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Five Pac-12 in latest AP poll; Washington drops out
Oregon remained at No. 3 in the latest AP poll, picking up five first place votes. No. 11 UCLA, meanwhile, moved down four spots from the preseason poll after a close win over Virginia. Stanford, down two spots to No. 13 despite defeating UC-Davis 45-0, will face No. 14 USC this weekend (the Trojans moved up one spot after trouncing Fresno State).
The only other team from the Pac-12 in the first week’s rankings is Arizona State, up two spots to No. 17. Washington, after escaping Hawai’i with a 17-16 win, fell out of the poll after being ranked No. 25.
Arizona, with four votes, came in at No. 44 overall.
|1||Florida State (46)||1-0||1456|
|9||Texas A&M (2)||1-0||978|
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Shocking news: Cyler Miles to start at quarterback for Washington this weekend
From the Seattle Times … Sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles, suspended for Washington’s season opener against Hawaii last week, will start the Huskies’ home opener against Eastern Washington on Saturday, UW coach Chris Petersen announced Monday afternoon.
“I think he’s got a pretty good football IQ,” Petersen said at his weekly press conference. “He can put things together quickly football wise.”
Sophomore Jeff Lindquist, in his first career start, complete 10 of 26 for 162 yards with one touchdown in no turnovers in the Huskies’ 17-16 season-opening victory at Hawaii on Saturday night.
Miles, listed at 6-4 and 225 pounds, was suspended for the season opener for his involvement in two assaults of Seahawks fans after the Super Bowl in February. Miles was not charged in the incidents. He was also suspended for all of spring ball.
In his only interview availability since the incidents, Miles apologized.
“I messed up big time,” he said then, “and I’m willing to face the consequences.”
“I highly regret it,” he added, “and I’m just very excited to get back on the team and do my best to put this past me and start working with my guys again.”
Pac-12 names Players-of-the-Week
From the Pac-12 … Quarterback Cody Kessler of USC, linebacker Eric Kendricks of UCLA and wide receiver Kaelin Clay of UTAH have been named offensive, defensive and special teams Pac-12 Players of the Week in football.
Kessler, a junior from Bakersfield, Calif., threw for a career-high 394 yards versus Fresno State while hitting 25-of-37 passes with 4 TDs (all tying career bests) and he also opened the game’s scoring with a 1-yard sneak as part of his 28 rushing yards. In the first half, he threw for 309 yards on 21-of-30 passing. He helped a USC offense, which ran a Pac-12 record 105 plays, compile 701 total yards and 37 first downs in the 52-13 victory.
Kendricks, a senior from Fresno, Calif., totaled a game-high 16 tackles, one shy of his career high in UCLA’s 28-20 win at Virginia. He added a forced fumble which led to a 75-yard scoring return for a touchdown and, on Virginia’s next possession, an interception which he returned 37-yards for a touchdown and resulted in the Bruins taking a 21-3 lead. The turnovers were part of a three turnover-returns second quarter which produced a trio of touchdowns for the first time at UCLA since a 1986 game at Oregon State. Kendricks, who was very active in the first half, recorded seven of his tackles in that second quarter. In the second half, two of his stops came on Virginia third down plays.
Clay, a senior from Long Beach, Calif, made an explosive Ute debut with a pair of long-distance touchdown returns during Utah’s season-opening 56-14 win over Idaho State. On his first touch as a Ute, Clay returned a punt 46 yards for a touchdown late in the first half. It was Utah’s first punt return for a touchdown since 2010. One quarter later, Clay returned his first and only kickoff return of the game 100 yards for a touchdown. He was the only Pac-12 player, and one of only four in FBS, to return a kickoff 100 yards during the opening weekend. He became the first Pac-12 player since 1999 (Deltha O’Neal, California) to score a touchdown on a punt return and a kickoff return in the same game.
