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NCAA Football News - Sports News | Archive June 9, 2009

 

Whispers: Post-spring Pac-10 questions

Tom Dienhart
June 9, 2009


Spring practice is finished across the nation, but not every question was answered. Every school has one big, vexing query that hangs over its program.

This is part five of a series examining the biggest question each "Big Six" squad faces.

This week, we look at the Pac-10.

Arizona: Will the new quarterback produce? Sophomores Matt Scott and Nick Foles, who began his career at Michigan State, are the candidates to replace Willie Tuitama. Both are capable of running the offense and both are more mobile than Tuitama. Don't be shocked if offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes cooks up some schemes that get each on the field for an attack that was 60 percent pass, 40 percent run last season, yet still produced a 1,000-yard rusher in Nicolas Grigsby.

Arizona State: Will the offensive line hold up? Former guard Shawn Lauvao emerged at left tackle and Garth Gerhart – brother of Stanford running back Toby Gerhart – took command at center, but there still are worries. Three potential starters – tackle Matt Hustad (knee), guard Zach Schlink (knee) and guard Adam Tello (back) – missed spring drills.

California: Are there any linebackers in the house? There is some concern about how a few new offensive coaches will impact the attack, as Andy Ludwig arrives from Utah to coordinate the offense and Steve Marshall comes from the Cleveland Browns to coach the line. But an overhauled linebacking corps is a bigger issue, as three of the four starters – Zack Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder – are gone.

Oregon: Will the offensive line come together? The line lost three starters, including two who were NFL picks. Further muddling the picture as the Ducks move into the offseason was that two prospective replacements missed spring drills. If that isn't enough of a worry, the kicking was horrendous in the spring game.

Oregon State: Will a rebuilt defense stand strong? Defense has been the program's calling card, with coordinator Mark Banker doing a tremendous job. The Beavers return just three starters from last season, and the biggest worry is an overhauled secondary that will break in two new corners and a new starter at safety.

Stanford: Will the pass defense improve? No doubt, many wonder how new starting quarterback Andrew Luck, a redshirt freshman, will perform. But pass defense is more of an issue. The Cardinal finished ninth in the Pac-10 last season in pass defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense, major reasons Stanford's defense finished seventh overall in the conference. It would help if some playmakers emerge in the back seven. Linebacker Clinton Snyder is a key performer, but he missed the first half of spring drills recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the season finale against California.

UCLA: Is Kevin Prince the answer at quarterback? Rick Neuheisel obviously thinks so, having named the redshirt freshman the starter exiting spring drills. Prince beat incumbent Kevin Craft and true freshman Richard Brehaut for the post. Knowing he's the starter will allow Prince to assume a leadership role this summer during informal workouts. But Prince's success will be tied to a line that remains a work in progress. How fast will the incoming freshmen be able to help? The Bruins have six linemen who started at least five games in 2008, but two missed spring drills because of injuries and several freshmen and junior college transfers will have a chance to earn starting spots.

USC: How will new play-caller Jeremy Bates use tailback Joe McKnight? Bates was the Denver Broncos quarterback coach last season, and he was hired for the same role at USC, where he will call the plays. McKnight was bothered by injuries in the spring, so Bates didn't get to see much of him. It also will be interesting to see how Bates and the other coaches use Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler; each excelled in the spring and both figure into the tailback rotation.

Washington: Will the blockers pave the way? The coaches are worried that there are no players on the roster who ever have kicked or punted in a game at Washington. But the offensive line is a bigger worry. The unit didn't excel last fall, and three starters from that group are gone. The new staff put an emphasis on improving the fitness and speed of the linemen. Keep an eye on the right side of the line, which will feature former defensive tackle Senio Kelemete at guard and redshirt freshman Drew Schaefer at tackle. Former right tackle Cody Habben now is the left tackle, former left tackle Ben Ossai is the left guard and former right guard Ryan Tolar is the center. It's time to worry.

