Spring look around the Pac-10

With spring practices getting started, our Pac-10 notebook addresses the big questions facing each team.

Updated: March 12, 2007, 11:31 AM ET
By Ted Miller | Special to ESPN.com

Will Arizona find some answers on offense? Who will win the QB job at Oregon State? Will USC find replacements at wide receiver? Our Pac-10 notebook addresses those questions and much more.

Arizona Wildcats
Spring practice starts: March 21
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: Offense. Offense. Offense. With 19 starters back from a 6-6 team, the Wildcats could have a special season in 2007, if they can generate some any -- offensive consistency. Enter three new offensive coaches, including coordinator Sonny Dykes, co-architect of the high-flying spread at Texas Tech. While all eyes will be on QB Willie Tuitama, who suffered multiple concussions last year, as he digests a new system, a bigger issue might be developing a run threat.

Arizona State Sun Devils
Spring practice starts: March 19
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: Hello, my name is Dennis Erickson. You are an underachieving football team. Now stop it! It might not be that easy, but the first order of business is for Erickson to rebuild the Sun Devils confidence while also making them tougher. He should start with beleaguered quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who suffered through a sophomore slump in 2006. Otherwise, Erickson has a lot to work with on offense. On defense, the Sun Devils lost five starters from a middling crew, so those holes need to be filled.

California Golden Bears
Spring practice starts: March 12
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: The Bears defense, which was surprisingly mediocre last year, has been gutted of its star power, particular the front seven, where three defensive linemen and two linebackers need to be replaced. While three of four starters are back in the secondary, Daymeion Hughes leaves a huge void at one corner. On offense, two line spots need to be filled, but the return of TB Justin Forsett and good young talent behind him should make Marshawn Lynch's early departure fairly seamless. Cal should be lethal throwing the ball -- all the key pieces of the passing attack are back.

Oregon Ducks
Spring practice starts: April 3
Spring game: April 28
Spring key: After finishing the season with a 3-6 run against Division I-A foes -- including a humiliating blowout Las Vegas Bowl defeat to BYU -- Oregon needs to rediscover its mojo. The player who best exemplifies this is QB Dennis Dixon, who lost his confidence and job at the end of the season. The offense needs two new linemen and a tight end, but it should be OK with a good receiving corps and TB Jonathan Stewart back. The defense has some issues, particularly up front, where five of seven starters are gone.

Oregon State Beavers
Spring practice starts: April 2
Spring game: April 28
Spring key: The headlines will focus on the quarterback competition between touted Sean Canfield and scrappy Lyle Moevao. It might not be the coronation for Canfield that many fans believe -- Moevao already has been compared to savvy former QB Jonathan Smith -- but Canfield is the favorite. Whoever wins, he'll have great talent to work with at receiver and with TB Yvenson Bernard. The Beavers also have voids at tight end, strong safety left tackle and two spots on the defensive line.

Stanford Cardinal
Spring practice starts: April 4
Spring game: April 28
Spring key: One key? Please. There is no area on this team new coach Jim Harbaugh will be satisfied with. He needs a new quarterback, there are holes on both lines and there is a lack of talent at the skill positions, though there is experience at receiver. The defense, which was terrible last year, lost its three best players. The key here is inspiring positive momentum for a massive rebuilding project.

UCLA Bruins
Spring practice starts: April 5
Spring game: April 27
Spring key: UCLA needs to replace three starters -- a center, a defensive end and a kicker -- that's it. All three departures (Robert Chai, Justin Hickman and Justin Medlock) are big, but the Bruins should challenge for the top spot in the Pac-10. The biggest concern this spring will be introducing coach Karl Dorrell's fourth offensive coordinator -- Jay Norvell -- and two other new offensive assistants.

USC Trojans
Spring practice starts: March 20
Spring game: April 7
Spring key: USC welcomes back 10 starters from a defense that was dominant a year ago, particularly late in the season. It welcomes back seven starters from an offense that rolled over Michigan's vaunted defense in the Rose Bowl. Yes, the Trojans, the likely preseason No. 1, are national title favorites again. The only significant area of concern is receiver, where Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett must be replaced. The offense won't have the skills of coordinator Lane Kiffin any longer, though, as he's taken over as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. That means Steve Sarkisian will run the show with help from new receivers coach and passing game coordinator John Morton.

Washington Huskies
Spring practice starts: April 9
Spring game: April 28
Spring key: The Huskies will have many issues this spring, but fans will be most focused on whether touted redshirt freshman Jake Locker grabs the quarterback job and doesn't leave any doubt who'll lead the team next fall. Or if his competition with Carl Bonnell will carry over into fall camp. Otherwise the Huskies need to find two starters on the offensive line, figure out a pecking order at tailback and replace two linebackers, a safety and a cornerback. On the plus side, all four defensive line starters are back.

Washington State Cougars
Spring practice starts: March 22
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: The Cougars primary concerns will be on defense, where first-team All-Pac-10 performers, defensive end Mkristo Bruce and strong safety Eric Frampton, top a list of six positions that need to be filled, including three of four spots in the secondary. And the pass defense was ranked ninth in the conference in any event. On offense, the return of QB Alex Brink and WR Michael Bumpus is a good start. A pecking order at wide receiver and tailback as well as two vacancies on the line and one at tight end will be hashed out.

Ted Miller covers the Pac-10 for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Ted Miller | email

College Football

ALSO SEE