UCLA's 2015 season was injury-riddled and ultimately disappointing, but the Bruins appear to set up nicely for the 2016, if we are allowed to look that far ahead as we await the bowl games.
While they may be hit with a couple of early NFL defections, the Bruins could welcome back 19 position player starters, including QB Josh Rosen and running back Paul Perkins. That doesn't include defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Virginia.
Stanford and USC also welcome back a lot of position players -- 14 and 16, respectively -- at least pending the Jan. 18 deadline for underclassmen to announce whether they will enter the NFL draft early.
Measuring returning starters is often an inexact and misleading science. These "unofficial" numbers -- the Pac-12 will publish the "official" returning starter numbers in the 2016 media guide -- are based on late-season depth charts. Further, many teams list more than 11 starters on either side of the ball, or both. There also are guys who played a lot but weren't listed No. 1 on the depth chart, or starters who were hurt much or all of the season.
And, of course, a number of these guys are considering an early entry into the NFL draft, such as California QB Jared Goff, UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright. USC linebacker/safety Su’a Cravens was knocked of the Trojans list this morning when he announced his intention to enter the draft.
Still, if we were projecting division favorites as of today, UCLA would top the South Division and Stanford would top the North, though USC and Arizona have a lot coming back in the South, and Washington and Washington State could challenge the Stanford-Oregon monopoly in the North.
Here, by the way, is an early look at pending 2016 quarterback competitions.
*Arizona: 8 offense, 8 defense, no specialists
Arizona State: 4 offense, 6 defense, 2 specialists
*California: 6 offense, 6 defense, 1 specialist
*Colorado: 9 offense, 8 defense, 2 specialists
Oregon: 7 offense, 5 defense, 2 specialists
*Oregon State: 9 offense, 8 defense, 2 specialists
Stanford: 7 offense, 7 defense, 2 specialists
*UCLA: 9 offense, 10 defense, no specialists
USC: 10 offense, 6 defense, 1 specialist
Utah: 6 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist
*Washington: 8 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist
*Washington State: 8 offense, 6 defense, 2 specialist
*Returning starter at QB.