Pac-12: preseason position reviews 2012

Stacking up Pac-12 position reviews

July, 23, 2012
7/23/12
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Our Pac-12 position rankings are done. You can review them here.

So, how about going big picture?

Our methodology, as we point out on an annual basis, is suspect. But it's our methodology and if you don't like it, hey, get your own methodology.

Sorry. I'm OK now.

Here's how it goes: Each team gets three points for "Great shape," two points for "Good shape," and one point for the dreaded ... cue "Psycho" music... "We'll see."

However, we make exceptions for two positions: 1. kickers and punters have been reduced in value; 2. elite quarterbacks have been increased.

If you are in "great shape" at kicker or punter, you only get two points, and you get one point for good and zero for "we'll see." If you are in "great shape" at quarterback, you get four points. Good shape still gets two and "we'll see" one.

And, yes, that means Oregon State gets the same points at QB as USC.

Here are the standings:
  1. USC (in "Great shape" in nine of 12 positions): 33
  2. Oregon: 30
  3. Utah: 28
  4. California: 25
  5. Oregon State: 23
  6. Stanford: 23
  7. UCLA: 23
  8. Washington: 22
  9. Washington State: 22
  10. Arizona: 19
  11. Arizona State: 17
  12. Colorado ("We'll see" in nine of 12 positions): 13

Things are certainly defensible at the top and bottom. Just about everyone rates USC and Oregon as preseason top-five teams and favorites in the South and North Divisions. And everyone has Colorado at the bottom.

The big head scratcher is Stanford being equivalent with Oregon State and UCLA, teams it pounded last year. The Beavers get three points on the Cardinal at QB, which is a big difference. And UCLA might be more solid than many believe (the Bruins are in "good shape" in nine positions, with one "we'll see" (kicker) and "great shapes" with cornerback and punter).

Washington is a bit low and California a bit high. Cal gets consistent marks on defense. Washington takes two zeroes for specialists. Last year, it got "great shape" for both.

Last year, the numbers ranged from 25 (Oregon) to 16 (Oregon State). It appears the distance between top and bottom is wider this fall.

Great shape-We'll see" per team
Arizona 1-4

Arizona State 1-6

California 5-2

Colorado 0-9

Oregon 7-0

Oregon State 4-4

Stanford 3-3

UCLA 1-1

USC 9-0

Utah 4-0

Washington 2-3

Washington State 2-3

Teams averaged 3.25 "great shapes" and 2.92 "we'll sees." Last year, it was 2.67 "great shapes" and 3.58 "we'll sees."

So that suggests more "great" and less worrisome unknown.

Colorado is not in great shape anywhere, though you could argue they are pretty close at linebacker and with two returning specialists. Arizona and Arizona State are only in great shape at punter and running back, respectively. You'd have to say the Sun Devils shake out better with that.

Oregon, USC and Utah never ended up with a "we'll see." Do you guys see any positions of obvious weakness for that troika?
  • Positions with the most "Great shapes": running back (6) and cornerback (5).
  • Position with the most "We'll sees": offensive line (5) and punter (5).
  • Every position had at least three great shapes.
  • Every position had at least one "We'll see." Cornerback gets one (Colorado). Running back and defensive end get two.
  • Punters are often overlooked, at least until they mess up badly and shank one. But punters play a major role in field position, which often proves crucial in a tight game.

    So how do things stack up at punter in the Pac-12?

    By the way, if you want to review previous position reviews, go here.

    Great shape

    Oregon: Jackson Rice was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. The Ducks were No. 1 in the nation in net punting last year. Really not much else to say.

    [+] EnlargeJackson Rice
    Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAs a Ray Guy finalist last season, Jackson Rice had Oregon tops in the NCAA in net punting.
    Arizona: Kyle Dugandzic led the Pac-12 with an average of 46 yards per punt.

    Utah: Sean Sellwood was fourth in the Pac-12 with an average of 45 yards per boot. And the Utes were 12th in the nation in net punting.

    UCLA: UCLA's Jeff Locke averaged 44.3 yards per punt, which ranked fifth in the conference. The Bruins were 22nd in the nation in net punting. Locke is also good on kickoffs.

    Good shape

    Colorado: Darragh O'Neill was solid last year with a 42.6-yard average, but he's being challenged by Zach Grossnickle.

    Arizona State: While Josh Hubner only averaged 41.3 yards per punt, the Sun Devils were fifth in the conference in opponent punt returns.

    USC: Kyle Negrete averaged a modest 40.1 yards per punt in 2011. The Trojans were 43rd in the nation in net punting.

    We'll see

    Stanford: Daniel Zychlinski was Stanford's starting punter for the first 10 games in 2010 before David Green took over. He averaged 41.7 yards in 2010.

    Washington State: JC transfer Mike Bowlin will take care of punting and kickoffs. He looked good this spring.

    Oregon State: Australian Tim McMullen was No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart. Hopefully he is as colorful as the departed Johnny Hekker. Keith Kostol is another possibility.

    Washington: The Huskies are counting on touted incoming freshman Korey Durkee to replace Kiel Rasp.

    California: The Bears are only replacing Bryan Anger, perhaps the best punter in school history. On the post-spring depth chart, incoming freshman Cole Leininger was the only punter listed.

    Pac-12 preseason position reviews: Safety

    July, 19, 2012
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    The Pac-12 has two of the best safeties in the nation in Oregon's John Boyett and USC's T.J. McDonald, but how do things stack up across the board at the position?

    Let's take a look.

    By the way, if you want to review previous position reviews, go here.

    Great shape

    USC: The Trojans are stacked at safety. McDonald may be the best safety in the nation, and Jawanza Starling is a returning starter on the other side. Then there's Demetrius Wright, who might beat out Starling, Drew McAllister, touted JC transfer Gerald Bowman and Florida transfer Josh Shaw.

    [+] EnlargeJohn Boyett
    Chris Morrison/US PresswireJohn Boyett will be a fourth-year starter for the Ducks.
    Utah: Brian Blechen and Eric Rowe return to anchor a secondary that led the Pac-12 in pass-efficiency defense. Both are former freshmen All-Americans.

    Oregon: Boyett is slated to be a rare four-year starter. Not only has he been very good for the Ducks, he's improved every year. Replacing Eddie Pleasant is the biggest challenge for the Ducks defense, but Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson both have plenty of ability, as does Erick Dargan.