Also nominated for Offensive Player of the Week: Anu Solomon, QB, ARIZ; D.J. Foster, RB, ASU; Marcus Mariota, QB, ORE; Storm Woods, RB, OSU; Ty Montgomery, WR/PR, STAN; Jordan Payton, WR, UCLA; Devontae Booker, RB, UTAH; Connor Halliday, QB, WSU
Also nominated for Defensive Player of the Week: Scooby Wright, LB, ARIZ; Jalen Jefferson, LB, CAL; Erick Dargan, S, ORE; Tyrequek Zimmerman, S, OSU; Wayne Lyons, CB, STAN; Leonard Williams, DE, USC; Nate Orchard, DE, UTAH
Also nominated for Special Teams Player of the Week: Casey Skowron, K, ARIZ; Zane Gonzalez, PK, ASU; Charles Nelson, PR, ORE; Garrett Owens, PK, OSU; Ty Montgomery WR/PR, STAN; Ishmael Adams, DB, UCLA
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Oregon an 11-point pick over Michigan State this weekend
VegasInsider has posted its opening lines for the Pac-12 for Week Two
Colorado …. -17 on the road over Massachusetts
Arizona …. -8 on the road (Thursday night) over Texas-San Antonio
Washington State …. -3 on the road (Friday night) over Nevada
Utah …. – 7.5 at home over Fresno State
Stanford …. -4 at home over USC
Oregon …. – 11 at home over Michigan State
Arizona State …. -27 on the road over New Mexico
UCLA …. -24 at home over Memphis
Oregon State …. -11 on the road over Hawai’i
Boise State …. -8 at home over Colorado State
ESPN GameDay heading to Eugene for Michigan State vs. Oregon
From the Oregonian … Every college football fan’s favorite pregame show, ESPN College GameDay, will grace the campus of the University of Oregon on Saturday for the Oregon Ducks game against Michigan State.
The show will start at 9 a.m. ET, so folks in Oregon will have to get up bright and early at 6 a.m. The whole crew, featuring Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Samantha Ponder, David Pollack and Lee Corso, will help fans get ready for a day full of college football, but especially for the showdown between the Ducks and Spartans.
For his own health, Corso should probably put on the Ducks mascot head to avoid an angry mob.
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No. 25 Washington 17, Hawai’i 16 (Note: click on scores for ESPN recap games) … So, are you a “glass half full” person, or a “glass half empty”? Washington (coming to Boulder November 1st) was supposed to rout Hawai’i (coming to Boulder September 20th). After all, the Huskies were ranked No. 25 in the nation; the Warriors were a last game win over Army from coming into the game on a 12-game losing streak. Instead, Hawai’i had every chance in the world to defeat Washington, but came up just short. Hawai’i raced out to a 10-0 first quarter lead on its first two possessions. After posting a touchdown in the last minute of the first quarter, Washington then took the lead on a 91-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Lindquist (subbing for the suspended Cyler Miles) to wide receiver John Ross. A field before the half gave Washington a 17-10 halftime lead, and some sense that order had been restored. Instead, the Huskies punted on eight of their first nine possessions of the second half, but the Warriors were unable to capitalize, posting only two field goals. Here is a Seattle Times article entitled, “Not pretty, but it’s a start“. Meanwhile, the Honolulu Advertiser’s take is entitled, “Close, but … “.
No. 3 Oregon 62, South Dakota 13 … ‘Nuff said.
No. 11 Stanford 45, UC-Davis 0 … Cardinal builds a 38-0 halftime lead, coasts to easy win over Aggies of UC-Davis.
No. 15 USC 52, Fresno State 13 … USC, which ended the 2013 “Season of Four Head Coaches” with a 45-20 win over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, opened the Steve Sarkisian era with an easy 52-13 win over Fresno State. The Trojans had to overcome a week in which defensive captain Josh Shaw lied about being injured and backup running back Anthony Brown quit the team while accusing his head coach of being a racist. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, had to overcome losing Derek Carr to the NFL, a much tougher task when it came to actually playing the game.
California 31, Northwestern 24 … The Cal Bears earned a measure of revenge, taking out a Northwestern team which had defeated them in Berkeley last fall. Cal sprinted out to a 31-7 third quarter lead before holding on for a 31-24 victory. The Bears took the game’s opening kickoff and mounted an 18-play, 78-yard touchdown drive, chewing up almost half of the first quarter clock. After Northwestern turned the ball over on downs, ending a ten-play drive, Cal pieced together an 11-play, 77-yard drive to make it 14-0. Cal settled for a short field goal on its next possession, taking a 17-0 advantage before Northwestern woke up. The Wildcats had the ball down a touchdown with 4:14 to play, but Northwestern’s final drive ended in an interception, allowing Cal to match its win total from 2013. Here is a write-up of the game from the Contra Costa Times News.
