Tag:Mark Asper
Posted on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 5:20 pm
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What we learned this spring in the Pac-12

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Spring time is a time for learning. Ask any coach and you'll hear some derivative of, 'We want to get back to learning the fundamentals' at the beginning of their spring press conference. Now that spring practices have wrapped up for all of the Pac-12 schools though, it's time to figure out what we've learned from them. Here's a few things we've learned about all 12 teams (other than the fact that they're all very rich thanks to the new media deal).

Oregon


What we've learned: The Ducks are still feeling out the offensive line situation, where they have to replace three of the starting five before taking on a top five team in LSU week one. Mark Asper is set at right tackle and Carson York returns at left guard but beyond that it's a few question marks. Expect the battles to start to continue with a few of the incoming freshmen to get a look once fall camp starts. Luckily the Ducks have two Heisman Trophy candidates in the backfield in running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Williams to smooth the transition as they can both hit the hole quickly with their speed. The defense seems set and will likely be better than last year's unit despite losing their leader, linebacker Casey Matthews, to graduation. Oregon still needs some receivers to step up but early enrollee Colt Lyerla figures to be in the mix early on offense.

Stanford

What we've learned: Andrew Luck is good. But everybody already knew that. A few pieces around Luck still need to be ironed out though, namely at receiver and on the opposite side of the ball along the defensive line. By all indications the transition from Jim Harbaugh to new head coach David Shaw went smoothly but practices were closed so there's not a ton we can gleam from the Cardinal's spring. Luck led scoring drives on all three series he was in during the Stanford spring game and that's without running back Tyler Gaffney, who was playing baseball all spring. Having the best quarterback in college football seems to cover up a lot of holes.

Arizona State

What we've learned: The Sun Devils will be donning new uniforms in the fall and on top of looking pretty slick, they'll also be carrying the weight of expectations as the Pac-12 South favorite. Injuries were the story of the spring with starting corner Omar Bolden going down with a torn ACL early last year. He's expected to come back later in the season but that's a big blow on an otherwise solid and upperclassman-laden team. Wide out T.J. Simpson also injured his knee. The offensive line, an area of concern for years in the desert, appears to be at full strength and much improved.

Utah

What we've learned: Lots of injuries to deal with this spring with the Utes, who had several starters miss the spring game or spring all together. Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn was one such player who didn't get a chance to go through practices under new offensive coordinator Norm Chow but he's still expected to be the starter once fall camp opens. There are several players competing at running back and the staff is hopeful after Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo all had a good spring. Palamo becoming the starter is interesting because he's a former ruby player. Utes also seemed to figure out the replacements in the secondary which was something head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted to do.

USC

What we've learned: There's some talent at USC but the depth is... lacking. The Trojans used to be able to stock pile four and five-star talent but it was evident that Lane Kiffin is doing some rebuilding with 49 out of the 85 scholarship players from the past two recruiting classes. That also means this is a young team but there's a lot to build around in quarterback Matt Barkley and wide out Robert Woods. The defense should be better than a year ago as players grow more comfortable with the system. The secondary should be much improved in particular. With 12 players out for spring and many freshmen expected to contribute, USC still has to figure a few things out in the fall.

Arizona

What we've learned: Starting quarterback Nick Foles has a talented group of wide outs but he'll have to get the ball to them quickly. While every coach in the country wants their trigger man to get the ball out quickly, Foles has to do so mainly because he'll have an entirely new offensive line in front of him. At the moment both tackles will be redshirt freshmen who haven't played a game but they looked solid this spring. Both defensive ends (who were very productive) are gone but C.J. Parrish impressed everyone coming off the edge this spring. The secondary seems to be rounding into form and Texas transfer Dan Buckner should be a nice target for Foles.

Cal

What we've learned: The Bears' practices had to be moved off campus due to construction and that's pretty fitting considering that Cal football was, well, under construction this spring. The situation at quarterback seems to be Zach Maynard over Brock Mansion and Allan Bridgeford but none of the three seems to be particularly appealing based on reports. Jim Michalczik is back in Berkeley as offensive coordinator and we'll see what tweaks he makes but Jeff Tedford will be the play caller and quarterbacks coach this year. The defense will likely be the strength of the team, especially along the defensive line.

Oregon State

What we've learned: Not a ton about the team that will take the field in the fall. Quarterback Ryan Katz sat out with a broken bone in his wrist and all-everything athlete James Rodgers is rehabbing from knee surgery and might not make it back in time for the opener. The offensive line returns four of five and needs to play better but there weren't any indications they did so this spring. Terron Ward seems to have emerged as the favorite to replace Jacquizz Rodgers but there are plenty of players in the mix.

UCLA

What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on offense out side of the running back position but at least the defense looks better. Being relatively healthy on defense is nice for the new staff and the defensive line looks like it can provide a nice pass rush. The quarterback battle is on hold until the fall but freshman Brett Hundley showed flashes and if he gets the playbook down, could end up the starter. Injuries along the offensive line were an issue once again.

Washington

What we've learned: Keith Price is the new starter at quarterback and has the task of keeping the Huskies afloat without Jake Locker and several other starters. Chris Polk has looked good at running back and is primed for another good season if he can deal with more defenders in the box. Three starters along the offensive line needed to be replaced and some of the battles will likely continue in fall camp. Early enrollee Austin Seferian-Jenkins made an impression and figures to make an impact on offense at tight end.