    Good shape

    UCLA: Tevin McDonald, brother to T.J., and Andrew Abbott are both back. They combined for seven interceptions last year. The depth behind them, however, is suspect.

    Washington: Everybody is back at safety, but the big question is if touted incoming freshman Shaq Thompson will start beside strong safety Sean Parker. At the end of spring, Justin Glenn was the free safety. Travis Feeney, Will Shamburger and James Sample also are in the mix.

    Washington State: Deone Bucannon and Tyree Toomer are back. Both are solid and experienced, even if the Cougars were bad against the pass last year. With more pressure up front, they won't be.

    Oregon State: Leading tackler Anthony Watkins is back and Ryan Murphy, the nickel back in 2011, is the leader to replace Lance Mitchell. Tyrequek Zimmerman and Peter Ashton also will be in the mix.

    California: Cal must replace both safeties, but fifth-year senior Josh Hill is a veteran leader with plenty of starting experience at both safety and corner. Alex Logan emerged during spring drills as the leader at the other safety spot, but Avery Sebastian and Michael Lowe are talented and in the mix.

    Stanford: Other than quarterback, this is the Cardinal's biggest question. Both Delano Howell and Michael Thomas are gone. Devon Carrington has some starting experienced. Ed Reynolds is coming back from a knee injury, but he had a strong spring. And sophomore Kyle Olugbode had the best spring of just about anyone with 10 interceptions. Sophomore Jordan Richards, junior Brent Seals and incoming freshman Zach Hoffpauir could get into the picture.

    We'll see

    Arizona: Just as with cornerback, it's difficult to take a measure of the Wildcats due to their new 3-3-5 look. There figures to be some juggling between corner, nickelback and safety this preseason because there are enough talented players to put a solid five on the field. But where do you put sophomores Tra’Mayne Bondurant and Jourdon Grandon in the position ranking equation? As it is, the loss of Adam Hall to another knee injury hurts, and returning free safety Marquis Flowers was inconsistent last year. Jared Tevis and Mark Watley are the strong safeties. Oh, and Arizona gave up 299 yard passing per game in 2011, which ranked 119th in the nation.

    Colorado: Colorado was terrible against the pass last year. As previously noted: The Buffs were last in the Pac-12 and 115th in the nation in pass-efficiency defense. They yielded 34 touchdown passes, which was six more than any other team. They grabbed just seven interceptions, which tied for last in the conference. Opponents completed nearly 66 percent of their passes. But Ray Polk is a good football player and Parker Orms can be if he stays healthy. Depth is a big question.

    Arizona State: Both starting safeties are gone, and Clint Floyd was second-team All-Pac-12. Alden Darby has experience and athletic ability is a likely starter. Senior Keelan Johnson, who has six career starts, and freshman Ezekiel Bishop, who is coming back from a knee injury, are competing for the other spot. The Sun Devils gave up 273 yard passing per game last year, which ranked 108th in the nation.
    Most Pac-12 teams will feel pretty good about their returning talent at cornerback, at least in terms of experience. Every team welcomes back at least one starter.

    By the way, if you want to review previous position reviews, go here.

    Great shape

    California: The Bears depth here allowed Josh Hill to move to safety this spring. Marc Anthony, Steve Williams and Stefan McClure are a strong, experienced troika. The Bears ranked second in the conference in pass efficiency defense in 2011.

    [+] EnlargeNickell Robey
    Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesNickell Robey leads a solid group of defensive backs at USC.
    USC: The Trojans welcome back 2011 first-team All-Pac-12 cornerback Nickell Robey and fellow starter Isiah Wiley, though Wiley is battling Brian Baucham and Torin Harris for the starting job, according to the post-spring depth chart. That's a pretty good foursome.

    Oregon: Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu are a strong combination, and Troy Hill has significant experience. Dior Mathis also is in the mix.

    Oregon State: Jordan Poyer was second-team All-Pac-12 last year and is a top NFL draft prospect. Rashaad Reynolds is a returning starter, and Sean Martin is solid. The poor pass efficiency defense in 2011 -- ninth in conference -- will give pause, but more blame can be given to poor play up front than the corners.

    UCLA: Two senior starters is a good thing, and Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price are big, athletic guys who have plenty of ability. They, however, haven't always been consistent. Bruins were sixth in pass efficiency defense last year. It's worth nothing that an awful pass rush probably made life difficult for the CBs. While depth is a concern, there are some intriguing incoming freshmen who figure not to redshirt.

    Good shape

    Stanford: Terrence Brown and Barry Browning are back, but the intriguing player is sophomore Wayne Lyons, a certain starter who has drawn raves from his coaches. Touted incoming frosh Alex Carter also figures to be in the mix. It will be important that the Cardinal get more interceptions in 2012 -- they had just seven last fall -- and Lyons reportedly is the sort who can grab a handful himself.

    Utah: The Utes lose Controy Black, but Ryan Lacy is a returning starter and Mo Lee saw plenty of action. Both are seniors. It's also worth noting that the Utes led the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense in 2012, yielding just 18 touchdown passes.

    Arizona State: Both starters, Osahon Irabor and Deveron Carr, are back. They've combined for 41 starts. Irabor, in particularly, could be an All-Conference candidate. But the problem is opponents completed 65.8 percent of their passes last season against the Sun Devils, who ranked eighth in the conference in passing efficiency defense.

    Washington: Quinton Richardson is gone, but Desmond Trufant is an NFL prospect, and Greg Ducre, a five-game starter, has experience. In fact, just about everyone who played in the Huskies secondary is back. The Huskies ranked seventh in the conference in pass efficiency defense last year. There's reason to believe they will be better in 2012.

    Arizona: The Wildcats might turn out to be sneaky good here. Shaquille Richardson is back, but the more critical measure will be a healthy return of Jonathan McKnight, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. He was the defense's best cover guy before the injury. Derrick Rainey also is in the mix. It's also a bit hard to measure Arizona here because in its new 3-3-5 scheme some defensive backs are hybrid safety/corners. Therefore promising sophomores Tra’Mayne Bondurant and Jourdon Grandon sort of count here, too. Some improvement for one of the nation's worst pass rushes would help the cornerbacks a bunch.

    Washington State: The entire two-deep is back, including starters Damante Horton and Daniel Simmons. On the downside, the Cougars ranked 11th in the conference in pass efficiency defense. They surrendered 24 touchdown passes while grabbing just eight interceptions. But if the pass rush improves, the Cougs should be at least solid at corner.

