Now that we've looked back at my fair to middling predictions about the offense, it's time to review how I did on the other side of the ball. So without further ado, here's what I had to say back in September...
1. Four Cardinal defenders will be first-team All-Pac-12.
The four that I had in mind were Delano Howell, Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas, and Michael Thomas. Skov would've been a no-doubt selection if it hadn't been for his early season injury, but the other three players had stellar seasons. Michael Thomas ended up as only an honorable mention selection, but both Howell and Chase Thomas earned the first-team honors I expected.
Prediction Accuracy: Close, but no cigar.
2. Chase Thomas will lead the Pac-12 in sacks.
Thomas led the conference in sacks for much of the season, but tailed off a bit at the end to finish with just 8.5 sacks, a full sack behind conference leader Nick Perry of USC. That being said, Thomas was the best player on a great defense, and should've been selected the conference Defensive Player of the Year. It's a travesty that he was passed over.
Prediction Accuracy: Close, but still no cigar.
3. Wayne Lyons and James Vaughters will make impacts.
Early on, both players were doing well and making this prediction look really good. Lyons had been recruited as a safety, but he quickly found himself getting lots of time in the less demanding cornerback position; he even started once. A foot injury ended his season early, however, so it would be a stretch to say that he made an impact. Vaughters seemed to be following the same path Shayne Skov did during his freshman year. He was in the linebacker rotation and even made a few big plays -- a sack against Arizona stands out -- and seemed ready to take on greater responsibilities after Skov's injury, but it didn't happen that way. The word on the street was that the coaches simply didn't feel he was better than the older players they had available, so his on-field contributions dwindled as the season wore on. I don't think his long-term prospects have dimmed any, but he didn't live up to my expectations this season.
Prediction Accuracy: Wide right.
4. The defense will allow fewer than twenty points a game.
The Cardinal allowed 20.3 points a game, but since I've been taking a beating with my defensive predictions, I'm going to count this as a win. What's three tenths of a point anyway? Think about what this unit overcame this year: the departure of coordinator Vic Fangio, the season-ending injury to Skov, a midseason injury to Delano Howell, and the loss of several starters from last season. All things considered, things could have been much, much worse.
Prediction Accuracy: Close enough.