Sports 56 WHBlog Q

September 2, 2009

PAC 10–Hollywood Stars

Filed under: Uncategorized — Will Askew @ 5:30 pm

PAC 10

10.  Washington State

On offense:  My goodness, the QB situation was a horror show last year.  Their leading returning passer, Kevin Lopina, threw for no touchdowns and 11 picks last year.  He is not the favorite.  Soph Marshall Lobbestael is…and the coaching staff is pretty excited about what he can become eventually.  At running back, they actually have some talent.  Dwight Tardy is the starter and Cal transfer James Montgomery is the backup, although look for him to eventually get the job.  Jeshua Anderson is a track star at receiver, and watch for Johnny Forzani, a transfer from Canada who’s also extremely fast.  The wideouts have a lot of speed, but not much proven talent.  Kenny Alfred is probably the team’s best player, and he is the lone bright spot on a terrible offensive line.

On defense:  The defense yielded 247 yds/game on the ground last year, which was worst in the country.  This is the main problem on a pretty bad unit.  The linebackers run well, and soph Louis Bland is a nice player in the middle.  The secondary is probably the strength of the defense, although that’s not saying much, as the Cougars allowed 13.3 yds a completion last year, one of the worst marks in the country.

Prediction:  1-11, 0-9 PAC 10

Key Player:  Defensive line.  Simply must not allow teams to run the ball at will like they did last year.

Hollywood Star:  Gary Busey.  Used to be a respectable actor, but fell of the rails and is now completely insane.

9.  Washington

On offense:  It’s a shame that Jake Locker missed most of last season.  Last year was supposed to be his breakout year.  He’s back this season, and watch for him to run less.  At running back, Chris Polk is back after a shoulder injury.  At receiver, everyone is back, and have a really bright future ahead of them.  The offensive line is not good though.  The Huskies have to replace three starters, all in the middle.  They need to be able to protect Locker.  He’s the season.

On defense:  Senior Daniel Te-ONesheim is a really good defensive end, finishing 2nd team all Pac 10 last year.  The bad thing is, he doesn’t have much help up front.  At linebacker EJ Savannah and Mason Foster lead a really good group of linebackers, but the problem is in the secondary.  The Huskies finished 115th in the country in pass defense last year.

Prediction:  3-9, 2-8 PAC 10

Key Player:  Offensive line.  If they can protect Locker, they could win as many as four games.

Hollywood Star:  Christopher Walken.  Used to be one of the best…now, is reduced to starring in anything that will pay him.  He’s become a caricature of himself.

8.  Arizona

On offense:  Have a big hole at QB, where they have to replace Willie Tuitama.  Matt Scott, though, has a lot of great tools, especially his speed.  Nick Grigsby and Keola Antolin lead a pretty talented backfield.  At the receiver postition, the best player is TE Rob Gronkowski, who’s going to be playing on Sundays.  Delashaun Dean and Terrell Turner are two returning WRs trying to replace Mike Thomas.  On the o-line, the team will struggle after losing LT Eben Britton to the NFL.  The line is massive, but has had problems getting banged up in the past.

On defense:  DC Mark Stoops has 10 starters returning from a really good defense.  Junior Brooks Reid is a very disruptive force on the outside of the d-line, while Earl Mitchell is solid on the inside.  Vuna Tuihalamaka, Xavier Kelly, and Sterling Lewis are very fast linebackers who are a bit undersized, but must stay healthy.  In the secondary, Devin Ross is a shutdown corner, while soph Trevin Wade is deceivingly good on the other side.  A good coverage unit.

Prediction:  5-7, 3-6 Pac 10

Key Player:  QB.  Must replace Tuitama with some threat to throw.

Hollywood Star:  Macaulay Culkin.  Used to be a star…now where the hell is he?

7.  Stanford

On offense:  Redshirt freshman Andrew Luck and Tavita Pritchard, last year’s starter, are battling it out to see who plays QB.  Toby Gerhart is the star of the offense at TB, is a bruiser who’s extremely productive.  There is a big question mark at wideout, as the team has no really talented guys at the position.  The o-line does have to replace two NFlers, but remains a stout run blocking unit who must learn to pass protect better.

On defense:  Erik Lorig and Tom Keiser bookend a solid defensive line…but they really struggled to stop the run late last year.  Linebacker Clinton Snyder is one of the league’s top players at the position, but the Cardinal lack experience outside of him at LB.  In the secondary, Bo McNally is a top playmaker at safety, but they lack great corners.

Prediction:  5-7, 4-5 PAC 10

Key Player:  QB.  They have to have some sort of run/pass threat.

Hollywood Star:  Ed Helms.  Kind of nerdy, but somehow is on the cusp of having a pretty nice career.  Probably won’t ever be a huge star though.

6.  Arizona State

On offense:  The main issue right now is to try and find someone to replace Rudy Carpenter at QB.  Carpenter started 43 straight games for the Sun Devils.  Danny Sullivan is the leader at this point, but keep your eyes on Brock Osweiler, a true freshman who’s 6’8, 237 pounds.  ASU finished 113th in the country last year in rushing offense.  Ryan Bass will come off the bench, and has lots of potential.  The receivers are a sure-handed group who have good speed, but the o-line just doesn’t block very well.

On defense:  Lawrence Guy and Dexter Davis make up two members of one of the league’s best lines.  Davis brings a ton of pressure from one side, but the Sun Devils will have to find someone on the other side.  Mike Nixon and Travis Goethel anchor a linebacking corps that is good also.  The corners are solid but the safeties are a little questionable.

Prediction:  6-6, 4-5 PAC 10

Key Player:  QB.  Who replaces Rudy Carpenter?

