Oregon Ducks: Colt Lyerla

Meet me on Thames Street, I'll take you out though I'm hardly worth your time;
In the cold you look so fierce, but I'm warm enough, because the tension's like a fire.
Spring practice is over, and so is the NFL draft.

Now, the wait begins -- 107 days, to be exact. That's when Arizona State (vs. Weber State), Utah (vs. Idaho State) and Washington State (vs. Rutgers) open their 2014 seasons.

But before we look forward, we'll take another look back at how the Pac-12 fared in the NFL draft.

One word sums it up pretty well: average.

Headed into this year's draft, the conference had averaged 29.8 selections since 2000, which equated to 2.9 per team factoring in Utah and Colorado's arrival in 2011. The 34 selections this year obviously brings that total average up slightly, but it's also a hair under the per-team average (2.84).

Same thing with first-round picks. There were 55 first-round picks during that time period (3.9 per year), which means the three that went in the first round this year was close to status quo.

When Washington State safety Deone Bucannon became the last of those three picks, he snapped the Cougars' first-round drought that dated to 2003. That streak had been tied for the longest in the conference with Arizona State, which counts Terrell Suggs as its last first-rounder.

The conference finished behind the SEC (49) and ACC (42) at No. 3 with players picked in the draft, ahead of the Big Ten (30) and Big 12 (17) among the power five.

In January, Kevin Gemmell outlined who will be replacing the players who left early from the North and South divisions. The total list included 26 players. Nine of those players went undrafted: Cal's Brendan Bigelow, Kameron Jackson, Viliami Moala and Chris McCain; Oregon's Colt Lyerla; USC's Dion Bailey, George Uko and Xavier Grimble; and Utah's Jake Murphy.

There were 19 NFL teams that selected Pac-12 players: Vikings (3), Bears (2), Cowboys (2), Eagles (2), Jets (2), Saints (2), Steelers (2), Packers (2), Seahawks (2), 49ers, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chiefs, Jaguars, Patriots, Raiders, Redskins, Texans, Titans.

Here's the conference draft tally:

Stanford: 6
UCLA: 5
Oregon: 4
Arizona: 3
Arizona State: 3
USC: 3
California: 2
Oregon State: 2
Utah: 2
Washington: 2
Colorado: 1
Washington State: 1

Round-by-round:

First round
9. OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA: Minnesota Vikings
20. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: New Orleans Saints*
27. Deone Bucannon, Washington State: Arizona Cardinals

Second round
1. OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA: Houston Texans
6. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
7. WR Marqise Lee, USC: Jacksonville Jaguars*
13. WR Paul Richardson, Colorado: Seattle Seahawks*
15. LB Trent Murphy, Stanford: Washington Redskins
22. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington: Tennessee Titans

Third round
6. C Marcus Martin, USC: San Francisco 49ers*
8. DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State: Minnesota Vikings*
18. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State: Chicago Bears
22. WR Josh Huff, Oregon: Philadelphia Eagles
34. TE Richard Rodgers, Cal: Green Bay Packers*

Fourth round
8. DE Cassius Marsh, UCLA: Seattle Seahawks
15. WR Shaq Evans, UCLA: New York Jets
16. CB Keith McGill, Utah: Oakland Raiders
17. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona: Chicago Bears
21. LB Carl Bradford, Arizona State: Green Bay Packers*
24. RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon: Kansas City Chiefs*
26. LB Khairi Fortt, California: New Orleans Saints*
40. OT Cameron Fleming, Stanford: New England Patriots*

Fifth round
1. DE Taylor Hart, Oregon: Philadelphia Eagles
5. OG David Yankey, Stanford: Minnesota Vikings*
17. CB Shaquille Richardson, Arizona: Pittsburgh Steelers
22. S Ed Reynolds, Stanford: Philadelphia Eagles*
34. OLB Devon Kennard, USC: New York Giants

Sixth round
16. LB Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA: Pittsburgh Steelers
25. RB Marion Grice, Arizona State: San Diego Chargers
28. RB Tyler Gaffney, Stanford: Carolina Panthers
36. LB Marquis Flowers, Arizona: Cincinnati Bengals

Seventh round
16. DE Ben Gardner, Stanford: Dallas Cowboys
18. OLB Trevor Reilly, Utah: New York Jets
39. CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon: Dallas Cowboys*
*Left with eligibility remaining

By conference (FBS only)
SEC: 49
ACC: 42
Pac-12: 34
Big Ten: 30
Big 12: 17
Mountain West: 16
Conference USA: 9
Independents: 9
MAC: 8
Sun Belt: 4
Last week, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay updated their top-10 lists at each position for the upcoming NFL draft.

