Washington Huskies: California Bears
ESPN's Todd McShay recently released his latest mock draft -- and there was a lot of movement involving the Pac-12 players projected to go in the first round.
And, for the first time, McShay taps into the second round. You can see the complete mock draft here .
One of the biggest movers was Oregon's Dion Jordan, whom McShay now projects to go second overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. McShay had Jordan projected as the No. 6 overall pick last month.
Jordan is the top pass-rusher in this class, but that's not all he can do. His fluidity and range in coverage are rare for a DE/OLB prospect with his length. He wouldn't be a great fit in many 4-3 defenses, but his ability to get after the passer when turned loose upfield, as well as drop into coverage from a two- or three-point stance, is ideal for the scheme new head coach Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich are bringing to town.
The biggest drop was California wide receiver Keenan Allen -- who was No. 12 last month and checked in at No. 25 in the latest mock. McShay has him slated for the Minnesota Vikings.
Many of the players coming off the board in this area would make sense for the Vikings, who are in something of a sweet spot late in the first round. They can sit tight and be fairly certain of getting a player who addresses a need and is nearly top-10 quality but will cost far less. In Allen's case, that means a receiver with good body control and hands who could become a very good No. 2 receiver at the next level.
Another player dropping was Utah's Star Lotulelei, who went from No. 1 overall to No. 11. It's worth noting that McShay's projection came out before Monday's Salt Lake Tribune story that after testing, Lotulelei's heart showed "no evidence of dysfunction." So expect his draft stock to trend up with this news.
Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant jumps from first-round maybe to No. 21 and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Corner is a top need for Cincinnati on the other side of the ball, and now that Trufant has verified his top-end speed his suddenness, balance and closing burst give him the look of a very good man-cover corner at the next level. Scouts I've talked to are also impressed with his professional demeanor, and the bottom line is that teams can never have enough good cover guys in today's pass-happy NFL.
Players projected for the second round include USC quarterback Matt Barkley, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz (potentially reuniting with Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco), Oregon guard Kyle Long and USC wide receiver Robert Woods.
HuskyNation's Mason Kelley talks recruiting and the 2012 season with El Cerrito (Calif.) CB Adarius Pickett. Pickett, who has offers from Cal and Arizona, has received interest from Washington and Oregon.
Watch the video and then read this story on Pickett.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Class of 2014 defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) took the long trip from the West Coast to compete in the 2013 Under Armour National Combine on Friday with the hopes of becoming a participant in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game.
The 6-foot, 280-pound junior said he was happy with his performance, but said he probably could have done better.
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On that building, a mural runs the length of one wall. It reads: Home Of The Mustangs. The name of the team’s mascot is written in large yellow letters with a green background. Charging horses are painted above the "M" and "S."
On a recent afternoon, not long before San Marin released its students for winter break, Manny Wilkins stood in front of that mural and looked down at the football field.
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- And the winner in the North is ...? Could be Oregon. If the Ducks can get past visiting Stanford this week, they'll lock up the division and earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game. They still have to go through Oregon State next week -- but wins over both of those clubs should help them in the BCS standings. Well, at least on the computer side. The Ducks hold the No. 1 spot in both human polls. So if they win out, they will be in the national championship game. The North Division winner could be Stanford, too. If the Cardinal win this weekend and close out with a victory at UCLA next week, Stanford and Oregon will each have one conference loss, with the Cardinal holding the tiebreaker.
- And the winner in the South is ...? We'll see Saturday, but we know it will be from Los Angeles. The USC-UCLA rivalry hasn't been one of late. UCLA's last victory over the Trojans came in 2006 -- a 13-9 win that snapped USC's NCAA record of 63 consecutive games scoring at least 20 points and also cost the Trojans a spot in the BCS title game. The scenario is winner-take-all -- regardless of what happens next week.
- On the bubble: Arizona State and Utah are both trying to make the postseason. ASU has the easier road, needing just one win to lock up bowl eligibility. And it hosts a Washington State team that is winless in conference play. Utah has to first beat Arizona at home this week, then win at Colorado next. The Utes are yet to win a road game this year.
- QB carousel: Seems like it wouldn't be a normal week in the Pac-12 if there weren't quarterback issues. Almost half of the league has uncertainty at the position heading into this weekend. Arizona's Matt Scott might not be able to go again this week; same for Cal's Zach Maynard. Nick Hirschman suffered a concussion last week for Colorado, Jeff Tuel was injured for Washington State, opening the door for Connor Halliday's five touchdowns. And the Sean Mannion-Cody Vaz back-and-forth continues at Oregon State, pending Vaz's health.
