Pac-12: 2011 pac-12 spring team wraps

Spring wrap: Arizona

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
11:30
AM ET
ARIZONA

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 4-5

Returning starters

Offense: 5, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: kicker

Top returners

QB Nick Foles, WR Juron Criner, LB Paul Vassallo, DT Justin Washington, CB Trevin Wade

Key losses

C Colin Baxter, DE Brooks Reed, DE Ricky Elmore

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Keola Antolin* (668)

Passing: Nick Foles* (3,191)

Receiving: Juron Criner* (1,233)

Tackles: Paul Vassallo* (102)

Sacks: Ricky Elmore (11)

Interceptions: Joseph Perkins, Adam Hall*, Shaquille Richardson* (2)

Spring answers

1. Set at QB: With starter Nick Foles and backups Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne, no team in the conference will be as comfortable at quarterback. Foles is a three-year starter and All-American candidate who likely will be a high NFL draft pick. The hope is to redshirt Scott so he can return in 2012 and compete for the starting job with Rutgers transfer Tom Savage, but if Scott is needed he can seamlessly step in. Toss in the veteran Beirne, and you have a troika that combined for 31 completions, 380 yards and four scores in a 60-play scrimmage.

2. Deep at receiver: This is without question the deepest corps of receivers in the Pac-12 and one of the best in the nation, starting with All-American candidate Juron Criner. Texas transfer Dan Buckner provides another big target, and David Douglas, David Roberts, Richard Morrison, Terrence Miller, Austin Hill, Tyler Slavin and Garic Wharton provide plenty of options for Foles. Yes, the Wildcats should be able to pass this fall.

3. Secondary not really an issue: Free safety Adam Hall is a budding star, so you can't write off his knee injury this spring, but the Wildcats are fairly stacked in the secondary. Robert Golden can move back to strong safety from cornerback, while Trevin Wade, Jonathan McKnight and Shaquille Richardson give the defense three strong options at cornerback. Marquis Flowers is a rising star at safety. Of course, it would be nice to get Hall back at some point this season.

Fall questions

1. Young on the offensive line: There was optimism about the five new offensive line starters this spring, but, heck, it's five new offensive line starters. That's not an easy thing in the Pac-12. It typically takes a young line time to develop chemistry, so it will be interesting to see how the process goes for the Cats. Redshirt freshman tackles Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele looked solid, as did junior Trace Biskin and sophomore Chris Putton at the guards. Junior center Kyle Quinn is the only guy with a start to his credit (one, in the Alamo Bowl).

2. Help wanted at linebacker: The Wildcats welcomed back all three starting linebackers from 2010 until Jake Fisher went down late in the spring game with a knee injury. That brought up an issue: Sure, the starters were back but there was little to no depth behind them, particularly after two backups who were expected to return in 2011 quit the team. That means incoming freshmen will be thrown immediately into the mix: Rob Hankins, Hank Hobson and Domonique Petties.

3. Edge rush? The Wildcats are replacing three defensive ends who were selected in the NFL draft, including Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore, multi-year starters who combined for 17.5 sacks last fall. Converted linebacker C.J. Parish was a breakout player this spring, and Mohammed Usman is solid. Still, just how good will the edge pressure be with this much inexperience?

Spring wrap: Arizona State

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
11:00
AM ET
ARIZONA STATE

2010 overall record: 6-6

2010 conference record: 4-5

Returning starters

Offense: 9, Defense: 8, punter/kicker 0

Top returners

WR Gerell Robinson, RB Cameron Marshall, C Garth Gerhart, LB Vontaze Burfict, DE Junior Onyeali, LB Brandon McGee

Key losses

WR Kerry Taylor, DT Lawrence Guy, QB Steven Threet

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Cameron Marshall* (787)

Passing: Steven Threet (2,534)

Receiving: Kerry Taylor (699)

Tackles: Vontaze Burfict* (90)

Sacks: Junior Onyeali* (6.5)

Interceptions: Omar Bolden* (3)

Spring answers

1. Experience on offensive line: The Sun Devils are the only Pac-12 team that welcomes back its entire starting offensive line from 2010. In fact, the only person from last year's depth chart not back is guard Jon Hargis. Garth Gerhart, a 22-game starter, is the anchor at center, and with Evan Finkenberg, Dan Knapp and Aderious Simmons, there are three tackles with starting experience.