Here's a look at how the Pac-12 offensive players stack up:

Quarterback

Marcus Mariota might have been taken No. 1 overall if he decided to leave Oregon, but without him the Pac-12 doesn't have any top-10 representation. Washington's Keith Price, who was not invited to the NFL combine, has a big day on Wednesday when the Huskies hold their pro day. Barring a team taking a flyer on him in the draft, Price is probably going to have to take the undrafted route to forge a NFL career.

Running back/fullback

The surprise here is how little both analysts think of Carey, who was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and ranked No. 3 in the nation in rushing yards. Sure, his 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine (4.70) didn't do him any favors, but this feels like a situation where the film isn't speaking as loudly as it does for others.

The love for Thomas was a bit surprising as well, but it's also tough to compare him to the rest of the group because he doesn't project as a true running back in the NFL. His versatility undoubtedly scored him points, but it also should be noted that 10 other running backs clocked faster 40 times at the combine -- including Stanford's Tyler Gaffney. See the whole list here Insider.

Receiver/tight end

Cooks and Lee, a pair of Biletnikoff Award winners, will both expect to hear their name called in the first round. After that, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the pass-catchers fall into place.

[+] EnlargeBrandin Cooks
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhOregon State wideout Brandin Cooks could be a first-round pick.
Notably absent is Colorado WR Paul Richardson, who ran a 4.40 40 at the combine and caught 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Buffaloes. He still figures to have a shot to go in the second-round to third-round range.

McShay lists Lyerla as the pass-catcher with the biggest risk:
Lyerla has some significant behavioral and emotional issues (leaving the Oregon program at midseason in 2013 and being arrested for cocaine possession weeks later) that just aren't worth dealing with, even for the potential reward his talent promises, were he to straighten things out.

See the whole list here Insider.

Offensive line

If they were quarterbacks, Yankey and Su'a-Filo would be forever linked. Widely regarded as two of the best offensive guards in the country, it will be interesting to see who goes off the board first. Su'a-Filo was the players' choice as the best offensive lineman in the conference in 2013, but Yankey was given the honor in 2012.

Martin is one of eight players Kiper and McShay agree is the best player at his position. See the whole list here Insider.

Pac-12 at NFL combine: Tuesday recap

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
12:00
PM ET
Before Washington State safety Deone Bucannon made his way to Indianapolis for the NFL combine, he said he wanted to be a first-round pick.

While the first round still seems like a bit of a reach, Bucannon certainly helped his cause Tuesday with an impressive display of athleticism across the board. He turned in the day's fastest 40 time among the Pac-12's six defensive backs that participated (4.49) and ranked in the top-three among safeties in the 40, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump and three-cone drill.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock ranks Bucannon as the draft's No. 5 safety:
"He's got size, and he's got four years of high-quality production," Mayock said. Bucannon, who measured 6-1 and 211 pounds, had 383 tackles and 15 interceptions in his Cougars career. "I like him in the box, but he has the range to play on the back end," Mayock said.
Utah cornerback Keith McGill, who drew solid reviews at the Senior Bowl, also seemingly helped his draft stock by running 4.51 in the 40. Equally impressive was his 39-inch vertical leap which, at 6-foot-3, makes McGill a unique combination of athleticism and size.

McGill fits the mold mentioned here by ESPN's John Clayton:
The other bonus is the draft class offers corners with decent size and long arms. Many teams want to copy what the Seahawks have done with Richard Sherman and others. Going to a man-to-man scheme on the outside of a defense that uses a three-deep zone is going to be the trend if defenses can find the type of corners to run those strategies.

Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks probably made himself quite a bit of money after running the fastest 40-time among receivers over the weekend, but added $100,000 to his bounty because he did it wearing adidas cleats. The shoe company offered up that amount to whatever player at the combine clocked the fastest 40 time wearing its cleats. Kent State's Dri Archer ran the fast time, but wasn't wearing adidas.

Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla earned a payoff of $10,000 from adidas for running the fastest 40 at his position group.

Here are how the defensive backs did in the 40 and bench press:

Cornerback

McGill, Utah: 4.51/did not lift
Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State: 4.51/20 reps
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon: 4.63/did not lift

Safety

Bucannon, Washington State: 4.49/19 reps
Ed Reynolds, Stanford: 4.57/15 reps
Dion Bailey, USC: 4.66/did not lift

Lunch links: Remembering Ted Agu

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
2:30
PM ET
Chicks dig me, because I rarely wear underwear and when I do it's usually something unusual. But now I know why I have always lost women to guys like you. I mean, it's not just the uniform. It's the stories that you tell. So much fun and imagination. (RIP Harold Ramis)

Pac-12 results from the NFL combine

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
11:00
AM ET
Raise your hand if you thought Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney would run a faster 40-yard dash than Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas at the NFL combine.

Put your hand down, liar.

Granted, it was still only by a hundredth of a second -- Gaffney ran 4.49 and Thomas 4.50 -- but, still, Thomas built his reputation on speed, while Gaffney's was more on toughness and vision. It ranked as one of the surprise performances among Pac-12 players over the weekend at the NFL combine.

[+] EnlargeBishop Sankey
AP Photo/Michael ConroyWashington running back Bishop Sankey made a move up draft boards with his performance at the NFL combine.
Sunday proved to be a great day for Washington running back Bishop Sankey, who might have jumped Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey on some draft boards, according to ESPN's John Clayton.

From Clayton's story:
There may not be a running back who could entice a team to use a first-round pick, but the backs who ran Sunday looked great. Bishop Sankey of Washington may have entered the combine as the No. 3 halfback, but his stock probably rose with a 4.49 40 time along with a good show of lifting strength. Tre Mason of Auburn displayed second-round numbers with his 4.5. Both backs might have jumped ahead of Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona, who had a 4.70.

Sankey ranked No. 2 among running backs with 26 reps on the bench press and his 40-time was tied for No. 9.

Another one of the weekend's big winners was Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, who turned in the fastest 40 among receivers. His time of 4.33 was second to only to Kent State running back Dri Archer, who ran a 4.26.

Cooks, who set Pac-12 single-season records with 128 catches and 1,730 receiving yards this year, also turned in the fastest time registered in the 60-yard shuttle (10.72) at the combine since at least 2006. During that same time period, he's tied for the fastest time in the 20-yard shuttle (3.81) with Tennessee cornerback Jason Allen from 2006.

Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the John Mackey Award winner, has a stress fracture in his foot that is expected to need six to eight weeks to recover, according to a report from the Tacoma News Tribune. Due to the injury, Seferian-Jenkins was able to participate only in the bench press. He put up 20 reps, which ranked tied for No. 10 among the 15 tight ends who participated.

See the complete list of Pac-12 invitees.

Here are the Saturday and Sunday results from the Pac-12 players in the 40 and bench press:

Running back

Gaffney, Stanford: 4.49/did not lift
Sankey, Washington: 4.49/26 reps
Thomas, Oregon: 4.50/8 reps
Carey, Arizona: 4.70/19 reps
Silas Redd, USC: 4.70/18 reps
Ryan Hewitt, Stanford (fullback): 4.87/did not lift
Marion Grice, Arizona State: Did not participate
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (transferred from Oregon): 4.51/15 reps

Wide receiver

Cooks, Oregon State: 4.33/16 reps
Paul Richardson, Colorado: 4.40/did not lift
Shaquelle Evans, UCLA: 4.51/13 reps
Josh Huff, Oregon: 4.51/14 reps
Marqise Lee, USC: 4.52/did not lift

Offensive line

Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA: 5.04/25 reps
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford: 5.28/26 reps
David Yankey, OG, Stanford: 5.48/22 reps
Marcus Martin, C, USC: did not run/23 reps

Tight end

Colt Lyerla, formerly of Oregon: 4.61/16 reps
Anthony Denham, Utah: 4.77/did not lift
Jake Murphy, Utah: 4.79/24 reps
Richard Rodgers, TE, California: 4.87/16 reps
Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: did not run/20 reps
Xavier Grimble, USC: did not run or lift

Quarterback

No Pac-12 quarterbacks are at the combine, which is a rarity. The conference has sent at least one every year since at least 1999, which was as far back as we could go to find combine rosters.