- Quality matchups: If the Utes do want to get into the postseason, they'll have to find a way to slow down Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, who rushed for a Pac-12 record 366 yards and five touchdowns in last week's victory over Colorado. It's Utah's strength as a defense versus Arizona's strength as an offense. You can say the same for the Oregon-Stanford matchup, which pits Oregon's league-best rushing attack against Stanford's conference-leading rush defense.[+] Enlarge
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireUtah's chances at the postseason hinge on doing a better job stopping Ka'Deem Carey than Colorado.
- Gone in 60 seconds: Per the folks at ESPN Stats & Information, Stanford is the only FBS team that hasn't allowed a touchdown drive of three plays or fewer; it is also one of only five teams that has not allowed a touchdown in less than a minute. Oregon, of course, leads the FBS in touchdown drives that last one minute or less. Stopwatches at the ready.
- The SoCal tight-end factor: More super-cool stuff from the Stats & Info group: Matt Barkley and Brett Hundley have combined to throw 17 touchdowns and zero interceptions when targeting their tight ends. Hundley completes 75.6 percent of his passes when targeting a tight end; Barkley is at 67.2 percent. Could make for an interesting sidebar to Saturday's matchup.
- Off and running: Washington's Bishop Sankey heads to Colorado as one of the hottest running backs in the conference right now. He ha rushed for 351 yards and four touchdowns in his past two games and last week became the 11th player in UW history to reach the 1K milestone. Expect him to add to that total. Colorado ranks last in the conference against the run, yielding 227.6 yards per game on the ground to go with a conference-worst 25 rushing touchdowns allowed.
- Decisions, decisions: When California coach Jeff Tedford gets back to the Bay Area following the Bears' trip to Oregon State, he'll have sit down with athletic director Sandy Barbour to discuss the future of Cal football and what role -- if any -- he plays in it. Walking into that meeting with a victory over the No. 16 Beavers would probably go over better than closing out the year on a five-game losing streak.
There’s ugly. And there’s whatever that was Friday night in Berkeley, Calif.
But when all the turnovers had been recovered and all the yellow laundry had been cleared from the field (on one play, there were four separate penalties), the Washington Huskies emerged with a 21-13 victory over California. It was Washington’s first road win of the season and snapped a six-game road losing streak for the Huskies. The win moves Washington (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) one step closer to bowl eligibility.
Cal (3-7, 2-5) is officially eliminated from postseason contention for the second time in three seasons -- and questions surrounding the future of coach Jeff Tedford are sure to heat up with this latest loss.
The teams combined for eight turnovers (four apiece) and 19 penalties for a total of 168 yards (12 for 108 from Washington).
But amid the sloppiness, there were bright spots. Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins -- playing on a bum ankle -- turned in a gritty performance with eight catches for 151 yards and a score. Bishop Sankey had a season-high 189 yards on the ground for Washington to go with a pair of scores.
However, it's hard to overlook a stretch in the fourth quarter in which four consecutive drives ended in turnovers -- including four turnovers over a span of 11 snaps.
The Huskies jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when they turned an Isi Sofele fumble into an 11-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard Sankey touchdown run.
The Bears battled back to match the score in the second quarter when Chris Harper scored on a 14-yard end-around. Cal then took a six-point lead in the third following a pair of Vincenzo D’Amato field goals.
But Seferian-Jenkins -- who came out of the locker room at halftime limping badly -- made his presence known late in the third quarter. He made a leaping 43-yard reception that later helped set up his jumping 29-yard touchdown from Keith Price that gave Washington a 14-13 edge at the end of the third quarter.
Price completed 16 of 29 passes for 237 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His Cal counterpart, Zach Maynard, was 15-of-29 for 175 yards with no touchdowns and a pick. C.J. Anderson led Cal on the ground with 160 yards on 22 carries.
The loss also puts a damper on an outstanding game from Cal linebacker Nick Forbes, who tallied 10 tackles with an interception and two fumble recoveries.
It was a Maynard interception in the fourth that set up Sankey’s second touchdown run of the game and gave Washington the final margin.
Making matters worse for Cal, Maynard was sidelined near the end of the game with what appeared to be a knee injury. He was helped off the field and then carted to the locker room. Allan Bridgford relieved Maynard on Cal’s final drive but was unable to get the Bears into the end zone.
The major midseason stories are a little different.
