Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Offensive 3-headed monster: North
By Kevin Gemmell
You remember the three-headed monster, right? It's about returning production that will scare -- terrify! --opponents. Or not.
On offense, it's elite combinations at quarterback, running back and receiver.
On defense, it's elite combinations of a leading tackler, a leader in sacks and leader in interceptions.
This year, we're breaking things down by division.
We looked at the South Division offensive three-headed monsters on Monday. On Tuesday, we’ll take a look at the North Division offense.
Only Cal and Washington State return their three-headed leaders from last season. The other four teams have all had a change of some kind. And there are some big question marks surrounding a couple of schools -- especially the one in Seattle.
Let’s take a look:
QB Marcus Mariota, RB Byron Marshall, WR, Bralon Addison
The skinny: Heisman candidate + rising star + explosive playmaker = nasty. Though losing Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas, the Oregon offense should be explosive once again. Mariota led the nation in adjusted QBR last season to go with 31 passing touchdowns to just four interceptions. Marshall is a returning 1,000-yard rusher with 14 touchdowns last season, and Addison hauled in nine scores.
QB Kevin Hogan, RB ?, WR Ty Montgomery
The skinny: The Cardinal get the No. 2 spot here based on experience at quarterback and the fact Montgomery is returning after a second-team all-league year. And whoever the “regular” running back is, be it Kelsey Young (the leading returner in yards), Ricky Seale, Barry Sanders or Remound Wright, he will be running behind a stellar offensive line. Worth noting that Hogan and Montgomery had more rushing yards last year than any of the listed running backs. But Stanford's success running the football leads the Pac-12 blog to give it the benefit of the doubt.
3. Oregon State
QB Sean Mannion, RB Terron Ward, WR Richard Mullaney
The skinny: Though the Beavers lose Brandin Cooks, Mannion has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country after throwing 37 touchdowns last year. Storm Woods had more carries and touchdowns, but Ward had more yards, so they’ll likely work in unison, again. Mullaney had 52 catches last season.
4. Washington State
QB Connor Halliday, RB Marcus Mason, WR Gabe Marks
The skinny: WSU gets the edge in the rankings over Washington (for now) because there are still a lot of question marks around the Huskies. Halliday tossed 34 touchdowns last year and threw for nearly 4,600 yards. Marks has blossomed into a bona fide playmaker and should be in the mix for all-conference honors. The Cougars don’t do much in the way of running the football. But when they did last year, Mason totaled 429 yards on 87 carries.
QB?, RB Jesse Callier, WR, Jaydon Mickens
The skinny: Washington is one of those programs that could end up in one of the top two spots by the end of the season. But for now, there is too much unknown. The status of QB Cyler Miles is still up in the air. Callier has the most returning attempts (one more than Dwayne Washington and five more than Deontae Cooper) and the Huskies expect Kasen Williams back by the fall at receiver. Mickens caught 65 balls and five touchdowns last year and the aforementioned RB trio combined for 10 touchdowns.
QB Jared Goff, RB Khalfani Muhammad, WR Bryce Treggs
The skinny: There is a lot of potential in this group. The Bears just need that potential to translate into points on the field. Goff threw for 3,508 yards in his debut season, and Treggs caught 77 of his passes. Though just one for a touchdown (Chris Harper and Kenny Lawler each caught five). Though the departed Brendan Bigelow had more carries, Muhammad outperformed him with more yards and touchdowns.