Here are outlooks for all Pac-12 South Division football teams as the Pac-12 hosts its media day. Follow @wilnerhotline and @CalBearsBANG for updates during our coverage of Friday's event.
Pac-12 football capsules: SOUTH Division
ARIZONA Coach: Rich Rodriguez (2nd year) 2012 record: 8-5, 4-5 in the Pac-12 Outlook: The Wildcats must replace one of the league's most productive quarterbacks (Matt Scott); their top receiver, Austin Hill, is out for the season with a knee injury; and star tailback Ka'Deem Carey experienced multiple lapses in judgment in off-the-field matters. The end result: An unmistakable hint of bad karma emanating from Tucson. The long haul looks bright under RichRod, but 2013 feels flimsy.
ARIZONA STATE Coach: Todd Graham (2nd year) 2012 record: 8-5, 5-4 in the Pac-12 Outlook: The Sun Devils have momentum, the league's best defensive lineman (Will Sutton), a dynamic quarterback (Taylor Kelly), a talented tailback (Marion Grice), and soaring expectations. But the South title might be out of reach given that ASU's success last year was built on defeating a slew of cupcakes. The Devils wilted against the top teams on their schedule, and unless that changes, they're destined to finish behind the Los Angeles schools.
COLORADO Coach: Mike MacIntyre (1st year) 2012 record: 1-11, 1-8 in the Pac-12 Outlook: Will MacIntyre work the same magic in Boulder that he did at San Jose State? Perhaps, but it will take time. The Buffs have been one of the most mismanaged programs in the country for several years, and the roster needs a complete overhaul. The most pressing issue this fall is quarterback -- and offensive line, and running back, and defense, and special teams.
UCLA Coach: Jim Mora (2nd year) 2012 record: 9-5, 6-3 in the Pac-12 Outlook: Sophomore Brett Hundley is arguably the league's best quarterback and makes the Bruins a threat to win the conference. (They were a mere three points shy last year.) UCLA must find a replacement for departed tailback Johnathan Franklin, but the offensive line should be sound and linebacker Anthony Barr leads a gifted defense. Look for the Bruins to open the season in the top-25, and stay there.
UTAH Coach: Kyle Whittingham (9th year) 2012 record: 5-7, 3-6 in the Pac-12 Outlook: Perhaps the boldest Pac-12 coaching move of the offseason was Whittingham's decision to hire Dennis Erickson as co-offensive coordinator. Sure, the Utes need help on that side of the ball -- they've lacked punch and creativity since entering the conference two years ago. But is the 66-year-old Erickson (formerly of the 49ers, Arizona State and just about everybody else) the answer? If ol' Dennis brings the energy, the Utes just might make an impact in the South.
USC Coach: Lane Kiffin (4th year/25-13) 2012 record: 7-6, 5-4 in the Pac-12 Overview: Eight starters are back on offense, but Matt Barkley isn't one of them, so Kiffin must find a new quarterback to throw to wideout blur Marqise Lee. Monte Kiffin, Lane's father, resigned as defensive coordinator after a season in which the Trojans allowed a record 62 points to visiting Oregon. Ranked No. 1 in some preseason polls a year ago, the Trojans lost five of their final six games. Lane Kiffin likely wouldn't survive a similar meltdown this season.
Follow Jon Wilner on Twitter at Twitter.com/wilnerhotline. Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at Twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.