Monday, May 9, 2011
Post-spring power rankings
By ESPN.com staff
What's the post-spring pecking order? See below.
(For comparison, you can consider the January power rankings).
1. Oregon: The Ducks, the two-time defending champions, are No. 1 until somebody knocks them off. The defense outplayed the offense much of spring, which might mean the rebuilding offensive line is questionable. Or that the rebuilding defense is solid.
2. Stanford: It starts with quarterback Andrew Luck, which means the Cardinal have the best starting point in all of college football. But it's not all him. Stanford is stacked at running back, tight end and linebacker and looks solid on the offensive line and in the secondary. Big question is the defensive line.
3. Arizona State: It hurt losing two starters, All-Pac-10 cornerback Omar Bolden and receiver T.J. Simpson, to knee injuries this spring, but the Sun Devils still look like the top team for the South Division.
4. USC: Spring wasn't terribly revealing because so many players were hurt. But quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods looked very good, while the defense looked improved. If the Trojans get their post-season eligibility back from the NCAA, watch out. This could be a dangerous team.
5. Arizona: Safety Adam Hall and linebacker Jake Fischer suffered knee injuries, which isn't good for the defense. The offensive line, which is replacing five starters, struggled at times. But quarterback Nick Foles and the conference's deepest crew of receivers make the Wildcats a threat to anyone.
6. Washington: Keith Price asserted himself in the quarterback competition with Nick Montana, and the defense looks improved. The Huskies may actually take a step forward post-Jake Locker instead of a step back.
7. Utah: Hard to evaluate the offense with new coordinator Norm Chow because quarterback Jordan Wynn was out with a shoulder injury. But questions at running back and in the secondary don't seem as worrisome after spring practices compared to before.
8. UCLA: UCLA didn't answer its questions at quarterback, and the offensive line has injury questions, but the Bruins defense looks like it might take a significant step forward in 2011.
9. Oregon State: The Beavers have a lot of questions, which injury issues didn't help. Chief among them are both offensive and defensive lines and running back. Hearing at some point this offseason that WR James Rodgers is running again -- and fast -- will ease many concerns.
10. California: The Bears still have questions at quarterback, running back and the offensive line. Practices were closed, so all the touted young talent on defense is mostly based on conjecture. The Bears may take a step forward in 2011, but it's hard to say at this point exactly why.
11. Colorado: The Buffaloes were mostly competitive last season in the Big 12, and it helps that they have an experienced quarterback in Tyler Hansen and a returning 1,300-yard rusher in Rodney Stewart. Still, it seems that new coach Jon Embree has inherited a team that needs to be rebuilt, particularly in terms of speed at receiver and in the secondary.
12. Washington State: Everything suggests the Cougars will be much improved in 2011, starting with what should be a potent passing game with quarterback Jeff Tuel. But two conference victories in three previous seasons forces us to act all Missouri on this one: The Cougs have got to show us.