Pac-12's lunch links

May, 7, 2014
May 7
The reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.

There's plenty of optimism surrounding the Pac-12 headed into the 2014, and much of that has to do with the 10 starting quarterbacks who will be back next season. But it's not just quarterbacks -- there's a lot of productive players coming back, many of whom were underclassmen a year ago.

Here's an offensive production breakdown by class in 2013 for the North Division. Posts for the South and defensive will follow.


Passing yards: 3,997
Freshmen: 3,951 (99.3 percent)
Sophomores: -1
Juniors: 16 (0.4 percent)
Seniors: 10 (0.3 percent)

Receiving yards: 3,997
Freshmen: 556 (14.0 percent)
Sophomores: 2,164 (54.4 percent)
Juniors: 1,057 (26.6 percent)
Seniors: 200 (5.0 percent)

Rushing yards: 1,466
Freshmen: 584 (39.9 percent)
Sophomores: 456 (36.0 percent)
Juniors: 441 (33.8 percent)
Seniors: 7 (0.5 percent)

Touchdowns: 32
Freshmen: 12 (37.5 percent)
Sophomores: 12 (37.5 percent)
Juniors: 7 (21.9 percent)
Seniors: 1 (3.1 percent)


Passing yards: 3,789
Freshmen: 124 (3.3 percent)
Sophomores: 3,665 (96.7 percent)
Juniors: 0
Seniors: 0

Receiving yards: 3,789
Freshmen: 584 (15.4 percent)
Sophomores: 1,181 (30.1 percent)
Juniors: 525 (13.6 percent)
Seniors: 1,499 (39.6 percent)

Rushing yards: 3,566
Freshmen: 825 (23.1 percent)
Sophomores: 1,840 (51.6 percent)
Juniors: 868 (24.3 percent)
Seniors: 33 (0.9 percent)

Touchdowns: 81
Freshmen: 14 (17.3 percent)
Sophomores: 35 (43.2 percent)
Juniors: 16 (19.8 percent)
Seniors: 16 (19.8 percent)

Oregon State

Passing yards: 4,844
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 0
Juniors: 4,668 (96.4 percent)
Seniors: 176 (3.6 percent)

Receiving yards: 4,844
Freshmen: 144 (2.9 percent)
Sophomores: 1,730 (35.7 percent)
Juniors: 2,538 (52.4 percent)
Seniors: 432 (8.9 percent)

Rushing yards: 1,227
Freshmen: 239 (19.5 percent)
Sophomores: 477 (38.9 percent)
Juniors: 531 (43.3 percent)
Seniors: minus-2

Touchdowns: 59
Freshmen: 3 (5.1 percent)
Sophomores: 16 (27.1 percent)
Juniors: 34 (57.6 percent)
Seniors: 6 (10.2 percent)


Passing yards: 2,771
Freshmen: 0
Sophomores: 2,771 (100 percent)
Juniors: 0
Seniors: 0

Receiving yards: 2,771
Freshmen: 507 (18.3 percent)
Sophomores: 1,013 (36.6 percent)
Juniors: 1,074 (38.8 percent)
Seniors: 177 (6.4 percent)

Rushing yards: 2,904
Freshmen: 95 (3.3 percent)
Sophomores: 564 (19.4 percent)
Juniors: 193 (6.6 percent)
Seniors: 2,070 (71.3 percent)

Touchdowns: 56
Freshmen: 5 (8.9 percent)
Sophomores: 11 (19.6 percent)
Juniors: 15 (26.8 percent)
Seniors: 25 (44.6 percent)


Passing yards: 3,384
Freshmen: 418 (12.4 percent)
Sophomores: 0
Juniors: 0
Seniors: 2,966 (87.6 percent)

Receiving yards: 3,384
Freshmen: 472 (13.9 percent)
Sophomores: 885 (26.1 percent)
Juniors: 1,262 (37.3 percent)
Seniors: 765 (20.8 percent)

Rushing yards: 3,107
Freshmen: 628 (20.2 percent)
Sophomores: 17 (0.5 percent)
Juniors: 2,358 (75.9 percent)
Seniors: 129 (5.1 percent)

Touchdowns: 64
Freshmen: 8 (12.5 percent)
Sophomores: 10 (15.6 percent)
Juniors: 36 (56.3 percent)
Seniors: 10 (15.6 percent)

Washington State

Passing yards: 4,784
Freshmen: 187 (3.9 percent)
Sophomores: 0
Juniors: 4,597 (96.1 percent)
Seniors: 0

Receiving yards: 4,784
Freshmen: 620 (13.0 percent)
Sophomores: 1,675 (35.0 percent)
Juniors: 2,448 (51.2 percent)
Seniors: 41 (0.9 percent)

Rushing yards: 694
Freshmen: 20 (2.9 percent)
Sophomores: 428 (61.7 percent)
Juniors: 271 (39.0 percent)
Seniors: 0

Touchdowns: 51
Freshmen: 3 (5.9 percent)
Sophomores: 23 (45.1)
Juniors: 21 (41.2 percent)
Seniors: 4 (7.8 percent)

* Rushing totals include team rushing yards, which are not accounted for in class breakdowns.

