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

2010 Pac 10 Preview - Team By Team Looks
USC QB Matt Barkley
USC QB Matt Barkley
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 11, 2010


Preview 2010 - CFN Pac 10 Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2010

Pac 10 Team By Team



- Arizona Preview | Arizona State Preview | California Preview
- Oregon Preview | Oregon St Preview | Stanford Preview | UCLA Preview
- USC Preview | Washington Preview | Washington State Preview

- 2010 Pac 10 Preview | 2010 Pac 10 Unit Rankings | 2010 Pac 10 Schedules & Picks
- 2010 CFN All-Pac 10 Team & Top 30 Players | Get Pac 10 Tickets
- 2010 Pac 10 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

Predicted Champion: USC

Pac 10 Predicted Finish

1. USC Predicted Overall Record: 11-2
Predicted Conference Record: 7-2

Offense: With Lane Kiffin back in Los Angeles, USC is aiming to become a more assertive running team that takes a few extra shots downfield than in recent years. New coordinator Kennedy Pola inherits a predictable bundle of talent, but also an offense that’s underachieved since his last stint with the Trojans. All eyes will be on the continued development of QB Matt Barkley, whose up-and-down debut did little to impact his enormous upside potential. His primary supporters at the skill positions will be RB Allen Bradford, who’s set to explode, and speedy WR Ronald Johnson. If Kiffin’s lone Tennessee team is any indication, Bradford could expect to get 25 touches a game. The offensive line will be Troy’s biggest hurdle to success this fall, especially if injuries remain a concern. It harbors a who’s who of former high school All-Americans, but getting them to work together as a cohesive unit will be a full-time job for the coaches.
Defense: What do you get when you combine coordinator Monte Kiffin with the kind of talent he was used to seeing in the NFL? A whole lot of interesting potential. The Trojans have the staff and they have the raw materials, so even without Pete Carroll and the entire secondary, they’ll still be plenty ornery in 2010. The key will be that defensive backfield, which is being completely retooled around CB Shareece Wright, a possible breakout star in his finale. Even without Everson Griffen, the front seven will be among the best in the Pac-10. Up front, Jurrell Casey, Nick Perry, and Armond Armstead have All-Pac-10 ceilings. And at linebacker, returning starters Chris Galippo, Michael Morgan, and Malcolm Smith are being joined by D-line import Devon Kennard, who could make waves here. USC will be a little more vulnerable than in the past, but it still harbors a ton of elite talent on defense. It’s going to be interesting to see how quickly the new staff can mold it.

T2. Oregon
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 6-3

Offense: Does Chip Kelly’s system make the quarterbacks? Oregon sure hopes so now that dynamic dual-threat Jeremiah Masoli has been booted from the squad. His dismissal leaves the program searching for a successor out of determined senior Nate Costa and surging sophomore Darron Thomas. At least Masoli had the courtesy to implode before spring so both quarterbacks could get first team reps in April. As long as RB LaMichael James and the veteran fortress he runs behind are around, the ground game will again be among the nation’s most prolific. The passing game and overall production from behind center, however, could suffer. Neither Costa nor Thomas is expected to be as dangerous as Masoli the last two seasons, and beyond Jeff Maehl, the receivers are pedestrian. There’s no doubt the Ducks will put up points, but leading the Pac-10 in scoring for a third straight year has a new hurdle that has to be cleared when Costa and Thomas face off for Round 2 in August.
Defense: Forget for a moment the players that’ll fill the Oregon two-deep. The single most important individual on defense is coordinator Nick Aliotti, who perennially does more with less. While the Haloti Ngata-type talent arrives in Eugene infrequently, the Ducks are often a feisty, attacking group that’ll make big plays. Last season, for instance, they overcame some key injuries in the secondary and a dearth of true star power to lead the Pac-10 in sacks and rank a respectable fourth in total and scoring D. So, despite concerns about the interior of the line and the corners, don’t be surprised if Aliotti’s kids exceed preseason forecasts. This year’s strength will come from speedy edge rusher Kenny Rowe, linebackers Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger, and a deep and active collection of safeties. While physical teams could succeed against this group, the Ducks will continue to get their pound of flesh—and a slew of sacks and takeaways as well.

