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    Jieret

    2023 Look-Ahead at the PAC North

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    Just as we did for the Pac-12 South (link), we'll take a dive into what I think the starting 2023 rosters for the Pac-12 North will look like, and take a VERY early swing at how those teams will finish based on said rosters.
     

    Reminder before we begin:

    • +1.0 improvement is assumed for all un-progressed players.  Any progressed rosters will be noted.
    • An in-position player will ALWAYS be used instead of any out-of-position players (OOP) regardless of skill (e.g. At center a 1.0/1.0 C will be listed ahead of a 5.0/5.0 G).  Potential OOP starters may be mentioned in the write-up.
    • 3-4 vs. 4-3 guesses made based on perceived fit of existing personnel.
    • Orange highlights show 2022 JuCo players, yellow highlights are true freshmen.
       

    :pac::pac::pac:
     

    :cal: California Golden Bears :cal:

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot   Defense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Nick Ellison (Jr) Scrambling 4.0 4.0   DE Jamal Dorsey (So) Blitz 4.0 4.0
    RB Zachary McFadden (Sr) Speed 4.5 4.5   DT ATH Adam Gibson Jr 2-Gap 3.0 5.0
    FB Lorenzo Shearer (So) Run Blocking 3.5 4.0   DE Sincere Brinson Fr Contain 1.5 3.0
    WR Spencer Sharpe Sr Speed 5.0 5.0   OLB Mamadou Holliday Sr Coverage 4.0 4.5
    WR Marcus Hightower (So) Speed 3.5 5.0   ILB D'Andre Phillips (Jr) Mike 4.0 4.5
    WR Oscar Burr (Jr) Speed 3.5 3.5   ILB Phillip Randall (Fr) Will 2.0 4.5
    TE Kahiau Alama (So) Receiving 4.0 4.0   OLB Dean Hart (Fr) Coverage 2.5 3.0
    OT Philip Engel Jr Run Blocking 4.0 5.0   CB Shaq Kimbrough Sr Zone Coverage 4.0 4.0
    OG Walt Anders (Fr) Pass Blocking 2.0 3.5   CB Nicholas Ragland (Jr) Man Coverage 3.0 3.0
    C John Eubanks (Jr) Run Blocking 4.5 4.5   CB Zachary Riggins (Fr) Zone Coverage 2.0 3.5
    OG Philip Barber (Jr) Run Blocking 4.0 4.5   FS Quincy Sterling Fr Zone Coverage 2.0 3.5
    OT Erik Oliva (Sr) Run Blocking 3.0 3.0   SS Joshua Parris (Fr) Zone Coverage 2.5 3.5
                             
    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot              
    K Patrick Kane (So) Accuracy 3.5 3.5              
    P Jeremiah Norris (Sr) Power 3.5 3.5              
    LS Jamal Grayson Sr Specialized 3.5 3.5              
    PR Rafael Anaya Jr Specialist 3.0 4.0              
    KR                        


    We start off with one of the more interesting teams in the North division as @noodlz2 not only gets to actually set his roster from scratch, but he'll probably have more decisions to make on the starting 22 than any other Pac-12 coach.  Step one is determining the starting RB; Zachary McFadden is the incumbent but 2021 JuCo Raekwon Elam is just as talented and provides a different component to his runs.  The Golden Bears will want to get this right - with eight of eleven starters having pro potential including long-time starter Nick Ellison and a pair of potential early-round pick wideouts in senior Spencer Sharpe and redshirt sophomore Marcus Hightower, the offense could do some damage in 2023.
    The defense, on the other hand, is a curious mishmash of talent (I actually expect Adam Gibson and Mamadou Holliday to progress better than what is listed) and youth that in an ideal world shouldn't be starting.  They'll have their moments, but those moments will be more spread out than Cal would like.

     

    Possible OOP replacements/battles: 

    Raekwon Elam vs. Zachary McFadden.

    3.5/3.5 C Leonard Ulrich started at guard in 2022 and could very well do that again in 2023.

    In the high-ceiling vs. high-floor debate:

    - DE/ATH 2.0/2.5 Tim Everett may get some run instead of Sincere Brinson, and

    - Last year's starter at SS, Stephen Rawls, is still around.

    - And we can't forget blue-chipper Chris Darnell, who pulled double-duty at placekicker and punter at the start of the season as a true freshman.  He could very well redshirt this year!

