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With 19 starters returning in 2007, including 10 from the Pac-10's No. 3 scoring defense, the general feeling around the Arizona program was if the offense became merely adequate then the Wildcats would earn their first bowl berth since 1998.
Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is focused on improving Arizona's defense.
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Ronnie Palmer picked up 83 tackles for the Cats in 2007.
While Washington coach Tyrone Willingham's ditching his longtime defensive coordinator Kent Baer in favor of Ed Donatell garnered more headlines, his decision to dip into the high school ranks for his new running backs coach might be more intriguing. And inspired.
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Tyrone Willingham turned to the high school ranks for his latest addition to Washington's staff.
Senior defensive tackle Fili Moala was arrested March 2 after a bar fight for obstructing and delaying an officer. He was not cited for participating in the fight, according to reports. Moala has started 25 games over the past three seasons for the Trojans.
While the Bears have only one vacancy in the secondary following the departure of free safety Thomas DeCoud, there's a decided lack of depth, meaning a couple of freshmen might win playing time. As for replacing DeCoud, senior Bernard Hicks tops the spring depth chart.
• Poor USC. It didn't finish in the top five of Scouts Inc.'s recruiting rankings in February. Clearly, Pete Carroll is losing his touch. Or not. USC already owns 10 elite commitments for its 2009 recruiting class. All 10 are on Scouts Inc.'s ESPN 150 watch list, including coveted quarterback Matt Barkley of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif.
• Most teams prefer lining up a few patsies before starting the conference schedule, but in the Pac-10, which breaks out of the gate with Oregon State's visit to Stanford on Aug. 28, a Thursday night showcase on ESPN2. Oregon also opens the following Saturday against Washington. Pac-10 teams have met in season openers only four times since 1998, and three of those matchups included Stanford. The Cardinal will play three conference games before the calendar flips into October in 2008.
• And that conference opener seems to lay out better for Stanford than Oregon State. For one, Oregon State in recent years has started slow and finished fast, and the Beavers will be completely rebuilding their defense. Second, quarterback Sean Canfield is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and he won't start throwing again until July, not long before preseason practices start. And, perhaps most stressful for the Beavers, veteran starting safety Al Afalava will be suspended for at least the Stanford game due to a DUI arrest on Feb. 9, when he allegedly drove into an empty bus shelter and abandoned his vehicle. He also was charged with hit-and-run and criminal mischief, which is a felony.
• You may not know the name Ed Kezirian, but you know who he is if you've ever been to a UCLA football game. How about this: The Towel Waver. Ah, recognition. But Kezirian is hanging up his long, white, swirling towel, retiring after 32 years as a player, coach and administrator at UCLA.