1:30
PM ET
As previously noted, there is no simple measure that consistently predicts college football success. We lean on returning starters most often -- it matters, of course, just who those returning players are -- because we typically value experience.

There's good reason for that. Experience matters. While it's not more important than talent, it often overcomes talent.

Another way to measure a team's experience is to look at returning "lettermen," who are loosely defined as players who contributed during the past season.

This is what Phil Steele does here. Of course, he also notes that each program defines lettermen differently, so he defines his measure in a percentage of lettermen returning.

And, by this measure, the Pac-12 isn't terribly experienced heading into 2014.

Last year -- one of the deepest in terms of quality in conference history -- 11 pac-12 teams ranked among the nation's top-65 (top half, really) in terms of experience. This year, just five teams do, and six rank between 85th and 124th.


Does this mean the Pac-12 should expect a downturn in 2014? Not necessarily.

For one, 10 Pac-12 teams welcome back experienced QBs, and half of those are all-star prospects as well as NFL prospects. That's almost always a benefit. No other conference even approaches the quality the Pac-12 will have behind center this fall. Further, as we've show the past two days -- here and here -- there's a strong collection of offensive line talent coming back. Finally, one of preseason themes is the depth across the conference at receiver.

What I think we'll see this year in the Pac-12 is a step back on defense and -- not unconnected -- a big step forward on offense, particularly the passing game.

Whether that translates to nonconference and bowl wins and, perhaps, success in the inaugural College Football Playoff remains to be seen.
Dates, times and early TV schedules have been released for the early portion of the 2014 season. Here’s a comprehensive list, team-by-team of what has been scheduled.

ARIZONA:
  • Friday, Aug. 29 vs. UNLV, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Thursday, Sept. 4 at UTSA, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Nevada, 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Thursday, Oct. 2 at Oregon, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Friday, Nov. 28 vs. Arizona State, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports
ARIZONA STATE:
  • Thursday, Aug. 28 vs. Weber State, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 at New Mexico, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET, CBSSN
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 at Colorado, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  • Thursday, Sept. 25 vs. UCLA, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Friday, Nov. 28 at Arizona, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports
CALIFORNIA:
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Sacramento State, 12 noon PT/3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Friday, Oct. 24 vs. Oregon, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Thursday, Nov. 13 at USC, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, ESPN
COLORADO:
  • Friday, Aug. 29 at Colorado State, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET/FOX Sports 1
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. ASU, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, ESPNU
OREGON:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. South Dakota, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. PT/6:30 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Deportes
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Wyoming, 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Thursday, Oct. 2 vs. Arizona, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Friday, Oct. 24 at Cal, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
OREGON STATE:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. Portland State, 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 at Hawai’i, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN
  • Thursday, Oct. 16 vs. Utah, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
STANFORD:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. UC-Davis, 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. USC, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Army, 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Oct. 4 at Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
  • Friday, Oct. 10 vs. Washington State, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Friday, Nov. 28 at UCLA, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
UCLA:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 at Virginia, 9 a.m. PT/2 noon ET, ESPN
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Memphis, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Texas, 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Deportes
  • Thursday, Sept. 25 at ASU, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Friday, Nov. 28 vs. Stanford, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
USC:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. Fresno State, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Deportes
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 at Stanford, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 at Boston College, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
  • Thursday, Nov. 13 vs. Cal, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, ESPN
UTAH:
  • Thursday, Aug. 28 vs. Idaho State, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Fresno State, 12 noon PT/3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Thursday, Oct. 16 at Oregon State, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1

WASHINGTON:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 at Hawai’i, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, CBSSN
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Eastern Washington, 12 noon PT/3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Illinois, 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports
WASHINGTON STATE:
  • Thursday, Aug. 28 vs. Rutgers, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Friday, Sept. 5 at Nevada, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Portland State, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks

Pac-12 lunch links

May, 28, 2014
May 28
2:30
PM ET
I know we usually start with song lyrics, but in honor of the extraordinary Maya Angelou, who passed away Wednesday morning, I thought it'd be appropriate to start Wednesday's lunch links with one of my favorite quotes from her.

"I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back."

Now, on to the links.

Pac-12 recruiting roundup

May, 15, 2014
May 15
5:30
PM ET
With spring football done and the Pac-12 coaches hitting the recruiting trail, we figured it was time to check in on how each team is faring with its recruits.

Here's a look at where each school stands:


Arizona

2015 commits: 6
Players: Keenan Walker, OT, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Taren Morrison, RB, Mesa, Ariz.; Darick Holmes Jr., RB, Westlake Village, Calif.; Finton Connolly, DT, Gilbert, Ariz.; Alex Kosinski, OG, Larkspur, Calif.; Ricky McCoy, TE, Fresno, Calif.

2016 commits: 2
Players: Trevor Speights, RB, McAllen, Texas; Shea Patterson, QB, Shreveport, La.



Arizona State

2015 commits: 6
Players: Brady White, QB, Newhall, Calif.; Morie Evans, ATH, Huntsville, Texas; Bryce Perkins, QB, Chandler, Ariz.; Nick Ralston, RB, Argyle, Texas; Tony Nicholson, ATH, Grand Prairie, Texas; Raymond Epps, TE (JC), Yuma, Ariz.

2017 commit: 1
Player: Loren Mondy, DE, Mansfield, Texas


Cal

2015 commits: 4
Players: Austin Aaron, WR, Napa, Calif.; Greyson Bankhead, WR, Corona, Calif.; Malik Psalms, CB, Chino Hills, Calif.; Lonny Powell, RB, Sacramento, Calif.


Colorado


2015 commits: 3
Players: T.J. Fehoko, DE, Salt Lake City; N.J. Falo, OLB, Sacramento; Dillon Middlemiss, OG, Arvada, Colo.


Oregon

2015 commits: 4
Players: Taj Griffin, RB, Powder Springs, Ga.; Zach Okun, OG, Newbury Park, Calif.; Jake Breeland, WR, Mission Viejo, Calif.; Shane Lemieux, OT, Yakima, Wash.


Oregon State

2015 commits: 3
Players: Tyrin Ferguson, OLB, New Orleans; Kyle Haley, OLB, Anaheim, Calif.; Treshon Broughton, CB (JC), Tustin, Calif.


Stanford

2015 commits: 3
Players: Arrington Farrar, S, College Park, Ga.; Christian Folau, ILB, Salt Lake City; Rex Manu, DT, Mililani, Hawaii


UCLA

2015 commits: 7
Players: Josh Rosen, QB, Bellflower, Calif.; Alize Jones, TE, Las Vegas; Tevita Halalilo, OG, Moreno Valley, Calif.; L.J. Reed, WR, Elk Grove, Calif.; Jaason Lewis, ATH, Virginia Beach, Va.; Bolu Olorunfunmi, RB, Clovis, Calif.; Victor Alexander, ILB, Jacksonville, Fla.


USC

2015 commits: 5
Players: Chuma Edoga, OT, Powder Springs, Ga.; Ricky Town, QB, Ventura, Calif.; David Sills, QB, Elkton, Md.; Taeon Mason, CB, Pasadena, Calif.; Roy Hemsley, OT, Los Angeles


Utah

2015 commits: 7
Players: Jake Grant, OT, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tuli Wily-Matagi, ATH, Kahuku, Hawaii; Donzale Roddie, WR, Paramount, Calif.; Chayden Johnson, K, South Jordan, Utah; Brandon Snell, WR (JC), Miami; Corey Butler, WR (JC), Wilmington, Calif.; Zach Lindsay, OT (JC), Kaysville, Utah


Washington

2015 commits: 3
Players: Jake Browning, QB, Folsom, Calif.; Trey Adams, OT, Wenatchee, Wash.; Myles Gaskin, RB, Seattle

2017 commit: 1
Player: Tathan Martell, QB, Poway, Calif.


Washington State

2015 commits: 5
Players: Thomas Toki, DT, Mountain View, Calif.; Austin Joyner, RB, Marysville, Wash.; Tyler Hilinski, QB, Upland, Calif.; Kameron Powell, S, Upland, Calif.; James Williams, RB, Burbank, Calif.
The NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) on Wednesday.

In order to compete in championships during the 2014-15 season, teams need to earn a 930 average over the previous four years or a 940 average over the previous two years.

Stanford is the Pac-12's headliner. Last year they led the conference with a rating of 978. This year, they lead with an increased APR of 978. The two schools to make the biggest jumps in their multiyear rates were UCLA and Washington, which both increased their APRs by 13.

Ten Pac-12 football programs reported an improvement. The two teams that didn’t show improvement were Oregon State and USC. However, all of the Pac-12 teams will be eligible to compete in this year’s championships. Across the country, 12 teams were penalized, 10 of which were given postseason bans.

