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Chaos and disarray reign supreme in the “Conference of Champions.” Utah beats Stanford, Arizona beats Utah. Cats and birds living together in perfect harmony. Is nothing sacred? For those of us who bristle at the idea of change and want our porridge to taste exactly the same every morning there is always old reliable Oregon to take solace in. Actually, Cal is pretty reliable as well. Everything in between, however, is a lawless anarchy. Bring order to your universe with our power rankings for week 9.…
The Pac-12 conference is having a very good year … But who is best? More importantly, who is the second best? Third? … There's going to be fancy, new hotel soon in Pullman … WSU Athletics has a spotlight on kicker Andrew Furney … The effects of ASU's controversial win over Wisconsin are still being felt … A Sun Devil specialist received an honor for his work against Washington.
More from around the conference after the jump.
From Pullman—The Pac-12 coaches had their Tuesday teleconference today. Since the Cougars are taking a bye-week break this was our only opportunity to speak with coach Mike Leach until Thursday's practice. Continue reading for a transcript of what Leach had to say:
From Pullman—Following a hectic week both in the Pac-12 and around the country, the Pac-12 has made a clear case for the arugment that it is the nation's deepest conference. However, according a Las Vegas insider says that its the toughest at the top as well.
The saga of Oregon assistant Nick Aliotti — who made disparaging remarks about WSU coach Mike Leach following UO's 62-38 victory — continues. Aliotti made a public apology, to which Leach responded. WSU athletic director Bill Moos had some remarks as well. In the end, Aliotti was fined by the conference despite the apology. Was Aliotti's greatest strength his downfall?
From Pullman — Things certainly could have gone worse against the Ducks. The Cougars put up more first-half points on Oregon than any other team this year, and the defense made quarterback Marcus Mariota look human, if only briefly. Still, only a pair of late-game touchdowns kept the Ducks from winning by nearly 40 and WSU's turnover problem isn't getting any better. Follow the jump for this week's unit grades.
From Pullman—Well, the Cougars have finally made it to the bye week and with just four games left they need to make the most of it … The Oregon assistant who blasted WSU coach Mike Leach yesterday has apologized for his remarks … While the team was in Eugene, the tower crane above the developing football operations building was removed. This reporter, for one, will miss it … Interestingly, teams that break passing records — as WSU did on Saturday — often lose — as WSU did on Saturday.
Also of note was the passing of legendary Washington coach Don James. The College Football Hall of Fame coach was fondly remembered by Jim Walden, who was often his rival.
Links from around the conference after the jump.
From The Heavens — David's shot missed its mark last night and Goliath, Oregon, pummeled the Cougs in a 62-38 victory. It was a dishonorable defeat for WSU, according to an Oregon assistant, who was apparently miffed at the insubordination the Cougars showed by not spending the fourth quarter having quarterback Connor Halliday kneel down to run out the clock while the rest of the team applauded the Ducks in awestruck wonder. The nerve.
Granted, WSU kept its pedal to the metal throughout the game, even though not much went right when they did. It was a sloppy game for both teams, and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota coughed up his first two turnovers of the year.
From Eugene—Lots of good college football today and what better way to prepare yourself than by reading the advances from all the Pac-12 beat writers? What's that? You have three TVs, a keg of ginger ale and those amazing chips that are scientifically engineered for optimal scoop capacity? Ok, that does sound better.
Here are some links, anyways.
From San Francisco — It's that time again. The coffee is brewing, the birds are chirping and there's a new set of links for you to peruse. The kids are still asleep, and this solitary hour is for you to treasure. I won't keep you.
Yesterday was Pac-12's Basketball media day. The conference is expected to be much improved, even if the Cougars aren't … The football team is traveling down to Eugene to face the juggernaut that is Oregon … The Ducks have found a way to introduce a new helmet that isn't obnoxious … Oregon's coach isn't overlooking WSU … Nobody panic, the Ducks have another budding superstar … A penchant for interceptions may not be WSU quarterback Connor Halliday's biggest problem.
How was that? Getting settled in? Immerse yourself, after the jump.
From San Francisco —Well, we came back down to earth a little bit this week. But really, if you’re a Utah fan, you don’t mind losing a little money for a victory like that. Lots of big games in the conference this week and at least a couple of them will have major implications for the conference standings. UCLA and Stanford will battle for the right to be second best, and Washington will look to prove it’s ready for primetime against ASU.
USC and Notre Dame are each having subpar seasons but can turn it around with a rivalry win. Here’s how I think things will shake out:
From San Francisco — The city by the bay has been taken over by Pac-12 basketball players, coaches and scribes. Back in Pullman, the football team is getting ready to face the No. 2 Ducks, and here is a nice summary of today's practice … Oregon is hoping the Cougars make plenty of mistakes in the passing game … But WSU is going to win, obviously … The NFL is starting to notice Oregon's stellar quarterback.
Continue reading for more links.
From Pullman—By the time you read this, I'll be pulling into SeaTac airport, en route to San Francisco for Pac-12 Basketball Media Day. While that means no more practice reports this week, it will also mean a flurry of basketball news, so stay tuned for that.
As for yesterday's practice, coach Mike Leach announced after practice that freshman cornerback Alex Jackson has been suspended indefinitely. Jackson has played sparingly this year, although he did return a pair of kickoffs against Stanford.
Also absent from practice was wide receiver Kristoff Williams, although Leach said that he remains in good standing with the team. Linebacker Feddie Davey was limited in practice, and linebackers coach Ken Wilson confirmed that he is nursing some minor injuries. Wilson also said that he expects the injured Peyton Pelluer back at practice this week.
