Pac-12 South Preview

Pac-12 South Preview

by July 23, 2019 0 comments

The college football season is right around the corner and it’s time to start taking a look at every power five conference before the madness is underway. Today, we will be taking a look at the Pac-12 South.

The Pac-12 was indisputably the weakest of the power five conferences a year ago and things don’t look much better in 2019. The south has a couple teams capable of greatness but don’t expect them to send anybody to the college football playoff.

Team: Arizona

2018 Record: 5-7

2019 O/U: 7

2019 Conference Expectation: Dark Horse

Many college football enthusiasts, including myself, went all in on Arizona last season, but were severely disappointed with a 5-7 season.  The Wildcats had a potent offensive attack that was never able to reach its full potential due to quarterback Khalil Tate sustaining numerous injuries.

The offense once again has a lot of potential, but the loss of multiple starting wide receivers will force Kevin Sumlin to get creative and find new options.

The biggest concern for the Wildcats however will be their defense. They had a tough time slowing down opposing offenses in 2018, especially through the air, but there is hope as

Arizona has the potential to have a winning season, but they still have a lot of questions to answer.

Team: Arizona State 

2018 Record: 7-6

2019 O/U: 7.5

2019 Conference Expectation: Dark Horse

Arizona State was a decent team a year ago and it looks to be a stronger team in 2019.

Five seniors will make up the offensive line that will be blocking for star running back Eno Benjamin. The Sun Devils will need to be effective running the ball because they no long have either quarterback Manny Wilkins or star wide receiver N’Keal Harry to power the aerial attack. There will be a quarterback battle leading up to the start of the season, but the running game should still be the focus of the offense.

The defense this year will be hard to predict because despite their struggles in 2018, they look to be one of the most improved units in all of college football. They started a ton of Freshman last season and that experience should pay off big time in 2019.

I’m not ready to buy them as division contenders, but they certainly have the ability to make things interesting.

Team: UCLA

2018 Record: 

2019 O/U: 5.5

2019 Conference Expectation: Dark Horse

Chip Kelly’s first year as the Bruins head coach was an absolute dumpster fire, but he has the chance to move things forward as UCLA will be returning a lot of players.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is back as their starting quarterback and hopes to stay healthy this time around. Their offense started to figure things out down the stretch last season and they hope to carry that over into 2019. Star wide receiver Caleb Wilson and offensive lineman Andre James are gone, but they will be returning  eight other starters on the offensive side of the ball.

Like Arizona, UCLA had a lot of issues on defense in 2018, but they will also be returning a lot of production with nine starters coming back. The secondary has some great up and coming talent such as Darnay Holmes and Elijah Gates and should take a step forward this year.

Fans shouldn’t expect the Bruins to jump right into championship contention, but they should at the very least be better than they were a year ago.

Team: USC

2018 Record: 5-7

2019 O/U: 7 

2019 Conference Expectation: Contender?

USC is the biggest wildcard in the division. The Clay Helton era has been quite a roller coaster in Southern California and it remains to be seen what kind of year the Trojans will give us.

Second year quarterback JT Daniels was a major disappointment despite having a loaded receiving core during his freshman campaign. He will need to have a bounce back season, but he’s going to need a lot of help. In 2018 the team was simply unable to run the ball and a leaky offensive line often left Daniels running for his life. The Trojans will likely be relying heavily on the passing attack in 2019.

The formula for success is simple on the offense, but the defensive side of the ball is loaded with question marks. The secondary has numerous four and five star recruits, but most of them have seen little to no playing time and there is virtually no depth. The front seven should fair better, but they will be relying heavily on sophomore linebacker Palaie Gaoteote.

If things go right for the Trojans they could squeak in to the Pac-12 championship, but a brutal schedule and dozens of questions make it unlikely.

Team: Colorado 

2018 Record: 5-7

2019 O/U: 4

2019 Conference Expectation: Dud

Colorado Buffalos had arguably the saddest story in all of college football last season. After a red hot 5-0 start to the season, the Buffalos completely collapsed, losing seven straight games to end the season with a losing record. Things won’t get much better as they come into 2019 with a barely improved roster and face the fifth toughest strength of schedule in the nation.

The offense will be alright with quarterback Steven Montez, but it doesn’t give us a lot to be excited about, especially with a very sketchy offensive line. The defense doesn’t have much experience up front and has pretty much zero depth. Expect them to sit in the basement of the Pac-12 South.

Team: Utah 

2018 Record: 9-5 

2019 O/U: 9 

2019 Conference Expectation: Contender 

The Utes are the reigning division champions and the clear cut favorites to represent the South once again in the Pac-12 championship game.

They took the Pac-12 by storm with suffocating defense that promises to be even more lethal in 2019. Their defensive line wreaked havoc in 2018 and will be returning the majority of their starters. They lost star linebacker Chase Hansen to the NFL, but received a couple high caliber transfers, including former Penn State linebacker Manny Bowen to fill the void. Their secondary, led by star corner Jaylen Johnson, is also returning three starters and should get their hands on a lot of footballs.

They will have some questions to answer on special teams however as they lost both their starting kicker and punter from a year ago.

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