No. 7 UCLA 28, Virginia 30 … The No. 7 UCLA Bruins needed not one, not two, but three defensive touchdowns to hold off Virginia, 28-20. The Bruins forged a 21-3 second quarter lead with two interception returns for a touchdown, and a fumble return for a touchdown. At one point, UCLA had as many return yards on defense as it did total yards on offense. Virginia, down 21-3 late in the second quarter, switched quarterbacks, with Matt Johns coming in to spark a touchdown drive just before the half. Midway through the third quarter, it was 21-17, and Brett Hundley’s Heisman hopes were on the ropes two days before Labor Day. The Bruins’ quarterback, however, led a touchdown drive to make it a 28-17 game. The Cavaliers got a field goal with 6:47 left in the game, and had a final opportunity come to an end with a turnover on downs in the UCLA red zone. Here is the Los Angeles Times write-up of the game and a column from the Times discussing how the game affected UCLA’s title hopes.
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- Rutgers 41, Washington State 38 … Washington State’s season opened with Rutgers connecting on a 78-yard touchdown on the game’s very first play from scrimmage … not a good omen. The Cougars fought back however, and overcame deficits of 14-3 and 21-10 to take the second half lead. Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday completed 40 of 56 passes for 532 yards and five touchdowns (read that stat line again slowly), but it was not enough. Rutgers scored on a Paul James run with 3:24 to play, and the Cougars were not able to post a final score to pull out a victory. Here is the Spokane Spokesman-Review take on the game, quoting WSU head coach Mike Leach, “There were a lot of very positive things. It’s all correctable”. Here is the Seattle Times view of the game, played in Seattle (for the last time, Washington State presently has no future home games scheduled to be played in Seattle.
- Utah 56, Idaho State 14 … It was supposed to be a rout, and it was … in the end. Idaho State was 3-9 last year, with wins over Western State, Dixie State, and Northern Colorado (the Bengals haven’t defeated an FBS team since 2000). Still, it was a 14-7 game early in the second quarter, and the Bengals had a first-and-goal at the Utah 10 yard line. Three plays netted no yards, and the field goal attempt was blocked. The missed opportunity seemed to take the wind out of the Bengals’ sails, and the Utes went on to a 21-0 second quarter. Kaelin Clay was the special teams star of the game, returning a punt 46 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, then returning a kickoff 100 yards for a score in the second half. The Salt Lake City Tribune take on includes coach Whittingham’s comment, “Not sure how much more we know about our team after tonight”.
- No. 19 Arizona State 45, Weber State 14 … There was little drama for the Sun Devils, as Arizona State led 17-0 after the first quarter, and 31-0 at halftime over the Wildcats from Ogden, Utah. “I was pleased,” Sun Devils coach Todd Graham said. “I thought we dominated a team we needed to dominate”. The Arizona Republic take on the game can be found here.
USC running back quits team, calls coach Sarkisian a racist
Brown posted on his Instagram Thursday morning, “Sark treated me like a slave in his Office…Can’t play for a racist MAN!!!!! #Fighton” and posted a similar message on his Facebook.
Sarkisian said he was blindsided by Brown’s comments and said Brown never expressed any of those feelings to him when he met him earlier this week.
“As far as what [Brown] said on Twitter, I think it’s ridiculous,” Sarkisian said. “Any of you guys that know me and if you ask anybody in our building, any of our players — feel free to — that’s about the furthest thing from the truth. Quite honestly, I’m shocked.”
Brown, who has been sidelined most of training camp with an hyperextended elbow, was listed as the sixth running back on the depth chart after switching over from cornerback earlier this month.
“Anthony decided not to play football anymore,” Sarkisian said. “We obviously tried to encourage him not to quit. We thought he could be an asset to our team, especially when healthy. We really tried to make it a point to accommodate the position change he wanted. He wanted to move to running back and we did so.