Comparison:  Joaquin Phoenix.  You never know what you’re going to get.  Could be the best actor in Hollywood, but he’s completely pilled out most of the time.

5.  UCLA

On offense:  The Bruins are going to struggle on offense despite good coaching.  Kevin Prince takes over at QB, a redshirt freshman who’s got a bright future ahead of him.  This year, though, he could struggle.  At running back, there’s very little experience.  The strength of the offense is the receiver unit…the Bruins do return their top three pass-catchers from last year.  Soph Taylor Embree will be a future star.  The offensive line, though, is one of the worst in the big 6 conferences.  By all accounts, the unit does look better than the atrocious line from last year, but may still struggle.

On defense:  Despite the woes of the offense, the defense should be extremely difficult to score on.  The Bruins have an All-American candidate at every level of the defense, starting up front at tackle with Brian Price.  At linebacker, Reggie Carter is a great player in the middle.  Alterraun Verner is one of the best cover corners in America, while Aaron Hester mans the other side…expect him to get a lot of balls thrown his way this year.  FS Rahim Moore will be a star…though maybe not this year.

Prediction:  7-5, 5-4 Pac 10

Key Player:  O-line.  For this team to make significant strides, they have to block better.

Comparison:  Casey Affleck.  The young kid has already done some really nice things, but you get the sense his best days are still ahead.  And he’ll never be as big a star as his brother.

4.  Oregon State

On offense:  The quarterback situation is interesting.  On one hand, Lyle Moevao is the more mobile of the two QBs, a playmaker who’s sometimes maddening with his decision-making.  On the other hand, Sean Canfield looks like a QB, but has fallen way short of expectations…better pocket passer though.  Jacquizz Rodgers is the star of the offense at tailback, and if you need any evidence, go back and watch the USC game tape from last year.  James Rodgers is a do-everything weapon on offense, much like a poor man’s Percy Harvin–run, catch, he’ll do it all.  On the o-line, the loss of four starters makes this a rebuilding situation, but should be solid on the right side, especially center Alex Linnenkohl.

On defense:  Stephen Paea is a budding star on the defensive line at tackle, but other than that there’s not too much to like after losing three starters.  Keaton Kristick is great as the strongside linebacker, and Keith Pankey and Dwight Roberson will battle for the starting spot on the other side.  The defensive backfield, though, must replace all four starters and rebuild.

Prediction:  9-3, 6-3 Pac 10

Key Player:  DBs.  Must grow up quickly.

Comparison:  John C. Reilly.  Consistently gets the most out of his talent, and can be in any style of movie.

3.  Cal

On offense:  Kevin Riley and Brock Mansion are the prospective starters at QB…Mansion has the higher ceiling but is just a freshman.  At running back, they are set.  Jahvid Best is a Heisman contender and one of the best players in the country.  Nyan Boateng and Marvin Jones lead a group of quality receivers.  On the o-line, they have to replace the best center ever to play at Cal, Alex Mack.  RT Mitchell Schwartz does have a very bright future at RT.

On defense:  Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan may be the best pair of ends in the PAC 10.  At linebacker, though, the Bears must replace three of the four starters from their 3-4.  A solid run-blocking unit.  In the secondary, all but one letter winner is back from a pass defense that finished #6 nationally in pass defense.

Prediction:  9-3, 6-3 Pac 10

Key Player:  QB.

Comparison:  Jim Carrey.  Wants deperately for you to take him seriously, and at times you really do.  But he’s still what he always was.  Goofy.

2.  Oregon

On offense:  Jeremiah Masoli has perfected running the spread option attack.  He’s an extremely good scrambler.  LeGarrette Blount is in his first season as starter after the loss of Jeremiah Johnson, while Andre Crenshaw will be a steady backup.  The receivers have lost four of last season’s top 7 pass catchers.  However, the tight ends are very solid, led by Ed Dickson.  The big question mark on the offense is the o-line, where the Ducks are painfully thin.

On defense:  Will Tukuafu leads a defensive line that has to endure a lot of major hits.  Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews lead a very solid group of linebackers.  Jairus Byrd and Patrick Chung are gone in the secondary, but the Ducks do bring back a talented group.

Prediction:  10-2, 9-1 Pac 10

Key Player:  Coach.  Will Chip Kelly be an able replacement for Mike Belotti?

Hollywood Star:  Jessica Alba.  She may not ever be a great actress, but my God, is she fun to look at.

1.  USC

On offense:  The only question on either side of the ball is at QB, where Aaron Corp, Matt Barkley, and to a lesser degree, Mitch Mustain are all battling for the position.  Corp had the inside track until his injury about a week ago, when Barkley took over.  Barkley really struggled last night in the Trojans’ scrimmage.  Barkley has the job for now.  Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight lead one of the most talented backfields in the country.  Damian Williams, who has turned out to be by far the best player out of the vaunted ’06 Springdale class, is great at wideout, where USC returns nine of the top 10 receivers.  Meanwhile, the o-line is two deep at every position.  If all five starters got hurt or suspended, the second team would still be excellent.  All comes down to the QB.

On defense:  On the defensive line, four of the top 5 sackers are gone, so the pass rush may be a little lackluster.  They are starting three juniors and a sophomore, so look out next year.  At linebacker, it could be better, having lost Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga.  Chris Galippo and Malcolm Smith will try and fill the gap.  In the secondary, though, they’re stacked.  Safety Taylor Mays may be the best defensive player in America, and stars for a secondary that gave up only 4.5 yds/attempt last year.

Prediction:12-0, 9-0 Pac 10

Key Player:  QB.  It’s obvious.

Hollywood Star:  Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie.  You have to watch them.  The two biggest stars in the world.

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