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College Hotline - Pac-12 football: A momentous spring

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    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    There’s no ideal point to preview spring practice in the Pac-12 because of the widely disparate start dates, which range from early Feb. (Arizona) to the end of March (UCLA).

    We’ve picked today for the Hotline’s annual spring assessment because it’s somewhere in the middle of the start wave and close to the end for only one team (Arizona).

    Also, because I finally had time to put something together.

    This is by no means a comprehensive breakdown of all the issues. For that, I’d suggest reading this piece from Ted Miller, the ESPN.com columnist who understands the conference’s small stuff and big picture as well as anyone.

    The goal here: To address three topics on my mind in somewhat rapid fashion.

    *** Topic No. 1: This is the most important spring practice in conference history.

    Overstatement? Not when you cast an eye to the start of the season.

    The opening weekend features USC-Alabama, UCLA-Texas A&M, Arizona-BYU, Stanford-Kansas State, Oregon State-Minnesota and Washington-Rutgers.

    Two games against the SEC, two against the Big Ten, plus BYU and Kansas State.

    Best I can recall, that constitutes the highest-profile Week 1 lineup in conference history, with huge ramifications for the regular season, playoff selections and bowl bids.

    The momentous Week 1 makes training camp the most important training camp in league history, and summer workouts the most important summer workouts in league history, and spring practice the most important spring practice in league history.

    So much of the 2016 season will be framed by how the Pac-12 performs in the openers; it had best be ready.

    That preparation started with winter workouts, but it ramps up with spring ball.

    *** Topic No. 2: The quarterback competitions.

    Not an issue for the Washington schools, or for UCLA.

    But both Bay Area teams, both Oregon teams, both Mountain teams, both Arizona teams and USC have a modest-to-significant amount of uncertainty at the position.

    Competitions on many campuses could last deep into training camp or perhaps into the early weeks of the season.

    (Note: I’ve included Arizona in that group because of Anu Solomon’s fragile health. The competition in Tucson is Solomon vs. his body.)

    The QB duels make for a high degree of interest in spring ball and training camp. But the league is better when boring – when the majority of teams have entrenched quarterbacks.

    And not only are the majority changing QBs this fall, but some are leaning on players who have been in the system for a short period of time: Transfers.

    I’m thinking specifically of Colorado’s Davis Webb, formerly of Texas Tech, Oregon’s Dakota Prukup, ex-Montana State, and Oregon State’s Darell Garretson, from Utah State.

    Even if we presume they emerge as clear No. 1s prior to the season, there’s likely to be an adjustment period.

    And again, consider that Week 1 challenge: USC will have a new QB against Alabama, Stanford will be breaking in a new QB against K State’s brilliant Bill Snyder. Same with Oregon State against Minnesota. And who knows about Solomon’s state-of-body when the Wildcats face BYU.

    *** Topic No. 3: Injuries.

    Hate to broach the subject, but it’s relevant.

    Four years in a row, the conference has lost a high-end wide receiver to a season-ending injury in spring practice.

    In 2012, it was Colorado’s Paul Richardson.

    Then Arizona’s Austin Hill.

    Then Oregon’s Bralon Addison.

    Then, last spring, Washington’s John Ross.

    All four had knee injuries.

    All but Ross suffered a torn ACL.

    Injuries are unavoidable. But the spring streak of major knee injuries to top receivers is a tad eerie.

    Let’s hope it doesn’t continue.

    The post Pac-12 football: A momentous spring appeared first on College Hotline.

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    by Jon Wilner

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