2. A couple of Guys at defensive tackle: The Sun Devils lost both starting defensive tackles -- Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola -- but Will Sutton and Corey Adams stepped up this spring and showed they can be more than adequate replacements. Sutton, in particular, was unblockable at times. The key for Adams is staying healthy.

3. Hello Mr. Robinson: With receiver Mike Willie out while recovering from offseason surgery and receiver T.J. Simpson suffering a knee injury this spring, the Sun Devils needed someone to step up as a go-to receiver. That would be Gerell Robinson, who might have had as good a spring as anyone on the team.

Fall questions

1. Is Osweiler ready for prime time: When quarterback Steven Threet, the Sun Devils' 2010 starter, was forced to retire because of recurrent concussions, the offense was handed over to Brock Osweiler. His strong finish coming off the bench for Threet had most believing the transition would be smooth (and that Osweiler might have beaten out Threet in any event). Osweiler seemed to get better as spring went on and was very good in the spring game. Still, how well will he lead a top-25 team with visions of a Pac-12 South championship?

2. Secondary issues: Losing first-team All-Pac-10 cornerback Omar Bolden to a knee injury was huge. You can't easily replace a very good player and leader. Further, safety might be the most questionable position on a good defense. There's a feeling sophomore Alden Darby is going to step up somewhere. Devan Spann, Osahon Irabor and Deveron Carr are going to need to do the same at cornerback.

3. Special questions: The Sun Devils need to replace punter Trevor Hankins and kicker Thomas Weber. Touted junior college punter Josh Hubner had a solid spring, but it remains to be seem if he can be consistent on Saturdays. At kicker, Alex Garoutte struggled with inconsistency. Is he going to find his rhythm? And, if not, are there other options?

Spring wrap: California

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
10:30
AM ET
CALIFORNIA

2010 overall record: 5-7

2010 conference record: 3-6

Returning starters

Offense: 7, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Marvin Jones, WR Keenan Allen, OT Mitchell Schwartz, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB D.J. Holt, P Bryan Anger

Key losses

RB Shane Vereen, C Chris Guarnero, QB Kevin Riley, DE Cameron Jordan, S Chris Conte

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Shane Vereen (1,167)

Passing: Kevin Riley (1,409)

Receiving: Marvin Jones* (765)

Tackles: Mike Mohamed (95)

Sacks: Mychal Kendricks* (8.5)

Interceptions: Marc Anthony* (2)

Spring answers

1. Getting defensive: Even with the top two nose tackles out -- Aaron Tipoti and Kendrick Payne -- the Bears' front seven controlled the line of scrimmage. Ends Trevor Guyton, Gabe King and Deandre Coleman turned in strong springs. Mychal Kendricks moves from outside to inside linebacker next to D.J. Holt, while the rest of the linebacking crew is young but talented, including Cecil Whiteside, Chris McCain, Nick Forbes and David Wilkerson.

2. Isi on top: Isi Sofele isn't big and some wonder if he can take the week-to-week pounding a starting tailback does, but he was the clear No. 1 on the depth chart at the end of spring. He likely faces a challenge this fall.

3. Team matters: There was a lot of focus this spring on intangibles -- improving the team culture and building unity. Players wore workout shirts that said "Team Matters," and that was a theme that seemed to catch on. In 2010, the Bears were a talented team that often appeared unfocused. They either played great or terrible. Coach Jeff Tedford wants more consistency.

Fall questions

1. Is Maynard the man? Zach Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo, seemed to emerge as the top quarterback by the end of spring practices, eclipsing Brock Mansion and Allen Bridgford. Particularly appealing is his mobility. Will he hold his spot in fall camp, or might Mansion or Bridgford make a charge?

2. Is there going to be a youth movement? The Bears signed an outstanding recruiting class, and incoming players could be in the mix immediately on both sides of the ball. Who makes a move? It seems almost certain that one of the running backs gets into the rotation, but the incoming talent on defense is already on coordinator Clancy Pendergast's radar.

3. Tedford takes charge: Tedford is working extensively with the quarterbacks now, and he will be the primary play-caller this fall, a job he's juggled at various times during his Berkeley tenure. Will this extra coaching involvement help, particularly at quarterback, where things have fallen off in recent years?

