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February 1, 2010

Rivals.com Spring Practice Primer: Pac-10

We're two days from National Signing Day, and that also means the start of spring practice is just around the corner.

The first team to open spring ball? It's Duke, on Feb. 15. (Uhh, that's two weeks from today.)

To get you primed for spring practice, here's a look at the start dates for all 120 FBS teams plus the overriding problem each program must deal with during spring drills.

PAC-10 Spring Practice Primer

ARIZONA
Practice begins: March 5.
Spring game: April 10.
Biggest task: The Wildcats eventually will have two new coordinators. No offensive coordinator has been hired to replace Sonny Dykes, who left to take over as coach at Louisiana Tech. Meanwhile, Greg Brown and Tim Kish replace Mark Stoops as co-defensive coordinators. The coaches must find three new starting linebackers.

ARIZONA STATE
Practice begins: March 30.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: The Sun Devils need to find a starting quarterback among Michigan transfer Steven Threet and Samson Szakacsy and Brock Osweiler, who both started at times last season. They'll have to get a firm grasp of the system of new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone; he runs a spread offense that also utilizes pro-style elements.

CALIFORNIA
Practice begins: March 6.
Last spring practice: April 17 (there is no spring game).
Biggest task: The quarterback situation figures to be quite interesting. Two-year starter Kevin Riley has been inconsistent and will have to hold off challenges from sophomores Beau Sweeney and Brock Mansion. All the quarterbacks will benefit if the Bears can make progress in pass protection; the Bears allowed 31 sacks last season.

OREGON
Practice begins: March 30.
Spring game: May 1.
Biggest task: Developing depth in the defensive line is a must. The Ducks have to replace two starters in the front four, but appear set and strong everywhere else.

OREGON STATE
Practice begins: March 29.
Spring game: May 1.
Biggest task: This is another team with quarterback issues. Those concerns will be eased if the NCAA grants Lyle Moevao a sixth year of eligibility. If not, the Beavers look to junior Pete Lalich, a transfer from Virginia, or sophomore Ryan Katz to run the offense. Neither has played extensively.

STANFORD
Practice begins: Feb. 22.
Spring game: April 10.
Biggest task: Finding a replacement for All-America RB Toby Gerhart obviously will be important. Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 303 yards as Gerhart's backup last season, and Tyler Gaffney will be key figures in that competition.

UCLA
Practice begins: April 1.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: It's vital that the Bruins upgrade an offensive line that struggled in run blocking and pass protection. Although four of five starters return, the Bruins will be without sophomore OT Xavier Su'a-Filo -- perhaps the best lineman in '09 -- who will be serving a Mormon mission. In practices this past season, redshirt freshman Nik Abele raised eyebrows and prospects for the future.

USC
Practice begins: March 30.
Spring game: May 1.
Biggest task: The new staff must shore up a defense that was uncharacteristically vulnerable. Monte Kiffin takes over a unit that ranked 40th nationally in 2009.

WASHINGTON
Practice begins: March 30.
Spring game: April 30.
Biggest task: Bolstering a pass defense that allowed more than 240 yards per game and ranked 93rd in the nation is something the Huskies must work on. On the plus side, the secondary returns intact. But a strong pass rusher must emerge to replace departed DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who led the Huskies with 10 sacks.

WASHINGTON STATE
Practice begins: March 25.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: Bolstering both lines is imperative. The Cougars' offensive line has allowed 96 sacks in the past two seasons. On the other side of the ball, the Cougars ranked 115th in the nation in sacks last season.

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