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Ducks Soar Above New Pac-12 Competition

Discussion in 'OFF TOPIC' started by -X-, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. -X- I'm the dude, man.

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    Bradford Bruns
    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.101sports.com/category/bbruns-blogs/20110828/Ducks-Soar-Above-New-Pac~12-Competition/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.101sports.com/category/bbrun ... mpetition/</a>

    Forget what you learned in rudimentary history class. The Oregon Trail actually consists of the numerous foes vanquished by Chip Kelly's utterly dominant Ducks in recent years.

    Unfortunately for every Pac-12 squad not outfitted in green and yellow, the hard lessons aren't about to cease anytime soon. Only Stanford, home of the most revered pro prospect in the land in quarterback Andrew Luck, seems remotely in the same ballpark in terms of overall talent. Thus, when the dust settles following the conference's inaugural championship game Dec. 3, expect another doctoral-level accomplishment to have been supplied by the pre-eminent professors emeriti of college football on the West Coast.

    Current Power Rankings:

    1. Oregon

    Going toe-to-toe with Auburn in January's BCS title bout, for the entire 60 minutes, dispelled all misgivings concerning the Ducks' ability to compete against the truly elite class. And while Oregon loses three major pillars on the offensive line moving forward, its core nucleus of skill players remains firmly intact. Quarterback Darron Thomas notched 30 touchdown passes in his initial season as the starter and racked up 363 yards in the aforementioned 22-19 defeat to the Tigers. Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James boasts 3,277 yards rushing and 38 total touchdowns in two years in Eugene.

    Like James, cornerback Cliff Harris eschewed instant NFL riches for one more shot at campus immortality. Uber-athletic and underrated in coverage, Harris pilots a defense that often employs the identical frenetic style that serves Oregon's spread-option assault so well. It may be difficult to average 49.3 points and 537.5 yards again, but these loaded Ducks clearly own the Pac-12 pond.

    2. Stanford

    Equally motivated to excel on the gridiron and in the lecture hall, Luck returns to the Cardinal in search of a league crown as well as an architectural degree. With Jim Harbaugh having flocked to the San Francisco 49ers, though, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft must suddenly draw on all of his resources to keep Stanford relevant in the minds of pollsters everywhere. Luck operates behind a pair of rock-solid behemoths, left tackle Jonathan Martin and right guard David DeCastro, and enjoys a surplus of quality tight ends at his disposal. At wide receiver, however, Luck and new head coach David Shaw have to identify competent replacements for old reliables Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin, who combined for 99 catches last fall.

    On defense, Delano Howell and Michael Thomas form one of the premier safety tandems around. The menacing Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas also return as starting linebackers. Their experience promises to be instrumental to the Cardinal's cause, especially considering the relative rawness of the front four.

    3. Arizona State

    Quarterback Brock Osweiler assumes the controls from the now-retired Steven Threet, whose lingering concussion symptoms forced him to call it quits in February. Osweiler looked good in victories over UCLA and Arizona last November, but the junior needs help from a talented supporting cast in order to ensure an exceptional 2011 campaign in the desert.

    Senior center Garth Gerhart anchors a veteran offensive line and running back Cameron Marshall represents a genuine go-the-distance threat. Nonetheless, the Sun Devils' goal of getting back to a bowl for the first time since 2007 hinges on the effectiveness of a defense that balances difference-makers with question marks. Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict was a second-team All-Pac-10 choice in 2010. On the flip side, stellar senior cornerback Omar Bolden stands to miss the bulk of this year on account of a torn ACL. Still, ASU's pros outnumber its cons, guaranteeing some kind of postseason merriment for Dennis Erickson and crew.

    4. USC

    Gunslinger Matt Barkley and wideout Robert Woods became fast friends during spring sessions, connecting on countless downfield strikes. The relationship should bloom further once the Trojans open their schedule against Minnesota Sept. 3. With the obvious exception of Oregon, USC arguably trots out the finest offensive cavalry in the Pac-12, though the squad's sketchy depth at tackle and guard could create problems in a hurry.

    Last year, coach Lane Kiffin banned tackling in practices to prevent injuries with a depleted roster. The Trojans subsequently got shredded by a myriad of rivals in the waning moments of contests. With a much deeper corps of edge rushers and interior contributors entering 2011, don't anticipate a revival of the same peculiar philosophy. Bowl ineligibility probably precludes a wholesale return to normalcy for the program, but a celebrated recruiting class hints at brighter days ahead in Pasadena.