    We'll see

    Colorado: Yes, Greg Henderson and Parker Orms are both back, but Orms has moved to safety. And, oh boy, those numbers. The Buffs were last in the Pac-12 and 115th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. They yielded 34 touchdown passes, which was six more than any other team. They grabbed just seven interceptions, which tied for last in the conference. Opponents completed nearly 66 percent of their passes. But the incoming freshman class is a major "maybe" to the "we'll see" ranking here. Colorado signed Yuri Wright and Kenny Crawley, both touted prospects. It's almost certain they will play and perhaps perk up the pass defense.

    Pac-12 preseason position reviews: DEs

    July, 17, 2012
    7/17/12
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    Our position reviews move on to Pac-12 defensive ends.

    Everyone wants a great edge rusher. Some teams are surely excited about their edge guys. Some teams, well, as you've heard us say before "we'll see."

    By the way, if you want to review previous position reviews, go here.

    Great shape

    [+] EnlargeWes Horton
    Joe Andras/WeAreSC.comWes Horton, along with Devon Kennard, gives USC a veteran presence at defensive end to help the young defensive tackles along.
    USC: Nick Perry is gone, but Wes Horton, who was second-team All-Pac-12 in 2011, and Devon Kennard are the best returning end combination in the Pac-12. While neither has been highly productive getting sacks during previous seasons, that could change this fall. Redshirt freshman Greg Townsend, Kevin Greene and JC transfer Morgan Breslin will provide depth.

    Oregon: Dion Jordan is the best returning defensive end -- first-team All-Pac-12 in 2011 -- but his position has looked more line an outside linebacker of late. So he doesn't get a full chit here (the Ducks would have been an easy No. 1 here if he did). Taylor Hart, who mostly played tackle last year, Isaac Remington, Jared Ebert and touted freshman Arik Armstead give the Ducks a strong foursome.

    California: The Bears lost both starting ends, so how are they this high? Well, let's put it this way: The Pac-12 blog believes it's highly possible -- perhaps even likely -- that by the end of the season we will judge Cal as having the best DEs in the conference. Deandre Coleman and Mustafa Jalil are 300 pounders with athleticism and tremendous upside. Todd Barr and Keni Kaufusi provide depth. And Aaron Tipoti could see some time at end.

    Oregon State: The Beavers have a strong start with sophomores Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn. They are undersized playmakers. Crichton, honorable mention All-Pac-12, had six sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles last year. Wynn recovered five fumbles. So why are the Beavers not at the top? Both struggled against the run at times and the depth is questionable.

    Good shape

    Stanford: Second-team All-Pac-12 end Ben Gardner is back but the underrated Matt Masifilo is gone. Junior Josh Mauro (6-6, 275), sophomore Henry Anderson, redshirt freshmen Charlie Hopkins (6-6, 270) and J.B. Salem (6-4, 260) are competing for the vacancy and will provide depth.

    Utah: 6-foot-7 Joe Kruger is back at one end. He had three sacks last year and moves to the right end spot where Derrick Shelby was productive last fall. Sophomore Nate Fakahafua takes over Kruger's spot on the opposite side. He only had four tackles last year. Depth is a bit of a question. Converted RB Thretton Palamo flashed promise and Niasi Leota is a JC transfer.

    UCLA: The Bruins are hard to figure: Plenty of big names, but they ranked 11th in the conference in run defense in 2011 and their measly 14 sacks also ranked 11th. Perhaps a switch to a 3-4 scheme will help? Datone Jones and Owamagbe Odighizuwa are on the left side, while Cassius Marsh and Odighizuwa are Nos. 1 and 2 on the right side, meaning the coaching staff feels good about three guys.

    Washington: The critical element for the Huskies is getting back a healthy Hau'oli Jamora. He was highly productive in 2010 but blew his knee out last year and missed spring practices. Josh Shirley led the Huskies with 8.5 sacks, and he's slated to play a hybrid outside linebacker-rush end spot in the Huskies new, and apparently mostly 3-4 scheme. Senior Talia Crichton and Andrew Hudson are also in the starting mix, while redshirt freshmen Jarett Finau, Connor Cree and Corey Waller are battling for reps.

    Arizona State: The Sun Devils new defensive scheme is a hybrid 3-4/4-3. It features one true end -- Davon Coleman was No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart -- and a "devil-backer," who's a hybrid end/OLB. Carl Bradford was No. 1 there on the post-spring depth chart, but he'll likely have to fight off a challenge from Junior Onyeali, who was suspended after he followed a promising freshman season with an lackluster, injury-riddled 2011 campaign. Gannon Conway could provide depth.

    Washington State: Travis Long has moved to outside linebacker in the Cougars new 3-4 look, but he at least gets acknowledged here. Senior end Lenard Williams (6-2, 250) is a returning starter and redshirt freshman end Xavier Cooper flashed promise this spring. Ioane Gauta and David Davis look like good bets to provide depth.

    We'll see

    Colorado: The good news is junior end Chidera Uzo-Diribe, who had 5.5 sacks last year. Sophomore Juda Parker is the likely starter at the other end. He had six tackles last year as a freshman. After that, it's mostly crickets. Defensive coordinator Greg Brown has made no secret about his believe that incoming freshmen will provide depth. And potentially win starting jobs.

    Arizona: The bottom line is Arizona is replacing both starting DEs from a unit that tied for 116th in the nation last year with just 10 sacks. But things aren't completely hopeless here. There is experience, though it's all about tackles transforming into ends as the Wildcats switch to a 3-3-5 scheme. That means Justin Washington will move outside from tackle to end. After a miserable sophomore season, the once promising Washington is trying to regain his form. Sophomore Kirifi Taula, also a former tackle, is the likely starter at the other end, though sophomore Dan Pettinato also is in the mix.
    Star Lotulelei Russ Isabella/US PresswireUtah's Star Lotulelei may be the best defensive tackle in the conference, if not the country.
    The rise of 3-4 defenses in the Pac-12 has made it more challenging to rank defensive tackles-- or interior defensive linemen -- in the conference. How do you compare a team that, officially, uses just one guy inside versus a team that uses two? Comparing defensive ends also becomes a bit of an apples-and-oranges deal.

    Still, we don't live in a perfect world. Despite this arduous challenge, the Pac-12 blog will persevere and rank the conference's defensive tackle.

    No, please, no applause.

    Great shape

    Utah: Star Lotulelei might be the best defensive tackle in the nation. He's a likely first-round NFL draft pick. Dave Kruger is no slouch. And touted junior college transfer Junior Salt and his 340 pounds is inspiring Cheshire cat grins among Utes insiders.

