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September 21, 2006

Week 4 Q&A with TBS analyst Charles Davis

UCLA at Washington, 7:30 p.m. on TBS

Believe it or not, more happened in the Pac-10 last week than an officials' flub in Eugene, Ore., and USC's win over Nebraska.

Arizona State and UCLA showed they have vastly improved defenses and Washington had resurgence with a win over Fresno State.

TBS college football analyst Charles Davis weighed in on the Pac-10 this week and recapped Saturday's action in his weekly Q&A.

This week, Davis will be part of the team covering UCLA at Washington at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on TBS.

Week 4 Q&A with TBS Analyst Charles Davis
1. Arizona State and UCLA rank second and third in the Pac-10 in scoring defense after they struggled a year ago. Are either of these teams, neither or both for real defensively?
Without knowing how things will turn out, I think they are both are for real in that they both have a renewed sense of confidence. They've found a belief that what they do each week will work. UCLA really didn't have confidence (last year). Players had lost confidence in their leadership. Dewayne Walker, the new coordinator, brought his style with him, but he also brought a sense of 'This is how we're going to do it and I've done it before' meaning the Pete Carrolls and other great defensive coordinators along the way. His demeanor and attitude have translated into guys feeling better about themselves. It's much more of an attacking style opposed to what they had before, which was a read and react. So far it's paying off. They haven't been super-challenged yet, but that's not the point. The point was to have good starts and to play well.

"Arizona State is a little bit different with the same coordinator, Bill Miller, but they didn't have as many injuries as the previous year. They have better players on the field full-time now. They have players that were starters that are now coming off the bench and making plays. And they have yet to get their best defensive lineman, Loren Howard - a transfer from Northwestern - on the field. Both of those defensives feel great about themselves. I can't predict how it all turns out, but I can guarantee it won't be anything near what last year was."

2. Washington has won two of its first three games after winning no more than two the last three years. What has been the key for the Huskies and quarterback Isaiah Stanback?
"The biggest thing is that this is his second full year at the position. He's a senior who is a sophomore as a quarterback. His first few years he was a wide receiver, running back, kick returner. He did everything but play quarterback. Now he's a full-time quarterback and they're running that spread option stuff that is sweeping the nation. With his mobility, that's good for him. That's a system that works to his strengths. It's his second year in the system. The coaching staff's faith in him has been unyielding.

"They beat a Fresno State team that nationally everyone respects, and everyone recognizes this is a big win for Washington because just a couple of years ago Fresno went into Washington and whacked them. That was the beginning of the end of the Washington program in the Keith Gilberston regime. That was a huge win for Washington. It won't be for the Washington fans who have all the history with the Huskies, but if you look at the here and now, to beat Fresno, whose motto is 'Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere,' it's a huge deal."

3. After a major college football weekend, who gained the most and who lost the most in the last week?
"I would say Michigan gained the most. I don't think many people gave them a chance to go in there and beat Notre Dame. I'll admit, I was surprised that Michigan beat them, not so much that they went in and won the game, but the way Michigan did it and how convincing it was. That was big-time. They gained a lot of respect nationally, which is amazing to say when you say Michigan had to gain respect nationally. That helped quiet some of the naysayers and doomsday people. I've never been a believer that Lloyd (Carr)'s been in much trouble. Michigan is not that kind of a school.

"I have a hard time saying a team lost the most, except maybe Miami. It's not just staying out of the top 25. It's how people perceive them now. You go out and stomp on the logo and do the Miami woofing of years gone by. We get it, you can woof because you always brought it. And Louisville slugged them. That's a little different for them right now. They've got to figure out what they are going to be about from here on out because that identity, for the moment, is lost."

4. After recent debacles involving instant replay, does the system work and what can be done to fix it?
"It works in a lot of cases. It has to be uniform though. You need to make sure the replay official gets all the angles. I'm not sure that happened in Oregon and Oklahoma. I'm not sure the replay official saw every angle that we had the ability to get. If that's the case, he had no chance of getting it right. Now they're pressuring him to make a decision because of time. If that's all true, I have more empathy toward the replay official. Replay has its place. I think there has to be a better uniformity with it to make sure if you're going to have replay you need to have the proper angles to make sure you get it right."
5. The ACC and Big 12 have struggled out of conference this season. Why is this a down year for the two conferences?
"It's part of the college football cycle we're seeing now - and we're going to continue to see. I don't think it would be fair to take shots at the Big 12 or ACC just because of what has happened over the last couple of weeks. The scholarship number is 85 all across the board. When I went to school in 1982 it was 95. Prior that it was 105 and before that it was 'Go get 'em, boys. How many can you pay for?' When you're the dominant team, you can monopolize talent and keep it away from others. Nowadays you can't - or not to the same extent.

"Television has helped bring all these other programs into your life that you never had a chance to see before. When we were kids you had one game a weekend or maybe two. How many come into your home now? Boise State is not a frozen tundra anymore. They've got blue uniforms and a blue field. And they're beating a lot of people. If they call you, that's a big deal. Back then, wherever you were raised, that's your squad."

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