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Monday, May 21, 2007
Can't wait to see these things this fall

By Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The Pac-10
Ivan Maisel
Mark Schlabach
1. UCLA coach Karl Dorrell made over his offensive staff -- again -- and coordinator Jay Norvell, late of Nebraska, has the task of turning quarterback Ben Olson into the kind of passer his press clippings say he can be. A midseason stretch of three games -- at Oregon State, vs. Notre Dame, vs. California -- will tell us what we want to know about Olson and the Bruins.

John David Booty2. OK, seriously: Who plays tailback at Tailback U.? If you have 10 running backs, as USC will have on scholarship this fall, do you have one? And will it matter to the consensus preseason No. 1? It sure would help if quarterback John David Booty discovered a go-to receiver in the huddle. Patrick Turner is the leading candidate but has never held the job.

3. Football in the state of Arizona is at a crossroads. It's Year 4 for Arizona coach Mike Stoops, whose Wildcats showed signs of life at the end of last season after a difficult September schedule took its toll on the team in October. If the Cats are to take a step up, they must do so over their biggest rival. Arizona State appears to be rejuvenated under new coach Dennis Erickson. Do both teams step forward?
Ben Olson 1. Can UCLA finally put together a complete season under coach Karl Dorrell? The Bruins have 10 starters back both on offense and on defense. Quarterback Ben Olson is healthy and might finally live up to his lofty billing. He'll have to if UCLA is going to improve an offense that averaged only 330 yards and 23 points per game last season. Defensively, the same team that dominated USC 13-9 and nearly won at Notre Dame also allowed 37 points to Washington State and gave up 44 to Florida State in the bowl game.

2. Will Pete Carroll simply plug holes with more high school All-Americans? The Trojans are the consensus preseason No. 1 after blasting Michigan 32-18 in the Rose Bowl. Quarterback John David Booty played spectacularly against the Wolverines, but top targets Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett are gone. Remember these names for the fall: Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton.

3. Who produces a winner in the desert first, Mike Stoops or Dennis Erickson? Stoops hired Sonny Dykes at Arizona to install a spread offense. Erickson was lured from Idaho to replace fired Dirk Koetter at Arizona State. Both programs have underachieved for far too long. And both teams have quarterbacks -- Arizona's Willie Tuitama and Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter -- who can lead quick turnarounds.