Monthly Archives: June 2015

Makeup of the Pac-12 North: Cal

Here’s the third in our series of posts looking at the Pac-12 North — which will focus on the California Golden Bears. (Disclaimer: I am helping Peter 71 out during the rest of this series, so I apologize if my style doesn’t match his.)

California Golden Bears
Who they lost: 
If old depth charts and articles are to be believed: Cal didn’t lose a lot, starters-wise, at least. I counted junior receiver Chris Harper (Left early for NFL and wasn’t drafted); senior offensive linemen Alejandro Crosthwaite and Chris Adcock; senior defensive tackle Austin Clark; and senior safety Michael Lowe.

Who they have returning:
Where to start here… quarterback Jared Goff, running back Daniel Lasco, receiver Bryce Treggs, linebacker Jalen Jefferson, cornerback Stefan McClure; Cal returns a whooping 18 starters from last season. So they are sitting pretty when it comes to having players who know the system and what to expect. Their offense, especially, could be one of the conference’s (and nation’s) top offenses.

Potential strength:
Goff might be the obvious answer, and believe me, he’ll put up gaudy numbers. But where would he be without his receivers? The Golden Bears are freakishly deep at wide receiver. It’s not just a numbers thing, either. These receivers are talented; a blend of size, speed, and play-making ability. Treggs, Trevor Davis, Kenny Lawler, Darius Powe… They will pose a challenge for every defense in the conference this season.

Potential weakness:
Losing two starting offensive linemen is never a good thing for a pass-happy team that goes four wide often. Having to ease in two new players at those positions could cause some early hiccups, if not all season. It’s not just a matter of keeping pressure off Goff, if the line can’t open enough lanes for the Cal running game, teams will key on Goff and the receivers, which could lead to Goff pressing and turnovers being forced.

Way Too Early Prognostication:
Cal is my sleeper team in Pac-12  this season, especially since they are in the very uncertain North division. They have a bevy of experience returning, a talented and very explosive offense, and their defense has nowhere to go but up. So I could see Cal finishing as high as second in the North. That said, the defense must make strides if the Golden Bears want to emerge as conference contenders. One thing’s for certain, that Goff and his receivers should be a heck of a lot of fun to watch. (RW)

Future’s Bright For Beavers Baseball

Sure, the Beavers’ season ended in disappointing fashion. After beating Texas, 5-4, in their first game of their regional, they mustered a total of two runs in losses to VCU and Dallas — and were bounced from postseason play.

But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that it was a great season for the Beavers (39-18-1) , one that far exceeded expectations. Picked to finish in the middle of pack, OSU rebounded from a slow start in Pac-12 play to win their last six conference series and finish second in the standings. It arguably might have been Pat Casey’s best coaching performance, yet.

He took a squad that lost a lot of production (Michael Conforto, Ben Wetzler, Dylan Davis…) from the past season, and was short on experience, and got his players to buy into his system and believe that they could win. Slowly but surely, the wins started piling up and the Beavers climbed in the standings.

Guess what? The future is bright for the Beavers. Even if Andrew Moore and Jeff Hendrix elect to go pro, the roster is loaded with talent such as KJ Harrison and Drew Rasmussen, just to name a few. Also, don’t forget players such as Jake Thompson and Max Engelbrekt, who missed significant time this season due to injury. Combine all that talent with the experience of playing a regional on the road, and the Beavers are primed for big 2016 season.

And if Moore and Hendrix return? Well, then OSU should be overwhelming favorites to win the Pac-12 and make it to Omaha. Fingers crossed. Either way, the bottom line is that Beaver Nation has a lot to look forward to next year and beyond. The Beavers have the hitting, pitching, defense, speed, and toughness to make a deep run in the postseason.

Back to Casey. I learned a long time ago that one should never count out a Pat Casey-led team. So at the beginning of the season, even when Casey himself was wondering out loud how his squad would fare, I believed it would be just fine. Still, I marvel at the second-place finish, considering how the Beavers battled injuries and inconsistency (especially bullpen-wise) this season.

That’s why I hope the rumor about Casey being a candidate for the OSU athletic director position ends up being just that, a rumor. While I have no doubt, he would succeed in the role (especially the fund raising part), Casey is an amazing coach and it would be a damn shame if he stepped away from a squad that has so much promise. But who knows, it also would be a great situation for someone like Scott Brosius or Andy Checketts to step into.