     

     

    :oregon: Oregon Ducks :oregon:

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot   Defense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Josh Allman Jr Pocket 4.0 4.5   DE Marquise Guy Sr Blitz 3.0 3.0
    RB Luke Cleary Fr Power 3.0 4.5   DT D'Andre Sample (So) 1-Gap 3.0 3.0
    FB Ashton Lowery Sr Pass Blocking 2.0 2.0   DT Lakopo Moli (Jr) 1-Gap 3.0 4.0
    WR Benjamin Solomon Jr Target 3.5 4.5   DE Golden Grigson (Fr) Blitz 2.0 4.0
    WR Gael Trujillo (So) Speed 2.0 4.0   OLB Jacob Gaines (So) Coverage 3.0 5.0
    WR Lavonte Cobb Sr Target 3.0 3.0   ILB Ryder Gruber So Mike 2.0 4.0
    TE Jack Booth So Receiving 4.5 5.0   OLB Mayer Emerson (Sr) Coverage 4.0 4.0
    OT Jadon Moses Sr Pass Blocking 4.5 4.5   CB Jamir Lacey Sr Zone Coverage 5.0 5.0
    OG Jayson Waller (Jr) Pass Blocking 4.0 4.0   CB Donte Terry (Sr) Zone Coverage 4.5 4.5
    C Brian McMedley (So) Run Blocking 4.0 4.5   CB Kayvon Harris Fr Man Coverage 2.0 5.0
    OG Roberto Goldberg (Jr) Pass Blocking 4.0 5.0   FS Andrew Thomas Sr Man Coverage 4.0 4.0
    OT Chase Huston (Jr) Pass Blocking 3.5 4.5   SS Taye Williams Fr Zone Coverage 1.5 5.0
                             
    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot              
    K Jeffrey Avery (Sr) Power 3.0 3.0              
    P John Schuler (Sr) Power 3.5 3.5              
    LS Omar Reynolds Sr Specialized 3.5 3.5              

     

    Despite winning the Pac-12 North and the Rose Bowl last year, I wonder if Oregon feels like they left something on the table.  A playoff berth was within reach but an untimely injury to RB Avery Dillard forced the Ducks to go pass-heavy, something QB Jason Baum and the 2022 Duck WR corps couldn't quite handle.  So in come three new offensive starters; two from JuCo and the third (RB Luke Cleary) is good enough to be mistaken for a JuCo.  Combine that with another year of seasoning for stud TE Jack Booth and an offensive line that boasts pro potential across all their starters, and the Duck offense will look much better than they did last year.  Perhaps they'll even look like a... blur?

    Beset case scenario they do, because the Duck defense is probably still tired from carrying so much weight last year.  On top of that they lost quite a few starters - including DE Donte Floyd who was a surprise declaration.  But their secondary is among the best in the conference if not THE best and their linebackers underwent trial by fire last year, so it's not like that side of the ball is barren.  The pass rush may have to come more from the interior line rather than the edges, though.

     

    Possible OOP replacements/battles: 

    The starters look pretty well entrenched in these spots, even true freshman Taye Williams - we've seen that @bingo415 isn't afraid to play the youngsters.  Expect last year's nickel back starter, Chance Muse, to redshirt as he's replaced by another true freshman in Kayvon Harris.

     

     

    :orst: Oregon State Beavers (Already Progressed):orst:

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot   Defense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Eli Sherrill (Sr) Pocket 4.0 4.0   DE Larry Swain (So) Blitz 3.0 4.0
    RB Jayden Frey (So) Speed 3.0 4.0   DT Erik Benner (Jr) 2-Gap 3.5 3.5
    FB Walt Eaton (So) Pass Blocking 3.5 3.5   DE David Rainey Sr Contain 3.5 3.5
    WR James Reed (Jr) Target 3.5 3.5   OLB Jacob Cotton Jr Blitz 3.5 3.5
    WR Kyle Stallings Jr Target 3.0 3.0   ILB Tony Ennis Sr Will 3.5 3.5
    WR Connor Priest (Fr) Target 2.0 3.0   ILB Nathaniel Brumfield Sr Mike 3.5 3.5
    TE Mason Hamm (So) Receiving 3.0 3.5   OLB Ronan Ulrich (So) Blitz 3.5 3.5
    OT Mason Hamby (Jr) Pass Blocking 4.0 4.0   CB Dylan Talbert (So) Zone Coverage 3.0 4.0
    OG Brody Harvey (So) Pass Blocking 3.0 4.0   CB Sincere Harris Sr Zone Coverage 3.0 3.0
    C Antonio Bolin (Sr) Pass Blocking 3.5 3.5   CB Daveed Lawton Sr Zone Coverage 3.0 3.0
    OG Johann Mendoza-Ibarra (Jr) Run Blocking 3.5 3.5   FS Adam Harden Sr Zone Coverage 3.0 3.0
    OT Nathan Baumgartner (So) Pass Blocking 4.0 4.0   SS Eli Woods (Jr) Zone Coverage 3.5 3.5
                             
