BlogPoll: Week 3 Ballot

Here’s our latest ballot for the SB Nation BlogPoll. Lots of movement based on lots of comparative assumptions; next couple weeks will help figure a lot out, for now it’s a lot of speculating based on a whopping two results for everyone. The one big trend we can call out — with every additional quarter of football, we’re getting higher and higher on Oregon. That offense looks like a serious force to be reckoned with, Masoli be damned.

You know the drill: let us know in the comments which ones we got wrong.

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BlogPoll: Preseason (Week 1) Ballot

TrojanWire is proud to be back in the BlogPoll for 2010. As part of this weekly ritual, we’ll be posting our ballot every Monday, and giving you the chance to provide your input. Then on Wednesday morning, we’ll cast a ballot that represents the views of the entire TrojanWire readership.

That being said, this first one comes without your input — yet. This is your chance, tell us what we got right/wrong in the comments below.

Trojan Links

Here is a Monday round-up of all things Troy from the past week or so:

New AD Pat Haden was the star of the week.

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My 10 Favorite Players to Watch in College Football

This list isn’t necessarily made of up the best players in college football–though some are very good to great–but the ones that I get the most fun out of watching.

I try to see 15-20 games every Saturday, but when these players flash on the screen, my eyes tend to linger a little longer.

B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida–Daniels is still a work in progress in the passing game and therefore he relies a lot on his legs to get him out of trouble.  He is a creative runner who drives defenses crazy since he can transform almost any broken play into a positive gain.  Every play is an adventure, which makes him really fun to watch.

Tate Forcier, QB, Michigan–His play reminds me of those old NFL film archives of Fran Tarkenton when he was with the Giants.  You just know something amazing can happen with every snap.  It’s rare to see a true freshman with such nerves of steel in crunch time, but that’s what Forcier showed last year.  Looking forward to the rest of his career.

Ricky Dobbs, QB, Navy–When the option is executed well, it’s such a joy to behold.  Dobbs does it as well as anyone and he rolled to an amazing 27 touchdowns last year.  His effort against Ohio State alone earned him my respect for his talents.

Jeff Demps, RB, Florida–There’s nothing like seeing a true breakaway back in action.  Knowing that Demps could take it the distance at any time means you hold your breath every time he gets the ball.  Watching him break defensive pursuit angles with his speed never gets old.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State–For those who didn’t get enough of Vince Young a few years ago, there is still Pryor to follow.  Part of the interest in observing him, besides his obvious talents, is the ongoing process of seeing him develop into the dominant player we all know he can be.

Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor–It’s rare to see such an athletic specimen playing quarterback.  Griffin shines at the most difficult running event in track and field–the 400 meter hurdles.  The way he plays football, it’s almost like it’s a piece of cake for him by comparison.

James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State–Will Oregon State ever be the same without the Rodgers brothers?  As good as Jacquizz is, James is the do-it-all guy who can beat you so many ways.  He’s an innate football player with great speed and toughness for his size.

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia–The reason Thursday nights are so much fun.  I think we all tune in to see if he can duplicate those ridiculous runs we saw on YouTube so many years ago.  Plus, as with Rodgers above, it’s fun to see such a little guy making big people look so silly.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada–His play conjurs up visions of a runaway giraffe.  Seeing a lanky 6-6 guy glide through defenses can be mystifying at times.  It looks like he could traverse the length of the field in less than 10 strides.

Tyler Sash, S, Iowa–The only defensive player on this list seems to be all over the field for the Hawkeyes.  He had 203 returns yards on six interceptions, 85 tackles (5.5 for losses), forced two fumbles, broke up six passes and scored a touchdown on a returned pick. Television is biased towards offense, but Sash will not be denied–he makes his presence known!

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Top 10 Running Backs for 2010

HP’s preview of the 2010 season continues with a look at the top 10 running backs.  See the top 10 receivers here and the top 10 tight ends here.

1. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech–It looks to me like Williams is the complete package.  He’s got size, speed, vision, toughness and a nose for the end zone.  He put up 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Hokies as a 2009 redshirt freshman.  He also caught 16 passes, including one for a score.  He played very well against good competition–71 yards, 5.5 ypc and 2 TDs in his debut vs. Alabama, 107 yards against Nebraska–and I expect him to keep improving in 2010 and possibly become a Heisman candidate.  I think there is a wide gap between him and teammate Darren Evans (talent-wise), so I do not expect for him to lose much in the way of production due to sharing carries.

2. Noel Devine, West Virginia–The most electrifying back in college football, the smurf-like Devine used his amazing speed and cutting ability to notch 1,465 yards and 13 scores on the ground in 2009.  He also caught 22 passes, including one touchdown reception.  His coach has expressed a desire to get him more carries as a senior and I think this will result in a monster season.  His only weakness is a lack of real power–he goes down fairly easily most of the time–but he’s in a perfect system to highlight his superb abilities in space.  Outside of Florida’s Jeff Demps, he might have the best breakaway speed of any back out there.

3. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State–The diminutive Rodgers can do it all.  He piled up 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground last year, while also catching 78 passes for 522 yards and a score.  Oh, and he threw a touchdown pass, too.  He’s a legitimate Heisman candidate who is primed to break a bunch of Pac-10 records before he’s through with his career.  Not a burner, but as consistent and versatile as they come and a relentless competitor.

4. Donald Buckram, UTEP–A top-notch talent stuck on a bad team, Buckram has great speed to go with outstanding vision.  If he were on a major power, he’d be a Heisman candidate.  Last year, he rushed for 1,594 yards and 18 touchdowns and added another three scores on 30 catches for 453 yards.  Look for bigger and better in 2010.

5. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State–Not many people know about this guy, but I don’t think that will be the case after the 2010 season.  Thomas is perhaps the nation’s premier power back, but he’s not just a bulldozer out there as he is also fairly athletic and skilled.  Last year was his first year playing tailback and he responded with 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 25 balls.  He is really, really tough to bring down.  I predict a huge senior season for him and a bright NFL future.

6. LaMichael James, Oregon–James will sit out the first game due to suspension, but that won’t stop him from having another outstanding season.  As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he rushed for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging nearly seven yards per carry.  Like Rodgers, he is built very low to the ground, but he is more explosive in the open field and has the ability to take it downtown.  If he gets his head on straight, he’ll have another highly-productive campaign.

7. Trent Richardson, Alabama–How often do you see a backup cutting into a returning Heisman winner’s playing time?  The talent oozing from this kid is too much for Alabama’s coaches to ignore, which is why the Tide will basically feature a two-headed tailback in 2010.   Richardson rushed for 751 yards and eight scores as a true frosh and will top the 1,000-yard mark as a sophomore.

8. Mark Ingram, Alabama–The returning Heisman winner probably won’t duplicate the season he had in 2009, when he put up 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground while also catching 32 passes for 334 yards and three more scores.  But when you have the nation’s best feet in traffic and a never-say-die motor, you will still put up good numbers.  Look for two 1,000-yard rushers ‘from Bama this year.

9. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh–Lewis was amazing as a true freshman in 2009, rushing for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns.  He also caught 25 passes for 189 yards and a score.  Like others on this list, he is a squat, low-to-the-ground runner blessed with exceptional vision and toughness but lacking exceptional speed in the open field.   Still a highly productive back with an illustrious career ahead of him.

10. Michael Dyer, Auburn–I thought I’d go out on a limb for this pick and tab Dyer as the nation’s top freshman back.  He’s a short, stubby runner with tremendous balance and forward lean.  He keeps his legs moving and has a nice burst getting to the second level.  Not a threat to take it the distance every time, but he’ll break plenty of runs and get nice yardage in Gus Malzahn’s scheme.

Honorable Mention: Washaun Ealey, Georgia; John Clay, Wisconsin; Christine Michael, Texas A&M; Armando Allen, Notre Dame; Lache Seastrunk, Oregon; Evan Royster, Penn State; Chris Polk, Washington; Tre Newton, Texas; Jeff Demps, Florida; Jermaine Thomas, Florida State.

