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2011 Pac-12 Preview - Unit Rankings
Oregon RB LaMichael James
Oregon RB LaMichael James
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 8, 2011


2011 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - Pac-12 Unit Rankings


Preview 2011

Pac-12 Unit Rankings


NORTH
- 2011 California Preview | 2011 Oregon Preview
- 2011 Oregon State Preview | 2011 Stanford Preview
- 2011 Washington Preview | 2011 Washington State Preview

SOUTH
- 2011 Arizona Preview | 2011 Arizona State Preview
- 2011 Colorado Preview | 2011 UCLA Preview 
- 2011 USC Preview | 2011 Utah Preview

- 2011 Pac-12 Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Pac-12 | 2011 Pac-12 Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Pac-12 Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 Pac-12 Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Pac-12 North Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 Pac-12 South Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2010 Pac 10 Preview  

Pac-12 Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

North
1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. California
4. Washington
5. Oregon State
6. Washington State

South
1. USC
2. Arizona State
3. Utah
4. Arizona
5. UCLA
6. Colorado

Offenses

1. Oregon
Chip Kelly’s spread offense reached a new level of potency and proficiency in 2010 … with a first-year starting quarterback calling the signals. Now that Darron Thomas is seasoned and All-American RB LaMichael James opted to return for another year, expectations are high for the Quack Attack to approach last season’s 47 points and 530 yards a game. However, unbridled success won’t come without a few new hurdles in 2011. Departed WR Jeff Maehl is an irreplaceable cog in the passing game and three starters are gone from the O-line, including an all-league center and left tackle. There could be a few early hiccups, especially in the opener with LSU, but there’s still enough talent on the field and on the sidelines for Oregon to again be among the country’s highest-scoring teams.

2. Stanford
3. USC
4. Arizona
5. Arizona State
6. Utah
7. Washington
8. California
9. Oregon State
10. Colorado
11. UCLA
12. Washington State

Quarterbacks

1. Stanford
Andrew Luck has been the engineer of the two highest scoring offenses in school history. As long as he’s upright, there’s no reason to believe he can’t make it three. His return in 2011 is a gift for a program already adjusting to the departure of Jim Harbaugh to the NFL. Pay attention to the race for the backup job. If it doesn’t become relevant this season, it should be a year from now. Of last year’s 379 passing attempts, only seven weren’t flicked by No. 12, which could become an issue if he’s forced to miss any time.

2. Oregon
3. Arizona
4. USC
5. Utah
6. Arizona State
7. Oregon State
8. Washington State
9. California
10. Washington
11. Colorado
12. UCLA

Running Backs

1. Oregon
If there’s a more talented collection of running backs in America, it’s probably playing in the NFL. Oregon ranked fourth nationally in rushing and averaged almost six yards a carry for good reason—it’s flush with depth and mercurial speed up and down the depth chart. LaMichael James is a returning is a returning All-American and Doak Walker winner, the backup, Kenjon Barner, would start for at least 90 other programs, and the freshmen had their choice of destinations coming out of high school.

2. Washington
3. Stanford
4. USC
5. Colorado
6. Arizona State
7. UCLA
8. California
9. Arizona
10. Utah
11. Oregon State
12. Washington State

Receivers

1. Arizona
For the second consecutive fall, Arizona returns the heart of its receiving corps, with last season’s top three pass-catchers back for their senior seasons led by Juron Criner. Making matters even better, the Wildcats will also be introducing a high-profile transfer from a major program. QB Nick Foles has been working with this group for the last couple of seasons, knows its tendencies, and can maximize all of its potential. From the moment Criner chose to return for his final year, Arizona was guaranteed of having one of the top receiving corps of the Pac-12 … if not the country. There’s a little bit of everything, from star power and a heralded transfer, Dan Buckner of Texas, to a handful of talented and unselfish role players.

2. Washington
3. California
4. USC
5. Arizona State
6. Oregon State
7. Washington State
8. Oregon
9. Stanford
10. Utah
11. Colorado
12. UCLA

Offensive Lines

1. Stanford
The largely unsung heroes of the program’s offensive success over the last two seasons, the line has been a fortress on the Farm. Although the unit is being remade in the wake of the graduations of center Chase Beeler, LG Andrew Phillips, and RT Derek Hall, hope can be found in the lone returning starters, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, both of whom earned a spot on the All-Pac-10 first team.

