The Rest Of The Pacific-10

With Arizona and Washington State opening the season with wins, the Pac-10 football season is officially under way. Here's a look around the conference to see what you might expect from the teams Washington will be competing with to defend their Pac-10 crown.


ARIZONA

Head Coach John Mackovic

1ST YEAR | 1-0

The Wildcats axed Dick Tomey and brought in head coach John Mackovic, who will have to find a capable quarterback. Junior quarterback Jason Johnson got the nod in the opener and while he looked good on occasion, I'm not sure he's a Pac-10 caliber quarterback. QB John Rattay, a transfer from Tennessee, has been an early disappointment. Freshman Nic Costa from Aloha, Oregon could get a chance. Junior receiver Bobby Wade is one of the most underrated players in the conference and is a threat every time he touches the ball. Clarence Farmer is an up-and-coming bruiser running back and is only a sophomore. He carried the load in the Wildcat opener. On defense, the Wildcats' have the best linebacker in the conference in junior Lance Briggs, who had 113 tackles as a sophomore. Defensive tackle Keoni Frasier is a three-year starter and leads a deep defensive line. The cornerback duo of sophomore Michael Jolivette and senior Jermaine Chatman is a solid tandem. An easy early schedule may help Mackovic get his sea legs. With a 1-0 record, the ‘Cats will host Idaho next Saturday.



ARIZONA STATE

Head Coach Dirk Koetter

1ST YEAR | 0-0

New head coach Dirk Koetter brings with him a high-powered offense from his days at Boise State. The problem is that he may not have the quarterback to run his system as Bart Hendricks did for him at BSU. Sophomore Jeff Krohn recently beat out red-shirt freshman Andrew Walters for the job, which doesn't bode well. Explosive running back Delvon Flowers returns to the backfield after missing last season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Senior offensive tackle Levi Jones is one of the best blockers in college football, and leads an experienced group of linemen. The Sun Devils lost tight end sensation Todd Heap to the NFL Draft in April. Deep threats Donnie O'Neal, a senior, and sophomore Shaun McDonald will likely see more balls thrown their way. The defense features one of the top players in the conference, Terrell Suggs. As a true freshman Suggs recorded 10 sacks as a freshman and pressured quarterbacks on seemingly every snap. Koetter also will have a trio of veteran linebackers, juniors Solomon Bates and Mason Unck and senior Eric Fields. Cornerback is a concern. They open their season September 8th against San Diego State.



CALIFORNIA

Head Coach Tom Holmoe

5TH YEAR | 15-30

Will Kyle Boller ever reach his potential? Once again, the Bears will have a defense-based team while the offense looks to get in sync after years of failing to consistently move the ball. Offensive coordinator Al Borges was lured from UCLA in the off-season and will look to turn things around for a team that finished ninth in total offense in the Pac-10 last season. Shifty running back Joe Igber, a junior from Hawaii, ran for 901 yards as a sophomore. The defense has no answer for the loss of lineman Andre Carter, who had 13 sacks last season. Also gone are Jacob Waasdorp and Chidi Iwuoma. Junior-college transfer Tom Canada will have to step up in their absence. Returning junior Tully Banta-Cain had 5.5 sacks last year. Blue-chip freshman recruit Lorenzo Alexander from Oakland, California could see time right from the get go. Senior linebacker Scott Fujita, a former walk-on, returns after starting all 11 games last year. The secondary is led by athletic junior cornerback Jemeel Powell and junior safety Nnamdi Asomugha. The Bears open their season today against Illinois.



OREGON

Head Coach Mike Bellotti

6TH YEAR | 49-22

Head coach Mike Bellotti returns after being courted by Ohio State in the off-season, and will have plenty of talent to work with. Senior Joey Harrington is the most consistent quarterback in the conference, and is a very capable leader. Maurice Morris, a junior-college transfer last season, was one of the best running backs in the conference with 1106 yards rushing. The Ducks are deep at receiver with juniors Keenan Howry and Jason Willis, and rising stars in Sammie Parker, Keith Allen, Paris Warren, and Demetrius Williams. The defense must replace seven starters and took a hit when junior-college transfer Junior Siavii didn't qualify academically. The production of Saul Patu on the defensive line will be missed. Senior Rashad Bauman is one of the country's best cover-corners while fellow senior Steve Smith is a solid starter on the opposite side. Special teams is a question mark with new faces at both punter and place kicker, and the loss of former special teams coach Tom Osborne to Arizona State. Oregon kicks off their season today by entertaining Wisconsin.



OREGON STATE

Head Coach Dennis Erickson

3RD YEAR | 35-33-1

The Dennis Erickson era reaches it's third season, and the hype is bigger than ever. Erickson must find away to replace three starting receivers and two top tight ends from last year, but top-notch talent and experience at quarterback and running back could make up the difference. Senior quarterback Jonathan Smith threw for 20 Touchdowns in 2000. Heisman Trophy candidate Ken Simonton, who rushed for 1559 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, will lead the offense. Backup senior tailback Patrick McCall provides no relief for opponents. Senior center Chris Gibson is the best in the country. The defense is led by cover-cornerback Dennis Weathersby, an exceptional student-athlete who can shut down the opposition's best receiver. Senior linebacker James Allen is a quick linebacker, and one of the conference's best. The defensive line must somehow replace LaDarius Jackson and DeLawrence Grant, who combined for 19 sacks last year. Defensive tackle Eric Manning, who last season had 13 tackles for a loss, is the top returner on the line. All-conference kicker Ryan Cesca returns. OSU opens on Sunday against Fresno State on the road. The Bulldogs upset Colorado on the road in their opener.