    Oregon: The Ducks' top four are back from last season, though the underrated Taylor Hart is as much a defensive end in a 3-4 look as a defensive tackle. Wade Keliikipi and Ricky Heimuli give the Ducks two 300-plus pounders inside.

    California: The Bears run a 3-4, but the combination of Kendrick Payne and Aaron Tipoti is outstanding. And then there's 347-pound sophomore Viliami Moala, who gives Cal the option of playing Tipoi at end at times.

    Good shape

    Stanford: Terrence Stephens more than held his own in 2011. His backup last fall, David Parry, is back but a pair of redshirt freshmen, Anthony Hayes and Lance Callihan provided depth this spring.

    Arizona State: Will Sutton and Corey Adams -- if the latter can stay healthy -- have the potential to be better than solid. The depth is a question.

    USC: The Trojans have a bit of "We'll see," here after losing both starting defensive tackles from 2011. But here's a guess that at least half the teams in the Pac-12, perhaps more, would trade their defensive tackles for George Uko, who has big upside, and J.R. Tavai. And what happens if redshirt freshman Antwaun Woods breaks through? Depth is an issue, but the Trojans will be fine here if they stay healthy.

    Washington: The Huskies are difficult to rank. They lose Alameda Ta'amu, but five of the top six defensive tackles are back. But they are, mostly, adopting a 3-4 base defense. 334-pound sophomore Danny Shelton looks like a future star. But it's hard to ignore how bad the defense was last year. Still, there's plenty of ability here. It's up to the new defensive coaches to get it to play better.

    Arizona: Just about the entire depth chart is back, and it also will help if Willie Mobley is good to go after missing last season with a knee injury. Still, it's mostly a case of lots of bodies, serviceable players, but no one who will keep an opposing offensive coordinator up at night.

    UCLA: The Bruins are much like the Huskies. Bad last year. Switching to 3-4. Plenty of potential to be above average. Of course, we know next to nothing about North Carolina transfer Brandon Willis, who was No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart.

    Washington State: Anthony Laurenzi is solid at nose tackle in the Cougars new 3-4, and hopes are high for incoming freshman Robert Barber. The Cougs, by the way, were fairly solid against the run last year, ranking seventh in the conference.

    We'll see

    Oregon State: Andrew Seumalo is back as is Castro Masaniai. There were nine players listed on the post-spring depth chart. But the Beavers had the worst run defense in the conference last year, yielding 197 yards per game. Not good.

    Colorado: Will Pericak is presently listed as a defensive end, meaning this position is wide open heading into the preseason, though he could still end up playing more at defensive tackle. Sophomore Kirk Poston and junior Nate Bonsu? We'll see. At least a couple of the incoming freshmen -- the Buffs signed nine -- are expected to join the rotation immediately.

    Preseason position reviews: Linebacker

    July, 13, 2012
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    Linebacker is a strong position in the conference. It will be quite a battle for first-team All-Pac-12 because a handful of conference LBs figure to be All-America candidates.

    Of course, not everyone appears stout.

    Here's how things stack up.

    Great shape

    [+] EnlargeJames Vaughters
    AP Photo/Gerry BroomeWith Chase Thomas and James Vaughters, Stanford will have a lot of pop at linebacker in 2012.
    Stanford: If Shayne Skov comes back from his knee injury at 100 percent, this might be the best unit in the nation. Nine of the 10 LBs from last year's depth chart are back -- not including Skov -- and the Cardinal ranked 19th in the nation in run defense. OLB Chase Thomas is a preseason All-American, OLB Trent Murphy had 6.5 sacks last year and James Vaughters is a beastly talent. Jarek Lancaster and A.J. Tarpley combined for 127 tackles in 2011. Heck, Blake Lueders and Alex Debniak would start for a lot of teams.

    USC: The Trojans' three freshmen standouts from 2011 likely will become breakouts in 2012. The big question is who's the best between MLB Lamar Dawson, strongside backer Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard on the weak side. The depth isn't as good as Stanford's, but these three are superior athletically.

    Oregon: Is it just me or do some media folks not understand how good the Ducks are at LB? Did they not see Kiko Alonso turn the Rose Bowl into the Kiko Bowl? Michael Clay had 102 tackles last year and should be in the all-conference mix. Boseko Lokombo has seen significant action. And the young depth is promising. Further, if you go ahead and say the Ducks mostly run a 3-4 defense, you can toss in Dion Jordan as an OLB, though he's still officially a defensive end.

    Good shape

    California: The Bears lose conference Defensive Player of the Year Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt, who was the brains behind the Cal defense, but there's plenty of experience and young talent coming back, topped by OLB Chris McCain and ILB Nick Forbes.

    Colorado: Jon Major and Doug Rippy are a strong, experienced tandem and Derrick Webb also is a returning starter. The only issue the Buffs have is the weakness up front might make life hard for their 'backers.

    UCLA: Patrick Larimore is officially the only returning starter, but Jordan Zumwalt and Eric Kendricks have starting experience and OLB Damien Holmes started as a defensive end last year -- the Bruins are switching to a 3-4. This is a solid crew that almost certainly will get better coaching this year.

    Utah: On the one hand, two of three starters from 2011 are gone. On the other, the highly productive Trevor Reilly -- five sacks, nine tackles for a loss and four forced fumbles -- is back. V.J. Fehoko has potential to be a good one in the middle. When I chatted with Kyle Whittingham this spring, I got a sense he's not losing sleep here.

    Oregon State: Feti Unga and Michael Doctor are both solid returning starters, but Cameron Collins needs to be replaced on the strong side. The issue for the Beavers, not unlike Colorado, is whether the big bodies up front can hold the line and let these guys make plays.

    We'll see

    Washington: ILB Cort Dennison is gone, but just about everyone else is back. The bad news on that is the Huskies were lousy at LB last year. Lousy. It's possible, however, that the improvement here will be dramatic due to a combination of experience and better coaching. Guys who got pushed around will improve, for one. Further, switching to a 3-4 defense, as well as moving some guys around will help. Josh Shirley has a chance to become a big-time pass rusher at OLB, and the move of safety Nate Fellner to ILB went well this spring.

    Arizona State: The top four LBs from last year are gone. Brandon Magee coming back from his Achilles tear helps both as a good player and a good leader. Further, it's likely that Junior Onyeali will be reinstated after a spring suspension, where he looks like a nice fit as a hybrid DE/OLB. That's a good start in the Sun Devils' new-look defense. But this still will be a green unit.