“He unfortunately got injured in training camp and was working his way back and decided he didn’t want to play anymore. It’s a bit unfortunate because we could have used him. We think he could have helped us.”
Brown had six starts and 43 tackles during his USC career. He was limited due to injuries last season and only saw action in two games at cornerback after suffering ankle injuries against Hawaii and another against Notre Dame.
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- ESPN has four writers focused on the Pac-12, and they have made their predictions for the first week of Pac-12 play. Cal is the only underdog (to Northwestern), with Colorado the unanimous pick to defeat Colorado State. Here’s what they had to say about the Rocky Mountain Showdown: Why Colorado will win: Colorado State has a veteran quarterback in Garrett Grayson, but the Buffs finally have some experience in the secondary (though they’ll miss Jered Bell). A confident Sefo Liufau leads an offense that has depth at receiver and tailback. Should it be close, Colorado also has veteran specialists. It might not be a blowout, but on paper the Buffs are the better team. – Kevin Gemmell
- The Josh Shaw saga continues. The USC cornerback, who was hailed as a hero for saving his nephew from drowning (and injuring his ankles in the process), has now confessed that the story was a lie. USC has issued a press release apologizing for posting the initial story. Shaw has now been suspended indefinitely from the team (though his injuries may have kept him from the field for most, if not all of the season anyway). For more on the story, here is ESPN’s take and USA Today’s story. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has no fewer than five stories posted on the soap opera.
- The Pac-12 has a real game tonight, with Rutgers taking on Washington State in Seattle (8:00 p.m., MT FS1). Here is a breakdown of the matchup between the Cougars, 6-7 and coming off of a bowl loss to Colorado State, taking on a Rutgers team which also went 6-7 last season.
Nebraska using package ticket sales in order to preserve 52-year sellout record
From ESPN … Nebraska and Michigan are two of the most iconic brands in college football, known as much for their tradition of packing stadiums as their history of championships.
The Huskers have sold out 333 straight games, an NCAA record, over 52 seasons. The Wolverines have led the nation in attendance for 38 of the past 39 years and drawn 251 consecutive crowds in excess of 100,000 at Michigan Stadium.
Yet with their home openers set for Saturday, both traditional Big Ten powers are still working to sell tickets.
And while Nebraska’s sacred sellout streak appears safe and Michigan will again hit six figures, they face a reality of lackluster home schedules and waning student interest in addition to the perception of sagging momentum on the field.
As a result, the powerful programs have turned aggressive in marketing to fans in unprecedented ways — all while ticket sales surge at league rivals Ohio State and Penn State.
Tickets remain available at Nebraska for five home games this fall. As of late Tuesday, about 150 student season tickets were unsold — a figure that has dropped significantly over the past week as fall semester classes began.
Less than 100 single-game tickets for the opener also remain, returned several weeks ago by visiting Florida Atlantic.
Nebraska, for the first time, offered a package of tickets at a discount for Saturday and the game next week against McNeese State.
USC safety admits he lied about hero story
Press release from USC … USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw came to USC athletic department officials this afternoon (Wednesday, Aug. 27) and admitted that he had lied about how he suffered his ankle injuries over the weekend.
He said that the story he told of rescuing his nephew in a pool in Palmdale, Calif., was a complete fabrication. He apologized for misleading his coaches, teammates, athletic department officials and the public.
“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” said USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian. “He let us all down. As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.
“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him.”
Sarkisian said that Shaw has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities.
Shaw has retained Donald Etra as legal counsel. Etra will issue a statement on Shaw’s behalf soon.
Credibility of USC cornerback’s story questioned
From ESPN … USC football coach Steve Sarkisian said the school has received several calls questioning the authenticity of Josh Shaw’s story about saving his nephew from potentially drowning and is investigating the matter.
Shaw said he suffered a pair of high ankle sprains Saturday night after jumping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, who was struggling in the pool. Shaw said his nephew did not know how to swim.
When Sarkisian was asked who had called and made him second-guess Shaw’s story, he said, “I don’t want to get into who’s calling us. I’d just appreciate it if you guys gave us some time to vet it and look into it so that we can give you a real solid answer instead of more hearsay and what might have or what might not have occurred.”