Spring wrap: Colorado

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
10:00
AM ET
COLORADO

2010 Overall record: 5-7

2010 conference record: 2-6 (Big 12)

Returning starters

Offense: 8, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: punter

Top returners

RB Rodney Stewart, WR Paul Richardson, QB Tyler Hansen, OG Ryan Miller, LB Jon Major, DE Josh Hartigan

Key losses:

OT Nate Solder, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Jalil Brown, LB Michael Sipili

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Stewart* (1,318)

Passing: Cody Hawkins (1,547)

Receiving: Scotty McKnight (621)

Tackles: Sipili (94)

Sacks: Josh Hartigan (7)

Interceptions: Brown (3)

Spring answers

1. Hello, my name is: The first priority since only one coach was retained from the previous staff was the get to know one another -- coaches and players. For the players, they needed to know that a new sheriff was in town, and coach Jon Embree made sure they knew things were different with a physically taxing spring session. Further, coaches had to find their own rhythm working together. And, obviously, new schemes had to be adapted: a pro-style offense and 4-3 base defense.

2. Hansen without Hawkins: After sharing the starting job with former coach Dan Hawkins' son Cody the previous three seasons, Hansen is a man-alone at quarterback. That might help, and the results in scrimmages suggested so. In one, he completed 18 of 19 passes for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns (a 255.6 rating), and his totals for all three scrimmages were 39-of-53 (73.6%), 531 yards/5 touchdowns/zero interceptions (188.9 rating). He also showed he's learning to get rid of the ball as he wasn't sacked in the three scrimmages.

3. Fronting the seven: Heading into spring, the defensive front seven was a question, even with a lot of guys back. It still is, but a number of players stepped up, most notably linebacker Doug Rippy and defensive tackle Conrad Obi. Both are upperclassmen who seemed energized by a coaching change. The 310-pound Obi, in particular, was a revelation. After playing just 100 snaps the previous three seasons, he dominated three scrimmages, piling up 20 tackles, six coming for a loss -- four were for no-gain, by the way -- with two sacks and a forced fumble. Oh, and outside linebacker Jon Major came back strong from a knee injury.

Fall questions

1. Hey, buddy, can you spare a corner? Smith and Brown are off to the NFL, and their replacements didn't reveal themselves this spring. In fact, the results in general in the secondary were a bit worrisome, and incoming players may be needed to help.

2. Operation install: Much of spring was dedicated to figuring out what sort of talent was on-hand, so the offensive scheme wasn't fully implemented. That's going to be a chief task during fall camp.

3. Just for kicks? Embree was outspoken about how unhappy he was with the special teams play he saw on film in 2010, and he looked exasperated more than a few times this spring. The Buffaloes specialists are going to be young and were markedly inconsistent this spring. Sophomore punter Zach Grossnickle averaged just 39.5 yards per punt in 2010, while sophomore Justin Caster was No. 1 at kicker after spring practices.

Spring wrap: Oregon

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
9:30
AM ET
OREGON

2010 Overall record: 12-1

2010 conference record: 9-0

Returning starters

Offense: 6, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

RB LaMichael James, QB Darron Thomas, OT Mark Asper, TE David Paulson, CB Cliff Harris, FS John Boyett

Key losses

WR Jeff Maehl, C Jordan Holmes, LB Casey Matthews, DT Brandon Bair, DE Kenny Rowe, CB Talmadge Jackson

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: James* (1,731)

Passing: Thomas* (2,881)

Receiving: Maehl (1,076)

Tackles: Matthews (79)

Sacks: Rowe (7)

Interceptions: Harris* (6)

Spring answers

1. Strong on defensive line: Terrell Turner, who missed spring with an injury, is the only returning starter up front, but that doesn't appear to be a problem. Dion Jordan and Brandon Hanna looked good at the ends, while Ricky Heimuli, Taylor Hart, Wade Keliikipi, Isaac Remington and Jared Ebert stood out inside. The general feeling is the Ducks will continue to play a lot of guys up front and there won't be any drop-off from 2010.

2. Deep defensive backs: Harris and Anthony Gildon are the starters at cornerback, and John Boyett and Eddie Pleasant are the safeties in what should be one of the conference's best secondaries. Further, there's tons of depth. Troy Hill was a standout at corner this spring, which duplicated fellow corner Terrance Mitchell's showing last spring. Scott Grady and Dior Mathis are further options at cornerback. Things are not as deep at safety, where Brian Jackson is No. 3 and Erick Dargan is an intriguing talent. Avery Patterson and Isaac Dixon can play both corner and safety.

