This part of the conference is completely interchangeable, but for the sake of the imaginary conference playoffs that are to follow the rankings, we must have order.
#8 Arizona Wildcats
Strength – Defensive End – Ricky Elmore tied for the conference lead in sacks at 11.5 and Brooks Reed has 10.5 career sacks. The Wildcats will need them to pressure the QB with the departure of all three starting LB’s.
Weakness – Linebacker – This is a complete unknown for this team and after researching their depth chart I’m pretty sure the coaches just used a random name generator to fill out the depth chart. Arizona is relying on a couple of JUCO transfers to come in and compete for playing time, which is never a good sign.
#7 Stanford Cardinal
Strength – A little Luck – Mel Kiper already has Andrew Luck as the #2 player on his big board, and for good reason. Luck is a cerebral passer with great accuracy and descent arm strength.
Weakness – Running Back – The three guys that backed up Gerhart last year combined for 497 yards rushing and 5TD’s, but there’s bound to be a drop off losing the Pac-10’s Offensive Player of the Year. They have a strong offensive led by Chase Beeler who was 2nd team All-Pac 10.
#6 Washington Huskies
Strength – QB – Jake Locker made tremendous strides under first year coach Steve Sarkisian and with that same progression this year he’s likely to end up a top 10 draft pick.
Weakness – Defense – This team’s best defense will be its offense. Their top two defenders, Donald Butler and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim were both selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft #79 and #86 overall respectively. They are particularly weak in the front seven, but the one bright spot is their defensive coordinator, Nick Holt, who provides comic relief with his roid-rages on the sidelines every game.
#5 Cal Bears
Strength – Mike & Mych- Mike Mohamed and Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks was leading the nation in tackles three games into the season before he suffered a shoulder injury, and Mohamed led the conference in tackles last year at 111. These two should be one of the top tackling tandems in the Pac-12 this year.
Weakness – Secondary – Maybe Kevin Riley would display more consistency if he was playing his games against the Cal secondary every week. This unit finished 111th in the nation in total pass defense giving up 266 yards per game. The Bears will need to replace two starters in the secondary including their two-time All-Pac 10 CB Syd Thompson. Three secondary positions remain unfilled heading into the Fall.
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