Multiple sources told ESPNLA.com that school officials were skeptical of Shaw’s story before releasing a statement about it along with quotes from Shaw and Sarkisian on Monday. Their skepticism grew larger by Tuesday as the story gained steam and multiple media outlets wanted to talk to Shaw, the 7-year-old nephew he rescued and family members who were at the party.
Sarkisian huddled with school officials before addressing the media Tuesday and took only football questions for the first five minutes before addressing Shaw.
“I’m not surprised,” Sarkisian said when asked about the contradictory phone calls he received. “I get calls on a lot of different things. We have to do our due diligence and vet everything, and we’ll handle it internally. We’ll see what happens with this one and move forward and give you guys an update.”
Shaw was not available to the media, nor will he be until USC officials find out exactly what happened, Sarkisian said.
“Josh won’t be available until we find out,” Sarkisian said. “I just don’t want to put him in a situation of answering questions that we really don’t have all the answers to.”
The one aspect of Shaw’s injury Sarkisian could confirm was that the cornerback did suffer two high ankle sprains and would be out indefinitely.
“I will say the X-rays and MRIs we have taken on him have come back negative,” Sarksian said. “So far we don’t see anything structurally wrong with him but he is very sore.”
Sarkisian said he wanted to put the situation behind him but wanted to get all the facts straight first.
USC cornerback sidelined with injuries sustained saving nephew from drowning
From ESPN … USC cornerback Josh Shaw will be sidelined indefinitely after a heroic act left the fifth-year senior with a pair of high ankle sprains.
Just hours after being voted a team captain on Saturday, Shaw was attending a family function when he saw his 7-year-old nephew, who does not know how to swim, struggling in a nearby pool. Instinctively, Shaw jumped from a second-floor balcony onto concrete below and crawled into the pool where he was able to help his nephew to safety, according to a release from the school.
After getting his nephew to safety, Shaw made his way to a ladder and pulled himself from the water.
“I would do it again for whatever kid it was, it did not have to be my nephew,” Shaw said. “My ankles really hurt, but I am lucky to be surrounded by the best trainers and doctors in the world. I am taking my rehab one day at a time, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible.”
Shaw was expected to be a major part of the Trojans secondary after starting all 14 games in 2013.
“That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside. But that’s the kind of person he is,” USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It is unfortunate that he’ll be sidelined for a while and we will miss his leadership and play, but I know he’ll be working hard to get back on the field as soon as possible.”
USC opens the year against Fresno State on Saturday.
Four-star defensive end recruit transfers from UCLA to Utah
From the Salt Lake City Tribune … It took a little longer than the Utes would’ve liked, but they’ve gotten Kylie Fitts.
The Tribune has learned that the one-time four-star recruit has elected to transfer from UCLA to Utah, and will be eligible in 2015. He’ll have three years to play three seasons.
Fitts received at Utes offer out of high school, and originally committed to USC before making a late switch to UCLA. The Redlands, Calif., native managed only one tackle in six games as a freshman last season, but the L.A. Daily News reported he likely would’ve factored into the depth chart and possibly seen rotation snaps this year.
Instead, Fitts announced he would transfer early in August as the Bruins began training camp. Fresno State and San Diego State were reported as other potential landing spots.
The Utes will be looking for a replacement for Nate Orchard and Greg Reese at defensive end next year. If Fitts works out, Utah may have a talented pool to work from with Hunter Dimick, Jason Fanaika and Wallace Gonzalez among the planned returners.
Beer sales returning to college stadiums
From ESPN … Some cash-strapped athletic departments outside the Power Five conferences have started to use beer sales as an alternative revenue stream — and more could soon be following suit.
While beer drinking is a common sight at tailgate parties outside of college football stadiums, a growing number of schools are bringing the party inside, opening taps in concourses that traditionally have been alcohol-free zones.
North Texas, SMU and Troy University will begin beer sales to the general public this season. They’re among 21 on-campus football stadiums where any fan of legal age can grab a brew. That’s more than twice as many as five years ago.
