QB Controversies popping up in Pac-10

The great quarterback debate has descended on the Pacific-10 Conference, with Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State each facing different issues.

The Wildcats are trying out a new quarterback, the Ducks are hearing from disgruntled fans about theirs, and the Beavers' starter from last season is returning from injury.

This week Arizona coach Mike Stoops announced that Nick Foles would get the start Saturday when the Wildcats visit Oregon State.

Foles, a sophomore, completed 6 of 11 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in last weekend's 27-17 loss to Iowa. He replaces Matt Scott, who has been unimpressive for Arizona (2-1).

Stoops would not say whether the move was permanent. He says he wants to see if the Wildcats get "a better flow to our offense with Nick in the game."

Oregon defeated No. 18 Utah 31-24 last Saturday, stopping the Utes' 16-game winning streak, but it didn't have much to do with Jeremiah Masoli's arm.

Masoli completed just 4 of 16 passes for 95 yards. He tried only three passes in the second half, and he was intercepted in the end zone.

That had many Ducks fans calling for backup Nate Costa.

Costa was Oregon's projected starter heading into last season but he injured his knee and had his second major operation in two seasons.

But coach Chip Kelly was adamant about Masoli's status with the team, pointing out the Ducks are 10-3 with him. He also said fans are within their rights to second guess their teams, but added emphatically: "We know what's right for this football team."

The Ducks (2-1) host No. 6 California on Saturday.

At Oregon State, Lyle Moevao missed the first three games because he was slow returning to form after offseason rotator-cuff surgery. Moevao was the team's starter for all but two games last season, when the Beavers went 9-4 and made a run for the Rose Bowl that fizzled late in the season.

Sean Canfield has performed admirably in his place, throwing for three touchdowns and one interception in the first three games for the Beavers (2-1).

Moevao went through his first week of practice last week before the Beavers' 28-18 loss to Cincinnati. Coach Mike Riley said Moevao would be more involved this week in preparation for Saturday's game at home against Arizona.

Moevao could potentially see playing time against the Wildcats.

"I'm going to have to think about it," Riley said. "I've never been much of an arbitrary substituter at that position."

Washington State went through its QB controversy last week when senior Kevin Lopina was replaced by sophomore Marshall Lobbestael. The Cougars (2-1) went on to defeat SMU 30-27 in overtime.


KICK START: Perhaps the biggest concern for California coach Jeff Tedford heading into the Pac-10 opener at Oregon this weekend is kickoffs.

That has to do a little with how well things have gone for the sixth-ranked Golden Bears. But it mostly has to do with the struggles by Giorgio Tavecchio and Vince D'Amato.

Last week against Minnesota, the Golden Gophers started outside their own 30 on five of six kickoffs, including once in Cal territory. In the two games against FBS teams, Cal's opponents have started on average at the 32-yard line after kickoffs.

"We've given up critical field position, and field position is the bottom line to how games are going to turn out a lot of the time," Tedford said. "We're not doing very well, so that's something we're going to have to improve."

Tedford said he will practice kickoffs even more than usual this week, hoping to build the confidence of his kickers.

Tavecchio has handled most of the duties, but D'Amato has gotten a few shots as well. What bewilders Tedford the most is his kickers usually reach the end zone in practice but come game time that all changes.

"I don't know if it's adrenaline or whatever, but it's important to be able to transition practice to game," Tedford said. "We need to continue to do what we can as coaches to help make sure that happens. We'll continue to work with it."

--- LOCKER'S DUE: In past years Jake Locker's talent and potential have been lost on horrid Washington teams and an injury, but he's finally getting his due in the wake of the Huskies' upset of USC last Saturday.

His biggest fan? It seems for the past several years it's been Southern California coach Pete Carroll, who has never hesitated to say that Locker is one of the league's best QBs.

The praise didn't stop after Locker and Huskies beat the then-No. 3 Trojans 16-13.

Locker is "exactly what you're looking for in a quarterback," Carroll said this week.

The Davey O'Brien Foundation picked Locker as its quarterback of the week after his performance against the Trojans. He completed 21 of 35 passes for 237 yards and ran for a 4-yard touchdown.

Last season Locker had a thumb injury and hopelessly watched as his team went 0-12. Now he's being touted as a possible high draft pick next spring, should he decide to leave before his senior year.

By virtue of the big victory, the Huskies popped into the rankings this week at No. 24. They'll face Stanford on Saturday.


HONORS: Cal tailback Jahvid Best, Washington linebacker Donald Butler and teammate Erik Folk, a kicker, have been chosen the Pac-10's players of the week.

Best, one of the best players in the country, tied a conference record by rushing for five touchdowns in California's 35-21 victory over Minnesota.

Butler had 12 tackles, 10 solo, in Washington's 16-13 upset of then-No. 3 USC. He also forced a fumble and had an interception.

Folk kicked the winning field goal from 22 yards out with 3 seconds left.


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