Chat with Ted Miller
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller will stop by to talk some college football.
Miller has been covering college football since 1997, starting with Auburn and then heading West to Washington and the (then) Pac-10. His columns for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer won first place in 2007 APSE Best Writing contest. The Atlanta native and University of Richmond graduate presently lives with his wife in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Send your questions now and join Miller Thursday at 3 p.m. ET!
Ted Miller (3:00 PM)
Hola... what's on your mind?
Ted, Are you attending any spring camps or just the fall camps like last year?
Ted Miller (3:02 PM)
yes...but not as many as last year
Are there any two receivers in the country that you would have on your dream team over Robert Woods and Marqise Lee?
Ted Miller (3:03 PM)
The WR talent in the Pac-12 is pretty amazing.... when you throw in Marquess Wilson and Keenan Allen you have 4 legit All-American candidates.
Roger (Portland, OR)
Who do you see as Kenyon Barner's backup in the OR backfield this fall? Not including the Tazer (DA Thomas).
Ted Miller (3:04 PM)
Byron Marshall, the incoming freshman, but De'Anthony will get plenty of totes...
ducktails777 (atlanta, Ga)
Ted,Why do you suppose all the SEC guys on the "Barkley in the SEC" boards keep insisting that SEC West Champ Arkansas was NOT the best team in the SEC West in 2006?You know SEC football pretty well. Do you really think LSU or Auburn were better?
Ted Miller (3:07 PM)
So they are saying the team that won the SEC West was not the best team in the SEC West? Hmm.... well, I guess you could say the same about this past season, but it's sort of a silly gripe. SEC fans respect USC, trust me. I also think they respect Oregon and the Pac-12 in general. A lot of that stuff is just trash talk. As in, most educated LSU fans know the 2003 USC team would have left a boot print on the Tigers forehead that season of the so-called "split" national title.
I realize that Barkley is the best QB in the country and his WR's are second to none, but isn't USC being a little overhyped? I mean honestly, you are talking about a team that only beat TWO teams that won 8 games or more last season and lost to a HORRIBLE ASU team by 21 points. Do you really think the Trojans are national title good?
Ted Miller (3:10 PM)
Yes... The Trojans won at Oregon, won big at Notre Dame, lost in triple-overtime to a very good Stanford team and were playing dominant ball by season's end. For example, that Huskies team that went nose-to-nose with Baylor got trenched 40-17 by USC... Now, would I pick USC to beat LSU? No. At least not at this point.
Can you describe in one word, your emotions regarding the Anchorman sequel coming out?? I would describe myself as "aroused".
Ted Miller (3:11 PM)
Well then... Optimistic? Funny thing about that movie is that it gets better on second and third watching.... and, really, I most enjoyed it the 67th time.
Chris (New York, NY)
Hey Ted - assuming the Pac-12 performs better in non-league play this year, are you optimistic about a one-loss Pac-12 team making it to the National Championship Game?
Ted Miller (3:14 PM)
That's too general of a question. First, are there any unbeaten teams? Then how many 1-loss teams are there? And from what conferences? And where did those teams start in the rankings? And how tough were their schedules? I think Oregon has a little problem because it doesn't have a tough nonconference game. USC needs Notre Dame to be good. But, yes, if the Pac-12 as a whole does well in nonconference games, it would bolster the chances of a 1-loss Pac-12 team.
Hey Ted, I know Luck is a once in a generation QB, but might Stanfords largest shoes to fill be on the offensive line. Losing Martin and Decastro could be a bigger blow, as there offense is predicated on being able to play smash mouth football in the running game. I also know they had a deep Oline recruiting class but it seems unlikely they step in and have the impact those guys did. Your thoughts?
Ted Miller (3:17 PM)
Yes, Stanford's O-line should take a step back. How can it not losing those two three-year starters who could be 1st-round picks? And, obviously, losing Luck is a big blow. The offense doesn't figure to be as good in 2012. But might the defense be better? Is Stanford headed to a third consecutive BCS bowl? I'd guess no. But I still think 8 or 9 wins is reasonable.
Matt D (Los Angeles)
Which of the new Pac-12 coaches do you think will have the best season this year?
Ted Miller (3:18 PM)
Not so sure that, of the four, Mora won't win the most games at UCLA.
Come on Ted... The win in Eugene was impressive (missed FG aside), but pimping wins against teams like Notre Dame and Washington is pretty weak. Navy, USF, UCONN, Tulsa, and Syracuse have all won at ND in the last 4 years. With their lack of depth in the front seven and on the OL, I think USC would be hard pressed to hang with LSU or Bama for 4 quarters. 2003 was a looooong time ago.
