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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats football guide: Pac-12 Player Rankings

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1. Matt Barkley, USC, Quarterback

Barkley comes into the 2012 season as a leading Heisman candidate, choosing to pass on the NFL draft to try and win a championship. The 6-foot-2-inch’2”, 230- pound senior helped keep USC afloat during its two-year bowl ban, and now Barkley will lead an extremely talented Trojans’’s team that’s ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll. Barkley, USC’s first three-time captain, threw for 3528 yards, 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions last year.

2011 against UA
Barkley had a record-setting performance during a shootout at the Coliseum, going 32 for 39 with a USC-record 468 yards and four touchdowns. Arizona’s Shaquille Richardson9 dampened the performance slightly with an interception in the third quarter.
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2. Star Lotulelei, Utah, Defensive Tackle*

Lotulelei, a 6-foot-4’4”, 320- pound monster in the middle of the line, was given the Morris Trophy last season as the top defensive lineman in the Pac- 12, and looks to continue his dominance this year. The senior is projected as the top defensive line prospect in the draft and should be a top five pick if his stellar play continues. Lotulelei had nine tackles for a loss last season and one- and- a- half sacks, but his true gift is being a clog in the middle of the field.

2011 against UA

Arizona lucked out and avoided Lotulelei last season, but the Utes still shut down the Wildcats in Tucson, 34-21. This season, Arizona won’t be as lucky and the offensive line line will have itstheir hands full with Lotulelei.

3. Robert Woods, USC, Wide Receiver

Woods, a junior this season, had a huge year in 2011 and will try to build on his already high NFL prospects this year. Woods had 1292 yards and, 15 touchdowns and led the Pac-12 with a Pac- 12-leading 111 receptions in 2011. Woods stands at 6-foot-1’1” and was named to the All Pac-12 Conference first team as — he was the only unanimous selection.

2011 against UA

Woods was a key part of the Trojans’ record-breaking victory against Arizona last season, catching 14 balls for 225 yards and two scores. Woods opened the game with an 82-yard reception.

4. Marquess Wilson, Washington State, Wide Receiver

After recording Wilson is another talented junior receiver and his 6-foot-4’4” frame helped him to have a great season for the Cougars in 2011last season. He had 82 receptions for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011, Wilson is poised for even better numbers with new head coach Mike Leach. , giving him second team All Pac-12 Conference honors. With head coach Mike Leach now in Pullman, the Cougars should be throwing a ton and Wilson should make an huge splash during his junior campaign.

2011 against UA
The Arizona defensive backs caught a big break when they didn’t have to play Washington State last year, and theyas the Wildcats didn’t play WSU last year and won’t play them this year either. Wilson had a big game his freshman year though, grabbing 6 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown.

De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon, Running Back

Thomas is another player with limitless potential. Thomas had 595 yards rushing, 605 yards receiving and 16 total touchdowns in his true freshman campaign. Now that LaMichael James is gone, Thomas should get an even bigger role in the offense. The speedster also returned two kicks for touchdowns and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

History against UA

The Wildcats actually did a solid job containing Thomas last year, limiting him to 22 yards total and , keeping him out of the end zone. Of course, Thomas was seemingly the only Duck Arizona could tackle, as Oregon had 415 yards on the ground and James ran for a record-setting 288 yards.

6. Marquise Lee, USC, Wide Receiver

Lee may have been playing in Robert Woods’ shadow last season as a true freshman, but by the end of the year he had proved to be just as big of a threat. Lee finished the 2011year with 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot Lee made the All Pac-12 Conference second team and was the Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, along with De’Anthony Thomas. Lee gives the Trojans the best receiving duo in the nation.n and is a reason why Matt Barkley is the Heisman favorite.

2011 against UA

While Woods exploded for 255 yards against the Wildcats, Lee was “held in check” with 144 yards on eight catches and also had a touchdown.

7. Keenan Allen, Cal, Wide Receiver

The Pac- 12 is a conference of receivers in 2012, as Allen is another skilledtalented pass catcher with big year potentialand should have a big year. Allen, a 6-foot-3’3” junior, was first team All Pac-12 with 98 catches for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns. The one thing that keeps Allen below the other talented receivers in the conference is his lack of touchdowns, as the single-digit mark pales in comparison to his receiving counterparts.

2011 against UA

The Wildcats avoided Allen last season, and will get to again this season as Arizona again doesn’t have Cal on its schedule. The Golden Bears didn’t make a stop in Tucson in 2011, but their 2010 visit Tucson in 2010 though — in a sloppy 10-9 victory for Arizona — saw Allen heldbut Allen was held without a catch.

