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Clock issue leaves Dawgs itching for more ticks.

Byline: AROUND THE PAC-10 By Bob Clark The Register-Guard

It's not been a good year for Pac-10 officiating, and basketball practice hasn't even begun yet. Football instead is the issue.

The question now is what happened in those final seconds of Washington's loss at USC. The Huskies, trailing 26-20, had a first down at the USC 15-yard line after a pass to Sonny Shackelford. On replays, the receiver appeared to be down with five or maybe even six seconds left on the clock, but it ticked off to two seconds remaining in the game.

While officials discussed whether that was the correct amount of time remaining, and determined it was, the Huskies didn't use the delay to their full advantage, and weren't ready to snap the football when the clock was started again, and never got off a final play.

Verle Sorgen, the Pac-10 supervisor of officials, told the Seattle Times that officials were correct in discussing the time issue, though USC was upset the delay worked almost like a timeout for Washington.

`The referee took his extra time in determining the time and the guy in charge of the clock, the back judge was very clear that the clock was correct,' Sorgen said.

In a Monday interview, Sorgen added that two other officials were consulted on the timing issue, and one could be seen looking at a clock as the previous play ended, assuring it was stopped as quickly as possible.

The rule then allows the officials to start the clock once the football and down markers are set, so the Huskies needed to snap it immediately when it started again, before those two seconds disappeared.

`What I've been told is that Washington wasn't really ready to snap the ball, that they didn't have their players in place,' Sorgen said.

Contacted Monday after he'd seen all angles, Sorgen said he stood behind the way officials handled the play, and had spoken with Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen about the ruling. Sorgen said his view was that the previous play ended with three seconds left, and it would take a second for the signal to stop the clock and the timer's reaction.

The Huskies, to their credit, didn't dispute that they were somewhat at fault.

`We should have been able to get the play off,' UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said.

The Huskies could also be faulted for excess time running off the clock at the start of the final drive, when new rules call for the clock to be put in motion as soon as the football is spotted. Under last year's rules, the clock didn't start on a change of possession until the offense snapped the football.

Think it made a difference that Washington lost a few seconds at the start of the drive? It certainly did at the end.

`It was all mis-commotion,' Shackelford told Seattle reporters.

UW coach Tyrone Willingham actually didn't make that much of an issue over possibly losing some time. He seemed resigned to the fact two seconds wasn't quite enough.

`When the (umpire) is standing over the ball, it makes it very difficult for us to get moving as quickly as we would like to move,' Willingham said. `We just needed a few more seconds.'

Sorgen on Monday disputed that an official was holding up the Huskies, stating that the umpire `was six yards away' from the football when the center reached down for the snap and didn't impede the start of the play.

Also on officials

Might the Pac-10 also consider, like the NFL, reviewing plays after the games for possible punitive action if they involve a player being injured?

In Arizona's loss to UCLA, both starting quarterbacks were knocked out of the game - and probably longer - by hits from defenders that looked like they could have drawn a penalty flag, though neither did.

UCLA's Ben Olson suffered an injury to his left knee when Arizona defender Jason Parker rolled into the quarterback after a pass had been thrown. Parker told reporters he didn't see Olson release the football.

Arizona's Willie Tuitama is out with his second concussion of the season, suffered on a hit by UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis. Tuitama was on a rollout, as he was when an LSU defender hit him to cause his first concussion of the season, and the hit wasn't that late, but it had the look of helmet to helmet, which should be flagged.

Sorgen said Monday he hadn't received the video of the game but if either hit on the quarterback should have been a penalty, `I'll downgrade' the official. `We stress protecting the quarterback,' he added.

Hail to the Huskies

Is there any question Willingham is coach of the year in the Pac-10?

The Huskies don't have great running backs, they've got one quality wide receiver, they have issues in the defensive secondary ... and yet, they're two games from a bowl berth, after winning a total of three games in the previous two seasons.

And they nearly beat USC in the Coliseum, where the Trojans will be seeking their 30th consecutive home victory when they host Arizona State on Saturday.

`This puts people on notice that this team is for real,' UW linebacker Scott White said. `If there is one positive that comes out of (Saturday's loss), it's that it lets everybody throughout the country and our league know that UW is definitely a team to be reckoned with.'

