2008 Pac 10 Insider Spring Questions
Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter
Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter
Posted Mar 12, 2008

With spring ball kicking in, here are some of the Pac 10's key questions answered by the inside sources, the Scout publishers.

2008 Spring Preview

Key Pac 10 Questions Answered

- 2008 Pac 10 Spring Analysis

What’s the Arizona State coaching staff doing to work on the team’s biggest problem last year: pass protection?

Hod Rabino DevilsDigest.com Publisher. For all the latest in Arizona State Football team coverage, log onto DevilsDigest.com

The pass protection deficiencies were obviously not limited to the performance of the offensive line. Nonetheless, there's no doubt that this unit, especially at the tackle position will have to improve executing schemes that call for more athleticism. 6-5 280 mid-year JC transfer Tom Njungee from Pasadena (Calif.) City College was brought in for immediate help, likely at left tackle. 6-4 350 junior Richard Tuitu'u is the most experienced returning tackle on the team, and late last season showed some glimpses that he could be a starter. 6-4 310 sophomore Jon Hargis will be moved from the defensive line to provide competition and 6-6 295-pound redshirt freshman Mike Marcisz will be in the mix as well.
Additionally coaches will be harping on QB Rudy Carpenter to get rid of the ball quicker, as well as emphasize pass blocking in the running back core.

Is QB Justin Roper really going to be the man at Oregon? Which team is going to show up, the one at the end of the regular season or the one that rolled in the Sun Bowl?

From Steve Summers, eDuck.com

The Oregon Ducks are going to head into spring camp with fewer questions than one might expect considering losing the two best players from last year's squad. Why? Mainly because the depth the Oregon Ducks now enjoy has never been so good, and one of the key elements of the team that saved the season for many will be back in the huddle when spring practice begins on April 2nd.
Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart are gone but the blow of losing the team's two best players is lessened because quarterback Justin Roper, the surprise of the 74th Brut Sun Bowl is back plus the Ducks picked up another big, fast running back from the junior college ranks. LaGarrette Blount, 6-2, 230 is a back that reminds the Oregon coaching staff of Reuben Droughns. Blount signed a mid-season transfer letter of intent back in December and will be on hand when the Ducks go back on the practice field in April.
Roper made his first career start in the Sun Bowl and executed Offensive Coordinator Chip Kelly's game plan to perfection. Roper threw a record four touchdowns in the Sun Bowl and made no critical mistakes. At least for spring football, Justin Roper will be the No. 1 quarterback. Nate Costa probably would have been the lead signal caller but suffered a torn MCL and ACL on his left knee.  Likely, Costa will be throwing in the spring but will be held out of contact drills. Along with Roper and Costa, true freshmen Darron Thomas, Chris Harper, back up Cody Kempt and BYU transfer Cade Cooper will also get practice snaps. Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti hasn't tipped his hand as to who is the leading candidate for the starting position in the fall, but Roper and Costa seem to be the leaders.
While Oregon must also replace two starting linemen and two wide receivers, the Duck offense was relatively unscathed by graduation. Brian Paysinger and Cameron Colvin are gone as receivers, but both suffered season ending injuries midway through 2007, and their replacements Jeffery Maehl and Aaron Pflugrad gained valuable experience at the end of last year. Rumors continue to circulate that 1st Team Pac-10 center Max Unger may move to tackle and if so veteran Jeff Kendall will take his place at center. Several other veteran back ups including Jacob Hucko, C.E. Kaiser and Jordon Holmes will via for the remaining opening on the offensive line.
Defensively the Ducks worried some about the defensive line mainly because two blue-chip defensive tackles did not make it into school last fall. Combining that with the losses of David Faaeteete and Jeremy Gibbs due to graduation, the tackle position will be scrutinized closely in the spring. Senior Cole Linehan, junior Ra'Shon Harris and sophomore Tonio Celotto and JC transfer Blake Ferras will get the most work at tackle while the ends are solid behind senior All-Pac-10 Nick Reed.
Most beat writers that cover the Ducks think that the linebacker corps going into the spring workouts could be the very best Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti has ever had at Oregon. Sophomore Casey Matthews will be healthy and redshirt freshman Terrence Pritchett, who was very impressive in the fall will be playing along side senior Jerome Boyd. Redshirts Brandon Hanna and Terrell Turner also will be in the mix. The defensive secondary continues to be a strength as free safety Matt Harper was the sole loss. He will be replaced by veteran Marvin Johnson who was outstanding last year on special teams. True freshman John Boyett, who was the Northern California Player of the Year out of Napa High School in 2007 enrolled for winter term and will be on hand for the spring workouts to compete for the safety job.
Last season, Aliotti could be easily riled if someone refereed to his defense as "bend-but-don't-break." Aliotti likes to think of his charges as a shut down defense. This spring observers should get to see first hand if that is going to be the case or not. 
Special teams will still feature kicker Matt Evensen and punter Josh Syria, so there won't be much mystery in those departments.
The Ducks should pick up where they left off at the Sun Bowl -- a powerful offense capable of putting up big numbers and a strong defense. Bellotti's staff spent the recruiting season going across the country for talent and six newcomers from the 2008 recruiting class will be enrolled in school and working out during the spring.

