2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 119
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 120

How bad were the Washington State Cougars in 2009? Let’s put it this way; their punter was their player. The team was absolutely horrid on both sides of the ball, and has a lot of work cut out for them to improve upon their one win from a season ago.

There is a little hope for the Cougars, as sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel returns after a week 5 injury cost him the rest of his season. He set a freshman rookie record with 354 yards passing in a game against California before getting injured.

WSU Cougars Cheerleader

The offensive line won’t provide him much help to stay upright. They were among the worst units in the country, getting their quarterbacks sacked more often than any other school in the conference. Jared Karstetter returns after leading the team in receiving with 38 catches for 540 yards.

Running back James Montgomery will try to return after suffering a severe injury after three games last year. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry before going down, much better than any other Cougar running back was able to accomplish.

The only thing worse than the Cougars’ offense was their defense. Junior college transfer Brandon Rankin has been the talk of the offseason, being able to add some punch to the defensive line. Travis Long is developing into a decent defensive end as well.

Alex Hoffman-Ellis returns at linebacker after leading the team in tackles but will be moved to the outside. Mike Ledgerwood will take over his spot in the middle. Chima Nwachukwu will start at safety and is one of the few defenders with legitimate talent and skill.

Only time will tell how well Washington State will play in 2010, but odds are even three wins are a long shot. The team should be more competitive this season, but it will be a long year for the Cougars.

Washington State’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 3000

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2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 90
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 13

Arizona State Sun Devils’ head coach Dennis Erickson probably feels like he is surrounded by fire and brimstone. The Sun Devils started 2009 4-2, only to suffer a six game losing streak; a feat they accomplished two years in a row. With so many changes to his football team, Erickson may be looking for some divine intervention.

Arizona State will look like a very different team in 2010, especially on offense. The starting quarterback, running and wide receivers are all gone. The quarterback spot is still up for grabs between Michigan transfer Steven Threet and incumbents Brock Osweiler and Samson Szakacsy. Each one brings something different to the table, so it will be interesting to see who Erickson will go with.

<a href=Arizona State Sun Devils Cheerleaders” width=”300″ height=”225″ />

Sophomore Cameron Marshall will take over the starting running back duties after rushing for 280 yards as a backup. He will be forced to do a lot of work on his own, as his offensive line is nothing to write home about. The leading returning receiver is Kerry Taylor , who caught 23 passes for 276 yards a season ago. Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad will get every opportunity to start on the other side.

The Sun Devils’ defense was terrific last season, but more than half of the starters are gone. The defensive line should be an area of strength, with three players returning. Defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola are great at clogging the middle and getting after the quarterback.

Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict was the PAC 10 Defensive freshman of the year and finished second on the team in tackles. Cornerback Omar Bolden is the leader of the secondary, and is surrounded by a lot of young, inexperienced players.

Arizona State has a lot of holes to fill. Even if their defense can maintain its high level from 2009, the offense looks to be too weak to make any kind of a splash in the PAC 10.

Arizona State’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 1200

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California Golden Bears 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 49
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 72

The California Golden Bears lacked consistency during 2009. Cal won three games, lost two (blowouts), won 5 of 6 and then lost 2 more. The team needs to develop a more consistent effort and mindset if they are to have a shot at the PAC 10 title.

California Golden Bears Cheerleader

Senior quarterback Kevin Riley was a true “Jekyll and Hyde” last season. In the wins, he threw 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. In the losses, he threw three touchdowns and four interceptions. Junior Marvin Jones is a good receiver, but Riley must develop a rapport with other receivers to take pressure off the running game.

Running back Shane Vereen will step in to replace first round draft pick Jahvid Best. While Vereen doesn’t have the same speed as Best, he proved he is capable of producing last year when he rushed for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns. The offensive line returns four starters, but the unit must do a better job of pass blocking for Riley.

The Bears will continue to run their 3-4 scheme, but will have to replace their defensive tackle and sack leader Tyson Alualu. Veteran Derek Hill will start, but what he can do is unknown. The best pass rusher on the team is defensive end Cameron Jordan. He has tremendous potential, but his work ethic is sometimes lacking.

