College Football Preview – Pac-10 Defenses
David Funk, a good friend and writer of the Fantasy Sports Network blog, put together a ranking of the Big Ten college football defenses. He was kind enough allow me to post his breakdown on my site to pass the great information on to you. This is very useful info as you gear up for the college football season, especially if you play the Sporting News College Football Salary Cap game.
“Now we finally get to finish up the Pac-10 rankings with the defenses.
Pac-10 Team Defensive Rankings:
1. USC – Starters returning: 7
The team is losing Sedrick Ellis at nosetackle, but they have depth and talent taking over. Fili Moala returns at defensive tackle while Christian Tupou will likely to start at the nose. Rey Maualuga leads the linebacking corps, and he’s got a real shot at being named All-American. Brian Cushing, a former Rose Bowl MVP, also is back. The secondary returns three starters led by 2007 All-American free safety Taylor Mays.
2. Arizona State – Starters returning: 7
Defensive ends Luis Vasquez and Dexter Davis return to form a solid duo. David Smith returns at defensive tackle, but new starter Jonathan English will have to prove to be an every down player. Travis Goethel and Morris Wooten return at linebacker, and Ryan McFoy is converting to outside linebacker from safety. Cornerback Omar Bolden and safety Troy Nolan return in the secondary.
3. Oregon – Starters returning: 7
The secondary should be solid with rover Patrick Chung and cornerbacks Jarius Bryd and Walter Thurmond III returning. Linebackers Jerome Boyd and John Bacon return, but Bacon could be pushed to backing up by Casey Matthews. The defensive line has depth issues especially defensive tackle. However, ends Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu are back as a good tandem.
4. Stanford – Starters returning: 8
The strong Cardinal defense is led by a great group of linebackers in Clinton Snyder, Chike Amajoyi, and Pat Maynor. Ekom Udofia is back starting at nosetackle after an injury-plagued 2007 season. The defensive line returns ends Pannel Egboh and Erik Lorig. The secondary returns three starters and are led by a pair of solid safeties in Bo McNally and Austin Yancy.
5. California – Starters returning: 8
The defensive line returns three starters, but Derrick Hill will take over at one defensive tackle spot replacing Mika Kane. Rulon Davis and Tyson Alualu will start at the defensive end spots. Zack Follett, Worrell Williams, and Anthony Felder are all returning at the linebacker spots and the depth behind them could mean they play more 3-4 schemes. The secondary returns two starters led corner Syd’Quan Thompson and safety Bernard Hicks.
6. UCLA – Starters returning: 4
Brigham Harwell and Brian Price form a solid duo of defensive tackles. Ends Korey Bosworth and Tom Blake will have to find some way to pressure quarterbacks this season, and that’s been a strength for the team in recent years. Hard-hitting Reggie Carter returns to play middle linebacker and Kyle Bosworth will play the strongside spot. The secondary returns one starter in corner Alterraun Verner.
7. Oregon State – Starters returning: 3
Ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris were great as third down specialists a year ago, and will play more this year with the Beavers rotating lineman throughout games. The entire linebacking corps is new, but they’ve had a good amount of playing time. Three starters return in what should be a solid secondary with corners Keenan Davis and Brandon Hughes along with safety Al Afalava coming back.
8. Arizona – Starters returning: 3
The defense will miss All-American corner Antoine Cason, and freshman Robert Golden will replace him. The entire defensive line has new starters and only defensive tackle Donald Horton has started in any collegiate games. Ronnie Palmer returns at middle linebacker, but Adrian McCovy may be the best linebacker on the team. Safeties Cam Nelson and Nate Hess are back in the secondary.
9. Washington State – Starters returning: 8
The Cougars have plenty of experience returning, but were not very strong on that side of the ball last year. The defensive line returns tackle A’i Ahmu and end Andy Mattingly, but depth is a concern up front. All three linebackers return in Cory Evans, Greg Trent, and Kendrick Dunn, but depth behind them is a problem. Alfonso returns at corner as does safety Chima Nwachukwu.
10. Washington – Starters returning: 6
Three starters return in the secondary, but two will likely be replaced at the start of the season. Mesphin Forrester will return at his corner spot. End Daniel Te’o-Neshiem is the only returning starter on the defensive line. E.J. Savannah and Trenton Tuiasosopo return at linebacker. The defense was one of the worst in the nation a year ago ranking 103rd overall in yards per game allowed.
Stud defenses: USC, Arizona State
Rising defense: Stanford
Falling defense: UCLA
Overall analysis: This is still a strong offensive conference, and USC and Arizona State are the defensive units that has the least amount of concern. Oregon, Stanford, and California have concerns along the defensive line, and could be very good should those units play above expectations. UCLA will have to find a way to pressure quarterbacks while Oregon State has good pass-rushers, but they’ve only been situational players. Arizona has too much inexperience in the front seven to be counted upon this year. Washington State and Washington had trouble stopping anyone in a loaded offensive conference, and it’s probably best to avoid them unless they prove otherwise.”