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Shane from Red Bluff, Calif., writes: Just curious if you have ever written a story on the diversity of Pac-12 offensive schemes vs. those in the B1G and SEC, and the effect on the stats of conference defenses. It seems to me it would be easier for defenses to appear more elite when facing similar offenses throughout the conference slate, i.e. SEC and B1G. For example, in the Pac-12 there is Oregon, Stanford, Wazzu, USC, Zona and Utah. Offenses as unique and different as those must make for different recruiting/scheming practices for the Pac-12 than other conferences.
Ted Miller: The Pac-12 probably has the most offensive diversity, with six teams averaging more than 190 yards rushing and seven teams averaging more than 250 yards passing in 2013.
You have Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, UCLA and Washington playing really, really fast. You have Cal, Oregon State and Washington State throwing the ball all over the place. You have Oregon State, USC and Stanford running pro-style offenses.
Diversity? You have Utah changing offensive coordinators every single season.
But I think the national trend toward up-tempo, spread offenses has touched every conference, even the Big Ten and SEC.
Former Big 12 teams Texas A&M and Missouri have put to bed the notion of SEC big-boy defenses automatically shutting down the up-tempo, spreads hailing from other regions. Auburn twice won the SEC in the past four years and played for two national titles with an up-tempo spread. Florida under Urban Meyer was dominant with a spread-option, and now he's doing the same thing in the Big Ten at Ohio State, with Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska running spreads or using up-tempo, spread elements.
This article does a good job of pointing out how the SEC has changed:
Perhaps no other conference in the land has seen more of a drastic shift in scoring than the SEC, where defense used to be king. In 2005 for instance, only one team (Auburn, 32.2 ppg) averaged over 30 points per game. On the contrary, six teams allowed less than 20 points per game. In 2006, only one team (LSU, 33.7 ppg) averaged more than 30 an outing; eight held their opponents to 20 points or less.
Fast-forward to 2013.
A year ago, the SEC had nine teams that scored 30 or more points per game. Out of those nine, four (Texas A&M, Auburn, Missouri and Ole Miss) are true hurry-up, no-huddle offenses. But unlike the 2005 and 2006 seasons, only Alabama (13.9 ppg) ended last season allowing less than 20 points per game.
And it's not just about spreads. Heck, Georgia averaged 314 yards passing per game last season, making it one of three SEC teams that ranked in the top 25 in passing yards. That top 25 included four Pac-12 teams, two Big 12 teams, two Big Ten teams and two ACC teams.
In total plays, the Pac-12 had five in the top 25, the Big 12 three, SEC three, Big Ten two and ACC three.
But know what I found most fascinating? Yards per play. The SEC had seven teams ranked in the top 25, compared to one for the Pac-12 (Oregon), one for the Big 12, three for the Big Ten and three for the ACC. (It's worth noting Stanford and Washington were tied for 26th).
That means two things: 1. SEC offenses are often highly efficient; 2. SEC defenses are often not highly efficient, despite the popular perception.
It will be interesting to see how the SEC and Pac-12 stack up offensively this coming year. While the Pac-12 welcomes back 10 starting QBs, the SEC welcomes back just five, if you include Florida's Jeff Driskel, and the attrition includes just about all the A-list guys at the traditional powers.
So, with QB play questionable, we may hear a lot of about super-awesome SEC defenses again in 2014.
Ted Miller: Brown is accused of getting into a fight with a man and a woman at the Washington State campus union, and Cougars coach Mike Leach has long used a one-strike-and-you're-out policy for drugs, stealing and hitting women.
It was, by the way, the Cougars' fourth arrest since the start of February, so the Pullman police are making Leach's offseason long.
Most seem pessimistic about Brown's future with the team, but we should let things play out.
But, yes, cornerback specifically and the secondary in general is a big question for the Cougars, and that's not a good thing in this quarterback-rich conference. Safety Taylor Taliulu is the only returning player with starting experience, and he's no sure-thing. Moreover, Brown was a promising CB who played well as a backup last season and even started four games.