Earlier this morning, we took a look at who might replace the guys who jumped to the NFL in the South Division. Here’s a look at the North.

Leaving: Brendan Bigelow, RB, Cal

The replacement: Khalfani Muhammad and Daniel Lasco are both coming back, so there is at least some experience at the position. Jeffrey Coprich and Darren Ervin could also see some time. Incoming freshman Devante Downs is built more like a fullback but could also see some carries in the running game.

Leaving: Richard Rodgers, WR, Cal

The replacement: Stephen Anderson is a possibility to emerge at inside receiver. Darius Powe is going to see action regardless of whether it’s inside or outside and Raymond Hudson, Jacob Wark, and Drake Whitehurst are all possibilities.

Leaving: Khairi Fortt, LB, Cal

The replacement: Nathan Broussard is coming off an injury and Raymond Davison and Jason Gibson are moving back to linebacker from safety. Juco transfers Sam Atoe and Jonathon Johnson could help. Also, Downs (see the Bigelow section) comes in as an athlete, and putting him on the defensive side of the ball is a possibility.

Leaving: Kameron Jackson, CB, Cal

The replacement: Darius Allensworth and Trey Cheek will get the most looks. Cedric Dozier saw some starting time last season. He’s not a lock but has some experience. Isaac Lapite, Adrian Lee and Joel Willis are also possibilities. Stefan McClure should also be back from his 2013 injury, and Cameron Walker, who was playing out of position at safety, might move back to corner.

Leaving: Viliami Moala, DT, Cal

The replacement: Jacobi Hunter should be the main guy, but transfers Trevor Kelly and Marcus Manley should help out across the line. Austin Clark is still waiting to hear about his sixth year of eligibility, but if he gets it, he and Mustafa Jalil could shuffle up and down the line as they look to replace the graduated Deandre Coleman as well.

Leaving: Chris McCain, DE, Cal (Previously dismissed from team)

The replacement: Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa were the top two guys to replace McCain after he left. Brennan Scarlett is also expected back and Johnson could be in the mix. The coaching staff seems to be really high on him.

[+] EnlargeDe'Anthony Thomas
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesDe'Anthony Thomas' unique set of skills will be hard for Oregon to replicate.
Leaving: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

The replacement: Unless Oregon is hiding another multitalented back who can run like DAT, there is no "real" replacement. Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner should continue to get the work as the primary 1-2 punch, but it will be interesting to see if the Ducks use either in a more dynamic way like they did Thomas.

Leaving: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (Left the team earlier in the season).

The replacement: Pharaoh Brown, Evan Baylis and John Mundt will all continue to get work, probably in that order. They all pitched in in some capacity after Lyerla left the team, so the Ducks should be in good shape at the position.

Leaving: Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon

The replacement: That Ifo Ekpre-Olomu opted to return bodes well for the Ducks. Troy Hill would have been the obvious selection, but he remains suspended indefinitely, and his future with the program is in question. Dior Mathis has experience and the coaching staff is high on redshirt freshman Chris Seisay. Juco transfer Dominique Harrison enrolled early and will participate in spring ball, so there are options.

Leaving: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The replacement: Much like USC’s dilemma with Marqise Lee, The Beavers' task of replacing a Biletnikoff winner is no easy one. Victor Bolden is the logical choice. He returned kicks, ran a few fly sweeps and was Cooks’ immediate backup. But a big wide receiver class last year that included Bolden, Hunter Jarmon and Walter Jones could make things more interesting in the spring.