    5. Arizona

    The Wildcats cracked the Associated Press Top 10 last October, only to drop their final five tilts. Nick Foles' prowess at quarterback might single-handedly assure that such a collapse doesn't occur again. The senior comes off a season in which he tossed for 3,191 yards and completed 286 of 426 passes. He receives hefty assistance from All-America wideout Juron Criner, who recorded 82 receptions for 1,233 yards and 11 scores in 2010.

    Regrettably for coach Mike Stoops, hindrances abound on the other side of the ball. Free safety Adam Hall and linebacker Jack Fischer each suffered a torn ACL in spring action. If Arizona develops an aptitude for mixing and matching the appropriate personnel, however, it has at least a chance to reach the Pac-12's upper tier.

    6. Washington

    Jake Locker's migration to the Tennessee Titans opens the door for sophomore signal-caller Nick Price to take over the Huskies' offense, which ironically went ground-intensive to close out last year in superb fashion. Despite Locker's bona fide presence under center, UW rushed for an average of 236.2 yards per game during a season-ending four-game winning streak while holding adversaries to an average of 13.7 points. Bell cow Chris Polk (1,415 yards as a junior) is back to accelerate into the second level in a blink, and the defensive line trio of Alameda Ta'amu, Everette Thompson and Josh Shirley will trigger nightmares for many an opposing Pac-12 offensive ingénue. Barring an implosion from Price, the Huskies present a quietly dangerous challenge.

    7. Utah

    For its introductory tour of the West Coast, the Utes shrewdly brought aboard an offensive coordinator who is intimately familiar with the territory: ex-USC maestro Norm Chow, who, naturally, prefers a West Coast attack. Senior quarterback Jordan Wynn previously thrived in the spread, and yet it's hard to quibble with Chow's proven methodology, which demands a true fullback and a pass-catching tight end. An inevitable adjustment period for all parties means no BCS aspirations, a la 2004 and 2008, here. But long-term, the Utes shall benefit from their decision to battle with the heavies on a regular basis.

    8. California

    The Golden Bears' success undoubtedly hinges on how well transfer quarterback Zach Maynard performs. In his lone campaign as the No. 1 guy at Buffalo in 2009, Maynard threw 15 interceptions, and he reportedly exhibited some of the same erratic qualities throughout the spring. Given the dubious state of the running back position as well, this is not shaping up to be a model team for coach Jeff Tedford. To worsen matters, ongoing renovations at Memorial Stadium dictate that Cal must play all home games at AT&T Park, which accommodates roughly 45,000 patrons for football, in San Francisco.

    9. UCLA

    Take heart, Westwood faithful: The Bruins' Pistol won't fire nearly as many blanks in 2011. UCLA expects to have the services of several key players who missed last season, including offensive linemen Jeff Baca and Kai Maiava. After tallying over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall, tailbacks Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman also return to lead a dynamic downhill attack. They should continue to relieve accuracy-challenged co-quarterbacks Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut of pressure. The rocket-armed Brett Hundley, however, waits in the wings, as Rick Neuheisel and staff recruited the dual-threat phenom from Arizona with the Bruins' preferred offensive methodology specifically in mind.

    10. Oregon State

    Depth chart dilemmas exist everywhere, particularly at running back, where incoming freshmen Malcolm Agnew and Storm Woods try to replace the explosive Jacquizz Rodgers, now plying his trade for the Atlanta Falcons. Thankfully, signal-caller Ryan Katz appears trustworthy, as evidenced by his 2,836 passing yards and 18 scores a year ago. Hamstrung from a medical standpoint, though, coach Mike Riley simply cannot bank on more than five triumphs.

    11. Colorado

    The positive news in Boulder: The Buffaloes boast 27 seniors and a starting quarterback who has logged significant reps in each of the past three campaigns. The sobering news in Boulder: The Buffaloes boast 27 seniors and a starting quarterback who has logged significant reps in each of the past three campaigns. CU finished its Big 12 tenure by going 5-7 in a rather pedestrian North Division. Now, in a new conference and directed by a rookie head coach, Jon Embree, the university confronts one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Folsum Field diehards had better pray for mercy in the mountains.

    12. Washington State

    WSU owns a cumulative mark of 5-32 under Paul Wulff and has captured just two league contests. The Cougars' hopes of climbing out of the Pac-12 basement rest on the right arm of quarterback Jeff Tuell and in the hands of sophomore wideout Marquess Wilson, who established a school freshman record with 1,006 yards in 2010. There are also more upperclassmen with starting experience across the board than Wulff has had in his three previous years, but the veteran coach would do well to table any inkling of expanding his living quarters in the Pacific Northwest.
     
