The season is two days away, so let’s fire up a conference preview! More comprehensive previews abound, so if you want a rundown of UCLA’s secondary, you’ll have to check somewhere else. For this preview, I’m telling you two things: which player from each team I would want on the Huskies, and how scared I would be if the Dawgs were playing given team tomorrow. I’ll rate that 1-10, with one being an almost certain win for the Dawgs and 10 an almost certain loss. I’ll also go through the teams in the divisional order I’d expect them to finish. So I guess you get three things! Enjoy.
1. Arizona State
Player I Want (PIW): This is the easiest choice in the conference, because DT Will Sutton might be the best player in the conference. He’s one of the best pass rushing tackles in recent memory, and has a chance to win conference defensive player of the year for the second time in a row. That hasn’t happened since Mr. Steve Emtman. Sutton would fit perfectly next to Danny Shelton, transforming the Husky D Line from a bit of a worry to a huge strength.
Scare-o-meter: 7. ASU took a big step forward last year, and I think they’ll continue to move up. They have some issues, but they also have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. Taylor Kelly was one of the best QBs in the conference last year, and DJ Foster and Marion Grice is the top running back duo in the Pac-12. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish as low as third in the south, but I’m betting they fight off a tough early schedule to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.
PIW: Also an easy choice: Marquise Lee, the best receiver in all the land. Lee brings me to an interesting point in deciding on these players. The best player on a team isn’t always the guy who would help the Huskies the most. Defensive lineman Morgan Breslin, for instance, plays at a position of greater need for UW. In close calls, UW’s need wins out. Sometimes the greatness of one player far outweighs the utility of another, though. Anyone who would turn down a chance to see Marquise Lee on their side every Saturday is crazy.
Scare-o-meter: 6. As usual, USC has as much talent as anyone in the conference. They have three questions holding them back: 1. Who’s QB? Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are both expected to play on Thursday. 2. Running back is uncertain, with Silas Redd injured. Lots of talent here though. 3. Lane Kiffin is still coach. He’s a complete x-factor. Still, aside from losing Matt Barkley and a few others, this is a roster that was expected to challenge for a national championship last year. They could be a load if a QB emerges and Kiffin doesn’t sabotage them.
3. UCLA Continue reading