    Washington State: Moving Travis Long from DE to OLB in the Cougars' new 3-4 means one slot is a certainty. After that? Welcome to "We'll see." That's what happened when a pair of returning starters, C.J. Mizell and Sekope Kaufusi, got kicked off the team. Darryl Monroe and Eric Oertel flashed promise this spring.

    Arizona: Jake Fischer returns from a knee injury, and he's a good player. After that, things are pretty questionable, particularly after Akron transfer Brian Wagner, penciled in as a starter at MLB, quit the team. The term "perilously thin" works here.

    Preseason position reviews: kicker

    July, 11, 2012
    7/11/12
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    Kickers are important. Just ask Arizona State, Stanford and Oregon.

    It's also hard to measure kickers. They can be good one year but fall off the next. They can put up good numbers but miss when the pressure is on. And new kickers are impossible to gauge, even if they arrive with an impressive recruiting ranking.

    So how do things stack up heading into 2012? Let's take a look.

    Great shape

    [+] EnlargeAndre Heidari
    Norm Hall/Getty ImagesUSC should have a strong kicking game in 2012 with Andre Heidari leading the way.
    USC: Andre Heidari was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2011. He connected on 15-of-17 field goals and didn't miss any of his 50 PATs. So, yeah, this is another strong position for the Trojans.

    Washington State: Andrew Furney made 14-of-16 field goals in 2011 with a long of 51 yards. He was 5-for-5 from 40-plus yards, but he did miss two PATs.

    Utah: Coleman Petersen earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. He finished second in the Pac-12 in field goals made (18), field goals made per game (1.38) and field goal percentage (72%, 18-of-25).

    Stanford: Jordan Williamson earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors after connecting on 13-of-19 field goals with a long of 45. He doesn't have very good range -- just 2-for-6 from 40-49 yards -- and, of course, there is the Fiesta Bowl. There is some "we'll see" here.

    Good shape

    Arizona: John Bonano took over the job in game four and made 8-of-12 field goals with a long of 47 yards. He also led the Pac-12 with an average kickoff to the 3-yard line and 24-for-24 on PATs.

    Oregon: Rob Beard or Alejandro Maldonado? Beard was a solid kicker in 2010 -- 10-of-13 -- but he got hurt last year and Maldonado took over, connecting on just 7-of-12 field goals, with one very memorable miss.

    Colorado: Will Oliver was solid in 2011, hitting 11-of-16 field goals, with a long of 51. Almost better at longer kicks -- he was 5-of-6 from outside of 40 yards. Justin Castor handled kickoffs, a capacity in which he struggled -- see four out of 37 kickoffs going out of bounds.

    Oregon State: Trevor Romaine connected on 15-of-22 field goals with a long of 46. He's solid. Middling on kickoffs, though.

    Arizona State: Alex Garoutte connected on 15-of-22 field goal attempts and hit his last four of the season. But he also had some memorable misses, including three in the season-changing loss to UCLA. And he struggled on kickoffs.

    We'll see

    California: Vincenzo D'Amato has some experience, though he was beaten out by Giorgio Tavecchio the past two seasons. In his career, he is 7-of-12 (58.3%) on field goals and has made all 31 of his PATs.

    Washington: The Huskies lose a good kicker in Erik Folk. JC transfer Travis Coons is likely to take over. It's possible that incoming freshman punter Korey Durkee will be in the mix if Coons struggles.

    UCLA: Kip Smith transferred. Sophomore Joe Roberts was listed No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart, but he's seen no game action and isn't presently listed on the roster. UCLA signed a kicker: Ka'imi Fairbairn. In the Bruins' favor is punter Jeff Locke, who is probably the best in the conference when it comes to kickoffs. Over 34 percent of his boots led to touchbacks in 2011, the best percentage in the conference.
    Offensive line is a solid position in the conference in 2012. Not a single team appears desperate and without hope.

    Still, there are plenty of questions. No first-team All-Pac-12 lineman returns, and just two from the second-team -- USC center Khaled Holmes and Colorado guard David Bakhtiari -- are back.

    The "We'll sees" here have potential to become pleasant surprises. And there's really a bit of "We'll see" with just about every team, even USC, which lacks depth after a strong first five.

    [+] EnlargeKhaled Holmes
    Cal Sports Media via AP ImagesCenter Khaled Holmes anchors a strong returning offensive line for the Trojans.
    Oh, and the Pac-12 blog is perfectly aware that reporters without game tape evaluating offensive lines is a bit of a crap shoot. At best.

    Great shape

    USC: The Trojans lose Matt Kalil -- only the best offensive lineman in the nation last year -- but welcome back four starters from a line that was good at run blocking and excellent in pass protection. Holmes is among the nation's best centers, and Kalil's replacement, Aundrey Walker, has the size and skills to one day follow him into the first round of the NFL draft.

    Oregon: The Ducks must replace two starters -- we're assuming a healthy return from guard Carson York -- but they actually are upgrading athletically with Jake Fisher at left tackle and Ryan Clanton at right guard. Both are pretty experienced, too. There's also solid depth and plenty of young potential. And there's Steve Greatwood, who is just really, really good at coaching his offensive line in Chip Kelly's system.

    California: The Bears welcome back four starters (all seniors) from a unit that was solid -- if inconsistent -- as both run and pass blockers. A second-year starter at quarterback and a good stable of running backs will make life easier, too.

    Good shape

    Stanford: Sure, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin are gone, and they were among the best at their positions in the nation last season. But three starters are back, led by guard David Yankey and tackle Cameron Fleming, two guys with All-Conference potential. Further, though we almost never use freshman to bolster a line ranking, the incoming class for the Cardinal is positively beastly -- the best in the nation by a wide margin.

    Arizona: The good news is all five starters back from last season. The bad news is that group often struggled, particularly with run blocking. The good news is they were above average at pass blocking. The bad news is new coach Rich Rodriguez is a run-first coach. The good news is center Kyle Quinn was honorable mention All-Pac-12 last season, and tackle Fabbians Ebbele has an NFL body and athleticism. The bad news is Ebbele missed spring practices because of an off-field incident. The ultimate verdict is this should at least be a solid unit, the least of Rodriguez's worries (and he has a few).

