PAC 12 Football Predictions 2014
By Tyler Smith
PAC 12 Football Predictions 2014
Offense: Year after year we awe at the Oregon offense and this year will be no different. Marcus Mariota is a Heisman hopeful again. Mariota totaled 40 touchdowns via the pass or run in 2013. Having all five linemen back will allow the offense to pick up where it left off. Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner return after good 2013 seasons. The WR position doesn't have a lot of experience, but the talent isn't lacking. The tight end spot is very deep with three solid targets.
Defense: It used to be Oregon has a great offense, but their defense isn't there. Well things have changed in Eugene. The defense can match the offense. Several big time players return for the Ducks despite the loss of six starters. The defensive line returns both DE and looks to be in good shape at DT with Arik Armstead, T.J. Daniel and Alex Balducci. Two of the three linebackers return. Linebacker Derrick Malone led the team with 105 tackles. The lone returner in the secondary is All-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomus. The corner had 84 tackles, three interceptions.
Special Teams: You may not know who handles the punting and kicking duties due to the Oregon offesne never letting him get on the field, but his name is Matt Wogan.
Overview: Oregon will be in the mix again this year for a title. The game at UCLA is a monster game! Oh, another big game Stanford at home. Lets not forget about Michigan State at Autzen.
Overview: The defense is going to be lights out for the Huskies this season. Stud linebacker Shaq Thompson proved he was worth the hype after a good sophomore season. The defensive line has all three starters, each are seniors. The secondary will feature some youth but Marcus Peters is back at corner. A few big departures will be missed on offense especially running back Bishop Sankey. QB should be in good hands with dangerous runner Cyler Miles. Miles will have some good options to throw to with two starters back. The line is what makes this offense still hopeful with plenty of experience back.
Overview: The Cardinal will take a step back this season with a tough conference slate. They will face USC at home and then have to travel to UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State and Washington. The offense will miss a proven running back and a stable offensive line. Keith Hogan is back under center, but will be asked to do more. Hogan will have some good targets in Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste. The defense won't be like the teams we've seen in the past with the loss of four key players on defense. Yes, the defense still has talent but to think they will still hold teams under 20 points per game won't happen.
#4 Oregon State
Overview: The offense will still have some fire power even with Brandin Cooks gone. Sean Mannion has over 10,000 passing yards in his career, the passing game will be great as usual. The line will need to better this year for running backs Storm Woods and Terron Ward. The defense should improve a bit with a strong linebacking core.
Overview: The Bears redzone offense needs to improve this season. Jared Goff is back after a great freshman season. The young receiving core returns and will be even better this season. Who steps up at running back will be important. The running attack on produced 10 touchdowns last season. If the line can prove to be a force in short yardage situations the Cal offense will be great. You can ask questions about the whole defense after they gave up 529 yards last season!
#6 Washington State
Overview: Everything is in place on offense for Washington State, but the offensive line. QB Connor Halliday will be very happy with his returning WRs. The secondary losses a lot of experience but those players still gave up a lot of yards. The defensive line should provide good pressure. Will Washington State match last seasons effort? Probably not.
Offense: Another Heisman hopeful in the Pac 12 Brett Hundley. He totaled over 3,800 total yards with 35 touchdowns in 2013. Hundley's return was huge, but having most of the offensive line back is a big deal. Hurricane transfer Malcom Bunche is eligible to play right away and should plug in at left guard. The running game is in good hands with Jordon James and Paul Perkins. The two combined for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Who emerges as the big play WR will be key for UCLA. The top two returners are Devin Fuller and Jordan Payton, but look for Thomas Duarte to be the go to guy. the 6-foot 4 receiver had three touchdowns as a freshman.
Defense: Myles Jack put together a big freshman season and looks to make an even bigger impact this season. Jack totaled over 70 tackles, two interceptions from his linebacker spot. Next to Jack is Eric Kendricks who has led the team in tackles the past two seasons. The secondary brings back four of five starters. Ishmael Adams totaled four interceptions a year ago. Ellis McCarthy clogs space for runners with his 6'4 330 pound frame on the defensive line. The line proves to have depth which will keep the Bruins fresh upfront.
Special Teams: The punting situation is in good hands with Sean Covington. The kicking situation however is suspect. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbalm went 14/20 last season.
Overview: Don't be surprised to see the Bruins in the Playoff this season. With Hundley back and an impressive defense this team should be in the top 10 by the end of the year. Having Oregon, USC and Stanford at home is big.
Offense: The offense is going to be tough to stop with the talent coming back and the no-huddle offense Sarkisian will put in place. The running game will be impressive with running back Javorius Allen getting a full load this season. Allen only reached double digit carries five times last season, but he averaged over 120 yards four of the five times. Allen also totaled 14 rushing touchdowns. Wide receiver won't be an issue with Nelson Agholor back. Agholor averaged over 16 yards per reception in 2013. The depth at the skill positions provides a lot of options for quarterback Cody Kessler. In last season's losses Kessler didn't perform as well. The line will need to provide better protection for Kessler though. USC gave up 34 sacks last season ranking 104th in the nation.
Defense: The defense should be back and better than last season. Leonard Williams is back and a tackling (73) machine from his DT spot. Williams is a top NFL prospect. Linebacker will be great with three experienced players, led by Hayes Pullard. Pullard has been in the top three in tackles every year at USC. There are some concerns in the secondary, but with a punishing front seven the secondary should be in good shape. Several starters are back and a influx of talent has arrived.
Special Teams: Agholor is very dangerous in the return game having had two touchdowns off punt returns in 2013. The Trojans will need Andre Heidari to be better this season after missing seven FG and three PAT.
Overview: USC has the talent to compete for a PAC 12 title. Depth is a slight concern. The offense will be explosive, the defense will be tough. The conference slate has the Trojans heading to Stanford and UCLA.
#3 Arizona State
Overview: The offense will be great with six starters back. The defense took a major hit with only two defensive starters back. In order for Arizona State to have several players make big impacts soon, with several JUCO players coming in the Sun Devils will hope they can make that impact. QB Taylor Kelly and RB D.J. Foster will keep the running attack alive. Foster was also a top option for Kelly in the passing game after WR Jaelen Strong. The Sun Devils will know their fate in the conference after weeks four and five where they face USC and UCLA.
Overview: The QB spot is open for the taking with several options for coach Rich Rodriguez to go. One spot that can't be replaced is Ka'Deem Carey. In each of the past two seasons Carey had over 1,850. The passing attack will gladly welcome back WR Austin Hill. The WR core is full of playmakers. The defensive line still has questions, the secondary is likely too improve with four of five starters back. The Wildcats will look for revenge after being destroyed by in-state rival Arizona State.
Overview: Every year Utah seems to play most teams really tough but they fall short. Will that end this season? Probably not. The offense has the talent to compete, but closing out games will be key. Travis Wilson will be back at QB and his top WR Dres Anderson is back. The defense really got after the QB last season, but the top three sack leaders are gone. The special teams play is as good as it gets. Utah is always tough at home, this season they have USC and Oregon to try to upset.
Overview: A lot will have to change in Boulder for the Buffaloes to get out of the bottom of the PAC 12 South. It will start with the talent they bring in. Colorado is consistently at the bottom of recruiting rankings. This year will be another year to build off of something Colorado does way too often. Two promising sophomores are QB Sefo Liufau and LB Addison Gilliam.
PAC 12 Offensive Player of the Year
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
PAC 12 Defensive Player of the Year
Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
PAC 12 Coach of the Year
Chris Petersen, Washington
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