Cody Kessler pass complete to Bryce Dixon for 31 yds to the OrgSt 17 for a 1ST down

Trevor Romaine 38 yd FG GOOD

Sean Mannion pass complete to Richard Mullaney for 27 yds to the USC 21 for a 1ST down

Sean Mannion pass complete to Richard Mullaney for 29 yds to the OrgSt 38 for a 1ST down

Sean Mannion sacked by Leonard Williams for a loss of 14 yards to the OrgSt 34

USC Ends Half On Hail Mary

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27


USC quarterback Cody Kessler throws 48-yd touchdown to wide reciever Darreus Rogers.

Cody Kessler sacked by Dylan Wynn for a loss of 8 yards to the USC 33

Ryan Murphy 97 Yd Kickoff Return (Trevor Romaine Kick)

Cody Kessler pass complete to Darreus Rogers for 48 yds for a TD

Sean Mannion pass intercepted for a TD Su'a Cravens return for 31 yds for a TD (Andre Heidari KICK)

Murphy Goes 97-yd On Return

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27


Oregon State returner Ryan Murphy runs the kickoff back 97-yd for a touchdown.

Su'a Grabs Pick Six

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27


USC Safety Su'a Cravens intercepts Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion's pass and returns it 31-yd for a touchdown.
Happy Friday -- even you, Arizona State. World didn't end Thursday.

You can follow me on Twitter here.

To the notes.

Jockston from SEC country writes: UCLA is good on offense, but it can't play defense, so it can't win a championship because defense wins championships. When does Pac-12 figure this out?

Ted Miller: Wait. Defense wins championships? Why didn't anybody ever mention that before?

UCLA didn't distinguish itself defensively against Arizona State, a very good offensive team, but its defense wasn't as bad -- and, yes, it feels strange typing this -- as 626 yards surrendered suggests.

It was a strange game. UCLA scored so fast that Arizona State got a lot more possessions than is normal. The Bruins nearly scored a point (62) per play (58), while the Sun Devils scored 27 points in 105 plays. The Bruins averaged 10 yards per play, which is good, while the Sun Devils averaged 6.0 yards per play, which is middling.

Middling? Well, for example, Alabama yielded 5.7 yards per play in a 33-23 win over West Virginia. Against that same Mountaineers offense, Oklahoma yielded 6.3 yards per play in a 45-33 victory.

How strange was the UCLA-ASU game? The Bruins scored a decisive 21 points in the third quarter while losing the time-of-possession "battle" 11:51 to 2:57.

As for the defense, scoring is what matters most, and UCLA pretty much held the Sun Devils to just 10 points over the final three quarters (ASU scored a touchdown 26 seconds into the second quarter). If you had told Jim Mora before the game that the Sun Devils would score 27 points, I'm pretty sure he would have given you a high five. Or maybe hit the floor to do the famous Mora breakdance "windmill" he likes to do when he's really happy.

What do we know? from Tatooine writes: Was the UCLA offense really good or was the ASU D really bad? ASU may have been slightly better with [QB Taylor Kelly] ... but not much (minus-14 points?). ASU hasn't really played anyone until now and they barely beat Colorado.

Ted Miller: We can't know how Arizona State would have done against UCLA with Taylor Kelly at QB because of this pesky thing called the "space-time continuum."

As for "Was the UCLA offense really good or was the ASU D really bad?" it's a little of both. Before the season, we thought the Bruins offense would be pretty darn good, and it's trending that way after some early struggles as the O-line improves. And, before the season, we thought the Sun Devils defense would struggle to replace nine quality starters.

It also is true that Arizona State fans probably got caught up in their preseason optimism, which often refuses to acknowledge obvious weaknesses. When the Pac-12 blog wrote about the Sun Devils' defensive questions, the mailbag was glutted with angry missives such as, "Do some research -- we've got loads of quality young players!" or "We've got these great JC transfers!" or "You hate Arizona State."

The obvious preseason question for Arizona State is likely to continue as the obvious season issue: Can the high-powered offense outscore foes because the defense is going to struggle?

Understand: Arizona State isn't going to be an easy out. The UCLA game was, to use Todd Graham's descriptive term, a "catastrophe." I don't think we'll another one of those this season.

Thomas from Charlston, N.C., writes: Last week's Cal vs. Arizona amazing game ended at nearly 2 a.m. on the East Coast. Last night's UCLA vs. ASU game ended after 1 a.m. East Coast time. It is no wonder that the Pac-12 gets no respect as its teams are playing when only the Pacific states are watching. I thought Larry Scott was going to have Pac-12 kick off times earlier this season, and going forward? It appears the commish didn't do anything. Could you shine light on this?