    UCLA: Three starters are back, and if tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo is back to form after a church mission, this line could be better than many expect, considering the Bruins woes at the position in recent years. The loss of projected starting guard Wade Yandall to medical retirement is a blow. A couple of spots are going to be young.

    Utah: Coach Kyle Whittingham is happy with his three interior guys, but both tackles are going to be new, and there wasn't a lot of certainty exiting spring practices. It's also a bit of a dirty secret that the Utes gave up 33 sacks on just 334 pass attempts and only averaged 3.8 yards per rush in 2011. It would be a good thing for the Utes to figure things out on the edges in order to protect quarterback Jordan Wynn.

    We'll see

    Washington: Three starters are back, though injury issues left a lot of questions this spring, when the beleaguered defense was mostly in control. Will guard Colin Tanigawa, tackle Erik Kohler and center Drew Schaefer all come back healthy for preseason camp? Further, it's worth noting that the Huskies gave up 34 sacks last season, second most in the conference. And there's no Chris Polk to produce yards often on his own. There are plenty of grounds for hope and concern here.

    Colorado: The Buffaloes didn't run well (3.5 yards per carry) or protect the quarterback (31 sacks yielded) in 2011, but three solid starters are back, led by Bakhtiari. The Buffs have plenty of questions. The offensive line, along with linebacker, probably have the fewest.

    Oregon State: The Beavers welcome back three starters, and that doesn't include former starter Michael Philipp, who sat out last season because of injury. But the Beavers were terrible -- as in 118th in the nation horrible -- at run blocking last season. They were OK with pass blocking, though. There were only eight healthy linemen during the spring, so there will be plenty of mixing and matching and competing this preseason. Will touted incoming freshman Isaac Seumalo be ready to start?

    Arizona State: Just two starters are back from a group that underachieved last season. The Sun Devils were mediocre running the ball in 2011, and mediocre protecting the quarterback. That said, new coach Todd Graham called the offensive line one of his most pleasant surprises after spring practices.

    Washington State: The good news is there are three returning starters, including John Fullington, who was honorable mention All-Pac-12. The bad news is 3.3 yards per rush and 40 sacks surrendered in 2011, most in the conference. Of course, one of the trademarks of Mike Leach's pass-happy offense is that it gets rid of the ball quickly. That should be good news for the Cougs.

    You can see previous previews here:

    Quarterback

    Running back

    Receiver

    Tight end

    Preseason position reviews: Tight end

    June, 28, 2012
    6/28/12
    7:00
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    Tight end is a bit difficult to evaluate because of a couple of Pac-12 teams -- namely UCLA and Washington State -- don't post the position on their depth charts anymore. Only the Bruins and Cougars actually have two guys -- Joseph Fauria and Andrei Lintz -- who are pretty darn good tight ends. If only they played it. And it should be no surprise that teams that didn't really use a tight end last year -- Arizona and Arizona State -- are at the bottom here.

    So here goes nothing.

    Great shape

    [+] EnlargeZach Ertz
    Steve Conner/Icon SMIStanford will be counting on Zach Ertz for production at tight end this season.
    Stanford: Difficult to distinguish between these top three, who surely are thrilled with their situations at TE. Even though the Cardinal lost Coby Fleener -- first-team All-Pac-12 -- to the NFL, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo are as good and diversely skilled a combo as there is in the nation. They essentially split 689 yards and 10 TDs last year. And what put Stanford at the top is 6-foor-4, 242-pound Ryan Hewitt, a fullback who moonlights as a tight end -- see 34 receptions and five TDs in 2011.

    Washington: Austin Seferian-Jenkins was a touted recruit who lived up to the hype, catching 41 passes for 538 yards -- 13.1 yards per catch -- and six TDs last year. He seems headed for All-America honors and a nice spot in the NFL draft. Sophomore backup Michael Hartvigson didn't make as much of an impact last year as some thought he would, but he's solid. Evan Hudson is a good blocker for three tight end sets.

    USC: The Trojans are stacked here, though the TEs are overshadowed by the receivers. The versatile Rhett Ellison is gone, but Randell Telfer and Xavier Grimble combined for 41 receptions and nine TDs in 2011. There's also young talent behind them based on strong recruiting.

    Good shape

    Utah: Dallin Rogers is a good player that a lot of Pac-12 fans don't know about because he blew out his knee last year after six games. Even with that, he finished third on the Utes with 22 receptions for 160 yards and two TDs. The Utes are adopting an H-back this year, which will be Rogers' spot. Jake Murphy is No. 1 at tight end. He caught five passes for 64 yards last year.

    Oregon: His name was David Paulson, but the Pac-12 blog's go-to postgame interview is gone, which vexes me. His name is Colt Lyerla, and he's a freakish athlete who made a number of big plays last year, converting his seven receptions to five TDs and 147 yards -- 21 yards per catch. But things are iffy thereafter, with true freshman Evan Baylis, who was on hand for spring practices, a leading candidate for the No. 2 spot.

    UCLA: We realize the Bruins don't actually have a TE position on the depth chart, but they do have a "Y" receiver, which is where 6-foot-7, 258-pound Joseph Fauria is listed and he's really good. Caught 39 passes for 481 yards with six TDs in 2011.

    California: Spencer Hagan -- 12 catches in 2011 -- and Jacob Wark are solid, but sophomore Richard Rodgers was one of the stars of spring practices and tops the fall depth chart.

    Oregon State: Teams that use an H-back and tight end get a bump in these rankings just because of warm bodies. The Beavers lose Joe Halahuni (H-back), but Colby Prince, who caught 12 passes in 2011, is back. The depth is unproven but promising, including raves this spring over true freshman Caleb Smith.

    We'll see

    Washington State: Andrei Lintz was one of the Cougs stars this spring but he's no longer a tight end. His backup last year, Aaron Dunn, opted to transfer.

    Colorado: Ryan Deehan is gone, and DaVaughn Thornton was moved to receiver. Nick Kasa, a converted defensive end, had a nice spring but the Buffaloes' leading returning TE caught one pass last year. Kyle Slavin can catch and Scott Fernandez, a converted O-lineman, can block. You know former Buffs TE Jon Embree really, really wants this position to get better.

    Arizona State: The Sun Devils are going from no TE to a TE and an H-back, but none of the players on the post-spring depth chart at those positions caught a pass last year. Darwin Rogers, a JC transfer, and Max Smith are one-two at TE and Chris Coyle and Rogers are one-two at H-back. The plan is to restore the Sun Devils' strong TE tradition -- Zach Miller, Todd Heap -- but that might not happen in 2012.

