NCF Nation: Ben Olson

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Links don't stink unless you're in the clink.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

You need to stop eating turkey now to fully appreciate Nov. 27:

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Seems to me that only five Pac-10 schools are presently blessed with stability at quarterback, and one of those five was No. 3 on the depth chart during spring practices.

Pause for a moment and knock on wood for the lucky 50 percent.

Come on Duck fans. Be a good sport about it.

Rudy Carpenter is The Man at Arizona State without question. Same goes for Willie Tuitama at Arizona. Oregon State's Lyle Moevao has improved more than any QB in the conference. Mark Sanchez remains firmly atop the USC offense. And UCLA has little choice other than Kevin Craft.

But injuries and performance issues are riddling the other five teams.

The Bay Area QB "controversies" are fairly mellow right now, with the heat drifting this week from Palo Alto to Berkeley.

Stanford's Tavita Pritchard took another step forward at Washington, and his biggest rival in terms of pure talent, freshman Andrew Luck, is almost assuredly not going to burn his redshirt at this point.

Still, if Pritchard struggles at Notre Dame, things could open up again, even without Luck in the picture.

Meanwhile, a few unproductive weeks has Cal QB Kevin Riley facing a challenge from former starter Nate Longshore.

Coach Jeff Tedford said after the Bears blistered Colorado State 42-7 with minimal help from the passing game that he was unsure who'd start against Arizona State on Saturday.

The Longshore-Riley debate also has renewed among fans, most of whom were strongly pro-Riley because of Longshore's tendency to throw interceptions at inopportune times.

As for the injury plague... Oregon got through a weekend without adding a QB to its injury list, and may even get Justin Roper back for the visit to USC on Saturday.

But woeful Washington filled the injury void, with star QB Jake Locker going down with a broken thumb on his right, throwing hand, which he suffered while delivering a successful, but ill-fated block on a reverse. That means the desperate, 0-4 Huskies will turn to redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch at Arizona this weekend.

So, for those keeping track at home:

  • Washington has lost its lone star and is now starting a redshirt freshman at QB.
  • Oregon, after having reached as far down as No. 5 on it depth chart and being forced to use two true freshmen and a first-year JC transfer, may get its No. 2 QB back this weekend.
  • Washington State, facing a potential winless season against FBS competition, has turned to No. 3 QB Marshall Lobbestael, a redshirt freshman, because of serious injuries to Nos. 1 & 2.
  • Craft has given UCLA stability at QB, but let's not forget he was the No. 3 guy during spring practices before Pat Cowan and Ben Olson went down.

This can't possibly get any worse. Or can it?

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

How does the Pac-10 bounce back after Black Saturday?

1. Georgia is a road warrior: Everyone is now aware that Georgia hasn't been to the West Coast since 1960 or even west of the Mississippi for a regular-season nonconference game since 1967. But the Bulldogs don't figure to be blown away by their trip to Arizona State. In coach Mark Richt's eight seasons at Georgia, the Bulldogs are a 26-4 on the road and are 9-2 against ranked teams. Of course, the Bulldogs are 1-5-1 in games west of the Mississippi since they started playing football in 1892.

2. Autzen Stadium is no place to start your first road game: Boise State, 0-12 vs. BCS teams on the road and 0-7 in Pac-10 stadiums, will try to take down Oregon on Saturday with a redshirt freshman quarterback, Kellen Moore, and four new starters on the offensive line. The Broncos offense has mostly been its regular proficient self thus far, scoring 69 points and averaging 461 yards in two victories. But Oregon isn't Idaho State and Bowling Green and Autzen is different than a home game. Moore and his green line won't be able to communicate. That's a problem when the Ducks high-pressure defense is trying to force a QB to make quick decisions against one of the nation's best secondaries.