T2. Oregon State
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 6-3

Offense: While it’s not as if coordinator Danny Langsdorf lacks creativity, why bother getting too fancy when you have the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, at your disposal? The incendiary duo will once again be the focal points of the Beaver offense, frustrating defenses by land, air, or any means possible. Now, the gameplan won’t be too tricky, but getting the backs and receivers the ball has a new catch. Oregon State must replace QB Sean Canfield with a quarterback, who has never started a game in Corvallis. The frontrunner coming out of spring was sophomore Ryan Katz, whose lack of experience might be his only shortcoming. He has the physical tools, right demeanor, and adequate supporting cast to hit the ground running in his debut. Besides the brothers, he’ll have access to backup RB Jovan Stevenson, a cadre of exciting pass-catchers, and a veteran line led by C Alex Linnenkohl and LT Michael Philipp.
Defense: A year ago, coordinator Mark Banker was forced to break in eight new starters, which brought predictable results. The D struggled against potent teams, laboring to generate many sacks or turnovers and finishing in the middle of the Pac-10. With 11 players with starting experience back, the coach is expecting a stingier unit. There’s star power at defensive tackle, with All-America candidate Stephen Paea, and a defensive backfield loaded with veterans and athleticism. Taking positive steps, however, is contingent upon the pass rush and the play of a rebuilt linebacker corps. Not only was Oregon State 105th in sacks a year ago, but projected starting DE Matt LaGrone left the team before the spring. With the exception of Paea, the front seven is going to be a question mark in the early going, especially since the linebackers are trying to compensate for the graduation of Keaton Kristick, sudden departure of David Pa'aluhi, and preseason Achilles tear suffered by Keith Pankey.

T2. Stanford
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 6-3

Offense: Yes, All-American RB Toby Gerhart has graduated. No, the Cardinal offense isn’t about to seize up and revert back to 2007. While you don’t get better by losing a player of Gerhart’s caliber, Stanford will simply shift its focus, entrusting a much larger portion of the attack to QB Andrew Luck. The sophomore was a complement in his first year, but has the next-level talent and receivers Chris Owusu and Ryan Whalen to shred Pac-10 defenses. Yup, he’s going to be that good. It also helps that the Cardinal brings back all but one starter from an offensive line that put up a wall around the pocket in 2009. The big question, of course, is who replaces Gerhart to give the offense balance. First dibs go to last year’s backup, Stepfan Taylor, who showed promise as a rookie, rushing for 303 yards and two scores on 56 carries.
Defense: Desperate times call for desperate measures. In an effort to solve a defense that was pitiful last season, Jim Harbaugh has hired coordinator Vic Fangio, who has spent the past quarter-century in the NFL. He has an extensive and impressive resume, but how will he translate to the college game? His first step will be to install a 3-4 defense that the Cardinal began getting accustomed to in the spring. The obvious need for more linebackers has meant changes in location for the likes of Owen Marecic and Chase Thomas, who are better known as a fullback and defensive end, respectively. Even leading pass rusher Thomas Keiser could be in a hybrid role that mixes in elements of defensive end and outside linebacker. The biggest concern—again—will be the ability of the secondary to survive in a Pac-10 flush with quality quarterbacks and receivers.

T5. Arizona
Predicted Overall Record: 8-4
Predicted Conference Record: 5-4

Offense: Coordinator Sonny Dykes is gone. The wide-open spread attack, however, stays in Tucson. With Dykes now the head coach at Louisiana Tech, Mike Stoops is turning to Seth Littrell and Bill Bedenbaugh as his co-coordinators. To their delight, they’ll inherit an offense that welcomes back 10 starters and is well-positioned for success. Unlike a year ago, Arizona has no quarterback controversy thanks to the impressive debut of Nick Foles, who’ll be surrounded by considerable talent at the skill positions and four of last year’s five regular linemen. If backs Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin can stay healthy and WR Juron Criner keeps emerging, this will be one of the most potent attacks in the Pac-10.
Defense: There’s a foundation in place for new coordinators Greg Brown and Tim Kish. Now all they have to do in the offseason is build on it. The replacements for Mark Stoops, who moved on to the same position at Florida State, inherited all-star candidates in CB Trevin Wade and ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed to go along with a handful question marks. With Wade locking down the other guy’s best receiver and the bookends meeting in the backfield, the ‘Cats are in good shape with their pass defense. Run D, however, is a different story. Arizona must replace last year’s starting tackles and linebackers, leaving a gaping hole in the middle that opponents will surely look to exploit.

