Coming up will be the conference’s first playoffs, but we’ll need to establish a pecking order first. In this corner, coming in 1-11 last year, in the Crimson and Grey shorts, Washington Staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate.
#12. Washington St. Cougars
Strength – QB –Jeff Tuel had to run around like a chicken with his head cut off most of the season, but he displayed some poise when he had time to throw. The backup Marshall Lobbestael has also played in each of the last two seasons.
Weakness –OL – The good news is that they return four starters, the bad news is that they gave up 53 sacks last year to finish 119th in the nation.
#11 Colorado Buffaloes
Returning Starters – Offense 8, Defense 7, punter/kicker 1
Strength – OL –. Nate Solder has been a starter at LT for three years, Keenan Stevens is on the Rimington watch list and Ryan Miller is on Phil Steele’s All-Big 12 team. These three should pave the way for Rodney Stewart to improve on his 800 yards rushing and 9TD’s last year.
Weakness-OL – Even though some of their best players are on the o-line, they gave up 43 sacks last year to finish 117th in the nation. They’ll need to improve if they want to get to a bowl game this year.
Returning Starters – Offense 3, Defense 4, punter/kicker 2
Strength – Vontaze Burfict – He charges like the Native Americans in Dancing With Wolves and would probably pull out an ax and scalp players if it wouldn’t draw a 15 yard penalty. At 6’3″, 245lbs he’s got NFL prototype measurables.
Weakness – QB – At times it looked like they couldn’t buy a forward pass, and others they were launching 50 yard game winning passes. Steven Threet (Michigan transfer) was a top pro-style prospect coming out of high school and Samson Szakacsy adds some mobility to the position.
#9 UCLA Bruins
Returning Starters – Offense 7, Defense 5, kicker/punter 2
Strength – All-Americans – UCLA has a pair of players that will pop up on every All-American list between now and the season inRahim Moore (FS) and Kai Forbath (K). Moore led the nation in interceptions with 10 and Forbath netted 28 of 31 FG’s last year.
Weakness – Trenches – There’s no replacing the production of Brain Price blasting right through double teams, but a couple of incoming freshman are expected to come in and compete for spots which is never a good sign. The offensive line also lacks depth and lost its best player (Xaiver Su’a-Filo) to his LDS Mission.
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