Here’s the ranking of the Pac-12 APR with last year’s multi-year rate in parenthesis:

Stanford: 984 (978)
UCLA: 979 (966)
Utah: 970 (963)
Washington: 967 (954)
Arizona: 960 (956)
Oregon: 958 (951)
Colorado: 955 (946)
Oregon State: 950 (957)
Washington State: 944 (942)
Arizona State: 941 (937)
USC: 941 (945)
Cal: 938 (935)

To search APRs by school, sport, etc. click here.
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Yesterday Kyle broke down the offensive statistics from 2013 on a class-by-class basis (here are the links to the North Division and South Division breakdowns). Today, we move to the defensive side of the ball for the same kind of analysis. Each team’s classes are tracked in four statistical categories: total tackles, tackles for a loss, sacks and interceptions.

Cal:

Tackles: 859
Freshmen: 288 (33.5 percent)
Sophomores: 158 (18.4 percent)
Juniors: 279 (32.5 percent)
Seniors: 133 (15.5 percent)
Team: 1 (< 1 percent)

TFL: 76
Freshmen: 19.5 (25.7 percent)
Sophomores: 15 (19.7 percent)
Juniors: 22.5 (29.6 percent)
Seniors: 18 (23.7 percent)
Team: 1 (1.3 percent)

Sacks: 18
Freshmen: 4 (22.2 percent)
Sophomores: 5.5 (30.6 percent)
Juniors: 5 (2.8 percent)
Seniors: 3.5 (19.4 percent)

INT: 5
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 1 (20 percent)
Juniors: 2 (40 percent)
Seniors: 2 (40 percent)

Oregon:

Tackles: 1082
Freshmen: 45 (4.2 percent)
Sophomores: 195 (18 percent)
Juniors: 416 (38.4 percent)
Seniors: 426 (39.4 percent)

TFL: 70
Freshmen: 2.5 (3.5 percent)
Sophomores: 13 (18.6 percent)
Juniors: 24.5 (35.0 percent)
Seniors: 30 (42.9 percent)

Sacks: 28
Freshmen: 2.5 (9.0 percent)
Sophomores: 6.5 (23.2 percent)
Juniors: 9.5 (33.9 percent)
Seniors: 9.5 (33.9 percent)

INT: 17
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 0
Juniors: 8 (47.1 percent)
Seniors: 9 (52.9 percent)

Oregon State:

Tackles: 961
Freshmen: 122 (12.7 percent)
Sophomores: 58 (6.0 percent)
Juniors: 552 (57.5 percent)
Seniors: 229 (23.8 percent)

TFL: 75
Freshmen: 6.5 (8.7 percent)
Sophomores: 5 (6.6 percent)
Juniors: 44 (58.7 percent)
Seniors: 19.5 (26.0 percent)

Sacks: 24
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 2 (8.3 percent)
Juniors: 14 (58.3 percent)
Seniors: 8 (33.3 percent)

INT: 19
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 1 (5.3 percent)
Juniors: 10 (52.6 percent)
Seniors: 8 (42.1 percent)

Stanford:

Tackles: 999
Freshmen: 3 (< 1 percent)
Sophomores: 103 (10.3 percent)
Juniors: 228 (22.8 percent)
Seniors: 664 (66.5 percent)
Team: 1 (< 1 percent)

TFL: 109
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 2.5 (2.3 percent)
Juniors: 21 (19.3 percent)
Seniors: 84.5 (77.5 percent)
Team: 1 (< 1 percent)

Sacks: 44
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 0
Juniors: 5.5 (12.5 percent)
Seniors: 37.5 (85.2 percent)
Team: 1 (2.3 percent)

INT: 13
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 2 (15.4 percent)
Juniors: 6 (46.1 percent)
Seniors: 5 (38.5 percent)

Washington:

Tackles: 952
Freshmen: 68 (7.1 percent)
Sophomores: 290 (30.5 percent)
Juniors: 268 (28.2 percent)
Seniors: 326 (34.2 percent)

TFL: 74
Freshmen: 4 (5.4 percent)
Sophomores: 23.5 (31.8 percent)
Juniors: 32 (43.2 percent)
Seniors: 14.5 (19.6 percent)

Sacks: 41
Freshmen: 2.5 (6.1 percent)
Sophomores: 10 (24.4 percent)
Juniors: 25 (61.0 percent)
Seniors: 3.5 (8.5 percent)

INT: 16
Freshmen: 1 (6.3 percent)
Sophomores: 6 (37.5 percent)
Juniors: 2 (12.6 percent)
Seniors: 7 (43.8 percent)

Washington State:

Tackles: 977

Freshmen: 3 (< 1 percent)
Sophomores: 347 (35.5 percent)
Juniors: 111 (11.4 percent)
Seniors: 514 (52.6 percent)
Team: 2 (< 1 percent)

TFL: 75
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 39.5 (52.7 percent)
Juniors: 9.5 (12.7 percent)
Seniors: 25 (33.3 percent)
Team: 1 (1.3 percent)

Sacks: 21
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 13 (61.9 percent)
Juniors: 5 (23.8 percent)
Seniors: 3 (14.3 percent)

INT: 16
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 0
Juniors: 0
Seniors: 16 (100 percent)

The Pac-12 entered spring practices with more clarity and quality at quarterback than any conference in the nation by a wide margin. It exits with even more clarity at the position.

