Tag:Pac-10 Football
Posted on: December 2, 2010 10:30 am
Edited on: December 2, 2010 10:31 am
 

UCLA guarantees Neuheisel's position is safe

Posted by Chip Patterson

There is plenty of reason for concern in Westwood over the UCLA football program.  Since hiring head coach Rick Neuheisel, the Bruins have gone 15-21, they have zero offensive identity, and despite the coaching of the legendary coordinator Norm Chow - the Bruins have no certainty at the quarterback position.  Neuheisel has already addressed the evaluation process for all the assistant coaches, but what about the evaluation of the head coach?

Even with the downfalls, UCLA still has Neuheisel's back for now.  Athletic director Dan Guerrero stood firmly behind his head coach when questioned about Neuheisel's status with the Bruins for 2011.

“Of course there’s never been any question of that,” Guerrero said outside the Bruin locker-room following UCLA's 55-24 loss at Arizona State on Friday. “There’s no doubt. Why would you ask that question?”

There are many reasons why both fans and critics would question Guerrero's confidence in Neuheisel.  The former Washington head coach was brought in with the promise to "end the football monopoly in Los Angeles," but even with a win over the Trojans on Saturday the Bruins will have failed to pick up more than three conference victories in the brief Neuheisel era.  Scott Reid, of the Orange Country Register, seems to suggest that Neuheisel's critics may also be Guerrero's critics.  If so, and the losing continues, there could be major changes on the way at UCLA.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 10:07 am
Edited on: November 23, 2010 10:08 am
 

Norm Chow on the hot seat at UCLA?

Posted by Chip Patterson

UCLA was able to find some hope near the beginning of the 2010 season with upset wins against Houston and at Texas, but the Pac-10 schedule has not been particularly friendly to the Bruins.  When UCLA kicked off conference competition, their opponents were well prepared for the Pistol offensive attack that carved up the Longhorns for 260+ yards rushing in Austin.  The Bruins offense has struggled to score in the second half of the season, never scoring more than 21 points since October 2.  There are many things to blame for the Bruins failures, but the one name that continues to come up is offensive coordinator Norm Chow.

"I don't want to talk about who will be or who won't be on the staff next year," head coach Rick Neuheisel said when asked about Chow's status with the Bruins for 2011.  "Our staff is intact and we're ready to go. I honestly haven't even start to think about that road."

Neuheisel did go on to say that Chow, along with the rest of the staff, would be evaluated at season's end.  Chow is one of the great offensive minds in college football across the last 30 years, and his legacy was cemented with two national championships and two Heisman winning quarterbacks at USC.  But something at UCLA is clearly not working.  The offense has looked less like a Pistol for most of 2010, and more like, well, this.



Posted on: November 22, 2010 3:14 pm
 

Oregon expects James to play against Arizona

Posted by Chip Patterson

Oregon took the field Sunday for their first open practice since squeezing out a two point victory over the Golden Bears in Berkley a week ago.  The media was quick to locate #21, who could be found back on the practice field -- though the star back was limited in action.  Starting running back and Heisman contender LaMichael James left the stadium on crutches with his left foot in a boot, but is not listed on the official Oregon injury report for Arizona.  James promises that he will be on the field in Autzen Stadium when the Ducks take on the 21st-ranked Wildcats the day after Thanksgiving.  Head coach Chip Kelly also did not seem concerned about James' status.  When it comes to these last games for the Ducks, it does not seem like anyone is ready to be conservative.

“He’s a tough sucker,” Kelly said regarding James after practice on Sunday. “He’ll be ready to play.”  James admitted himself there was a little bit of pain in the limited activity, but guessed that he should be ready to go in a few days

Sitting in first place of both polls and the BCS Standings, the Ducks are two victories from their first-ever BCS National Championship Game appearance.  Unfortunately for the Ducks, the last two games on the schedule present arguably the biggest threats to their potentially-historic season.  Arizona will be seeking redemption for not closing the Ducks out a year ago in Tuscon.  Leading 31-24, the Arizona defense had Jeremiah Masoli and the Ducks cornered at the 23 yard line with 4th and 5.  Thousands of red-clad fans literally surrounded the field ready to celebrate the upset, but they watched Masoli fire off three straight completions to score the game-tying touchdown with just six seconds remaining.  That kind of heartbreak is not easily forgotten, and the Wildcats will show up looking to spoil Oregon's celebration on Friday.  
Posted on: November 17, 2010 9:15 am
 

Sarkisian: Locker cleared to play

Posted by Chip Patterson

After yet another day passed without any word on Jake Locker's status, Washington fans were beginning to fear that the star quarterback may not get to see the field in his final home game against the Bruins on Thursday night.  Locker, still recovering from a broken rib, did practice with the team on Tuesday but head coach Steve Sarkisian informed the media he had yet to be cleared to play by team doctors.  Sarkisian not only wants Locker to play for the betterment of the Huskies, but also knows that the former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year would like to close out his career under center in Husky Stadium.  When doctors finally cleared Locker late Tuesday, Sark was not about to wait for any press release to be written - he took the good news straight to Twitter.



