- Oregon (QB Justin Herbert Sr. RB CJ Verdell So. RB Travis Dye So. RB Cyrus Habibi-Likio So.) - This is the kind of deadly backfield the Ducks had when they were tearing through the conference. Herbert is the Pac-12’s top QB and a Heisman candidate/1st round pick and Verdell/Dye the conference’s top one-two punch at running back.
- Utah (QB Tyler Huntley Sr. QB Jason Shelley So. RB Zack Moss Sr. RB TJ Green So.) - Huntley and Moss showed just how valuable they are when they went down with injury last season and are probably the best QB/RB combo in the Pac-12. Having the experienced Shelley in as an ultra athletic option who might get some wrinkles this season is an added bonus.
- Arizona (QB Khalil Tate Sr. RB JJ Taylor Jr. RB Gary Brightwell Jr.) - The Tate/Taylor combo is definitely the Pac-12s best QB/RB rushing combo. Tate should be a dangerous threat at least all season and Taylor is in that pack or outstanding Pac-12 running backs.
- Washington (QB Jacob Eason Jr. RB Salvon Ahmed Jr. RB Sean McGrew Jr. RB Kamari Pleasant Jr.) - We’ll see what Eason is capable of. I think he’s a mid-level QB at-worst and possibly right there with Herbert. A stable of steady backs, including the Pac-12’s fastest player in Ahmed will step in for Gaskin. They were solid filling in when he was injured in 2018.
- Stanford (QB KJ Costello Sr. RB Cameron Scarlett Sr. RB Trevor Speights Sr. RB Dorian Maddox Sr.) - Costello might actually be the best QB in the conference and this trio of big backs is typical Stanford power. Recent history suggests that Scarlett should turn into a star in 2019 and he has the size, power, and speed to do it.
- UCLA (QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson So. RB Joshua Kelley Sr. RB Martell Irby So. RB Kazmeir Allen So.) - I like DTR just as much as JT Daniels, if not more and Kelley is the second-best RB in the conference in my opinion. The combination of the two, especially with DTR’s mobility and Chip Kelly’s system, make this a really hard backfield to defend.
- USC (JT Daniels So. RB Stephen Carr Jr. RB Vavae Malepeai Jr.) - I expect Daniels to start to come into his own as a sophomore and he has a lot to work with at running back. Carr could be the most-talented RB in the Pac-12 and just needs to put it together. Even if he doesn’t Malepeai is an underrated big back who can rack up yards.
- Washington State (QB Gage Gubrud Sr. RB Max Borghi So.) - Even if Gubrud doesn’t win the job, it means one of Mike Leach’s in-house veteran QBs is ready to step up as their next prolific passer. Borghi was a revelation as a freshman and one of the nation’s best rushing/pass-catching combo backs. They need more depth at RB though.
- Arizona State (QB Dillon Sterling-Cole Jr. RB Eno Benjamin Jr. QB Jayden Daniels Fr. RB Isaiah Floyd Jr. ) - The Sun Devils are fresh at QB, but this is all about the conference’s best running back in Benjamin. He pushes them out of the cellar of these rankings all by himself and DSC and Daniels have a lot of potential.
- Oregon State (QB Jake Luton Sr. RB Jermar Jefferson So. RB Artavis Pierce Jr.) - Quarterback is still a slight question mark in Corvallis. Running back is not. Jefferson was one of the best true freshmen in the nation and Pierce is a really good backup.
- Colorado (QB Steven Montez Sr. RB Alex Fontenot So. RB Chase Sanders Jr) - Montez is a solid senior at quarterback with a ton of experience and proven skills. Running back is a complete question mark.
- Cal (QB Chase Garbers So. QB Devon Modster Jr. RB Christopher Brown So. RB Marcel Dancy Jr.) - Garbers was below average in 2018 and still has to officially overtake Modster for the starting job, though watch for Cal to potentially use Modster the way they used Brandon McIlwain in 2018. Running back is a fresh start where Brown is huge (6’1 220) and dripping with potential.
Ranking the 2019 Pac-12 backfields: Oregon’s Justin Herbert, CJ Verdell and Travis Dye a deadly trio
Ranking the Pac-12’s backfields going into 2019.
By Jack Follman