Pac-12 coaching camp preview: Looking at QBs, DCs, edge rushers and breakout stars

Training camp begins this week throughout the convention and, admittedly, the event would have prompted gentle curiosity round Hotline HQ in previous years.

We realized our lesson in 2021.

The Pac-12’s abysmal early-season exhibiting, which included losses to Montana, Nevada, Northern Arizona, Utah State, BYU, San Diego State and Fresno State, underscored the importance of coaching camp as a device for analysis and positioning groups to win instantly.

Sure, there was a COVID hangover final season ensuing from restricted practices and video games in the course of the prior 12 months. Stamina and physicality clearly had been less than normal when September ’21 arrived.

But COVID wasn’t the only purpose the convention underperformed a 12 months in the past.

We noticed quite a few situations of head coaches selecting the incorrect quarterback: Oregon State, Stanford, Utah, Arizona and Washington State all began the season with their most suitable choice on the bench.

The scenario this month is susceptible to further whiffs in judgment, with seven groups prone to have new starters.

Our preview of Pac-12 coaching camp begins there …

1. The QB carousel

That wasn’t a misprint: At least seven groups are anticipated to have new beginning quarterbacks after an offseason by which the switch portal loomed giant.

USC is about with Caleb Williams, the Oklahoma switch. So is Arizona with Jayden de Laura, who’s coming off a formidable rookie 12 months for Washington State. The Cougars, in flip, have a alternative lined up in Cameron Ward, the gifted switch from Incarnate Word who can be taking part in in a well-known system.

The subsequent degree of quarterback safety finds Oregon with Bo Nix, the previous Auburn starter; Cal with Jack Plummer, who threw 492 profession passes for Purdue; Arizona State, which discovered Florida’s Emory Jones late within the switch cycle; and Washington, the place Michael Penix Jr., the Indiana switch, is our frontrunner for the job.

Meanwhile, Oregon State’s Chance Nolan and Colorado’s Brendon Lewis are returning starters who seemingly should cement their standing this month to earn the beginning spot.

That’s one other manner of claiming solely Stanford (Tanner McKee), UCLA (Dorian Thompson-Robinson) and Utah (Cam Rising) have returning starters and no competitors.

Should be an attention-grabbing month.

2. The DC overhaul

Far much less simple to evaluate than the quarterback competitions, however solely barely much less vital, is the large turnover at defensive coordinator.

Arizona employed Johnny Nansen, who spent the earlier two years on UCLA’s employees.

The Bruins changed Jerry Azzinaro, the supply of deep fan frustration, with Bill McGovern.

Arizona State elevated Donnie Henderson to the publish after Antonio Pierce escaped to the NFL.

New USC coach Lincoln Riley introduced alongside his defensive guru from Oklahoma, Alex Grinch.

New Oregon coach Dan Lanning employed Tosh Lupoi, a veteran of a number of Pac-12 groups and one-time coordinator for Nick Saban.

In Seattle, Kalen DeBoer introduced his defensive employees from Fresno State, together with co-coordinator William Inge.

Oregon State promoted Trent Bray to the full-time coordinator previous to the LA Bowl, so he’s not fully new to the duty.

And Washington State has employed Brian Ward to run the protection that head coach Jake Dickert oversaw final season.

All in all, simply 4 groups (Stanford, Cal, Utah and Colorado) are beginning 2022 with the identical defensive coordinators they employed in the beginning of 2021.

The velocity with which they set up and ingrain their techniques can be very important, and difficult. Starting defenses all through the convention are stocked with newcomers and inexperienced returnees.

3. Off the sting

From our vantage level, the realm of best intrigue this month (apart from quarterback, after all) is the state of play at edge rusher.

Why? Because pocket stress is crucial, as a result of the convention wants a flag-bearer off the sting following the departure of Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeau, and since the present pool of expertise carries fascinating subplots.

Is Washington’s Zion Tupuola-Fetui absolutely recovered from the Achilles harm suffered within the spring of 2021? If so, he has All-American potential.

Will the Murphy twins, Gabriel and Grayson, have the specified influence on UCLA’s stress era after arriving from North Texas?

Will Van Fillinger develop into Utah’s subsequent elite pocket crusher and fill the void left by Mike Tafua? What about Mohamoud Diabate, the Florida switch, or Gabe Reid, the Stanford arrival?

Where is the stress level on Oregon’s seemingly stellar entrance seven? Is Brandon Dorlus prepared for the position? Or maybe Justin Flowe?

Will any of USC’s edge choices, which embrace ASU switch Eric Gentry and former No. 1 recruit Korey Forman, materialize?

4. Top expertise

Our ultimate space of eager curiosity this month will not be restricted by place, system or facet of the ball.

It’s a broad seek for expertise … for Day One draft expertise.

In its newest rating of 2023 NFL Draft prospects, Pro Football Focus consists of simply three Pac-12 gamers within the high 32 slots: Stanford’s McKee (No. 17), USC receiver Jordan Addison (No. 25) and Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell (No. 30).

The scenario will change many occasions over earlier than April, however the Pac-12 seemingly has a paucity of elite gamers throughout all models.

Who’s the following Laviska Shenault or Rachaad White?

If breakout stars are to emerge, the primary clues ought to seem this month.

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