With new USC coach Steve Sarkisian announcing that Cody Kessler retained his starting job, and Utah's Travis Wilson's apparently successful return from a career-threatening medical condition (an intracranial artery injury diagnosed in November), the Pac-12 welcomes back 10 returning starters heading into the fall, with a handful -- such as Oregon's Marcus Mariota, UCLA's Brett Hundley, Arizona State's Taylor Kelly and Oregon State's Sean Mannion -- who are candidates for All-America honors and national awards.

Further, it became clear this spring that the Pac-12 is overflowing with quality receivers, with several teams combining depth, talent and experience at the position. So things figure to be pass happy in the fall.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Williams
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsUSC junior defensive lineman Leonard Williams is one of the few Pac-12 defensive stars returning this season.
But what about defense? After all, they say, defense wins championships, and Woody Hayes told us, "Three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad," an optimistic take that leaves out the quarterback sack.

While conference teams average 6.4 returning starters on defense, and just three -- Arizona State (3), Oregon (5) and Utah (5) -- welcome back fewer than six starters on that side of the ball, the loss of star power is notable.

Just two first-team All-Pac-12 defenders return in 2014: USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams and Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Only four from the second team return.

Washington defensive end Hau'oli Kikaha and Oregon outside linebacker Tony Washington are the only returning defenders who ranked among the conference's top 12 in sacks last season. The same is true in the secondary: Only two of the top eight interception leaders are back in 2014.

So, without marquee guys chasing them or trying to steal their passes, life seems good at quarterback heading into the offseason. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, few teams seem to be fretting their situation on the mean side of the ball.

Take Stanford, owner of the Pac-12's best defense in 2013. While the Cardinal appeared more settled on offense than defense entering spring practices, the defense mostly ruled when the ball was snapped.

"No question," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "If you look at our defensive front, it's a bunch of fourth-year and fifth-year seniors ... we've got a lot of guys coming back who've played a lot of football for us."

While Stanford lost some big names, such as linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov, it also welcomes back a strong foundation of seven returning starters and experienced backups. Shaw noted that Aziz Shittu is only non-fourth- or fifth-year guy in the mix for playing time in the front seven. He lauded defensive end Henry Anderson, an athletic 6-foot-6, 295 pounder, this spring as a potential breakout star this season, with an NFL future.

Over at Oregon, the Ducks are not only replacing two of three defensive linemen and three starters in the secondary, they also are breaking in a new defensive coordinator, as Don Pellum moved up from linebackers coach to replace the retiring Nick Aliotti.

Yet even when matched against Mariota and a potent and experienced Ducks offense, the defense held its own.

"I think we've had a great give and take as far as who's had the upper hand," Ducks coach Mark Helfrich said. "Marcus is obviously a difference-maker and a special guy. Defensively, we're building where we need to be. It was good give and take overall."

In the South Division, UCLA and USC both look strong on defense despite losing some marquee players. Both welcome back eight starters from accomplished units. Defending champion Arizona State lost almost all of its star power, but Sun Devils coach Todd Graham was almost defiant all spring about his expectations for his defense.

Of course, he's also counting on a number of newcomers playing key roles, which often is a matter of keeping the ole fingers crossed.

“People come here to play defense, that’s what we’re known for," he said. "We’re known for defense, so I don’t expect anything less than last year.”

While there might be some defensive questions among the teams thought to be competing for division championships, the defenses that finished on the bottom in 2013 could be much improved.

Oregon State, Colorado and California, the Nos. 9, 11 and 12 scoring defenses last season, each welcome back eight starters. The Golden Bears and Beavers, in particular, could dramatically improve if injury woes from 2013 reverse themselves.

"I think our team is tougher and better conditioned and our players are in a much better place than they were last year," Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. "I think that's something players noticed. We have some experience coming back. It's the second year in the system. So, yeah, I think everybody feels like we're a lot better football team than we were a year ago."

It seems certain that Pac-12 offenses will again be high-flying and potent in 2014. But the conference teams that have earned BCS bowl berths the past decade or so also have played good defense. As we exit spring and head into the offseason, there is hope -- but not nearly as much certainty -- there.
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