The Beavers, picked to finish third in the Pac-12 North Division, lost a core of players, including the middle of their defense to graduation. Tackles Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo and middle linebacker Feti Unga were seniors from a defense that was the backbone of the team.
“The replacement of people is the toughest thing,” Coach Mike Riley said Friday at Pac-12 Conference media day in Culver City. “Every team has to form a new identity. People leave; people come in who have to step up. The interior of the defense has to be replaced.”
Defense wasn’t on the mind of receiver Brandin Cooks.
A year ago, he and Markus Wheaton formed one of the best receiver tandems in the nation. They combined for 158 receptions for 2,295 yards and 16 touchdowns. Now Wheaton is gone and Cooks can expect a lot of attention.
"I expect double coverage,” Cooks said. “We have guys on this team who can step up be big playmakers and take the pressure off. Then I won’t have to worry about the double coverage.”