Ted Miller: See, Apollo, the narcissist, leads his chariot across the sky from east to west, meaning the sun comes up earlier in the east and sets later in the west. That causes it to be 9 a.m. in Bristol, Connecticut, when it's an ungodly 6 a.m. in north Scottsdale, at which point my bosses -- sunny and caffeinated -- are calling to tell me to do stuff with a complete lack of concern about where Apollo and his chariot might be in the western sky.

The UCLA-ASU game Thursday wasn't going to be scheduled for 4 p.m. PT so it could be a nice prime-time event for fans in Atlanta or Miami. Why? Largely because the game was being played on the West Coast, where a 4 p.m. kickoff would have taken place just as Lumbergh would have stopped by Joe Bruins' or Sandy Sun Devils' desk and noted they'd forgotten to put the new cover sheet on the TPS reports, and that they'd have to redo, like, 3,454 of them. Now.

The Pac-12 signed a $3 billion TV contract with ESPN and Fox, which means the TV times are typically going to be what is optimal for the networks.

That said, there has been an effort to reduce the late kickoffs. This weekend, the only 7:30 PT kick is Oregon State at USC, which figures to get plenty of eyeballs -- East and West -- on ESPN.

Frank from Tucson writes: I saw some criticism from various folks on Twitter, both prior to and following ASU's defeat yesterday, of Todd Graham's declaration that his team was of a "championship caliber." What is the Pac-12 blog's opinion of coaches such as Graham who willingly place high expectations on their teams, vs. others such as Rich Rod, who avoid stating expectations in favor of "just trying to figure out how to get a first down."

Ted Miller: I love this question, for this is very real.

You have coaches who believe in unmitigated, relentless optimism, which looks like irrational exuberance if actual play doesn't match preseason effervescing. Yes, Graham is that sort of coach. In the spring, he worked me over pretty good telling me he didn't expect much drop-off from his defense.

Then you have the grumps. Instead of pumping their team up, they work them over, telling them they're no good. Yes, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez is that sort of coach. He'll tell you he wants his guys to be "comfortable being uncomfortable." He also worked me over pretty good this summer trying to convince me his receivers actually weren't as talented as folks were writing -- "I haven't seen it!" he kept saying.

Does that mean Rich Rod is a player-hating ogre? No. See this video. It's just his management style, which has worked pretty darn well throughout his career.

And does this mean Graham is a soft pollyanna? Heck no. I've seen -- heard -- Graham get crusty, and he can let the spittle fly with every bit the fervency of Rodriguez.

By the way, there's also a third type: The straight-shooter. Utah's Kyle Whittingham pretty much tells you what he thinks of his depth chart -- "We're good here; we're questionable here; we're young but talented here; and we're really searching here" -- and his analysis, in my experience, tends to hold up when games begin.

My view is it's the media's job to know who they are dealing with and to keep in perspective what that coach is saying.

Kenny from Portland writes: Oregon State hasn't had dominating final scores, but they have dominated in three key statistical categories for their success: time of possession (average nearly 14 mins more than opponents), total yards (average 195 more yards per game than opponents), defensive third-down conversion (25 percent). These are old school, pre-2009 OSU football numbers. Grind out the games, boring offense, stout D. USC got shellacked by Boston College. And Stanford beat Stanford more than USC beat Stanford. I know OSU hasn't played any world-beaters yet, but aside from USC's starters, the depth isn't there for them, and I'm having a real hard time seeing OSU not coming out of L.A. with a win. Win the turnover battle and the game is ours. Am I being a crazy Beavers fan? This is as confident as I've been about a conference game in a long time.

Ted Miller: Oh, no, Kenny. You're not crazy. I can't understand why every Oregon State fan wouldn't be as confident. I mean, I remember back in 1960 when you guys last beat USC in Los Angeles. ... wait, I wasn't alive. So, no, don't remember that at all. But a 22-game losing streak against the Trojans in L.A. shouldn't rock your confidence.

We kid!

I liked the Beavers' chances better before wide receiver Victor Bolden got hurt, but this is definitely an intriguing matchup. We don't yet know either team. We don't know the Beavers because they haven't played anybody, and we don't know the Trojans because they've been a bit schizophrenic.

I like how the Beavers' defense matches up with the USC offense, but the bigger question might be how well the Beavers run the ball. If they can run the ball, life is going to be much easier for quarterback Sean Mannion.

Joel from San Francisco writes: I've noticed that the last three days of Pac-12 morning links include links to USC stories that require paid subscriptions (in these cases, the L.A. Times). Is it possible to link to free stories or pay my L.A. Times subscription fee?

Ted Miller: We try to link to good stories. Sometimes, those stories are behind a pay wall. What you should do is subscribe to newspapers that have stories in them you want to read.

I know everyone loves free stuff and the free info on the Internet. And many, for whatever reason, perversely seem to enjoy the demise of newspapers.

