North Division offenses set to rebound?

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
9:00
AM ET
In 2012, Washington's offense averaged 24 points per game, and quarterback Keith Price had a horribly disappointing season. In 2013, the Huskies averaged 37.9 points per game and Price redeemed himself.

The Huskies' friends to the east, the Washington State Cougars, averaged 20.4 points in coach Mike Leach's first season, his Air Raid offense pretty much grounded. In 2013, the Cougars averaged 31 points per game. Much better.

Every season, offenses and defenses improve or regress. Oregon and Arizona each scored fewer points in 2013 compared to 2012.

In 2011, UCLA ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring offense with a measly 23.1 points per game. Oregon State was even worse, ranking 11th with just 21.8 points per game. In 2012, both made huge improvements on offense and continued to trend up in 2013.

So who is poised to make a big jump this fall? We're breaking it down by division. We looked at the South on Wednesday -- predicting a USC renaissance. Today, it's the North.


Obviously, Stanford and Washington State didn't have bad offenses in 2013. The Cardinal offense, which ranked 45th in the nation in scoring, is about ball control and physical play, not piling up huge numbers. The Cougars, who ranked 52nd in the nation in scoring, owned one of the nation's best passing attacks.

Heck, even Cal moved the ball well, averaging 453.6 yards per game. It just couldn't convert passing yards into points.

All three appear poised to improve in 2014.

Stanford, with third-year starting quarterback Kevin Hogan and a talented, veteran crew of receivers, is likely to throw the ball more in 2014 than it has the previous two seasons, thought it's probably wrong to think it will abandon its run-first, smash-mouth mentality. It had that even when Andrew Luck played behind center. The Cardinal running game, however, is a question, as four starting offensive linemen and running back Tyler Gaffney must be replaced.

Washington State's question also is the O-line. With veteran quarterback Connor Halliday and a deep, experienced crew of receivers, the Cougars could light up the scoreboard if the line holds up.

The same could be said for Cal. Quarterback Jared Goff will be a second-year starter and he has a strong crew of receivers, too. He didn't get much help from an inconsistent, constantly changing line last year, and that unit remains uncertain.

It wouldn't be surprising if all three of these teams added a touchdown to their points-per-game average in 2014. Washington State, however, looks like the most likely candidate to move up a class -- from decent to good -- in 2014.

While Cal has the most room to improve, we're projecting the Cougars to approach or even cross the 40-point threshold this fall.

Ted Miller | email

College Football

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