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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

South Division roundup

ASU’s Burfict balances tenacity, emotion

Coming into the 2011 campaign, the Arizona State Sun Devils are one of the favorite’s to win the Pac-12 South, and with potential All-American in Vontaze Burfict on their squad the Sun Devils are looking primed to pull it off.

Burfict’s gridiron tenacity has caused some questionable hits that have been met with some disdain by opposing players and coaches, but head coach Dennis Erickson says that Burfict has been working on it.

“He’s gotta put everything together, physically, mentally and emotionally,” Erickson said in the weekly Pac-12 conference call. “If he can do that, he can be one of the better players that I’ve ever coached.”

Embree excited for Colorado debut

True fact: The Colorado Buffaloes have lost their last 18 games away from Boulder, Colo., and are pegged on many lists to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 South. However, with new head coach Jon Embree’s fresh system in place, CU might surprise a few critics. For Embree, who played at Colorado before playing in the NFL, his head coaching debut is going to be emotional.

“There’s definitely a lot more excitement for me this year,” Embree said in the conference call. “I’ve been used to having preseason games these last few years. That lets you kind of practice and get some kinks out, and then opening day still has some excitement, but it’s not quite like this.”

UCLA quarterback situation unanswered

For the past two seasons, UCLA quarterbacks Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut have been fighting for the starting job, with Prince getting the nod both times. However, in the final week before the regular season begins, head coach Rick Neuheisel has yet to make his decision.

“Both have experience, and both have played very well in camp, and when you get that luxury, I didn’t want to derail any of their progress to tell them that they were number 2,” Neuheisel said in the conference call. “I wanted them to continue to fight, continue to compete, and continue to improve, and I’ve gotten that out of them. I feel like both are ready to play and that’s a luxury.”

USC’s Kiffin believes QB position changing

The Trojans take on Minnesota and quarterback Marqueis Gray, who transitioned from wide receiver last year to start this season. USC head coach Lane Kiffin said in the conference call that he expects this kind of thing to continue to happen, with natural athlete quarterbacks continuing to take over the role.

“You’re going to see a lot of these jumbo athlete quarterback guys continue to show up because the success that guys have had,” Kiffin said. “Now there’s an example of one going first overall (Cam Newton in the 2011 NFL Draft), so I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of it.”

Utah happy to be in BCS conference

This is a big year for the Utah Utes. It’s their first season in the Pac-12, and with their program already instilled as a perennial BCS buster, it’ll be interesting to see what they can do in an automatic qualifying conference.

“There’s been a lot of anticipation this offseason,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said in the media call. “I guess you could say that it’s the most anticipated upcoming Utah season in history with the change of conference affiliation and gaining BCS status and everything that comes with that.”

“There’s been a lot of attention focused on our team in the offseason, a lot of build up and as a football team,” he added. “We’re just looking to get started.”

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