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Tue., Sept. 1, 2009, 5:43 p.m.

New quarterbacks abound in Pac-10


COUGARS

Tomorrow's S-R story is our Pac-10 roundup. We look at the new quarterbacks popping up all over the conference this week. Plus we have our game of the week. Read on for the unedited version.
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• Here's the story …

PULLMAN – Let's see. UCLA once postponed a game because of a hurricane. Now the Bruins might have to do it again thanks to a wildfire. Didn't James Taylor sing about fire and rain once?

Thankfully, according to UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, it looks like the Bruins will be able to open the season Saturday in the Rose Bowl after all.

Though Neuheisel understands the perils of those affected by the fires raging through the Angeles National Forest, and the subsequent air-quality problems.

"We are mindful of all the work being done to put out these fires," Neuheisel said Tuesday. "Our thoughts go out to all the people involved there. ... Hopefully we'll get a chance to play this weekend but we'll wait for the experts to decide."

With the chance of a postponement receding, Neuheisel can now join about seven other Pac-10 coaches in worrying about their quarterback spot.

See, the conference of quarterbacks has become the conference of who's that quarterback. Eight schools, including UCLA, have gone through a preseason quarterback competition. Only Oregon (Jeremiah Masoli) and Washington (Jake Locker) were immune.

The winners have ranged from a true freshman (USC's Matt Barkley, who leapfrogged sophomore Aaron Corp after the latter was injured) to grizzled veterans (Oregon State's Sean Canfield, replacing last year's starter Lyle Moevao as the latter returns from arm troubles, and Cal's Kevin Riley).

There's a redshirt freshman who hasn't taken a snap in two years (UCLA's Kevin Prince) and a senior who is getting his first shot (ASU's Danny Sullivan).

And there are two schools who decided not to make a decision yet, Washington State (with Kevin Lopina starting but Marshall Lobbestael slated to play) and Arizona (still deciding between Matt Scott and Nick Foles).

"It's gone a little bit back and forth," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. "When we think we have it figured out, the other guy comes on and has a big day."

So is it tougher for a new quarterback these days?

Neuheisel, who waited on the UCLA bench for years before finally getting a chance to start at quarterback, believes it is.

"So much is going into offenses that, once you've decided the guy who is going to be your starter, he gets coached a lot more than the other guys," he said. "Because of that, sometimes the other guys don't improve over the course of a year. Basically they just end up sitting and waiting for coaching to begin again once spring ball gets around.

"You don't get a development program ... instead you just see the starter getting better."

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Game of the Week

No. 14 Oregon (10-3, 7-2 in Pac-10 last season) at No. 16 Boise State (12-1, 8-0 in Western Athletic Conference)

7:15 p.m., Thursday; ESPN

Where to start? How about the revenge factor, as the Broncos went into Autzen Stadium last season and upset Oregon 37-32, knocking our Duck quarterback Jeremiah Masoli with a late hit in the process. Or should we bring up the fact this is Chip Kelly's first game as Oregon coach? Even without those elements, this would be a great game pitting one team with Pac-10 title aspirations and another that feels it was overlooked by the BCS last year when it was perfect in the regular season. Add it national television on Boise's blue turf and this is a great way to open the season.

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• That's it for now. But we're not done. Not even close. We have a lot of stuff to get to about WSU. We're working on our blog post which summarizes Paul Wulff's comments from the day, a look at today's practice and finally, some more from around the conference. We'll be back around 7 p.m. Until then …




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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