3. Rudy isn't afraid of the blitz: Richt must be on the ESPN.com research team's e-mail list, too. He noted repeatedly this week that pressuring ASU QB Rudy Carpenter with extra rushers hasn't been the best defensive tactic. Carpenter actually seems to play better when he has less time to think about where he wants to go. His totals in two games against FBS opponents:

 0-4
rushers
5/more
rushers
Comp/Att23/4017/19
Comp pct57.589.5
Yds per att9.211.5
TD/Int3/22/0

4. We'll find out who the real UCLA is against Arizona: The Bruins likely will be down five starters from their preseason depth chart Saturday, and, no, that doesn't include QBs Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan. One word: ouch. This isn't a terribly deep team in the first place. Of course, that's only two more injured starters than the shocking Tennessee victory, when three went down, so maybe there's more smoke-and-mirrors with Rick Neuheisel and his crack coaching staff. If the Bruins do beat the Wildcats to open Pac-10 play after going down 59-zip at BYU, it will establish them as a peculiarly dangerous team and -- egad! -- a crew that might scrap out of the bottom third of the conference.

5. We'll find out who the real Arizona is against UCLA: This title should have been "The return of TE Rob Gronkowski will give Arizona a big boost", but we wanted symmetry with our UCLA entry. Gronkowski will provide a huge lift for the Wildcats offense, particularly QB Willie Tuitama, who threw two interception and fumbled twice against New Mexico. Arizona is mostly healthy, which is good, and completely desperate, which is could be good or bad. A loss puts coach Mike Stoops' job in serious jeopardy, while a victory puts him back on track for a breakthrough season. An overstatement? Perhaps. But that's life in a "What have you done for me lately?" business, and Stoops knows that.

6. Tavita Pritchard needs to step up to remain Stanford's QB: Stanford ranks 116th in the nation in total offense (242.3 yards per game) and 112th in passing offense (111 ypg). Not many ways you can dress that up and make it look good, and when an offense is sagging, the QB takes most of the blame. That's why word out of The Farm is true freshman Andrew Luck has been getting more reps with the first-team in practices and may doff his redshirt against San Jose State. If the Cardinal musters any passing threat, that will help a good offensive line create cracks for RB Toby Gerhart, the offense's best weapon. This could be Pritchard's last stand.

7. Expect some fancypants from Boise State and Oregon: Boise State's Chris Petersen and Oregon's Mike Bellotti are two of the best offensive-minded head coaches in the nation. And they like to get cute every once and a while. Everyone saw what the Broncos did to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, so it's not like they're afraid to take risks in big games. Meanwhile, even though Bellotti is down two QBs and is splitting the ball between first-year players Jeremiah Masoli and Chris Harper, he intimated strongly this week that he and offensive coordinator Chip Kelly may have some tricks up their sleeves, too. Heck, The Oregonian wrote an entire story this week about trick plays.

8. Washington State will take a step forward vs. Portland State: Unless Portland State decided to reinvent itself this week and no longer use the pure run-and-shoot -- highly unlikely -
- then Washington State's beleaguered, nation's-worst run defense will get a break. The pass probably looks good for a team that gives up 330 rushing yards per game. And a FCS opponent also probably looks good to the Cougars, who are still trying to break in first-year coach Paul Wulff's no-huddle spread offense. On the other hand, there's a lot of pressure on them to win Saturday because a loss could suggest a winless season is possible. Don't count on that happening, though. There's too much pride in Pullman for a complete flop.

9. Erickson is a streak buster: Georgia has won 10 games in a row, dating back to last season, the second-longest active streak among FBS schools (BYU, 13). That's the Bulldogs longest streak since winning 11 straight with Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker in 1982. But a 10-game win streak shouldn't intimidate Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson. While head coach at Miami, his teams stopped a 14-game streak by Florida State(1990), a 16-game streak by Florida State (1991) and a 23-game streak by Notre Dame (1989).

10. Can the Pac-10 redeem itself? There are only five games this weekend involving Pac-10 teams, and only Arizona State is an underdog. What if the conference wins all five -- it has to win one with UCLA and Arizona playing! -- beating quality opponents like Boise State and Georgia? Will that restore the conference's luster in the college football nation's eyes? We're not even going to ask about another weekend of egg laying.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Not to be too serious, but take a moment and remember what day it is. 

