Opening the mailbag: Worries about Oregon's D-line

This is a quick makeup for missing last Friday while I was doing interviews at Arizona.

Andrew from Syracuse writes: Regarding your Oregon strong and weak article, I agree that the defensive line is the obvious weakness of team but I noticed that you didn't mention incoming freshman Ricky Heimuli. I was wondering what kind of impact you think he'll have next year. I know that it's tough for true freshman to make the transition to D1 football but with the state of the D line it seems that he has the size and strength to contribute right away. At least I'm hoping he does because the line (minus Rowe) was awful against Ohio State and needs big bodies.

Ted Miller: I mostly don't include freshmen who arrive in the fall when assessing the strength of a position for spring practices -- unless the frosh is a spectacular talent at a skill position, where it's easier to contribute early. Line positions are much different animals. When you see true freshmen starting on either line, more often than not it's about a gaping talent void rather than a player beating out veterans.

My guess is Oregon would prefer to redshirt Heimuli but odds are fairly good he'll play because of depth issues and his obvious talent and advanced physical development. Further complicating things, however, is his stated desire to go on a LDS mission after his freshman year (see UCLA offensive tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, who started at left tackle as a true freshman last fall but opted to go on a mission).

As for the D-line in the Rose Bowl: I disagree.

Ohio State got a career-best performance from quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the Rose Bowl, while Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli reverted to his Boise State passing form -- 9-of-20 for 81 yards with a pick. Quarterback play was the difference in the game, particularly on third down.

Ohio State didn't run the ball well against Oregon, other than Pryor's scrambles. Buckeye backs combined for 87 yards on 28 carries (3.1 yards per carry) with a long run of 11 yards.

The Ducks didn't dominate up front, but they certainly weren't pushed around.

Kevin from Scottsdale writes: I'm a fan of Keaton Kristick's (Oregon State) and I can't figure out why his performance at the combine isn't getting any attention? He finished in the top 10 in 5 out of 6 "field" categories against 36 of the best college LB's in the country? Yet, most of what has been written about him says he's not athletic, too small (since when was 6'3" 234lbs too small?), and CBS Sports went so far as to say his best chance may be the CFL? Here's what what I saw on the NFL combine website shortly after Monday's session. He tied for 4th among LB's in the 40 (4.64), finished 3rd in the BJ (10'), 6th in the 20S (4.21), 3rd in the 60S (11.33) and 9th in the 3 cone (6.96). Find another player at any position that can say that? I'm guessing not very many.

Ted Miller: I was surprised how well Kristicks's measurables came out -- even his size. I'd have pegged him at about 6-foot-2, 225 when I chatted with him at Pac-10 media day last July.

What stood out to me about Kristick is he tested well in the drills that measure quickness and change of direction. Help me out here: Are those good skills for a LB to have?

I have read the same things you have. Little has been written that indicates Kristick will get drafted anywhere before the late rounds.

One thing to keep in mind is much of what is written around draft time is just blather. There's so much misdirection and overanalysis it's hard to measure what's accurate.

My guess -- and it's only a guess -- is that Kristicks's performances, combined with lots of impressive game tape, as well as a good Beavers legacy at the position, will get him drafted.

I expect him to stick on a team. He may not become star or even a starter, but guys like Kristick seem to find their way to solid NFL careers.

Andrew from Seattle writes: Is there any actual truth to the discussion of kicking WSU out of the Pac 10 or are the local sports talk stations trying to fill a really slow period in local sports? It seems to me that while there are negatives WSU brings to the table there are some positives and reasonable recent success Rose bowl 03 Sweet 16 in 06. All the Internet folks are bringing up comments from Sterk from last April. That too seems a bit far fetched for me.

Ted Miller: At the risk of sounding wishy-washy: No.

There's no chance of kicking Washington State out of the Pac-10.


Jeremy from Tempe writes: Why all the Arizona stories? Who cares? Isn't this the Pac-10 blog, not the Arizona blog?

Ted Miller: Three reasons for the glut of Arizona stories.

1. Arizona started spring practices last Friday.

2. I was in Tucson that day.

3. Only Arizona and Stanford are practicing right now.

JT from New York City writes: Ted, I got two weird questions for you. How tall are you and how much do you weigh? It helps give perspective on the dudes you interview.

Ted Miller: I'm 6-foot-10, 280 pounds.

Plus or minus.

No, I'm 5-11, 210. OK, 215. But I'm shooting to drop to two bills by the preseason.

Speaking of which...

Andrew from Berkeley, Calif., writes: I'm headed to Eugene for a non-football related sporting event, I was wondering if you had any suggestions for good food? I noticed you liked Le Cheval in Oakland so I can trust your taste.

Ted Miller: Mmmm. Le Cheval. Made the mistake of pulling up the menu. When's lunch?

Most folks in Eugene would start with Beppe & Gianni's. You'll probably run into Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti there. Beppe is a great guy and he's particularly skilled at hiring hostesses.

I've had a handful of good meals at Adam's Place, home of the Eugene Martini Association, but some folks accused me of being hoity-toity when I touted the place two years ago.

Fact is, I've always thought there were plenty of good meals to be had in Eugene.

And this inquiry is a good time for a heads up: I'm going to put together a list of Pac-10 restaurants for you road trippers this year and, obviously, we need our loyal readers to participate.

So feel free to send in suggestions.