Pac-10 Preview

Projected Records & Standings
1. USC                10-2  (8-1)
2. CALIFORNIA 10-2 (7-2)
3. OREGON 8-4 (6-3)
4. ARIZONA STATE 8-4 (6-3)
5. OREGON STATE 8-4 (5-4)
6. STANFORD 7-5 (5-4)
7. ARIZONA 6-6 (3-6)
8. UCLA 4-8 (3-6)
9. WASHINGTON 4-8 (3-6)
10.WASHINGTON STATE 1-11 (0-9)
Champion: USC
Is there really anybody else you can pick to win the Pac-10? Even though Cal looks to have a good team and might even beat USC this season, and USC is as inexperienced on defense as they have ever been, you still have to give the Trojans the nod. Until Pete Carroll proves otherwise, he’s the coach to beat in the Pac-10. I’ll even go so far as to say the offense might get better in 2009. I never really liked John David Booty or Matt Sanchez at the quarterback spot – they seemed to miss out on a lot of big play opportunities with inaccurate throws down the field. If new quarterback Aaron Corp has better touch on the deep ball, look out.

Question the Hype: UCLA
There’s not much that angers me more than hearing UCLA fans blame their pitiful 2008 season (4-8) on former head coach Karl Dorrell. Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t the Bruins winning more than four games a season when Dorrell was coaching? I hear the “poor recruiting” card played on Dorrell a lot, and I just don’t buy it. The guy won games with his players (he beat USC just two seasons ago), and Neuheisel didn’t – it’s that simple.

So why is UCLA widely expected to make dramatic improvements in 2009? They have the same porous offensive line blocking for the same running backs and an even more inexperienced quarterback. More importantly, though, a defense that was the only bright spot on the team a year ago lost their coordinator when DeWayne Walker left to take over as head coach at New Mexico State. Walker was a great DC and I expect the Bruins to take a step back on defense without him, even though several playmakers return on that side of the ball.

Could Surprise: ARIZONA STATE
Arizona loses their quarterback, top receiver, and most talented running back. They also have had some of the worst offensive line play in the Pac-10 over the past two seasons. So why do I expect the Sun Devils to step up in 2009? Well the defense has the makings to be one of the best in the conference. The top tackler (LB Mike Nixon), sack leader (DE Dexter Davis), and interception leader (Nixon) all return. Additionally, four starters return on the offensive line and Danny Sullivan is a big-armed quarterback who could make Dennis Erickson’s offense hum if he can adjust to the starting role.

If that’s not enough, get this stat: since 2002, Arizona State has finished ranked in the top 25 every season in which they were unranked in the preseason. The Sun Devils aren't ranked anywhere near the top 25 so far this preseason.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
RB-Jahvid Best, California
RB-Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
RB-LeGarrette Blount, Oregon

Ten to Watch:
QB-Aaron Corp/Matt Barkley, USC
RB-Toby Gerhart, Stanford
WR-D’Andre Goodwin, Washington
TE-Rob Gronkowski, Arizona
QB-Jake Locker, Washington
QB-Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon
RB-James Montgomery, Washington State
C-Kris O’Dowd, USC
WR-James Rodgers, Oregon State
QB-Matt Scott, Arizona
WR-Damien Williams, USC

Herzlich Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
DT-Brian Price, UCLA
CB-Syd’Quan Thompson, California
LB-Mike Nixon, Arizona State

Ten to Watch:
LB-Reggie Carter, UCLA
DE-Dexter Davis, Arizona State
DE-Everson Griffen, USC
DT-Lawrence Guy, Arizona State
LB-Keaton Kristick, Oregon State
FS-Taylor Mays, USC
DE-Daniel Te’O-Nesheim, Washington
CB-Walter Thurmond, Oregon
CB-Trevin Wade, Arizona
CB-Alterraun Verner, UCLA

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