3. Thomas and James to lead: There are two legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates in the backfield: running back James, a finalist last season, and quarterback Thomas, who earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2010. Their star power will give them standing on the team, and both seem ready to lead what could be another stellar season in Eugene.

Fall questions

1. Offensive line uncertainty: The unit struggled at times this spring after losing three starters (though it's hard to look at experienced veteran Darrion Weems as not a returning starter). The first line most of spring was Weems at left tackle, Mark Asper at right tackle, Karrington Armstrong at center and Ramsen Golpashin and Carson York at the guards. But Golpashin is a former walk-on, and Nick Cody and Ryan Clanton have the physical skills to start, while redshirt freshman Hroniss Grasu is still in the mix at center. There's some "to be continued" here.

2. Good to receive? The Ducks need to replace their top two receivers, and with Josh Huff missing most of spring with an injury, it was clear this unit isn't ready for prime time just yet. Lavasier Tuinei, Nick Cole, Justin Hoffman and Will Murphy are solid but unspectacular. The elite playmaking may have to come from a touted class of incoming recruits: freshmen Devon Blackmon, Tacoi Sumler and B.J. Kelley and JC transfer Rahsaan Vaughn.

3. What's up in the middle? Things looked pretty good at middle linebacker, which was vacant with Casey Matthews off to the NFL, until Kiko Alonso got suspended after an arrest, which duplicates what happened to him last offseason. His status remains unclear, which is too bad because he had a great spring. The obvious answer if Alonso doesn't return is Dewitt Stuckey.

Spring wrap: Oregon State

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
9:00
AM ET
OREGON STATE

2010 overall record: 5-7

2010 conference record: 4-5

Returning starters

Offense: 7, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: punter

Top returners

QB Ryan Katz, WR James Rodgers, WR Markus Wheaton, TE Joe Halahuni, S Lance Mitchell

Key losses

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, C Alex Linnenkohl, DT Stephen Paea, DE Gabe Miller, CB James Dockery

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers (1,184)

Passing: Ryan Katz (2,401)

Receiving: Markus Wheaton* (675)

Tackles: Dwight Roberson (88)

Sacks: Stephen Paea (6)

Interceptions: James Dockery (4)

Spring answers

1. Primary in the secondary: Safety Lance Mitchell leads a solid group in the defensive backfield. Brandon Hardin is back at one corner -- he struggled at times in 2010 but had a solid spring -- with talented Jordan Poyer on the other side and Rashaad Reynolds as an emerging option. Anthony Watkins is the other safety with Josh LaGrone supplying the depth.

2. Outside linebackers are fast: While things are still uncertain at middle linebacker, Michael Doctor and Cameron Collins are fast and aggressive on the outside. Doctor, a sophomore, looks poised for a star turn. Collins is a converted safety who is building a reputation as a big hitter.

3. Backup plan: While starting quarterback Ryan Katz sat out with a wrist injury, sophomore Cody Vaz asserted himself in the competition for the backup role with talented redshirt freshman Sean Mannion. Katz is expected to be full speed this summer, but Vaz eased concerns about potential "what if" plans.

Fall questions

1. Hurting playmakers: Four of the Beavers top five offensive playmakers missed all or some of spring -- Katz, receiver James Rodgers, receiver Jordan Bishop and tight end/H-back Joe Halahuni -- and Katz is the only one who is expected to be good to go for fall camp. Rodgers, of course, is the most worrisome. At 100 percent, he's one of the most dangerous players -- catching the ball or in the return game -- in the nation. But he suffered a severe knee injury in October, and his prognosis is uncertain.

2. Lines of fire? The offensive line welcomes back four starters, but it underperformed last season and wasn't terribly impressive this spring. Coaches are still looking for the right combination of players. The defensive line didn't play terribly well in 2010 either, and it lost its two best players -- tackle Stephen Paea and end Gabe Miller -- who were both NFL draft picks. Who's going to be the edge rusher? Who's going to anchor inside? Line play -- on both sides of the ball -- will tell the tale of the Beavers' season.

3. Taking a Quizz: You don't replace a running back like Jacquizz Rodgers easily, but Beavers fans probably recall hand-wringing in the past over how to replace previous 1,000-yard rushers. Seems like the program just finds a solution. This spring a committee of backs did fairly well. Still, among the group -- Ryan McCants, Jovan Stevenson, Terron Ward, Malcolm Marabel, Jordan Jenkins and the incoming freshmen -- the ultimate pecking order hasn't yet been worked out.