Leading tackler Mike Mohamed returns and will try to lead an inexperienced group of linebackers. The secondary was weak last year, and will likely be in 2010 as well. Free safety Sean Cattouse is talented but the rest of the unit struggled. Veteran cornerback Darian Hagan must do a better job than he did last year for Cal to avoid giving up too many big plays.

2010 looks like it will be another roller coaster ride for the Bears. Once again, they will rely on a talented running back, but that can only take them so far in their quest for a bowl bid.

California’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 800

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Stanford Cardinal 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 19
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 90

The Stanford Cardinal had a nice 2009 season, finishing with eight wins and tying for second in the PAC-10 conference. A close loss in the Sun Bowl ended the season on a sour note, but not as sour as losing star running back Toby Gerhart to the NFL. Stanford will have to overcome his loss to make it back to a bowl game.

With Gerhart gone, the onus for offensive production falls on quarterback Andrew Luck. As a redshirt freshman, he played extremely well in throwing for 2,575 yards, 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Now that he has more experience, he should be prepared to build on his early success.

The offensive line should do a good job of protecting Luck, as four highly regarded starters return. In addition, his top two receivers are back after combining for 94 catches and 1,608 yards. Ryan Whalen is the number one receiver, but Chris Owuso is a more dangerous deep threat when he actually catches the ball.

Stanford Cardinal Cheerleader

The running game will fall onto a group of rushers to take over for Gerhart. Stepfan Taylor was the primary backup last season, but rushed for only 303 yards. Senior Jeremy Stewart will also see a lot of playing time after playing in only five games last year. Both of these backs had low yardage totals, but had very high yards per carry averages, so they can produce when given the opportunity.

The defense will be more problematic for Stanford in 2010, as it has been in the past. A shift to a 3-4 system was done due to a lack of depth on the line. Sione Fua will man the nose tackle spot, but both starting defensive ends from last year are moving back to outside linebacker. One of the inside linebacker spots will be played by Owen Marecic, the starting fullback. The secondary has a lot of question marks, with only strong safety Delano Howell firmly entrenched in his position.

Stanford has talent on both sides of the ball, but in both cases, has very little depth. If the starters get injured or don’t perform, the Cardinal could fall back in the PAC-10.

Stanford’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 650

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Arizona Wildcats 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 58
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 25

Very quietly, the Arizona Wildcats tied for second place in the PAC 10 with an 8-5 record in 2009. The defense led the team during the season, but both sides of the ball laid an egg in a 33-0 defeat against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Head coach Mike Stoops will try to forget how the season ended, and build on the early success.

Quarterback Nick Foles returns after good year in which he threw for 2,465 yards, 19 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. The new quarterbacks coach has been working with him in the spring to improve his footwork and accuracy. His top receiver (in yardage) is back in junior Juron Criner. Even though he started only 5 games, he finished with 45 catches for 582 yards and a team high nine touchdowns. His big play ability makes him a threat to score whenever he touches the ball.

Arizona Wildcats College Football Cheerleader

The running backs are a talented group, led by senior Nic Grigsby. He rushed for 567 yards, including an incredible 7.2 yards per carry average, in an injury shortened year. Keola Antolin was there to pick up the slack and ended up as the leading rusher with 637 yards. A lot of the rushing success is due to the offensive line. The line returns most of the starters including the first team All-PAC 10 center.

Arizona’s defense will have to regroup after losing all three starting linebackers. Junior college transfers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo had very strong springs and will likely start from day one. The defensive ends are potential stars. Ricky Elmore had 10.5 sacks last year and Brooks Reed had 8.5 in 2008. The two together will be able to put some serious pressure on the quarterback. Cornerback Trevin Wade has all-conference ability and led the team with five interceptions.

The Wildcats are one of those teams flying under most radars. They have some holes on defense, but with the returning talent on other parts of the team, Arizona has a good chance of making another bowl appearance.

Arizona’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 500

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UCLA Bruins 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 88
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 32

In the city of angels UCLA Bruins and head coach Rick Neuheisel seem to be stuck in purgatory. In 2009, they suffered through a five game losing streak, but still managed a winning record and a victory in the EagleBank Bowl. The team always seems to be on the verge of a breakout year, will that come in 2010?

The Bruins’ running game has finished 116th and 97th over the last two years. Last year’s leading rusher, Jonathan Franklin gained only 566 yards. The coaching staff is hoping that the installation of the Revolver system, a variation on Nevada’s Pistol offense, will infuse some life into the running game. In addition, the infusion of two new running backs should help. Highly recruited Jordan James and Gatorade National Player of the Year Malcolm Jones should immediately help the ground attack. Also, four offensive line starters return.