USC and Oregon could still be an epic clash, just not as epic because USC already has lost. Also, Barkley's middling numbers for an offense that hasn't been consistently in sync have diminished the national perception of the Trojans. The Ducks are now the Pac-12 team at the center of the national discussion.
As for the four new coaches, three have gotten off to great-to-solid starts in year one. But how will they finish? And will Mike Leach get Washington State on track?
Will Arizona State maintain its fast start, or are the Sun Devils headed for a tough dose of reality as the schedule firms up, starting with Oregon on Thursday?
Speaking of fast starts: Oregon State. The Beavers have surged, and coach Mike Riley has moved from the hot seat to the throne of a national-coach-of-the-year candidate. Oregon and Oregon State are the only two unbeaten teams in the conference, so it's not inconceivable that the Civil War could be for the North Division crown, a spot in the Pac-12 title game and, perhaps, a chance to play for the national title.
It could become the season's true epic clash.
As for hot-seat talk, as distasteful as it is, nearly all of such focus will be on California coach Jeff Tedford. The Bears have won two in a row after a 1-4 start, but it remains in the air whether this team can be consistent enough to earn a bowl berth. A losing record wouldn't be good for Tedford.
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireTaylor Kelly (10) and Arizona State could make a loud statement with Oregon coming to town.
Ultimately, midseason reviews don't mean much. Teams and players can reverse course -- positively or negatively -- at any moment.
But what it is fair to say is there are plenty of rich plot lines heading into the season's second half, even if those were not the stories that advanced the season.
Bold prediction: The conference will fill all seven of its bowl obligations, plus one. Oregon is already in; Oregon State, Arizona State, USC and UCLA are all one win from being bowl-eligible. If you follow the Sunday zaniness that is our weekly bowl projections, you know your bloggers project Oregon to the national championship, which opens up one more spot. We see Stanford and Washington bowling. That's seven right there. The eighth spot is up for grabs, with Arizona and Cal the likely candidates. Cal could get to .500 this week, then would need two more wins with Utah, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State remaining. If Arizona takes care of Colorado and Utah in the second half, that leaves it looking for one more win over from among Washington, USC, UCLA and Arizona State.
Looking forward to: The race in the Pac-12 South. Once thought to be gift-wrapped for the Trojans, the recent inconsistent play of USC opens up the possibility of someone else as the South's representative in the title game. The Trojans are still the favorite, but Arizona State and UCLA aren't going to make it easy. Both of UCLA's losses have come to North Division teams, USC's loss was to Stanford and ASU's was out of conference. It's more wide-open than we ever could have imagined in August.
Top five games (by date, not importance):
Oct. 18, Oregon at Arizona State: Time to find out if the Sun Devils are for real. They have the conference's No. 1 scoring defense facing Oregon's top-ranked scoring offense. The Sun Devils rank second in scoring. Both teams are getting phenomenal quarterback play and both like to work fast.
Oct. 27, UCLA at Arizona State: This is a pivotal game in the aforementioned race for the South Division title. It features two explosive offenses and two of the league's brightest young quarterbacks. Some pretty good players from both defenses as well.
Nov. 3, Oregon at USC: This is still the big one. An Oregon win gives the Ducks some much-needed national credibility, while a USC victory puts the Trojans back in the BCS championship hunt. Might be a last-gasp Heisman run for Thomas and/or Barkley.
Nov. 17, USC at UCLA: A new chapter in this historic rivalry begins with Jim Mora at the helm for the Bruins. He has made them a player in the Pac-12 South, and lest we forget, coordinator Noel Mazzone's offense put up 43 points on USC last year when he was with ASU. This one could decide the South champion.
Nov. 24, Oregon at Oregon State: The stakes could be stratospheric -- as in national championship implications for both schools. If the Ducks take care of business Nov. 3 and Oregon State can navigate a second-half schedule that includes Stanford and ASU, then all of Oregon will show up for what could conceivably be the Pac-12 game of the year.
- Jordan Webb, QB, Colorado: Welcome to the helmet stickers, Buffs. No team has received more grief in the past few weeks than the Buffs. But Webb threw for 345 yards on 29-of-42 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He also scored the game-winning touchdown -- a 4-yard run with nine seconds left to shock the Washington State Cougars 35-34 and give Colorado its first victory of the season.
- Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State: A strong, efficient performance from ASU’s first-year starter in guiding the Sun Devils to a 37-7 win over Utah. Kelly finished 19-of-26 for a career-high 326 yards and three touchdown passes. He also rushed seven times for 19 yards.
