Ty and Dan preview the Pac-12 with CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman and talk about the perception of USC, the buy-in at Oregon, Kevin Hogan’s role at Stanford, the void left by Johnathan Franklin at UCLA, and much more.
Pac-12 Preview with Bruce Feldman (7/29)
Today on The Solid Verbal, Ty and Dan are joined by Mount Verbmore guest Bruce Feldman from CBS Sports to talk Pac-12 football, including perception of USC, the buy-in at Oregon, Kevin Hogan’s role at Stanford and the void left by Johnathan Franklin at UCLA.
USC – Bruce starts off with the Trojans, looking at why the program perception is down right now. He credits the downtrodden vibe from to the lack of a known commodity at quarterback and their soft play last season. Bruce also says in talking to the players at media day, that the defense needs to stop hurting itself and boost the confidence of the guys on that side of the ball. If the defense lacks confidence, the bad things tend to snowball.
Stanford – The Cardinal talk starts with the question of how dynamic does quarterback Kevin Hogan have to be after losing so much of last year’s vaunted offensive line? Bruce says a lot of people around the program think Hogan’s a budding superstar, but he doesn’t have to be Johnny Manziel this year for Stanford to be successful. Bruce also thinks they might have the best defense in the country.
Cal – The Bear’s former head coach Jeff Tedford is discussed and Bruce thinks Tedford’s demise was just him running out of steam after such a long run in Berkeley. Sonny Dykes brings a lot of energy to the program and already has recruits are buying into his plans. The problems for Dykes are he’s inherited a poor situation at Cal talent-wise and he’s being thrust into a conference that will have him punching above his weight.
UCLA – In a post-Jonathan Franklin world, the Bruins have strong assets in a seasoned offensive line and boast perhaps the best defensive player in the conference with Anthony Barr at outside linebacker. Bruce stresses that this is now Brett Hundley’s team now and they should be a formidable squad. UCLA will be tested early, as they have a very tough schedule to start the season.
Arizona State – The Sun Devils also has a tough five-game stretch to start the season. Bruce pegs them as the third best team in the South, and he predicts they will be a bowl team, a productive team, but not spectacular.
Oregon – Dan asks if Mark Helfrich has the Chip Kelly-persona to keep the program running as it has been. Bruce thinks yes and relays that he’s been saying the right things to the people around the program. The two things Helfrich has going for him, according to Bruce, is he’s got a great coaching staff in place and he’s inheriting much better talent than Kelly did when he took over the job, especially on defense. Bruce agrees with Dan that on paper, this could be the best Oregon team in some time.
Washington – Bruce thinks the Huskies will win more than seven games this year. He cites more experience on the offensive line and predicts a bounce back year from quarterback Keith Price.
Arizona – Bruce is high on Rich Rodriguez at Arizona. He believes he’s a good coach who will make this a top 15 program, just not this year. The biggest problem is that the defensive line is severely undersized. Add that to an already porous unit and it’s going to be another tough year for the defense. But, Bruce is confident Rich Rod will get good quarterback play and they have a one of the best running backs in the country in Ka’Deem Carey, so the offense should be fine.
Utah – The Utes have been sliding in recent years, and especially since joining the Pac-12. Bruce isn’t so sure about the direction of the program and thinks the grind of the conference has the team down. Bruce doesn’t see them as more than a six-win team.
Colorado – Is Mike MacIntyre the right guy to try and rebuild Colorado football? Bruce thinks so based on his time in the NFL and a ton of experience in the college ranks. Bruce also cites the change athletic director as a good thing for the program going forward. Four wins would be a positive year for the Buffs, but they still need to find a starting quarterback.
Washington State – Bruce thinks the Cougars are still a year away from winning seven-to-eight games, and this next year could be another ugly one. Mike Leach will probably end up starting four former walk-ons on the offensive line. This not only causes huge problems with the run game, but it’s a mystery s to how competent the unit will be protecting the quarterback. Quarterback Connor Halliday needs to learn to take care of the football if they want to sniff five wins.
Oregon State – Bruce says that the Beavers need to maintain in 2013 and slide up from a fringe top-25 team to a top-20 side. They have more talent than people give them credit for, but the big issue is the quarterback position. They need someone to take over the job, and if that happens, they should be able to hit seven wins in a very good division.
The show closes out the show with ‘90s trivia specially set up for Bruce, and which coaches and media members he’d like to road trip with.