    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot              
    K Elliot Ellis (Sr) Accuracy 4.0 4.0              
    P Angelo O'Brien Jr Power 3.0 3.0              
    LS Naiquon Lattimore So Specialized 2.0 3.0              
    PR                        
    KR Nicholas Fields So Specialist 2.0 2.5              

     

     

    If the concept of "P5 replacement level" existed, it would surely have the Beavers' logo next to it in the encyclopedia.  It will be up to @fusion82 to get them anywhere higher than that.

     

    The offense looks... okay.  Eli Sherrill is fine, and his starting receivers neither excite nor embarrass.  Redshirt sophomore Jayden Frey will surely do a good job carrying the mail for Oregon State and is probably the player I'm most excited for on this roster.  The offensive line can hold its own against most defensive fronts, but the elite talents will probably get through more often than not.

     

    The defense looks okay... for a Sun Belt team.  They're lacking in impact talent and getting old - the price they've paid for not having a consistent coach.  That secondary in particular is going to be targeted a lot - not a happy thought for Beaver fans considering the Pac-12 offenses they'll be facing.

     

    Possible OOP replacements/battles: 

    Nothing here that stands out.  Much like this team in general.

     

     

    :stanford: Stanford Cardinal :stanford:

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot   Defense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Ilan Downing (Sr) Scrambling 3.5 3.5   DE Byron Betts (Fr) Contain 2.0 4.0
    RB Jeremiah Bonner (Fr) Power 2.0 5.0   DT Kofi Hyde So 2-Gap 2.0 4.5
    FB John Mead III So Run Blocking 3.0 4.0   DE Shawntez Solomon (Fr) Blitz 2.0 4.5
    WR Aboubacar Oates So Speed 2.0 4.5   OLB Dennis Carlton (So) Blitz 3.0 3.5
    WR Jake Britton So Speed 2.0 4.0   ILB Jamari Amos Fr Mike 2.5 3.5
    WR Shia Golden So Target 2.0 3.5   ILB Mikeal Holman (Fr) Will 2.0 4.0
    TE Joseph Hanson (So) Blocking 3.0 3.0   OLB Alex Melendez (Fr) Blitz 2.0 4.0
    OT Robert Davies Jr Pass Blocking 4.5 5.0   CB Donovan Powell (Jr) Zone Coverage 4.0 4.0
    OG Lukas Pence (So) Run Blocking 3.0 3.5   CB Damani Driver (Jr) Zone Coverage 4.0 4.0
    C Victor Parson (Sr) Run Blocking 3.5 3.5   CB Hakeem Grey So Man Coverage 3.0 4.0
    OG Siaosi Louganis (Fr) Pass Blocking 2.0 4.0   FS Branden Bonner Fr Man Coverage 1.5 4.5
    OT Lenny LeDesma (Jr) Pass Blocking 4.5 4.5   SS Adalius Poole (Fr) Zone Coverage 2.0 4.5
                             
    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot              
    K Dominick Faulkner (Sr) Accuracy 3.5 3.5              
    P Blake Thrasher Sr Accuracy 4.5 4.5              
    LS Riley Lombardo Jr Specialized 2.5 3.0              

     

    Troy McMurray bought the Cardinal some precious time with his Heisman-winning play, eyes now turn to the precocious receivers he's leaving behind.  Both Aboubacar Oates and Jake Britton performed better than anyone expected (both had at least 50 catches and 850 receiving yards apiece), but can they do it again without TMac making magic happen?  Landing hulking JuCo tackle Robert Davies will help, but the answer might be to dial things back a bit and lean on stud running back Jeremiah Bonner.  That should allow senior Ilan Downing to act as a game managing QB instead of needing to win games with his arm.

     

    Defensively youth is served for Stanford; they only have three projected starters in their third year or greater and I expect two true freshmen to slide right into the lineup.  Coach @believer may have to trust his secondary to stand on their own while the front seven goes through some growing pains.  I mean, five out of the front seven projected starters are freshmen of some type!  Shawntez Solomon could be a star here if he isn't hampered too much by Furd's 3-4 scheme.