- Oregon's defense: What the heck. Give 'em all a helmet sticker. The unit forced five turnovers and shut out an Arizona team that was averaging 46.3 points and more than 600 yards per game. Michael Clay led all Ducks with 13 tackles -- including two for loss -- and he also forced a fumble.
- Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State: This was another game in which offensive players could have been awarded helmet stickers (Markus Wheaton, Brandin Cooks, Sean Mannion), but it was the defense that was so impressive in shutting down UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, the nation’s leading rushing heading into this game. Crichton had six tackles, including three tackles for a loss, and he recorded both of Oregon State’s sacks.
- Morgan Breslin, DE, USC: Breslin tallied six tackles, 4.5 for loss and three sacks in USC’s 27-9 victory over Cal. Breslin became the first Trojan to get three sacks in one game since Rey Maualuga did it in the 2008 Rose Bowl against Illinois.
For the season, Ted is 16-7 and Kevin is 15-8.
Kevin: Washington State 35, UNLV 17: Time for the Cougars to get a win over an FBS team. Should happen this week against a UNLV squad that is 0-2 and fell to FCS school Northern Arizona. (Remember them, Arizona State?) If all goes according to plan, the starting offensive linemen should be crushing the buffet at the Rio by the third quarter.
Ted: Washington State 40, UNLV 20: While quarterback Jeff Tuel is decidedly questionable; backup Connor Halliday is experienced and capable. The guess here is things go a little more smoothly on both sides of the ball as new systems start to sink in.
Kevin: Ohio State 28, Cal 10: The defense, which was supposed to be the strength of this team, hasn't shown up yet. Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo rushed for 97 yards -- most of it on zone reads the Bears couldn't stop. What's Braxton Miller going to do?
Ted: Ohio State 30, California 17: During the summer, I believed this was prime upset material. Then Cal played twice.
Kevin: Oregon 49, Tennessee Tech 14: It was De'Anthony Thomas in Week 1 and Kenjon Barner in Week 2. Who is the Duck du jour in what should be the latest Oregon pasting? Fortunately, Oregon's schedule allows for growth with younger players, and it needs that because of all the injuries of late.
Ted: Oregon 50, Tennessee Tech 10: Yawn. The good news is Oregon might have an interesting game the next week when Arizona comes to town. I bet Ducks fans are hungry for a game that at least raises an eyebrow.
Kevin: Washington 31, Portland State 7: Not a lot of time for the Huskies to get right after their ill-fated journey to Baton Rouge, La., with Stanford, USC and Oregon looming in the next three weeks. This might be their last opportunity for a win until late October/early November. They'd better take advantage of it.
Ted: Washington 30, Portland State 20: Will the Huskies be flat after falling flat at LSU? I suspect so. Not flat enough to lose but perhaps flat enough to further frustrate Huskies fans.
Kevin: USC 38, Stanford 24: David Shaw knows how to plan a scheme against USC's defense, so I'd expect the Cardinal to put up some points. But when push comes to shove, Stanford's defense won't get the number of stops needed to slow down the Trojans' passing attack.
Ted: USC 35, Stanford 20: I think it will be close at halftime, but the Trojans will pull away early in the fourth quarter. Eventually, Matt Barkley & Co. will gash the Cardinal secondary, and then Stanford won't be able to answer.
Kevin: Fresno State 31, Colorado 17: The Bulldogs showed a little bite against the Ducks -- enough to suggest they can certainly hang with, and beat, a lower-tier Pac-12 team.
Ted: Colorado 28, Fresno State 27: Why? Because I suspect we're going to see some pride from the Buffs.
Kevin: BYU 35, Utah 27: I think Utah will play inspired football given this week's turn of events. But last week we saw that the offensive line concerns are graver than we all initially thought. Bronco Mendenhall saw it too.
Ted: BYU 28, Utah 24: There's a lot going on at Utah, most notably injury issues. And it's not just quarterback Jordan Wynn. Running back John White and safety Eric Rowe are questionable. But the biggest issue, as Kevin noted, is the disappointing play of the offensive line.
Kevin: Arizona 49, South Carolina State 10: The offense has come together quickly. I'd expect Arizona to use this game to clean some things up before heading to Autzen for a game that suddenly looks very interesting.
Ted: Arizona 42, South Carolina State 20: I suspect that some fumes from the post-Oklahoma State victory celebration will cause the Wildcats to be a bit flat. They are fortunate the opponent will be forgiving.
Kevin: UCLA 48, Houston 21: Houston can't stop the run. UCLA isn't going to abandon the run. Another huge game for Johnathan Franklin and another win for the Bruins.
Ted: UCLA 44, Houston 24: Another possible flat performance, but the Bruins should recall the loss at Houston from 2011 to provide some motivation. Agree with Kevin: Franklin gets another 200, and his Heisman candidacy inches up another notch.
Kevin: Arizona State 38, Missouri 31: OK, ASU. I'll bite. The Sun Devils are second in the nation with six interceptions, and Missouri likes to throw a lot. Vegas likes the Tigers by a touchdown, but I'll throw my confidence behind Todd Graham & Co.
Ted: Missouri 35, Arizona State 27: The Sun Devils have whipped two inferior foes at home. The Tigers are pretty good and are playing at home. The Sun Devils have been impressive, but they are still young. And Missouri quarterback James Franklin is a load.
Chip Kelly is pondering how to get 10 more plays per game out of his offense.
Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach are re-re-revolutionizing their attacks.
David Shaw is trying to figure out how to get nine offensive linemen, five tight ends and three fullbacks on the field at once.
Lane Kiffin has more offensive toys than an FAO Schwarz display.
"Option, option spread, I, heavy-I, pistol, triple-backs, full house, triple tights; it's something new every week," said Oregon linebacker Michael Clay. "It makes every week pretty interesting."
The Pac-12 is widely regarded as the conference of offenses. And they are only getting better. Prior to 1990, only twice has a team led the conference with a scoring average of more than 40 points. Since 1990, it's happened nine times -- including USC's conference best of 49.1 points per game in 2005.
That means being a defensive player in the Pac-12 is awfully difficult.
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillKyle Whittingham says his defense must be able to adapt to the different offenses in the Pac-12.
As the spread offense became chic and more teams were stretching defenses, they were forced to respond in kind. Gone are the days of everyone lining up in a base 4-3 and slugging it out. Now defenses are evolving into multiple fronts, exotic and disguised coverages and zone blitzes.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham should know. He and UCLA coach Jim Mora are the only head coaches in the conference with a defensive background.
"We're definitely the minority," Whittingham said with a laugh. "It's a broad spectrum. Defensively, in this day and age, you have to be able to defend it all anyways. When the spread became en vogue 10-12 years ago it caught on like wildfire. Now almost everyone has a version of it. You have to be equipped to deal with whatever you come across week in and week out and have a scheme that is flexible enough and adaptable enough that you can cover all of your bases.
"Things go in cycles. The spread becomes en vogue and takes a while for the defense to catch up. Then the zone blitz was giving offenses fits and the offenses had to catch up to that. I think everything in football is cyclical and if offense has the upper hand right now, it won't be too further down the road where that role is reversed."
And that time might be coming sooner than later. Utah, California, USC, Oregon and Stanford all have defenses that are very good and bordering on elite. But the numbers don't always add up because in this conference, you are going to give up yards and you are going to give up points.
"Part of it is innovation," Shaw said. "Part of it is Chip Kelly and Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez. The thing is, you can use the word 'spread' offense for half the teams in our conference, but they are all different. You can say 'pro-style' offense, which is what you would say about us and USC, but they are so different. The hard part of playing defense in our conference is every single week, you are playing against something you didn't see the week before.
"Cal has a pro-style offense. But their passing is different than our pass game and their running is different than our running game. And theirs is different from USC's. You are going to play a nine-game conference schedule and every single offense you play is going to be completely different. Defensive coordinators -- and we've got a really good group in this conference -- defensive coordinators and players have to flush a lot of what you watched the week before and study film hard the next week because you're going to see a different animal."
The conference also has the players to back up the defensive hype. Stanford linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov are projected as two of the best at their positions. Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is regarded as the best defensive tackle in the nation and McDonald is a returning All-American.
And while perception might never really change nationally since the conference keeps chugging out A-list offensive players, Washington quarterback Keith Price says he's seen the difference.
"The difference between us and some of those other conferences is the defensive linemen," Price said. "We've always had good skill players. They say the trenches is what separates the SEC from the other conferences. But you can see now that our conference is starting to get there. When you look at teams like Cal and Utah, their defensive lines are really tough."
Once the 6-foot-5, 280-pound lineman was able to visit the campus, the Yale Bowl and spend time with the coaching staff, he realized the connection he felt early on was strong enough pull him across the country.
“I met a lot of great coaches everywhere in the country, but I definitely felt something special with Yale’s coaches,” said Friedline, who gave a verbal commitment to the Bulldogs Tuesday. “They were great. I really feel like that program is going to do some special things in the next couple of years.”
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