PHOENIX -- Pac-12 coaches on Tuesday finished up the first day of the spring meetings with the morning session filled with mostly housekeeping items: scheduling, the College Football Playoff, bowl affiliations, summer practices and player stipends.

The largest news item to come out of the day was the discussion to move the Pac-12 championship game to Levi’s Stadium, the future home of the San Francisco 49ers, in Santa Clara, California. No coaches gave specifics on a timeline of when this would be put into effect, but it could happen as early as 2014.

Since the Pac-12 conference expanded to 12 teams in 2011, the game has been held at the stadium of the division champion with the better record. Levi’s Stadium, which will be completed and opened by August, will hold 68,500 fans.

Stanford coach David Shaw, who has been in the Pac-12 championship game two years in a row (with one as the home team and one as the visiting team), said he’s split on the idea of the neutral site game and that both options offer exciting opportunities for schools and fans.

Washington State coach Mike Leach said he’s excited about the idea of the game being played at Levi’s Stadium, though he said not every coach was as on board with the idea as he was.

Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said the neutral game site idea is “a total guess … but potentially a really great market,” noting the large Pac-12 alumni base in the Bay Area.

“I trust the league and what they want to do,” he said. “I have no problem one way or the other.”

The three-hour afternoon session was focused on officiating, according to Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez.

[+] EnlargeDavid Shaw
AP Photo/Kevin ReeceCoach David Shaw and Stanford have played in the last two Pac-12 title games.
He said one of the biggest talking points was in regard to the NCAA’s 10-second rule proposal, which would have allowed defenses to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock. Under this proposal, offenses wouldn’t be allowed to snap the ball until the 29-second mark of the play clock, which would’ve severely affected up-tempo teams. The NCAA Football Rules Committee tabled the proposal in March.

Shaw said the 10-second rule was “ridiculous” and doesn’t believe the rule will ever be brought up again.

“It caught everybody by surprise,” Rodriguez said. “We wondered, ‘How did that happen?’ … That was a scary part. We have to make sure in the future that we as coaches do our job to stay involved in anything that may affect the game itself or the people playing the game.”

Coaches also discussed the new rule that will be enforced on quarterback hits, which states that no rushing player is allowed to hit a quarterback at or below the knee when the QB is in a passing posture.

Shaw said the difficulty with that rule is how the officials will decide whether a defensive player is being blocked into a QB or hitting the player on his own.

“That’s the biggest distinction,” he said. “But I think it’s great. We all want to protect the quarterbacks as much as anybody. But we also like hitting quarterbacks. But it’s great for us to know when we can hit them and when we can’t.”

The spring meetings continue Wednesday morning with the coaches and athletic directors from each respective school (though Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis won’t be in attendance) meeting from 10 a.m. to noon, and then the athletic directors continuing their meetings until 6:30 p.m.

Pac-12's lunch links

May, 6, 2014
May 6
Just remember, football is 80 percent mental and 40 percent physical.

There should be a big of intrigue on the recruiting trail during this cycle when it comes to the Oregon-Washington rivalry. Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich heads into his second year as the leader at Oregon, while Washington counters with almost a completely new staff, headed by Chris Petersen. The rivalry between these two programs has been anything but that on the field of late, as Oregon owns 10 consecutive wins in the series. However, Petersen brings a 2-0 record against the Ducks to Seattle and will undoubtedly use that fact on the recruiting trail.

1. One of the more interesting stories in college football this fall will be the fate of Oregon senior Johnathan Loyd, who showed up for spring practice to play wide receiver after four seasons playing point guard for the Ducks. Loyd stands all of 5-8, so if he survived a Pac-12 basketball career, he is tough by definition. Loyd has also shown his ability to operate in space. The Eugene Register-Guard reported how Loyd got lit up the first time he caught a punt, which should teach him the wisdom of the fair catch.

2. I found the ranking system announced by the College Football Playoff selection committee last week to be so painstaking that you want to shout, “Get on with it!” The members vote, and the three teams getting the most votes are ranked the highest. And then the committee basically parses three teams at a time until it reaches 25. Why bother? Why not do what the basketball committee does: announce the field and run for the airport? The CFP committee believes this method will be more open. It also might prime the public to accept the legitimacy of the committee’s final poll.

3. On the football field, Jameis Winston performs with a maturity beyond his years. He continues to do the reverse off the field, embarrassing himself, his family, his teammates and his coaches. Winston evaded prosecution for sexual assault because the police botched the investigation. Handed that second chance, he got busted for shoplifting. Winston combines once-a-generation athleticism and magnetism in a way that few people ever have. That doesn’t excuse him from knowing right from wrong. His quick apology last week indicates that he’s aware of society’s rules, at least until the next incident.