Obviously, this puts pressure on youngsters such as redshirt freshman Charleston White and freshman Marcellus Pippins -- a fortuitous early enrollee -- to grow up quickly. Senior Tracy Clark also might want to finally break through this spring.
Three more freshmen arrive in the fall, and there's always the chance of a position change. A player could move over from safety, where the depth is better, or the Cougs coaches could try to convert a running back or receiver.
Does this doom the season? Absolutely. Best to head to The Coug right now and begin drowning future Saturday sorrows. Kevin is buying!
Or maybe one player doesn't make or break a football team, at least in most cases.
Leach has been recruiting pretty well, so I suspect there are speedy players he can insert at CB who can adequately do the job. Is CB a question? Without question. But that doesn't mean there won't be an inspired answer. I'd rate it 50-50 that Kevin or I will be writing a story in November about how much better the Cougs secondary was than we'd thought it would be in March.
With or without Brown, I didn't envision Washington State challenging the Stanford-Oregon hegemony on the Pac-12 North this fall. But I also think this team is trending up and certainly remains a likely bowl team.
Ted Miller: Yes, it counts for something. The only folks who'd say Pittsburgh is a better job than Arizona State are Panthers fans. And most of them would, at least privately, concede the point.
And, well, a publication making a list that knows exactly what it's doing lining up Pittsburgh, Arizona State and Arizona, one after the other.
I think Athlon did a pretty good job with that list, but it's obviously extremely subjective. With that as a cover, the compilers of the list probably saw another chance to tweak Todd Graham, a coach who still has a negative national reputation, despite his two years of success in Tempe, most notably among folks who either have never talked to him or do so rarely.
Ted Miller: That's pretty fair. We have to include the ACC, which could alternate with the SEC over shrimp and barbecue.
But, to be real, the Pac-12 would win best food overall by a wide, wide margin.
The Pac-12 would win:
- Best high-end cuisine.
- Best Asian -- all categories.
- Best seafood -- Seattle and San Francisco? Are you kidding me?
- Best Mexican.
- Best brew pubs.
- And most diverse.
One of the great and pleasurable challenges when you cover Pac-12 football is deciding where to eat the Friday night before the game.
- Rich Rodriguez hopes his guys practice better after the break.
- Wide receiver Richard Smith intends to transfer.
- Some more on Sonny Dykes rounding out his staff.
- Some post-practice thoughts from Mike MacIntyre.
- Brian Jackson and De'Anthony Thomas talk about pro day.
- Good news for the Beavers with Michael Doctor being granted a fifth year of eligibility.
- Is David Yankey a good fit for the Pats?
- Some more on UCLA's home-and-home with Texas A&M.
- USC's defense also has to adjust to the new uptempo offense.
- Utah's spring prospectus is out, and it's a compelling read.
- Some observations from Washington's practice.
- WSU holds its pro day.
Few high schools in the country could lose a player like D.J. Foster and have the excitement about the future not take a dip. In his senior season at Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Foster broke the state record by scoring 60 touchdowns -- one defensively -- as he rushed for more than 3,000 yards for the Sabercats on their way to back-to-back state titles.
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Helping fuel that guesswork are the newest posts from Mel Kiper, who released his Mock Draft 3.0 , and Todd McShay, who posted his updated list of the top 32 NFL prospects.
Three Pac-12 players appear on each list.
UCLA’s Anthony Barr checks in as the highest-projected player from the Pac-12 to be drafted. Kiper has the outside linebacker at No. 11 going to the Tennessee Titans.
Barr has seen his stock slip some, but he put together a good pro day, and gives the Titans another pass-rusher aside from Derrick Morgan. In general, drafting the best possible player supersedes need unless the value lines up with need pretty well, but this is a spot where the needs are multiple and I can just see the team taking the best player. Barr can provide an early impact.Wide receivers Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) and Marqise Lee (USC) are the other two Pac-12 players projected to be drafted in the first round.
In terms of ranking the prospects, McShay has Lee as the top-ranked player from the Pac-12 at No. 18, followed by Cooks at No. 22 and Barr at No. 23.