T5. California
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 5-4

Offense: Inconsistency has become the trademark of this Cal offense over the past few seasons. A year ago, the Bears scored 146 points in the first three games and just six in the next two when the competition ramped up. Go figure. While the running game will remain firmly on the rails with budding superstar Shane Vereen, it’s the passing attack that needs some fine-tuning. From the sporadic play of QB Kevin Riley and his receivers to questionable pass protection, the school has had issues achieving a desired level of balance, especially on third downs. The undisputed keys for coordinator Andy Ludwig will be the embattled Riley, the target of derision the last two seasons, and his blindside protection. In place of first team All-Pac-10 LT Mike Tepper steps young Matt Summers-Gavin, an up-and-comer who spent all of last season playing left guard.
Defense: In order to replace long-time and successful coordinator Bob Gregory, Jeff Tedford hired Clancy Pendergast, a veteran of the NFL for the past 15 years. Out of the same 3-4 that Cal employed a year ago, he plans to use more blitzes and stunts to dial up additional pressure. More than anything else, he’s going to demand that his kids play hard, fast, and smart, which have been drilled into them since February. The biggest concern for a defense that generally underachieved in 2009 is a secondary that ranked 111th nationally in pass defense and loses three starters. If the light was ever going to go on for CB Darian Hagan, now would be an ideal time. In general, the front seven should be a team strength, boasting all-star candidates in DE Cameron Jordan, NG Derrick Hill, and LB Mike Mohamed, and a solid run defense.

T7. Arizona State
Predicted Overall Record: 5-7
Predicted Conference Record: 3-6

Offense: Still struggling for answers on offense, Dennis Erickson has entrusted the attack to coordinator Noel Mazzone. The veteran assistant is installing an up-tempo offense that will huddle infrequently and operate out of the shotgun liberally. The Sun Devils want to play faster than the other guys, wearing them down in the second half. His first big decision will be at quarterback, where Brock Osweiler, Steven Threet, and Samson Szakacsy will resume their close competition in August. Elsewhere, Arizona State lacks dynamic talent and adequate depth. The wide receivers have the potential to be solid and Cameron Marshall is ready to be the feature back, but the line continues to be saddled with question marks. While the program is likely headed for the second tier of Pac-10 offenses, the depth of the ditch will depend on the development of the quarterbacks and strides made by the blockers.
Defense: Without any national attention, coordinator Craig Bray did a phenomenal job with the D, piloting a unit that was first or second in the Pac-10 in run defense, pass defense, and scoring defense. Now, besides keeping the momentum going, he wants to make sure the Devils don’t vanish in the face of better offenses, like it did versus Stanford and Oregon last fall. While only five starters return, the coaches like the core of this unit, namely Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola up front, Vontaze Burfict at linebacker, and Omar Bolden on the last line of defense. The defense will again strive to force the action, playing with intensity and wrapping up in the open field. Although the talent and athleticism is undeniable, remaining one of the league’s better defenses requires more edge pressure. Dexter Davis is no longer around to draw attention, meaning James Brooks, Greg Smith, and Jamaar Jarrett have to start playing above their pay grade.

T7. UCLA
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6
Predicted Conference Record: 3-6