  • Arizona surely is sorry to hear the New Mexico QB is struggling
  • Arizona State's tight ends are playing OK, which is a bit of a surprise after significant attrition at the position. Here's a boost for the offensive line. Turns out the "Bring on Georgia" promotion wasn't a conspiracy from Atlanta.  My wife loves Chick-fil-A, so consider this an apology.
  • Maryland may not look good on film, but this is a long road trip for California. Let's hear it for the fullback, who brings out the Best in the Bears running game. For those interested in a review of how the Tree Sitters started sitting, here's a good read.
  • Nice story on Oregon's "other" defensive end, Will Tukuafu, becoming the Ducks' emotional leader.
  • What's wrong with the Oregon State defense?
  • Stanford TE Jim Dray, back from a knee injury, could play against TCU.
  • UCLA might be able to exploit BYU's secondary. Which Kevin Craft shows up at BYU to run the Bruins offense? Speaking of QBs, an update on Ben Olson. And might Moya be Craft's go-to guy?
  • Hey, it's USC -- that means celebrities on the sidelines! DT Fili Moala likes Ohio State's physical style of play. A keyboard battle over the USC-Ohio State showdown. Spicer wants to spice things up.
  • The good news is Washington safety Darin Harris is OK. The bad news is his concussion will sideline him for the Oklahoma game. Also in the story: RB Chris Polk is likely done for the year due to a shoulder injury but the freshman likely will qualify for a redshirt year. Where's the pass rush? Frosh TE Kavario Middleton is stepping up.
  • Washington State is down, but LB Gary Trent is the sort of player who can bring the program back. Former coach Jim Walden asks for patience.
  • Jon Wilner reacts to an Indianapolis Star report on "special admits" for football programs, of which California led the nation.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

You are the quarterback of these links. Congrats (But your offensive line... neh).

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten preseason has seemed downright boring compared to the rest of the country.

There's no Mark Sanchez or Ben Olson crisis in this league, and though Ohio State has endured a few recent off-the-field incidents, the Buckeyes have nothing on Georgia. None of the four major quarterback competitions -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State and Indiana -- are settled, and the one in Ann Arbor could drag on for some time. Wisconsin dismissed running back Lance Smith, but the Badgers remain well-stocked at the position.

If the first two weeks of preseason practice have revealed anything, it's that a position that seemed weak in the league could be much better than forecasted.

The Big Ten lost seven of its top 10 receivers from last season, a group that included three-time league receptions leader Dorien Bryant, big-play dynamo Devin Thomas, Indiana career receiving leader James Hardy and Michigan stars Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. Aside from Ohio State, Penn State and Northwestern, every Big Ten team entered camp with some degree of uneasiness about the wide receivers.

Michigan State and Indiana lost superstars. Michigan lost almost everybody. So did Purdue. Illinois and Minnesota needed second options. Iowa welcomed back several prominent pass-catchers from injuries. Wisconsin was very young at the position.

The anxiety level has dropped quite a bit.

Illinois, which will stress the pass more this fall, has produced several good candidates to complement Arrelious Benn, including juniors Jeff Cumberland and Chris Duvalt, sophomores Chris James and Alex Reavy and freshmen Jack Ramsey, A.J. Jenkins and Cordale Scott. Highly touted Fred Smith will make an impact this fall at Michigan State, but he's been overshadowed a bit by classmate Keshawn Martin. Michigan's young wideouts impressed first-year coach Rich Rodriguez from the get-go, and the Wolverines will lean on players like Darryl Stonum, Martavious Odoms, Terrance Robinson, Toney Clemons and Junior Hemingway come Aug. 30.

I was extremely impressed after watching Wisconsin sophomore David Gilreath, a big-play threat with tremendous speed. Though I didn't see Purdue practice after media day, junior-college transfer Arsenio Curry certainly looks like he can contribute alongside Greg Orton. Playmaker Andy Brodell is back in the fold at Iowa, and sophomore Colin Sandeman looks to be pushing incumbent Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for the starting job. Ray Fisher and Andrew Means headline a group of Indiana wideouts that also include some promising freshmen.