Here’s McShay’s take on Lee:
Lee didn't run a great 40 time at the combine (4.52 seconds), but he shows very good speed and explosiveness on tape, and is a big-play weapon after the catch and as a vertical route-runner. He had too many drops in 2013, but showed good ball skills during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
The conference has had at least one player drafted in the first round every year since 1967 -- and it looks like that trend will continue. Since 2000, 55 players from the league have been drafted in the first round.
UCLA will make its first visit to Texas A&M's Kyle Field on Sept. 3, 2016, and the Aggies will return the favor with a visit to the Rose Bowl on Sept. 2, 2017, giving the nation a marquee Pac-12-SEC showdown many fans want to see.
The Bruins also announced a home-and-home series with San Diego State and a shifting of a scheduled series with new Big Ten member Rutgers.
UCLA will now play Rutgers in 2020 and 2021, the first game in the Rose Bowl, the second in Piscataway, N.J. The Bruins will host Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 31, 2019 and will travel to San Diego to face the Aztecs on Sept. 19, 2020.
Meanwhile, Rutgers has contracted a home-and-home series with Washington. The Scarlet Knights will travel to Seattle to face the Huskies on Sept. 3, 2016 to begin the season. The Huskies will travel to High Point Solutions Stadium on Sept. 2 to open the 2017 season. The two schools have never met in football.
Within the last six months, UCLA has also announced a home-and-home series with Texas A&M, Oklahoma in 2018 and 2019 and with Michigan in 2022 and 2023.
"Facing tough nonconference competition is a necessity with the new playoff system beginning this year,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. “We are excited to add home-and-home series with both Texas A&M and San Diego State to a future schedule that already includes a traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 series with Rutgers.”
UCLA and Texas A&M have met four previous times, with each team winning twice. The Bruins won the most recent matchup in the 1998 Cotton Bowl, 29-23, coming back from a 16-0 deficit to defeat the Aggies behind the play of quarterback Cade McNown. The other three matchups between the two teams have all taken place in California. UCLA won the most recent one, 21-0, at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1955, and Texas A&M won the first two in the series, 7-0 in 1940 and 21-14 in 1951.
UCLA holds a 21-0-1 overall record against San Diego State, with 19 consecutive victories. The teams last played in 2009, with UCLA winning at the Rose Bowl, 33-14.
- Arizona is going to play fast and be fast next fall.
- Ten Arizona State players to watch this spring.
- California's spring dates and a 40-yard dash time from WR Bryce Treggs.
- A report from Colorado's pro day.
- Former Oregon WR De'Anthony Thomas talks before pro day.
- Oregon State QB Sean Mannion tops this list of seniors to watch.
- Looking at Stanford's offensive depth chart.
- A photo gallery of UCLA's pro day.
- A chat with USC redshirt freshman QB Max Browne.
- Former Utah WR Steve Smith has been released by the Panthers.
- Will an Alabama transfer start at CB for Washington?
- More on Washington State cornerback Daquawn Brown legal issues.
Isn't it about time we see more Pac-12 vs. SEC nonconference matchups in the regular season?
Texas A&M and UCLA certainly think so, as they've inked a home-and-home series for 2016 and 2017. UCLA will come to Kyle Field in 2016, and Texas A&M will return the visit to the Rose Bowl in 2017.
It's rare that we see a Pac-12-SEC matchup in the regular season and even rarer when they play home and home. LSU and Oregon met a few years back in Arlington, Texas, and Tennessee and Oregon just completed a home-and-home series.
But to see Texas A&M and UCLA going on the road to face each other is a refreshing sign, not to mention a sign of things to come in the College Football Playoff era. We're sure to see more of these types of matchups with strength of schedule being weighted so heavily by the selection committee.
Here's a look at some of the higher-profile nonconference games on tap the next few years involving SEC teams:
- Alabama vs. West Virginia, in Atlanta
- Ole Miss vs. Boise State, in Atlanta
- LSU vs. Wisconsin, in Houston, Texas
- Tennessee at Oklahoma
- Clemson at Georgia
- Arkansas at Texas Tech
- Auburn at Kansas State
- Alabama vs. Wisconsin, Arlington, Texas
- Texas A&M vs. Arizona State, in Houston, Texas
- Oklahoma at Tennessee
- South Carolina vs. North Carolina, in Charlotte, N.C.