Leaving: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

The replacement: Lavonte Barnett was the backup all season but didn’t have much production. Jaswha James has bounced around a bit -- mostly at linebacker -- but has finally settled at DE and had a nice bowl performance. Titus Failauga is also a possibility as Mike Riley went out of his way to specifically mention him during a recent teleconference. There are also rumblings that Obum Gwacham -- a talented athlete who hasn’t worked out at wide receiver -- could move to defensive end.

Leaving: David Yankey, OL, Stanford

[+] EnlargeDavid Yankey
AP Photo/Ben LiebenbergStanford has a lot of offensive linemen with experience, but replacing an All-American such as David Yankey is never easy.
The replacement: A member of Stanford’s lauded offensive line recruiting class of 2012, Joshua Garnett has already seen his share of playing time. That’s one of the big advantages of being an offensive lineman at Stanford. With their multiple offensive-linemen sets, there is plenty of rotation. Then again, Yankey was a two-time All-American -- it's tough to replace that.

Leaving: Cameron Fleming, OL, Stanford

The replacement: Like Garnett, Kyle Murphy was part of the ’12 class and has also seen his share of action on the offensive line. The Cardinal are replacing four offensive linemen, but most of those replacements -- such as Garnett and Murphy -- already have some playing experience.

Leaving: Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford

The replacement: Good question. All of Stanford’s free safeties are gone, while returning strong safeties include Jordan Richards and Zach Hoffpauir. Someone could make a switch, or it’s possible that former quarterback Dallas Lloyd, who is now making the transition to safety, could play here.

Leaving: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington

The replacement: Jesse Callier started the 2012 season, but a season-ending injury gave rise to Sankey. Dwayne Washington seems like he could be an every down-type back, while Callier excels in third-down situations or as a changeup back. Deontae Cooper will also see carries.

Leaving: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

The replacement: Joshua Perkins was the No. 2 all season, so there’s little reason to think he won’t graduate to No. 1. He’s more receiver than blocker, but he’s got talent and shouldn’t have a problem assuming the role of the outgoing Mackey winner.
While a number of big-name players opted to stick around for another year of Pac-12, most notably Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, UCLA QB Brett Hundley and Oregon State QB Sean Mannion, the conference was hit hard by early defections.

Here's the complete list of Pac-12 players who entered the NFL draft despite remaining eligibility.

Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State
Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Richard Rodgers, TE, California
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Viliami Moala, DT, California
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (was kicked off the team in October)
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
David Yankey, OG, Stanford
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Dion Bailey, LB, USC
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
George Uko, DT, USC
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington


Early entry talent drain for Pac-12

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
12:30
PM ET

While the return of UCLA QB Brett Hundley for his redshirt junior season was the weekend's big news, an early-entry to the NFL draft talent drain is hitting the Pac-12 hard.

While a number of big-name players have not yet formally announced their intensions -- such as Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey, Stanford OG David Yankey, Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Arizona State LB Carl Bradford and Oregon State QB Sean Mannion -- already 17 players have announced they will give up their remaining eligibility to turn professional.

The deadline to declare is Jan. 15.

There has been good news at quarterback. Hundley joins Oregon's Marcus Mariota as pretty significant surprises that they opted to return to school, and that means the 2014 class of Pac-12 quarterbacks will be without peer in the nation by a wide margin.

Here's the early-entry list so far:

Dion Bailey, LB, USC
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
George Uko, DT, USC
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon*
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah

*Lyerla was kicked off the team at Oregon in October.
This is the only way that you can hope to survive. Because life is not a movie. Everyone lies. Good guys lose. And love does not conquer all.

Q&A: Oregon's Hroniss Grasu

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
4:30
PM ET
The No. 2 Oregon Ducks enter Saturday’s game with Washington riding a 17-game winning streak on the road and boasting the league’s top offense. Center Hroniss Grasu took a few minutes to chat with the Pac-12 blog this week about Oregon’s offense, prepping for Washington, the non-distraction of Colt Lyerla and exactly who would get his Heisman vote.

Is it safe to assume that Oregon will be OK without Chip Kelly?

Hroniss Grasu: (Laughs) Yeah, I think so. Coach [Mark] Helfrich and the coaching staff have been a great job since he departed and everything is still the same.

That was sarcasm, just so we’re on the same page.