There has been so much buzz about the spread offense sweeping through the Big Ten. It looks like the league will have the moving parts to make those schemes work this fall.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

 
 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
 Ben Olson's foot injury could be the biggest impact news item in the Pac-10 so far.

With real, live games now two weeks away (hooray!), I'm trying to identify the biggest impact news item thus far.

Tempted to say it's this: the "jock itch epidemic" at USC -- just because I want to link to the story for, like, the fifth time.

Most folks would say it's USC quarterback Mark Sanchez's injury, but I discount that for two reasons: One, I suspect he will start on Sept. 13 against Ohio State; two, in any event, I think the Trojans can win without him.

While Washington isn't a front-line Pac-10 team this year, quarterback Jake Locker is a front-line player, and when he suffered a hamstring injury, it was big news because the Huskies can't win without him -- and that would immediately damage Tyrone Willingham's chances to put together the sort of season that would save his job. But Locker also looks to be quickly improving and should lead the offense at Oregon on Aug. 30.

That's why I'm going with UCLA quarterback Ben Olson's foot injury.

This is a for-real, needed-surgery, out-for-at-least-eight-weeks injury.

At the start of Rick Neuheisel's first spring session with the Bruins, he was overseeing a competition between two quarterbacks with significant starting experience in a UCLA uniform -- Olson and Pat Cowan.

Now he has neither, though Kevin Craft, the likely starter, saw some action at San Diego State.

Last we checked, QB is an important position, particularly in this conference.

Sure, with Olson's long injury history, it's not surprising he's gone down. But let's face it: More than a few of us probably wondered if offensive coordinator Norm Chow would be the guy to transform Olson's obvious talent into consistent performances.

Neuheisel already was handed a flawed team. The offensive line is pure mix-and-match.

The defense will have to carry this team because the offense is probably going to struggle to score 20 points per game.

And that was before Olson went down.

Toss in one of the toughest schedules in the nation, and it could be a long season.

Of course, it's always possible that Craft -- or maybe even someone else -- will toss around some fairy dust and the Bruins will shock everyone.

Not likely, but possible.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Links celebrating another beautiful day in the Bay Area.

  • Arizona takes its preseason workouts to Camp Huachuca. But ticket sales are down for the program in a critical year for coach Mike Stoops.
  • Arizona State held a scrimmage and the OL played pretty well, and a couple of freshmen -- WR Gerell Robinson and RB Ryan Bass -- stood out, as did a walk-on, RB James Morrison. More good news: WR Nate Kimbrough doesn't need surgery.
  • The quarterback competition at California? Said Jeff Tedford: "We'll see if one separates; right now, it kind of goes back and forth and back and forth. We'll see if one establishes himself in the next couple of weeks. If not, we'll make a decision on who will take the first reps and go from there." The injury news from practice included an abdominal injury to LB Worrell Williams, but Jonathan Okanes' practice report includes many good tidbits, including a potential shake-up at kicker.
  • How do Oregon Ducks survive two-a-days? Cautiously. Still, rover Patrick Chung doesn't make things easy for receivers. Injured freshman QB Chris Harper is trying to get back into the swing of things. A complete practice report.
  • The Corvallis Gazette Times' Oregon State practice report leads with good thoughts on skill guys. But the Beavers are still looking for a right offensive tackle. Paul Buker offers his practice -- and Sumo -- thoughts.
  • Reports from Stanford camp say Tavita Pritchard is taking the lead to start at QB.
  • A look at the UCLA wide receivers, with a note on a position change for Jess Ward from DL to OL. Things are good at punter. Bruins Nation wishes the media would take it easy on the panic button because UCLA has lost QB Ben Olson. Speaking of Olson, here's what the school said about his foot surgery: "A new screw was inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot to assist with the healing process.The procedure also included a bone graft to help heal the fracture. He will be in a non-weight bearing situation (crutches) for the near future and the timetime for Olson's return is still approximately eight weeks."
  • With QB Mark Sanchez on the sidelines with his bum knee, the USC offense didn't do terribly well in Tuesday's scrimmage. Beyond the QB competition was a sluggish running game. A look at the Trojans strength matters.
  • Washington is young at WR, but will the Huskies be good there? Another starter is injured. Bob Condotta had this observation about hits to the Huskies projected lineup: "... that meant that the Huskies practiced today without three projected offensive starters heading into the year -- Gottlieb, Locker and Brandon Johnson--- with Juan Garcia also still not 100 percent (though admittedly way ahead of where anyone thought). Throw in the depature of Curtis Shaw and the loss of E.J. Savannah, and that's six potential starters in varying states of unavailablity at the moment." Meanwhile, the Huskies are trying to cultivated depth on the DL.
  • Checking out the Washington State tight ends. Devin Frischknecht and Ben Woodard are both married -- and Woodard is an old man at 26.
  • Finally, do we need another bowl game? Seattle thinks so.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