 
Posted on: November 15, 2010 10:07 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 10:21 am
 

Locker practices, status uncertain for Thursday

Posted by Chip Patterson

Washington quarterback Jake Locker was back on the practice field taking snaps with his teammates this weekend for the first time since October 30, but there are still no promises for his return to the starting lineup.  Locker is recovering from a broken rib suffered against Stanford two weeks ago, and has utilized the Huskies' off-week to get back to playing shape.  Locker split reps with backup Keith Price during Washington's weekend practices, working on a short week in preparation for Thursday's conference battle with UCLA.  As for Locker's status against the Bruins?  Head coach Steve Sarkisian did sound incredibly optimistic, but did not give any official status update in his statements after Saturday's practice.

"I thought he moved around okay,'' Sarkisian said to reporters after practice. "We will just have to take it day-by-day to assess how he responds from one day to the next. I'm not going to make any grand statements as far as 'is he playing, is he not.' We just need to assess it here for a couple days.''

Todd Milles, of the Tacoma News Tribune, writes that Sarkisian may not make a decision on Locker until Wednesday.  Doctors are very encouraged with how quickly he has recovered from the injury, but it is unlikely that he will be 100 percent before Saturday's game.  Price, a redshirt freshman, was issued a tall order for his first career start against Oregon in Autzen Stadium.  He completed 14 of 28 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.  If given the chance to start again his task will be much easier against the Bruins defense, which has given up 33.5 points per game in conference play.  


Posted on: November 9, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2010 2:39 pm
 

Oregon's Nate Costa done for the season

Posted by Chip Patterson

College football's most potent offense just got a little thinner at the quarterback position, with the announcement that Oregon backup quarterback Nate Costa will miss the rest of the season due to injury.  On Tuesday the university confirmed that the knee injury, Costa's third in his five-year college career, will force the quarterback to miss the rest of the season and effectively end his career at Oregon.  Costa is scheduled to undergo surgery sometime in the next two weeks.

While Costa has provided little production outside of holding for placekicks and leading the offense in mop-up time, he has been one of the faces of the Ducks in the Chip Kelly era.  Rob Mosely, of the Eugene Register-Guard, describes Costa as "invaluable as one of the team's leaders" over the last two seasons.  For an undefeated squad with National Championship Game hopes, that kind of leadership can come is an advantage in times of adversity.  Even more difficult for the Ducks, freshman quarterback Bryan Bennett is now at risk of burning his redshirt with a move to the second-string.  The onus now lies on the offensive line to keep starting quarterback Darron Thomas healthy, at least through four more games.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 3:45 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 5:25 pm
 

Oregon RB Barner's recovery progressing

Posted by Chip Patterson

A little less than a month ago, Oregon saw backup running back Kenjon Barner carted off the field after getting leveled on a kickoff return against Washington State.  His return to the practice field last week was impressive, though his limited participation made it seem as though his playing days were still a bit down the road for the speedy sophomore.  Head coach Chip Kelly has not confirmed or denied any date for Barner's possible return to the playing field, but reports from practice seem encouraging for Ducks fans.

John Hunt, of The Oregonian, reported significant improvements from Monday's practice for Barner.  He still has been wearing a non-contact jersey, but has been in full pads and increased participation with the new week.  It is no secret that Oregon's top-ranked offense has been effective, even without Barner in the lineup.  

But with Barner's ability to spell starting running back LaMichael James, as well as returning kicks for the special teams unit, the Ducks are a much better football team with him on the field.  As strong as this Oregon team has looked this season, it would be a colossal disappointment to see the season lost on account of a late season upset loss.  Barner back in the lineup gives them as good a chance as any to make sure that does not happen.
Posted on: October 18, 2010 10:40 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 4:37 am
 

Midseason Report: Pac-10

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Midseason Report separates the contenders from the pretenders in each conference race, and in the Pac-10, that means cleanly separating its top half from its bottom half ... and wondering if anyone can catch Oregon. Here's what's happened so far and what might happen down the stretch.