    Arizona: Drew Robinson had two catches last year. Jack Baucus moved to OT. Michael Cooper was a special-teams guy in 2011. Keoni Bush-Loo was the only TE signed this winter. Will the position make a comeback under Rich Rodriguez as the offense transitions from a spread to a spread-option?

    You can see previous previews here:

    Quarterback

    Running back

    Receiver

    Preseason position reviews: Receiver

    June, 27, 2012
    6/27/12
    7:30
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    The Pac-12 has the best collection of receivers in the country. Really, it's not even close. It's entirely possible that both first-team All-American receivers will come from the conference.

    So how do things stack up?

    Great shape

    USC: The Trojans own the best receiving combo in the nation in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. In fact, they may be the two best receivers in the nation, period. And George Farmer, Victor Blackwell and De'Von Flournoy have plenty of potential as a supporting cast.

    [+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
    Ric Tapia/Icon SMIMarqise Lee had 1143 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman.
    Washington State: Hard to make a pecking order for the next three. The Cougars are here because Marquess Wilson will battle Woods, Lee and California's Keenan Allen for first-team All-Pac-12. The Cougars' Nos. 2 & 3 wide receivers from 2011 are gone. But Dominique Williams, Isiah Myers, Kristoff Williams, Andrei Lintz -- he no longer counts as a tight end -- Bobby Ratliff, Bennett Bontemps, Blair Bomber and Gino Simone are each capable.

    Oregon State: Markus Wheaton would be All-Conference in just about any other conference, though he needs to find the endzone more. Speedy Brandin Cooks caught 31 passes last year. Obum Gwacham is a big, athletic target who stood out this spring. Jordan Bishop, if healthy, can be a playmaker.

    Utah: Basically all the top guys from a good -- if underused -- receiving corps in 2011 are back, topped by DeVonte Christopher, who could probably trade notes with Wheaton about how hard it is to get noticed at the position in the Pac-12. Dres Anderson, Luke Matthews, Reggie Dunn and Kenneth Scott are solid and experienced.

    Good shape

    Oregon: Neither De'Anthony Thomas nor Josh Huff are "pure" receivers, but they are dynamic athletes that any team would want. Rahsaan Vaughn should take another step forward, as should Daryle Hawkins. Of the three redshirt freshmen, B.J. Kelly seems to have advanced the most compared to the more touted Devon Blackmon and Tacoi Sumler. Keanon Lowe could get into the mix, and hopes are high for incoming freshman Bralon Addison.

    Washington: Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar are gone but Kasen Williams looks like a budding star -- 36 catches for 427 yards as a true freshman -- and James Johnson has been productive. After that, there are some questions. Cody Bruns could emerge, as could Kevin Smith, if healthy. But one or two redshirt or incoming freshmen figures to get into the mix.

    California: Hard to believe Cal only rates "good shape" with Keenan Allen on hand, but that's the reality. Maurice Harris was the only other receiver on the post-spring depth chart, and coach Jeff Tedford hasn't been shy about saying three or four incoming freshmen need to step up and be ready to immediately play.

    UCLA: The Bruins are replacing two of the their top-three receivers, most notably Nelson Rosario, a 1,000-yard receiver in 2011. But it helps their receiving ranking that Joseph Fauria, a once and future tight end, now is officially a "Y" receiver in the Bruins new system. Shaq Evans caught 19 passes and Ricky Marvray 10 in 2011. There are hopes 6-foot-4 Jerry Johnson breaks through as a senior and speedy Devin Lucien does so as a redshirt freshman. Incoming freshmen Jordan Payton and Randall Goforth could get into the mix.

    Arizona: On the one hand, three of the top four receivers from 2011 are gone. On the other, Dan Buckner (42 receptions), Richard Morrison (22) and Austin Hill (21) are back, and Terrence Miller, Garic Wharton and Tyler Slavin have talent.

    We'll see

    Arizona State: The Sun Devils lost three of their top four receivers from 2011, including Gerell Robinson and his 1,397 receiving yards. Jamal Miles caught 60 passes last season, but after that things are pretty fluid. Senior Rashad Ross has outstanding speed but inconsistent hands. Junior J.J. Holliday, Kevin Ozier and junior college transfer Alonzo Agwuenu are the top options.

    Stanford: Not only are the Cardinal's top two receivers gone, their leading returning wideout, Ty Montgomery, caught just 24 passes. Montgomery has potential but things are questionable behind him. Will Drew Terrell and/or Jamal-Rashad Patterson finally break through? The recruiting class didn't feature any highly-touted guys who appear ready to immediately step in and contribute. Of course, things are still good at tight end, which is where we expect the new quarterback to look first.

    Colorado: The Buffaloes had an A-list receiver but then Paul Richardson blew out his knee this spring. Despite reports of his rapid recovery, this is a questionable position in Boulder, one in which freshmen -- the Buffs signed three -- will need to play. The leading returning pass catcher among the wideouts is Keenan Canty, who was listed third on the post-spring depth chart. True sophomore Tyler McCulloch (10 receptions in 2011) and redshirt freshman Nelson Spruce were the No. 1 receivers.

    You can see previous previews here:

    Quarterback

    Running back
    The Pac-12 features another strong crop of running backs -- seven return after compiling more than 900 yards rushing in 2011 -- but there are also a few teams facing uncertainty at the position.

    Evaluations aren't easy here. A number of teams have an A-list leading rusher back but uncertain depth. Others have plenty of experience returning but no proven A-lister. So stars and depth matter here.

    A general impression: Running back is strong position in the conference. No team has a sense of desperation here.

    So how does it stack up?

    Great shape

    Stanford: Stepfan Taylor was second-team All-Pac-12 last year after rushing for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns. But the Cardinal also welcomes back its second- and third-leading rushers, Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson, as well as Ricky Seale, who was impressive this spring. And, of course, there's a guy called BARRY SANDERS arriving in the fall.

    [+] EnlargeJohn White
    Chris Morrison/US PresswireJohn White is the Pac-12's leading returning rusher -- and could get help in the Utah backfield.
    Utah: John White, also second-team All-Pac-12 in 2011, is the conference's leading returning rusher with 1,519 yards last year. He was mostly a one-man show -- he led the conference in carries -- but that won't be the case this fall. Harvey Langi and Kelvin York, both over 220 pounds, showed they are ready to contribute quality reps this spring.

