Pac-12 Football: Biggest Overrated and Underrated Players in 2013

Andrew SteierContributor IIIJune 26, 2013

Pac-12 Football: Biggest Overrated and Underrated Players in 2013

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    As the 2013 Pac-12 football season approaches, expectations, projections and predictions begin to mount.

    Yet in every year's preseason speculation regarding what is supposed to happen the coming season, there are always those who underachieve and those who do more than anyone thought.

    Let's take a look at the most overrated and underrated players in Pac-12 football heading into the 2013 season.

Overrated: Keith Price, Washington

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    Thanks to some late game heroics in Washington's upset wins over Stanford and Oregon State in 2012, quarterback Keith Price became the darling of what appeared to be the resurgence of Huskies football.

    Examining his entire body of work, though, reveals that these few precious moments raised his stock far too high.

    Despite performing well in a few crucial moments last season, Price's mistakes cost Washington dearly in its losses.  In the Huskies' six defeats, Price accounted for six touchdowns versus 10 interceptions.

    If Price is to live up to his billing, he needs to limit his turnovers and consistently perform at the high level he did in a few of the season's tensest moments.

Underrated: Deone Bucannon, Washington State

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    During a Washington State season with as many problems off the field as there were on it, defensive back Deone Bucannon provided a glimmer of hope in Pullman in 2012.

    Despite playing with a less-than-stellar supporting cast, Bucannon was able to reel in four interceptions and break up four other passes.  Even more impressively, he totaled 106 tackles on the season from his defensive back position, 64 of which were solo tackles.

    Playing on a team firmly planted in the cellar of the Pac-12, Bucannon showed a rare willingness and determination to make plays.  He will certainly be back for more in 2013.

Overrated: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona

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    Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey had a breakout year in 2012, rushing for 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns.  He was named to the All-Pac-12 first team and played his way into the Heisman Trophy discussion.

    But those lofty numbers and achievements have now produced unreachable expectations for Carey, who was largely a beneficiary of quarterback Matt Scott's arm last season.

    Carey will not be able to find the same enormous gaps to run this fall without Scott.  Throwing for a conference-best 302 yards per game, Scott would not allow defenses to pack the box against Carey for fear of being punished with a deep ball.  With inexperience under center this season, opponents will not hesitate to key on the run game, crowd the line of scrimmage and force the shakier Wildcats to throw the ball.

Underrated: Shaquelle Evans, UCLA

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    Although he led UCLA in receiving last season, Shaquelle Evans was far from the talk of Los Angeles.  Being the premier Bruin receiver is no easy task when Marqise Lee is racking up 1,721 yards for USC across town.

    But Evans may not need to play in Lee's shadow quite as much in 2013 as the UCLA offense undergoes some personnel changes.

    The Bruins offense will likely take a turn for the air this season, largely due to the departure of veteran running back Johnathan Franklin and the continued development of quarterback Brett Hundley.  Add in the recent loss of wide receiver Kenneth Walker, and Evans may very well see a few more balls come his way this fall.

Overrated: Ka'Imi Fairbairn

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    UCLA kicker Ka'Imi Fairbairn overall seemed to have a solid season in 2012.  He made 73 percent of his field goal attempts and was flawless from the PAT stripe in the final 12 games.

    But where he fell short was in the two most crucial areas for field goal kickers: consistency and performance in clutch situations.

    When he missed kicks, he missed in bunches.  After only converting on two of his five PAT attempts in the season opener against Rice, Fairbairn failed on a pair of field goals the next week against Nebraska.

    But most importantly, he failed to connect on a 51-yard field goal attempt against Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

    Even though he performed well in the majority of circumstances, UCLA will find difficulty trusting a kicker in 2013 who could not come through in the most crucial of moments a year ago.

Underrated: Taylor Kelly, Arizona State

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    The Pac-12 quarterback discussion this preseason will be dominated by the young, rising stars of the league.  But it will be missing a key player: Taylor Kelly.

    While all the focus will undoubtedly fall on sophomores Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, Kelly, a junior this fall, will not get his due credit.

    Kelly was second in the conference in 2012 in completion percentage (66.9), yards per attempt (8.4), quarterback rating (159.5) and touchdown to interception ratio (3.2:1).

    However, because of Arizona State's proficient rushing offense, Kelly only averaged 234 yards per game.  Although he may not have the flashiest numbers in conference, it is Kelly's efficiency in the passing game that makes him the most underrated quarterback in the Pac-12.