Mailbag: Is Capt. Mannion the Man?





Osu_beavs1987 from Corvallis, Ore., writes: You and Kevin have been promoting the QB battle at OSU which is understandable since Riley refuses to say who the starting QB will be and neither QB really had a remarkable spring. The whole time I have been an avid supporter that Sean Mannion will be starting QB in the fall. With Mannion being voted team captain does this make him a favorite for the job in your mind? Knowing he has the teams support should boost his confidence, and I'm betting he works hard because he doesn't want to let his team down either.

Ted Miller: Being tapped captain is one element in Mannion's favor, but keep in mind he was team captain in 2012 when he lost his starting job.

Perhaps players decisively favor Mannion over Cody Vaz. But some political sorts in the locker room might have wondered if it would have been more controversial -- and potentially divisive -- to take the job away from Mannion and hand it to Vaz. That would have been a stronger statement in terms of the players taking sides.

I'm a slight lean toward Mannion for three reasons. He's a junior and Vaz is a senior. Tie goes to the younger guy. He's got better upside due to his height (6-foot-5 versus 6-foot-1) and better arm strength. I saw Mannion at his best during a win at Arizona -- 433 yards, three touchdowns, no picks -- last year, and it was one of the best performances a Pac-12 quarterback turned in last fall.

But none of that means anything. Coach Mike Riley and his staff are going to play the guy they think gives them the best chance to win. That guy is likely to be the one who plays best in fall camp.

I think the best case is one of them decisively wins the job and keeps the job. The worry is the Beavers offense will again on a quarterback carousel, with Mannion and Vaz going round and round as the starter.

ted why? from Oregon writes: How can you put Erick Dargan ahead of both Ifo and T-Mitch in the Oregon secondary? Dargan isn't even set to start assuming Avery Patterson will return healthy and Ifo was responsible for 10 turnovers with 4 picks and 6 forced fumbles last year not to mention the reason Ifo had so many chances at the ball is because offenses wouldn't throw towards T-Mitch last year. And how could you possibly put Derrick Malone ahead of the only returning starter in the linebacking corps? I hope you don't have to interview Boseko at all because this was a huge disrespect to BoLo to not name him part of Oregon's defensive three headed monster.Ted I expect better research from you for your stories, I know its summer but that is no excuse for you to not actually put thought into the Defensive Three Headed Monster article. Get it together Ted.

Ted Miller: I didn't put Dargan ahead of Ifo Ekpre-Olomu or Terrance Mitchell. He did. He intercepted more passes than either. There was a specific measurement for all three categories: Leading tackler, sack leader and interceptions leader.

And I did note Ekpre-Olomu's four picks.

As for Malone, I picked him -- while acknowledging "Malone was just thrown in there because the Ducks' linebacker situation is cloudy" -- because he plays an inside linebacker position that is likely to lead the Ducks in tackling next year. For all teams that aren't welcoming back their leader in one of the "Three-headed Monster" categories, I projected who might lead them in that category this fall.

Boseko Lokombo is an outside linebacker. Unless he moves inside, he will not lead the Ducks in tackles in 2013. In fact, Malone, as a backup had more tackles than Lokombo last year (41 versus 39).

Jon from Portland writes: "Junior college transfer Joe Walker played well when the other guys were out." Really? Who'd he tackle, some JC guys? Oh, you must mean the spring game, yeah he was really stepping it up for that, right. Joe Walker was part of the 2013 recruiting class T.Miller. Dang, slippin on a Fri...at least its the offseason. Better get yo roster straight before fall camp. Joe Walker is supposed to be a good reaplacement tho, size/speed makes him one of the bigger LB's on the roster. Maybe you can see into the future? Maybe this article is from the future...? Maybe T. Miller is from the future?

Ted Miller: The question I have: Are "ted why?" and Jon from Portland the same guy?

Jon from Portland... Meet Joe Walker. Oregon beat writer Rob Moseley projected him as a 2013 starter at inside linebacker based on his spring performance here.

[Edit note: I realize in my haste to tweak Jon, I called Joe Walker "Jon" here. So duly noted.]

And coach Mark Helfrich told Bruce Feldman this about Joe Walker's spring: "Defensively, Joe Walker is a linebacker we signed out of junior college last year, who had a really good spring."

And, yes, I can see into the future.

Suffice it to say, Jon from Portland, you should be concerned.

Jeremy Royer from Mesa, Ariz., writes: So the only true problem I see with the list the omission of Carl Bradford. Not to be mean to Chris Young he is a very solid player and I am excited for his senior season. However Bradford, has 1st team PAC 12 potential. Which would have taken ASU to a close 2nd to Stanford.

Ted Miller: Again, leading tackler, sack leader, interception leader.

Bradford is very good. But he didn't lead the Sun Devils in any of those three.

The Sun Devils lost their top two tacklers, LB Brandon Magee and safety Keelan Johnson, but Magee's 113 tackles were 25 more than anyone else. My hunch is Young, who ranked third on the team and is the leading returning tackler, might move into Magee's position instead of staying at "spur" linebacker.

Young was listed atop the post-spring depth chart at both spots with an "Or" between him and Anthony Jones at spur and Grandville Taylor at weakside LB, Magee's old spot.

