The Pac-10 media in its pre-season poll picked USC to win the conference for the fourth consecutive time. <p>
It's the fourth straight year USC has topped the pre-season media poll for the Pac-10, and the most since Washington did it in 1990-93.
While USC was a unanimous pick the last two seasons, this year's poll, with four teams registering first-place votes, is more typical.
1. USC (18)...276
2. California (7)...247
3. Oregon (3)...229
4. Arizona State (1)...204
7. Oregon State...125
8. Washington State...96
Quotes from Pac-10 coaches and players:
Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham: "I'm excited because in this conference, quarterbacking is such a key ingredient, and we are fortunate to have Isaiah Stanback. Not only is he a great athlete, but he's a person that you would like to have leading your football team. His growth will not only affect his own ability that that of our entire football team, as well...Our entire conference is stronger top to bottom and our elite teams have showcased themselves very well in the past few years."
Washington QB Isaiah Stanback: "We are very excited and ready to improve upon last year. We worked very hard this past spring and are looking forward to the season."
WSU Head Coach Bill Doba: "At the beginning of spring, I don't think we were very good, but as we progressed we got much better. Our last scrimmage wsa very crisp, and we had good hitting. What we have to emphasize, however, is that last year we competed but we didn't finish. Not finishing is as much mental as it is physical. Defensively, we have to find a corner. Our linebacker corp is solid, but we are a little short on depth. The offense is the strength of our football team. Usually the teams that have experience at quarterback are the successful ones in this league and we have that."
Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops: "Our defense will be greatly improved, having nine starters back. We have three tremendous linebackers. Our offensive line will be much improved as we have quality players across the board that have some experience. It gives us great hope for this season because this team hs been doing a lot of work over the past couple of months. From top to bottom, I think the conference has a chance to be the most competitive it's been. It's setting up to be one of the best years in a long time."
Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley: "Our entire offensive line is returning, our quarterback is returning, and I feel good about the core that is heading into camp. We slipped a bit on our defense last year, but we were still tops in rushing defense. We have some outstanding people returning. Matt Moore has the ability, he has a great arm and is extremely tough. We went through some lumps starting a new quarterback, he was new to us, our system, but he made tremendous plays. We obviously turned the ball over too much, but my feeling is that through the year of experience, all the growth, he will have a good year."
OSU safety Sabbie Piscitelli: "I think the biggest thing that happened last year was that we lost that momentum. We beat a good Cal team on the road and we had a lot of confidence, but a couple of opportunities didn't go our way."
Stanford Head Coach Walt Harris: "The new stadium is going to add a whole different feeling to going to a game. There is not a bad seat in the house. I think from the standpoint of the conference, playing every team is great. But I think it's going to be hard going from playing 11 games to 12. The good thing about playing against a conference opponent to start the season is that it helps your practice, helps your camp, but the disadvantage is that it does go against your conference record."
Stanford QB Trent Edwards: I'm encouraged that we are playing all nine other conference teams, and 12 total, and hopefully a bowl game at the end."
Arizona State Head Coach Kirk Koetter: "We have 13 guys on the offensive side of the ball that have started at least one Pac-10 game. The big question everyone wants to know is what we are going to do with two great quarterbacks. I think a two quarterback system works, but not with Sam and Rudy. The guy that is playing the best will be our quarterback and the other will be the backup. Both of these guys can do the job. We have a lot of playmakers on our offense. We have seven different offensive linemen that have started. I think something like 86 starts among them. The key for our team is our defense. We only have four starters back. I was a little surprised with how Rudy played. I thought he would be okay, but did I think he'd lead the nation in passing efficiency? No. But he is a competitor, very tough on himself and he adds a dimension as a runner."
ASU OL Andrew Carnahan: "Either one of the quarterbacks can get the job done. Sam is always fired up, always talking, whereas Rudy is more calm, doesn't quite say as much but that could change once he gets more familiar with the system."
California Head Coach Jeff Tedford: "We have a lot of skill on both sides of the ball. We have a true test right out of the gate with Tennessee. It gives our team a lot of confidence to have Nate Longshore back. There will still be a tremendous amount of competition at quarterback, but it gives the team that much more confidence to know any of those guys can go in and get it done. There are certain parts of the spread offense that matches our talent very well. We are not changing our offensive philosophy, but the spread attack does give you the option to have two running backs on the field at the same time."
Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti: "We're excited about the turnaround we had last year and the positive responses to the new offense, which might have a bigger effect on the other side of the ball. There are two areas that are important to our success this year -- the continued development of our quarterbacks and at running back. Dennis Dixon is the starter heading into camp, but I expect Brady to push Dennis in camp and throughout the season. The other position is at running back where we have a great 1-2 punch in Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson. We have a very tough schedule starting with Stanford right away. We got to Fresno State and then come home for Oklahoma, so we will know a lot abou tour team in those first three weeks."
Center Enoka Lucas: "We hae all five returning starters on the offensive line."
USC Head Coach Pete Carroll: "We find ourselves in a position we were a few years back. Three years ago we lost our quarterback, a running back and many other key players and we are now facing those same issues again. The Coliseum is sold out for every game next year for the first time ever. What is unique about this team is that we have the culmination of three very big recruiting years, and those classes have a sense of what this is all about already. This conference is so loaded with offense, I don't know how it could get more productive than it's been, but we'll see how everyone can get better."
Center Ryan Kalil: "Losing a Heisman winner has happened to us before. We know we have guys that are going to rise to the challenge. I think one of the tings that has made us so great as a unit is our depth, but I see us being as dominant as before with the people we have coming in."