Ted Miller (3:22 PM)
Do you think Florida State is going to be good in 2012, with its almost certain top-10 ranking? Well, Notre Dame was every bit the physical match of the Seminoles in the Champs Sports Bowl. Winning at Notre Dame is not so easily dismissed. And the Trojans lack depth on the D-line... they're pretty solid at LB.
Papa Smurf (Utah)
Will the UTES RB situation be better than it was last year? Does Juan Blanco have the chance to be the PAc 12's 1st team RB, or will the loss of Cullen and Bergstrom, and his FB Asiata cause him to not get as many rushing yards or carries for that matter? Also, if Kelvin York steps up, that will also take some reps away from him. Thoughts?
Ted Miller (3:24 PM)
Hopes are high for JC transfer Kelvin York, so at worst White will have a solid backup. Replacing both tackles is significant, particularly guys who were all-conference sorts. But I also think if the passing game improves -- and it should with Wynn healthy and the WR corps solid -- it will force teams to back away from the LOS.
Will the Big Ten--Pac 12 alliance jeopardize the USC-Notre Dame and Stanford-Notre Dame series? What about Pac 12--BYU tilts?
Ted Miller (3:25 PM)
Not if those teams want to keep playing.
You're an American literature fan. Find the authorial analog for the following coaches: Chip Kelly, Mike Leech, and Steve Rich Rodriques.
Ted Miller (3:28 PM)
Kelly: Hemingway with the media; Faulkner with his offense. Leach: Tom Robbins. Rich-Rod: Mark Twain.
Is it a bit alarmist to suggest that the Ducks will take a step back without Thomas returning under center (okay behind center)? The Ducks replaced Dixon with Masoili and Masoli with Thomas and both had success immediately. Think back to the unproven Sanchez who had to replace Palmer or Booty who replaced Sanchez.
Ted Miller (3:32 PM)
Well, you have to analyze every issue. When you can't say: "This guys is back and we know him", it's an issue. But you also have some idea of how good Bryan Bennett is, so if someone is able to beat him out, he should be pretty good. And, as you note, Kelly's perfect track record with QBs speaks for itself. Do I think the Ducks will get at least solid QB play? Yes. Can we predict with as much certainty as if Darron Thomas were coming back? No. And experience at QB, typically, is extremely valuable. Will Kelly ALWAYS get great production out of a new starter? Probably not. Some day, a guy is bound to be disappointing.
How many BCS bids do you predict for the Pac 12?
Ted Miller (3:32 PM)
It seems to me you've fallen for Jim Mora. Hasn't every new UCLA coach over the past decade preached the same thing and fallen flat on his face. Isn't skepticism the safer choice at this point when betting on the other team in LA.
Ted Miller (3:34 PM)
Skepticism is always a safe choice. The Mora hire as grown on me, but that is due in large part to my strongly positive reaction to his coaching staff. And his recruiting effort.
Papa Smurf (Utah)
If Wynn goes down, who will be his backup? Everything points to him getting injured sometime in the season, have you heard anything about Wilson, Hansen, or last years backup Hays going into Spring ball since they are all there competing.
Ted Miller (3:36 PM)
It seems like it will go to one of the freshmen: Travis Wilson or Chase Hansen. BUT if Wynn got hurt, might Whittingham want to go with a guy he knows -- Hays -- vs. burning a redshirt of a guy he doesn't? Hard to say. Much depends on how much maturity the freshman can show. It's not just about athletic ability and an accurate arm.
While I give you that RichRod did not receive a lot of institutional support at Michigan (see Three and Out), his major failure was inability to win games, which was caused by a truly heinous defense. What makes you think his defense will be any better at UA?
Ted Miller (3:38 PM)
2 words: Jeff Casteel. He's the Wildcats D-coordinator who Rodriguez was unable to hire away from West Virginia when he went to Michigan. He's a proven guy who's created consistently good defenses without a lot of NFL talent. I think if Casteel had been with Rich-Rod at Michigan, he'd still be the Wolverines coach.
Jordan Poyer doesn't seem to be getting very much love. Neither is Markus Wheaton. Is that because they play for the beavers? Jordan Poyer seems to be one of the best corners in the country...
Ted Miller (3:41 PM)
Poyer is getting attention from NFL guys, but playing for a bad defense for a bad team in 2011 makes it hard to get his name out. Same for Wheaton, though he got noticed more because he's on offense. If the Beavers improve, these guys will get more acclaim. And, yes, both are All-Conference talents.