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  2. RamFan503 Grill and Brew Master

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    Starting to quack - ain't yuh. :7up:
     
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  3. Memento Ser Memento (alias, The Winged Knight).

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    Sorry, but I think Stanford overtakes the Ducks. Harris has been suspended indefinitely for being arrested for marijuana possession. Darron Thomas isn't exactly clean either (was caught with Masoli and now Harris). That's not even mentioning the target they have on their backs. I think that Stanford and USC could easily win their matchups against Oregon. Arizona might be able to eke out a win as well. Oregon could very well struggle.

    Meanwhile, Stanford has the best quarterback in the nation. Their offensive line is rock-solid, and their defense is great as well. I think that Luck is in the class of Ryan when he came out.

    I also think that USC and Arizona are better than ASU. Sure, ASU has Burflict, who will be a top pick next year, but their quarterback doesn't scare me at all.

    Barkley's in an elite class, and he has a very good offensive line in front of him. Foles isn't far behind Luck and Barkley; he'll likely go in the first round when he declares. Criner's going to be a great wide receiver in the NFL.

    Here's my top five:

    1. Stanford.

    2. USC.

    3. Oregon.

    4. Arizona.

    5. ASU.
     
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  4. superfan24 Well-Known Member

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    Stanford has the best qb in college football, but they still did lose basically their whole o-line.
     
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  5. RamFan503 Grill and Brew Master

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    You could easily be right. However, it seems that Chip has his guys more ready on game day than Bellotti ever did. I suppose we will see when Oregon opens against LSU. Stanford has a new coach and USC doesn't have much to play for this season. Oregon does have to go to Stanford but historically, there hasn't been much of a homefield advantage there if I recall correctly. USC has to come into Eugene and there definitely IS a homefield advantage there. Autzen is regularly regarded as one of the loudest stadiums in all of football when they measure the noise at field level.

     
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  6. superfan24 Well-Known Member

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    Have heard oregon is absolutely crazy too. My only complaint about nd is the stadium is not as loud as it should and the students are a big part of that. I'm not the only one either complaining about them.
    Sorry 503 I hated the coliseum and that's not because of usc. The Rose Bowl was an amzing place to watch a game. Sorry don't know how i got on this topic
     
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  7. RamsFan4Life New Member

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    Feh......I am 52 years old and haven't there in nearly 30 years, but my ears are still ringing from a game in Death Valley........
     
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  8. RamFan503 Grill and Brew Master

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    It IS nuts in Autzen. As far as the Coliseum, it sure didn't offer much of a home field advantage but I actually liked the room you had to kinda sprawl out in the sun. The seats (benches) were uncomfortable but hell - I was at a Ram game with my Dad. It just didn't get any better than that. I have actually never seen a USC game there. I always watched them on TV. Their games were always on.

    All in all, I have fond memories of the Coliseum. I watched some pretty awesome Ram players grace that turf. I also watched the Rams pretty much shut down OJ during his 2000 yard season.
     
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  9. RamFan503 Grill and Brew Master

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    Man! Bleak start - eh 24? Both the Ducks and the Domers go down in their openers.
     
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  10. JdashSTL Well-Known Member

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    That was a tough loss for Oregon.

    USC just barely beat Minnesota. Would have been crazy to see a Freshman QB lead Minnesota own the field for a game winning drive but he threw the INT to give USC the win.

    I was shocked to see how many mistakes Notre Dame made, but Michael Floyd almost brought them back into the game, and it seems like he has better chemistry with Tommy Rees at QB. USF knew he was their best weapon and they still couldnt stop him. He is really fun to watch and Id definitely love to see the Rams draft him in 2012.
     
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  11. superfan24 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for not rubbing it in too much. It was a crazy day in south bend, made worse by the terrible mistakes. Penalties, turnovers.....thought we had a comeback, but more mistakes :nono: At least I have the Rams finally this week.
    Jdash- I would be shocked if Crist started at UM.....Rees is just more composed. I know people will be turned off from his arrests, but he really is a good team guy especially after listening to his post game comments.
    Absolute beast on the field
     
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  12. JdashSTL Well-Known Member

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    The biggest difference I noticed between them was when the offense started out really well on the 1st drive, it ended with the fumble return for a TD by USF, and Crist was never able to pick up the offense and recover from that. Rees comes in the 2nd half and throws an INT (not his fault) but the next drive he was able to drive them down the field for a TD. The offense is clearly better with him in the game and he knows how to get the ball in Michael Floyds hands early and often.
     
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