Andre Ware breaks down whether Oregon's extra weight training will make a difference against Stanford.
The Conference of Quarterbacks shows no signs of dropping that valid designation in future years, at least based on the early returns from the 2015 recruiting season.

With Brady White's commitment to Arizona State Insider, the Pac-12 secured its fourth commitment from the 19 QBs in the ESPN 300. That list includes Josh Rosen (UCLA), Jake Browning (Washington) and Ricky Town (USC).

The Trojans also have a commitment from the No. 17 pro-style passer, David Sills. Washington State has a commitment from Tyler Hilinski, the No. 25 pro-style QB, and the Sun Devils also have a commitment from Bryce Perkins, the No. 21 dual-threat signal-caller.

Of course, nothing in recruiting is for sure until the ink is dry on signing day in February, but it's again clear that the best high school QBs -- pro style, at least -- come from the West Coast and they'd still prefer to stay there.

It is notable that the vast majority of these committed Pac-12 QBs are pro-style passers. Texas and Florida still seem to produce more dual threats, though a battle may now be brewing for Travis Waller of Servite High School in Anaheim, particularly if Oregon isn't able to woo Kyler Murray out of Texas.

As for national QB recruiting, consider this from recruiting writer Jeremy Crabtree:
With Brady White's commitment to Arizona State on Friday evening, more than 60 percent of the nation’s top 30 quarterbacks have already made up their minds. There’s even less inventory if you’re looking for a good pocket-passing quarterback, as 11 of the top 15 and four of the top five have committed.

With White off the board, the top remaining uncommitted pocket passers are No. 2-ranked Zach Gentry and No. 7-ranked Kyle Kearns. Don’t be surprised if you see both make decisions before the end of the summer.

Gentry is from Albuquerque and Kearns is from Pleasanton, California, so both also could end up in the Pac-12.

It will be interesting to see how things play out for the Pac-12 schools that don't yet have QB commitments. Waller would be a great fit at either Oregon or Arizona. Stanford is notable because it might not sign a QB -- it offered Town but not Rosen -- perhaps because it has enough faith in the futures or Ryan Burns and/or Keller Chryst.

Watch highlights from NFL draft prospect Josh Huff.

Pac-12's lunch links

May, 5, 2014
May 5
No misery gets sweeter dipped in devil juice.

Watch highlights from NFL draft prospect Taylor Hart.
EUGENE, Ore. -- The Oregon spring game has come and gone, giving us our coffee topics and bar debates for the next four months.

Now, it’s important to remember that every spring game is going to be pretty vanilla. No coach is going to run his exact offense and give next season’s early opponents an obvious scouting report. So, it’s hard to put too much stock into what’s seen or what’s said after a spring game, but there certainly are some general conclusions that can be drawn.

[+] EnlargeMariota
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesMarcus Mariota looked sharp on Saturday, but his receivers have some work to do.
So let’s start here: One of the biggest topics of this spring -- that should continue through the summer -- is what exactly the Ducks are going to do with their receivers. Between Josh Huff and Daryle Hawkins graduating and Bralon Addison getting injured this spring, Oregon lost almost a quarter of its offense. The Ducks could look to get more experienced pass catchers involved (which are the running backs and tight ends), or they might continue to push the wide receivers and hope their learning curves catch up. They could also do a combination of the two, which is basically how the spring game looked.

Coach Mark Helfrich complimented several receivers after Saturday’s game, saying that Devon Allen and Darren Carrington are both “working toward what we thought they were in recruiting” and that basketball-convert Johnathan Loyd has done well considering “the few layers of rust you’re knocking off for not playing football for that period of time.”

Marcus Mariota is going to be the starting quarterback next season so you could look most closely at his statistics and where he threw the ball. But he only played one quarter, and most of the wide receivers played more evenly throughout the game.

So, let’s take a look at the numbers:

Of the 54 passes thrown on Saturday …
37 were thrown to wide receivers (68 percent)
9 were thrown to running backs (17 percent)
8 were thrown to tight ends (15 percent)

Of the 28 receptions …
receivers accounted for 17 (61 percent)
running backs accounted for 6 (21 percent)
tight ends accounted for 5 (18 percent)

Most targeted … (with receptions in parenthesis)
7 : WR Dwayne Stanford (3)
6 : WR Darren Carrington (3)
5 : WR Chance Allen (2)
4 : WR Devon Allen (2), WR B.J. Kelley (2)
3 : WR Keanon Lowe (1), TE Johnny Mundt (3), WR Jalen Brown (0)
2 : WR Johnathan Loyd (1), WR Austin Daich (2), RB Thomas Tyner (2), RB Kenny Bassett (2), RB Byron Marshall (2), TE Koa Ka’ai (1), TE Evan Baylis (1)
1 : WR Chris Tewhill (1), RB Ayele Forde (0), RB J.J. Jones (0), RB Kani Benoit (0), TE Davaysia Hagger (0)

That’s a lot of numbers, so let’s break them down.