- Auburn vs. Louisville, in Atlanta
- Texas Tech at Arkansas
- UCLA at Texas A&M
- Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech, in Bristol, Tenn.
- LSU vs. Wisconsin, in Green Bay, Wis.
- Texas A&M at UCLA
- Florida vs. Michigan, in Arlington, Texas
- Purdue at Missouri
- North Carolina State at LSU
- Georgia Tech at Ole Miss
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M and UCLA have agreed to a home-and-home series in 2016 and 2017, the schools announced Thursday.
The Aggies will host the Bruins at Kyle Field -- which is undergoing a $450 million renovation that is scheduled for completion in 2015 -- on Sept. 3, 2016, and UCLA will host Texas A&M at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Sept. 2, 2017. UCLA has never played at Kyle Field; the Aggies haven't played a regular-season game in California since 1992 against Stanford.
Both programs have risen in the past two years. The Aggies are 20-6 in two seasons under Kevin Sumlin, and the Bruins are 19-8 since Jim Mora took over prior to the 2012 season. Both coaches were rewarded with new contracts late last year.
The teams have met four times, splitting the series 2-2. The most recent meeting came in 1998; the previous three were all before 1960.
"We are very pleased this series was able to come together and provides our program with an exciting, premier nonconference matchup against UCLA," Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement. "UCLA brings one of the top programs from the West Coast to the redeveloped Kyle Field in Aggieland, and for our Aggie team and the 12th Man to have the chance to play in the Rose Bowl is a historic opportunity."
UCLA also announced it has rescheduled its home and home with Rutgers to accommodate the Texas A&M series and agreed to a series with San Diego State for 2019 and 2020. The Bruins and Scarlet Knights will now play in 2020 and 2021.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
But first, the methodology:
With all of this in mind, we have tried to rank the jobs in college football based on the attractiveness from a coaching perspective. As we mentioned above, many factors were considered. Tradition, facilities, location, budget and recruiting ability are just a few things we considered. But in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach if we had a blank slate and all of the jobs were open?
Texas ranked No. 1, Florida No. 2 and Alabama No. 3. USC came next and led the Pac-12.
Here's how the Pac-12 programs rank (number is national ranking):
38. Arizona State
54. Oregon State
63. Washington State
Though you certainly could quibble with these rankings, they are defensible. And keep in mind this is at the present moment. Ten or even five years ago, these would look different.
Further, just because a job seems challenging doesn't mean the right coach can't sustain success. Oregon State, Utah and Washington State have been more successful over the past decade than many of the teams ahead of them. Colorado was a consistent national power from 1989 to 2002.
And by the way, the Cougars have played in two Rose Bowls since 1997, something only USC, Oregon and Stanford can match.
- A photo montage of rising Arizona star linebacker Scooby Wright.
- Will Sutton's draft stock might be heading in the wrong direction.
- California continuing to eyeball quarterbacks.
- Some snapshots of Colorado's first practice.
- Mark Helfrich talks about what it means to have Marcus Mariota back.
- Is Brandin Cooks the No. 3 WR in the NFL draft?
- Andrew Luck is the No. 2 all-time Pac-12 quarterback of the BCS era, per Athlon. Debate.
- Jordan Zumwalt chats about his draft stock, among other topics.
- Day 1 of USC's spring practice is in the books.
- Utes in the NFL are on the move in free agency.
- Shaq Thompson had a big day for Washington's first practice in pads.
- WSU's Daquawn Brown is in some legal trouble.
- Athlon ranks all 128 coaching jobs.
- Arizona LB Scooby Wright is the new Jake Fischer, but does he have the stuff to be on the Pac-12 blog's all-interivew team like Fischer?
- Former Arizona State OLB Carl Bradford helped his NFL stock at pro day.