Washington State: Is the no-huddle offense ready to take off for the Cougars? Paul Wulff had to dump the scheme early last season because the players were ill-equipped to run it. The offense made strides in the spring, but more work must be done along the line. Washington State needs more depth and better health.

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Seahawks sign rookie pick Greene

By Associated Press
June 8, 2009


SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks have their initial contract agreement with a rookie draft choice: seventh-round pick Courtney Greene.

Agent Todd France confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Monday night that his client agreed to a four-year contract.

Greene is a safety out of Rutgers. He was an All-Big East Conference selection last season.

He was one of Seattle's three picks in the seventh and final round of April's draft.
Seattle's six other draft choices, including No. 4 overall choice Aaron Curry, have yet to agree to deals. That is common seven weeks before training camp begins.

The rookies have been participating in Seattle's organized training activities.
Greene was particularly vibrant last week running through Army obstacle courses in a team outing at Fort Lewis, Wash.

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SEAHAWKS: Sixth round QB Mike Teel second draft pick to sign

By Aaron Weinberg
June 9, 2009


The Seahawks locked up QB Mike Teel to an undisclosed contract, according to numerous sources.

The QB out of Rutgers was drafted in the sixth round.

It's important for Seattle's rookies to sign before training camp begins to prevent a holdout. Typically, holdouts only occur with early round picks, such as second rounder John Carlson from last year.


To Continue...
Scouting Report - Written by Jeff Richards

In 2009, many fans were hoping for a quarterback to be the heir apparent to Matt Hasselbeck. Instead, they got a sixth-round pick with plenty of upside and even more downside.

Hasselbeck commented before the draft how he doesn't trust high draft picks since they're handed everything rather than having to fight for it as he did, a sixth-round pick.
So Mike Teel was the selection, and he'll have plenty of opportunity to fight and scrap for a roster spot. Whether it makes a difference remains to be seen.


The skills

Unlike when Hasselbeck came out of Boston College, Teel has the ideal physical attributes. He has good size and more importantly, a strong arm.
Throwing to fellow draft picks Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt all three years he was a starter, Teel had time to grow with his receivers, and like them, he made steady improvement every year.

But he was also inconsistent and temperamental. Despite showing signs of strong leadership in leading his team to an upset win over top-10 ranked Rice in 2006, he also showed signs of being a poor leader, punching a teammate near the end of a 2008 loss.

All in all, Teel is a fiery competitor who needs work on going through his progressions and staying calm under pressure if he's going to stick in the NFL.


Rookie projection

Teel will have a chance to make the squad as the third quarterback, but to do so, he will have to beat out third-year pro Jeff Rowe.

Rowe was a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2007. He spent that year as their third quarterback before being demoted to the practice squad in 2008. From there, he was signed by Seattle to their 2008 roster.

The two young quarterbacks are similar in talent, both having good size and strong arms with questionable decision-making. Playing the shallow shotgun in college, Rowe was more raw, but it's hard to know how much he's improved since entering the NFL.

While Rowe was the higher pick, Teel put up better numbers in college in a tougher conference, albeit with better surrounding talent.

Both player have the talent to develop into starters, but only one will likely get that chance in Seattle. Unless Rowe can improve on his slow, slow release, Teel may have the better shot. Either way, neither likely gets the chance to play this year, so
Teel's projection is:
  » 0 passing yards
  » 0 touchdowns


The long projection

All the pundits were searching for the next Tom Brady this year, but the fact is Brady was a once-in-a-lifetime pick. No Hall of Fame quarterback has been selected beyond the third round since 1980 except for Warren Moon (undrafted) and Brady.

So we can safely say Teel won't be making it to Canton. But still, there are plenty of solid starters and Pro Bowlers who were drafted low or went undrafted all together.

But projecting whether Teel is one of those players is impossible at this point. It's doubtful even the Packers knew what they had in Hasselbeck when he was a rookie.

Teel certainly has the physical talent, but whether he has the drive and mental makeup to be a starter remains to be seen. Chances are he's just another late-round quarterback who's drafted and then never heard from again.