Spring wrap: Stanford

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
8:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 12-1

2010 conference record: 8-1

Returning starters

Offense: 5, Defense: 6, punter/kicker: punter

Top returners

QB Andrew Luck, RB Stepfan Taylor, WR Chris Owusu, OT Jonathan Martin, OG David DeCastro, LB Shayne Skov, OLB Chase Thomas, SS Delano Howell

Key losses

C Chase Beeler, FB Owen Marecic, WR Doug Baldwin, NT Sione Fua, OLB Thomas Keiser, CB Richard Sherman

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Stepfan Taylor* (1,137 yards)

Passing: Andrew Luck* (3,338 yards)

Receiving: Doug Baldwin (857 yards)

Tackles: Shayne Skov* (84)

Sacks: Skov, Chase Thomas* (7.5)

Interceptions: Delano Howell* (5)

Spring answers

1. Loaded at tight end: It's hard to believe any team in the nation is as good at tight end as Stanford. Zach Ertz dominated the spring game with three touchdowns. Coby Fleener dominated the Orange Bowl with three touchdowns. You might recall that Levin Toilolo beat both of them out for the starting job last year but blew out his knee before the season began. Receiver is a question, but these guys are all big -- 6-foot-6 for Ertz and Fleener to 6-8 for Toilolo -- targets for Andrew Luck.

2. No worries at LB: The Cardinal must replace two of their four starting linebackers -- one inside; one out -- but that didn't seem a concern by the end of spring. Shayne Skov is an All-American candidate inside, and Chase Thomas is an all-conference candidate outside. Trent Murphy, Alex Debniak and Blake Lueders are in the mix on the outside, while Max Bergen likely steps in for Owen Marecic. And touted true freshman James Vaughters arrives in the fall and is likely to quickly move into the picture.

3. Luck: Want an answer? Andrew Luck returning. No team in the country got a better answer this spring.

Fall questions

1. D-line depth? Two of three spots on the defensive line need to be filled, with end Matt Masifilo the only returning starter. Terrence Stephens and Ben Gardner finished spring No. 1 at nose tackle and end. Henry Anderson is the backup at nose tackle and Josh Mauro and Jacob Gowan are No. 2 at the ends. It's possible, however, D-coordinator Derek Mason might mix-and-match a bit schematically to take advantage of his depth at linebacker and the uncertainty on the D-line.

2. Ready to receive? If receiver Chris Owusu comes back healthy -- and stays that way -- the Cardinal will be solid at receiver. Without him, things are a bit uncertain, though Drew Terrell, Darren Daniel, Griff Whalen and Jamal-Rashad Patterson each had their moments this spring.

3. Center of interest? Who will replace All-American Chase Beeler at center? Junior Sam Schwartzstein owned a lead over sophomore Khalil Wilkes at the end of spring. Further, the Cardinal will also need to replace LG Andrew Phillips and RT Derek Hall. Kevin Danser and Tyler Mabry were the leaders at the end of spring.

Spring wrap: UCLA

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
8:00
AM ET
UCLA

2010 Overall record: 4-8

2010 conference record: 2-7

Returning starters

Offense: 7, Defense: 8, punter/kicker: punter

Top returners

RB Johnathan Franklin, WR Nelson Rosario, SS Tony Dye, LB Patrick Larimore

Key losses

C Ryan Taylor, DT David Carter, OLB Akeem Ayers, FS Rahim Moore, K Kai Forbath

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Johnathan Franklin* (1,127)

Passing: Richard Brehaut* (1,296)

Receiving: Taylor Embree* (409)

Tackles: Tony Dye* (96)

Sacks: Akeem Ayers, Sean Westgate* (4)

Interceptions: Aaron Hester* (3)

Spring answers

1. The defense looks solid, particularly the line: The big story was the successful return of end Datone Jones, who missed all of last season due to a broken foot, but he wasn't the only impressive player up-front this spring. Bruins line could go 10 deep. There's a nice mix of size, speed, youth and experience. There's good depth at safety and linebacker, too.

2. Run the ball: If the line can open holes up front, there are plenty of guys who can run through said hole. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 1,127 yards last fall and did a good job of holding onto the football this spring, which hasn't always been the case. Redshirt freshman Jordon James turned in a strong spring and may have moved up the pecking order. Derrick Coleman has experience and Malcolm Jones is talented.

