Pac-10 Positive Outlook

30 08 2010

I can’t remember a time when the conference was as wide open as it is this year with seven teams legitimately competing for the championship. Some people have UCLA as a dark horse, but their offensive line has been decimated in the off-season from players leaving for missions, injuries, and now academic ineligibility.

I’m tired of ESPN plugging the SEC as the top conference in the country just because they signed a $2.0 billion deal to cover their games. That conference is always top heavy with a couple teams that can beat anyone, but they also have six bottom feeders that would be average in any BCS conference. I don’t think Florida or Alabama could go undefeated against the top 7 in the Pac-10, but both of them somehow came out of the SEC unscathed until the conference championship. If I was betting on these Pac-10 teams to win the conference championship it would be due to the reasons mentioned below.

Oregon

  • Darron Thomas will be a household name by the end of the year, but not because he’s being mentioned on the police blotter like a former Ducks QB. Oregon fans will tell you about how awesome he was in the spring game and that he’s a more accurate passer than Masoli.  He will also be playing behind a talented offensive line and a stronger LaMichael James. If he’s anything near Dennis Dixon 2.0 then the Ducks could repeat as conference champion.

Cal

  • This team has all of the pieces in place, but the one thing that will make them a contender for the championship is the bump in production that typically happens to Pac-10 quarterbacks. Joey Harrington, Carson Palmer, Kyle Boller, Derek Anderson and Sean Canfield all know what it’s like to trod with mediocrity for three years only to see things slow down like Neo in the Matrix during their senior season. Kevin Riley is capable with the weapons he has at his disposal which could push the Bears over the top.

Oregon State

  • The Beavers have as much firepower as any team in the conference, but this year they will combine that with increased production in the trenches. Last year’s team ranked 8th in the conference in sacks allowed and the defense ranked 9th in sacks. Ryan Katz will have a much smoother transition with a more experienced offensive line and defensively the new linebackers will be looking for Stephen Paea to create gaps for them by taking on double teams.

Arizona

  • This team is replacing their defensive coordinator, both starting defensive tackles and their entire linebacking corps, but their defensive ends (Brooks Reed & Ricky Elmore) will be the best pass-rushing tandem in the conference. Combined with the fact that they have one of the best secondaries in the conference, they’ll have a solid defense to match their powerful offense.

USC

  • There’s been coaching turnover, players transferring, and the distractions of Reggie Bushgate, but USC  still has the talent to contend for the Pac-10 championship. The best USC teams of the decade had monsters on the defensive line that could get to the quarterback with a four man rush which allowed the linebackers and secondary to create turnovers. Jurrell Casey is one of the top defensive tackles in the country and Armond Armstead has shown big upside at defensive end.

Stanford

  • Kirk Hirbstreit already put the dreaded curse on Stanford by predicting that they will win the Pac-10 championship, but Jim Harbaugh wants to know what his deal is for adding pressure to an under the radar Stanford team? They have the best quarterback in the Pac-10, but for them to compete for the Rose Bowl it will be because of their currently underrated stable of running backs Jeremy StewartTyler Gaffney and Stepfan Taylor. The Cardinal offensive line proved that they’re one of the best in the conference, but even moderate production from the ground game will allow Andrew Luck to do whatever he wants through the air.

Washington

  • The Huskies have the most balanced offense in the Pac-10, but if they’re going to compete for the championship it will be due to a scrappy defense that creates turnovers. Nick Holt has seven returning starters which should translate into a better understanding of his schemes. With two all-conference calibur players in cornerback Desmond Trufant and linebacker Mason Foster, I’m anticipating a much more aggressive campaign from the Huskies.

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Pac-10 Blue Chip Team Scores

11 08 2010

I had a lot of trouble with the formatting of this article, so I just had to put the information into excel and made some jpeg files out of the information which look blurry on the blog, but will be clear if you click on them. Mike Lombardi came up with this blue-chip formula to determine how much talent is on each team in the NFL, but I only follow former Pac-10 players and wanted to see how our conference would look applying the same scoring system. The outside linebackers account for 2.5 more points than the middle linebackers, which makes sense for the NFL where most teams are using a 3-4 defense, but the majority of teams in college are still using a four man front and the middle linebacker can impact the game more than an outside linebacker – think Casey Matthews of Oregon and Vontaze Burfict of ASU. I was also concerned that the red chip secondary players received the same 7.5 points as the blue chip players. There are many talented players in the NFL secondaries, but in college there aren’t that many cornerbacks and safeties that would make as big of an impact as many of the blue chip players at other positions.