But then, you never know. Some people are just late, really late, bloomers.

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Suds in the suites? They've paid for the privilege

By Dave Curtis
June 9, 2009


As always, the stories in college football keep circling back to money. Like in the rest of the world, more cash means more privileges, more advantages and more ways to enjoy life.

It happens with the BCS and with recruiting, and now it's happening with beer. Yes, America's adult beverage of choice again has clashed with America's favorite amateur sports pastime.

In recent weeks, Minnesota and Nebraska have made headlines as they struggle to handle alcohol sales at their home football games. The godfather of Husker football has spoken, and the Minnesota state senate has spoken. The scenarios are different, but they've sparked a discussion that ends with an All-American conclusion: Responsible rich people should be able to drink during football games. The riffraff? Not so much.

College sports have spent the last generation balancing between creating party atmospheres on game days and promoting drinking, the primary taboo on most every campus. Although the NCAA bans alcohol sales and advertising at its championship events, it leaves the decision for regular-season games to the host schools. And the schools, of course, go different directions.

A handful, from Syracuse in the East to Nevada in the West, have allowed everyone with valid identification to buy beer during the first half of games. Others, including Michigan (which is adding suites as part of a $226 million expansion to Michigan Stadium), ban alcohol in every corner of the stadium. Still others strike what seems a proper balance -- folks in the expensive seats and suites can buy booze; the rest of the stadium, which includes the student section, can drink only at tailgates.

Administrators at Nebraska and Minnesota are weighing tougher policies toward in-game drinking. Huskers athletic director Tom Osborne has grown concerned about the behavior of those who drink in Memorial Stadium's luxury suites. Nebraska has prohibited alcohol in those parts of the stadium, but some suite holders break the rules and make home games B.Y.O.B. The boss wants to see stricter enforcement of the ban.

At Minnesota, athletic director Joel Maturi said his staff sold 32 luxury suites, 56 loges and 1,250 outdoor club seats to fans thinking they could have alcohol in those spots at new TCF Bank Stadium. The rest of the stadium would be booze-free. But a bill in the Minnesota state legislature would force the stadium to sell liquor and beer throughout the stadium or not at all. Given that choice, UM president Robert Bruininks said he'd favor a dry environment.

"The suite we sold for $45,000, it was under the premise that alcohol would be for sale," Maturi said. "So we might have to deal with that. Are the suites still worth that much without that privilege?"

The answer, of course, is no. Maybe it should be yes, but that's not reality. Responsible adults should be allowed to enjoy a beer while cheering on State U. And they should have to pay, and pay big, to enjoy that right.

If folks want to shell out a teacher's salary to watch a few football games, they can drink motor oil in their boxes if they wish. Sure, the wealthy buy the suites for climate control and television replays and bragging rights over their buddies. In many cases, they also buy the suites to ensure their tailgate parties can continue upstairs.

The counter-argument, of course, is that alcohol on campus implies to the students that it's OK to drink. But three-plus centuries of higher education in America have shown that students don't need subliminal suggestions to tap a keg.

As a Syracuse alum, I can attest that some kids have been and always will be drunk in the Carrier Dome student section. And the drinking has and always will continue after kickoff in the stands, with beers and flasks smuggled into the stadium in pockets and purses. No breaking news here. It's a similar situation at most other schools around the country, too.

Look, beer shouldn't be sold at stadium concession stands. It's important, even if it's fruitless, to try to keep students alcohol-free at games. And that, in turn, means keeping Joe Fan alcohol-free as well.

But the high rollers upstairs don't need the same drinking rules. Fans in suites and clubs should be able to buy beer and wine on their level of the stadium until halftime (the Jack Daniels stays outside). Stadium staff and security should monitor those fans and reserve the right to cut off the unruly the same way the bartenders at any watering hole can stop serving drunks.

Want to keep the streets safer after games? Encourage designated driving. Don't discourage supervised old people from cracking a Coors Light in the second quarter.

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