One fact on these Huskies: some credit also needs to be thrown the way of Rick Neuheisel, the maligned former coach. In one media count last week, 16 of the 24 Washington starters, including punter and kicker, were players who came from the last two Neuheisel recruiting classes.

Game of the weak

It matches two teams still seeking their first Pac-10 win, and the loser will have to wonder, if not now, when?

Yes, on Saturday it will be Arizona at Stanford. The Wildcats are averaging 11.2 points, the Cardinal 12.2. Add that up and it doesn't quite catch Washington, which is eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring with an average of 24.3 points.

Wait, it gets worse. Stanford's rushing offense of 84.7 yards per game is 103rd in the nation, but Arizona is 118th at 54.8. That's out of 119 teams, and it's Baylor in last.

The Wildcats have earned their average: in its last three games, Arizona has finished with minus-16 rushing yards against USC, minus-seven against Washington and minus-13 against UCLA.

The possible good news is that Stanford's rushing defense is the worst in the country. And the Cardinal is 110th in scoring defense.

Might Arizona be able to do something when confronted with that lack of an obstacle?

Well, no, because with Tuitama out, it will be backup Adam Austin at quarterback, and he essentially is no threat to throw long, so Stanford can bunch its defense close to the line of scrimmage.

`We're not good enough to win in this conference at this time,' Arizona coach Mike Stoops said.

And Stanford is? Unless it beats Arizona, the Cardinal will be 0-7 for the first time since a winless 1960 season.

`No one wants to look at 0-and-6,' Stanford linebacker Clinton Snyder said. `But we can't worry about that now. We've just got to go out and win the next one.'

If not ...

The week away

Arizona State had some questions to answer during its week off, including is quarterback Rudy Carpenter injured?

`The trainers asked me the same question,' Carpenter told the Arizona Republic. `Unless you've got anything that can fix my ego, then I'm all right.'

To work on that very aspect, ASU coach Dirk Koetter prepared a a video of 60-some pass plays by Carpenter over the past two season that gained 15 or more yards.

`I wanted to show Rudy that we're running the same plays from the same formations against the defenses,' Koetter said. `We're not talking about a guy who's never done it before. We're talking about a guy who's done it and done it very well.'

And the Devils? They will fall to 3-3 if they lose at USC, though the final six games of the season all look very winnable ... if ASU can get going again.

`Everyone wants to take us from a top-25 team to a bottom-10 team,' Koetter said. `We're not a bottom-10 team. There's a lot of season left to be played and these guys know we're going to get back on track.'

No, not the Palouse

Cal has won five straight games, scoring at least 40 points in each game. The Bears are back in the nation's top 10. The Rose Bowl is in sight.

All would be well, if it weren't for a trip to Pullman coming up on Saturday.

Cal has lost its last 10 games in Pullman, dating to a 1979 victory by the Bears. The Bears have never played there in Jeff Tedford's tenure as head coach, meeting the Cougars in Berkeley in 2002 and '05, and missing WSU in the two years in between.

Yes, it would be worth thinking about the Cougars derailing the Bears, except WSU has a host of injury issues, including leading receiver Jason Hill being questionable with a sore shoulder and tight end Cody Boyd probably out with a sprained ankle.

`We're pretty beat up physically,' WSU offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller said. `We got down to the end of the (Oregon State) game and our personnel groupings were pretty limited.'



1. California: Let's see if that Trojan fan complains this week

2. USC: Winning on borrowed time though league streak is 26

3. Washington: Punter Douglas fourth in nation at 46.6 yards

4. Oregon: Lost four of past five when Bruins visited Autzen

5. UCLA: CB Verner, a frosh, has returned two picks for TDs

6. ASU: Koetter 2-18 vs. ranked foes, 0-11 in state of California

7. WSU: Can Cougs rush Cal? Lead nation in QB sacks with 27

8. OSU: Do classmates boo Moore's homework results, too?

9. Arizona: Boy, are they glad that hoops practice is starting

10. Stanford: QB sacked five times; that's 18 in three games
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 10, 2006
Previous Article:Tigers stay Sky-Em course for league title and more.
Next Article:SCOREBOARD.

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