Star powerBarkley isn’t the only Pac-12 player who could be in an NFL training camp this week. Star Lotulelei, Utah’s hulking defensive tackle, is projected by some draftniks as a possible top-10 pick in 2013. So it’s a little hard to believe the 6-foot-4, 325-pound senior when he says he didn’t think he was ready for the league this year. “My decision for coming back – I talked it over with my family – we decided it was the best thing for me, because I didn’t feel like I was ready to take the next step yet,” Lotulelei said. “There are still a lot of things I need to work on as a football player. As far as knowing (which round) I would go, I didn’t ask. I had my decision made, and that’s what I went with.” He’ll anchor a Utah defense that could be one of the most physical in the conference. The Utes were picked by the media to finish second in the Pac-12 South.
He’s got a pointMuch has been made of Washington’s brutal schedule during the first half of the season, the worst stretch being back-to-back games against USC and Oregon on Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. UW coach Steve Sarkisian was asked who he may have, ahem, “upset” in the league office for the schedule to fall that way. “I don’t know,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe ran a score up too much back in the day (while coaching at USC) or something.” The biggest question mark facing the Huskies this season is whether they can improve upon a defense that was last seen allowing 67 points to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl. With their defensive coaching staff replaced – led by new coordinator Justin Wilcox – Sarkisian thinks considerable improvement is attainable. “I think it can be dramatically improved, and I go back to one instance in our own conference when Dwayne Walker came to UCLA,” Sarkisian said. “And I feel something very similar with us. We have more talent on our defense than we have been given credit for.”
Network plansGary Stevenson, president of Pac-12 Enterprises, announced some of the Pac-12 Networks’ plans for mid-week programming this season. Stevenson said programming will include 30-minute preview shows for each Pac-12 team, a show called “Pac-12 Football Encore” that will replay the top 10 moments of the 2011 season, replays of all 79 Pac-12 home games in a 60-minute format, a conference-wide coaches’ show called “Pac-12 Playbook,” a Sunday-night rewind of the weekend’s action, as well as coverage of the NFL draft and National Letter of Intent signing day.
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