LAST WEEK’S BEST PLAYER:
Arizona can be thankful that it misses Oregon State and Stanford in the regular season after missing league doormats Washington State and Cal in the last couple of years. One player the Wildcats will not have to deal with — unless the teams meet in the Pac-12 title game — is Oregon State junior quarterback Sean Mannion. He completed 27 of 44 passes for a career-high 443 yards in a wild 51-48 overtime win over Utah last week. His five touchdown passes tied a school record while his yard total is the fourth-most in team history and the highest total for a Beaver since 2003. Mannion is the nation’s co-leader in touchdown passes (12) and ranks second in the country in total yards (1,237) and total offense per game (404 yards).
THIS WEEK’S PLAYER TO WATCH:
ASU senior running back Marion Grice is a load for defenses. He will try to overpower a physical, stout and experienced Stanford defense Saturday in Palo Alto. Grice rushed for four touchdowns in last week’s wild 32-30 win over Wisconsin. He became the first Sun Devil to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Mike Williams ran for four at Arizona on Nov. 29, 2002. Grice has 25 touchdowns over his first 15 games in an ASU uniform. If he’s able to score like that at The Farm, No. 5 Stanford will be in for nail-biter.
David Wilkerson has gone from a Bear to a “Bear Down” believer.
Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com reported this week that Wilkerson, a former Cal linebacker who has possibly two years of eligibility remaining, has transferred to Arizona.
Wilkerson is currently with the Wildcats as a walk-on after leaving the Cal program early in fall camp. He will join the UA next season with one official year of eligibility left, but he could gain another year because of medical reasons. He was granted a medical redshirt for the 2010 season and missed last season because of an ankle injury.
If Wilkerson can remain healthy — he is also currently nursing a shoulder injury — he can be a dominate player for Rich Rodriguez next season. Rodriguez will need reinforcements at that position with Marquis Flowers and Jake Fischer exhausting their eligibility this season.
Wilkerson missed most of Cal’s spring practice due to injury, but he played in the spring game and contributed a game-high six tackles including one for lost yardage. He missed all of last season because of injuries. That means he will join the UA in 2014 after not playing for two full years.
In 2011, he played in 10 games with three starts and recorded 17 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks to rank third on the team. He never had the opportunity to play against Arizona because the teams were not scheduled against each other that season.
Wilkerson is the second former player of a Pac-12 program to transfer to Arizona. The other is former USC reserve quarterback Jesse Scroggins, but he played at a junior college before coming to Tucson.
He also is the second player to move to Arizona as a walk-on after leaving a program coached by former UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. Nick Isham started seven games as a freshman quarterback for Dykes at Louisiana Tech in 2011.
A Pac-12 player going from one conference program to another is a rare occurrence. The league has rules in place to make it near impossible. A player typically has to sit one year, lose one year of eligibility and be unable to be given a scholarship for one year. Wilkerson falls into that category sitting out this season as a walk-on. Even if he loses a year of eligibility, Wilkerson basically has only played one full season, so he should be able to play two seasons if granted that possibility.
At his news conference Monday, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said he does not believe the Pac-12’s statement was enough for him after the conference admitted guilt for the way its refs handled the end of the Badgers’ loss to ASU.
“It doesn’t change the outcome obviously and, like I said earlier, I don’t expect that,” Andersen said. “But it’s accountability and at the end of the day, that’s what we asked for.”
In case you were in a hole somewhere, ASU was fortunate in its 32-30 victory Saturday because the Pac-12 refs allowed ASU players to lay on the ball after Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave touched his knee to the ground and put the ball on the turf. The time ran out before the officials set the ball for Wisconsin to snap the ball and Stave to intentionally throw it to the ground to stop the clock in time for a field-goal try.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was vague in his statement of how the league will penalize the officials involved.
A statement released by the conference stated Scott was taking “additional sanctions against officials” for their failure to “properly administer the end of game situation and act with appropriate urgency on the game’s final play.”
“This was an unusual situation to end the game,” Scott said in the statement. “After a thorough review, we have determined that the officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac-12 games should be managed. We will continue to work with all our officials to ensure this type of situation never occurs again.”
What are the sanctions? Andersen is correct. Scott must be more forthcoming with that to substantiate how the conference is handling this fiasco.
The Pac-12 has another black eye in terms of its officiating following the way Sean Miller was treated incorrectly at the conference tournament in March.
Also, remember when Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops vowed to never schedule a road game against a Pac-12 team again after the Sooners were jobbed in a 2006 loss at Oregon on a botched call of an onside kick?
The conference had another embarrassing blunder earlier Saturday during the UCLA-Nebraska game. One of the Pac-12 refs ruled a 46-yard field goal attempt by UCLA to be good although it was a foot wide right of the post. Nebraska fans celebrated openly behind the end zone, clearly seeing the miss, only to change their tune to a Minion-like “Whaaaaaat?” of what the ref just called.
The Pac-12 crew called the game on the field. Big Ten officials handled the video replays. A video replay of the “field goal” was quickly overturned to a miss. How does a ref blow a field goal call (take a look at the video below)?
RANKING THE PAC-12
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