2. Oregon
3. USC
4. California
5. Utah
6. Arizona State
7. UCLA
8. Oregon State
9. Colorado
10. Washington
11. Arizona
12. Washington State

Defenses

1. Oregon
Nick Aliotti continues to do a fantastic job as the coordinator of the Oregon defense. Last year, for instance, he oversaw a unit that was one of the underrated reasons the Ducks played for a National Championship. The D allowed some points, often in the second half of blowouts, but also was no lower than No. 3 in the Pac-10 in takeaways, pass defense, run defense, or sacks. The combination of good speed and even better coaching has made this unit a frenetic and opportunistic bunch. The main offseason objective this summer will be to bolster a front seven that lost five quality starters to graduation. If Oregon is going to even approach last year’s results, it’ll need support from former backups, like DE Dion Jordan, DT Taylor Hart, and linebackers Michael Clay and Dewitt Stuckey. At least the secondary is set … sort of. John Boyett and Eddie Pleasant form a fantastic complement at safety, but as long as emerging star Cliff Harris is suspended, cornerback will be a potential sore spot.

2. USC
3. Utah
4. Stanford
5. Arizona State
6. California
7. UCLA
8. Washington
9. Oregon State
10. Arizona
11. Colorado
12. Washington State

Defensive Lines

1. USC
Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is close to having the kind of dominant front four Trojan fans had grown accustomed to in the previous decade. It’s not quite there, but the seedlings of greatness are beginning to sprout. USC loses a very good player, current Tennessee Titan DT Jurrell Casey, but everyone else is back on campus, giving the program the talent and depth to keep the rotation spinning at ends and tackle. There’s a good blend of talent, young and old, inside and outside, for Orgeron to further develop. Best of all, the trajectory is pointing in the right direction for some of the up-and-comers, like Nick Perry, Wes Horton, and George Uko.

2. Utah
3. UCLA
4. Oregon
5. Washington
6. Arizona State
7. Stanford
8. California
9. Colorado
10. Oregon State
11. Arizona
12. Washington State

Linebackers

1. Arizona State
Led by All-American candidate Vontaze Burfict , the linebackers are clearly the strength of this defense, if not the entire veteran team. Fast, fast, fast, fast, FAST, the ASU linebackers’ closing speed is blinding, and their quickness is matched by extremely physical play. The depth of this unit allows for fresh legs and equal level play among starters and reserves alike. Much like a quality hockey team, it can roll out line after line of capable players without missing a beat.

2. Utah
3. Stanford
4. USC
5. Oregon
6. California
7. UCLA
8. Colorado
9. Oregon State
10. Arizona
11. Washington State
12. Washington

Secondaries

1. Oregon
The Ducks lose just one starter to graduation, but it’s a good one, All-Pac-10 CB Talmadge Jackson. A second starting cornerback might also be missing in action in a troubling off-field development that’s still seeking a resolution. While Oregon yielded some yards a year ago, plenty of them came when the opposition was trying to battle back from a huge deficit. Plus, the secondary compensated by picking off a league-high 21 passes. Everything hinges on the availability of No. 13. If Cliff Harris is out for just the opener, after getting nailed for excessive speeding, the Oregon secondary will be every bit as opportunistic and stingy as it was in 2010. If, however, he’s out for an extended period, the Ducks D is going to suffer.

2. Stanford
3. California
4. USC
5. UCLA
6. Oregon State
7. Arizona
8. Washington
9. Utah
10. Arizona State
11. Colorado
12. Washington State

Special Teams

1. Oregon
One of the quiet reasons for Oregon’s success over the past few years, special teams continues to be a strength. The kickers are solid, but little used because of the high-octane offense, the coverage units are effective, and the returners will change the tempo of a game. All eyes will be on Cliff Harris, who makes a good group otherworldly when he gets back in the good graces of the coaching staff.

2. UCLA
3. Oregon State
4. Stanford
5. California
6. USC
7. Arizona State
8. Utah
9. Arizona
10. Washington
11. Colorado
12. Washington State

NORTH
- 2011 California Preview | 2011 Oregon Preview
- 2011 Oregon State Preview | 2011 Stanford Preview
- 2011 Washington Preview | 2011 Washington State Preview

SOUTH
- 2011 Arizona Preview | 2011 Arizona State Preview
- 2011 Colorado Preview | 2011 UCLA Preview 
- 2011 USC Preview | 2011 Utah Preview

- 2011 Pac-12 Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Pac-12 | 2011 Pac-12 Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Pac-12 Team & Top 30 Players | 2011 Pac-12 Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Pac-12 North Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 Pac-12 South Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2010 Pac 10 Preview