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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Give and receive: Who's going to catch the ball?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Over the coming weeks, we're going to stop looking back at 2008 and move ahead to the issues that will occupy spring practices across the Pac-10.

Consider this an appetizer.

Every spring, the biggest and most hyped competitions happen at quarterback. It's fair to say only Oregon, Oregon State and Washington have clearly established starters at the position, and Ducks and Beavers coaches might tell you there will be competition.

Nate Costa? Sean Canfield? Both won starting jobs in Eugene and Corvallis before (though certainly Costa's injury issues make him a longshot).

So quarterback will be front-and-center, as always. And for good reason. Let's remember many traced the perception of a down 2008 in the conference to instability at quarterback and a decline in passing offenses.

But a quarterback does not alone make an efficient passing offense.

Quick: Name the Pac-10's marquee receivers in 2009?

Don't look to the All-Pac-10 list. All four first- and second-team receivers are gone (Mike Thomas, Sammie Stroughter, Patrick Turner and Michael Jones).

And on the honorable mention list there's only USC's Damian Williams and Washington's D'Andre Goodwin.

The teams that return the most experience and production in the pass-catch category?

UCLA, California, Washington, Stanford and Washington State.

Those teams ranked fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th in passing offense last year.

Every team has spring issues unique to itself.

But if you're looking for one overriding theme for the conference looking forward to the 2009 season, it is this:

Will the Pac-10 return to its high-flying passing roots, or will passing offenses be grounded again?