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NCAA: Open Season to Pick the Carcass

Another clarification today in just how bad the NCAA wants to screw USC. Prison screw.

The NCAA has clarified that it will currently allow other teams to contact USC juniors and seniors in attempts to recruit them away from the Trojans. Furthermore, it will allow the other teams to waive the typical transfer year of ineligibility so the players can get on the field THIS SEASON! That means Oregon could call Mitch Mustain today and offer him Masoli’s quarterback position with promise of immediate play. Don’t you think that would be enticing? What about CJ Gable and Marc Tyler? I wouldn’t be surprised if Gable wants to use his last year of eligibility to prove he’s NFL worthy, or if Tyler finally wants the chance to get the major playing time he wasn’t able to earn at USC.

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Football weekender info

If you’re going on the road this year to watch the Trojan football team play, here is the official information from the USC Alumni Association about the 2010 USC Football Weekenders.

Included are details about the alumni host hotels (with special USC rates), pep rallies and other events surrounding each game.

USC’s 2010 road schedule:  Sept. 2 at Hawaii, Sept. 18 at Minnesota, Sept. 25 at Washington State, Oct. 9 at Stanford, Nov. 13 at Arizona and Nov. 20 at Oregon State.  The Dec. 4 game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl isn’t included among the weekender info because it’s basically in town.

Dispatch from Galen: Wear Twins Transferring, Polee Recruiting Follow-up, & Other Hoops Notes

Could the Wear twins follow the path of Alex Stepheson, who left North Carolina to return to Los Angeles to play USC? (Photo Credit: Dailyme.com)

Could the Wear twins follow the path of Alex Stepheson, who left North Carolina to return to Los Angeles to play USC? (Photo Credit: Dailyme.com)

I figured since most of the “big shot” bloggers had cool, witty names for their columns and articles, I might try and pretend to be in their exclusive fraternity by dubbing this USC Basketball News & Notes piece – “Dispatch from Galen.” One, it sounds cool. Two, dispatch is an underrated word (yes, I’m nerdy enough to call words overrated or underrated). And three, references to Galen are tight. So, if you combine these elements, you have a pretty trendy title. So, even in the midst of a painfully slow offseason here for Kevin O’Neill and company, we got some USC/College Basketball tidbits that you might want to keep in mind.

For one, the biggest shakeup in the Southern California college hoops scene is the expected transferring of twin North Carolina forwards Davis and Travis Wear. The Wears, Orange County natives who played high school basketball at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, may be looking to return to the west coast much like former North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, who ended up at USC. From the Los Angeles Times

David and Travis Wear, twin forwards who helped Santa Ana Mater Dei High win two state championships, are transferring from North Carolina and are expected to draw significant interest from UCLA.

The Wears, who are both 6 feet 10, will have three years of remaining eligibility. Both strongly considered UCLA and Arizona out of high school before signing with the Tar Heels.

North Carolina announced Thursday the Wears would transfer. Their father, David Sr., said he could not comment on potential landing places for his sons until North Carolina filed paperwork officially releasing them from their scholarships, but he added, “I would imagine UCLA would be interested.”

There’s no question that UCLA should be the favorite to land the twins. Historically speaking, there is no question that the Bruins are the premier college basketball program in the Pac-10, and when it comes to the tradition between the two schools, USC pales in comparison. But when it comes to recent results, there is a very small gap that exists between the two programs. The Trojans have posted three consecutive wins over the Bruins, who are also coming off just their third losing season since 1948. For two players who are citing “geographic reasons” for leaving North Carolina, they have to be considering ‘SC – at least on some level. After all, it’s important to note, that when they were actually considering committing to Arizona a few years back, Kevin O’Neill was the interim coach of the Wildcats. 

I have no problem with calling the Bruins the favorites to land the Wear twins, but at the same, there’s no reason to think that O’Neill and the Trojans don’t have the guns to haul in two big fish like the Wears as well. 

Even still, there are some doubts regarding what kind of impact the they can make, as the Mater Dei products had less than stellar first seasons in Chapel Hill. 

