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Thursday, July 8, 2010
Fear the three-headed monsters

By Ted Miller

A month ago Rivals looked at the nation's top offensive triplets -- elite combinations of quarterback, running back and receiver.

Two Pac-10 teams -- Arizona and Washington -- made the list.

Hey, we're never afraid to copy a good idea. So let's rate the top five offensive troikas in the conference (tomorrow morning we'll look at the top-five on defense).

The challenge here is priority and value. What if a team is outstanding at running back and receiver but inexperienced at quarterback? How does that measure up with a team that is merely good but also experienced at all three positions?

Tough distinctions but "Tough Distinctions" is our middle name. Er, names.

5. Stanford: QB Andrew Luck, RB Tyler Gaffney, WR Ryan Whalen

The skinny: Stanford nips Oregon for the final spot mostly because of experience and elite talent at quarterback and better numbers at receiver. Luck led the conference in passing efficiency as a redshirt freshman. Gaffney seems like he'll be first among the candidates to replace Toby Gerhart. Whalen ranked fifth in the conference in receiving yards per game. (And, yes, the presence of speedy Chris Owusu on the opposite side flashed through our minds.)

4. USC: QB Matt Barkley, RB Allen Bradford, WR Ronald Johnson

The skinny: Barkley is a major talent who ranked third in the conference in passing efficiency in 2009 as a true freshman. The bruising Bradford rushed for 668 yards and eight touchdowns with a 5.8 yards per carry average. Johnson was hurt much of last year but he's caught 12 career TD passes and is one of the conference's most dangerous deep threats.

3. Oregon State: QB Ryan Katz, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, WR James Rodgers

The skinny: Sure, Katz has yet to throw a meaningful college pass, but he's an impressive talent with a great arm and running ability. Still, the Beavers rank third here for one reason: The Rodgers brothers are the best players at their positions in the conference. Both are proven All-America candidates.

2. Arizona: QB Nick Foles, RB Nic Grigsby, WR Juron Criner

The skinny: After becoming the starter following the third game of 2009, Foles passed for 2,486 yards and 19 TDs. Grigsby was in and out of the lineup with injuries, but he averaged 7.2 yards per carry when he got the ball (and it doesn't hurt that his backup, Keola Antolin, has been productive over the past two seasons). The 6-foot-4 Criner tied for the conference lead with nine TD receptions.

1. Washington: QB Jake Locker, RB Chris Polk, WR Jermaine Kearse

The skinny: Rivals tapped this threesome No. 1 in the nation. Locker ranked No. 2 on our list of the conference's top 25 players and he may go No. 1 in the 2011 NFL draft. Polk ranked fourth in the conference with 1,113 yards rushing in 2009. Kearse earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors after hauling in eight TD passes and leading the conference with a 17.3 yards per reception average.