I know the Bruin defense has been loaded and underwhelmed the past couple of years, but I think this is the year they finally put it all together. They could have the defensive line, linebackers and defensive back group in the conference and have five legitimate pre-season first-team All-Pac-12 players.
The Trojans lost Leonard Williams to the draft, but they still are loaded on defense. The front is stacked and deep with experienced big men, the linebacker group is led by All-American candidate Su'a Cravens who moved up from safety and Adoree Jackson and Kevon Seymour are a nice combo at corner. If their young depth players can step up they can also finally get rid of their sanction-related depth problems.
The Cardinal lose all of their defensive line starters, half of their linebackers and almost all of their defensive backfield, but I trust their young talent and scheme. They still have some holdovers like Blake Martinez, Kevin Anderson and Zach Hoffpauir, but I actually have them up here because I think some of their young players like Peter Kalambayi and Solomon Thomas might actually upgrade the defense in the long run.
The Utes have quietly become a defensive juggernaut and have some great talent returning in their front seven. Hunter Dimick and Lowell Lotulelei are first-team All-Pac-12 level players up front and Jared Norris is a star at linebacker. They have to replace their entire back four, but they at least will have a ton of help from the front seven.
Perpetually the most underrated defense in the nation, this Ducks group should still be great and will once again be greatly aided by having the nation's best offense. Monster DeForest Buckner will anchor the front with some other veterans in the front seven that includes a very experienced linebacker group. They have to rebuild most of their defensive backs, but no team reloads better than the Ducks.
6. Arizona State
This group was really young last year, but Todd Graham was still able to piece together a solid unit. Now that unit has grown up and is deep, talented and fast. Their linebackers and cornerbacks are especially strong.
This is all about the nation's best defender Scooby Wright. They got a nice boost in getting defensive end Reggie Gilbert back for a second senior year, but other than that it is Wright and some depth guys.
The Huskies lost all of their starting front seven, but they do have a young defensive back group that has two emerging stars in Sidney Jones and Budda Baker. They also have some reserves from 2014 in the front seven who looked good in spot time.
9. Oregon State
Gary Andersen is going to have to pull a Mike Riley and put together a good defense without a ton of talent or returning experience in 2015. They have some experience in spots, but will have to rebuild for the most part.
10. Washington State
The Cougars are slowly getting better on defense but still have a long, long ways to go. They have some talented players dusted in like linebacker Jeremiah Allison, but overall, it is one of the conference's worst units.
The Buffs are getting better on defense, but are another team that just can't seem to put it all together. They took a huge loss when defensive tackle Josh Tupou got dismissed but could get a huge boost if linebacker Addison Gillam can get healthy again.
This unit actually does have a lot of talent, especially at linebacker, but will have to prove on the field that they are anything but atrocious before I move them up.