[+] EnlargeHroniss Grasu
AP Photo/Chris BernacchiHroniss Grasu (55) is looking forward to the hostile atmosphere at Washington.
HG: I got you. Wasn’t sure if you were serious so I wanted to be sure I gave you a good answer.

It’s hard to ignore what you guys are doing offensively. I know you don’t focus on the numbers, but do you at least take a step back to reflect on what you have been able to do so far?

HG: No, we don’t. I think if you take a step back, you’re going the wrong direction. You have to keep going forward and keep looking forward and try to get better every day. We’ve done a good job of that.

Are there any goals in the locker room among you guys? Five straight games of 55 points is impressive.

HG: Nah, we don’t ever make any of those kinds of goals. Our only goal is to play up to our standard and set a new standard daily. If we keep meeting that standard that we set, I think we can be a pretty good football team.

What were some of your personal goals this year?

HG: My personal goal is to be the best leader on this team and do whatever it takes to help this team win. So far I think everybody on the offensive line has done a great job. They’ve all been great leaders with me, giving Marcus [Mariota] the time he needs and opening up the lanes for the running backs.

The relationship between quarterback and center is a delicate one, so to speak. How have you and Marcus gotten in sync the last couple of years?

HG: He’s an easy guy to build a relationship with. He’s the type of guy you want to be around. He always has positive energy and you want that to rub off on you. He’s the most humble person I’ve ever met. His character speaks for itself. Off the field we’ve built a better relationship.

What do you do off the field?

HG: We went golfing and we play some pool and just hang out. We had a barbecue at my house. Stuff like that.

Who’s the better golfer?

HG: I’ve been golfing longer. It’s kind of a funny story. When we first went, I was trying to teach Marcus how to tee off and I shanked it into the driving range. I was teaching him not to do that. Then he steps up and drives it right into the fairway. That’s typical Marcus. He’s good at everything.

If I promise not to tell anyone, is Washington week different?

HG: It’s not any different at all. It might be extra competitive, but we don’t treat it any differently. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best shot. We know we’re the team that is going to be circled on everyone’s schedule. We’ve been through it. We get excited when we see a hostile crowd. The atmosphere is electric. We just have to go in and do our job and execute our game plan.

You guys have won 17 in a row on the road. That’s the longest streak in the country. What do you guys do that enables you to be as successful on the road as you are at home?

HG: We just treat it like any other game. Our practices are much harder than our games. We play the loud music and simulate the noise. We stick to our game plan and listen to the coaches. We always have a good week of preparation and it’s fun and exciting to go on the road. The away games are fun because it’s us vs. the whole stadium. It helps you bond with your teammates because it’s you vs. all.

Oregon isn’t a team that you typically hear about having off-the-field distractions. But this week you had one with the departure of tight end Colt Lyerla. How much of a distraction was that to you guys?

HG: It hasn’t been a distraction at all. We haven’t really discussed it because we know it can’t be a distraction. It’s a bummer that we lost Colt because he’s a great athlete and a good person. He needs to get back on track and we can’t let that distract us.

What’s your favorite part about the new facilities?

HG: My favorite part is that we have elevators. The whole building is amazing. When the pictures came out, I was in awe. Then you see it in person; you just can’t compare it to pictures. My jaw was dropped the whole time. I can’t believe that’s our new home. It’s a blessing to use that building.

If you had a Heisman vote, who would get it?

HG: The entire Oregon Ducks football team.
You wake up at Sea-Tac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?
Oregon still gets tweaked by occasional critics for being a "gimmick" or system team. Thing is, that is a partially true statement, as the squawks of the ignorant often are in amusing, unintended ways.

Oregon is a system team. So is Alabama. The Crimson Tide's system is Nick Saban's "The Process," which is fun because that sounds like euphemism for a torture technique.

[+] EnlargeColt Lyerla
Steve Conner/Icon SMITight end Colt Lyerla has left the Oregon football team, citing personal reasons.
Oregon's system is "Win the day." It's about a commitment to excellence on a moment-to-moment basis. It's about team above all else.

Talented tight end Colt Lyerla was no longer a properly functioning part of that system. So he had to go. On the scales that measure his value to the team as a playmaker versus the potential distraction his continued presence might produce, the potential distraction proved heavier.

