|TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview|
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|2004 ARIZONA WILDCATS|
|Author: Brad Allis, CatTracks.net|
Last Season's Record: 2-10 (1-7, 10th in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 1998 Holiday Bowl (23-20 victory over Nebraska)
Key matchup(s): Sept. 8th Wisconsin (Fox Sports Net), Nov. 26 Arizona State (Fox Sports Net)
Star Power: Mike Bell, RB, Jr. 6-1, 220; Steve Fleming, TE, Sr. 6-6, 260; Lamon Means, S, Jr. 6-3, 195
Notable Additions: Randy Sims, San Francisco CC, LB, 5-11, 230; Kiel McDonald, Sacramento CC, CB, 5-11; Yaniv Barnett, DT, Schertz, TX (Clemens), 6-3, 285
Notable Subtractions: Michael Jolivette CB (graduation), Gary Love CB (graduation), Clarence Farmer (graduation), John Mackovic (fired), Clay Hardt SS (graduation)
Notable Returnees: Brandon Phillips OL, Biren Ealy WR, Keoki Fraser C, Carlos Williams DT, Darrell Brooks S
Offensive Overview: Last year the offense was in shambles. The Wildcats played three different quarterbacks until settling on true freshman Kris Heavner. Heavner has the nod again, but will enter fall camp with at least three other passers hot on his heals. The team brought in LaVell Edwards/Norm Chow disciple Mike Canales to implement a quick hit, spread offense. Canales comes from the New York Jets, but is best known for being Phillip Rivers' QB coach at NC State. Expect the Wildcats to throw the ball all over the field, while at the same time trying to get Mike Bell as many touches as possible. The new staff feels the Pac-10's top returning rusher can be a special one. Steve Fleming has the makings of a great pass catching tight end and most of the receiving corps returns. This is key because the Wildcats will rely on a lot of four receiver sets, so there are a lot of balls to go around. The offensive line is a bit of a puzzle. A lot of experienced players are back, but the unit has been a weakness the past three seasons. Injuries have been a large part of the unit's struggles and the staff prays that they can keep oft-injured Brandon Phillips, John Parada and Tanner Bell healthy.
Defensive Overview: Long gone are the days of 'Desert Swarm' but Cat fans hope Stoops' Troops can be all the rage. The Wildcats are on their fourth defense in three seasons and almost anything would be an improvement over the porous unit of the Mackovic era. The Cats will employ an aggressive 4-3 defense that relies on disguising blitzes and coverages to keep the offense guessing. The safeties are a strength with Lamon Means and Darrell Brooks, but both starting corner backs must be replaced. Right now two JC transfers and a redshirt freshman look to be the starters, with two little-used veterans and two true freshmen in the mix. The Cats will use a lot of zone to protect the corners after years of man-to-man schemes in the double-eagle flex. The linebacking corps has some promise, but some of the young players need to step up. It will be interesting to see just who emerges as the starting three because upwards of nine players enter the fall with hope of extensive playing time. The defensive line has been terribly thin for several seasons and the Cats will play short handed again. Two reserve defensive tackles will likely not survive academics and the team is still reeling from the death of incoming recruit McCollins Umeh. It could be a few seasons before defensive minded head coach Mike Stoops has a unit he feels comfortable with.
Special Teams Overview: As bad as the Wildcats have been, their special teams have been worse. Their kickers were a combined 2-11 and incumbent kicker Nick Folk has never made a collegiate field goal. Punter Danny Baugher can be amazing one minute and then kick the next ball off the side of his foot. The Cats gave up 8.7 yards per punt return, while only gaining 5.2. New special teams coach Joe Robinson comes in with a great reputation, but he'll have his hands full trying to get this group back to where it was under Dick Tomey.
The Wildcats will be better under Stoops, but... may not have much to show for it. The schedule is tough and the team is young. A dream season would be six wins and a lower tier bowl, but a more realistic goal may be noticeable improvement and finishing out of the cellar.
|2004 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS|
|Author: Staff, DevilsDigest.com|
Last Season's Record: 5-7 (2-6, T-8th in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2002 Holiday Bowl (34-27 loss to Kansas State)
Key matchup(s): Sep. 18 Iowa, Sep. 25 Oregon State, Oct. 16 at USC, Nov. 26 at Arizona
Star Power: Andrew Walter QB, 6-5 235 senior, Derek Hagan WR, 6-2 192 junior, Loren Wade TB, 6-0 212 sophomore, Drew Hodgdon C, 6-3 285 senior
Notable Additions: Zach Miler TE, 6-4 245 Desert Vista HS, AZ, Maurice London S, 6-0 185, JC transfer, Dale Robinson LB, 6-1 240 JC transfer
Notable Subtractions: S Jason Shivers, FB Mike Karney, WR Skyler Fulton (all drafted by NFL teams), P Tim Parker.
Notable Returnees: Grayling Love OG, 6-3 297 junior, Jamar Williams LB, 6-1 243 junior, R.J. Oliver CB, 5-9 174 senior, Riccardo Stewart S, 5-10 215 senior
Offensive Overview: With Andrew Walter skipping the NFL draft and returning for his senior season, the Sun Devils will have one of the premier signal callers in the country. Derek Hagan will undoubtedly serve as Walter’s main target, but overall the quality depth at wideout is suspect. Nevertheless, redshirt freshman Rudy Burgess showed in the spring that he could be as good as the departed Fulton. Drew Hodgdon anchors an offensive line, which has a good mix of veterans and younger players. Arizona State’s running back core, headed by Loren Wade, is among the conference’s elite. Thus, the Devils’ potent ground attack could help the team’s passing game. Koetter has long yearned to run a double tight end offense, and this year he will have the depth at that position to do so. The change should be undetectable to those watching the Sun Devils, but any scheme change can bring inevitable growing pains with it. Look for sophomore Jamaal Lewis and blue chip recruit Zach Miller to lead the tight ends in the receiving game, and provide more production from this position than last season.
Defensive Overview: The much-maligned 4-2-5 alignment will give way to the more traditional 4-3-4 this season. The heaviest concerns on this side of the ball rest with the defensive line, especially at defensive tackle. Senior Jimmy Verdon’s move from end to tackle should give a much needed boost, and allow the young and talented sophomore Kyle Caldwell to utilize his pass rush abilities more frequently. The ASU staff is hopeful that these moves can improve the team’s abilities to harass opposing quarterbacks and stop the run. Jamar Williams is arguably the team’s best defender, and probably the only likely defensive candidate for All Pac-10 honors. When healthy Riccardo Stewart is a tackling machine, but his physical condition has always been a cause for uneasiness. R.J. Oliver has one last chance to prove that he’s the proverbial lockdown cornerback he’s been touted as.
Special Teams Overview: Sophomore Jesse Ainsworth was just about what you would expect from a freshman kicker. His field goal abilities must catch up to his solid kickoff skills, in order for him to become a dependable contributor. Redshirt freshman punter Chris McDonald will have to fill Parker’s big shoes, and at the conclusion of spring practice it was still unclear if this mission was within his reach. During spring Burgess and sophomore wide receiver Terry Richardson have provided encouraging signs as dangerous kick and punt returners. While this group wasn’t the team's Achilles heal in 2003, it needs to be more of a difference maker in 2004.
The Sun Devils will have a winning season if... they can dramatically improve their defense, namely the defensive line, get significant contributions from its special teams, and develop more aerial targets for Walter to throw to.
|2004 CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS|
|Author: Chris Avery, TheBearInsider.com|
Last Season's Record: 8-6 (5-3, T-3rd in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2003 Insight Bowl (52- 49 win against Virginia Tech)
Key matchup(s): Oct. 2 at Oregon State, Nov. 6 Oregon
Star Power: QB Aaron Rodgers, Junior 6-2 195; WR Geoff MacArthur, Senior 6-1 200; OT Ryan O'Callaghan, Junior 6-7 330; DT Lorenzo Alexander, Senior 6-3 295; LB Wendell Hunter, Senior 6-1 230; SS Donnie McCleskey, Junior 5-10 195
Notable Additions: RB Marshawn Lynch Fr 5-11 200 Oakland Tech HS, TE Craig Stevens RSFr 6-5 250 Peninsula HS, OG Bryan Deemer JCTr 6-4 300 San Joaquin Delta JC, CB Thomas DeCoud RSFr 6-3 175 Pinole Valley HS, DE Phillip Mbakogu Fr 6-3 260 Hayward HS, P/PK David Lonie JCTr 6-6 215 Ellsworth CC
Notable Subtractions: RB Adimchinobe Echemandu, OT Chris Murphy, OT Mark Wilson, DT Josh Beckham, CB James Bethea
Offensive Overview: The first question all Bear fans must ask is can Aaron Rodgers rebound from major knee surgery and play a full slate of games this fall? There have been no indicators that suggest the operation was anything but a success. The key to his good health will be the play of the offensive line and running backs.
The OL is anchored at tackle by Andrew Cameron and Ryan O'Callaghan. Lining up between this pair are C Marvin Philip, OG Jonathan Geisel and OG Aaron Merz. This formidable unit is fully capable of providing Rodgers with adequate protection and opening holes for the rushing attack.
Led by RB's J.J. Arrington and Terrell Williams, the Bears will feature a strong run game. Additionally, incoming freshman, Marshawn Lynch is expected to see some action as well. He is a major talent waiting to burst onto the college football scene.
Cal has a WR corps as deep and talented as any in recent memory. All-American candidate Geoff MacArthur will team with Johnathan Makonnen to give the Bears the best starting pair in the Pac-10. Depth will be provided by Insight Bowl star Chase Lyman, Burl Toler, a sure handed clutch receiver and freshmen, Sam DeSa, Sean Young and Noah Smith. The wildcard in the group is David Gray, a receiver who has yet to tap his unlimited potential.
Craig Stevens and Garrett Cross are the top returning TE's. Coach Tedford singled out Stevens several times in Spring practice for his efforts. Look for him to make a big impression this fall.
Defensive Overview: Many questions surround the Cal defense, including: will the DL generate more than 1.3 sacks/game and what about depth at cornerback?
The answer to the first question must be yes if the Bears are to be successful on defense. A strong pass rush will take pressure off the secondary. Can the Cal DL step up to the challenge? The Bears are certainly experienced. Lettermen Ryan Riddle, Tosh Lupoi, Ray Tago, Tom Sverchek, Brandon Mebane and honors candidate, Lorenzo Alexander all return. In addition, highly touted freshmen, Matt Malele and Phillip Mbakogu, are preparing for their first season in a Cal uniform. If these eight men can bring the heat, Cal will be set for a huge season.
Coach Tedford has focused considerable effort on improving team speed at LB. This season Bear fans should begin to see the fruits of his labor. Ryan Estes, coming off two lost seasons due to injury, and Joe Maningo, returning from a injury-plagued season, have both demonstrated good speed in the past. Returning starters, Wendell Hunter and Francis Blay-Miezah provide toughness at the position and Sid Slater and Brian Tremblay are able reserves.
