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Pac-12 notes: Cottonwood's Ise Sofele big part of Cal's offense

Published October 7, 2011 12:43 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Golden local

He was a backup last year, but running back Isi Sofele has ascended into the starting role for the Cal Golden Bears this season.

Coach Jeff Tedford said the 5-foot-8, 190-pound junior from Cottonwood High School figures to get 20 to 25 carries a game, after rushing for 338 yards behind Shane Vereen last season.

"We'll rely on him as much as he can do," Tedford said. "We really have not always leaned on one player or one tailback to do it. We've always been a two-tailback team. … That's why it was important to create depth there through camp."

Tedford said Sofele is a "very dependable guy" who had a "real solid camp" and "really packs a punch. … He's fresh and ready to go" for the opener against Fresno State at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Saturday.

Streak stopper?

The Colorado Buffaloes open their inaugural season in the Pac-12 Conference under new coach Jon Embree at Hawaii late Saturday night, hoping to finally snap an 18-game road losing streak that dates to 2007.

The Buffs should benefit from the absence of Hawaii linebacker Aaron Brown and receiver Darius Bright, both suspended after their arrests last weekend on misdemeanor charges following a nightclub fight.

But Embree isn't thinking anything will be easy.

"It don't matter if we're playing on the moon," he said. "We have a tremendous task in front of us."

Longest current road losing streaks in NCAA Division I:

Colorado 18*

New Mexico 16

San Jose State 14

Memphis 12

New Mexico State 12

Colorado State 11

* Includes loss in 2007 Independence Bowl.

Trojan (dark) horse

The USC Trojans can't play in the inaugural Pac-12 Conference championship or any postseason bowl games because of the sanctions handed down after their recruiting scandal.

Which is why former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian — now the head coach at Washington — thinks they're more dangerous than many seem to expect.

"They're still loaded," Sarkisian said. "They have great players on that team. … Sometimes they're getting overlooked because they can't be in the championship game, but man, they're a tough football team and it's going to be hard week in, week out for whoever's playing them."

Airing it out

Coach Mike Stoops has been attracting attention lately by saying that his Arizona Wildcats will throw 50 times a game if that's what it takes to win.

You have to think he's not kidding.

Quarterback Nick Foles helped the Wildcats lead the league in passing last season at 307.7 yards per game, and he returns with a strong complement of receivers — including all-conference receiver Juron Criner and Texas transfer Dan Buckner.

Thing is, the Cats ranked only eighth in the league in rushing last season and need more out of returning starter Keola Antolin and an offensive line that was rebuilt after losing the last five games of the season.

"Everybody's talking about them, everybody's watching them, and I think they take a lot of pride in that and feel like they have something to prove," Stoops said.