     

    Possible OOP replacements/battles: 

    Redshirt freshman C Uluwehi Seumanufagai (2.5/4.5) could push the senior Parson in training camp for the starting position.

     

     

    :uw: Washington Huskies :uw:

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot   Defense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Jake Davis Sr Pocket 5.0 5.0   DE Cassius Garner Fr Blitz 1.0 5.0
    RB Kofi Walls (Jr) Speed 4.0 4.0   DT Bruce Ellington So 1-Gap 3.0 3.5
    FB Louis Drummond (So) Run Blocking 3.0 3.0   DT Dominique Black Sr 1-Gap 5.0 5.0
    WR D.D. Dyson (So) Target 3.0 5.0   DE Antoine Dudley (Jr) Blitz 3.5 4.0
    WR Charles Kemp (Jr) Speed 4.0 4.0   OLB Jaden Grace (Sr) Coverage 4.0 4.0
    WR Felipe Flores (So) Speed 3.0 3.5   ILB Walter Daugherty (Jr) Will 4.0 4.0
    TE Eddie Curry (Sr) Blocking 3.5 3.5   OLB Solomon Wheatley Fr Blitz 3.0 4.0
    OT Patryk Lawson (Sr) Run Blocking 4.5 4.5   CB Kofi Dennis (Jr) Man Coverage 4.0 4.0
    OG Charlie Barker Jr Run Blocking 3.0 4.0   CB Richard Middleton (Jr) Man Coverage 3.5 3.5
    C Jeremiah Chapman (Sr) Pass Blocking 3.0 3.0   CB Daniel Grady Sr Man Coverage 3.5 3.5
    OG Logan Romano (Sr) Run Blocking 5.0 5.0   FS Aboubacar Ward (Jr) Zone Coverage 3.5 3.5
    OT Alan Robertson (Sr) Run Blocking 4.0 4.0   SS D'Onta Streeter Fr Zone Coverage 2.0 5.0
                             
    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot              
    K Caleb Giordano (Jr) Power 3.0 3.0              
    P Jayden Kruger (Sr) Power 4.5 4.5              
    LS Bobby Heaton Jr Traditional 3.0 3.5              

     

    Alright Jake, this is it - your last chance at bringing a division title to Montlake.  The Huskies offense revolves around their four-year starter, and Davis has talent around him - even if they aren't the same ones he had last year.  Farewell Davis Harley and Jason Ivy, step on up D.D. Dyson and Charles Kemp.  Thank you C Leonlani Ata, welcome JuCo G Charlie Barker.  Even if there is some feeling out to start the season, there's enough continuity and talent here that the offense should be able to carry most of the team load.  And it doesn't have to be all on Jake Davis' shoulders either - Kofi Walls should ensure that defenses can't key solely on the pass. 

     

    Of course I said that last year too about the offense, and it ended up being the defense that stepped up.  After the tire fire that was the Stanford game, the Husky defense simplified things and let their players play.  The result was a unit which showed a surprising amount of iron, giving up just over 15 PPG over their last eleven games (i.e. post-TMac).  But now they could start as many as four newcomers to the team.  While Dom Black projects to be a like-for-like replacement to Julius Mercer, D'Onta Streeter looking like the possibly the best UW safety since Darius Jones, and true frosh Solomon Wheatley should be a more-than-capable complement to senior Jaden Grace, end Cassius Garner looks to play earlier than the coaching staff would like since all-time Husky sack leader Jermon McKnight left early for the NFL.

     

    Placekicking could be a factor also, with untested junior Caleb Giordano taking over for the graduated Luka Jacobson.

     

    Possible OOP replacements/battles: 

    True freshman K Anthony Doyle (2/3.5) could play this year if Giordano struggles.

