The 2015 season isn't far away; we can see the light at the end of the offseason tunnel already. It's time for a quick Pac-12 knowledge refresher.
Here's how we do this. Every day features a new position group. We provide three evaluative categories and place each conference team accordingly: "Great shape," "Good shape" and "We'll see."
Today, we move on to the secondary and we start up North. And the moral of this story is: Hey, North quarterbacks, throw the dang ball.
This will be the strength of the Huskies' defense (slash, the main strength of the entire team) this season. Budda Baker, who has been seen all over watch lists this past week, could be just the playmaker Washington needs and with Brian Clay, Darren Gardenhire, Naijiel Hale, Sidney Jones and Kevin King, the Huskies can field quite the supporting cast. This is a team that will have its ups and downs this season, but we're guessing the defensive backs will be one of the only consistently up groups on this team -- both offensively and defensively -- throughout the 2015 season.
We're in a will-he-or-won't-he waiting phase with Charles Nelson at Oregon. Will he play defense? Or will he play offense? Will he also play special teams? Or will Oregon's utility man just decide it's about time he throws his hat into the QB battle ring? (That last one was a joke unless it really happens and then, you heard it here first...) At safety, the Ducks should be fine with Tyree Robinson and Reggie Daniels. Cornerback Chris Seisay acquired good experience last season. But that other CB spot seems to be a rotating door of inexperience and question marks. This group could be a big strength for the Ducks if everyone stays healthy, but if any of those top three players goes down, the drop from the first-string to the second-string in terms of experience is pretty steep. At the final CB spot, it's inexperience everywhere. Even so, Oregon has enough talent across the board to make the Pac-12 Blog feel pretty good about this group.
No one should be surprised to see the Bears here. The two safeties at the top of the depth chart are both coming off serious injuries. Backing those two up will be a former QB and a junior college transfer. But the safeties also got a boost in early June when Khari Vanderbilt announced his transfer from San Jose City College. He'll be available for the Bears this fall, but will be new to the system. The top corners are Darius Allensworth, Darius White and Cedric Dozier. All around the secondary there's talent and competition but there are even more question marks.
Like so many other things with the Beavers this season it's going to be a wait-and-see deal. Larry Scott is one of two defensive starters who returned to Corvallis, so that's certainly a positive for Oregon State but everything else is up in the air. Safety Cyril Noland-Lewis told the Pac-12 Blog earlier this summer that the defense's tagline this year is to "trust the process." So in that vein, we're going to wait out that process and allow the answers to present themselves.
The Cardinal secondary coach told ESPN.com this spring that the defensive backs are "growing up, slowly but surely. They're starting to know what to do. They're not brand new anymore." Correct. They're not brand new but they're still new-new, like a car that's two months old so it still smells like the dealership but there are plenty of gum wrappers and gas receipts in the cup holders. Added this summer to the Stanford secondary losses was Zach Hoffpauir, who chose baseball over football and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kodi Whitfield and Dallas Lloyd, both transplants from the offensive side of the ball, seem to be Stanford's best hope at safety. Elsewhere, Stanford will be relying on players such as Ronnie Harris, Terrence Alexander, Alijah Holder, Alameen Murphy and Taijuan Thomas. And of those five only Harris and Alexander have game experience. With the influx of talent from Brennan Scarlett, this'll be a year when Stanford will need the defensive line to over perform so that it's secondary doesn't get tested too much. Because at that point, it's anyone's guess as to what happens.
The Wazzu secondary (also, the defense as a whole) should be an interesting storyline this season. For as much slack as folks give coach Mike Leach for not caring about defense, he has acquired quite the defensive staff and new defensive coordinator/secondary coach Alex Grinch is making the blog feel like the secondary in particular could take a big step forward this season. But will they? As a team, Washington State only recorded three interceptions last season, so a step forward might mean it's still behind everyone else. But, a new defensive coordinator could provide enough spark to move this team a bit further than a single step. We'll wait and see on that one though.