My apologies for not staying on top of it this week. This blog is primarily a tool for the show, 3-7 PM weekdays on Sports Radio 1080 The Fan. But thanks to baseball playoffs this week, we had a number of one hour shows and made the trip to Linfield for Blazers and as such, it wasn't updated. I also was still suffering both the physical and menal affects of the big trip to Corvallis. But ENOUGH EXCUSES. We're back!
Read down for thoughts on the Blazers training camp and other odds and ends. But first:
Primetime's Pac-10 Picks
Another great weekend for Pac-10 football with three pivotal games and one that could be as big a blowout as we have seen this season between conference opponents. We will start there.
Arizona at #1 USC: The Trojans are the opposite of Washington State (second half collapses known as "cougin it") in the sense they can start slow but they finish very, very fast. Falling behind 13-0 and 21-3 the last two weeks, they have come back to win going away. Arizona didn't score last week, and Tedford just ran the ball to death against Stoops defense, so the score didn't look nearly as bad (28-0) as it could have. I don't think Pete Carroll will be as nice, at least against a coach named Stoops. Pluse the talk across the country that USC is "vulnerable" and "has shown they can be beat" has been heard in Los Angeles, and the Trojans CAN score early-see Arkansas and TD's on 8 of their first 9 possessions. Plus when they outscore two quality opponents 70-7 in the last two second halfs, they prove they AREN'T vulnerable. What they have shown is they really may be the best team in recent memory.
Both Suke and I say USC wins for fun.
#9 CAL at #16 UCLA: What a game this is. I am so glad the national media and fans across the country have ignored it. Damn, a Top 10 plus a Top 20 team going toe to toe. Cal's best win is against a 2-3 Illinois team from the Little 11. Those two wins for the I came against Rutgers and San Jose State. So how good is Cal? The Bears defense is number 1 in the Pac-10, and number one in scoring (points allowed). But are they this week's WSU? They HAVE NOT PLAYED ANYONE. They may be good, they may be average. UCLA looked horrible against Seattle State, but they did pull a trick like their cross town rival with a second half comeback. Great game, great matchup.
Suke says Cal, I am taking UCLA.
Oregon at #20 Arizona State: This has to be such a scary game for the Sun Devils. Dirk Koetter's team has had big expectations for this season, they have a potent offense and should be able to outscore most teams. But they find themselves sitting at 3-2, and another Conference loss and it is secondary bowl city. Oregon has been criticized and critiqued more than most teams in the Pac-10, but low and behold, they are still 4-1. ASU is horrible against the run (189 yards a game) and not much better against the pass. Oregon is decent (#4 in the conference) against the run, and 8th in pass defense. Look for Clemens and Keller to both be looking deep all night, and see who hits more home runs. I like the fact that The Mustache has been planning for this game by getting four tailbacks ready to play, and that may be the difference. If the Quackers can run and kill some clock, they have a chance.
Suke says ASU. I agree, but with the disclaimer that I BELIEVE Oregon can and might win, although if pressed, my pick is still ASU.
Stanford at Washington State: Cougs are 14 point favorites, and they are finally playing back in the friendly confines of Martin Stadium. Stanford's offense is 10th in the Pac-10, the Cardinal defense, not to be outdone, is also 10th in the conference. The only thing that gives the Cardinal a chance is WSU's kickoff coverage has been horrible and TJ Rushing may be the best kick returner in the nation. But if it really comes down to special teams, then WSU has much larger problems. Doba is a nice guy, but if he gets a chance to run it up, he will-largely because WSU has proven no lead is safe! No Cougin' it this week.
Suke and I agree. WSU wins going away.
Recap of the season picks so far this year:
Ian 29-4 overall
Suke 30-3 overall
Rankings, Rankings, Rankings: One thing the Harris Poll has done is made things more confusing in terms of rankings. I find it interesting that ESPN and most newspapers use the AP Poll when they reference teams by their rankings, yet that AP Poll means NOTHING. And it means nothing because ESPN and the print publications pulled out. I use the USA Today Coaches Poll because of two things:
1) It matters as far as the BCS is concerned
2) Idaho hasn't received a vote yet
Blazers Practice: More later but we were down there on Thursday and some things came to mind.
- It was an incredibly positive atmosphere. Gone are the days of Sheed and Bonzi and even NVE last year with their sullen bad attitudes loafing arouond practice and bringing everyone down, including the young guys
- Nate is a teacher. Hands on, encouraging questions
- They MAY NOT be as bad as we thought. Think about this: Z-Bo is a 20 and 10 guy. Miles should be a 15-20, 7-8 guy. Pryz averaged almost a double-double the final 49 games. Statistically you would be hard pressed to find a better frontcourt in the NBA. But.... what about the guards? Has the lack of perimeter shooting been addressed?