Thursday, February 21, 2013
Poll: Spring storylines
By Kevin Gemmell
It's going to be an interesting spring.
When the dog days roll around and all of the spring games have wrapped in late April, we're usually left with just as many questions as we were when spring ball started. Position battles are rarely won in February, March and April.
But plenty are lost.
There are lots of great storylines surrounding the Pac-12 this spring. But which is the one that is going to be keeping you glued to the Pac-12 blog for the next 10 weeks? So your Thursday poll question: What is the most interesting Pac-12 storyline this spring?
New coaches: Three new coaches step in to three programs in very different states (literally as well as figuratively). Mike MacIntyre needs a team of masons to rebuild at Colorado. Sonny Dykes needs to patch more holes at Cal rather than ripping everything down. And Mark Helfrich steps into a system that ain't broke and doesn't need fixing.
Quarterback competitions: As many as six quarterback competitions are open. Arizona, Cal, Colorado and USC are all looking to break in new starters. Oregon State has to choose between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz. Washington State has some experience with Connor Halliday. But Mike Leach has proven to be quick to replace a starter if they aren't performing to his standards.
Replacing running backs: The Pac-12 said goodbye to three of its most celebrated running backs with the departures of Johnathan Franklin, Kenjon Barner and Stepfan Taylor. Franklin and Barner were Doak Walker finalists and Taylor was arguably the most complete back in the league. Oregon looks to be in good shape with Byron Marshall, among others. Stanford seems to be set with Anthony Wilkerson and/or Tyler Gaffney, among others. And the Bruins have a committee that's probably headlined by Jordon James, among others. None are set in stone, and replacing that stellar trio won't be easy.
Spring injuries: There are some big names who will be missing spring -- among them are USC linebacker Dion Bailey and Cal running back Brendan Bigelow. Cause for concern? Or inconsequential?
USC: A lot of eyes are on the Trojans as they look to leave an abysmal 2012 in the rear view mirror. Lane Kiffin enters spring on the toasty chair, the quarterback competition will be noteworthy and the defense looks to transition to a 3-4 defense under Clancy Pendergast.