Because it doesn’t take an expert to know things are looking bright ORANGE for Beavers baseball. So congrats on a great season and can’t wait for next season. Go Beavs! (RW)

Makeup of the Pac-12 North: Washington Huskies

The second installment of my Pac-12 North Makeup series focuses on one of our more-hated Northwest rivals, the Washington Huskies. Some of you might know that I spent some time in the Seattle area (notice my use of a familiar jail stay term to describe my time in Tacoma) and having been around Husky fans, as well as watching the slimy Steve Sarkesian era, I have built a more than healthy distaste for the men in purple.

So imagine my delight, that after two straight years of beating the absolute pants off the Beavers, I get to predict what could be their worst season since the Jake Locker era. Below is a list of who they are replacing and who remains — as well as a hint at my prediction for them.

University of Washington Huskies:
What they lost:
I am trying to be brief in these sections for this series on the Pac-12 North, but honestly, this list is so long. Here we go:

Offensively, they lose every offensive lineman except LG Charles Dexter (who is a senior). They lose DiAndre Campbell at wide receiver as well.

Defensively, they lost seven starters, including all of their defensive line, all of their linebackers, and Marcus Peters, one of their best corners who had off the field issues last year (He was dismissed from the team). It is not just that they lost their front seven, but that they lost four players that went in the fist two rounds of the NFL draft last month. Danny Shelton,  Shaq Thompson, and Peters went in the first round, while Hau’oli Kikaha went in the second. So these are not your typical losses, these were exceptional players. Thompson might have been the best athlete in the conference last year.

What they have coming back:

With the status of QB Cyler Myles up in the air (didn’t participate in spring practices), the Huskies have one of shakiest QB situations in the Pac-12 North. That being said, any team that has a receiver like John Ross can score on any play at any time. The question is if they are going to be able to get him the ball at all, after replacing so much off their line.

Defensively, when you’re playing WSU, Cal, the ducks, Stanford, and the Beavers, I am not sure they match up well against anyone. Of course game changers like Budda Baker are always dangerous, and their recruiting has been solid for a few years, so the well is not empty at all in terms of talent.

Potential Strength:
Their secondary, minus Peters, is a pretty impressive group. Led by Baker, they have a lot of great players and play physical all the time. While they may have to cover a lot longer than they are used to, there is a lot of talent to work with.

Potential Weakness:
The trenches. While new players doesn’t always mean terrible performances, it does mean a lot of unknowns. So for now, it will be a mystery how UW’s front seven handles stout offensive lines like Stanford’s (who may not have lost much in an under-performing Andrus Peat). Boise State’s and USC’s. Heck, the Beavers return a lot of talented pieces on their offensive line that could be very difficult for the Huskies. Then you factor in how their linebackers are going to perform against confusing offenses such as the ducks, Cal, WSU and OSU?

Flip that to the offensive line and they are going to be going against defensive lines such as ASU, USC, Stanford, Utah — and I will throw in Boise State again. There is a lot of difficult matchups for the Huskies this year and with a two tough out of conference games (at BSU and at home against Utah State), and then a road schedule of USC, ASU, OSU, and Stanford, there are some difficult times ahead for the Huskies.

Way Too Early Prognostication:
Historically, you don’t make a lot of money betting against Chris Peterson-coached teams. That being said, I think he way underperformed last year with a pretty stellar, experienced team. Peterson has been wildly successful in the past, but he has never had to grind like he does now. Just ask Utah what the jump is like.

With all the losses the Huskies have in terms of experience and talent, it is going to take a very good coaching job by Peterson to get this team to a bowl game. If they do, he should be coach of the year. I can easily see them rolling into Reser Stadium on November 21 with three or less wins. Utah State will not be a gimmie, and Cal is one of my rising teams. Outside of those teams, UW has to beat (road games bold) USC, the ducks, Stanford, Arizona, Utah, and ASU before coming to Reser. That leaves only Utah State and Sacramento State as games I think they should win — and then there’s a whole slew of questions.

Because of the combo of their schedule and losses from last year, I have the Huskies near the bottom of the North this year. And by near, I mean at the bottom.