The passing attack was not bad in 2009, led by freshman quarterback Kevin Prince. Now that he has more experience, he should be able to use his talented stable of receivers even more. Nelson Rosario led the team in receiving yards with 723 and Taylor Embree was tops in catches with 45. An improved running game should open more space Prince.

UCLA Bruins Football Cheerleader

UCLA’s defense was gutted in the offseason, losing seven starters including five in the front seven. Datone Jones is the only returning lineman and will try to generate more than four sacks from his end position. Akeem Ayers is back at strongside linebacker after finishing third in tackles and second in sacks. Junior free safety Rahim Moore is the most important returning player after leading the nation with ten interceptions.

There will be a lot of changes this year for UCLA, both in players and scheme. It will be difficult for the team to put everything together quickly, but if they can make it work, they have a shot at surprising in the PAC 10.

UCLA’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 500

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Oregon State Beavers 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 34
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 46

The Oregon State Beavers are back in 2010 after an eight win season. For the last two years, the team has been sniffing around a Rose Bowl berth, but has come up just short. Last year’s loss in the Las Vegas Bowl ended the season on a sour note, but expectations are once again high for the Beavers.

What do they feed the boys in the Rodgers household? Brothers Jacquizz and James are the superstars of the Beavers’ offense, the top two rushers and receivers in 2009. Jacquizz rushed for 1,440 yards and a school record 21 touchdowns and “chipped in” with 78 receptions. James caught 91 passes for 1,034 yards and rushed for 303 more. Jacquizz is an early Heisman Trophy candidate, but these brothers are both stars in the making.

It’s not certain who will get the Rodgers brothers the ball. Sophomore Ryan Katz is the front runner to take over the starting quarterback spot because of his experience with the offense, but Virginia transfer Peter Lalich will be right behind him. The offensive line returns almost everyone from last season, losing only First-Team PAC 10 guard Gregg Peat.

Oregon State Beavers Cheerleader

Oregon State’s defense will be missing some starters unexpectedly. The starting middle linebacker and defensive end left the team due to family reasons. Another linebacker tore his Achilles tendon in the winter and his return is unknown. Other players will have to step up to improve a unit that managed only 17 sacks and eight interceptions last year.

Defensive tackle Stephen Paea was second team all conference in 2009 and is an impact player in the middle of the line. The strength of the unit lies in their safeties. Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins were third and fourth on the team in tackles, and Mitchell led the team in interceptions from his free safety spot.

Because of the Rodgers brothers, the Beavers should have an explosive and exciting offense. The quarterback play will have a big impact on the season, as will the success of the defense. All things considered, Oregon State should once again be in the hunt for a conference title and a Rose Bowl berth.

Oregon State’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 350

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Washington Huskies 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 62
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 79

A five win season may seem like a disappointment for most teams, but for the 2009 Washington Huskies, it was a giant step forward. The 2008 Huskies were 0-12, so last season’s 5-7 record is promising for a team returning all of its offensive production.

Washington’s chances revolve around senior quarterback Jake Locker. The preseason Heisman Trophy candidate and potential first overall draft pick made great strides in his passing ability in 2009. He increased his completion percentage by a full 10 percent over his previous two years, finishing with 2,800 yards, 21 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. Even though he ran the ball less, he still proved he has skill with his legs by rushing for 388 yards and seven touchdowns.

The player that may have been most important in Locker’s improvement is running back Chris Polk. The freshman rushed for 1,113 yards and gave the Huskies a balanced attack. The top three receiving targets return, led by Jermaine Kearse who had 50 catches for 866 yards. He is a dangerous deep threat (17.3 yards per catch average) and will be in the discussion as one of the best receivers in the country. The offensive line returns four starters but will be rearranged to make up for the loss of the left tackle.

Washington Huskies College Football Cheerleader

The biggest room for improvement is found on the defensive side of the ball. They improved last year giving up just 27 points per game compared with 39 the year before. To compete for the Pac 10 title, they will need to be better still. Defensive tackles Alameda Ta’amu and Cameron Elisara are solid in the middle. Both planned starting defensive ends were injured in the spring and hope to be healthy by the season opener, leaving the line with little depth.

