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Pac 10 Preview 2006 - Unit Rankings
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CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 9, 2006


CollegeFootballNews.com 2006 Pac 10 Preview Unit Rankings


Pac 10 Preview | All-Pac 10 team and top 30 players | Top 5s | Unit Rankings
- Arizona Preview | Arizona State Preview | California Preview
- Oregon Preview | Oregon State Preview | Stanford Preview 
- UCLA Preview | USC Preview | Washington PreviewWashington State Preview
 

Offense  
1. USC
This isn't going to be anywhere near the 580-yard, 49 point-per-game juggernaut of last year losing Matt Leinart, LenDale White, Winston Justice, Dominique Byrd, Taitusi Lutui, and Reggie Bush, but there's hope for the explosion to continue, albeit to a lesser degree, thanks to the nation's best receiving corps, a good foundation on the offensive line with tackle Sam Baker and center Ryan Kalil, and more high school All-America prospects than one team should have. However, there's an outside chance the wheels could come flying off. Quarterback John David Booty is hardly a sure-thing to last the season with his gimpy back, but Mark Sanchez is back on the team after sexual assault charges against him were dropped. The running back situation is full of question marks with injuries, youth, and ineligibility playing havoc with the corps. Even so, this will be one of the nation's five best attacks if everyone stays healthy.
2. Arizona State
3. California
4. Oregon
5. Oregon State
6. Washington State
7. UCLA
8. Arizona
9. Stanford
10. Washington

Quarterbacks  
1. Arizona State
How good is the ASU quarterback situation? The nation's best passer of 2005 is the backup. Rudy Carpenter could certainly start without a problem, but the return of Sam Keller from a thumb injury gives the attack a little more swagger and a bomber who'll push the ball downfield a bit more. That's not to say Carpenter isn't an explosive passer; he just doesn't have the same arm. Even so, either one could start and put up monster numbers. If you combined the production from the quarterbacks, the two completed 311 of 492 passes (63%) for 4,438 yards and 37 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. In other words, a full-season starter will be in the Heisman hunt. The number three spot is shaky with Derek Shaw transferring meaning walk-on Brett Boon is the emergency man.
2. USC
3. California
4. Stanford
5. Arizona
6. Oregon
7. UCLA
8. Washington State
9. Oregon State
10. Washington

Running Backs
1. California
There are few better 1-2 punches in America than Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. They'll each crank out 1,000 yards if they each stay healthy with Lynch sure to flirt with the 2,000-yard mark if the offensive line can make the necessary replacements to be nearly as good as last year. Marcus O'Keith might be the nation's best number three back. Fullback won't be an issue with Byron Storer an excellent replacement for Chris Manderino.
2. Oregon State
3. USC
4. Arizona State
5. Oregon
6. UCLA
7. Washington
8. Washington State
9. Arizona
10. Stanford

Receivers
1. USC
This group will keep the NFL stocked for years to come. The entire corps is full of big, fast, talented receivers who can do it all highlighted by the best returning receiver in America, Dwayne Jarrett, and the speedy Steve Smith, who's also All-America caliber. Patrick Turner and Chris McFoy would provide excellent depth if it was just the two of them, but top recruit Vidal Hazelton and junior Whitney Lewis help to make the reserves something truly special. There's a good rotation at tight end between three good pass catchers.
2. Washington State
3. Arizona State
4. California
5. Oregon
6. Stanford
7. Oregon State
8. UCLA
9. Arizona
10. Washington

Offensive Lines
1. Oregon
The potential is there for this to be the league's best line with all five starters returning. It's a big group that got bigger this off-season with massive JUCO transfers Fenuki Tupou and Pat So'oalo added on the left side. With so much size, there's no excuse not to be better in the running game; it needs to be a more physical unit. That's an easy transition to make considering everyone took to the spread offense so quickly.
2. Oregon State
3. USC
4. Arizona State
5. California
6. UCLA
7. Washington State
8. Arizona
9. Washington
10. Stanford

Defenses
1. USC
What the D lacks in overall experience it makes up for in ridiculous talent and athleticism. The linebacking corps is one of the best in America with a third string that would form a killer starting trio for about 95 other teams. The secondary doesn't have any big names, but that will change quickly if some of the superstar freshmen play well right away and if there's good competition for the safety spots. End Lawrence Jackson and tackle Sedrick Ellis are great players to build around on a line that should have few problems getting into the backfield. The return of former defensive coordinator and former Idaho head coach Nick Holt adds even more punch.
2. California
3. Arizona
4. Washington State
5. Arizona State
6. Oregon
7. UCLA
8. Oregon State
9. Washington
10. Stanford


Defensive Lines
1. USC
This could be the Achilles' heel early, but it should turn into a killer of a pass rushing unit as the season goes on. Lawrence Jackson is an All-America caliber talent at one end, but a steady pass rusher, hopefully Kyle Moore, has to develop on the other side to take the pressure off. Sedrick Ellis is an undersized and underrated tackle to build around, and there are plenty of good prospects ready to fill in the gaps. Fortunately, the impressive linebacking corps will clean up most of the mistakes the front four makes.
2. Arizona State
3. California
4. Washington State
5. Oregon
6. Oregon State
7. UCLA
8. Arizona
9. Washington
10. Stanford

Linebackers
1. USC
A concern going into last season, the linebacking corps might be the best in America if all the parts are intact. This is a very big, very fast group with seven All-America caliber talents not counting the big-time freshmen coming in this summer. The return of Thomas Williams from a knee injury and Dallas Sartz from a shoulder problem gives the corps a big boost, while the progression of Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers as experienced veteran should mean few mistakes.
2. California
3. Washington State
4. Arizona
5. Washington
6. Oregon
7. Oregon State
8. Arizona State
9. UCLA
10. Stanford

Defensive Backs
1. Arizona
The athletes and talents are there; now there has to be more production. Yeah, Arizona finished second in the Pac 10 in pass defense and fourth in pass efficiency defense, but it still allowed 225 yards per game and got a break statistically because offenses spent so much time running the ball. Wilrey Fontenot and Antoine Cason form one of the league's best corner tandems, and they should be even better with more of a pass rush. Replacing safety Darrell Brooks will be tough with Brandon Tatum and Dominic Patrick needing to shine at free safety. Michael Johnson is a rising star at strong safety.
2. USC
3. California
4. UCLA
5. Oregon
6. Arizona State
7. Oregon State
8. Washington State
9. Stanford
10. Washington

Special Teams
1. Arizona
No matter who's punting, the kicking game will be among the best in the nation. Nick Folk has unlimited range as both a placekicker and a punter, but transfer Kyle McQuown will likely handle the punting job this fall. Syndric Steptoe is a decent receiver and an All-America return man averaging 11.1 yards per punt return and 25.5 yards on kickoff returns. The punters boomed the ball so much that there were too many huge returns, but the kickoff coverage unit was fine.
2. Arizona State
3. UCLA
4. California
5. Washington State
6. Oregon
7. Oregon State
8. USC
9. Stanford
10. Washington