Pac-10 Preview

By on August 8, 2010

The Pac-10 had more than it’s fair share of legal issues this offseason, from USC getting slapped with numerous violations that resulted in a 2 year suspension from Bowl games and the loss of more than a few scholarships, to Lane Kiffin being sued by the Tennessee Titans. And let’s not forget Oregon’s star QB, Jeremiah Masoli, being suspended and transferring. Also, LaMichael James being suspended for the 1st game of the season, just to name a few. After the legal issues settle down, who will finish on top and who will bomb? Don’t get me wrong, there are a few very bright stars that will shine bright enough to help their teams.

I’ll start with the worst and end with the best in the PAC-10.

Washington St. Cougars

I hope Jeff Tuel doesn’t expect much this year, going into a season in which he is really the only reason to watch. Tuel’s best option is Wide Receiver, Jared Karstetter, who racked up a team leading 540 yards receiving. The best thing they could hope for is to get a solid base for a much improved team next year. I doubt they will win more than 3 games this year; which is an improvement from the 1 game they won last year. Ending the season allowing 38.5 points a game, they need to look to sure up a rocky defense fast this year.

Arizona St. Sun Devils

Arizona State has a better defense than offense, and while most think you need a strong defense to win, you need to be able to score points first. Arizona does have a true star in the making in Vontaze Burfict, at inside Linebacker this kid is a beast – at 6’3”, 245 pounds – and did I mention he hits like a freight train? He will anchor a defense that was already good, but I think even better this year. Again, the one problem is they have ZERO offense. I wish I had more to say about Arizona State’s offense, but they truly don’t have one. Maybe they will have a break-out season by somebody, but I highly doubt it.

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Cal Golden Bears

Now we have some real offense in Shane Vereen. He was overshadowed last year by Javed Best, but I think he is a much better overall Running Back than Best. You could see his name listed for the Heisman Trophy if he stays healthy. At 5’10”, 204 pounds and running the 40 in 4.4 seconds, he will be tough to take down and even harder to catch. Kevin Riley will also be a key to the offense; I’m just not sold on their defense or Wide Receivers. They will be looking on the outside-in at the end of the season.

With having one of the best coaching staffs in the PAC-10, you would think they would be ranked a little higher. Unfortunately they fall here due to the fact they just aren’t that good… yet. Next year you will see UCLA in the top tier of teams in the west. Sorry, Coach Neuheisel. You still have a year to wait to show your doubters you are a very good coach and a great motivator. I think you will pull off a few stunning wins this year. Hang in there and keep recruiting solid players. Kevin Prince will be a savior for Rick if he has time to throw the ball.

Arizona Wildcats

The opposite of Arizona State, they have offense, but no defense. They lost 7 starters on defense and that does not help an already struggling group. Nick Foles should continue to impress as he did last year, but the only true defensive star they have is Ricky Elmore. Recording 11.5 sacks last year, he will return ready to press the QBs again. Standing 6’5” and weighing in at 260 pounds, this defensive end is one of the PAC-10’s best edge rushers.

USC Trojans

Not being able to play in any Bowl Games and having a series of other legal issues, will cause a small distraction for the Trojans. But can Lane Kiffin keep his team motivated, is the question. Having yet another QB sensation in Matt Barkley and a hell of a running game will help, just not enough. The NCAA will be watching Lane Kiffin and his staff very closely, thanks to Pete Carroll. I really think this is the beginning of the downfall of the Trojans. I think it will take them a good 5 years to rebound and get back to the top of the PAC-10. Sorry, Lane. You will not be the coach for more than 4 years, unless you can pull off a miracle after your 2 year suspension is up.

Stanford Cardinal

I know most of you think I’m crazy for this because of the key loss of running back stud Toby Gerhart, but with a little “LUCK” – meaning Andrew Luck – in my opinion, the best QB in the PAC-10. Toting a QB rating of 143.5 in his 1st year, and having the size of an NFL quarterback and just killing defenses, he is the main reason I have Stanford sitting at number 4. The second reason I have them ranked is Linebacker Thomas Keiser. With 9 sacks and 15 tackles for losses as a sophomore, this is yet another beast at Linebacker in the PAC-10. You could see Keiser as a Bronko Nagurski finalist this year, so if you have a chance, keep your eye on this guy. He will be a force and leader for Stanford’s Defense.

Jake Locker is the key here. If he fails I will be way off. If he plays like I think he will, he will be a top 3 draft pick; not to mention a he is on the Heisman watch. Locker is well-rounded and ready to play at a top level. Another key is running back Chris Polk. He is the 1st freshman in Husky history to break 1,000 yards rushing. Another thing to be excited for is a young, tough core of Wide Receivers lead by Junior WR, Jermaine Kearse. They should easily put up at least 30 points a game. I just hope their defense can play as tough as their offense, or they might not even break the top 5 in the conference.

Oregon State Beavers

Where else can you see a pair of brothers on offense just embarrassing the defense? Jacquizz and James Rodgers could be able to take their Beavers to the promised land of Pasadena, if all goes PERFECT for them. They will have to pull off a couple of major upsets and find a guy or 2 on defense that can get to the QB. Back to Jacquizz. This guy only rushed for 1,400 yards and had 21 TDs, another 522 yards rushing last year, and I expect him to do more this year. He is another Heisman hopeful that can run, catch and block. James Rodgers is the #1 WR on the team with 1,034 yards receiving, 303 yards rushing, and 804 yards on kick-off returns.

Ducks

So we have a 2-headed beast at running back with LaMichael James, with 1,500 yards rushing in 2009, and Kenjon Barner with an average of 6 yards per carry, and over 1,000 yards on kick-off returns. They lost Star QB, Jeremiah Masoli, due to legal issues, so I think we will see a revolving door at QB to start the season. The Ducks have some serious fire power on defense as well; 11.5 sacks from DE Kenny Rove, Brandon Bair at DT, and Talmadge Jackson in the backfield, are all players to watch – especially if you are a QB – these guys love irking the QB. Oregon is becoming the team to beat in the PAC-10 and I’m pretty sure they will do everything they can to stay at the top.

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