2009 CFN Pac 10 Team Capsules
Arizona State DT Lawrence Guy
Arizona State DT Lawrence Guy
Posted Jul 28, 2009

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- Arizona | Arizona State | Cal | Oregon | Oregon State
- Stanford
UCLA | USC | Washington | Washington St 

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1. USC | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 11-1  Conf. Record: 8-1
Best Offensive Player: C Kristofer O'Dowd
Best Defensive Player: FS Taylor Mays
Offense: Steve Sarkisian is now the head coach at Washington, which means it’s time for another young, upwardly-mobile assistant to use Troy as a career launching pad. Former Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates has taken the same position with the Trojans, while also calling plays. A high-energy guy and offensive innovator, he’ll immediately be under the microscope as the program breaks the seal on a new starting quarterback. Sophomore Aaron Corp earned the nod with a strong spring, but true freshman Matt Barkley was all the rage, showing off his cannon and surpassing veteran Mitch Mustain for the No. 2 job. Whatever concerns Corp might have as a first-time starter should be quelled by the presence of 14 players, who started a game in 2008. The Trojans are absolutely stacked everywhere, but especially in the trenches, where the potential exists to be the most dominant offensive line in the country.
Defense: Losing seven starters at a place like USC can mean just one thing: It’s time to anoint a new wave of stars. The way the Trojans recruit and coach, even the departures of NFL types, like Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, and Clay Matthews, aren’t enough to derail this defense. Sure, it may not be historically good, like a year ago, but it’ll remain plenty stingy and ridiculously fast. It all starts with All-America FS Taylor Mays, the top cop in the nation’s top secondary. The linebackers will be young, but their talent and upside is indisputable. Up front, there are an unusual amount of question marks, putting pressure on DE Everson Griffen to deliver the season of his life. Tuck aside names, like Armond Armstead, Chris Galippo, Malcolm Smith, and Shareece Wright. They may be unfamiliar today, but odds are that they won’t be by Halloween.

2. Oregon | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
10-2  Conf. Record: 7-2
Best Offensive Player: RB LeGarrette Blount
Best Defensive Player: CB Walter Thurmond
Oregon led the Pac-10 in scoring last season at just under 42 points a game, fine-tuning the spread-option as the season progressed. And now the rest of the league will have to deal with a quarterback, who’s just beginning to reach his peak and is an ideal fit for the system. Jeremiah Masoli took everyone by surprise midway through the 2008 season, carving up defenses with his hard running and improved passing. With a full offseason as the undisputed starter, he figures to be even more productive this fall. The junior will be surrounded by sure-fire all-stars in RB LeGarrette Blount and TE Ed Dickson. However, if the Ducks are going to pick up where they left off in the Holiday Bowl, the wide receivers need to become more consistent and the reshaped offensive line must gel. The front wall is losing more starts than any team in the league, and is still waiting for an anchor to emerge.
Defense: While Oregon isn’t exactly known for defense, Nick Aliotti continues to put forth a high-pressure, high-intensity unit that’ll give up yards, but also get the ball back to the offense in a hurry. This season will be no different. Aliotti has at least one all-star candidate at each level, but there are question marks. The standouts will be Will Tukuafu at defense end, Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews at linebacker, and Walter Thurmond and T.J. Ward in the secondary. However, there are some noticeable holes on the first and last lines of defense that’ll have to be addressed before the opener. The Ducks need a replacement for sack artist Nick Reed and must tighten their coverage in pass defense. This program can win shootouts, but would prefer it not be mandatory…or weekly.