8. T.J. McDonald, USC, Free Safety

McDonald, who was selected to the All Pac-12 Conference first team in 2011, anchors a stacked talented USC secondary and was selected to the All Pac-12 Conference first team. The senior has both size —-, he’s 6-foot-3’3” and 205 pounds —-, and speed, making him a force on defense. McDonald wasn’t even the Trojan defensive back to be selected to the first team. as junior Nickell Robey plays cornerback at USC. But McDonald’s experience makes him the most feared Trojan and he’ll look to build on his 67 tackles and three interceptions in 2011.

History against UA

Quarterback Nick Foles and the Wildcats were successful through the air in their 41-48 loss to USC. But McDonald made his presence felt with two interceptions in the game, which turned out to be crucial in the close game.

9. Khaled Holmes, USC, Center

Holmes anchors the offensive line for the Trojans and could be the top offensive lineman in the Pac- 12 this season. Holmes is 6-foot-4’4” and 305 pounds, and will be blocking for Penn State transfer turned Trojan weaponfer Silas Redd, who gives the Trojans another weapon to attack with. Holmes was a second team All Pac-12 choice and he and Colorado’s David Bakhtiari are the only two Pac-12 offensive lineman to return this season.

History against UA

While the Trojans did most of their damage through the air, they did manage 114 yards on the ground. It may be hard to truly gauge Holmes’ presence in the game, but it’d be equally challengingpretty hard to claimsay the Trojan offense wasn’t performing that afternoon.

10. Kenjon Barner, Oregon, Running Back

Barner is another threat in the Ducks backfield and should have a huge season this year in Oregon’s prolific offense. While LaMichael James was the featured back in 2011, Barner still put together impressive stats in limited action. The senior had 939 yards and 11 touchdowns on 152 carries, averaging 6.2 yards a play.

2011 against UA

Barner contributed 72 yards and two touchdowns to Oregon’s 415 total yards on the ground.

11. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford, running back

Quarterback Andrew Luck is gone, but Taylor returns for the Cardinal, bringinghauling along his 1,330 yards and 11 touchdowns along with him. Taylor doesn’t have the breakout ability of the Oregon running backs, but the senior could end his Stanford career as its all-time leading rusher. Stanford is ranked No. 21 in the AP Top 25 and will need another big year from Taylor to stay there.

History against UA

Taylor had 153 yards on 22 attempts during the 37-10 trouncing of the Wildcats in Tucson. Arizona was able to keep him out of the end zone that night, but the Cardinal waseren’t really in any desperate need of anyfor more points.

12. Keith Price, Washington, Quarterback

When quarterback Jake Locker left for the NFL two years ago, people expected a decrease in production from the Huskies’ passing game.

Instead the sophomore Price put up ever bigger numbers than Locker — 3,0633 yards, 33 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. Price made a household name of himself for himself on a national level as he outdueled Heisman winner Robert Griffin III in the Alamo Bowl. Of course Baylor ended up winning, but Price’s 438 yards and 7 total touchdowns didn’t go unnoticed.

2011 against UA
Price didn’t have a particularly strong game against the Wildcats, throwing three interceptions. But Arizona was unable to stop former running back Chris Polk and the UA lost 42-31.

Honorable Mentions
DE Dion Jordan (Oregon), LB Chase Thomas (Stanford), LB Shayne Skov (Stanford), CB Jordan Poyer (Oregon State), RB Cameron Marshall (ASU), RB John White IV (Utah)

Pac-12 North:
1. No. 5 Oregon
The play of redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota will be what determines whether the Ducks can contend for a national title.
2. No. 21 Stanford
The defense will be strong, though, with linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov, and running back Stepfan Taylor will keep the offense moving.
3. Washington
The Huskies should continue improving this season as quarterback Keith Price returns after an impressive debut at quarterback in 2011. Washington could surprise some people this year, and if Price can play like he did in the Alamo Bowl, the Huskies could challenge Oregon for the North’s top spot.
4. Cal
Last season Cal finished fourth in the Pac-12 with a 4-5 record and it seems destined for the same spot this year. With the natural decline of Stanford, and the presence of stud receiver Keenan Allen, the Golden Bears should have a winning conference record.
5. Washington State
A battle looks to be brewing between Oregon State and the Cougars for the bottom spots in the North. While Washington State does travel to Corvallis, Oreg., for the decisive game, the potential for the Cougars’ offense to flourish under new head coach Mike Leach gives them an edge. Plus, receiver Marquess Wilson is primed for a huge season.
6. Oregon State
The Beavers mayfall to last in the Pac-12 North, but the game against the Cougars should ultimately decide their fate. Sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion displayed potential last season and cornerback Jordan Poyer has tons of talent, but Oregon State just doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as Washington State.

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