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Pac 10 Players to Watch Blog

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 11, 2008


The Pac 10 players to watch and to look out for in each week's games.

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By Justin Karp

Arizona Wildcats vs. Idaho Vandals (August 28)

Arizona needs to…shut down RB Deonte’ Jackson. The Wildcats new Texas Tech-style offense should have no problem running roughshod over the weak and inexperienced Vandal defense, but UA always has the propensity of allowing too many rushing yards. Jackson racked up 1,175 rushing yards (2nd in the WAC in 2007) and is primed to surpass those this year. Shut down Jackson and this game could be ugly early.

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (August 30)

Arizona State needs to…knock off their 1st quarter doldrums. In both of their previous two matchups, NAU carried early momentum and led in the 2nd quarter. In fact, ASU needed a pick-six in 2006 to break a 4th-quarter 14-14 stalemate. The Jacks always seem to run out of gas after a strong start against the Devils, so it might just be a matter of waiting out the storm before turning loose Rudy Carpenter.

California Golden Bears vs. Michigan State Spartans (August 30)

California needs to…turn Jahvid Best loose. Michigan State allowed six games of 150+ rushing yards last season and a strong game from the lightning fast sophomore would put the Spartans on their heels early. They might just need him to carry the offense as the Bears passing game is still unsettled and MSU brings back their top two corners in Kendell Davis-Clark and Chris Rucker.

Oregon Ducks vs. Washington Huskies (August 30)

Oregon needs to…pick on the Washington linebackers. With E.J. Savannah gone due to academic ineligibility, the middle of the Huskies defense sorely lacks a solid tackler. Guys like Jaison Williams and Ed Dickson could have a field day over the middle. In addition, I’d be remiss to mention that the Ducks defense has to keep a limit to how much Jake Locker scrambles, but that’s a given.

Oregon State Beavers at Stanford Cardinal (August 28)

Oregon State needs to…protect Lyle Moevao. He’ll be the go-to guy with Sean Canfield still on the shelf and Stanford’s pass rush is pretty potent (39 sacks in 2007). Moevao is immobile in the backfield, so he’ll have to get passes off as quick as possible with guys like Clinton Snyder and Pat Maynor blitzing.

Stanford Cardinal vs. Oregon State Beavers (August 28)

Stanford needs to…let the running backs control the pace. Anthony Kimble and Toby Gerhart are very competent runners who both averaged over 4.0 YPC last season and it’s the Beavers front 7 that is inexperienced. It would be a disaster to let a young QB like Tavita Pritchard throw excessively against guys like Al Afalava and Brandon Hughes.

UCLA Bruins vs. Tennessee Volunteers (September 1)

UCLA needs to…make Jonathan Crompton throw. If the Bruins defense cannot neutralize Arian Foster and his 1,193 rushing yards, it’ll be ball game really quickly at the Rose Bowl. Crompton only threw 12 passes last season and still needs to work on a rapport with his receivers. If they can force the Vols offense to go to the air, Reggie Carter and Alterraun Verner could dictate the outcome of the game.

USC Trojans at Virginia (August 30)

USC needs to…own the line of scrimmage. We’ve all sung the praises of the Trojans on both sides of the line, and the Wahoos only return one starter out of 9 offensive and defensive linemen. With Mark Sanchez hurt, Mitch Mustain will need plenty of time to find star receivers while the Trojan defensive front will have to put pressure on Peter Lalich all day long.

Washington Huskies at Oregon Ducks (August 30)

Washington needs to…neutralize Nick Reed. Jake Locker will not have any time to roam if his 255-pound beast of a defensive tackle is in the backfield every play. And it seemed like he was last year (12 sacks, 10.5 TFL). Washington must let their main (only?) playmaker on offense have time to work his magic or he’s going to end up on his back plenty of times.

Washington State Cougars vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys in Seattle (August 30)

Washington State needs to…keep Zac Robinson in the pocket. He’s a better QB when he’s mobile and the Cowboys will try to run their zone-read option at least 15-20 times per game. He’s dangerous with his legs (847 yards rushing) and has a prime target in 1st-team All-Big XII tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who makes getting open look easy when given an extra split-second.