Every institution is looking at how they can increase revenue streams, and alcohol is one of those,” said Jeff Schemmel, president of consulting firm College Sports Solutions LLC. “Everything is on the table.”
Most schools continue to keep alcohol restricted to premium seating areas, if they allow it at all. But offering alcohol is increasingly attractive for some campuses, especially as schools look for ways to keep fans from staying at home.
They’re also encouraged by the schools that were among the first to sell alcohol and didn’t report an increase in bad behavior from students and other fans.
There are 11 municipal stadiums where FBS teams are tenants and alcohol is available to the general public. The municipality usually keeps most, if not all, of the alcohol proceeds. The NCAA does not sell alcohol to the general public at its championship events. Schools and conferences are allowed to make their own policies.
According to an Associated Press survey of the 21 beer-selling schools that own and operate their stadiums, about half their concessions revenue is derived from alcohol. All but four of those schools are in conferences outside the Power Five that don’t earn significant television money.
CBS Hot-seat rankings – Utah’s Kyle Whittingham’s seat the warmest in the Pac-12
Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports has put forth his preseason College Football Hot Seat Rankings. The rating methodology is as follows:
|Rating||What it means||Coaches|
|0-0.5||Can’t be touched|
|1-1.5||Very safe, change unlikely|
|2-2.5||Safe, but you never know|
|3-3.5||Starting to feel the pressure|
|4-4.5||Warm, better start winning|
|5||Hot seat! Win or be fired|
The only five-star “Win or be fired” coach, in Dodd’s estimation, is Florida International’s Ron Turner. The former Illinois head coach went 1-11 in his first season at FIU, and apparently needs to win or seek different employment.
In the Pac-12, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is the closest to being fired, coming in at 3.5 (up from 3.0 last season). Cal’s Sonny Dykes, 1-11 in his coaching debut with the Bears last season, is next in line, with a 3.0 (up from 0.5 last season).
CU’s Mike MacIntyre has been placed in the “very safe, change unlikely” category, with a 1.5 rating, up slightly from a 1.0 last fall.
Other Pac-12 coaches:
Arizona – Rich Rodriguez – 1.0 (1.0 last season)
Arizona State – Todd Graham – 1.0 (up from 0.0 last season, a higher ranking despite winning the Pac-12 South last season)
Oregon – Mark Helfrich – 2.0 (up from 1.5 last season)
Oregon State – Mike Riley – 1.0 (same as last season)
USC – Steve Sarkisian – 2.5 (starting out very high for a new coach)
Stanford – David Shaw – 0.0 (same as last season – only the NFL could remove Shaw from Palo Alto)
UCLA – Jim Mora – 0.5 (same as last season)
Washington – Chris Petersen – 0.5 as the Huskies’ new coach
Washington State – Mike Leach – 0.5 (down from 1.0 after a bowl berth last fall)
Other coaches of note:
Air Force – Troy Calhoun – 3.5 (up from 1.0 for a coach many wanted as CU’s next head coach)
Colorado State – Jim McElwain – 0.5 (down from 2.0 … Eight wins + a ten-year contract = job security)
Hawai’i – Norm Chow – 4.0 (up from 3.0 – a 4-20 record in two seasons will warm up your chair)
Kansas – Charlie Weis – 4.5 (up from 3.0 – another 4-20 record placing a coach in jeopardy)
Massachusetts – Mark Whipple – 1.0 (the former coach gets a pass in year one of his return)
Nebraska – Bo Pelini – 2.5 (same as last season – nine wins every year … but no titles)
Miami (Ohio) – Frank Solich – 1.5 (hard to believe the former Nebraska coach has been at Miami nine seasons)
Colorado State bullish on rebuilt offensive line
From the Coloradoan … You’d think there would be more concern emanating from the CSU football team during fall drills over the offensive line.
Consider that the team lost four of five starters from last year’s offensive line to graduation and two projected starters this fall due to injury.
If there is concern, the feelings are being blocked out.
“We still have a lot of talent,” said senior Ty Sambrailo, the starting left tackle and the only starter back from last season’s 8-6 team. “We’ve continued to be consistent regardless of who is playing, I feel, throughout this fall camp. We’re going to be just fine no matter who’s playing.”