On scout team the Cougars had receiver Drew Loftus taking snaps at quarterback, presumably an attempt to replicate the speed of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Now let's get to those links:
From Pullman –After laying dormant the past few weeks, the Pac-12’s depth asserted itself this week. One of the conference’s made men was iced by an underling, and some middle tier teams emphasized their superiority over the bottom feeders. It’s pretty obvious who the king of the hill is, and who is destined to remain at the bottom of the heap. But there are a number of teams scrambling over each other to get to the top, and it’s anyone’s guess how they stack up. What is clear: The Pac-12 is an exceptionally deep conference.
The Washington State football team has quite a challenge this week, traveling to face Oregon in unfriendly Autzen Stadium. The Ducks lead the conference in both passing and rushing, and have a fearsome defense. That means the Cougars won’t have any time to sulk over their disheartening loss to OSU on Saturday. But CougCenter gives us a look back at that game. Here’s our first look at that game.
In case you missed it, we tried out a new feature on the blog yesterday … And Ken Goe had a controversial column about Cougar coach Mike Leach … De’Anthony Thomas may not have practiced on Monday, but still hopes to play against WSU … Marcus Mariota is getting a lot of well-deserved praise, and handling it well … Greg Bishop of the New York Times has a good read on the Ducks.
Continue reading for more links from around the conference.
Having now watched the Pac-12 Network’s replay of the game (and having attended, of course) I’d like to introduce this new feature to the blog. The hope is that by analyzing individual position groups we can get a better idea of what this WSU team really looks like. What are the team’s strengths, who is getting better and who is mired in a slump?
Without further adieu, grades after the jump.
There are some technical issues on WSU's side embedding the Mike Leach video, but you can find it here.
Washington State postponed its Sunday night football practice until 9 p.m., but didn't officially get started until 10 p.m. That was when the coaches and a number of starting players arrived at Martin Stadium. Most of the team arrived at 9 p.m. and participated in drills that were overseen by graduate assistants. Once everyone was accounted for the practice lasted around 40 minutes.
Unofficially, the players that arrived at 10 were:
Offense: Quarterback Connor Halliday, receiver Gabe Marks, running back Marcus Mason, center Elliott Bosch, offensive tackle John Fullington, offensive lineman Joe Dahl, offensive tackle Gunnar Eklund and receiver Kristoff Williams.
Defense: Linebacker Darryl Monroe, linebacker Justin Sagote, safety Deone Bucannon, cornerback Damante Horton, defensive linemen Xavier Cooper, Toni Pole and Ioane Gauta.
Practicing at cornerback was Nolan Washington, who warmed up with the wide receivers before Saturday's game.
After practice we had our first chance to speak with defensive coordinator Mike Breske since the OSU game. More on that after the jump.
Oregon State used a 35-0 run to put the Cougars to bed last night, here's our story from the game … And here's the notebook … Josh Wright joined us in the press box and has an excellent sidebar on OSU receiver Brandin Cooks …
But there were other games played on Saturday, too. Read on for links from around the conference.
S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the WSU home game against Oregon State. Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.
Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.
Saturday is finally here and the Cougars are about to take on Oregon State in a matchup between Pacific Northwest rivals. Don't forget to jump in to our live chat at 6:30 p.m.
Some grim news for the baskteball team as a key player has left the program … but the men's and women's teams still put on a show Friday night … WSU players and coaches won't admit it but Saturday's game is a pretty big deal … What will WSU need to do to win? … Expect a lot of passes.
Happy Friday, everyone. USC's 38-31 victory over Arizona last night was a fun start to what should be a great weekend of football in the Pac-12. Prepare yourself for your Saturday sports binge by scouring these links.
Here's my Pac-12 picks, so far I'm off to a decent start … WSU's Kalifitoni Pole is coming into his own … In case you missed it, here's our recap from Thursday Night Football … Expect OSU to use a lot of sub packages on defense … OSU's offensive line is almost back to normal.
Links from around the conference below.
It was a forgettable day for WSU's young quarterbacks during their weekly scrimmage. The full-contact event is a chance young players to showcase their stuff, and after a very good showing last week, freshman QB Tyler Bruggman and co. were less than their best today.
Bruggman finished the day 7-of-14 and was picked off by redshirt freshman safety David Bucannon. Luke Falk fared little better, going 5-of-8 and suffering a sack that was sandwhiched by three incompletions. Connor Ennis scored the offense's lone touchdown on a 20-yard strike to Daniel Lilienthal, who took it in for the score.
But it was a banner day for the defense, which had a number of standout performers. Nate Derider sacked Ennis of the first play of the series, and followed it up with a nice pass breakup. Jeremiah Allison was active on defense, and the younger Bucannon showed great range. Jeff Waldner forced Bruggman into a bad throw with some immediate pressure, and Nathan Hundeby showed great reaction time to drop John Thompson behind the line of scrimmage on a quick pass.
After practice we spoke with defensive coordinator Mike Breske and offensive line coach Clay McGuire to get their thoughts on the scrimmage.
It's Must Win Week in the Pac-12. A number of teams are playing do-or-die games. WSU against OSU has the feeling of a game that will determine whether or not each teams season is good or mediocre. UW has it's best chance in years to knock off Oregon, and on College Gameday no less. Arizona needs a bounce back win against USC, but who knows how the Trojans will respond to the recent coaching change? Is Utah legit? They've got a chance to prove it against Stanford.
More links from around the conference after the jump.