    California: Isi Sofele ranked fifth in the conference with 1,322 yards rushing in 2011, but he'll have to old off a challenge from C.J. Anderson -- 345 yards and eight TDs in 2011 -- to retain his starting job this fall. The depth is strong with Brendan Bigelow, Daniel Lasco and Darren Ervin.

    Arizona State: The Sun Devils have both a star in Cameron Marshall and good depth. Marshall rushed for 1,050 and 18 touchdowns last season. Depth? Kyle Middlebrooks, James Morrison, Deantre Lewis, Marion Grice and incoming freshman D.J. Foster will be battling for touches.

    Oregon: The Ducks are difficult to rate. If everything falls into place -- and it's reasonable to believe they will -- Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James' longtime backup, will become a star, spectacular hybrid RB/WR De'Anthony Thomas will make a bunch of big plays in a change-of-pace role and touted incoming freshman Byron Marshall will become the third option. Nonetheless, one injury here would be a major blow.

    USC: The Trojans are just like the Ducks: Top-heavy with questionable depth. The underrated Curtis McNeal -- the 1,000-yard rusher averaged 6.9 yards per carry in 2011 -- is back, and so is D.J. Morgan, who rushed for 163 yards last year. If redshirt freshman Javorious "Buck" Allen and incoming freshman Nelson Agholor step up, things should be fine. But depth here is one of the Trojans' few question marks.

    Good shape

    UCLA: Johnathan Franklin is back, and he's been highly productive -- if fumble-prone -- for a while. Malcolm Jones, who rushed for 103 yards in 2011, is back, and Steven Manfro was a spring standout. While the position isn't spectacular for the Bruins, it's certainly not a chief worry heading into the season.

    Arizona: Is promising sophomore Ka'Deem Carey ready to become a star? He rushed for 425 yards last year and looked good this spring. There's also good depth behind him: Daniel Jenkins, Taimi Tutogi, Kylan Butler, Greg Nwoko and Jared Baker.

    Washington State: The two leading rushers from 2011, Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston, are back, and they combined for more than 1,000 yards. But sophomore Marcus Mason was with the No. 1 offense during the spring game, and Leon Brooks also is in the mix. Catching the ball well will be almost as important as taking a handoff under new coach Mike Leach.

    Washington: Workhorse Chris Polk is gone, but Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey both saw plenty of action in 2011. Might Deontae Cooper get healthy -- finally -- and work his way into the picture? Like a lot of teams, the Huskies have the potential to be fine here. But it's reasonable to expect the running game to take a step back this fall, particularly with issues on the O-line.

    We'll see

    Oregon State: Everybody is back, but no Beaver rushed for more than 423 yards last year. And, of course, Oregon State was one of the nation's worst rushing teams. The pecking order also didn't seem to completely work itself out, though redshirt freshman Storm Woods had a strong spring.

    Colorado: The good news is Tony Jones had a good spring and looks capable of replacing the departed Rodney Stewart. Still, he averaged 3.8 yards per rush in 2011. Josh Ford rushed for 128 yards last season. Depth is a bit uncertain also, with D.D. Goodson and Malcolm Creer, who is coming back from a knee injury.
    It's time to start our preseason position reviews. And there was much rejoicing.

    Here's how we do this: We provide three evaluative categories: "Great shape," "Good shape" and "We'll see."

    Hint: You'd prefer your team to be in "Great shape."

    "We'll see" doesn't mean you're going to stink at said position. It means just what it says -- we'll see because there's no way at present to know. California and Utah were both "We'll see" at running back in 2011, and both produced 1,000-yard rushers.

    You can review last year's rankings here. Plenty of hits. And plenty of misses.

    And away we go.

    Great shape

    USC: Matt Barkley is the best returning QB in the nation and the leading Heisman Trophy candidate. The only concern might be that none of his backups have game experience.

    [+] EnlargeKeith Price
    Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireHuskies quarterback Keith Price passed for 3,063 yards and 33 TDs last season.
    Washington: Keith Price ranked second in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency in 2011, completing 67 percent of his throws with 33 TDs and just 11 interceptions. No experience behind him, though.

    Washington State: For one, if Mike Leach is your coach, you can count on good quarterback play. But having the talent and experience of Jeff Tuel is big. Further, backup Connor Halliday shined when he played last year.

    Oregon State: Perhaps this is a leap of faith for Sean Mannion, but there are three reasons for Beavers fans not to worry about quarterback: 1) Second-year starters tend to do much better under Mike Riley; 2) Mannion has a good crew of receivers; and 3) Mannion, who passed for 3,328 yards last year, has plenty of talent.

    Good shape

    Utah: It's tempting to switch Oregon State and the Utes here. If Utah gets 12 games from Jordan Wynn, who's suffered shoulder injuries the past two years, he's going to be a better-than-average -- perhaps even legitimately good -- quarterback. The depth features experience (Jon Hays) and potential (Travis Wilson).

    California: If Zach Maynard plays like he did over the final four games of the regular season, then the Bears are in great shape at quarterback -- at least if they can find some guys to complement Keenan Allen at receiver and a center who can deliver a shotgun snap. Allan Bridgford looked good this spring, and true freshman Zach Kline has franchise potential.

    Arizona: Matt Scott redshirted last year but he played well coming off the bench for Nick Foles in 2010. He seems like a perfect dual-threat quarterback for new coach Rich Rodriguez's offense. Only issue is the depth behind him is inexperienced and suspect.

    Oregon: This is a case of Chip Kelly earning the benefit of the doubt. We saw Bryan Bennett play and play well last year when Darron Thomas was hurt. So if Marcus Mariota is good enough to eclipse him, then he must be pretty darn good.

    UCLA: Bruins have plenty of experience with Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince, but neither has played well consistently. They also have an intriguing talent in Brett Hundley. We don't know who will win the job, but it seems there's a strong possibility for at least adequate play here -- and perhaps more if offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone works the same magic he did at Arizona State.

    We'll see

    Stanford: My general feeling is Stanford will be fine here with Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes, but Kevin is such a dark cloud of doom -- a maelstrom, really -- that the Cardinal get relegated to this category. I may be exaggerating Kevin's negativity a bit.

    Arizona State: Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank and Taylor Kelly are each promising in their own way, but the issue is they are very different quarterbacks with little to no experience.

    Colorado: A wide-open battle here between Connor Wood, Nick Hirschman and Kansas transfer Jordan Webb. Or, heck, perhaps even incoming freshman Shane Dillon.

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