Travis, who weighs 235 pounds, averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 32 games for the Tar Heels last season. David, who weighs 225, averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds but missed the last five games with a hip injury. He should be 100% healthy in another month, his father indicated.

To make matters more complicated, it doesn’t appear as if the North Carolina faithful were exactly clamoring to keep them around on Tobacco Road. From the message board over at WeAreSC.com:

I am a recent Carolina graduate who will be attending USC for Graduate school in the fall and trust me you do not want them. This entire season they have shown a lack of post skills. They play like two over-sized, under-skilled small forwards, which makes them essentially useless. They’re too big to guard smaller players but lack the ability to post up big ones.  Essentially, all they could do at UNC was rebound and shoot 15-footers.

Nonetheless, could USC afford to not actively pursue two 6’10″ big men with the ability to rebound and knock down 15-foot jump shots? Absolutely not. I don’t see why a rocky start should or would be any deterrent for O’Neill’s staff. Not every freshman has a banner year in his first season at a school.

Remaining on the topic of recruiting, former Trojan commit Dwayne Polee Jr. finally decided where he will be attending college, as the LA native will reportedly sign with St. John’s in the coming days. (On a side note, the combination of a former Trojan commit playing for Steve Lavin has to make him absolutely despised in Westwood.) From ZagsBlog.com:

New St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has landed his first recruit since taking over the Big East program.

Dwayne Poleean athletic 6-foot-7 wing from Los Angeles Westchester High School, chose the Johnnies over Georgia and Oregon, which he visited last weekend.

“Yes,” he wrote via text on Thursday. “It’s somewhere where I can focus on school and basketball.”

Described as “the best dunker in high school basketball,” Polee averaged 21 points and 8 rebounds last season when he led Westchester to the state championship. The Los Angeles Times named him City Player of the Year.

Polee is certainly a talented player who would have been a big addition at any school. But frankly, I’m a little surprised he chose to go to a school in the Big East. For one, it’s considered to be the premier conference in college hoops, and as a result, there are some doubts as to whether he can be a big-time star, which would have been a more likely occurrence in either the SEC at Georgia or in the Pac-10 at Oregon. But even still, I like to think I speak for all ‘SC fans when I wish him the best with Lavin and company. His future is still bright nonetheless.

In the meanwhile, as this long offseason continues, I’d like to also point out that both Kevin O’Neill and Lane Kiffin will be making stop at seven California cities this month as part of the USC coaches speaking tour. From USCTrojans.com:

The tour stops are: May 19 (Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena), May 20 (Hyatt Westlake Plaza in Westlake Village), May 24 (San Diego Marriott Del Mar), May 26 (Hyatt Regency Irvine), June 2 (Manhattan Beach Marriott), June 4 (Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells) and June 10 (San Francisco Airport Marriott).

It’s a big difference from where things were a year ago, as last May, Pete Carroll and Tom Floyd, two incredibly charismatic and well-spoken guys, were making stops along the west coast to speak with boosters, alumni, and fans. Now, Trojan supporters will have the “privilege” of listening to O’Neill and Kiffin, who have never been incredibly well-regarded for their public speaking abilities. Not that either is inadequate, but neither really gets someone excited to throw down a bunch of money to listen to them talk. But even still, Kiffin may throw in a few UCLA digs, and it’s always fun to see how fast K.O. can get irked by something. If you’re interested, I hope you check it out.

Fight On!



Spring Reports

Our last report on spring scrimmages. Click here, here and here to view previous reports. Announced attendance included when available.

Big East

West Virginia: Running back Noel Devine played only a half, but rushed for 73 yards and one touchdown in 12 carries. Attendance: 21,029.

Conference USA

Southern Methodist: No spring game for the Mustangs. "I think it's overrated," June Jones said.

Mid-American

Kent State: Running back Eugene Jarvis, seven months removed from a lacerated kidney that ended his 2009 season, scored a touchdown and was elected captain for a team-record fourth time. Attendance: 3,000.

Pacific 10

Oregon: Quarterbacks Nate Costa and Darron Thomas each had their moments, but look for Costa to win the starting job in the fall. Attendance: 25,211.