But I will tell you this: Without traditional newspapers, which attempt to provide quality, objective journalism, you will end up with just agenda observers -- folks with various types of filters and biases who don't aspire to be true journalists -- monopolizing the flow of information.

While fan sites and even in-house team coverage have their place, a real newspaper beat writer who aggressively covers the good and bad and holds programs accountable is irreplaceable.

I just hope you don't learn that when they are all gone.

With No. 5 DT Shy Tuttle committed, recruiting reporters Erik McKinney, Derek Tyson and Tom VanHaaren join ESPN's Phil Murphy to break down which colleges are still in contention for the other top defensive tackles.

Fathers and sons in football: Pac-12 South

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
Flipper Anderson and Dres AndersonGetty ImagesWillie "Flipper" Anderson and his son Dres form one of the Pac-12 South's father-son football pairs.
Football runs in the family in the Pac-12.

Rick Neuheisel was a proud father watching his son, Jerry, lead UCLA to victory against Texas two weeks ago. But he's not the only accomplished former player watching his son play for a Pac-12 team.

The Pac-12 blog highlights a father-son football relationship on each Pac-12 team. Next up: the South.

Arizona: Austin and David Hill

Arizona wide receiver Austin Hill drew upon years of his Pro Bowl father's tutelage as he fought through a crowd of defensive backs to position himself at the landing spot of Anu Solomon’s Hail Mary heave in last Saturday's win over Cal.

“I’ve been taught by my dad to go up and be strong whenever catching the ball,” Hill said. “He’s always preached that.”

“Good job, good catch,” Austin’s level-headed father, David Hill, told him afterward.

The elder Hill is no stranger to big, physical catches: He enjoyed a successful 12-year career as a tight end for the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. Two of those seasons ended with Pro Bowl appearances and featured time playing with some of the most physical Hall of Famers in NFL history, valuable experience that David later imparted to Austin.

“I always heard about the old stories of Jackie Slater and Eric Dickerson,” Hill said. “So I grew up with an old-school type of mentality when it came to football.” -- David Lombardi

Arizona State: Jordan and Ronnie Simone

Jordan Simone said his father, Ronnie, doesn't frequently volunteer stories about his glory days growing up playing football. So the surprise might be how similar their paths have been.

Both were walk-ons for Arizona State. Both earned scholarships. Both earned starting jobs. Yet it's Jordan who's ultimately living the dream, as Ronnie blew out his knee on the very day coach John Cooper told him he would make his first start at receiver. His ASU career ended in 1985. The next season, the Sun Devils earned the program's first trip to the Rose Bowl.

[+] EnlargeRonnie Simone
Ronnie SimoneRonnie Simone's Arizona State career was derailed by injury so he's enjoying watching his son Jordan play for the Sun Devils.
“I wish I had more to brag about," Ronnie Simone said. "I didn’t really get the break I had hoped for."

They both can share Jordan's experiences, which have been breaking in a positive way of late. He's the Sun Devils second-leading tackler with 23 stops. He also has two tackles for a loss, an interception and a forced fumble.

But it almost didn't happen. Jordan originally walked on where his brother Gino played college ball: Washington State. Then he decided to quit football. But he missed the sport, so he moved south to walk on for his dad's alma mater, though that meant sitting out a year, which included not being eligible even to stand on the sidelines during home games in 2013.

Said Ronnie, “I can’t tell you how many times I thought, ‘I can’t believe this kid is staying with this.’ I am in awe of the kid.”

While the present is great, Ronnie Simone also can imagine a fun future. He and his Sun Devils buddies started the football team's annual alumni golf tournament in the late 1980s. A few years from now, he envisions that becoming an annual father-son outing for him and Jordan.

“What a cool experience to be able to share with my kid," he said. “We’ll share this for the rest of our lives.” -- Ted Miller

Colorado: A strong Buffs lineage

Colorado's roster is populated with several players whose fathers played Division I football, including freshman Jay MacIntyre, whose father, Mike, is the head coach and a former defensive back at Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.

Some of them also went on to play in the NFL. Defensive end Terran Hasselbach's father, Harald, won two Super Bowls as a defensive tackle with the Denver Broncos. Offensive lineman Isaiah Holland's dad, Darius, is a 10-year NFL veteran. Defensive end Derek McCartney's father, Shannon Clavelle, played defensive tackle for the Packers, while defensive lineman Clay Norgard's dad, Erik, had a long career as a center for the Houston Oilers.

With the exception of Hasselbach’s dad, who played at Washington, all of those current players’ fathers also played their college ball at Colorado, so there’s plenty of footstep-following action in Boulder.

Then there’s sophomore center Alex Kelley, whose father, Karry, eventually fought his way to the starting left tackle position at Colorado during a career that lasted from 1975-1980.

“I’ve been a Buff fan my whole life,” the younger Kelley says.