I'm a Coug working down here in Sun Devil territory for the next 5 months. Where can I get a good steak?
Ted Miller (3:42 PM)
Mastro's... http://www.mastrosrestaurants.com... my parents are coming into town in a couple of weeks, that's where we will go.
LSU's defense is obviously awesome, but didn't they prove in the title game that they at least need a competent QB to win the title? Are you really sold on Zach Mettenberger beating Matt Barkley if they face off in Jan?
Ted Miller (3:43 PM)
No... But Mettenberger is unquestionable talented, and LSU fans probably believe they will be tough to beat with just average QB play.
What animal fights do you plan on asking about during your next Mike Leach interview?
Ted Miller (3:45 PM)
That was funny stuff... love his respect for the Buffalo.
Curtis McNeal was one of the more underrated tailback's in the country last year. If I can recall he didn't start the whole year and reached 1,000 rushing yards with less than 150 carries. Ted, do you think that was a fluke or do you think he can get over 1500 yards assuming he gets 50 more carries.
Ted Miller (3:46 PM)
USC's passing game should be a big worry for defenses, so you'd think that would open up running lanes. I think McNeal has a good chance at 1,500 yards if he stays healthy. He should get plenty of touches because Kiffin is a believer in balance.
Steve (Eugene, OR)
How do you feel about Oregon State's chances of doing well next year? Just looking over their recruiting class and returning starters, I expect the Beavers to be a real contender next season. How do you feel about their chances of success?
Ted Miller (3:49 PM)
When you look over the Beavers roster, and who they have coming back, you'd think -- if they can stay healthy -- this is a bowl team. So in other words, I think Oregon State has a chance to improve significantly. Still, the schedule is tough -- Wisconsin and BYU for nonconference. No USC, but that might not be a good think considering the Beavers track record vs. the Trojans. The big thing is all those young players who took lumps in 2011 getting better in 2012. You'd like to think that will happen, but there are no guarantees.
Ted - you were at the UA scrimmage in Glendale last weekend...your thoughts? I know it's early, but could this be a 7-5 team with 8 home games in the Fall?
Ted Miller (3:51 PM)
A chance to be better than last year, yes. I like Matt Scott at QB running Rich Rod's offense. But the defense... some big questions there. Who rushes the passer? Didn't see any guy who would be mistaken for Brooks Reed.
If the Big 10--Pac 12 deal results in a lot of lopsided games and/or a heavily lopsided series do you see the weaker conference pulling out or is the money to great to call it off even if someone is getting crushed?
Ted Miller (3:53 PM)
I think things will be fairly even, with home teams dominating. USC and Oregon will consistently beat whomever they play, and I think the Big Ten might have an advantage at Nos. 3, 4 & 5. After that, it's wide open..
Ken (Washington, DC)
I am Cougar fan excited about kick-off of the Leach-era in Pullman. That said - I live on the other side of the country - and I am nervous about the Pac-12 Network being in place by the time the season kicks off. I know the conference has promised every game will be broadcast nationwide this season - but, my local Comcast office knows nothing when I call and ask about the Pac-12 Network - should I be worried?
Ted Miller (3:55 PM)
Have faith... I've heard nothing that the Pac-12 network won't be up and running.... & I am shocked that a cable company's customer service was no help. Shocked.
Star Lotulelei. What comes to mind when you hear that name?
Ted Miller (3:56 PM)
A guy I'm glad I don't have to block... and it's a pretty cool name, in general. Should play his way into the first round of the 2013 draft this season.
Brett (San Jose)
How can USC be overhyped with what could be an all-time great offense? The 2012 team feels similar to the 2005 squad: a dominating offense (although more pass-heavy than 2005's rushing attack) and questions on defense. The 2005 team dominated the regular season and only lost an epic battle in the Rose-Bowl-That-Shall-Not-Be-Mentioned.
Ted Miller (4:00 PM)
USC is going to be good. If it stays healthy, particularly on both lines, it's going to be a national title contender. That's not hype. But is this a perfect team? No. There are plenty of reasons to project significant defensive improvement -- the entire back seven is back -- but it's not like the D dominated in 2011. I don't see this team as being as good as, say, 2004, which was dominant on both sides of the ball. But the combination of a favorable schedule and outstanding offensive playmakers is undeniably compelling. Further, I don't see any other teams out there without flaws.
Ted Miller (4:00 PM)
OK gang... going to grab a late lunch. Thanks for stopping by. See you next week.