Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos talks Utah offense


UCLA defensive coordinator Lou Spanos said this year’s Utah team uses very similar personnel to the 2012 squad that lost 21-14 at the Rose Bowl. One key difference is the maturity of sophomore Travis Wilson, who went from averaging 3.3 rushing yards per game to 62.75 — third-best among conference quarterbacks. Continue reading

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Jim Mora talks about Utah’s offense and Dennis Erickson


Due to the short week of prep leading up to Thursday’s game at Utah, UCLA treated Sunday as it would a usual Tuesday practice. The Bruins had Friday and Saturday off after practicing last week, and moved into game prep for the Utes today.

Jim Mora spoke a bit after Sunday’s session:

– On early impressions of Utah: “They’re tough. They’re physical. They’re disciplined. They play hard all the time. Just like last year. They’re going to play good defense. They’re going to run the ball.”

– The addition of co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson has made Utah’s offense much more dynamic. In 2012, when former Ute quarterback Brian Johnson had sole schematic reins, the team finished with 19 pass plays of at least 25 yards and nine runs of at least 20 yards. Continue reading

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UCLA picked to win Pac-12 South

Here are the full results of the Pac-12 preseason media poll, with first-place votes in parentheses. Few surprises down the line, as Oregon was named both the North Division and conference favorite. UCLA was named the South Division favorite, and also receive three votes as the Pac-12 champion.

South Division
1. UCLA (12) … 130
2. Arizona State (9) … 124
3. USC (4) … 113
4. Arizona … 73
5. Utah … 58
6. Colorado … 27

North Division
1. Oregon (14) … 139
2. Stanford (11) … 134
3. Oregon State … 91
4. Washington … 81
5. Cal … 45
6. Washington State … 32

Pac-12 Champion: Oregon (13 votes)
Others: Stanford (8), UCLA (3)

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Pac-12 links: Utah’s Jordan Loveridge sheds 25 pounds

» Promising Utah forward Jordan Loveridge has dropped 25 pounds since March, spurred in part by his father’s recent diabetes diagnosis. The 6-foot-6 rising sophomore didn’t want his dad to diet alone.

“As close as we are, it’s something that’s made us closer,” Bill Loveridge told the Salt Lake Tribune. “We talked about it once, and then we’ve just kind of gone out and done it.”

» Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will serve one day in jail for his guilty DUI plea. How long should he be suspended?

» Stanford is the only FBS school that employs African-Americans as athletic director, football head coach and men’s basketball head coach. Is that a big deal? David Shaw: “I think it is a story that it’s not a big story. That’s a great story!” Continue reading

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Pac-12′s Top 25 Players: Who was left out?

With the week’s countdown over, here is a rundown of the Pac-12′s top 25 players as voted on by 11 different writers. I also included my ballot on the right side.

Totaled votes My votes
1 Marqise Lee, USC Marqise Lee, USC
2 Anthony Barr, UCLA Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3 Will Sutton, Arizona State Anthony Barr, UCLA
4 Marcus Mariota, Oregon Will Sutton, Arizona State
5 De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
6 Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona Brett Hundley, UCLA
7 David Yankey, Stanford Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
8 Brett Hundley, UCLA Morgan Breslin, USC
9 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington David Yankey, Stanford
10 Morgan Breslin, USC Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
11 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon Ed Reynolds, Stanford
12 Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA Trent Murphy, Stanford
13 Ed Reynolds, Stanford Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
14 Scott Crichton, Oregon State Scott Crichton, Oregon State
15 Shayne Skov, Stanford Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
16 Hroniss Grasu, Oregon Hayes Pullard, USC
17 Trent Murphy, Stanford Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
18 Brandin Cooks, Oregon State Shayne Skov, Stanford
19 Leonard Williams, USC Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
20 Bishop Sankey, Washington Shaq Thompson, Washington
21 Hayes Pullard, USC Deone Buccanon, Washington State
22 Taylor Kelly, Arizona State Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
23 Shaq Thompson, Washington Bishop Sankey, Washington
24 Brendan Bigelow, Cal Paul Richardson, Colorado
25 Silas Redd, USC Eric Kendricks, UCLA

For player bios, see Parts I, II, III, IV and V. The voter list is at the end of Part I.

The per-team tally in the final results: USC 5, Oregon 4, Stanford 4, UCLA 3, Washington 3, Arizona State 2, Oregon State 2, Arizona 1, Cal 1. Washington State, Colorado and Utah were shut out.

Also receiving votes, in descending order: Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: NCAA to announce Oregon resolution Wednesday

» The NCAA will release its findings on Oregon football tomorrow. The Ducks paid a law firm $208,991.48 over a 24-month period as part of their internal investigation into violations.

» Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA is still awaiting potential class-action certification, but it’s already prompted Moody’s to revise the organization’s credit long-term outlook to negative.

» Both the Holiday and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowls will now be tied to the Pac-12 and Big Ten. The Holiday Bowl will pick from the Pac-12 after the Alamo and Rose Bowls; the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will pick after that. The Big Ten did not announce any locks into certain selections. Continue reading

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Bruins steady in latest APR rankings

The NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate reports this morning, which means anyone can go fiddle with the somewhat-cumbersome search engine and figure out which rivals they can mock for their classroom failures. While certainly imperfect, the APR — which factors in eligibility and retention — is still the only college athletics’ only comprehensive academic metric.

Here are the rankings for Pac-12 football, which average out the four academic years through 2011-12:

1. Stanford, 978
2. UCLA, 966
3. Utah, 963
4. Oregon St, 957
5. Arizona, 956
6. Washington, 954
7. Oregon, 951
8. Colorado, 946
9. USC, 945
10. Washington St, 942
11. Arizona St, 937
12. Cal, 935 Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Ed Orgeron berated former player; Arizona adds unique display facemasks

– A USC player from the late 1990s and early 2000s says Ed Orgeron called him a “motherf—-r” for leaving practice 20 minutes early once a week for a statistics class. Best quote: “He M-F’d me all over the place.” Orgeron did not comment.

– These won’t be on the field, but Arizona is getting some unique display-model facemasks — including ones with an A-logo and “Cats” script.

– Stanford released a slick “You Can Play” video, one that features forward Josh Huestis and running back Barry Sanders Jr. Athletic director Bernard Muir opens by setting up chairs for everyone.

– Cal’s speedy but oft-injured tailback Brendan Bigelow has had wheels since he was a kid. The Bears also gave their basketball court a paint job.

– SI’s Andy Staples and former NCAA compliance officer John Infante both break down the problematic nature of the NLI. Continue reading

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UCLA 57, Utah 53: Bruins escape SLC

Ben Howland said last week that UCLA that opponents kept missing open layups, something he’d like as a continued trend. Against Utah Thursday night, the Bruins were helped to a 57-53 road win by some inexplicable 3-point bricks.

Glen Dean took two wide open 3-pointers at 2:02 and 1:41 — allowing the UCLA bench to breathe after watching the team surrender two offensive boards. Howland had said this week that the team would lose if it couldn’t box out effectively, something that has been one of the young squad’s biggest holes.

“They missed some wide open shots late,” Howland said. “Dean missed two wide open shots by the grace of God. I was really happy to escape this place.”

The positives are that the Bruins entered a rough environment and survived. The Huntsman Center was packed with a season-high attendance of 9,510, well above Utah’s home average of 7,380. The increase may be something UCLA should learn to expect: even as they remain a flawed team, the Bruins are an entertaining team and a marquee program.

A close win against the gritty Utes also isn’t necessarily cause for alarm; they’ve now lost three conference games by a combined eight points. Continue reading

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