The most exciting development in Cal football in the recent past is the sharp improvement at cornerback. This season the Bears will present a solid two deep, Tim Mixon, Donte Hughes, Harrison Smith and Thomas DeCoud. This quartet is as talented as any the Bears have had in a number of years. Yes, the Bears have adequate depth at CB. Backing the corners are All-American Strong Safety Candidate, Donnie McCleskey, and Free Safeties Matt Giordano and Ryan Gutierrez.
Special Teams Overview: JC Transfer David Lonie is being counted upon to significantly upgrade the punting game. He is known for getting a lot of air under the ball thus preventing appreciable return yardage. Placekicking duties will be handled by Lonie or one of two redshirt freshmen, Tom Schneider or Anthony Binswanger. The players to watch on the return units are Sam DeSa (punt returns) and Frank Summers (wedge-buster). Last year, Cal's kick-off coverage unit lost some luster as they fell from No.1 in the conference the previous year to No.6. Look for the unit to bounce back. For the first time since he arrived at Cal, Special Teams Coach Pete Alamar has had a full off-season to develop coverage schemes.
The Golden Bears will wind up in Pasadena... on New Year's Day if USC plays for the National Championship in the Orange Bowl.
|2004 OREGON DUCKS|
|Author: Steve Summers, eDuck.com|
Last Season's Record: 8-5 (5-3, T-3rd in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2003 Sun Bowl (31-30 loss to Minnesota)
Key matchup(s): Sept. 18 at Oklahoma, ABC; Nov. 6 at Cal, TBD.
Star Power: Kellen Clemens, QB, Jr., 6-2, 210; Demetrius Williams, WR, Jr., 6-2, 193; Terrence Whitehead, RB, 5-10, 210; Haloti Ngata, DT, So., 6-5, 345; Marley Tucker, S, Sr., 6-0, 193, Jared Siegel, K, Sr., 5-10, 189.
Notable Additions: Cameron Colvin, WR, De La Salle HS, 6-1, 193; Willie Glasper, CB, De La Salle HS, 5-10, 180; Terrance Kelly, LB, De La Salle HS, 5-11, 210; Jackie Bates, CB, De La Salle HS, 5-10, 185; David Faaeteete, DT, North Medford HS, 6-3, 303; Aaron Klovas, OL, Spanaway HS, 6-6, 300; Jaison Williams, WR, Culver City HS, 6-4, 215; Terrell Jackson, RB, Corona HS, 5-9, 190.
Notable Subtractions: Kevin Mitchell, Igor Olshansky, Junior Siavii, Keith Lewis, Samie Parker, and Jason Fife, all drafted or signed by NFL teams.
Notable Returnees: Robby Valenzuela, DT, Sr., 6-2, 303; Jerry Matson, Sr., LB, 6-1, 225; Adam Snyder, OL, Sr., 6-6, 320; Nick Steitz, OL, Sr., 6-4, 319; Tim Day, TE, Jr., 6-4, 267; Dante Rosario, FB, So., 6-4, 247.
Offensive Overview: Oregon will look to have a solid pro style offense again this year led by Kellen Clemens (304-182-9, 19 touchdowns, 2400 yards, and 139.80 efficiency rating). Demetrius Williams broke out last year with 51 catches for 935 and eight touchdowns while Tim Day is a huge target (6-4, 247) and had 23 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns. The senior dominated line anchored by Adam Snyder and Nick Steitz look to open holes for tailback back by committee.
Terrence Whitehead, who had 737 yards and six touchdowns last season, leads the running backs. Seniors Kenny Washington (39-139 yards, one touchdown) and Ryan Shaw (42-182 yards) bring experience and sophomore Chris Vincent (56-182 yards) is a player that Bellotti has high hopes for. Add into the fray incoming freshmen Terrell Jackson and T.R. Smith, and the Ducks appear very deep at running back. Bellotti has said that junior fullback Dante Rosario will have more carries this season and with newcomer Jerome Johnson, the fullback position will be an added blocking, running and pass catching weapon.
Oregon's key to success has been its ability to set up the pass with the run. Demetrius Williams (6-2, 193), Garren Strong (6-3, 185), Bryan Paysinger (6-2, 193), Kyle Weatherspoon (6-1, 189), Marcus Maxwell (6-5, 205), Keith Allen (6-1, 205) and Jordan Carey (5-11, 200) all make Oregon's receiving corps is very fast and tall.. TheInsiders.com rated Colvin (6-1, 193) 5-Stars and Jaison Williams has been compared to Jerry Rice.
Along with Day, the tight end position is well manned with senior Eddie Whitaker (6-4, 250) and sophomore Dan Kause (6-4, 245).
Defensive Overview: The Ducks look to stop the run with a big, aggressive defensive line featuring Haloti Ngata, who is recovered from an injury. The strength of the defense may be the secondary as the often-burned unit of two years ago, now is mature and experienced. The biggest question about the Ducks defense is the depth and experience at linebacker.
The Ducks lost two huge defensive tackles last season to the NFL (Igor Olshansky and Junior Siavii) but Ngata is back along with Robby Valenzuela, a defensive tackle playing at full speed on all snaps. Matt Toeaina (6-3, 282) had a very good spring on the interior defensive line. David Faaeteete plays similarly to Valenzuela and is ready to play as a true freshman. Defensive end junior Devan Long (6-4, 265) is emerging as a leader on the defense and could merit post season honors this season. Former 5-Star JC transfer Chris Solomona (6-5, 288) is the other defensive end who seemed to be around the ball on each play during the spring workouts. Sophomore Darius Sanders (6-5, 275) had his moments but needs consistency in practice to see more game time.