STANFORD

Head Coach Tyrone Willingham

7TH YEAR | 35-33-1

Seniors are everywhere on the Cardinal this season, and their experience will be the key to the season for head coach Tyrone Willingham. Senior Randy Fasani battled injuries last season but still threw for 1400 yards and 11 touchdowns. His backup, junior Chris Lewis, is very capable. The backfield duo of Kerry Carter, a junior, and senior Brian Allen will look to build on their 1189 combined rushing yards last season. The offensive line is experienced, led by guard Eric Heitmann, a senior from Katy, Texas. Kwame Harris is a mammoth 6-8, 320 pound sophomore who will look to improve after a so-so freshman season. DeRonnie Pitts, is gone after catching 77 balls as a senior. Seniors Ryan Powell and Jamien McCullum will try to step up in his place. Freshman Justin McCullum, the younger brother of Jamien, could also see time at receiver. Seniors Coy Wire and Tank Williams lead the defense. Sack leader Riall Johnson, who had 15 as a senior, has moved on to the NFL, as has Willie Howard. Replacing those two will be a key to the Cardinal's success. Senior Austin Lee will have to step up. The Cardinal will open their season next Saturday against Boston College.



UCLA

Head Coach Bob Toledo

6TH YEAR | 35-23

Head coach Bob Toledo has talent and athleticism at every position. After a disappointing 6-6 season, Toledo hired his fourth defensive coordinator in five years (Phil Snow from ASU). He'll look to implement more man-to-man coverage in the secondary, a shift from the zone of years past. The defensive secondary is loaded, with junior Ricky Manning at cornerback and senior Marques Anderson at safety. They combined for seven interceptions and five sacks in 2000. Senior defensive end Kenyon Coleman is the leader of the defensive line, and the 6-5, 300 pound Rodney Leisle is a future star at defensive tackle. Seniors Ryan Nece and Robert Thomas man the linebacking corps. On offense, Toledo has an arsenal of weapons. Junior Cory Paus completed 55 percent of his passes in 2000 and threw for 17 touchdowns. Senior DeShaun Foster is one of college's best tailbacks with a mix of speed and power. He ran for over 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. Backup Akil Harris is no slouch either. Freddie Mitchell left early to the NFL but Brian Poli-Dixon returns as the go-to-guy for Paus. Junior Bryce Bohlander is the rock of the offensive line, and will play on Sundays in the future. Kicker Chris Griffith and punter Nate Fiske were both second-team All-Pac-10 selections a year ago. In a brutal early schedule, UCLA gets to be Alabama's guest to open their season tonight.



USC

Head Coach Pete Carroll

1ST YEAR | 0-0

New faces hope to lead USC back to success. Head coach Pete Carroll takes over and brings with him offensive coordinator Norm Chow, long time BYU offensive guru. The offense will be led by junior quarterback Carson Palmer, who completed 55 percent of his passes a year ago but threw for two more interceptions than touchdowns. Chow's widespread passing scheme should benefit Palmer. Junior running back Sultan McCullough is the fastest player to ever don a Trojan football uniform, and ran for 1163 yards as sophomore. Receivers Kareem Kelly and Keary Colbert have speed to burn. Kelly caught 55 passes as a sophomore and Colbert grabbed 33 as a freshman. The defense will have to make do without Zeke Moreno and Markus Steele, two talented linebackers who've moved on to the NFL. The defensive line is led by junior Bernard Riley and sophomore Omar Nazel. All-world freshman Shaun Cody could also get a chance to play. Junior Troy Polamalu and senior Chris Cash, a safety and cornerback respectively, lead the secondary. The Trojans open against San Jose State tonight.



WASHINGTON STATE

Head Coach Mike Price

13TH YEAR | 64-73

The Cougars opened in fashion by drubbing Idaho 36-7. Head coach Mike Price has two viable options at quarterback. Junior Jason Gesser will start after missing the end of last season with a broken leg. Sophomore Matt Kegel, a cousin of former Cougar Ryan Leaf, has the potential to be a good one. At tailback, David Minnich returns. He opened with a bang against the Vandals, notching 127 yards on 23 carries. The 27-year old ex-marine also had a 30-yard touchdown run. Junior receivers Collin Henderson and Curtis Nettles will be the main options to throw to but the addition of hoopster Mike Bush has paid immediate dividends. He had four receptions and looked very much like a deep threat in the opener. The Cougars two biggest strengths figure to be the offensive line and the secondary, both units that return nearly every player. Center Tyler Hunt leads the offensive line, and the addition of freshman Sam Lightbody at tackle is a plus. Freshman Calvin Armstrong is huge at 6-7, 315 pounds. The secondary is loaded with speed and experience. Marcus Trufant, an underrated junior, and sophomore Erik Coleman are both small but can run to the ball. Senior Lamont Thompson is the Cougars all-time interceptions leader, and returns after missing last year with a neck injury. WSU next continues on their "Idaho tour" by visiting Boise State on September 8th.


Joe Kaiser is the Associate Editor of Sports Washington Magazine. He will travel to all home and away games to cover the Huskies this season. He can be reached at JoeK@dawgman.com.

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