Junior-college transfer Jordan Finley, who spent most of spring drills as the starting right tackle, suffered a knee injury in the final week that will keep him out of at least the first three games this fall.
Mason Hathaway, the senior who stepped in to replace him, suffered a knee injury of his own last week that could end his college football career.
Those were two significant losses to an offensive line that already was one of the biggest concerns for the Rams entering the 2014 season.
For now, the starters would appear to be Sambrailo (6-5 and 315 pounds), sophomore Fred Zerblis (6-3, 295) at left guard, redshirt freshman Jake Bennett (6-3, 295) at center, senior Mason Myers (6-3, 300) at right guard and junior Sam Carlson (6-4, 290), a former Poudre High School standout, at right tackle. Carlson, McElwain said, has been contending for a starting job since fall camp began and was taking turns with the No. 1 offense even before Hathaway was injured.
It’s a big, strong, talented and athletic group that Sambrailo believes can be every bit as effective, if not more, than last year’s senior-dominated front line.
“I’m excited about the offensive line,” offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin said. “They’re competing in camp, and they competed during the summer. They’re going to be a good group.”
Zerblis, Myers and Carlson have been playing together on the No. 2 offense for the past two years and Bennett joined them on that unit last fall. So it’s not like the Rams are putting five guys up front who have never played together, Carlson said. They communicate well together and understand the nuances of working in step with the players alongside them in pass protection and combination blocks in the run game.
“All we lack right now is that game experience,” Carlson said.
Last year’s offensive line, led by second-round NFL draft pick Weston Richburg at center, opened holes that allowed Kapri Bibbs to run for a school-record 1,741 yards and 31 touchdowns while also providing Grayson with the protecting he needed to throw for a school-record 3,696 yards and 23 touchdowns.
That’s a difficult act to follow.
Washington schedules home-and-home with Michigan and BYU
From the Pac-12 Networks … Washington will take on two big non-conference rivals in the coming years as the Huskies will play home-and-home series against both Michigan and BYU in the next decade.
The two series were announced today by UW athletic director Scott Woodward as part of a series of changes and additions to future Washington football schedules.
The Huskies will play host to BYU Sept. 29, 2018, and will travel to Provo on Sept. 21, 2019. The Dawgs and Cougars have squared off nine times in their history, including most recently in last December’s Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
Michigan will come to Seattle for a Sept. 5 game in 2020 and then the Dawgs will go to Ann Arbor the following season for a Sept. 18 game. The Huskies and Wolverines have a history that dates back over 60 years and includes four Rose Bowl matchups among 12 all-time meetings.
“We are excited about our future football schedules,” director of athletics Scott Woodward said. “Our goal is to win championships, and we will continue to work to supplement our challenging Pac-12 slate with games that are both exciting for our fans and beneficial for our program.”
Along with those additions were three additional changes. Firstly, due to conflicts with its Big Ten Conference schedule, Wisconsin was forced to cancel its two games with the Huskies, previously scheduled for 2018 and 2021.
Injury report from Ft. Collins – transfer running back and another offensive lineman injured
Update … It is being tweeted this morning that Dee Hart was back at practice this morning … some gamesmanship from Coach McElwain, perhaps? …
From the Coloradoan … Two key players went down with ankle injuries during practice Tuesday and another offensive tackle also was lost indefinitely to an injury, CSU coach Jim McElwain said.
Junior running back Dee Hart, a transfer from Alabama who was competing for the starting job, and redshirt freshman receiver Elroy Masters, who was singled out for his strong play following a closed scrimmage Tuesday night, both left practice early with ankle injuries, McElwain said afterward. Jordan Benson, a true freshman offensive linemen, suffered a leg injury.
None of the injuries appeared to be season-ending, McElwain said, but all three players could miss the Aug. 29 season-opener.
Hart ran for 18 yards on three carries in Tuesday’s scrimmage, while Masters caught three passes for 55 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown catch on a pass thrown by true freshman Coleman Key.
Benson is the third offensive linemen sidelined by an injury. Junior-college transfer Jordan Finley will miss at least the first three games while recovering from a knee injury suffered during spring drills that required surgery, while senior Mason Hathaway suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first week of fall camp.