Five questions on Colorado with the Daily Camera’s Brian Howell

This is not the way Colorado was supposed to be. With a stacked group of receivers, a 1,000-yard running back and a young, new quarterback, it was the offense that was expected to carry the Buffaloes. Instead, the depleted defense reloaded and picked right where it left off while the offense has sputtered. The Daily Camera’s Brian Howell answered a few questions on why the Buffaloes are living in backwards world, Phillip Lindsay and Isaiah Oliver

For more on Colorado, visit the Daily Camera’s BuffZone here.

1. The Colorado offense was supposed to be the strength of this team, but its ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring and total offense after four games. What is holding the Buffaloes back?

Teams often talk about the “little things” holding them back, and it’s really true with Colorado. Whether it’s been turnovers, penalties, drops or missed assignments, the Buffs have had a lot of different things put an end to drives. They’ve had 13 possessions end in opponent territory without any points, five of them ending in turnovers (four interceptions). The Buffs also have a young QB in Steven Montez, who is just seven starts into his career. He, and the offense as a whole, are going through some growing pains with him. Continue reading “Five questions on Colorado with the Daily Camera’s Brian Howell” »

Five questions: The Commercial Appeal’s Tom Schad on Memphis

Memphis had its Week 2 game at Central Florida canceled due to Hurricane Irma, so the Tigers are an unproven team with a potentially potent offense hoping to take advantage of a struggling, injury-riddled UCLA defense. The Commercial Appeal’s Tom Schad answered a few questions about Memphis’ offense, its own problem with a targeting suspension and the how the team will respond to three early injuries.  

For more on Memphis, visit The Commercial Appeal here.

1. What was the feeling around the program heading the second year with head coach Mike Norvell?

There’s been a lot of excitement throughout the program — and the city — over the past eight months or so, due in large part to a few happenings in January and February. Star wide receiver Anthony Miller and all-conference linebacker Genard Avery both elected to return to school for their senior seasons after flirting with the NFL. And Norvell’s first full recruiting class (he was hired less than two months before National Signing Day the year before) was one of the highest-rated classes in program history, including three Rivals four-star recruits. All that, plus an 8-5 finish in what was expected to be a transition year in 2016, has created a lot of optimism and excitement in 2017. Continue reading “Five questions: The Commercial Appeal’s Tom Schad on Memphis” »

Five questions: The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai on Hawai’i

Hawai’i is coming off its first bowl win since 2006 and finished last season at 7-7. Now the Rainbow Warriors are hoping to push their record to the winning side for the first time since 2010 under second-year head coach Nick Rolovich. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai answered a few questions on the program’s next step, its rebuilding defense and its offensive weapons.

For more on Hawai’i, visit Stephen’s blog here.

1. Heading into the second year under Nick Rolovich, what were the biggest points of emphasis to help the program take the next step?

In a team meeting soon after being hired in November 2015, Rolovich was startled by what he termed the “emptiness in the players’ eyes.” He believe they had been worn down by five consecutive losing seasons. He worked on building team morale (players passed out schedule cards at Costco, an elaborate coaches-vs.-players water balloon fight was staged) and changing the team culture. This year, the focus has been on empowering the players to take ownership of the team. The players chose their 14-player leadership council, their four co-captains, and have a say in planning activities and discipline. Continue reading “Five questions: The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai on Hawai’i” »

Five questions: The Oregonian’s Gina Mizell on Oregon State

Oregon State is in its second year under Gary Andersen and has started to take steps forward. In a sentiment that many UCLA fans are familiar with, the Beavers say they’re “close” to a breakthrough. The Oregonian’s Gina Mizell answered a few questions about OSU, its quarterback carousel and what a successful year might look like in Corvallis.

1. What were the expectations for a successful year for Oregon State at the beginning of the season and how far away are the Beavers from those expectations?

I actually wrote about that exact topic — how the Beavers would define success in Year 2 of Andersen’s rebuild — before the season and got a variety of answers from players and coaches. Of course, wins and losses are the ultimate indicator, but this season was also going to be about progress after Andersen brought a new offensive and defensive scheme to Corvallis when he was hired and has been revamping the culture. I projected this team to go 3-9, with wins against Idaho State, Cal and Arizona and multiple close games. So far that’s played out, and I think most reasonable fans would have projected something similar. But now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Beavers won two out of their last three, which would be a nice springboard into 2017. This team is clearly better than last season, though I think the biggest disappointment is that the offense — particularly, the passing game — has been poor again this season. Continue reading “Five questions: The Oregonian’s Gina Mizell on Oregon State” »

Five questions: The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kyle Goon on Utah

Utah enters this Saturday’s matchup with UCLA as the co-leader in the Pac-12 South, but the Utes have a tough schedule ahead and several key injuries weighing them down. At the beginning of the season, this game looked like one that would be a key factor in deciding the Pac-12 South champion. Now the Bruins need it to just stay in the hunt. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kyle Goon answered some questions about the Utes, their growing injury report and their impressive new punter.

1. Injuries have marred Utah’s season, yet the Utes are still tied for first in the Pac-12 South. How have they been able to get by and how long will it last? 

It’s been a bit of a circus. The Cal game was the ultimate low, as four key starters were either missing or got injured during the game, and it probably changed the complexion of the match-up — Utah’s only loss of the year. If healthy, it’s reasonable to believe that Utah would be 7-0 so far (they were 1 yard shy of beating Cal). At running back, they’ve gone from a young core to the running back that retired when his starting status appeared to be threatened (see below), and they’re on their fourth center since spring. The defense has been healthier in general, until last week when they lost the free safety and middle linebacker against the Beavers. It’s awfully precarious. I think most observers believe that Utah could be out of the South running if the current injured players miss a lot of time, and ESPN’s FPI ranks them as the fourth-best team in the South. The schedule is backloaded: After UCLA, Utah still has to face Washington, Arizona State, Oregon and Colorado. Continue reading “Five questions: The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kyle Goon on Utah” »