- California is hitting Bay Area recruiting hard.
- This JC transfer aims to break through in the Colorado secondary, which could be pretty solid.
- Oregon's new OLBs coach Erik Chinander is hitting the recruiting trail.
- Oregon State QB Sean Mannion makes this list of Pac-12 seniors to watch.
- Recapping Stanford's first spring session.'
- UCLA's pro day is Tuesday, which gives OLB Anthony Barr a chance to regain ground in the first round.
- USC begins spring practices under new coach Steve Sarkisian.
- Utah will monitor QB Travis Wilson very closely.
- More on Washington LB Shaq Thompson doubling as a running back.
- Some interesting quotes from Washington State coach Mike Leach on football analytics.
Arizona: Drew Riggleman is back after handling all of the punting responsibilities last season. He averaged 40.1 yards per kick, pinned 18 inside the 20 and had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards. He ranked eighth in the conference -- though the difference between first (Utah’s Tom Hackett) and Riggleman was an average of 3.4 yards.
Arizona State: Punting was one of ASU’s biggest issues last season. Matt Haack started to come on strong at the end of the season and will likely challenge Alex Garoutte, who averaged 38.8 yards per kick last season. Should Haack win the job, Garoutte is always an option with his rollout style. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has also been known to offer the occasional boot. He punted six times last season, once for 50-plus, and had three downed inside the 20.
California: Cole Leininger is back after a very solid season for the Golden Bears, where he was tied for second in the conference with an average of 42.9 yards per kick. Cal has four punters on the roster in addition to Leininger. And while he’s mostly unchallenged, there are plenty of backup options.
Colorado: Third-team all-conference punter Darragh O'Neill returns and was a midseason Ray Guy candidate last season. He averaged 40.5 yards per punt last year and pinned 22 inside the 20.
Oregon: Alejandro Maldonado handled the punting duties last season and made a couple of appearances as a kicker before the job went to Matt Wogan. Expect Wogan to handle all kicking responsibilities, though some walk-ons will also get looks.
Oregon State: Keith Kostol is back as a third-year starter. He finished last season tied for fifth in the conference with an average of 40.5 yards per punt. He also put 23 kicks inside the 20.
Stanford: Ben Rhyne returns to handle the punting duties for the Cardinal. He was one of the best in the conference last season with an average of 42.9 yards per kick -- just half a yard behind Hackett. He had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards and put 15 inside the 20.
UCLA: Sean Covington is back after having a very solid season, where he posted an average of 42.6 yards per punt. Do-it-all quarterback Brett Hundley punted once last season, but it’s safe to assume that Convington’s job is secure.
USC: Kris Albarado didn’t post an impressive yards-per-punt average (37.1), but he was very good at pinning opponents, with 27 kicks inside the 20. And of his 64 kicks, almost half were fair-caught.
Utah: Hackett was last season's first-team all-conference punter, so expect some preseason All-American hype for him. As noted earlier, he led the conference with an average of 43.4 yards per punt and buried 27 kicks inside the 20.
Washington: Travis Coons pulled double-duty last season. In addition to nailing 15 of 16 field goal attempts, he also averaged 40.4 yards per punt and had eight kicks of 50-plus yards to go with 23 inside the 20. Korey Durkee did some punting in 2012 before Coons won the job, so he’ll get the first look in 2014. Newcomer Tristan Vizcaino could also get looks at kicker and/or punter.
Washington State: Wes Concepcion was the starter in the final two games as punter last season. With Mike Bowlin gone, he should be the favorite to handle punting duties full time. Concepcion punted 12 times last season for an average of 36.2 yards. Eight of those 12 were fair catches and three were inside the 20.
Highly-coveted wide receiver Cordell Broadus' desire to play against stiffer competition should be quenched following his transfer to powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, but it could carry underlying recruiting implications as well.
USC and UCLA used to be about a one-hour drive from Broadus when he was at Diamond Bar (Calif.), where he burst onto the spotlight two years ago after transferring from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Now both coaching staffs, like others across the country, will likely have to hop on a plane to see him this fall.
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