Pac-12 Football Media Day kicks off this Wednesday in Hollywood. CA. It’s not quite the four-day spectacle of SEC Media Days which wrapped up last Thursday but with an infusion of new head coaches and electrifying returning players, the event guarantees to draw headlines.
Clarity on quarterback competition
Helton certainly won’t name his starting quarterback on Wednesday. But he may establish a clearer timeline for the impending decision.
At the 2016 Media Day, Helton announced he would name a starter two weeks prior to the season. Surely enough, Helton settled on Max Browne over a then-unknown Sam Darnold 13 days before the team’s opening contest against Alabama (a decision that went super well).
Two years later, Helton is faced with a similar quarterback quandary. Matt Fink, Jack Sears and incoming five-star recruit JT Daniels are currently competing for the gig. It’s expected to drag well into fall camp, given Daniels’ late arrival and the others’ failure to create separation in spring ball. Yet little else is known about the competition.
Expect Helton to shine a little more light on where the three quarterbacks stand, and perhaps offer a solid time frame for the decision.
Defense, defense, defense
Congratulations to USC seniors @PorterGustin and @CamSc35 on being named two of the best linebackers in the country by the Butkus Award! #FightOn pic.twitter.com/uhsdbmDslO
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) July 23, 2018
Last year, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s unit quietly led the nation in sacks (46). However, their work was often undone by uneven pass coverage and turnovers by the offense.
The defense will sorely miss the production of pass rushers Uchenna Nwosu and Rasheem Green and the playmaking of cornerback Jack Jones, who left the team in June. Still, there’s plenty of talent to go around.
It will be interesting to hear what improvements the defense has made this off-season after falling apart against elite competition in 2017 (read: Notre Dame game). While the team breaks in a new quarterback, there’s less margin for error on defense.
New faces around the conference
Media Day is a time for speculation and conjecture. It’s also a coming out party for newly hired head coaches.
Many are anxious to see how UCLA’s Chip Kelly responds to questions about his time in the NFL. Is he better suited for the college game, given his previous successes at Oregon? Or will we see organizational disfunction, which marred his stints in Philadelphia and San Fransisco?
Along with Kelly, Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin and Arizona State’s Herm Edwards join the Pac-12 South coaching ranks this season. Edwards will face the most scrutiny on Wednesday, given the questionable nature of hiring and the fact that he appeared to forget his own team’s mascot in an introductory press conference.
Herm Edwards appeared to not know that ASU's mascot is a Sun Devil at his introductory presser today
All three aim to project confidence heading into the new season as they try to compete with favorites USC and Utah for a spot in the Pac-12 Championship. Remembering their mascots is only half of the battle.