A Look Back at Saturday around the Pac-12
Offense: Though Darron Thomas and LaMichael James suited up for this game, they were but mere spectators. Ensuring that there would be no let down, James led this team with a fiery pre-game speech reminding his team mates to take nothing for granted and to be sure not to take Colorado lightly. Boy did they take his advice.
Most were convinced that the Ducks would win convincingly. However, it is not likely that people thought the Ducks would nearly cover the 32 point spread int eh first quarter. Nor did most people expect over 200 yards rushing in the first quarter. But that's what the Ducks did Saturday, came out, put the foot on the gas pedal and didn't let up until the game was well in hand.
The Offensive line was masterful and Kenjon Barner looked faster than ever. His sprint to the right side and burst for an 84 yard touchdown run was a masterpiece. Well, save for the running out of gas at the end. Looks like the altitude did have some impact on the team.
Defense: The defense played a masterpiece of a game Saturday. Despite their losing record, Colorado had been semi-successful through the air this year. Coming in the Buffaloes had been averaging 240 yards per game through the air. Well, Saturday the team was held just 133 yards passing on a combined 15-33.
This defense has been a different defense with Michael Clay in the middle. He makes everyone better. Josh Kaddu has really stepped up his game over the last 4 games. The defense seems to be improving at just the right time.
Coaching: This week Chip Kelly and the staff deserve every bit of the praise and accolades they have received. Jon Embree called Oregon a "system team" after the loss. He meant it as a compliment, but I think that it is an inaccurate statement. They did not win Saturday because of a system; they won because of the players. The best teams in college football are not always the ones with the best starters. College football is about quality depth. That is something that Chip Kelly knew instinctively he needed to compete at the highest level. In his third season as head coach, he has really begun to develop depth the likes Oregon has never seen before. That isn't the result of the system, it is the result of great recruiting and great preparation by the coaches.
Without preparation, Bryan Bennett would not have been ready to play. Without preparation, Kenjon Barner would not have been nearly as good as LaMichael James. All credit for their success goes to them for their work ethic and their respective coaches for getting them read. Great job Coach Campbell, Helfrich and Kelly.
Around the rest of the conference:
Arizona State: The Sun Devils had a bye this week. Not much news for them this week which is probably a good thing.
Arizona: The Wildcats looked like a completely different team under interim coach Tim Kish. They ran the ball better than they have in nearly 10 years and demolished UCLA. Unfortunately, their great effort will be remembered more for the stupidity of a fan and the fight that broke out.
California: Apparently the best medicine for an ailing Pac-12 North team is a foe from the Pac-12 South division. Cal was able to heal some of their wounds against a Utah team that is just starting to understand why so many people said that those WAC and Mt. West teams would struggle in an AQ conference. Cal still had some struggles running the ball, but played exceptional defense.
Colorado: There are not many positives for a team that is playing so poorly in their first season in a new conference. This team has been hammered by injuries and Saturday was no different. The silver lining is that there should be a lot of kids returning next season with quality playing experience which should help their depth. They need to improve team speed, but they are well coached.
Oregon State: Jekkyll and Hyde. That is the story of the Beavers this season. They looked good Saturday night against what everyone thought was an improved Washington State team. Mannion played his best game of the season and the Beavers run defense played strong.
Stanford: Stanford showed something no one knew they had; a dominant ruhsing game. This will be important for them down the stretch as they face teams that they will need to try and "put away" if they get a lead. The jury is still out on them, though. Are they really that good? Or did they simply expose that Washington is not as good as people thought? We might find out the answer to that question over the next couple of weeks.
USC: I have not been on the Notre Dame bandwagon yet this season and still am not. USC had a nice win Saturday, but they still let a team that turned the ball over 3 times and had virtually no running game (41 yards on 14 carries) stay within striking distance way too long. Not sure that USC has enough horses to hang with Stanford or Oregon this season.
UCLA: What more can you say about this team? It has quit on it's coach and it might get even uglier. No amount of guitar playing can save them. Then again, somehow, this team still controls it's own destiny in the Pac-12 South division.
Utah: Without quality depth, Utah is struggling in their first season in the Pac-12. The team completed 50% of their passes for 165 yards, and that is the best part of their offense on Saturday. Their running game was worse than pitiful accounting for just 13 total yards on 26 carries. This has been a tough year on both of the Pac-12's newest members.
Washington: Stanford exposed Washington some on Saturday. They had their moments on Saturday, but those were on offense. They have some good offensive talent, but their defense has not improved this season. They will score some points on everyone and gain some yards, but they will be hard pressed to beat good offensive teams. It looks like the Nebraska game was more indicative of their capability this season than many thought.
Washington State: The return of Jeff Tuel did not seem to do much for the teams psyche. Inf act, they looked less disciplined than they had all season. The defense made far too many mistakes and the offense just could not protect the quarterback much. They have better athletes than they did three years ago, but it does not seem to matter much. They still have a ways to go in this rebuilding process.
PAC-12 Schedule for Week 9:
Washington State at Oregon 12:000PM
Colorado at Arizona State 3:30PM
California at UCLA 4:00PM
Stanford at USC 5:00PM
Arizona at Washington 7:30PM
Oregon State at Utah TBA