Jerry Matson leads the linebackers. Juniors Ramon Reed (6-2, 226) and Anthony Trucks (6-1, 231) are the other starters. Junior Justin Andrews (6-1, 240) and freshman Ramond White (6-4, 223), seniors Marcus Miller (6-2, 223) and converted quarterback Scott Vossmeyer (6-4, 223) round out the experienced linebackers. Incoming players Terrance Kelly and Ryan Phipps could easily see playing time as true freshmen.
The defensive backfield led by Marley Tucker has several cornerback lettermen including juniors Justin Phinisee (5-11, 199), Marques Binns (5-11, 163), Aaron Gipson (5-9, 175) and senior Rodney Woods (5-10, 185) will rotate as starters. Redshirt freshman Ryan Gilliam (5-9, 168) has major speed and combined with Willie Glasper and Jackie Bates big things are ahead for Oregon's future. Sophomore JD Nelson (5-11, 205) could be the best athlete in the secondary. Terrance Kelly could see time as a safety next season.
Special Teams Overview: Jared Siegel was 13-for-19 in field goal kicking and a perfect 45-of-45 for PATs. The punting game is improved as sophomore Paul Martinez has developed more consistency over last season.
The return game should be exciting featuring first team All Pac-10 performer Washington along with the exciting Gilliam, Gipson and Phinisee. Oregon success in the Bellotti era has had a lot to do with special teams able to produce good field position and this years special teams promise to be the best since the 2001 season.
The Oregon Ducks believe they are at least a nine-win team... and based on a favorable home schedule including ASU, Arizona, Washington and UCLA that feeling is well justified. The Ducks play Oregon State in Corvallis in the Civil War and Cal at Berkeley, but the depth of Oregon's roster and the fact Bellotti is a reinvigorated coach after resolving personal issues last year will be the Ducks big edge. Additionally, Clemens is now fully installed at quarterback and during the spring the cowboy from Eastern Oregon was in complete control of a potent and versatile offense.
The Ducks do not play USC this season. Oklahoma will be an early big test, but Oregon may be the best team the Sooners will face this season.
|2004 OREGON STATE BEAVERS|
|Author: Dan Norz, BeaverFootball.com|
Last Season's Record: 8-5 (4-4, 5th in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2004 Las Vegas Bowl (55-14 win against New Mexico)
Key matchup(s): Sept. 4 at LSU (ESPN), Oct. 2 California, Nov. 5 USC, Nov. 20 Oregon (Fox).
Star Power: QB Derek Anderson 6-6 240 senior, C Matt Brock 6-2 298 senior, CB Brandon Browner 6-4 202 sophomore, DE Bill Swancutt 6-4 259 senior, SS Mitch Meeuwsen 6-0 215 senior, LB Trent Bray 6-1 234 junior.
Notable Additions: P Sam Paulescu 6-0 185 JC transfer, TE Jim Hanchett 6-6 248 OSU basketball player, WR Brandon Hughes 5-11 164 Bloomington HS, IL, LB Keith Ellison 6-2 224 JC transfer, OT Chris Miller 6-5 299 JC transfer.
Notable Subtractions: RB Steven Jackson, WR James Newson, TE Tim Euhus, LB Richard Seigler, DT Dwan Edwards, PK Kirk Yliniemi, P Carl Tobey.
Notable Returnees: WR Mike Hass 6-1 210 junior, RB Dwight Wright 5-9 208 senior, OT Doug Nienhuis 6-6 321 senior, LB Jonathan Pollard 6-1 243 senior, DT Ben Siegert 6-4 271 sophomore, CB Aric Williams 6-0 172 senior.
Offensive Overview: Losing a handful of the program’s finest offensive players to graduation should have most Beaver fans worried, but with the steadily improving Derek Anderson at the helm Oregon State fans are cautiously optimistic about 2004. The Beavers will use a more controlled playbook in the early part of 2004 to give Anderson confidence and to find out who will compliment Mike Hass catching the ball. The tight ends and running backs could see many short passes across the middle and in the backfield, and 6-foot-7, 260-pound sophomore TE Joe Newton presents a large target with reliable hands and impressive athleticism.
The Beavers lack a player who can stretch the field and are trying almost anyone in the slot. Dwight Wright and Ryan Cole will share running back duties and will provide the defense with different looks. The offensive line has loads of experience and talent but has not jelled as a unit. The offensive line’s play will dictate whether the Beavers have a pass-heavy offense or a balanced offense.
Defensive Overview: One of the top defenses in the Pac-10 returns four all-conference players in cornerback Brandon Browner, defensive end Bill Swancutt, strong safety Mitch Meeuwsen and linebacker Trent Bray. The Beavers mostly play man coverage at the corners as Browner and Aric Williams have proven they can stay with most receivers. The linebackers are mouthy, confident, athletic, and can deliver the big hits. Bray roams the middle where he seems to be in on almost every play. Swancutt will face double and triple teams until one of the other defensive linemen can step up. Alvin Smith and Henry Anderson both take up a lot of space, but are not game proven, and Ben Siegert returns after a solid freshman season at DT. Brandon Scales is quick and could be an excellent compliment to Swancutt.
Special Teams Overview: Replacing the starting punter and kicker in the same year is a difficult task. Luckily the Beavers signed one of the best junior college kickers in the nation in Sam Paulescu. His leg strength and his ability to place the ball within the 20 consistently will add great value to the OSU special teams. Oregon State is still looking for a game breaker to return punts and kicks. Cole Clasen is sure-handed and fearless returning punts, but lacks game-breaking speed. Wright and Harvey Whiten are competent at returning kickoffs, but neither is often a threat to break a big one.
