Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Spring practices are over and the long, hot summer has begun, which means teams are doing as much now to set the course for the 2009 season as anytime during the year -- either positively or negatively.
So where does everybody stand, and how do their positions compare to before spring?
1. USC: The gap between the Trojans and the other nine actually grew. Spring questions at quarterback and along the defensive front seven were more than adequately answered. This is a top-five team and national title contender.
2. California: The only real question with the Bears -- other than whether they can keep running back Jahvid Best healthy -- is at quarterback. Lots of observers believe incumbent starter Kevin Riley did enough during the spring to take a decisive lead. But the question remains whether one of those observers is coach Jeff Tedford.
3. Oregon: The Ducks entered spring with issues at receiver and both lines. Receiver and the defensive line get checks. The offensive line got an incomplete due to injuries. But if Chip Kelly's Greatest Show on Two-Toned Turf is going to fly again, it's going to need some quality big uglies.
4. Oregon State: The Beavers have a lot of question marks -- even at quarterback, where they've got two quality starters. Injuries left some of those questions incomplete, though the receivers and defensive line stepped up during the spring. This is a top-25 team -- again -- if quality answers are found at cornerback and on the offensive line.
5. Arizona: The quarterback competition was encouraging, with Matt Scott appearing to earn a lead over Nick Foles. Coach Mike Stoops gushed about his defense. Things might be a little iffy on the offensive line, but the Wildcats don't appear headed for a slide after their first bowl appearance in a decade.
6. Stanford: Stanford is the only real mover in the power rankings, jumping UCLA and Arizona State for one reason: offensive line. (Are you noticing a theme here?) With 17 starters back, and redshirt freshman Andrew Luck being mostly spectacular all spring, the Cardinal appear very close to a breakthrough. And our hunch is running back Toby Gerhart will be back next fall, instead of signing a baseball contract.
7. UCLA: UCLA could be the surprise team in the Pac-10 this year. There are a lot of reasons to like the Bruins, particularly on defense. But the offense is, charitably, a work in progress. Quarterback Kevin Prince played poorly in three scrimmages, and the problems on the offensive line went unsolved.
8. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are much like the Bruins. Good defense, questions on offense, particularly on the line. And, much like the Bruins, if things fall into place -- namely the injured offensive linemen get healthy and play to expectations -- this should be a bowl team. The feeling here is there's little separation between Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 8.
9. Washington: It's been a tough run up in Seattle, but the most substantial whiffs of optimism in years are wafting into the (moist) Puget Sound air. Jake Locker looked comfortable running a pro-style offense, and the Huskies as a whole played faster and with more intensity. Still, they were 0-12 last year. Got to wait and see how much fairy dust Steve Sarkisian will sprinkle on the 2009 season.
10. Washington State: Injuries across the board made it hard to measure where the Cougars are at the end of spring practices, starting with quarterback Marshall Lobbestael. Depth is an issue at just about every position other than running back. Youngsters with little or no experience are going to have to play immediately at a number of spots, most notably on the defensive line. If the Cougars are going to move up in the Pac-10 in 2009, they need to stay healthy.