3. Dump it to the TE: There's good depth at tight end with Cory Harkey, Joseph Fauria and Morrell Presley, who has moved from F-back to tight end. Harkey is the best blocker of the bunch, but Fauria is the best receiver. Presley has a lot of talent but he and Harkey suffered fits of the dropsies last fall.

Fall questions

1. Who's the QB? The hope was true freshman Brett Hundley would be a revelation this spring as a dual-threat QB and that the long-term issues at the position would be immediately solved. Didn't happen, and wasn't realistic to think it would. The competition will begin anew when Kevin Prince, who missed spring after knee surgery, returns to battle Hundley and Richard Brehaut in the fall.

2. O-line woes: The Bruins offensive line struggled during the spring, in large part due to injuries. While center Kai Maiava and guard/tackle Sean Sheller are expected to be OK in the fall, it's uncertain when Jeff Baca will be back from a broken ankle. He may be the Bruins best lineman. While Brett Downey, Connor Bradford and Greg Capella each had some nice moments, the depth is far from certain.

3. Where do you go for kicks? The Bruins offense should be better but it's unlikely to transform into a high-flying, high-scoring unit in one year. That means it needs to get points when it can, and often that means making field goals. In recent years, that meant Kai Forbath, who was mostly automatic, but he's off to the NFL. Kip Smith is next in line, but will be be able to fill Forbath's shoes?

Spring wrap: USC

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
7:30
AM ET
USC

2010 Overall record: 8-5

2010 conference record: 5-4

Returning starters

Offense: 6, Defense: 8, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

QB Matt Barkley, WR Robert Woods, LT Matt Kalil, RB Marc Tyler, DE Nick Perry, FS T.J. McDonald, CB Nickell Robey

Key losses

OT Tyron Smith, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristofer O'Dowd, FB Stanley Havili, DT Jurrell Casey, CB Shareece Wright

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Marc Tyler* (913)

Passing: Matt Barkley* (2,791)

Receiving: Robert Woods* (792)

Tackles: T.J. McDonald* (89)

Sacks: Jurrell Casey (4.5)

Interceptions: Nickell Robey* (4)

Spring answers

1. Secondary becomes primary: Safety T.J. McDonald and cornerback Nickell Robey are budding stars -- McDonald was second-team All-Pac-10 in 2010, so he's really more arrived than budding. This pair is a heck of a starting point for fixing a pass defense that gave up too many big plays in 2010. But it won't be just talent. Expect a significant jump in Year 2 of using coordinator Monte Kiffin's scheme just because the Trojans will better understand and be more comfortable with what they are doing.

2. Receiver Robert Woods is ready for his close-up: Woods was impressive as a true freshman, but he made a big jump this spring, looking polished and dominant at times. There will be a lot of good pass-catch combinations in the Pac-12 this fall. Matt Barkley to Woods will be one of the best.

3. This is Barkley's team: When Barkley started as a true freshman, he was in the difficult spot of being out front as a babe-in-the-woods, leading the nation's most high-profile program. In 2011, he'll be a third-year starter and a candidate to perhaps climb into the Heisman Trophy mix. And he'll be expected to be playing his final college year before entering the NFL draft. Everyone in the locker room will look to Barkley for leadership. He needs to provide that, as well as big numbers.

Fall questions

1. Oh, oh, oh-Line: The already thin offensive line was decimated by injuries this spring, which led to it often just getting decimated. Everyone is expected to be back to full-health this fall, but that doesn't guarantee anything. Will a couple of touted true freshmen -- Cyrus Hobbi and Aundrey Walker -- be needed immediately? Will the line be any good? This is a huge issue.

2. M.A.S.H. unit moves out? Twelve players on the expected 2-deep missed all or most of spring practices, including all three likely starting linebackers as well as defensive end Armond Armstead, who missed spring with a health issue that might threaten his career. Does everyone come back ready to go in the fall? And can they stay healthy? The Trojans probably can trot out a strong 22 at an opponent, but if a few players go down, the depth is suspect.

3. What's the temperature in the locker room? With the NCAA still reviewing USC's appeal of NCAA sanctions, the Trojans still don't know if they will be eligible for the postseason. If they get a bowl game back, that likely would perk up the locker room. But what if they don't? Will things hold together in Year 2 for coach Lane Kiffin? Just because many things stack up against Kiffin doesn't mean USC fans will be patient.