The Beavers will be stay in the top 25 if... a game-breaking wide receiver in the mold of Chad Johnson emerges. A speedy receiver opens the running and receiving game and gives the team and quarterback confidence.
|2004 STANFORD CARDINAL|
|Author: Mike Eubanks, TheBootleg.com|
Last Season's Record: 4-7 (2-6, T-8th in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2001 Seattle Bowl (24-14 loss to Georgia Tech)
Key matchup(s): Oct. 2 Washington, Oct. 30 @UCLA, Nov. 6 @Arizona State
Star Power: FS Oshiomogho Atogwe 6-0 205 senior, WR Mark Bradford 6-2 190 soph, NT Babatunde Oshinowo 6-2 320 junior, TE Alex Smith 6-5 255 senior
Notable Additions: OT/DT Jeff Zuttah 6-4 293 – U. Michigan transfer; C Alex Fletcher 6-4 295 – St. Anthony’s HS, NY
Notable Subtractions: OT Kirk Chambers, TE Brett Pierce, WR Luke Powell, DT Amon Gordon
Notable Returnees: ILB David Bergeron 6-4 245 senior, OT Jeff Edwards 6-7 290 soph, QB Trent Edwards 6-4 210 soph, OLB Jared Newberry 6-2 235 senior, CB Leigh Torrence 6-0 183 senior
Offensive Overview: Offense is historically Stanford’s strength, but the prevalence of youth on this year’s roster leaves many questions. The starting quarterback and top two receivers are sophomores. The oldest possible offensive line this roster can muster would have one junior and four sophomores. In response, the coaching staff has put in place a simplified scheme for both the passing and running games of ball control and execution.
The passing game rests squarely on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Trent Edwards, who blossomed last spring in his confidence and accuracy. But he will depend upon rapid maturation from a young offensive line to give him protection. The most veteran and experienced players on the offense are tight end Alex Smith and tailbacks Kenneth Tolon and J.R. Lemon; you can expect to see them involved in the passing game. Mark Bradford is the returning star of the receiving corps, but his spring underwhelmed and may foretell a sophomore slump. The underrated leader of the wideouts is senior Greg Camarillo, who could be the x-factor in the passing game.
Though passing has almost always been the name of Stanford’s game, the running game is a better bet to produce this fall. Both Tolon and Lemon are breaking out under the leadership of new RBs coach Jay Boulware – running harder and more confidently. The fullback is back after its 2003 hiatus, though the two-back sets may appear nontraditional. The ground game, too, hinges upon the green O-line.
Defensive Overview: In marked contrast with the offense, experience abounds on this side of the ball. Six starters are fifth-year seniors, and their maturity will be needed as they seek to execute new schemes and formations put in place for 2004. The leader of the back end is free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who led the team in tackles the last two years and led the conference in ’03 in forced fumbles. He is a playmaker who passed on the NFL for this senior season, and he is joined with a trio of standout corners: Leigh Torrence, Stanley Wilson and T.J. Rushing. The defensive backfield was inconsistent last year, giving up too many big plays in losses, but they made adjustments and dominated in the spring.
The linebacking corps has nearly as much experience, with talented seniors David Bergeron and Jared Newberry leading the way. Kevin Schimmelmann made a successful transition from strong safety in 2003 and has added size and strength to go with his speed. The emerging star athletes to watch are Jon Alston and Michael Okwo. This quintet, plus the possible return of Michael Craven, is the reason why the LBs are the top attack weapons of the defense.
Stanford may mostly depend on those linebackers to provide pressure on opposing offenses, given the impotent pass rush from the defensive line last fall. NT Babatunde Oshinowo is the one star up front, but he will need help from defensive ends Will Svitek, Julian Jenkins, Casey Carroll and Scott Scharff.
Special Teams Overview: Not mentioned above in the "notable subtractions," but the graduation of fifth-year seniors P Eric Johnson and LS Drew Caylor have left the punting game in disarray. Redshirt freshman Jay Ottovegio takes over the punting duties, but his inexperience pales in comparison to the snapping problems. If somebody steps up for the long snapping, the rest of the special teams could be very good. Placekicker Michael Sgroi enjoyed a great off-season and the best health his back has known in years. Coverage and protection personnel are veteran and talented. There are several options, albeit unproven, for the kick/punt return positions.
The Cardinal will go bowling if... the young offense, particularly the front five, can gel in the first month of the season while they enjoy a four-game homestand. Buddy Teevens has yet to win a conference road game, and this year’s schedule probably means his Card have to win twice away from home to get to a bowl game. With five of the last seven games on the road, we might expect the young offense to falter. When they struggle, it will be up to the veteran defense to pick them up. That sounds most unlike your father’s Stanford, but the defense is the strength for the 2004 edition of Cardinal Football.
|2004 UCLA BRUINS|
|Author: Tracy Pierson, BruinReportOnline.com|
Last Season's Record: 6-7 (4-4, T-6th in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl (17-9 loss to Fresno State)
Key matchup(s): Sept. 4 Oklahoma State, Sept. 18 @Washington, Oct. 16 @Cal, Dec. 4 USC.
Star Power: SR WR Craig Bragg, 6-1, 200; JR TE Marcedes Lewis, 6-6, 250; SO RB Maurice Drew, 5-9, 200; JR LB Justin London, 6-2, 235; SR FS Ben Emanuel, 6-3, 210.
Notable Additions: DE Kyle Morgan, 6-3, 260, JC Transfer; DE Brigham Harwell, 6-1, 250, Hacienda Heights (Calif.) Los Altos; OL Shannon Tevaga, 6-3, 295, La Mirada (Calif.) High.
Notable Subtractions: DE Dave Ball, DT Rodney Leisle, LB Brandon Chillar, CB Matt Ware.
