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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

PAC-12 North Preview

The West Coast has never really been a focal point for College football. Sure, USC could always be a force and part of the national picture but that’s about it. Their games start after all the others have left viewers bleary-eyed. Lately, however, the PAC-12 has become more than just a tourist attraction. Last year the Southern division was “supposed” to do well, but they didn’t. Now it appears the Northerners, not sure they’re classified as Yankees, are set to shine. They call the battle of the Oregons the Civil War, and only Yankees refer to the War for Southern Independence as Civil, so I reckon they are Yankees. Damnyankees.

1) Stanford– OK ,really, did you think it was going to be someone else? Nah. The Cardinal stated off last year with a loss to Northwestern, yep, 310that Chicago Northwestern. Then they ran the table until they played Oregon, who eeked out a victory. The playoff committee is forgiving to early season losses but choking against Oregon did not help Stanford’s chances. Now the Cardinal appears to be the leader of the pack. They will be led by super- star, all-American, all-everything, Christian McCaffrey. He keeps his cape tucked into his uniform very neatly, and last year he came very, very close to winning the Heisman Trophy. He enters this season as the lead candidate. The offense needs to replace their QB but with this team, they just need a game manager that doesn’t make mistakes. Whoever the Passer will be, he’ll have an entire stable of returning receivers to throw to, and then, of course, when in doubt, throw it to Superman McCaffrey. The defense has to replace their star Linebacker, Martinez, but other than that, they have a lot of experienced players. This defense comes at the opponents all game long, they come fast, usually arriving with a bad attitude. They will be relied upon early in the schedule. Most of the tough games are from opening day until mid-October. Actually they have a very tough schedule, as in, WOW! They start off with K-State, then USC, @UCLA, @Washington, Washington State, @ Notre Dame. If they make it through that unscathed, this team will be for real! The defense has to play like they are expected. If they do, it could be a playoff season. Anything less, and it’ll be quiet Sundays in Palo Alto.



2) Washington– The usual top two spots are Stanford and Oregon, but Washington looks ready for a break out season. This is Head Coach 277Peterson’s third season and the team has bought into his system. Last year they managed a 7-6 record, but there was more to them than the record shows. The success or failure of 2016 will rest mainly on QB Browning. He earned the job as a freshman last year and, of course, made some freshman mistakes. His deep ball needs to become more of a threat and he’ll have to be more accurate. He’s got several stallions to hand the ball off to and he’ll have an experienced line blocking. So success for the Huskies depends on its QB. Defense-wise, they’ve got it covered. Their defense led the league, allowing 351.8 yards and 18.8 points per game. They have to replace the highly dependable Littleton and Feeney at linebackers, but they have good talent with plenty of playing time. The schedule is favorable. Not as easy as Michigan’s or Ohio State’s, and they don’t play Wagner. They have a couple of tough PAC-12 games and that’s about it. In all honesty, the “W’s” will either have the breakout they’re expected to or they’re going to be a smoking ruin. We’re thinking the best for them



2513) Washington State– The Cougs surprised everyone last year and put up a 9-4 record. QB Luke Falk became the star of the team and passed the ball so much his arm nearly fell off. Now he’s recovered and ready to throw the ball again! There are some writers that say the only reason WSU went 9-4 is because the PAC-12 had a down year and they expect them to fall back to winning only 2 or 3 games. I-I-I-I don’t think so. This team is actually far better than most people think and now they believe they can win. The offensive line is made up of returning veterans who will provide more protection for Falk, who will be throwing to a top notch group of receivers. They’ll move the ball fast, and score a lot, which puts a ton of pressure on the defense. The defense did not take anyone by storm last year. Mike Leach’s defenses seldom take anything by storm. They played better under first year coordinator Grinch, but giving up 4.9 yards per carry is not good. Granted, they don’t get much rest because the offense either scores quickly or turns the ball over, and then they’re is right back out on the field. If the defensive players worked out all summer long they should have enough endurance to play the season.



4) Oregon– “There’s trouble in River City!” Or Eugene, but the Music Man sang that about River City, Iowa. The trouble started at the Alamo 247Bowl in San Antonio, TX, when they had TCU beaten, but let the Horned Frogs come back in the second half and win the game in overtime. Now the Ducks are entering another season with a transfer QB. Think about this stat:- Mariota won the Heisman in 2014 and now they can’t recruit a QB to come up through the system? Something’s wrong. FCS veteran Vernon (that’s a tongue-twister) Adams did ok as the QB when he wasn’t injured, but he didn’t have the dynamics or explosiveness needed to run the Quack Attack. Dakota Prukop, from Montana State, and I like the Bobcats, but they are the Bobcats in Missoula, Montana, will take over and see if he can do it. The offense has to replace almost its entire line. The highlight of the offense will be Royce Freeman who ran for 1,836 yards last year. He’ll be good but not sure he’ll be enough to propel the team to greatness. Defense wise, they have to replace seven starters, but they hired former Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke as the defensive coordinator and we can all agree, he’s much better as a defensive coordinator then he ever was a head coach. He’s got his work cut out for him this year. Last year the Ducks went 9-4 and that seems about right for this year as well, plus or minus one either way.


2885) California– The Bears had a great year with Jared Goff as QB, but he’s gone and he took 6 of the team’s 8 receivers with him. So, not only do they have to replace the best QB Cal’s ever had, but the supporting staff as well. The offensive line returns mostly intact, which will be the biggest shinning star of this team. They have some transfer wide receivers coming in to take up some slack, Hansen, from Idaho State, and Wharton III, from Tennessee, but they are unknown qualities. The QB will be Texas Tech transfer Webb, who was supposed to go to Colorado, but got scared off by their returning QB, who was recovering from an injury. Defense was a weak spot last season. The returning starters will have more experience and it appears the Bears will have more depth on the d-line, a welcome surprise, to be sure. The schedule will not be forgiving, but the have the honor of kicking off the entire college football season against Hawaii, in Sydney, Australia, on Aug 27th! What a trip! Sydney is a great place, not sure how popular American football is there, but the Aussies should love it.



6) Oregon State– The first year of Gary Andersen’s tutelage was a disaster, they didn’t win a single PAC-12 game and they never looked 358comfortable with the new spread offense. But they never gave up, which was commendable, but wins few football games. When Mike Riley bolted for Nebraska he knew what he was doing, the cupboard for the Beavers was bone dry. Gary Andersen will have the Beavers playing better, he’s recruited seven Junior College transfers and they appear to be making the Beavers better. The biggest task was finding a QB, no one grasped the spread offensive, so they’ll see if Utah State transfer Darell Garretson can succeed as a starter. Don’t know if y’all remember, but Andersen was the head coach at Utah State a couple of seasons ago and he might have recruited Garretson then, too. So this might work out just fine. The Defense was pretty poor in 2015, but the good news is they have a new coordinator so there’s nowhere to go but up….right?…right? Got to be positive and believe they’ll do better. No negative vibes, Moriarity!

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