Spring wrap: Utah

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
7:00
AM ET
UTAH

2010 Overall record: 10-3

2010 conference record: 7-1 (Mountain West)

Returning starters

Offense: 6, Defense: 5, punter/kicker: punter

Top returners

QB Jordan Wynn, WR DeVonte Christopoher, OT Tony Bergstrom, LB Brian Blechen, LB Chaz Walker

Key losses

RB Matt Asiata, RB Eddie Wide, WR Shakey Smithson, OG Caleb Schlauderaff, DT Sealver Siliga, CB Brandon Burton

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Eddie Wide (717)

Passing: Jordan Wynn* (2,334)

Receiving: DeVonte Christopher* (660)

Tackles: Chaz Walker* (74)

Sacks: Lamar Chapman (6.5)

Interceptions: Brian Blechen* (4)

Schedule
Sept. 1 Montana State
Sept. 10 at USC
Sept. 17 at BYU
Oct. 1 Washington
Oct. 8 Arizona State
Oct. 15 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 22 at California
Oct. 29 Oregon State
Nov. 5 at Arizona
Nov. 12 UCLA
Nov. 19 at Washington State
Nov. 26 COlorado

Spring answers

1. D-line looks deep: The Utes lost two starters on their defensive line, but by the end of spring it nonetheless looked like a position of strength (tackle Sealver Siliga probably wishes he didn't enter the draft a year early after going undrafted, too). Tackle Star Lotulelei is living up to his name inside, while the Kruger brothers, Dave and Joe, made moves on the outside. Ten players are in the mix for playing time.

2. CBs are OK: The biggest concern entering spring was replacing all four starters in the secondary, but that's not nearly as much of a worry exiting spring. The safeties are young but athletic, while Ryan Lacy and Conroy Black solidified themselves as the starting corners.

3. Good at receiving: The passing game sputtered at times without quarterback Jordan Wynn, but the receiving corps looks solid, led by DeVonte Christopher and Reggie Dunn. Further, Luke Matthews moves back to receiver after playing running back and fullback in the spring. He scored three touchdowns on 18 receptions last year.

Fall questions

1. Who's Wynn's backup? Considering Wynn is coming back from shoulder surgery, the backup QB could -- knock on wood -- become a key player. True freshman Tyler Shreve outplayed sophomore Griff Robles much of spring but neither showed consistency, so the competition is ongoing, and newcomer Jon Hays joins the fray in the fall.

2. What's the pecking order at RB? The Utes are going to be able to replace the one-two punch of Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide with quality runners because Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo each turned in strong springs. But what's the pecking order? None has played a down of NCAA football. Palamo, a rugby star, was the most intriguing, but he's also the greenest.

3. Chow down? Offensive coordinator Norm Chow bolted UCLA for Salt Lake City and brought a new, pro style offense to replace the Utes traditional spread. It didn't click much this spring, but Wynn's absence is a fair excuse. Still, how long will it take for Wynn to get into the swing of things and for the entire offense to get into sync?

Spring wrap: Washington

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
7:00
AM ET
WASHINGTON

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 5-4

Returning starters

Offense: 6, Defense: 8, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

RB Chris Polk, WR Jermaine Kearse, OT Senio Kelemete, DT Alameda Ta'amu, LB Cort Dennison, CB Desmond Trufant

Key losses

QB Jake Locker, LB Mason Foster, LB Victor Aiyewa, SS Nate Williams

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Chris Polk* (1,415)

Passing: Jake Locker (2,265)

Receiving: Jermaine Kearse (1,005)

Tackles: Mason Foster (161)

Sacks: Foster (6.5)

Interceptions: Nate Fellner* (5)

Spring answers

1. Tight end now a strength: Tight end quickly transformed into a position of strength this spring. True freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins, an early enrollee, proved equal to his recruiting hype and showed he's ready physically to play at the Pac-12 level. When you toss in a strong spring from Michael Hartvigson, the Huskies now can line up in double-tight formations and make defenses respect the pass or run.

2. Defensive line stands out: Led by massive, disruptive defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, it appears that for the first time since perhaps the 1990s, the Huskies will have a deep, formidable defensive front. Redshirt freshman Josh Shirley looked like an explosive edge rusher this spring who could compliment Hau'oli Jamora. There are four or five quality guys that could complement Ta'amu inside.

3. There's good depth at receiver: Whoever wins the quarterback competition, he's going to have plenty of guys who can catch the ball: Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, Kevin Smith, James Johnson, DiAndre Campbell and Cody Bruns. Prep All-American Kasen Williams arrives in the fall. Toss in the improved tight ends, and the passing attack could be solid if things work out at ...