Arizona has a total of 80 points with a good mix of offensive and defensive players, with points coming from both the skill positions and in the trenches. Arizona State only has 30 points with 22.5 of those coming from the defensive side of the ball, so don’t expect them to be lighting up the scoreboard any time soon. Cal surprised me with 82 points, but Tedford has recruited as well as any coach in the conference not named Pete Carroll.
Arizona Points Arizona St Points Cal Points
Nick Foles 12.5 Lawrence Guy 7.5 Mitchell Schwartz 10
Adam Grant 10 Vontaze Burfict 7.5 Cameron Jordan 10
Ricky Elmore 10 Omar Bolden 7.5 Anthony Miller 7.5
Juron Criner 7.5 Thomas Weber 7.5 Matt Summers-Gavin 7.5
Colin Baxter 7.5 Mike Mohamed 7.5
Trevin Wade 7.5 Bryan Anger 7.5
Robert Golden 7.5 Mychal Kendricks 7.5
James Brooks 7.5 Sean Cattouse 7.5
Nic Grigsby 5 Kevin Riley 7
Shane Vereen 5
Marvin Jones 5
Chris Guarnero 5
Derrick Hill 5
Oregon brings 82.5 points with strength in the trenches. I think Casey Matthews is more valuable to their defense than the 7.5 points he’s allotted, but Paysinger received a higher rating in the formula and evened out the same number of points I would have given them combined. Oregon State has a lot of skill players, but without much depth in the trenches their team only accounts for 55 points so this tells me that they should be relying on the big plays this season. Stanford brings almost all of their 67.5 points on the offensive side of the ball. Chris Owusu probably would have made the list as the next red-chip wide receiver, but he gets 7.5 points for his kick return abilities.

Oregon Points Oregon St Points Stanford Points
Bo Thran 10 JacQuizz Rodgers 7.5 Andrew Luck 12.5
Kenny Rowe 10 James Rodgers 7.5 David DeCastro 7.5
Spencer Paysinger 10 Joe Halahuni 7.5 Chris Owusu 7.5
LaMichael James 7.5 Stephen Paea 7.5 Chase Beeler 7.5
Carson York 7.5 Lance Mitchell 7.5 Delondo Howell 7.5
Casey Matthews 7.5 Justin Kahut 7.5 Ryan Whalen 5
John Boyett 7.5 Michael Philipp 5 Jonathan Martin 5
Talmadge Jackson 7.5 Alex Linnekohl 5 Owen Maracic 5
Jeff Maehl 5 Andrew Phillips 5
Mark Asper 5 Shane Skov 5
Brandon Bair 5

UCLA will be carried by their defense and special teams this year, but that’s two thirds of the game so maybe they’ll do better than the 8th place finish the media projected them for. Still, they are only bringing 45 points to the table and having a kicker be the most dangerous weapon on your offense is never a good sign. USC is stocked with talent throughout the roster so it’s no surprise that they are the Leader of the Pac with 84 points in the blue chip scoring. The Washington Huskies totaled 42.5 points and will be relying on a strong passing game to win some games for them, but there’s not much talent on the offensive or defensive lines.

UCLA Points USC Points Washington Points
Akeem Ayers 10 Tyron Smith 10 Jake Locker 12.5
Kai Forbath 7.5 Butch Lewis 7.5 Mason Foster 10
Rahim Moore 7.5 Kris O’Dowd 7.5 Desmond Trufant 7.5
Jeff Locke 7.5 Jurrell Casey 7.5 Jermaine Kearse 7.5
Sheldon Price 7.5 Shareece Wright 7.5 Chris Polk 5
Nelson Rosario 5 Malcolm Smith 7.5
Michael Morgan 7.5
Matt Barkley 7
Nick Perry 7
Ronald Johnson 5
Stanley Havili 5
Chris Galippo 5

Here’s all of the team points in alphabetical order and these are pretty consistent with my conference predictions which were posted a month ago.

Points
Arizona 80
ASU 30
Cal 82
Oregon 82.5
Oregon State 55
Stanford 67.5
UCLA 45
USC 84
Washington 42.5

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