If these links were any hotter, they'd be, you know, like on fire or something.

  • A youth movement may be afoot at Arizona, and it's more than touted CB Robert Golden. While he's not that young, junior Earl Mitchell also qualifies as precocious, at least in terms of how well he appears to be transitioning to the defensive line. Finally, there's a little piece of Tim Tebow in Tucson.
  • With Keegan Herring nursing a shoulder injury, there are other guys who can carry the rock for Arizona State. While battling for a starting job at CB opposite Omar Bolden, Terell Carr is playing hurt. And an evening monsoon (a new experience for this Arizona transplant) sent the Sun Devils into their new bubble, indoor facility for the first time.
  • The QB competition at California is heating up, with Kevin Riley doing well while working with the first-team offense Thursday. Speaking of competition, Derrick Hill and Mika Kane have a tight one for the lone interior defensive tackle position in the Bears new 3-4 look.
  • A report from Oregon's Thursday workout, with coach Mike Bellotti providing a long list of youngins and oldins who are doing well. Rob Moseley also has this about position battles:

One thing apparent through four days is that some of the position battles I anticipated aren't developing, at least not yet. When the first units are on the field, it's almost always Nate Costa at quarterback, Jeff Kendall at left guard, Jake Hucko at right tackle, T.J. Ward at free safety, and Spencer Paysinger at WILL linebacker.

Middle linebacker is one that's still tough to call. Because of the laceration on John Bacon's forehead, which I wrote about Tuesday, he's not doing a lot of full-contact stuff, so Casey Matthews is running with the ones.

  • Here's some video of Autzen Stadium's GIANT new scoreboard.
  • Oregon State is replacing three good linebackers with... three more good linebackers. And so the Beavers' defense will just reload. We shall see. Here's an update of another rebuilding effort -- the Beavers' special teams.
  • He cut short his Mormon Mission, so now Stanford defensive tackle Sione Fua, who saw significant action as a freshman, will be on a mission to help the Cardinal defense.
  • The Orange County Register charts the UCLA QBs. The conclusion: Hopefully the cliché -- "It's early" -- applies. The LA Times also checks in with QB Ben Olson. Brian Dohn looks at the secondary. Finally, it turns out that Brian Bosworth's nephew , Kyle, might be a pretty good LB, too.
  • Who's the next great USC nose tackle? It's one of the best competitions of the preseason. The lead from the LA Daily News is the move of Clay Matthews from linebacker to defensive end, where he'll rotate with sophomore Everson Griffin. The Orange County Register discovered strippers working for the USC defense.
  • This might interests USC fans: Ohio State defensive backs suspended for first two games! Only the Buckeyes come to LA for their third game and don't figure to have much trouble with Youngstown State and Ohio University (or is that THE Ohio University?).
  • The tailback competition heads up at Washington. Molly Yanity talks with touted freshman receiver Anthony Boyles, while Don Ruiz concerns himself with the secondary. Bob Condotta reviews the day's events.
  • This from the Washington State football office: "Following [Thursday] morning's practice, Cougar sophomore wide receiver Jeshua Anderson was seen by a team doctor and it was determined he has a hernia. Surgery has been scheduled for Monday morning and a prognosis will be determined following the surgery." Anderson, who nearly qualified for the Olympics, is one of the Pac-10's fastest players and was viewed as a potential deep threat for the Cougars offense. In general, the Cougars receivers are hurting.
  • Finally, here's Jon Wilner's AP top 25 vote. Wilner's poll is often quirky, which is why a lot of people keep up with its changes.&
    nbsp;

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Touching all the bases while optimism remains high.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Yes, there will be a quiz... 