From a very basic level, those statistics tell us that even though the Ducks don’t have their top three receivers from last season, they still are going to be targeted quite heavily. The only players who had at least four passes thrown their way were wide receivers. Which is, again, not too surprising considering Oregon wants to use this spring to get those younger receivers more comfortable in the pass game. But, also consider that with donors and 37,000-plus fans in the stands on Saturday, the Ducks wanted to impress, and they likely wouldn’t have targeted wide receivers as much if the confidence level wasn’t very high in that group.

Even though the wide receivers were targeted the most, they certainly weren’t the most efficient group when it came to receiving. Yes, the wide receivers accounted for three of the four touchdowns, but right now we’re just looking at total receptions and targets.

On Saturday the running backs were the most efficient pass-catching position group. Granted, the quick, short passes that are thrown to a tight end or a running back are typically easier to catch than what’s thrown at a receiver. But the running backs caught 67 percent of the passes throw their way (6 of 9), while the tight ends caught 63 percent (5 of 8). The wide receivers -- again, tougher passes to catch -- caught 46 percent of the passes that were thrown to them (17 of 35).

When you compound an easier pass with a group that has more experience, it’s not surprising that they would be the most efficient group. But what’ll be interesting to watch is how the breakdown happens this fall. If the running backs and the tight ends continue to be the most efficient pass catchers, will the overall passing distribution swing more toward those position groups? Will the wide receivers still be heavily targeted, but could the players who are targeted be limited to just Stanford, Carrington, Devon Allen and Lowe? And how much of the passing game will involve the wide receivers, after they compiled 68 percent of the yards in 2013 and 61 percent in 2012.

All good things to discuss at the coffee shops or bars. Commence.

Post-spring Top 25 projection

May, 5, 2014
May 5

Projecting Big Ten standings | ACC | SEC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | Top 25

We wrapped up conference projections for each of the Big Five conferences last week, but it is now time to turn our attention to the national scene. The post-spring FEI projections are a function of five-year program ratings, returning starters, recruiting success and quarterback reliance -- statistical indicators of teams that may take a step forward or a step back next season, all of which figure prominently into the projection model.

For each team in the projected Top 25, we provide the team's projected regular-season and conference record and their opponent-adjusted offensive and defensive projection. We also identify each team's likelihood to position itself for a berth in the inaugural national championship playoff, and highlight the three toughest games on the schedule according to these projections. The likelihood of victory in each of those games is listed as well.

Here is the post-spring projection for college football's Top 25 teams:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1 overall; 7-1 conference)

Opponent-adjusted projection: No. 4 offense, No. 3 defense
Chance to finish 11-1 or 12-0: 59 percent
Toughest games: Oct. 4 at Ole Miss (76 percent chance of victory), Nov. 8 at LSU (59 percent), Nov. 29 vs. Auburn (78 percent) 

The last time Alabama lost its last two games in a season, it ran the table the following year (2009) and claimed three of the next four BCS national championships. Coming off consecutive losses to Auburn and Oklahoma in 2013, will the Crimson Tide respond the same way this fall? Alabama has ranked among the top three in our end-of-year FEI ratings in each of the last five seasons, and the 2014 schedule features eight opponents against which the Tide have at least a 90 percent win likelihood.

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Spring practice is in the books, and now the long, frustrating wait for the 2014 college football season (and inaugural four-team playoff) begins.

While spring practice is generally a time in which coaches like to build depth and avoid injuries, there were a few significant developments around the country.

Projected top-25 teams like Clemson, Nebraska and USC named starting quarterbacks, but teams like Alabama, LSU, North Carolina, Texas A&M and Wisconsin didn't, leaving their competitions open through the summer and into preseason camp.

Oregon lost its best wide receiver to injury, while Georgia welcomed back a handful of players from ailments.

Defending BCS national champion Florida State remains No. 1 in our fourth edition of the 2014 Way-Too-Early Top 25. Alabama remains No. 2, Oklahoma and Auburn have moved up a couple of spots, and Oregon and Michigan State dropped a few notches.

Say hello to Texas Tech, Kansas State and Nebraska and goodbye to Texas, Central Florida and Washington.

Here is the Post-Spring Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25:

1. Florida State Seminoles

(Read full post)


College Football Minute
Ohio State moves on to Plan B, Braxton Miller's injury hurts the whole Big Ten, and the Pac-12 is loaded this season at quarterback. It's all ahead in the College Football Minute.


Thursday, 8/28
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