COLLEGE FOOTBALL PACKAGE: Bruins struggle with QB injuries; Stoops gets support at Arizona Print
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Wednesday, 07 November 2007 14:39
NCAAF Headline News

 While Oregon and Arizona State rank atop the Pac-10 with healthy quarterbacks this season, several conference teams have struggled with injuries at the position, and none has been hit harder than UCLA.
The Bruins' top quarterback, Ben Olson, remains sidelined by a knee injury. Backup Patrick Cowan sustained a concussion and slight collapse of his right lung in Saturday's 34-27 loss at Arizona.
UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said Olson is making progress, but will not be available for this weekend's game against Arizona State. Cowan's status won't be determined until later in the week.
That means the job against the Sun Devils will go to redshirt sophomore Osaar Rasshan.
Rasshan, who was switched to wide receiver in the offseason, took over in the third quarter at Tucson on Saturday, leading the Bruins to a pair of field goals and a touchdown to pull them within seven points.
The Bruins (5-4, 4-2 league), who were ranked to start the season, have lost three of their past four games.
The Pac-10's top teams, No. 3 Oregon and Arizona State, both 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the conference, have been able to keep their starters healthy throughout the season.
But quarterback Dennis Dixon gave Oregon a scare in the Ducks' 35-23 victory over the Sun Devils when he twisted his knee in the fourth quarter. A precautionary MRI revealed only a sprain. Oregon has a bye this weekend before visiting Arizona in a Thursday night game next week.
New spread offenses are having an impact, Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said.
``I believe that gives you more of an opportunity to get hurt at that particular position,'' Erickson said. ``Then a lot of it it's luck. We've been very, very fortunate that as many times as Rudy (Carpenter) has been hit, we've been fortunate that he hasn't been hurt.''
USC (7-2, 4-2) hit a bump when John David Booty was hurt and the No. 12 Trojans had to go with backup Mark Sanchez.
Booty returned after four weeks away with a broken finger but was still shaky in USC's 24-3 victory over Oregon State on Saturday. He threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
``I thought he was a little rusty,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said. ``He didn't feel as comfortable as we would have hoped. He didn't feel like he just stepped back into the groove. ... A month off made a difference, and we didn't see it in practice, but in the game he wasn't as sharp as we want.''
Oregon State and Stanford experienced the injury bug at quarterback last week.
The Beavers (5-4, 3-3) won't have sophomore starter Sean Canfield on Saturday when they host Washington. Canfield injured his throwing shoulder against the Trojans and will be replaced by backup Lyle Moevao.
Stanford will be watching Tavita Pritchard's progress this week. Pritchard left the game in the first quarter of Stanford's 27-9 loss to Washington and was replaced by T.C. Ostrander.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: At the start of the season, it appeared that the game between USC and California would be the Pac-10's premier matchup of the season.
Instead, it appears the game could be a battle for second place in the league.
The No. 12 Trojans and the No. 24 Golden Bears, who were expected to be the league's top two teams, each have two Pac-10 losses. Oregon and Arizona State have one each.
Oregon would win the tiebreaker for the conference title should both teams win out because the Ducks beat the Sun Devils 35-23 on Saturday.
But, there's still some football to go, and with the way the season has been so far, anything can happen. The Trojans certainly know it: They were upset 24-23 at home by Stanford earlier this season.
``The conference is tough. Everybody's struggling every game to get their wins. It's really interesting how it is so highly competitive,'' Carroll said. ``But we all play our toughest games in conference, it's clear. I think it says a lot about the level of play across the board. It ain't over yet.''
LEAGUE HONORS: Dixon and defensive end Nick Reed, along with Arizona kicker Jason Bondzio and Washington tailback Louis Rankin, have been selected as the league's players of the week.
Dixon completed 13 of 22 passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions, in Oregon's 35-23 victory over then-undefeated Arizona State. He also had 11 carries for 57 yards.
It is the third time this season that Dixon, the Heisman Trophy candidate, has earned the Pac-10's weekly honor.
Reed had 11 tackles, five solo, including five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks for the Ducks. Oregon's defense sacked Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter nine times.
Rankin, who shares offensive player of the week honors with Dixon, had 36 carries for 255 yards in the Huskies' 27-9 road win at Stanford. He also caught two passes for 17 yards.
Bondzio hit both his field-goal attempts, from 39 and 48 yards, in Arizona's 34-27 win against UCLA.
STOOPS SAFE: Arizona president Robert Shelton says that coach Mike Stoops, as well as athletic director Jim Livengood, will return next year.
The Arizona Daily Star said Sheldon talked to Stoops and Livengood face-to-face before the Wildcats' Oct. 27 victory over Washington.
``I didn't call any special meeting. When we were together, I said, 'I think you're running this program well. Don't believe what anybody says I'm saying in the media,''' Shelton told the newspaper.
Stoops responded Tuesday: ``If the president felt like he needed to say that, then I'm happy and plan on being here for a lot longer than a year's period of time, that's for sure.''
Arizona has a bye this weekend before hosting No. 3 Oregon next Thursday night.
``I just worry about our team and our recruits, and doing the best I can,'' Stoops said. ``I'm not worried about what other people say.''
POOR FORM: Stanford sophomore wide receiver Richard Sherman has been suspended indefinitely because of poor sportsmanship on the sideline during the 27-9 loss to Washington.
Sherman was called for a personal foul in the game. Soon after, television cameras caught Sherman on the sideline pointing and screaming, apparently at teammates, while special teams coach C.J. Durkin tried to quell the situation.
Sherman leads Stanford with 38 receptions for 646 yards and four touchdowns.

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