  • It appears only one member of Arizona's recruiting class won't report (apparently not anytime soon, either), but he's a big one.
  • This link from the Daily Bruin came via Bruins Nation, and it includes some telling quotes about how QB Ben Olson needs to earn his teammates trust and respect. Consider:

As far as being at a different part of his life than the rest of his teammates -- Olson is married and has a child -- [coach Rick] Neuheisel likened it to an NFL veteran playing alongside an NFL rookie: both need the other to be successful.

"They're not at the same places in their lives, but on game day, they need each other," Neuheisel said. "And Ben has to embrace that. He's going to be throwing to some freshman receivers in fall camp. He's got to be able to put his arm around them and make them feel good."

  • I found this California football capsule to touch all the bases. And this editorial on coach Jeff Tedford's plan for a second honeymoon also reads well.
  • And for our Stanford friends: Your very own football capsule.
  • You knew the Oregon athletic department was rich. Rob Moseley reinforces this by pointing out the Ducks' seven-figure recruiting budget.
  • Speaking of the Ducks, perhaps they will use more than one QB this season.
  • Might JerseyGate resolve itself so USC and UCLA can wear their home jerseys during their rivalry game? Brian Dohn gets the skinny.
  • Want to quantify how rich in talent USC has been during the Pete Carroll era? No? Then don't click this link to the Orange County Register's USC blog and look at the All-Carroll Team. Blog OCR also gives an update on Josh Pinkard's health.
  • First Cal... now Oregon State... Fancy new jerseys for the Beavers.
  • Over at the Bleacher Report, Lisa Horne goes Royce Gracia on her SEC critics. This is becoming the new sport on the West Coast: Winning arguments against Wide-Eyes from the SEC by using actual facts. Of course, sometimes SEC folks try to invent their own facts with self-proclaimed "experts", but they don't realize we know how to use the Internets out here.
  • Finally... I predict rioting in the streets. It's upsetting that only one Pac-10 university made the Princeton Review list of top party schools, but the very idea that 17 schools party harder than Arizona State... I mean, honestly, that's just stupid.

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Happy Pac-10 Media Day...

  • Defensive tackle Brigham Harwell will represent UCLA today, and LA Daily News writer Brian Dohn shares a story he wrote in 2004 about the winding, difficult road that, eventually, got Harwell to the podium. My guess is even USC Fans will find it hard not to root for Harwell.
  • Dohn, who reportedly doesn't need sleep, also tagged along with Bruins QB Ben Olson as he tries to overcome injuries and doubts to become the QB he was touted to be coming out of high school.
  • The Arizona Daily Star's Ryan Finley takes out his crystal ball and sees... some interesting and amusing stuff out of the Pac-10 this season, including: "Oregon will unveil another uniform combination -- and this one will be high-tech. The Ducks will wear uniforms and helmets made of 'green-screen' material, allowing Nike to broadcast commercials directly onto the athletes during games."
  • Jonathan Okanes releases his Pac-10 poll. Guess who's No. 1?
  • Bob Condotta asked the readers of his Seattle Times blog to send him their Pac-10 votes and the response was, apparently, overwhelming. And get this: USC was No. 1 in the reader poll, too.
  • Does Oregon State have issues at running back? Building the Dam says no. Listening to some Beavers observers recite sonnets about Ryan McCants last night, I've got a hunch the Beavs are going to be fine. Here's a bet, however, that McCants and company are eyeballing guard Jeremy Perry's still bothersome leg. There's not a lot of margin for error along the OSU offensive line.
  • What's up with Oregon's linebackers? The Ducks have questions up the middle of their defense.
  • But who cares about LBs? Oregon continues to find ways to make $$$$.
  • Washington got its first commitment. The Huskies are the last Pac-10 team to get a commitment.
  • Bleacher Report fingers Sept. 20 as the critical date of the college football season, with a number of red-letter games in the Pac-10.
  • Finally, the Tree Sitters aren't going quietly.
 
