Ninja Sports Pac-12 Football Preview
With the way things are shaping up, it looks a lot like 2005 in Troy as the Trojans are atop the AP Poll to start the season. Much like the ’05 squad, the team is loaded with talent from the top of the roster to the bottom. Resembling the players of the ’05 team are QB Matt Barkley (Matt Leinart), RBs Curtis McNeal and Penn State transfer Silas Redd (Reggie Bush and LenDale White), and WRs Robert Woods and Marqis Lee (Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett). As you see, the possibilities for this USC team are endless. The defense took a tough blow losing defensive end Devon Kennard to a torn pectoral muscle so look for T.J. McDonald and Hayes Pullard to step up big.
Chip Kelly’s high octane spread offense in Eugene continues to receive praise as they have averaged over 520 yards a game for the past two seasons. Redshirt Freshman QB Marcus Mariota has received the nod to start week one for the Ducks after an intense seven month battle with sophomore Bryan Bennett. Though Mariota is young, look for him to step in right away and make an impact taking over for Darron Thomas. While Thomas had LaMichael James to help him lead the offense, Mariota will have Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas to share the load. If the defense can hold strong for the whole season, USC better not blink because this team of olympic sprinters will blow by them if the Trojans aren’t at the top of their game.
The big question surrounding Stanford: Can they survive without Luck? Coach David Shaw wasn’t very enthusiastic about naming Josh Nunes the starting quarterback earlier this week. The offense that once relied on Andrew Luck seems to be focusing towards a run heavy style placing much of the load on running backs Stepfan Taylor and Anthony Wilkerson. Stanford’s strength is definitely on the defensive side of the ball led by linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov.
Washington has great potential this season with an offense run by dual-threat QB Keith Price. In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, Price is the QB who went toe-to-toe with RG3 in the Alamo Bowl last season where the two offenses combined for 123 points. Though RG3 came out victorious, it was Price that played the better game completing 23 of 27 passes for 438 yards and four touchdowns. Not only did Price throw four touchdowns but he ran for three more, accounting for seven total. Expect to see “Teeth” (as his teammates call him for his award-winning smile in interviews) in New York within the next two years as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. The Huskies may not win the conference this season, but they will be highly competitive and could play the spoiler roll for the Pac 12.
The main question posed by The Ninja: Will this conference play any defense? Last year’s numbers were quite ugly as half of the Pac 12 ranked 82nd or lower in total defense.
Games to Watch:
Sept. 15: USC @ Stanford
Sept. 27: Stanford @ Washington
Oct. 6: Washington @ Oregon
Oct. 13: USC @ Washington
Nov. 3: Oregon @ USC
Nov. 17: USC @ UCLA
Nov. 17: Stanford @ Oregon
Nov. 24: Oregon @ Oregon State
Championship: Oregon vs. Southern Cal
Ninja Sports Preseason All-Pac-12 Team 2012
|WR Robert Woods, USC||DE Dion Jordan, ORE||K Andre Heidari, USC|
|WR Marquess Wilson, WSU||DE Wes Horton, USC||P Jackson Rice ORE|
|TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WASH||DT Star Lotulelei, UTAH||KR De’Anthony Thomas, ORE|
|T Matt Summers-Gavin, CAL||DT Justin Washington, ARIZ|
|T David Bakhtiari. CU||LB Chase Thomas, STAN|
|G Carson York, ORE||LB Patrick Larimore, ARIZ|
|G Sam Brenner, UTAH||LB Shayne Skov, STAN|
|C Khaled Homes, USC||CB Aaron Hester, UCLA|
|QB Matt Barkley, USC||CB Nickell Robey, USC|
|RB Stepfan Taylor, STAN||S T.J. McDonald, USC|
|RB Kenjon Barner, ORE||S Marquis Flowers, ARIZ|
Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year: Robert Woods, WR USC
Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year: Star Lotulelei, DT UTAH