Colorado

What we've learned: Everything is new for the conference's newest member. First time head coach Jon Embree takes over the reigns as the program tries to reset after a down couple of years. Tyler Hansen had a good spring in the new pro-style offense and the Buffs have a listed 17 starters coming back overall that gives them some hope this year. There's a bunch of questions on defense as the team moves to a more traditional 4-3 alignment from last year's 3-3-5. The front seven seems to be ok coming out of drills but replacing both corners is still a concern.

Washington State

What we've learned: There are plenty of issues on the Palouse but there's hope this spring. The Cougars are set at quarterback with Jeff Tuel and former starter Marshall Lobbestael and the offensive line seems solid coming out of the spring. The front seven was impressive this spring and should be much improved from last year with a bit of depth Washington State hasn't had. Special teams is a bit of a concern and didn't really get worked out this spring.

Posted on: March 28, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 5:35 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Oregon

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football   we  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Oregon , which starts spring practice on Tuesday.

Spring Practice Question: Can Oregon find replacements on both lines and keep the momentum from last season going?

As disappointing as last season's narrow (and by narrow, we mean just four points) championship game loss was, it also marked an unprecedented level of success for a program that won a conference title for just the eighth time in school history. Now comes the hard part, retooling and reloading for another run at the national championship and the inaugural Pac-12 title.

At the same time he's trying to find answers on the field this spring, head coach Chip Kelly will also have to deal with an ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting services used by the school. It's not often people enjoy watching the big bodies in the trenches work but that might be where you'll find Kelly when he's not putting Lee Corso on a poster board.

Both lines have to replace three starters and it's an even tougher task when you consider who has moved on. Defensive end Kenny Rowe , the Ducks' sack leader, and both defensive tackles are gone, leaving Terrell Turner to lead a group that should feature multiple underclassmen on the two deep. Turner had 32 tackles and two sacks last season but needs to take his game to the next level after showing flashes at times last year. Senior Brandon Hanna should fill the other end spot but junior Dion Jordan could push him for playing time after getting a taste of the position last year after starting his career on offense.

There are several sophomores in the running for the two defensive tackle spots, led by Ricky Heimuli and Taylor Hart . Both turned in very solid debut seasons as freshmen and Oregon coaches are hoping they can go from contributors in a rotation to full-time starters. Sophomore Wade Keliikipi will also make a push but is coming off a year in which he rehabbed a shoulder surgery.

Even of that group, there's no sure-fire starter penciled in at the start of spring drills and part of the reason why everyone has a chance to crack the two-deep. Junior college transfers Isaac Remington (who redshirted last season) and Jared Ebert should be solid contributors in the rotation at tackle but the Ducks will hope they can wrestle one of the starting spots away from the younger players. Highly regarded line coach Jerry Azzinaro will have his hands full this spring but he's excelled with undersized linemen in the past and is finally starting to work with some big bodies thanks to better recruiting so it will be interesting to see what this unit looks like next month.

On the other side of the ball, it might be even more important to sort things out on the offensive line with the season opener against LSU and some mighty SEC defensive tackles looming. Guard Carson York and tackle Mark Asper will be the foundation of the unit and bring much-needed experience to the group with over 20 starts under their belts. Gone is one of the better interior lineman the Ducks have had in center Jordan Holmes , who was a first team All-Pac-10 player last year. Sophomore Karrington Armstrong will likely get first crack at the position and don't be surprised if the former wrestler ends up holding onto the starting spot for several years. Redshirt freshman Hroniss Grasu will compete against Armstrong.

Spring Practice Primers
Darrion Weems will be the left tackle barring injury after starting seven games last year, including the championship game against Auburn . Ramsen Golpashin, Mana Greig and Ryan Clanton will all get a look at right guard with Golpashin likely getting the nod after playing a lot last season. Don't be surprised if the coaches try and set the two-deep for next year during the spring so they can redshirt talented offensive line recruits Andre Yruretagoyena, Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone .

Luckily for all of the starters, they won't have to hold their blocks for long. Quarterback Darron Thomas turned in a fantastic debut season and is one of the best run-pass threats in the country. It wasn't too hard to notice Heisman finalist LaMichael James either, as the speedy running back led the nation in rushing. Backups Kenjon Barner and redshirt freshman Lache Seastrunk are just as quick (if not quicker) than James and figure to be a nice change of pace from fast to faster.

There's plenty of talent on the roster this spring as Oregon looks to figure out the winning combination on both lines to go for an unprecedented third consecutive conference title. If they can plug some holes here and there, the skill position talent should allow the Ducks to aim well beyond another conference title and look to return to the national championship game. Hopefully, Turner and Hanna establish themselves early on and allowing all of the attention to be on the youngsters on the interior defensive line. Three offensive line positions are pretty much set so it's up to a solid group of guys to fill in at guard and tackle this spring. 

Either way you look at it, it's a long road to New Orleans for a trip back to the title game. The first step for Kelly and the Ducks is Tuesday and they'll likely spend it in the trenches.


 
 
 
 
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