Alex has watched extensive film of his dad, and throughout the years the two wrestled and engaged in physical games of basketball.

“My freshman year of high school, I could finally beat my dad,” Kelley laughed. “It took me 14 years. But that was a big day.” -- David Lombardi

UCLA: Jerry and Rick Neuheisel

On Sept. 13, in a matter of a couple hours, two videos of two Neuheisels went viral.

The first was a 33-yard touchdown pass from Jerry Neuheisel to Jordan Payton as the UCLA Bruins capped a comeback win over Texas in Arlington.

The second video was behind the scenes at the Pac-12 Networks, where Rick Neuheisel is an on-air analyst. The video shows a father -- not a former quarterback or coach or analyst -- living and dying with every snap.

“When it comes to your children, you can’t hide it,” said Rick, who called that one of his proudest moments. “Any mom or dad knows it’s one thing to do it yourself. It’s quite another to see your son or daughter have all of their hard work and dreams come to fruition. And that's what played out on that stage in Arlington.”

About the time Jerry Neuheisel was getting on the plane to fly back from Texas, he saw his dad’s reaction.

“That was my favorite part of it all,” Jerry said. “I’ve watched it about 10 times. We had just gotten on the plane and someone sent me the link and it brought back all the goosebumps of playing in the game.”

Jerry grew up on game film. His dad coached him in Pop Warner and wasn’t shy about coaching him up. But he also knew when it was time to step back -- especially after he was fired from UCLA.

“I remember he told me, ‘UCLA fired me, they didn’t fire you,’” Jerry said. "It was still my dream to be a UCLA quarterback and he was going to support me no matter what and he’s going to support all the guys he recruited. He’s still a UCLA fan.” -- Kevin Gemmell

USC: George Farmer Jr. and George Farmer Sr.

While it's liable to make other parents deeply jealous, George Farmer provides a revelation about his son, the USC receiver of the same name.

“He listens!” the elder Farmer exclaims.

There's a good reason for that, though. Senior knows what he's talking about when speaking about football and all its ups and downs. He played six years in the NFL but struggled with injuries, not unlike his son at USC.

[+] EnlargeGeorge Farmer
Courtesy USC athleticsGeorge Farmer Sr., a former USC receiver, knows the challenges his son George Jr. is facing.
Once Everybody's Prep All-American and the consensus best high school receiver in the nation in 2010, the redshirt junior had only caught five passes for 49 yards entering the season. Injuries have been the primary reason he has struggled to break through, but he also seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Fair to say there has been a frustration for everyone, from USC fans to coaches to the Farmers.

“This past couple of years for George have been the hardest time for him," the elder Farmer said. "Before this, he never, ever got injured. It’s kind of a blessing that I am able to be there and get him through it all. I look at it as, every little step he’s taken, I’ve already taken, from playing to getting hurt to facing adversity to what you have to do to get yourself back.”

The good news is the younger Farmer seems to be finding his rhythm. He has caught nine passes for 72 yards this season and scored his first career touchdown at Boston College. With QB Cody Kessler throwing the ball well, Farmer could see his numbers increase.

But the George Farmers, father and son, both know it's not only about football.

“Life is a marathon," the elder Farmer said. "You’re going to have some adversity. All it does is make you stronger. That’s the most important lesson I’m sending to him.” -- Ted Miller

Utah: Dres and Willie "Flipper" Anderson

Willie “Flipper” Anderson isn’t ashamed to admit it. Sometimes the tears still come when he sees his son Dres making plays for the Utah Utes.

“I’m still in awe of seeing my little guy out there playing football,” he said. “When I see him, sometimes I still get teary eyed because I can’t believe Dres is out there playing football with the big boys. He’s still that little fella to me. I love it. It’s a special feeling.”

The former UCLA receiver spent 10 seasons in the NFL with four different teams. An older crowd might recall the 1990 divisional playoff game when he was with the L.A. Rams. In overtime against the Giants, he caught a 30-yard touchdown pass in overtime and ran straight into the tunnel and into the locker room.

“I could only dream to have a moment like that,” Dres said. “I’ve watched it on YouTube a bunch and it’s amazing. Hopefully I can have an experience like that someday.”

If he does, it will be because Dres makes it happen. He and his dad still talk technique. But Willie always made it a point to let his son carve out his own identity.

“It may sound silly, but I tell him to just go out and there and don’t try to do anything special,” Willie said. “Just be you. A lot of guys try to make stuff happen by trying too hard. It doesn’t work like that. Dres will call me and we’ll talk about the game plan and I tell him when you have the ball, just play football.”

Added Dres: “He told me there will always be hype because what he did in the NFL. But he also told me not to ever let that bother me or worry me. ‘Just do what you do,’ he says. That’s what I’ve tried to take with me so far during my career.” -- Kevin Gemmell



Thursday, 10/2
Saturday, 10/4