It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.
In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2016, Athlon asked coaches in the Pac-12 to talk anonymously about their opponents.
Related: Pac-12 Football 2016 Predictions
Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.
Pac-12 Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes
“They’ll struggle, I think.”
“They’ve got a proven offensive system, but the quarterback they lost was unbelievable. [Jared] Goff was their guy from Day 1, and they built everything around his skill set, so they have to start over. I think they lost pretty much everybody who caught a pass for them last year. There’s just a lot of questions about their personnel, but it’s Sonny Dykes’ offense, and he’s an innovative guy.”
“Their running game is mostly short passes and screens and then he’ll test you vertically, throw a bunch of sideline fades, let his receivers go make a play deep. But you’ve got to have a guy who can throw it, and I just don’t know what they’ve got coming back. I have to think they take a step back offensively unless one of those quarterbacks is ready for showtime.”
“Defensively, they haven’t been very good, but they were better last year because they got a little pass rush.”
“I don’t think they’re great against the run, and their linebackers are average at best, but they’ve got some guys back on defense that should help them.”
“As long as their offense can outscore people, they don’t have to be great.”
“I think they’ve still got some depth issues, but that’s a tough place to recruit right now because of their academic restrictions.”
“They’ve been digging out of a hole, and I thought they turned the corner last year early, but I think they got a little bit beat up toward the end of the year.”
Podcast: Official 2016 Pac-12 Preview
“That’ll be a fascinating situation because it’s another transfer quarterback [Dakota Prukop] who I don’t think is as good as the one they had last year. It’s amazing to me they can’t recruit a better quarterback there. Relying on transfers from (FCS) is a pretty glaring problem for a program that has been really successful. Like, really, you can’t get a big-time quarterback at Oregon?”
“Their offense has gotten a little more limited since Marcus Mariota left and now they don’t have the same coordinator so I just think this is going to be a big, big season for them.”
“Their skill guys are legit. Royce Freeman is a tank, and they’ve always got a bunch of track stars at receiver; I just can’t get out of my mind how awful they looked when the quarterback got hurt last season. It’s pretty clear they don’t trust the backup at all [Jeff Lockie], so the guy from Montana State better be big-time because I don’t think they have anyone else.”
“Defensively they’ve never been better than average, but teams really beat them up last year with the deep ball.”
“They’ve been a 3-4 team the last few years, but Brady Hoke is going to run the 4-3 so that’ll be a difference.”
“[Torrodney] Prevot is the one guy coming back who can really make a difference with the pass rush, so it’ll be interesting to see where they put him because he’s kind of a hybrid and has the athleticism to play linebacker.”
“I don’t know if they accomplished anything by playing Charles Nelson both ways last year. He’s a guy you want with the ball in his hands.”
“They have to get it going back in the right direction, but there’s no doubt in my mind Gary Andersen can get the job done. There wasn’t a whole lot of talent on the roster when he got there, so I don’t think you could expect much his first year. But the first thing that comes to my mind is how much their offense struggled to throw the ball. Is the Utah State transfer [Darell Garretson] going to be the quarterback? Is he good enough to play at this level?”
“I can’t really name a receiver who scares you. They’ve got a lot of holes to fill and they better go recruit some skill. Their running back group is decent, but teams put an extra guy in the box last year and just dared them to throw.”
“They might be a little bit better offensively, but I think you’ll see bigger strides from their defense. They’re pretty good on the back end, but their front seven struggled last year. They have some younger guys up front that I think will get better and better in time, but you can’t expect to win when you don’t stop the run.”