Mason Foster returns at weakside linebacker after finishing second with 85 tackles and leading the team with three interceptions. He will be joined by Cort Dennison and Alvin Logan. The secondary must force more interceptions this year. Desmond Trufant is a strong starter at corner, but the other spot is up for grabs.

Washington has high expectations this season, Locker’s last at the helm. With their offense in good hands, this season’s success will likely be determined by the defense.

Washington’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 350

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Oregon Ducks 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 33
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 35

2010 was supposed to be the year of the duck. After a 10 win 2009, the Oregon Ducks were brimming with confidence that they could repeat as PAC 10 champions. While that dream remains intact, it took a serious setback due to some off the field issues of its star player.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was great last season, and a potential Heisman trophy candidate in 2010. That was before his involvement in a theft at an Oregon fraternity got him suspended for the entire season and he transferred to Ole Miss. Now, a position of strength has become one of uncertainty. Senior Nate Costa and sophomore Darren Thomas will be competing for the starting spot. Both have shown potential in limited experience in the past, but neither has the command of the offense and athletic ability of Masoli.

Oregon Ducks College Football Cheerleaders

Star running back LaMichael James also had legal trouble this offseason and will miss the season opener. He rushed for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns with a 6.7 yards per carry average. He is a tremendous back who will carry the offense without Masoli. Speedy Kenjon Barner provides great depth at the position.

The second leading receiver, tight end Ed Dickson, is gone but the majority of the receiving corps is back. Jeff Maehl returns after catching 696 yards along with D.J. Davis and Lavasier Tuinei. The offensive line returns all five starters and will provide stability for the offense.

Oregon’s defense was underrated last season and returns eight starters. Defensive end Kenny Rowe led the PAC 10 with 11.5 sacks and will likely play opposite converted tight end Dion Jordan. Casey Matthews leads the defense from his middle linebacker spot. Eddie Pleasant will move from outside linebacker to safety, giving the Ducks one of the best safety duos in the nation. John Boyett led the team in tackles from the other safety spot, and the two should make plays all over the field.

The Ducks’ title hopes took a blow with the loss of Masoli. The team still has a lot of talent though and will surely be in the fight for the PAC 10 title.

Oregon’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 150

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Oklahoma State Cowboys 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 70
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 31

The Oklahoma State Cowboys had back to back nine win seasons the last two years, not an easy feat to accomplish in the Big 12. Even without star receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys played well, barely missing double digit wins after a loss to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. A new scheme and new players will try to continue the Cowboys’ winning ways.

The team lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The starting quarterback and running are both in the NFL, but it looks like they have capable players ready to step in. Running back is more secure with the return of Kendall Hunter from injury. In 2008, he rushed for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns and was an All-American. He may not get much help up front though, with the offensive line returning only one starter from a year ago.

The quarterback spot is a little more shaky. 26 year old Brandon Weeden, a former minor league pitcher, takes over for Zac Robinson. Weeden played well in spot duty in 2009, leading the team to a victory over Colorado. Leading receiver Hubert Anyiam returns after gaining 515 yards through the air.
Oklahoma State Cowboys Cheerleader

The Cowboys’ offensive success will be determined by how well they can pick up the new system instituted by coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen is coming over from Houston where his offense was the best in the nation. He is instituting a fast paced, no huddle spread offense to keep the defense off guard. Weeden’s lack of experience with this system may cause some early issues.

The defense made some major strides in 2009, improving from 93rd to 31st. The problem is most of the starters from that team are gone. Nine seniors on last year’s defense leaves the Cowboys with a lot of unproven players trying to step in. Linebacker Orie Lemon, the leading tackler in 2008, is back after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Safeties Markelle Martin and Victor Johnson provide some continuity in the defensive backfield. Defensive ends Ugo Chinasa (6.5 sacks) and Jamie Blatnick are back, but outside linebacker, defensive tackle and cornerback are all areas of concern.

If Holgerson can accomplish the same offensive success he had at Houston and young players on defense can step up, the Cowboys will again be shooting for a bowl game. However, the window of opportunity may have closed for the team, and it may take a couple years of rebuilding before they are back to double digit wins.

Oklahoma State’s odds to win the Big 12: + 4000

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