3. California | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
9-3  Conf. Record: 5-4
Best Offensive Player: RB Jahvid Best
Best Defensive Player: CB Syd'Quan Thompson
Offense: Andy Ludwig was a late replacement for Frank Cignetti, keeping the revolving door at offensive coordinator spinning in Berkeley. Arriving with a long and accomplished resume, he’s basically being asked to help turn QB Kevin Riley into a more consistent and dangerous playmaker. That is, of course, if Riley wins the starting job, which was put up for grabs this spring. If Ludwig is successful, the Bears are capable of rolling past last season’s mixed results. Jahvid Best is the Bay Area’s most dangerous home run hitter since Barry Bonds retired, and the young receivers are headed in the right direction. Although the graduation of All-America C Alex Mack cannot be overstated, Cal has recruited well enough in recent years to endure in the trenches.  
Outstanding defensive play is not the first thing that comes to mind when Cal football is the subject. Maybe it should be. Without much national pub, eighth-year coordinator Bob Gregory has done a fantastic job with this unit. A year ago, he installed the 3-4, which was an unbridled success. The  Bears ranked no lower than 26th nationally in run defense, pass efficiency defense, and scoring defense. Much of that group returns, including a top-flight defensive line and one of the country’s most aggressive defensive backfields. The lone concern will be a corps of linebackers that lost  Zack Follett, Worrell Williams, and Anthony Felder to graduation. Mike Mohamed is the next big thing at the position, but he’ll need plenty of help from a quartet that’s expected to roam the field and make plays wherever they’re needed.

T4. Arizona State | Offense | Defense
| Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
7-5  Conf. Record: 5-4
Best Offensive Player: OT Shawn Lauvao
Best Defensive Player: DE Dexter Davis
The staff is hunting for answers, even spending time at Texas to learn the zone-read option, after finishing 100th nationally in total offense and scoring just 22 points a game. The reality is that there are no easy solutions when the talent on hand is marginal. Pac-10 defenses no longer have Rudy Carpenter to kick around, leaving quarterback in the hands of career backup Danny Sullivan and a pair of underclassmen. And while there is talent at the skill positions, it’s not so dynamic that it can thrive without help from the offensive line. Arizona State has been off-the-charts bad in the trenches over the last two seasons, a trend that shows no sign of changing. If the line doesn’t block and the passers are iffy, it’ll be tough getting horses, like RB Ryan Bass and WR Kyle Williams, out of the barn.
Defense: Raise your hand if you thought the defense would be ahead of the offense after two years with Dennis Erickson at the helm. Craig Bray and his assistants have quietly done an outstanding job of closing some holes and turning the Sun Devils into a tougher and more intense unit. The defense will again be ahead of the offense in Tempe, and it might not even be close. Most of the key components are back from a group that was a respectable 45th or better in total defense, scoring defense, run defense, and pass efficiency defense. It’ll all start up front, where DE Dexter Davis is one of the nation’s best pass rushers and DT Lawrence Guy is on the verge of stardom. The linebackers are deep and experienced, led by Mike Nixon, a borderline All-Pac-10 player. If there are question marks, they’ll come from a secondary that loses both starting safeties and can be inconsistent in pass coverage.

Oregon State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
8-4  Conf. Record: 5-4
Best Offensive Player: RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Best Defensive Player: LB Keaton Kristick
The offense will once again revolve around the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, the explosive duo, who’ll vex defenses with their speed, quickness, and versatility. When either has the ball in space, opposing defenses are almost forced into crisis mode. They’re that dangerous. The senior getting them the ball remains a mystery that might not be solved until late in August. Lyle Moevao is the incumbent, but he missed the spring recovering from shoulder surgery, creating an opportunity for lefty Sean Canfield. One of the two needs to be more consistent under center than the program has witnessed in recent years. The Beavers must also replace a quartet of All-Pac-10 players, two at wide receiver and two on the left side of the line. For now, redshirt freshman Colin Kelly is penciled in at left tackle, which is cause for some sleepless nights around Corvallis. Defense: Eight starters, including six all-stars, are gone, but as long as defensive coordinator Mark Banker is still around, the situation doesn’t seem so dire. Oregon State has been here before. Heck, the Beavers had to completely start over on the front seven as recently as last fall, yet still finished 23rd nationally in total defense. The coach knows how to regroup on the fly, which is what he’ll be asked to do again in 2009. Oregon State has pressing needs up front and in the defensive backfield, where seven of those eight regulars resided. More specifically, viable replacements must be developed at defensive end and cornerback, or else the D will be especially vulnerable through the air. While LB Keaton Kristick and DT Stephen Paea are the stars, by November, they could be sharing the spotlight with DE Ben Terry, LB David Pa’aluhi, and safeties Suaesi Tuimaunei and Lance Mitchell.