Notable Returnees: SR WR Tab Perry is trying to get re-instated academically; JR QB Drew Olson, SR TB Manuel White; JR LB Spencer Havner; JR DT C.J. Niusulu; JR SS Jarrad Page.
Offensive Overview: The UCLA offense had one of its worst years in recent memory in 2003, averaging just 294 yards per game, which got it ranked 110th out of 113 Division I-AA teams. The Bruins had problems with a weak and thin offensive line and some breakdowns in the offensive scheme. They tried to remedy the problem in the off-season when they let go offensive coordinator Steve Axman and offensive line coach Marc Weber and gave both positions to Tom Cable, the former head coach at Idaho. Early returns are that Cable is working wonders, getting the OL stronger and putting new dimensions into the offense. The success of the team will depend on the offense showing improvement from last season, particularly from JR QB Drew Olson, who had a good spring and off-season. UCLA has talent at the skill positions, with RBs Manuel White and Maurice Drew, WR Craig Bragg and TE Marcedes Lewis. It's just a matter of whether Cable can tweak Dorrell's offense well enough to exploit them.
Defensive Overview: The defense will have a hard time replacing some all-conference veterans, such as Dave Ball, Rod Leisle, and Brandon Chillar. In fact, it lost six of its seven top defensive linemen from last year. In addition, it also lost two other DLs in the off-season who would have figured prominently in the two-deep, one to a knee injury and another to academics. The linebackers return some stars in juniors Justin London and Spencer Havner. The backfield took a big hit when cornerback Matt Ware bypassed his senior year for the NFL. In other words, UCLA's defense, which has been its stalwart for the last couple of years, is a bit of a mystery heading into 2004. Some new names, like JC transfer DE Kyle Morgan, JR DT C.J. Niusulu and possibly JR CB Nnamdi Ohaeri will have to pick up the slack. There is talent, but depth in the front seven is thin, so staying healthy for the defense is key.
Special Teams Overview: UCLA returns one of the best kicking duos in the conference, with senior punter Chris Kluwe, who averaged 42.9 yards per punt, and sophomore placekicker Justin Medlock, who was 14-of-19 for the season. UCLA did well returning kicks and punts, with Maurice Drew exhibiting some flair for kick-off returns. It did struggle, though, in punt return coverage, something the coaching staff has indicated in the off-season it will try to rectify.
The Bruins can win eight games this season if... it can get more production out of its offense, particularly its offensive line. UCLA's offense was considered very conservative a season ago and Cable is expected to spice things up a bit, hopefully able to do so with better OL play. The thin defense will have to avoid injury, especially to its front seven. UCLA's schedule also is pretty favorable, with no non-conference opponents that would conceivably be top 25 teams.
|2004 USC TROJANS|
|Author: Garry Paskwietz, WeAreSC.com|
Last Season's Record: 12-1 (7-1, 1st in Pac-10, AP No. 1, ESPN/USA Today No. 2)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2004 Rose Bowl (28-14 win over Michigan)
Key matchup(s): Virginia Tech Aug 28th ESPN, Cal October 9th, Washington State October 30th ABC, Notre Dame November 27th ABC, UCLA December 4th ABC.
Star Power: Leinart, Matt QB 6-5 225 Jr., Bush, Reggie TB 6-0 200 Soph., Grootegoed, Matt LB 5-11 215 Sr., Cody, Shaun DE-DT 6-4 295 Sr., Malone, Tom P 6-0 190 Jr.
Notable Additions: Byers, Jeff C Loveland HS (CO) 6-3 275, Schweiger, Jeff DE Valley Christian HS (CA) 6-4 250, Rivers, Keith LB Lake Mary HS (FL) 6-3 220, Jarrett, Dwayne WR New Brunswick HS (NJ) 6-5 195, Lutui, Taitusi OL Snow Junior College 6-5, 370, Powdrell, Ryan LB Saddleback College 6-1 250, Ware, Scott DB Santa Rosa College 6-2, 220.
Notable Subtractions: DE Kenechi Udeze (1st round draft choice, Minnesota Vikings), OL Jacob Rogers (2nd round draft choice, Dallas Cowboys), WR Keary Colbert (2nd round draft choice, Carolina Panthers)
Notable Returnees: RB LenDale White, RB Hershel Dennis, WR Steve Smith, TE Alex Holmes, DL Mike Patterson, LB Lofa Tatupu, LB Dallas Sartz, DB Darnell Bing, DB Jason Leach.
Offensive Overview: The Trojans return an impressive display of skill players, led by the reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in Matt Leinart, and a mastermind directing the system in offensive coordinator Norm Chow. At their disposal will be a trio of running backs in Reggie Bush, Hershel Dennis and LenDale White who combine with different skills when each is in the game but the fullback spot will break in a new starter as Brandon Hancock misses at least part of the season with injury. A pair of talented tight ends return from injury in Alex Holmes and Dominique Byrd and both have performed well in summer drills. The eligibility status of Mike Williams will have a big impact on the receiver spot although Steve Smith is ready to establish himself as a star no matter who else is in the lineup. A big key for the success of offense will be the development of the line as the Trojans could replace as many as four starters from last season. Look for Chow to utilize a lot of quick throws to help take the pressure off his line and put the ball in the hands of his talented playmakers in the open field. In Leinart the Trojans have a quarterback who knows the Chow system extremely well and Matt will be counted on once again to simply guide the offense in an efficient manner.
