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To the notes!
Preston from Portland writes: Silas Redd is good, quite good, but not great. If he does in fact go to LA to join the Trojans, how big of an impact would he have on USC's season?
Ted Miller: Oh, I'd say Redd is pretty darn good. He was second-team All-Big Ten in 2011, rushing for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns. He's generally considered Penn State's best returning offensive player -- and unquestionably its most explosive.
USC's already-loaded offense would be significantly better with Redd, who's a pretty good receiver out of the backfield, by the way, Matt Barkley. Paired with Curtis McNeal, the Trojans might then have the nation's best backfield tandem. Just like they do at receiver. And quarterback, though Barkley is only one guy.
Let's put it this way: How much better do you think Oregon was with Kenjon Barner behind LaMichael James? Or USC with LenDale White sharing time with Reggie Bush? Or California with Marshawn Lynch seconding J.J. Arrington?
Two elite running backs are a HUGE boon to an offense.
Further, the underrated McNeal, who averaged 6.9 yards per carry in 2011, has a history with injuries. So Redd not only offers a 1-B in the backfield, he offers an an insurance policy.
An added bonus with Redd aboard would be touted incoming freshman Nelson Agholor being able to stay at his best position -- receiver -- rather than switching to running back.
Redd would be a huge get for the Trojans, one that addresses a need area with a proven, ready-to-suit-up star.
Troy from Spokane, Wash., writes: So it seems some of the local media has tried to lower the expectations for the Huskies this year, saying things like the offense will take a step back, and that 7.5 is too big of an over/under for a win total this year. I am happy with the program's progress under Sark so far, but like many of us, would like to see the program to continue to improve. What should our expectations be this year and going forward?
Ted Miller: Eight wins would be a successful season for the Huskies. And, as I've previously noted, I think the Huskies' breakthrough to a double-digit win, top-25 season could come in 2013, when quarterback Keith Price is a senior, a number of other players hit their peak maturity and new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox's schemes have settled in.
Oh, and they return to a fancypants, remodeled Husky Stadium.
I think Washington makes a big leap forward on defense this year. I think there's solid talent that underachieved in 2011 under Nick Holt. There are two big questions: 1. The offensive line; 2. The schedule.
The big measure to me is if the Huskies get to their Oct. 20 game at Arizona with three wins. That would mean upsetting at least one among this gauntlet: at LSU, Stanford, at Oregon and USC. If that happens, there's no reason they couldn't run the table thereafter and win nine games.
But I think eight wins is a fairly optimistic number for the regular season.
Cy from Anaheim writes: With all this talk of how dynamic De'Anthony Thomas is, what are the chances that George Farmer of usc comes out and has a better season? both have similar playing styles and skill sets...
Ted Miller: Absolutely. Let's remember that Farmer was high school teammates with Marqise Lee, and there weren't many people who thought Lee was the better of the two (Robert Woods also played for Junípero Serra (Calif.) High School but was a year ahead of Farmer and Lee).
Farmer, who has outstanding speed, was beset by injuries last season but he also seemed a bit overwhelmed by college football. An abortive move to running back also didn't really work out.
The expectation is that if Farmer can stay healthy, he'll become a big-time offensive weapon. And, yes, perhaps he'll eventually battle Thomas for the title of Pac-12's most dynamic player.
Rich from Phoenix writes: I'm a die hard Sun Devil fan, but I have to say that I'm shocked that any media member would a) pick the Devils to win the PAC 12 South and b) pick them to win the conference championship game. ... Do you know who in the media made those predictions? And what backing do they have to make that vote? With the new coaching staff and system to implement, an untested linebacker corp (aside from McGee) plus a new starting quarterback and untested receivers, I can't see how they could be tops in the conference, let alone their division. But if their votes have some merit, that will bring me a little more hope going into this season. What are your feelings going into the season for the Sun Devils?
Ted Miller: I don't know which three voters in the Pac-12 media poll picked Arizona State to win the South Division and to win the Pac-12 title game. If I were running the poll, I'd take their vote away for future years because it's not a defensible vote. I don't see media polls as sacred or anything, I just think you have a responsibility if you vote to not take an idiotic position.
No offense, ASU. It's just that the Sun Devils have the fewest returning starters in the Pac-12 -- 10 -- from a team that imploded last season and fired its coach. They are adopting new schemes on both sides of the ball, schemes that are very different from last year.
All that said, I think the Sun Devils have a legitimate chance to win six games and to become bowl eligible. Forget how Todd Graham left Pittsburgh and all the bombast that followed: I think he's a good fit for what this program needed -- discipline and structure. If the Sun Devils get solid play at quarterback, they will win some games, though I'd rate their over-under for victories at four. Maybe five.
And I'd be beyond stunned if they won the Pac-12.
Ryan from Salt Lake City writes: How come you shafted Utah on your media day coverage? You have an "On Stage" article for every team in the conference but Utah. What's up with that?
Ted Miller: Typically before every season I descend into hell and consult Mephistopheles about which Pac-12 team I should screw over that coming season. Kevin joined me this year, which is cool because -- and this might surprise you -- there is an outstanding spicy food place on the third level that I wanted to show him. I really like spicy food.
Well, after chatting with Nick Saban, er, I mean, Mephistopheles, he said it should be Utah. Something about a past trip to New Orleans bothered him. Kevin agreed. I said I didn't want to do Utah because Kyle Whittingham is the closest thing to a pit fighter in the conference. Pit fighters are both cool and a little risky to harass. But I was outvoted. Kevin and Ni ... Mephistopheles shared a cackle with each other.
So that's why we didn't included Utah with our "On stage..." feature during media day. It will be the first of many slights, curses and mishaps that will befall the Utes because of this random bit of evilness from the Pac-12 blog.
You might hear an alternative explanation that yours truly had a WiFi glitch that killed the unsaved piece when I tried to post it, but you should ignore that perfectly reasonable explanation.
We didn't redo the post because, well, it would have been fiction. Utah was no longer on stage.
And, if you want to see Utah "on stage," just go here (you can hear me cloaking my preseason curse as a question about defensive tackle Junior Salt to Whittingham and a follow-up with Star Lotulelei at 7:40).