Oregon State: Ryan Katz completed nine of 20 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. The projected starter had one pass intercepted. Redshirt freshman Jack Lomax, son of former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, threw three touchdown passes, all to Mitch Singler. Jacquizz Rogers did not play. Attendance: 7,141.

USC: Matt Barkley suffered a hand injury and Mitch Mustain made the most of extended playing time, passing for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns. Freshman running back Dillon Baxter ran for 129 yards, including 58 after a flashy double-spin move. But Lane Kiffin's team remains a work in progress. Attendance: 15,000.

Washington: Nick Montana, son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana, completed 21 of 34 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He had an interception returned for a score by cornerback Anthony Boyles. Attendance: 15,000.

Western Athletic

Fresno State: Receiver Devon Wylie caught three touchdown passes and cornerback L.J. Jones scored on a 24-yard interception return. Attendance: 2,000.

Hawaii: The Warriors displayed more punch to their running game, but the quarterback derby remains a puzzle, a concern with the opener against USC in 122 days. Attendance: 1,000.

New Mexico State: The Aggies have college football's longest bowl drought at 51 seasons, but DeWayne Walker's rebuilding plan could be paying dividends. Quarterback Matt Christian, a junior college transfer, completed 16 of 26 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.



Headlinin’: Notre Dame wakes up the Freekbass singing her name

Making the morning rounds.

The new Notre Dame hype video undermines everything Notre Dame claims to hold dear. Whatever pretense Notre Dame ever had to possessing some kind of unique, dignified otherness that set it apart from the craven secularists of college football has been completely and utterly destroyed forever by a guy named "Freekbass" pretending to play guitar and what appears to be a rapping hobbit who majors in library sciences:

YouTube comments: Disabled. Black people associated with this "hip" marketing campaign: Negative five. Irish Guard cloggers: On suicide watch. The Irish are now aesthetically obligated to join the "Hang Time" Division of the TNBC Conference circa 1996. [ND.edu, via EDSBS]


Thou shalt not prowl. The NCAA’s Board of Directors finalized legislation Thursday restricting more than two coaches from the same school from visiting a recruit on the same day, a move that may affect a few programs (Georgia’s been sending its coaches out en masse this spring) but is apparently aimed at thwarting the blingy "Tiger Prowl" antics – featuring the infamous stretch Hummer limousine – credited with helping Auburn land one of the top-ranked recruiting classes in the country last year. This year’s Tiger Prowl is decked out with a luxury bus, though coach Gene Chizik denied that Prowl events have any connection to recruiting: "Tiger Prowl is basically a fundraising event that we do in the evenings." Preferably with dozens of huge, fast kids standing around. [Athens Banner Herald, via Blutarsky]

In other legislative news, the board also recommended a new rule requiring player to pass nine credits in the fall or risk being suspended for at least four games the following season. It plans to introduce the proposal to the next circle of the apparatchik in August. [Birmingham News]

Well, OK, but next time get it in writing, huh? The Oregon attorney general completed its review of the unwritten arrangement that promised outgoing athletic director Mike Bellotti a $2.3 golden parachute on his way from Eugene to ESPN, finding not only that everything was completely legal, but that the amount paid to the longtime head coach/shortlived AD was "not unreasonable." (Orwellbot activate: "It was reasonable.") In the future, though, verbal contracts "create substantial legal risk for UO," so it should probably cut that stuff out. [Associated Press]

Quickly … As usual, John Feinstein does not acquit himself well when it comes to assessing the college football postseason, or anything related to college football that requires acknowledging developments over the last 30 years. … Tennessee has tapped Phil Fulmer as it commencement speaker at next month’s graduation ceremony, where he’s certain to get a warmer welcome than he ever did in his last five years as head coach. … Preview mag mainstay Athlon Sports, always on the cutting edge, will distribute a monthly magazine inside daily newspapers across the country. … Barry Larkin on telling Bo Schembechler you’re going to play baseball instead. … And Lane Kiffin has been quiet at USC – perhaps a little too quiet … (Hint: He’s been super focused on beating Danica Patrick.)