Defensive Overview: This unit has a chance to be one of the best in college football this year with a talented group at linebacker, a pair of honors candidates up front and an experienced group in the secondary. Groots, Tatupu and Sartz are three instinctive players who know how to find the football and they are backed up by a terrific group of reserves. Cody is one of the elite linemen in the nation and he will likely move from tackle to end for his senior year while Patterson will stay put as one of the quickest nose guards around. Bing and Leach lead the safety spot while a host of players will fight for playing time at corner. Pete Carroll returns to call the shots on defense and in his three years at USC it's been made clear that his defensive mind is at another level as it relates to the college game. We're starting to see the defense evolve with players that have been recruited by Pete Carroll to fit his system. It's impressive when you consider what Carroll has done in recent years (nine sacks in one game against Michigan!) and that level of play should only improve as he continues to put the pieces of his puzzle together. We've got a nice blend of players who can run but who will also hit you and that style of play certainly mirrors the image of their coach. With Carroll running the show the 2004 USC defense figures to show more of the stifling and dominating play that we've grown accustomed to seeing in recent years.
Special Teams Overview: The Trojans are in excellent shape for special teams this season with Thomas Malone, who many consider to be the top punter in the country, an experienced kicker in Ryan Killeen and a top flight return man in Bush who will handle both kickoff and punt returns. We should also see improved coverage and return teams due to the available talent on the roster, particularly at linebacker where key special teams performers are often found. If the snapper position can be settled in a positive fashion the special teams will be a strength for the team in 2004.
USC will win the national championship if... they can stay healthy and maintain their focus throughout the season. The Trojan program is performing at a high level right now under Carroll and a slot in the title game is certainly within their reach.
|2004 WASHINGTON HUSKIES|
|Author: David Samek, Dawgman.com|
Last Season's Record: 6-6 (4-4, T-6th in Pac-10)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2002 Sun Bowl (34-24 loss to Purdue)
Key matchup(s): Sept. 18 UCLA (ABC), Sept. 25 @Notre Dame (NBC), Oct. 30 @Oregon, Nov. 20 @WSU (ABC).
Star Power: OT Khalif Barnes, 6-6 300 senior, WR Charles Frederick 6-0 195 senior, FB Zach Tuiasosopo, 6-2 250 senior, CB Derrick Johnson 6-0 190 senior.
Notable Additions: S Dashon Goldson 6-2 204 JC transfer, DE Greyson Gunheim 6-6 230 Analy HS, CA.
Notable Subtractions: QB Cody Pickett, WR Reggie Williams, DT Terry Johnson, all drafted by NFL teams.
Notable Returnees: TB Kenny James 5-10 215 soph, WR Corey Williams 6-2 200 soph, OG Clayton Walker 6-4 290 soph, TE Joe Toledo 6-7 285 junior, LB Joe Lobendahn 5-10 230 senior, DT Manase Hopoi 6-5 280 senior.
Offensive Overview: The offense will be much different than the 2003 version. The quarterback, whomever that may be, will be asked to become more of a threat on the ground. He will take some snaps out of the shotgun and also be able to run down the line on the option. The line will need to be retooled significantly, and Washington will need Tusi Sa'au and Robin Meadow to return to health. There is little proven depth behind the five starters. TE Joe Toledo is a threat but his back has kept him out of significant action. Charles "ET" Frederick could be the finest receiver in the conference and the Huskies will find ways to get him the ball whether it is on reverses, screens, bombs, or returns.
Kenny James will be the featured back in the rushing attack and excels between the tackles. When the Huskies want to quicken the pace, they hand the ball to Shelton Sampson. The sophomore runs a sub-4.4 in the 40 and has a nose for the end zone. Fullback Zach Tuiasosopo could be the best in the Pac-10.
Defensive Overview: The defense is undersized. Losing Terry 'Tank' Johnson to the NFL early hurts, but Manase Hopoi has beefed up and will be tried inside at Tank's spot. Donnie Mateaki is now a chiseled 295. Mike Mapu and Dan Milsten are capable but need some experience. Either Brandon Ala or Ty Eriks will need to emerge as a pass rush guy, or true freshman Greyson Gunheim will be asked to fill the role. The linebackers are small as well but quick. Evan Benjamin's move from safety should bolster depth. The secondary looks solid with the addition of Goldson, and Derrick Johnson has proven to be a ball hawk from his cornerback position.
The key to the defense will be how aggressive the secondary can be in man coverage. The corners are a real strength, as Johnson earned all-Pac 10 honors two years in a row and fellow senior Sam Cunningham is solid on the other side. Safety Jimmy Newell provides good coverage from his free safety position, but the Huskies really need Goldson to step into the head hunter role at the other safety spot in order to make things gel and allow the front seven to attack and get up field.
Special Teams Overview: Charles Frederick will return both punts and kickoffs, and is a threat every time he touches the ball. Evan Knudson returns as the main placekicker and had a solid spring. Sean Douglas won the punting job and showed a big, albeit inconsistent, leg.
The Huskies can win eight games this season if... they can avoid injuries on the lines. On offense, they are talented up front on the first team, but very green and young behind them. The running game should improve but a brand new quarterback will be asked to not lose games. The defense will be more aggressive under Phil Snow, but will need to show that they are not so undersized that teams can smash mouth them to death.
|2004 WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS|
|Author: Barry Bolton, Cougfan.com|
Last Season's Record: 10-3 (6-2, 2nd in Pac-10, AP No. 9, ESPN/USA Today No. 9)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2003 Holiday Bowl (28-20 win over No. 5 Texas)
Key matchup(s): Sept. 11 Colorado (Seattle), ABC; Oct. 9 Oregon, TBA; Oct. 30 USC, ABC; Nov. 20 Washington, ABC.