UCLA | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
7-5  Conf. Record: 5-4
Best Offensive Player: WR Taylor Embree
Best Defensive Player: DT Brian Price
Roll up your sleeves, Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow. You’ve got some heavy lifting ahead of you. After sporting one of the worst offenses in school history, UCLA is in store for more futility in 2009. The quarterbacks are young, the running backs are inexperienced, and the line is among the worst in the six BCS conferences. And under the heading of piling on, four players, QB Chris Forcier, backs Raymond Carter and Aundre Dean, and WR Dominique Johnson, are seeking transfers. You’ll have to excuse Neuheisel, a former quarterback with the Bruins, if he frequently lets off some steam about this unit. The good news is that journeyman Kevin Craft is being replaced by redshirt freshman Kevin Prince at quarterback. While the results may not be terribly different, he does bring enthusiasm, optimism, and a live arm to a group that’s craving a spark.
Defense: With an All-American candidate at each level and a slew of young talent, courtesy of the last two recruiting classes, UCLA will be home to one of the Pac-10’s stingiest defenses. DT Brian Price, LB Reggie Carter, and CB Alterraun Verner form the foundation of a unit that has a head of steam and 10 returners with starting experience. The biggest loss was defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who’s now the head coach at New Mexico State. His replacement, Chuck Bullough, was already on staff and doesn’t plan on changing much about the system. Alongside the veterans are future stars, like DE Datone Jones, LB Akeem Ayers, and S Rahim Moore, giving the Bruins a nice blend of stable upperclassmen and youthful enthusiasm. The biggest concerns will be to plug the gaps on a run defense that was exposed too often and get pocket pressure from someone other than DE Korey Bosworth.

7. Stanford Preview | Offense | Defense |
Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
5-7  Conf. Record: 4-5
Best Offensive Player: RB Toby Gerhart
Best Defensive Player: LB Clinton Snyder
Offense: Since when did Stanford become Michigan during the Bo Schembechler days? Sure, head coach Jim Harbaugh spent his college years in Ann Arbor, but no one could have imagined his Cardinal teams would be led by a power ground game, while struggling to mount a consistent passing attack. No, Harbaugh hasn’t changed his philosophy or his desire to attack with an up-tempo style. He’s just playing to his personnel, which is heavy on north-south runners, fullbacks, and tight ends. The big picture, however, includes resuscitating an aerial game that ranked 103rd nationally last year. Will that big picture include redshirt freshman QB Andrew Luck in 2009? If his spring performance counts for anything, you bet.
The Stanford D only knows one mode—attack. With a bunch of starters back at every level, the Cardinal hopes to bring pressure whenever possible. While that mindset led to a slew of sacks a year ago, turnovers were far less frequent, something co-defensive coordinator Ron Lynn hopes to change. While the program is solid on the front seven, boasting depth and potential all-stars, progress will only come if the pass defense can turn the corner with the help of a bunch of imports from different positions. The coaching staff has liberally plucked athletes from various spots on the roster in an attempt to improve the athleticism and competitiveness of the secondary. Stanford will be fine against the likes of Washington and Washington State. The true measuring stick of progress, however, will come against Oregon, USC, and Cal.