 Rick Scuteri/US Presswire
 Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter is the Pac-10's top QB.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Quick: Which quarterback will be named first-team All-Pac-10 in 2008?

Most years, there's an consensus shortlist. No so in 2008.

Folks down in Tempe justifiably would point at Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter, who figures to finish his career ranked among the conference's top-three all-time in career yards and touchdown passes.

But just down South, Arizona's Willie Tuitama might post the season's biggest numbers in his second year with offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes spread offense and a veteran receiving corps -- think 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Up North in Seattle, Washington's Jake Locker flashed so much dual-threat brilliance as a redshirt freshman, he could be a darkhorse.

UCLA's Ben Olson and California's Nate Longshore both have talent and fantastic games on their resumes. Both also would be good comeback stories, so there's a potential sentimental angle to sway voters.

And no one in their right mind would say this: "No way USC's quarterback earns first-team All-Pac-10 honors." So Mark Sanchez has to be on the list.

This is not a bumper year for Pac-10 QBs. Only three schools are locked at the position: Tuitama, Carpenter and Locker.

There's a clear leader at four schools -- Oregon (Nate Costa), UCLA (Olson), USC (Sanchez) and Washington State (Gary Rogers). But it wouldn't be shocking if any of the four lost his job at some point this season.

Meanwhile, competitions are wide open at California (Longshore vs. Kevin Riley), Oregon State (Lyle Moevao vs. Sean Canfield) and Stanford (Tavita Prichard vs. Jason Forcier, Alex Loukas and Andrew Luck).

In other words, ranking the conference's QBs before the first snap may well be a fool's errand.

Well, you know what they say: Nothing ventured... Nothing ventured.

  1. Rudy Carpenter, Sr., Arizona State: He enters his senior season with 65 touchdowns and 8,000 yards passing, meaning he's going to dust such luminaries, such as Matt Leinart, Jake Plummer, John Elway and Carson Palmer in the Pac-10 record book. Moreover, the Sun Devils figure to finish in the top-third in the conference.
  2. Willie Tuitama, Sr., Arizona: It's hard to imagine if he stays healthy that he won't lead the conference in passing and touchdown passes. And if he leads the Wildcats to their sixth or seventh win and their first bowl berth since 1998 with an upset victory over ASU, it would be hard to deny him.
  3. Mark Sanchez, Jr., USC: Got a feeling Sanchez, an outstanding talent, will break through this season in large part because an underachieving receiving corps is due to, er, achieve.
  4. Jake Locker, So., Washington: If he were surrounded by budding NFL talent, he'd be Tim Tebow. Locker is an outstanding runner who improved on his passing accuracy this past spring. His receivers are athletic but unproven. It wouldn't be shocking if he accounted for 3,500 to 4,000 yards of total offense.
  5. Nate Longshore, Sr., California: In 2006, he looked like a budding NFL draft pick. In 2007, he looked befuddled and overwhelmed. He might not even beat out Kevin Riley. Or he might again throw for 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns.
  6. Ben Olson, Sr., UCLA: He remains a big talent but Olson has lacked consistency and can't stay healthy. Of course, a few years ago in LA, Norm Chow hooked up with another talented but inconsistent QB: Carson Palmer.
  7. Nate Costa, So., Oregon: Ranking Costa ahead of more experienced QBs is a leap of faith due to this: I've heard so many great things about this dual-threat that it's hard to believe he's not going to become a star.
  8. Lyle Moevao, Jr., Oregon State: He'll have to be more than a game-manager relying on a great defense this season, and he could lose his starting perch. Still, he looked good this spring and is a respected team leader.
  9. Tavita Prichard, Sr., Stanford: He beat USC, which is good, but he didn't do much else. He completed just 50 percent of his passes with nine interceptions and five TDs.
  10. Gary Rogers, Sr., Washington State: He's huge -- 6-foot-7, 233 pounds -- but he's an unproven guy running a new offense. Helps that he has a solid group of receivers, led by Brandon Gibson.

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