Star Power: LB Will Derting, 6-0 237 junior; OT Calvin Armstrong, 6-7 311 senior; RB Chris Bruhn, 6-3 215 senior; DE Adam Braidwood, 6-5 264 junior; OT Sam Lightbody, 6-9 319 senior; TE Troy Bienemann, 6-5 252 junior
Notable Additions: WR Michael Bumpus, 6-0 190 freshman, Culver City HS, CA; WR Greg Prator, 6-3 200 junior; WR Tramaine Murray, 5-10 172 junior, OL Andy Roof, 6-4 305, East Valley HS, Spokane,WA; RB Jerome Harrison, 5-11 190 junior; CB Tyron Brackenridge, 5-11 180 junior, LB Jed Collins, 6-2 231 freshman, Mission Viejo HS, CA
Notable Subtractions: S Erik Coleman, DE D.D. Acholonu, CB Jason David, QB Matt Kegel, WR Devard Darling, OL Josh Parrish; all with NFL teams. LB Don Jackson; graduated.
Notable Returnees: QB Josh Swogger, 6-5 238 sophomore; CB Karl Paymah, 6-0 200 senior; DT Steve Cook, 6-3 293 senior; LB Scott Davis, 5-10 225 sophomore; C Nick Mihlhauser, 6-3 287 junior; OL Riley Fitt-Chappell, 6-6 314 junior; P Kyle Basler, 6-3 235 junior
Offensive Overview: The steakeaters are again expected to be the strength on offense. Tackles Calvin Armstrong and Sam Lightbody anchor a veteran line; Nick Mihlhauser had a near-flawless Spring. Riley Fitt-Chappell ably filled in his first two years; seeing action in 23 games with 9 career starts. Either Bobby Byrd/Patrick Afif claims the remaining guard spot. Sean O'Connor also prominently figures in the mix. Unit should be more consistent in their 2nd year under line coach George Yarno.
The running game holds considerable promise. With a year of seasoning and now *healthy, Chris Bruhn's speed and power should pay dividends. Allen Thompson has shown glimpses of talent, but injuries have curtailed career to date. JUCO transfer Jerome Harrison and Kevin McCall each have the skills to earn quality time. The last ten years the Cougs have been remarkably balanced; they've actually run more than they've thrown it. That trend should continue in 2004.
Josh Swogger displayed both flashes of brilliance and inconsistency in '03. Fearless in the pocket, he has a cannon, great feet and moves exceedingly well for a man his size. Alex Brink pushed Swogger this Spring; the freshman looks capable if called upon.. but Swogger is only the second sophomore in program history to be named a team captain. He enters Fall camp as the No. 1.
Wide receiver has question marks headed into camp. A breakout performer as a true freshman, Chris Jordan is coming off a torn ACL. Jason Hill, a phenomenal athlete, lines up at SE while Marty Martin's terrific Spring earns him the slot. Greg Prator and Tramaine Murray should both earn significant time along with quick, elusive Trandon Harvey. Thomas Ostrander lends needed depth. Troy Bienemann and Cody Boyd are among the top TEs in the conference. Jesse Taylor and O'Connor could also be prominently featured at tight end.
Defensive Overview: The defense loses nine starters.. yet a veteran unit remains. Will Derting, one of the best linebackers in the nation, moves to MLB. Scott Davis and Pat Bennett man the outside; both have considerable experience. Bennett begins his senior season having seen action in 35 games for the Cougs. Davis was tearing it up before injuries slowed him the final third of '03. Steve Dildine and Brian Hall are both making very strong bids to be key players on a formidable linebacking corps.
Defensive end is deep; Adam Braidwood and Mkristo Bruce the starters. Matt Mullenix, Paul Stevens, pass rushing specialist Reyshawn Bobo and Adam West could all see significant time in rotation. Depth at Defensive tackle is a concern. Steve Cook is a force but will need to stay healthy. Ropati Pitoitua will have to gain experience fast if the Cougs are going to get the necessary push and clog up the middle. Aaron Johnson, Odell Howard could be part of a rotation with Pitoitua; All will have to excel if the Cougs are going to be effective up front.
CB Karl Paymah played lights out for most of 2003; he has the ability to be a lock down, All Pac-10 corner. A very strong Spring earned Alex Teems the start on the opposite island. Hamza Abdullah and Jeremy Bohannon move into starting roles at Safety after playing in crunch time throughout the past two seasons; together they have 66 games of experience all told. Don Turner, Omowale Dada, JC transfer Tyron Brackenridge, Husain Abdullah, Eric Frampton and Christian Bass all have the potential for plenty of minutes in various packages.
Special Teams Overview: Murray will return both punts and kickoffs; the JUCO transfer benefiting from last year's redshirt season. Kyle Basler returns and is among the top punters in the nation. Graham Siderius adds placekicking to his kickoff duties; has a huge leg but needs to become more consistent. Boyd stretched his 6-8 frame to block three kicks last year and Dada was always around the ball. The Cougs’ coverage teams improved markedly throughout 2003; ST and RB coach Kelly Skipper again has at his disposal a number of hats who will fly to the football.
The Cougars go bowling for the fourth straight year if... the defensive tackles perform and the running game hits its stride early. Defensive coordinator Robb Akey likes to rotate.. and attack. But the personnel must perform before he turns them loose. The unit to date has shown both the swagger and talent to win games by smacking their opponent in the mouth. Offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller's unit must limit penalties; which plagued the '03 squad. The line should better open holes and give Swogger time; the talent is in place to do both. Swogger and the wideouts should find their groove early with a more consistent running attack. (*Bruhn played the entire season with a hernia last year.) A strong start is important; early schedule sets up favorably and Cougs get some tough opponents at home. Led by Hamza Abdullah and others, nearly every scholarship player and key walk-on stayed in Pullman over the summer to work out as a team.