Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2011 Pac-12 Preview - North Lookaheads
Oregon State DT Dominic Glover
Oregon State DT Dominic Glover
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 8, 2011


Preview 2011 - CFN Pac-12 North Team-By-Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2011

Pac-12 Team By Team


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  

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

Pac-12 North

1. Oregon 

Offense: 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.

Defense: 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. Stanford 

Offense: Stanford is in the midst of its best two-year offensive run in school history. When QB Andrew Luck opted to return for his junior year, it increased the likelihood that that trend will continue in 2011. The Cardinal has been unstoppable of late and almost perfectly balanced, getting production from the passing of Luck and a power running game, most recently from Stepfan Taylor. The objective will be to keep the locomotive on the tracks in a year that the staff has turned over and there’s a need for help at wide receiver and along the offensive line. The fact that new head coach David Shaw was the program’s offensive coordinator for the last four seasons is a huge plus in the area of continuity. The tight ends, led by Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz, and Levine Toilolo, are among the deepest in America, but the passing game still needs gamebreaker Chris Owusu to be healthy for an entire year.

Defense: Coordinator Vic Fangio did a brilliant job with the Stanford defense a year ago, pitching three shutouts and ranking second in the Pac-10. Too bad he followed Jim Harbaugh to the NFL after just one year. Fortunately, he left behind the blueprint of the successful 3-4 defense and a fair amount of talent for his successors, Derek Mason and Jason Tarver. The Cardinal features an all-star—and a hole—at every level of the attacking D. Up front, there’s DE Matt Masifilo and two openings. At linebacker, Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas were all-conference in 2010, but will be surrounded by two new starters. And the secondary, so good last fall, is rock-solid at safety and unsure of itself at corner. The defense is a dichotomy and a work-in-progress that’s determined to duplicate last year’s improbable effort under new management.

3. California

Offense: Cal fans won’t have Kevin Riley to kick around any longer. The beleaguered quarterback has graduated, leaving behind a legacy of inconsistency. However, his successor is hardly a sure thing. A heated spring battle produced a favorite, athletic southpaw Zach Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo. He brings an added dimension of mobility to a Bear attack that’s been up-and-down for the last couple of seasons. While the backfield loses 1,000-yard rusher Shane Vereen to the NFL, Maynard’s receivers will be among the best in the Pac-12. Marvin Jones has led the team in catches the last two seasons, Keenan Allen is an emerging star, and TE Anthony Miller is seeking a rebound after a mediocre junior year. It’ll need to be a collaborative effort for a Cal offense that produced more than 20 points just twice over the final nine games.

Defense: So far, so good. Second-year coordinator Clancy Pendergast got off to a smashing debut in Berkeley, installing his version of a 3-4 defense to rave reviews. Facing modest expectations, the Bears finished 18th nationally in total defense and third in the Pac-10 in points allowed. The program is hoping to maintain that level of stinginess despite losing four of last year’s seven all-stars to the NFL. Cal will continue to search for all ways possible to dial up the heat, employing blitzes and stunts liberally. The leaders of the D will be inside linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt, a pair of seniors with their own next-level aspirations and resumes. They’ll obviously need help from a contingency of upperclassmen and kids in order to build on 2010. Two seniors, in particular, DE Trevor Guyton and S Sean Cattouse, appear poised for breakout final seasons.

4. Oregon State

Offense: One of the Rodgers brothers is gone. Another is back. Maybe. RB Jacquizz Rodgers left early for the NFL after his junior year, leaving a gaping hole in the backfield that’ll be difficult to fill this fall. Older brother James, however, received a medical hardship after blowing out his knee last October. The problem is that the do-everything receiver has been slow to heal, raising concerns about his availability this fall. Second-year starting QB Ryan Katz is keeping his fingers crossed. The strong-armed junior loves WR Markus Wheaton and H-back Joe Halahuni, but adding Rodgers into the mix could give Oregon State an unstoppable collection of playmakers. The backfield is a different story, where the program is banking on the likes of Ryan McCants, an underachieving senior. Whoever gets the carries will need more support from a line that was a disappointment in 2010.

Defense: Whatever coordinator Mark Banker gets paid annually, he’s going to earn every penny of it this season. Heralded for his work as a developer of raw talent and builder of underrated defenses, the coach will have to dig deep to revive a D that’s losing seven starters from a unit that was mediocre last season. There are some decent holdovers to build around, like S Lance Mitchell and DT Dominic Glover, but no one that screams All-America caliber or future first day NFL Draft choice. The Beavers will have to tap into their roots this fall, working a little harder than everyone else in order to narrow the gap. There are considerable holes everywhere, most notably up front where dominant DT Stephen Paea was one of three graduates. Banker’s kids may hold up versus marginal opponents, but better offenses are going to exploit a group that might take half a year to gel.

5. Washington

Offense: Washington entered 2010 with high expectations for an offense that was led by Heisman Trophy contender Jake Locker at quarterback, returning 1,000-yard rusher Chris Polk and a deep wide receiver corps. The unit largely underperformed, finishing 76th in yards per game and 97th in scoring. Now that Locker is a Tennessee Titan, the ability to replace him will go a long way in determining whether or not head coach and play-caller Steve Sarkisian can improve the attack. Fortunately, the new quarterback will have a lot of help at the skill positions. Bruising junior Chris Polk, who rushed for 1,415 yards last year, will keep the chains moving for the Huskies in what could be his last collegiate season. The receiving corps should also be solid, led by senior Jermaine Kearse, who caught 63 passes for 1,005 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010.

Defense: The Huskies defense was significantly better at the end of the 2010 season than at the start, holding Nebraska to seven points in the Holiday Bowl. That was the same Huskers team that hung 56 on U-Dub earlier in the year. The improvement along the defensive line and in the secondary was noticeable, but the Huskies lose a great deal at linebacker. Mason Foster and Victor Aiyewa led the conference in tackles and tackles for loss, respectively, and if the Huskies can’t find suitable replacements it’ll be hard to see the defense being much better than a year ago. However, Washington’s pass rush should be much improved, which will take some pressure off the much-maligned secondary, allowing the program to finally feature a decent pass defense.

6. Washington State 

Offense: Just block. It sounds simple, but it’s been a massive challenge for a Washington State offensive line that has simply gotten abused in recent years. Too bad, too, because head coach Paul Wulff has started amassing the talent he needs to successfully run his no-huddle attack. QB Jeff Tuel hit the tarmac in his sophomore year, throwing 18 touchdown passes and flashing his mobility. With Jared Karstetter and Marquess Wilson leading the way, the receivers promise to be one of the more underrated bunches on the West Coast. And young Rickey Galvin has the speed and moves to provide a much-needed boost to the running game. However, unless the offensive line can do a much better job of containing the other team, all of that talent will have a difficult time reaching its full potential.

Defense: The glass-is-half-empty guy will remind you that Washington State was once again one of the nation’s feeblest defenses. A positive individual, however, will point out that the Cougars employed a ton of underclassmen in 2010, lending hope for the future. Flanking DE Travis Long and LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, a pair of standout Pac-12 defenders, are a handful of exciting kids hoping to transform the recent tattered reputation of the D. Cougs, such as linebackers C.J. Mizell and Sekope Kaufusi, and safeties Deone Bucannon and Tyree Toomer, have a chance to become household names in time, beyond just the Palouse. All four cut their teeth in 2010, showing flashes of becoming outstanding players for the next few seasons. 

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