Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Summer school in the Pac-10
By Ted Miller
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
There is no offseason for any team. No Pac-10 team left spring football feeling like a finished product.
Of course, a few have more work ahead than others.
These teams have the most work ahead to reach their 2009 expectations.
- Oregon: Why Oregon, a team that figures to be ranked in the preseason top-15 or even top-10? Because the Ducks are on standing on the line where another top-12 finish -- potentially the Ducks' fifth since 2000 -- would push the program from "good" to "national power," which would be a great place for the Chip Kelly Era to begin. Of course, the Ducks approach this transition with questions on both lines, which tend to be a bad places to have concerns. So those wide-bodies need to hit the weight room -- and the track -- hard, making sure their lack of experience is offset by outstanding conditioning.
- UCLA/Arizona State: These two teams face similar issues: good defenses paired with huge questions on offense, particularly on the line and at quarterback. And both don't know what they have on the O-line because injuries were big problems this spring up front. There are differences. The Bruins are handing the keys to redshirt freshman Kevin Prince, who was good in practice and bad in scrimmages this spring. He and his receivers need to get connected this summer. The Sun Devils offense probably will belong to senior Danny Sullivan, who needs to use the summer to continue to win over his teammates who figure to be hearing from fans who aren't sure about Sullivan, who was Rudy Carpenter's backup for three years. But, really, it won't matter who plays quarterback for either if there isn't dramatic improvement up front, which means getting healthy and getting fit.
- Oregon State: The Beavers enter the offseason with significant questions on both lines, at receiver and the complicated situation at quarterback will provide plenty of opportunities for summer debate. But, as Beavers fans will tell you -- golly will they tell you! -- those are areas where reloading might be at hand, not rebuilding. They get a little quieter, however, about the issues in the secondary, mostly because that's where coach Mike Riley also seems to most wring his hands. Oregon State lost all four starters, but the most important voids are at cornerback, where Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes, both off to the NFL, started since 2005. And both, by the way, were frequently lousy in 2005, due to the pressure the Beavers scheme puts on corners. The hopefuls in the secondary need to take their summer break very seriously because a fourth consecutive finish in the top-25 might hang on their performance in 2009.