     

     

    :wsu: Washington State Cougars :wsu:

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot   Defense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Bradley Hassan (Jr) Hybrid 4.0 4.0   DE Quincy Hobson (Sr) Blitz 5.0 5.0
    RB Bill Hoffman (Jr) Power 4.0 4.0   DT Malachi Overton (Jr) 2-Gap 4.0 4.0
    FB William Seay (So) Run Blocking 4.5 4.5   DE Emmanuel Knox Sr Contain 4.5 4.5
    WR Luke Sikuli (Jr) Speed 4.0 4.5   OLB Cameron Maxwell (Jr) Coverage 4.5 4.5
    WR Maximilian Newsome Fr Speed 3.0 3.5   ILB Aaron Mathis Sr Will 5.0 5.0
    WR Raphael Perdue (So) Speed 2.5 3.5   ILB Christopher Orr Sr Mike 4.0 4.0
    TE Ezekiel Rucker (So) Blocking 3.0 5.0   OLB Justin Shook (Sr) Blitz 3.5 3.5
    OT Josh Amato (Jr) Pass Blocking 4.5 4.5   CB Darron Rucker Sr Man Coverage 5.0 5.0
    OG Kaden Huggins (So) Pass Blocking 3.0 4.0   CB Lawrence Colbert (Fr) Zone Coverage 2.5 4.5
    C Cooper Ferris Jr Run Blocking 3.5 3.5   CB Ian Gaston (Fr) Zone Coverage 2.0 4.0
    OG Will Groves Jr Run Blocking 4.5 5.0   FS Lardarius Braswell Jr. (So) Zone Coverage 3.5 3.5
    OT Victor France Sr Pass Blocking 4.0 4.0   SS Thomas Gay (So) Zone Coverage 3.0 4.5
                             
    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot              
    K Benjamin Gray (Sr) Power 4.5 4.5              
    P Lane Adair (Sr) Power 4.5 4.5              
    LS Bryce Holt (Jr) Traditional 4.0 5.0              
    PR                        
    KR Felipe Puente (So) Hybrid 3.0 4.0              

     

    When you see as few newcomers cracking the starting lineup as Washington State has, it usually means one of two things:

    1. The upperclassmen are really good, or
    2. The incoming class isn't ready.

     

    In this case it's both; many of the players that made Wazzu such a trendy division pick last year return.  With an experienced coach in @TuscanSota guiding the team from the get-go, chances are better that they'll live up to that lofty promise.  And they'll need to; there wasn't a lot of high-end talent in the 2022 recruiting class and only Florida wideout Newsome should start immediately opposite Luke Sikuli.  But the offense is solid really losing only LT Riley Greenfield, and the timeline suggests they'll can threaten for the conference in 2023 AND 2024 - if Tuscan can figure out how to maximize their potential.

     

    With six seniors and two fourth-year juniors, the Cougar defense is built to win now.  They may actually be the best in the conference with three possible first-round picks in Hobson, Mathis, and Rucker.  Unlike the offense the defensive scheme should be a lot easier to figure out; it's just a matter of coaching and fine-tuning.

     

    Possible OOP replacements/battles: 

    Receivers Landon Muse and Josiah Hopkins could be battling for the slot WR role - or even for the WR4 position if Wazzu wants to go more spread/vertical.

     

     

    Jieret's first guess at 2023 Pac-12 North order of finish:

     

    1. :oregon: Oregon
    2. :uw: Washington
    3. :wsu: Washington State
    4. :cal: California
    5. :stanford: Stanford
    6. :orst: Oregon State
     
    Sadly I currently have the Ducks again winning the North, although there's certainly room for the Huskies to supplant them if their young defensive players step up.  The Cougars certainly have the talent to go all the way, and if they can figure things out they very well can get there - it's a matter of how soon they figure it out.  Cal and Stanford are a coin flip, but I like the Golden Bears' offense more than I do the Cardinal defense.  And Oregon State... is Oregon State until proven otherwise.

     

    Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you enjoyed these writeups, and we hope to continue these periodic pieces as the offseason rolls on.  Until next time!

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    Fabulous as always, @Jieret!! Excellent write-up...I hope you’re right about the order of finish, but I don’t know.

     

    Really excited about this team!

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    Love these articles and how accurately you projected my rosters. The RB spot will definitely be the biggest question mark. 

     

    For my receivers Kahiau Alama might see himself playing the 3 more depending on the defense. Spencer and Hightower are going to be exciting watch this season as well.

     

    On the defensive side of the ball, Tim Everett will probably end up starting, but we'll see. Definitely going to have to schedule a game, or two that allow me to play around with my depth chart.

     

     

     

     

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    Great writeup! Got alot of youth all across the board. Hopefully my receivers with their experience help Downing out alot, to help take some of the load off Bonner. Defensively, my top two CBs in Powell and Driver are gonna have to lead this defense. Solid young talent. We may not be at the level we were at with TMac, but I believe (namesake intended) in the team, and we can make another push at bowl eligibility!

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    This is the season I built the Cougars to win the conference for. The pieces are all there to make a run at it 

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