Fall questions

1. Price is right? It appears that sophomore Keith Price surged into the lead over redshirt freshman Nick Montana in the quarterback competition, but there's still fall camp for things to shake up. It will be interesting to see how long coach Steve Sarkisian waits before making a call. Price looked in control in the spring game, showcasing skills passing and running. Montana hasn't looked bad; it's more a matter of Price, who started at Oregon last season, asserting himself.

2. What's up with the offensive line? The defensive line looked good this spring, so perhaps that's why the offensive line struggled. But it's still a concern, even with tackles Senio Kelemete and Ben Riva out with injuries, particularly when you consider the revolving door last fall that included seven different lineups of a starting five. The Huskies figure to be a run-first team in 2011 with running back Chris Polk. The line needs to be squared away for that to be an effective plan.

3. Settling on the 'backers: Cort Dennison returns in the middle, and Garret Gilliland, who played middle linebacker behind Dennison last year, has looked good at weakside linebacker, where Mason Foster starred in 2010, but the "Sam" strongside linebacker spot is still up for grabs. John Timu and Jamaal Kearse were the top guys this spring to replace Victor Aiyewa, but Princeton Fuimaono should be a factor in the fall after not being able to participate in contact work this spring. And there's the question of depth.

Spring wrap: Washington State

May, 9, 2011
5/09/11
6:30
AM ET
WASHINGTON STATE

2010 Overall record: 2-10

2010 conference record: 1-8

Returning starters

Offense: 8, Defense: 7, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

QB Jeff Tuel, WR Marquess Wilson, DE Travis Long, SS Deone Bucannon

Key losses

C Zach Williams, DE Kevin Kooyman, P Reid Forrest

2010 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: James Montgomery (483)

Passing: Jeff Tuel* (2,780)

Receiving: Marquess Wilson* (1,006)

Tackles: Deone Bucannon* (84)

Sacks: Travis Long* (4)

Interceptions: Aire Justin, Bucannon, Alex Hoffman-Ellis* (2)

Spring answers

1. Passing happy: With quarterback Jeff Tuel, who is entering his third year as the starter, and a deep crew of receivers, led by Marquess Wilson, the Cougars passing game could be as good as any in the conference. Coach Paul Wulff's no-huddle offense, which didn't really work the previous three seasons, in large part due to a lack of talent, should be able to dictate tempo this fall instead of being victimized by it.

2. Ready to run: And this should also help the passing game: The offensive line is deeper and more talented than it has been during Wulff's tenure, and freshman running back Rickey Galvin is the explosive sort who can exploit even small creases for big gains.

3. Fronting the seven: The ultimate success of the Cougars season might come down to the defensive front seven, which is a question, but new coaches -- Chris Tormey with the linebackers and Todd Howard with the defensive line -- have injected some new ideas and energy. Both have coached elite defenses, so they at least know what they look like.

Fall questions

1. Front-7 rotation: There's some experience and talent on the defensive line and at linebacker: The Cougars will have a legit 2-deep going into the season if they stay healthy. That said, the defensive front needs to be better -- much -- in 2011. On the defensive line, Travis Long, Brandon Rankin and Jordan Pu’u Robinson sat out this spring with injuries, which allowed other players to showcase their skills. The competition will pick up in the fall as far as establishing a pecking order. At linebacker, Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Mike Ledgerwood had good springs, but young players will need to step up. Will C.J. Mizell become consistent? And where might Louis Bland fit in if he's healthy?

2. Special teams? Two of the Cougars' best players in 2010? Punter Reid Forrest and long snapper Zach Enyeart. Both need to be replaced. Forrest was a Ray Guy Award finalist. Based on performances this spring, there might be a bit of a drop-off in production -- perhaps a steep one.

3. Belief: No question Wulff is on the hotseat. The general feeling is Wulff needs to produce substantial improvement in order to be retained, whether that's bowl eligibility or five or so wins. The program has been in the dumps with four consecutive losing seasons, including just five wins during Wulff's tenure. These players don't know winning. On paper, there's been a talent upgrade. And the Cougars were far more competitive in 2010. But winning is a different animal. To perform well in the fourth quarter when a game is on the line, a team needs confidence. The Cougars need to develop a foundation of confidence this fall. They will need to believe they are good before they actually prove they are.

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