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0) - Jeremiwho Masoli? The Ducks missed the memo that the offseason dismissal of their starting quarterback spelled the end of any national title hopes, blazing to six straight wins by an average margin of 38 points. That’s been good enough to make them the consensus No. 1 team in the polls entering the second half of the season, and for Chip Kelly to confirm (again) that no one has a better offensive mind or more talent for coaching dual-threat quarterbacks. First-year starter Darron Thomas has racked up more than 1,400 total yards in leading the Ducks to the current No. 1 ranking in total offense. But even Thomas can go overlooked next to tailback and Heisman candidate LaMichael James , the nation’s No. 1 rusher at 170 yards per-game. The Duck onslaught has overwhelmed every team unlucky enough to face it so far, including previously undefeated Stanford , who gave up 49 points in the final three quarters and lost by three full scores at Autzen. Don’t pencil the Ducks in for a national title bout just yet, though; they were outgained by 226 yards in their only serious road test to date, at Arizona State , and still have to visit three dangerous teams in USC , Cal , and Oregon State . Where the Pac-10 title is concerned, however, it’ll be a shocker if it winds up anywhere but Eugene.

2. Stanford (5-1, 2-1) - Not many coaches can claim to have done a better job over the past few seasons than Kelly, but Jim Harbaugh might be one of them. His stunning reclamation project in Palo Alto has only picked up speed in 2010 as behind potential No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck (1,538 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 65.7 completion percentage), the Cardinal haven’t missed a beat without departed Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart. UCLA was embarrassed 35-0, Notre Dame bludgeoned 37-14. and USC out-shot 37-35. The 73rd-ranked rush defense could stand to find more consistency, but with Arizona and Oregon State both coming to Stanford Stadium, the Cardinal could nonetheless be favored in their final six games. 10 or even 11 wins are within reach ... though with Oregon holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, it'll take some major help to reach Pasadena.

3. Arizona (5-1, 2-1)
- The Pac-10 has the Wildcats to thank for the conference’s most impressive non-league win to-date, the wire-to-wire 34-27 win over otherwise-undefeated No. 13 Iowa . But Arizona hasn’t been nearly as impressive in conference play, escaping Cal 10-9 on a last-minute touchdown, losing at home to Oregon State 29-27, and sleepwalking past hapless Washington State 24-7. Quarterback Nick Foles has been outstanding, completing better than 75 percent of his passes and averaging 267 yards a game. But now Foles is due to miss three weeks with a knee injury, and the ‘Cats haven’t been able to get key senior running back Nic Grigsby (340 yards this season) on track. With road trips to Stanford and Oregon still to come, Mike Stoops will have to recapture the magic of the Iowa game in a hurry to keep the Wildcats a factor in the Pac-10 race.

4. Oregon State (3-3, 2-1) - Give the Beavers this: no one in the country has played a more difficult schedule. There’s no shame in losing competitive games on the road at top-5 outfits like TCU and Boise State, and not a whole lot in being a two-point conversion away from a thrilling win at Washington . But there’s not that much respect in being only .500, either, even with a big road win at Arizona. And with James Rodgers out for the season, it’s worth asking if the Beavers have enough offensive firepower to hang with anyone in their brutal USC-Stanford-Oregon closing stretch. Still, Mike Riley 's teams usually improve as the season progresses, and quarterback Ryan Katz has shown flashes of brilliance (most notably in the 390 yard upset in Tucson). The Beavers will still have their say in how the Pac-10 ultimately plays out. They always do.

5. USC (5-2, 2-2) - Maybe we should include Washington in this space. After all, the Huskies both beat the Trojans at the Coliseum and stand a half-game ahead of USC in the Pac-10 standings. But it’s hard to take a team that’s lost to a flatly terrible BYU squad and Arizona State (at home!) all that seriously. The Trojans, on the other hand, are two field goals -- one Washington’s, one Stanford’s, both on the final play of the game -- away from being undefeated. And the way Matt Barkley is throwing the ball these days (742 yards, 8 touchdowns, no interceptions the last two weeks) and freshman Robert Woods is catching it (19 receptions, 340 yards, 5 touchdowns those same two weeks), it’s safe to call Lane Kiffin ’s team the one in the Pac-10 that no one would want to play. Just ask Cal. Then again: how dangerous can the Trojans really be if Monte Kiffin ’s 90th-ranked defense doesn’t stop allowing the occasional 500-yard game? USC could upset Oregon in L.A. and enter the final week of the season in contention for a championship, or they could be mathematically eliminated in another two weeks. Anything is possible here.

Prediction: Sorry, Ducks fans: the guess here is that Oregon won't become the first Pac-10 team other than USC to advance to the BCS championship game. Even the best offenses can have off-games on the road, and that defense -- which was gouged for 600 yards in Tempe and another 518 against Stanford -- isn't going to be able to take up the slack. Whether at Los Angeles, Berkeley, or Corvallis, Oregon is due to trip up somewhere.

But they won't trip up twice, which means that they'll still be able to settle for a second straight Pac-10 championship and Rose Bowl berth. Stanford will crack double-digit wins, but it won't be enough, and perhaps maybe not even enough to push the race into the season's final week.

Everyone else? Three conference losses at the minimum, though USC will end the season with a ton of momentum and the consensus honor of being the league's third-best team.



 
 
 
 
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