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Football News & Notes

Some good news from Brian Dohn (who is back after a long vacation) re Donovan Edwards:

My sources at UCLA are encouraged and optimistic Diablo Valley CC offensive lineman Donovan Edwards will get the needed grades and qualify to attend UCLA, and be on campus in August for training camp.

The plan is for Edwards to contend for the starting right tackle spot, which was vacated when Sean Sheller suffered a season-ending knee injury in an off-road vehicle accident. 

Per Dohn we will not find out about Edwards’ status “until late July.” Let’s hope Edwards stays on track because we are going to need him desperately to fill the holes on the right side of our OL.

Edwards’ name is not mentioned anywhere in the TSN’s preview of UCLA. TSN has UCLA as the number 43 ranked team in the country with the following tidbits on our offense:

Chow alone is probably worth an extra victory or two. With that "Chow premium," the Bruins stand a decent chance of challenging Oregon and Arizona State for the right to finish behind USC in the league race.

Yes, even with the injuries to Cowan and Olson. They were both hurt last season, and then both went down on the same day in spring practice: Olson broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot, but he was cleared by doctors July 3 to practice. Cowan tore his ACL and will miss the entire season (the injury came after he won the starting job).

So it will be Olson at the helm, or maybe transfer Kevin Craft, or maybe redshirt freshman Chris Forcier, or maybe run-pass threat Osaar Rasshan -- or maybe Neuheisel can get himself an extra year of eligibility.

The backfield is also unsettled, mostly because Kahlil Bell is recovering from a knee injury suffered last season. He was averaging more than 100 yards per game at the time. He'd give the Bruins one of the most dependable tailbacks in the conference, if he's healthy. Behind Bell are juniors Chane Moline, Christian Ramirez and Craig Sheppard.

The Bruins are in better shape at running back than wideout. They must replace their top receivers from 2007: Brandon Breazell and Joe Cowan, who combined for 80 catches and seven touchdowns. But that problem will be partly solved by the return of talented senior Marcus Everett, who was injured early last season and received a medical redshirt.

The preview does mention that the OL (along with DL) has been “hit hard by attrition,” but it doesn’t provide any detail how badly our offensive line has been ravaged by injuries this off season. Makes us appreciate more the kind of analysis we get from astute observers such as norcald503 here (and here) on BN.

Shifting gears a bit, Stewart Mandel from had some interesting observations in this week’s edition of the mailbag about who will be the next power out of Pac-10. Mandel mentions Neuheisel (and Chow) as “an obvious threat,” but he pegs ASU as the sleeping giant of the Pac-10:

[T]he Pac-10's sleeping giant -- as it's been for more than 30 years -- is Arizona State. It's never ceased to amaze me how the Sun Devils aren't a more formidable program. You would think selling a 17-year-old male on Tempe would be as easy as convincing a 5-year-old to eat a Happy Meal.

First of all, most recruits take their official visits in December and January. Have you ever been to Arizona in December or January? And have you ever seen that campus? Two words: The Library. And while Arizona coach Mike Stoops took heat last winter for referring to ASU as a "junior college" ... let's be honest: He wasn't that far off. Academic restrictions aren't one of the program's bigger obstacles.

But most importantly, ASU now has as proven winner on its sideline. Say what you want about Dennis Erickson -- he's got enough baggage to keep American Airlines in business -- but the guy can coach some football. He won two national titles at Miami. He produced an 11-win season in Corvallis, Ore. Heck, he won 10 games in his first year with the Sun Devils despite having no offensive line, no running game (after Ryan Torain's midseason injury) and a fairly thin defense. If he actually stays at a school long enough to fill the roster with his own players for once, there's no reason ASU can't be the conference's next in line.

Well, here is a quick thought to counter Mandel’s observation here. First of all I would as much stock in ASU’s 10 wins as I would in Dorrell’s “10 win” season from 2005. ASU started the season 4-0 by taking on San Jose St, Colorado, San Diego State, and Oregon State. Their first road game of the season was at Stanford. So, I am not sure how much credit we can give Erickson for starting 5-0 against that schedule. The combined record of ASU's first 5 opponents was 28-34. 33-41 if you take into account the record of his sixth opponent Washington, a team ASU beat by a score of 23-20.

Erickson wasn't all that impressive when his team started taking on good teams at the end of the season. He ended the season in a very unimpressive manner (just like Dorrell in his “10 win” season) by losing 3 out of his last 5 games, which included blow out losses against Southern Cal and Texas, and close win over an injury depleted, Dorrell coached UCLA. Yeah, so I am not sure how much stock we can really put in Erickson’s 10 win season. Moreover, Mandel mentions himself that it’s not clear exactly how long Erickson will stick around in Tempe, given how he is approaching retirement age. So, ASU might have the potential to be a great program (given their “academics” standard), I don’t see it happening under Erickson.

Anyway, if you are anxious to watch ASU and other teams around the country this coming year, here is an early look at the TV schedule of all games, courtesy of CFN.

Lastly, we will end this football roundup by providing you with this link. Click on it. It’s the full text of Neuheisel’s memorial speech (delivered on May 14, 2002) in honor of Cutis Williams, the late Husky Defensive Back.

It will give you a boost.