The bottom line: Whoever starts at "will" linebacker figures to lead the Sun Devils defense in tackles.

Party from Backfield, Calif., writes: Our [Stanford's] defense will be outstanding. Our offensive line might be, too. And I see no cause to doubt our quarterback or running backs. But please tell me the truth, Ted: can I trust in our receiving corps?

Ted Miller: It's absolutely legit to be concerned about the Cardinal receivers. Five of the top-six pass catchers are gone. The leading returning receiver is the promising Ty Montgomery, but he only caught 26 passes and didn't score a TD last year.

The other five receivers on the post-spring depth chart combined for 12 catches in 2012, and eight of those went to Kelsey Young.

The optimistic hope lies in promising spring performances, particularly from Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector. The young players seem to be more athletic than previous Cardinal receivers crews, and there's the potential to line up with four wides and try to stretch the field.

Stanford threw the ball all over the place in the spring game, and afterwards coach David Shaw said he wants to be more balanced between the run and pass in 2013.

Which means more passing.

As far as trust, no. This crew of receivers has not performed in a game yet. So you can't form a solid trust.

But there's reason to be hopeful. There is enough talent on hand for this crew to be at least adequate. And if some dots connect, perhaps even better than that.

Garrett from Pleasanton, Calif., writes: I was reading your Three Headed Monster article (which I enjoyed), and I noticed that your Stanford three headed monster included RB Tyler Gaffney. Obviously you had to include some running back for each team, but can I take this to mean that you expect Gaffney to get the starting job? I would love to hear your thoughts on who Stanford's next starting back should be, especially since I thought that Anthony Wilkerson was probably going to get the job.

Ted Miller: I think they will share the ball. In fact, I think the Cardinal will use a committee approach in the backfield, with three or four guys getting regular touches.

The post-spring depth chart included an "Or" between Wilkerson and Gaffney, but it seemed notable that Wilkerson's carries have declined over the past three years. In 2011, with both on the team, Gaffney rushed 74 time for 449 yards; Wilkerson 56 times for 282.

Still, it will come down to who does better in fall camp. The competition is far from decided.

Sean from New Jersey writes: Ted,Do you have any journalistic integrity? Texas A&M got the recruit, not Team SEC. When Clemson got a commitment from DeShawn Watson, did any espn journalist report that, "Clemson takes top qb recruit from the SEC!"?No. When something like that happens against a team or teams in the SEC, no espn reporter mentions the SEC other than to question when that player will switch to an SEC team.You're a puppet, not a reporter. I hope you label yourself as such on your resume.

Ted Miller: Sounds like somebody needs a hug.

Texas A&M, member of the SEC, got a commitment from a top-rated quarterback from Arizona. DeShawn Watson is from Georgia.

Do you see a difference? A highly-rated quarterback in Pac-12 country, a state with two Pac-12 programs, has opted to go east, away from the Conference of Quarterbacks. Watson opted to drive an hour and 30 minutes northeast, leaving a state with an ACC and SEC program to go to a state with an ACC and SEC program.

Further, the player himself, Kyle Allen, specifically said Texas A&M being an SEC team was a factor in his decision.

"That played a big part," Allen said. "If you want to be the best, you have to compete against the best. A lot of quarterbacks come out of the Pac-12 and Big 12, where they throw the ball around, but they don't play against as good of defenses. A&M does the same thing those programs do on offense but they do it against the best defenses in the country. My dream is to someday become an NFL quarterback, and I want the best training and the best preparation for that. That's in the SEC."

Note: He didn't say, "That's at Texas A&M." He said, "SEC."

It's interesting to me that folks who have the strongest biases and agendas tend to accuse the media of biases and agendas.

You guys should discuss that in the comment section.

Read your article about PAC 12 recruiting writes: Mr. Miller are a bit wrong about the California producing the most by State. It's misleading to say the least.Per Capita California is not the best state. FL is better followed by GA. California has over 37,253,956 people with only 207 players. Florida is next with 19,317,568 and 189. Less than 20 with almost 20 million difference in population. Georgia trails with 9,687,653 population but comes in with 91 players and close to 30 million difference in population. Sorry but California should be producing many more players than the others combined. The state isn't.

Ted Miller: California produced 207 NFL players before the 2012 season. Florida produced 189.

Per capita is an entirely different measure.

We are not rating how well a team produces players or a state's passion for high school football and recruiting. We are merely observing a statistical fact that California produces more players than anyone else.

Sam from Arizona writes: Ted, I saw your column on receiving leaders for 2013 and I get the sense that you sometimes grow tired of the fact that Oregon fans seem to dominate the Pac-12 Blog. As an Oregon fan myself I sometimes think that my fellow ducks fans and I go a little overboard with our enthusiasm for the Ducks (even though we know they are the superior Pac-12 team at the moment). That being said, do you think the Pac-12 blog would be a better place if fans took a step back and were honest with themselves and voted for the best candidate on poll questions instead of voting for their respective favorite team and/or its team's player regardless of the question?

Ted Miller: It would be nice if folks voted for the guy they really believe is the best. Just like it would be nice if folks would vote intelligently in national elections, instead of being wide-eyed nutso about the world.

But I appreciate all of our blog readers, even the gadflies and My Team Wrong Or Right! folks.

So I will not tell anyone how to behave.