8. Arizona | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
5-7  Conf. Record: 3-6
Best Offensive Player: TE Rob Gronkowski
Best Defensive Player: CB Devin Ross
Sonny Dykes’ wide-open spread attack wasn’t so care-free after all last year. The Wildcats were far more balanced than advertised, actually running it more than they threw it. And why not? In Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin, they’ve got two of the more dynamic backs in the Pac-10. Expect more of the same in 2009, especially with QB Willie Tuitama and all-time leading receiver Mike Thomas out of eligibility. All eyes will be on the battle to replace Tuitama that pits Matt Scott against Michigan State transfer Nick Foles. If Scott, last year’s backup, gets the nod, Arizona could resemble Oregon, featuring a mobile quarterback and a pair of talented rushers. Oh, they’ll still be throwing the ball in Tucson, but don’t be fooled. The ‘Cats will play to their personnel, keeping it on the ground 40 times a game.
It’s time to start heaping more credit on defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who molded last year’s unit-in-transition into one of the Pac-10’s stingiest defenses. Now that he’s got 10 players back with starting experience, this could be the best Arizona defense since Dick Tomey was roaming the sidelines. The strength of the group is a talented, Devin Ross-led secondary that was a microcosm of last season’s improbable results. Combine their shutdown skills with the relentless pass rush of DE Brooks Reed and DT Earl Mitchell, and opponents might be well-served to avoid the airways. That’ll put added pressure on a run defense that’s a little less dependable and a lot more likely to be tested this fall

9. Washington Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
3-9  Conf. Record: 2-7
Best Offensive Player: QB Jake Locker
Best Defensive Player: DE Daniel Te'o-Neshiem
Offense: Hey, Steve Sarkisian, you’re not at Troy any longer. Surrounded by future pros while at USC, the new coach takes over a program that was 116th nationally in total offense and 117th in scoring offense. Yup, his hands will be full. The good news is that QB Jake Locker returns after missing most of 2008 with a thumb injury. Sarkisian is installing a pro-style offense, with a few alterations to take advantage of Locker’s mobility. If the junior truly evolves into a multi-threat quarterback, he’ll have no shortage of exciting underclassmen to utilize. RB Chris Polk, WR Jermaine Kearse, and TE Kavario Middleton are just a few of the kids, who were nationally recruited a couple of years ago. The staff knows it inherited a ton of potential, but all bets are off if the line doesn’t make marked improvement. One of the worst units among the BCS programs, it’s replacing three starters and painfully unproven on the right side.
Defense: After allowing more points and more yards than any defense in school history, the return of nine starters is being viewed as a mixed blessing. Absolutely nothing went right a year ago, but new coordinator Nick Holt does inherit some decent talent, especially in the front seven, where DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and linebackers E.J. Savannah and Mason Foster are all-star caliber. Schematically, Holt’s defense will look similar to the one he coached at USC, which means it’ll be run out of a 4-3 base set. While there’s no shortage of items on the to-do list, the top priority will be to find the mix in a defensive backfield that was completely overmatched last fall and still had two unresolved positions coming out of spring.

Washington State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:
2-10  Conf. Record: 0-9
Best Offensive Player: C Kenny Alfred
Best Defensive Player: LB Andy Mattingly
Head coach Paul Wulff is determined to unveil the complete version of his no-huddle offense this season. The pessimist might wonder if it really matters. Washington State is looking to regroup after sporting one of the nation’s most feeble offenses. The Cougars were no higher than 106th nationally in rushing, passing, or scoring offense, and led the country in turnovers lost. You’ll run out of adjectives to describe their futility. Beyond the installation of the offense, Wulff needs to decide on a quarterback between senior Kevin Lopina and sophomore Marshall Lobbestael. Although Lobbestael is the future at the position, he’s also recovering from knee surgery. Hints of good news can be found in a backfield that has surprising depth, bolstered by the arrival of Cal transfer James Montgomery. Center Kenny Alfred, the offense’s most consistent player, would be a little less anonymous if he was playing outside the Palouse.
Defense: Washington State allowed 570 points in 2008, more than any school in Division I history. The Cougars were defenseless against the run, spotty versus the pass, and only able to create 13 turnovers in 13 games. Six starters are gone from that Hindenburg, and there’s no evidence that the situation will improve dramatically. It would help if the unit can avoid the injury bug, which bit it repeatedly throughout the season. Stopping the run, in particular, will be an on-going headache for the players and the staff. The strength of the unit will be the back seven, where linebackers Andy Mattingly and Louis Bland, and safeties Xavier Hicks and Chima Nwachukwu are fringe all-stars