The Ducks' system includes a phrase many coaches use: "Next man in." With some teams, that's just three words. With Oregon, it's a statement of fact.

Jeremiah Masoli gets into off-field trouble? Enter Darron Thomas. LeGarrette Blount gets suspended? Step up LaMichael James. James to the NFL? Enter Kenjon Barner. Injuries to safeties John Boyett and Avery Patterson? Next man in. Thomas dubiously opts to go pro. Let me introduce you to a guy named "Marcus Mariota."

The defenses loses linebackers Dion Jordan, Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay? No matter. The 2013 defense is probably playing every bit as well as the 2012 unit.

Lyerla not around? Freshman Johnny Mundt introduced himself to Tennessee with an epic stiff arm.

Lyerla's immaturity has made headlines for the wrong reasons, starting with his idiotic tweets supporting conspiracy theories surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Lyerla never seemed to grasp that it wasn't just that he was being offensive. It was that he was being cuckoo. His lame apology left out the fact that his tweets were completely ignorant, representative of folks on the Internet who specialize in something called "Making Stuff Up."

There were also hints that Lyerla wasn't fully invested in this team. Even when he got his foot out of his mouth and onto the football field, Lyerla's early performance wasn't up to snuff, with his two receptions for 26 yards eclipsed by his number of dropped passes. He missed the Tennessee game due to illness, then whined to a reporter that coach Mark Helfrich had made him look bad by terming his absence being due to "circumstances."

Whining to reporters about hurt feelings is not part of the Oregon system.

He was suspended for the Colorado game over the weekend due to a team rules violation. He was becoming the one bad story within a team again fighting to play for a Pac-12 and national title. His leaving the team -- or being told to do so while being allowed to save face -- while unfortunate for the young man who probably just lost himself several million dollars in future NFL income, was good for the Ducks.

There isn't ill will here -- or at Oregon, by the way -- toward Lyerla. Everyone's hope should be that he gets his head together and then has a long and successful NFL career.

"Team above all else" is an ideology. You can argue it's big-picture value or its intellectual underpinnings, but it's a proven way to get 100 guys working in unison toward a goal of winning.

Lyerla has proven that he's mostly focused on being an individual. Individualism is a good thing outside of the locker room. But it's not part of the Oregon system. And now Lyerla isn't either.

3-point stance: Breaking down Baylor

October, 7, 2013
10/07/13
5:00
AM ET
1. Baylor’s offensive numbers challenge history and strain credulity. The 4-0 Bears are averaging 779.5 yards per game. They are the first team to score 70 points in three consecutive games since 1930 (and scored 69 in their opener). But those pale in comparison to the most impressive statistic to me. Through 61 possessions, Baylor has yet to snap three downs and punt. They did turn the ball over once before making a first down, and they’ve had a couple of end-of-half knee-downs. But no three-and-out punts. That is mind-boggling.

2. Miami (Ohio) and Mike Haywood must think of 2010 as a fever dream. The RedHawks went from 1-11 in 2009 to 10-4 and the MAC championship in 2010. Haywood, Miami’s head coach, got hired as head coach at Pittsburgh. Within the month, Haywood got fired after a domestic violence arrest. The charges were dismissed but he hasn’t coached again. Miami hired Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell to replace Haywood. Treadwell had a record of 8-21, including an 0-5 mark this season, when Miami fired him Sunday.

3. Oregon has released no details about why tight end Colt Lyerla left the program except that he did so for personal reasons. But this much we know: Lyerla came into the season ranked as the 20th-best player in the Pac-12. He publicly complained about head coach Mark Helfrich. He apologized. And Lyerla, a junior with NFL potential, has made as many catches in 2013 as he has missed games -- two. Lyerla surrendered the chance to play with quarterback Marcus Mariota. No. 2 Oregon, at 5-0, has played well without him.

Pac-12 lunch links

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
2:30
PM ET
Yeah, do you have the Beatles' White Album? Never mind, just get me a glass of hot fat. And bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia while you're out there.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Two Weeks Left And We Still Know Nothing
There are just two weeks left in the college football season, and Gene Wojciechowski says that we still don't know anything.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video