Offense: The offense was a problem when Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow arrived three years ago. It still is. The Bruins haven’t clicked, partly because of quarterback problems and partly because of a sub-par offensive line. The program hopes to solve its issues behind center, as Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut enter their sophomore year, but the line will again be among the Pac-10’s most average. Hey, at least there’s hope at the skill positions, good news for an attack that’s ranked no higher than 94th in scoring over the last two seasons. Leading rusher Johnathan Franklin is back, as are Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree, a pair of hard-to-miss receiving targets. Neuheisel scored big on the recruiting trail with blue-chip backs Malcolm Jones and Jordon James, who are both gifted enough to displace a veteran or two.
Defense: After losing four all-stars to the NFL, UCLA finds itself looking to replenish with the help of Rick Neuheisel’s first three recruiting classes. The Bruins have done an outstanding job of attracting talent, but getting those underclassmen game-ready is an entirely different challenge. The encouraging news is that the program has a budding star at each level of the D. In DE Datone Jones, LB Akeem Ayers, and FS Rahim Moore, UCLA has three marquee juniors, who are all coming off breakthrough campaigns. With continued development, each of them is talented enough to use 2010 as a launching point to early entry into the NFL. Help is needed in the middle of the front seven and at cornerback, putting DT David Carter, LB Steve Sloan, and Aaron Hester under the microscope during the offseason.

T7. Washington
Predicted Overall Record: 4-8
Predicted Conference Record: 3-6

Offense: When Steve Sarkisian took over a year ago, he inherited an offense that had just gotten done ranking 116th nationally in total offense and 117th in scoring. In his first season, the Huskies rose to 62nd and 69th, respectively, testament to the importance of the coach and star QB Jake Locker. Both return, the latter unexpectedly, fueling expectations for another quantum leap in offensive production. Locker is the obvious linchpin, but he’s also surrounded by ample skill position talent, such as RB Chris Polk, receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar, and TE Kavario Middleton. Heck, even the offensive line, long an impediment to success, has four returning starters and as much confidence as it’s had in years. All signs point to Washington enjoying balance and one of the most potent attacks in the Pac-10.
Defense: The Huskies enjoyed some defensive momentum late last year, holding Washington State and Cal to 10 combined points in the final two games. Was it a fluke or a harbinger of things to come? Coordinator Nick Holt made progress in his first season, but has to build on it if the program is to finally emerge from its defensive doldrums. Washington still ranked eighth in total defense and ninth in scoring defense among Pac-10 teams, so there’s plenty of room for growth. This year’s squad will be built around LB Mason Foster, CB Desmond Trufant, and tackles Alameda Ta’amu and Cameron Elisara. On the top of Holt’s agenda will be to find an end or two to offset the lost production of Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, and tighten up a secondary that allowed far too many big plays through the air.

10. Washington State
Predicted Overall Record: 3-9
Predicted Conference Record: 0-8

Offense: There was a time in the past, when Mike Price and Bill Doba were on the sidelines, that Washington State could always count on having a potent offense. Not any longer. The Cougars have been among the nation’s most impotent attacks two years running, ranking 119th nationally in scoring and total offense in 2009. Over the final nine games, they averaged just nine points, one of countless signs of futility. A small ray of hope is coming from second-year QB Jeff Tuel, who showed flashes before getting injured as a rookie. Wazzu desperately needs a capable hurler to run Paul Wulff’s no-huddle attack and take advantage of a decent, Jared Karstetter-led receiving corps. It’d help immensely if the team could avoid injuries, which crippled an already helpless offensive line and robbed the offense of potential workhorse RB James Montgomery. The Cal transfer is still recovering from a nasty leg injury, and is hoping to be available in September.
Defense: How bad is the Washington State defense? It made progress in 2009, yet still ranked last in the country in total defense and allowed more than 38 points a game. Other than getting reps for a slew of underclassmen, largely because of injuries, absolutely nothing went right for this unit, which was simply out of its league in the Pac-10. Hope comes from all of those young kids thrust on to the field about a year before they were ripe. Out of the chaos emerged future cornerstones, like DE Travis Long, LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, and CB Daniel Simmons. With so few losses from a year ago, the Cougars should take another step forward, even if it remains the most beatable defense in the conference.

- Arizona Preview | Arizona State Preview | California Preview
- Oregon Preview | Oregon St Preview | Stanford Preview | UCLA Preview
- USC Preview | Washington Preview | Washington State Preview

- 2010 Pac 10 Preview | 2010 Pac 10 Unit Rankings | 2010 Pac 10 Schedules & Picks
- 2010 CFN All-Pac 10 Team & Top 30 Players | Get Pac 10 Tickets
- 2010 Pac 10 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish