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Posts Tagged ‘Washington State’

Five New N.C.A.A. Rules Are Felt Early

Each of the five new rules instituted over the summer by the N.C.A.A. were visible over the season’s opening weekend, though no one change more so than the alterations to the existing kickoff rule – kickoffs now take place from the 35-yard line, and instead of being spotted at the 20, touchbacks are now moved up to the 25. When it was first announced, the rule suggested one of two alternatives: teams could either kick it deep, going for the touchback, or kick it high and short, hoping that their coverage squads could get downfield in time to prevent a return from reaching the 25-yard line. So what route did most teams take through the first week of games?

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    A Few Talking Points for Confident Teams

    Nick Saban is tired of everyone loving his team. No, not just tired – Saban is upset, and you won’t like Nick Saban when he’s upset, as beat reporters from Toledo to East Lansing to Baton Rouge to Miami to Tuscaloosa can attest. Said Saban on Wednesday, upon being asked how much time his backups might see in Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky, “when you people start writing stuff about people that we’re playing that doesn’t give them the proper respect, that’s not fair. It’s not fair to them, to their players who work hard. It’s not fair to our players, who need to respect them.” And then he got upset.

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      No. 68: Washington State

      Pullman’s not Los Angeles. But you knew that. Pullman isn’t Seattle, which you also knew. Pullman is different: it’s more accepting of, let’s say, quirky personalities. Not crazy, mind you; when it comes to crazy, Pullman is as unforgiving as any place in America. But Pullman is a place where a coach can let his hair down, such as Mike Price did for a generation. It’s quirk-friendly, in short. When coaching the Cougars, you can be yourself. You can be wacky. You can call out your players’ girlfriends, co-host the evening news, make jokes and crack wise — it’s cool. It’s Pullman. You can be yourself. Also: you can win.

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        Can Anyone Knock Oregon Off Its Perch?

        Oregon knew – or had a very strong suspicion – that LaMichael James was going to forego his final season of eligibility; Darron Thomas’ decision to follow James out the door came as a bit of a surprise. It was certainly surprising on a national level, as Thomas, while certainly one of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12, could probably have used another season of college seasoning before taking his game onto the next level. Oregon’s offense shouldn’t have much trouble replacing James, as strange as that might sound, since the Ducks can turn to the three-headed monster of Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas and Tra Carson to help pick up the slack.

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          Oregon-U.S.C. at the Coliseum and More

          It’s completely apropos of the Pac-12 to lead its release of the 2012 conference schedule with a picture of fireworks exploding high above Autzen Stadium: Oregon is explosive, for starters, but the Ducks also factor into next season’s most highly-anticipated regular season game west of the SEC. In other words, get your popcorn — and blasting caps — ready. It’ll be Ducks and Trojans at the Coliseum on Nov. 3, the same day as Alabama’s trip to L.S.U., which makes for an interesting Saturday. And it’s only 303 days away!

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            Guerrero-Led U.C.L.A. Is Taking on Water

            It’s been 12 days since the news first broke, a week since it was official, and U.C.L.A. is still lost at sea. While the rest of the Pac-12 — outside of Arizona State — is moving and shaking, the Bruins are treading water. Of course, anyone familiar with athletic director Dan Guerrero should have expected nothing else: Guerrero, since arriving in 2002, has been responsible for firing Bob Toledo, hiring Karl Dorrell, firing Dorrell, hiring Rick Neuheisel and then, a week ago, firing Neuheisel. This is par for the course. As is the parade of names, some noteworthy for good reasons, most noteworthy for not, and U.C.L.A. is getting nervous. The fan base is running out of fingernails.

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              Heaps’ Transfer Might Lead to Leach

              On paper, Washington State should be Jake Heaps’ preferred landing spot. The former starter at B.Y.U., Heaps declared his intention to transfer earlier this week, making official what most believed would come to pass over most of the second half of the regular season. Heaps, who started most of his true freshman season and the first five games of 2011, lost control of his starting job in the second half against Utah State, a game the Cougars would come back and win late under Riley Nelson. Even after playing reasonably well in Nelson’s stead as an injury replacement in November, the writing was on the wall: Heaps, if he wants to start, needed to play elsewhere.

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                Mike Leach Helps Keep Pullman Weird

                Pullman’s not Los Angeles. But you knew that. Pullman isn’t Seattle, which you also knew. Pullman is different: it’s more accepting of, let’s say, quirky personalities. Not crazy, mind you; when it comes to crazy, Pullman is as unforgiving as any place in America. But Pullman is a place where a coach can let his hair down, such as Mike Price did for a generation. It’s quirk-friendly, in short. When coaching the Cougars, you can be yourself. You can be wacky. You can call out your players’ girlfriends, co-host the evening news, make jokes and crack wise — it’s cool. It’s Pullman. Also: you can win.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.