Pac-12 play is set to kick off this Thursday when Utah hosts Michigan (Quite the start, huh?). We thought we’d take a look around the conference and ask the tough questions facing each team, including the Beavers. We offer no answers, because sometimes it’s better to ponder, and other times, the question answers itself…
Arizona. Will they be able to capitalize on last season, which saw them make the Pac-12 championship? Will there be any hangover from their crushing defeat at the hands of Oregon in that game? How much progress will Anu Soloman make this season?
Arizona State. What will the drop off be from Taylor Kelly to Mike Bercovici, if any? Can DJ Foster make the same impact at WR as he did at RB? Will the Sun Devils avoid silly losses such as the UCLA and OSU games last season?
Calfornia. Can the Golden Bears be the surprise team in the North? What will Jared Goff do for an encore after a stellar sophomore season as one of the top passers in the nation? Has its defensive improved enough to elevate them to contender status.
Colorado. Has the defense improved much (if any) from last season? Who will step up to take pressure off standout WR Nelson Spruce? Can any of their running backs emerge from the pack and be “the man”?
Oregon. Can Vernon Adams excel week in and out against Pac-12 defenses. Can the Ducks defense withstand the loss of so many starters, including three-fourths of its secondary? What happens if Royce Freeman gets hurt?
Oregon State. Can any of its QBs complete enough passes to move the chains consistently? Will the Beavers talented group of receivers get enough touches to be able to make an impact this season? Can the Beavers, especially along both lines, stay healthy?
Stanford. Is this the year Kevin Hogan puts it all together and elevates him game from solid to elite? Who will replace the departed Ty Montgomery as Stanford’s playmaker on offense. Will Stanford’s defense still be strong after losing six starters to graduation and the draft?
UCLA. Is true freshman Josh Rosen ready to handle Pac-12 defenses and the bright lights of Hollywood? Will the Bruins’ defense live up to the hype as arguably the conference’s best? Can UCLA shed its “soft” label and play with the toughness that Jim Mora portrays?
USC. Not if, but when will Steve Sarkisian lead his team into a tailspin? Can Juju Smith fill the void left by Nelson Agholor at wide receiver? Will the Trojans handle the pressure that comes with being the favorite to win the Pac-12 conference and potentially contend for the NC?
Utah. Will Utah survive a brutal slate of early Pac-12 games (Oregon, Cal, ASU, and USC.)? Can Travis Wilson stay healthy for a fun season? What will the Utah defense look like after losing highly regarded DC Kalani Sitake during the offseason?
Washington. Will Washington be the worst team in the Pac-12? Who will emerge as their quarterback by the middle of the season? What is the morale of the team like in wake of losing Cyler Miles and John Ross, two of its top offensive players?
Washington State. Can a WSU running back gain 500 yards rushing this year? Who will it be at QB for the Cougars, Luke Falk or Peyton Bender? How will new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch fare?