Is the Oregon State quarterback play going to be more consistent and better?

From Dan Norz, BeaverFootball.com

There is eerie trend of quarterbacks in a Mike Riley coached system to throw interceptions and touchdowns at a one to one if not two to one rate. Derek Anderson did it in 2003, Matt Moore in 2005 and most recently Sean Canfield in 2007.

But, once the quarterback settles in, they are downright deadly as Anderson showed in 2004 and Moore displayed in 2006 as they reversed the ratio throwing two touchdowns for every interception.

One of the big questions heading into Oregon State’s spring session is will the quarterback play be more consistent and better? If we look at history, the answer is yes, but unfortunately the picture is not crystal clear as Sean Canfield recovers from a shoulder injury and Lyle Moevao, although undefeated, has started just four games.

Canfield injured his shoulder against USC in November, played briefly in December against Maryland in the Emerald Bowl and had surgery on his left shoulder, his throwing shoulder, in January. He will sit out spring practice and hopes to be throwing at full strength by June or July.

Weather the Beavers are more consistent at quarterback or not depends on how Canfield recovers. Will he be afraid to get hit? Will he be able to throw an accurate deep ball? Will he be tentative to run? All those questions and more won’t be answered until the summer.

Moevao will start out spring and fall camp as the starter. He is more mobile than Canfield which the coaches like but that mobility has a cost as he fumbled three times in four games. He is tough in the pocket and took care of the ball when he tossed it throwing just two interceptions in his four starts.

He can make the difficult out throws, but will need to improve on his deep ball as the offense is limited to big pass plays with him in the game. Moevao’s intangible is his positive, energetic personality that the other players latch onto and feed off of, a great quality of a leader.

Moevao has the smarts, athletic skills and the attitude to succeed in the Pac-10. Once he gets the experience, he will become a consistent quarterback.

How much better is Jake Locker going to be as a passer? Does he have the players around him at Washington to succeed?

From Chris Fetters, Northwest Recruiting Analyst - Scout.com, Editor-in-Chief - Dawgman.com

Jake is actually taking part in a camp to get him back in step with some of the fundamentals that he didn't have to work on in high school, considering they ran wing-t at Ferndale.  He's 'going back to school', so to speak.   Here's an article I wrote on the camp and what he's been doing.  http://washington.scout.com/2/723716.html
As far as receivers go, the biggest problem with the receivers last year was their inconsistency in getting open and providing targets for Jake.  This fall's crop is only going to include two scholarship players coming back with any catches from 2007 (D'Andre Goodwin and Curtis Shaw), but has arguably the best receiver class to ever come to UW - and that's saying something, considering Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick were two of the top three receivers in the 2001 class.  Anthony Boyles, Devin Aguilar, Chris Polk, Jordan Polk, Cody Bruns and Jermaine Kearse could all see considerable playing time, and they are all known for their hands and play-making abilities.  And Goodwin, Shaw and Jordan Polk are all sub-4.5 guys, and the others aren't far off.  So in a nutshell - next year's WR class is extremely green, but as loaded with potential as UW has ever been.