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Five things I learned this weekend

10/17/2011

Oregon knows how to throw a party

For the six West region players who took an official visit to Oregon this past weekend, they had quite an experience. Friday night, the basketball team hosted their first ever Midnight Madness, actually called MattKnight Madness (the court is named after Nike founder Phil Knight’s son Matt Knight).

Saturday, ESPN Game Day was on campus and a night game against Arizona State allowed the recruits plenty of time to take in all the day’s festivities. As for the game atmosphere, most recruits who visit Oregon say it’s the loudest stadium they have been in and that was the case again last week.

“The crowd was crazy,” Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, Calif./Grant) said. “It was the loudest place I’ve ever been in and the fans are in to the game from the time it starts until the finish. I’ve been to some other loud stadiums but nothing comes close to Oregon.”

ESPNU 150 QB Kline could play early at Cal

While at Fresno State, Oregon and in his early years at Cal, Bears coach Jeff Tedford developed some of the best quarterbacks in the college game. Tedford quickly picked up a reputation as the best quarterback coach in college and it was well deserved but it has been a few years since the Bears have had a true NFL prospect at the position and that was very evident Thursday in their loss to USC.

While watching the Cal-USC game, the prevailing thought was “Is that really the best quarterback Cal has?” Zach Maynard struggled throwing three interceptions and Tedford clearly doesn’t have confidence in his backup, Allan Bridgford, who didn’t get a sniff in this one.

Brock Mansion never developed as hoped and although it’s way too early to write off Austin Hinder and Kyle Boehm, Zach Kline (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley) will be the most physically talented signal caller for the Bears the second he walks on campus. The biggest thing for Kline, who is No. 59 in the ESPNU 150 and the No. 4 QB in the country, will be how quickly can he grasp the offense and pick up the speed of a college defense. If he’s able to do so, Kline has a great chance to see the field next fall.

It’s going to be a crazy Trinity League

Through five pre-league games, the team that I thought was the most complete in the state, with the fewest holes was Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita. The Eagles came in to their Trinity League opener ranked No. 3 in the state and took on a Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei team that needed a last second Hail Mary pass from being 1-4 on the year.

So of course the Monarchs opened up Trinity League play last Thursday with a 21-14 win over the Eagles. Mater Dei’s defense was dominant from start to finish as the Eagles only points came on an interception for a touchdown and a 32 yard drive that started with a Monarch fumble.

“I watched them on tape and I thought they were one of the best team’s I’ve ever seen,” Monarchs defensive coordinator Eric Johnson said. “Their offense and their offensive line was especially strong but hats off to our defense. They executed the game plan perfectly and played an incredible game.”

Pauu could be the state’s best linebacker

I’ve had a chance to watch Anaheim (Calif.) Servite linebacker Butch Pauu since he was a sophomore and even at a very young age, you could tell he was going to be a big-time player. Standing on the sideline watching his Friars squad take out previously undefeated Orange Lutheran (Calif.) 21-8, I walked away thinking Pauu had one of the best performances by a linebacker I’ve ever seen.

There’s a difference between a great linebacker and a great linebacker prospect. Jabari Ruffin (Downey, Calif.) is the top-rated linebacker by ESPNU and deservedly so. His combination of size and speed has had colleges drooling for two years.

But against a very good team, Pauu had 20 tackles, a sack, an interception and completely dominated the game. Several of his hits drew oohs and aahs and that was from the Lancers crowd. A lot of schools passed on him because of his height but BYU got an absolute steal and only his Mormon mission will delay Pauu wreaking havoc in the Mountain West.

Another Pauu to watch

Staying with the Anaheim (Calif.) Servite theme, linebacker Butch Pauu has a younger brother, Neil Pauu, who will be a major prospect in a few years.

The younger Pauu is currently just a sophomore and a starting receiver for the Friars. He’s a very good looking athlete with speed and a nice frame. He’s already about 3-4 inches taller than his older brother and Friar coach Troy Thomas can say enough good things about him.

“He’s going to be our quarterback and he’ll be a great one,” Thomas said. “He’s playing receiver now and has great ability but as a quarterback, he’s an absolute freak. He’s one of those kids that don’t come along very often and I can’t wait to see him develop. You can see what a great athlete he is, but he can throw a football and is a natural leader, just like Butch. You’ll be hearing a lot from him in a few years.”