NCF Nation: Kenneth Scott

What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 1

September, 1, 2013
9/01/13
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A look at what we learned about the Pac-12 in Week 1.

Keith Price
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenWashington's Keith Price dazzled in his 2013 debut, throwing for 324 yards and two TDs.
Washington looks to be legit: Per my co-blogger, Washington quarterback Keith Price was “lights out” in his performance against Boise State. Bishop Sankey picked up where he left off last season, and the defense kept the Broncos out of the end zone. For those nervous about letting their expectations get raised, go ahead and raise them. Oh yeah, and you get the best tight end in the country back next week.

Andy Phillips is now a household name: In his first career game, the redshirt freshman kicker from Utah went 3-for-3, including a 45-yarder on his first career kick -- and executed a perfect onside kick to swing the momentum in the Utes’ victory over in-state rival Utah State.

USC QB TBD: Is it going to be Cody Kessler or Max Wittek at USC? What we learned is we didn’t learn much. Neither looked particularly sharp as USC struggled offensively against Hawaii. Kessler was 10-of-19 for 95 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Wittek was 5-of-10 for 77 yards. Both seemed constrained by a conservative gameplan of short throws and swing passes.

Oregon likes to run (well, duh): Three different Ducks eclipsed the 100-yard mark: De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota and Byron Marshall. In all, the Ducks rushed for 500 yards and a robust 11.1 yards per carry against Nicholls State. It marked the first time in school history three players went for 100 yards in the same game. Yes, it was Nicholls State, but you have to figure rushing records are getting harder and harder to break at Oregon.

DAT the featured back? New Oregon coach Mark Helfrich had been fairly noncommittal when talking about how Thomas would be used. He looked the part of an every-down back Saturday night, carrying 18 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns. The 18 carries were a career high.

Utah’s depth will be tested: For the second season in a row, the Utes lost a big-name player for the year at the hands of Utah State. Wide receiver Kenneth Scott will miss the rest of the season after suffering a leg injury in the first quarter. Others will have to step up. Sean Fitzgerald looked pretty good in relief, catching five balls for 79 yards.

They’re serious about this ejection thing: The NCAA’s new targeting rule, which went into effect this season, can lead to an ejection on the spot if the official deems it a head-to-head hit. The first big-name casualty was Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who makes up half of Oregon’s outstanding cornerback tandem with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Miller was ejected late in the first quarter of Oregon’s win over Nicholls State.

Really, Beavers? Maybe more of the offseason focus should have been on the defense, and less about the quarterback competition. Sean Mannion played brilliantly. The defense, not so much, allowing Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams to throw for 411 yards and run for 107. Not that it bears repeating, but this is the second time in three seasons the Beavers have opened the season with a loss to an FCS team.

We’re not done yet: One more game on the Week 1 docket with Colorado and Colorado State squaring off Sunday in Denver.

The Cougs looked better: A gutty effort in SEC country from Washington State, which went toe-to-toe with Auburn before falling 31-24. Turnovers continue to be a curse and three interceptions from Connor Halliday, including one in the red zone in the fourth quarter, contributed to WSU’s downfall.

Speaking of turnovers: In its nine games (Colorado pending), the Pac-12 won the turnover battle, 15-11. When the Pac-12 tied in turnovers (Utah, Cal, Oregon State, Washington), it was 2-2. When it won the turnover battle (Arizona, Oregon, USC), it was 3-0, and when it lost the turnover battle (UCLA, Washington State), it was 1-1.

Special teams had special plays: See Vincenzo D’Amato’s pass to Jackson Bouza on the fake field goal (one of the more creative give-and-gos I’ve seen). See UCLA’s punt block for a touchdown against Nevada. See Phillips’ performance.

Speaking of special: After posting the worst field-goal percentage in college football last year (67.9 percent) the Pac-12 kickers came out swinging in Week 1, converting on 14 of 17 attempts (82 percent).

Pac-12's 1,000-yard receivers

May, 30, 2013
5/30/13
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Gabe Marks, Marcus PetersWilliam Mancebo/Getty ImagesIn Mike Leach's offense, WSU's Gabe Marks, left, looks like a good bet to have a 1,000-yard season.
We've looked at the Pac-12's 2,500-yard passers and its 1,000-yard rushers. Now we turn to the third wheel of the skill position tricycle: 1,000-yard receivers.

The conference featured four 1,000-yard receivers last year. One is off to the NFL: Oregon State's Markus Wheaton. One is out for the season -- or at least a significant part of it -- with a knee injury: Arizona's Austin Hill. Two others are back:
That's a good start. Lee was a unanimous All-American and Cooks could push for such recognition this fall.

There's plenty of talent after them. This is hardly a down position in the conference. In fact, several teams feel pretty good about their chances to produce a 1,000-yard pass-catcher.

Arizona: The Wildcats not only lost Hill, they also are replacing quarterback Matt Scott. Moreover, their No. 2 receiver in 2012, Dan Buckner, is gone, and the No. 3 guy was running back Ka'Deem Carey. There's solid experience returning at the position, but no one player looks like the go-to guy. The Wildcats are more likely to have three guys with over 600 yards receiving than to have one with 1,000.

Arizona State: Receiver is the Sun Devils' most questionable position. At this point, the most likely guy to go over 1,000 yards is tight end Chris Coyle. But if you were to imagine who will be the Sun Devils' top wideout in 2013, a good bet is touted juco transfer Jaelen Strong.

California: Keenan Allen is gone, but the Bears have plenty of young talent at receiver, a list topped by Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs. With new coach Sonny Dykes' new high-flying spread passing offense, it's difficult to imagine the Bears don't produce a 1,000-yard receiver.

Colorado: The Buffaloes' only legitimate A-list player is receiver Paul Richardson. He'd start for just about any Pac-12 team. And, considering how much new coach Mike MacIntyre likes to throw, Richardson seems likely to hit the 1,000-yard mark if he stays healthy.

Oregon: The Ducks are expected to throw more this season for a number of reasons -- new coach, questions at running back, etc. -- but the chief reason is because quarterback Marcus Mariota is a highly capable passer. Last year, we saw flashes of what he could do. We'll see plenty more in 2013. With De'Anthony Thomas slated to be primarily a running back, expect Josh Huff to become Mariota's favorite target.

Stanford: Stanford isn't the sort of team that produces a 1,000-yard receiver, and its most likely candidates in recent years were tight ends. But if things fell a certain way, Ty Montgomery might make a run at it.

UCLA: If you were to make a list of most likely new members of the 1,000-yard club in 2013, Bruins wide receiver Shaquelle Evans would be on it. He caught 60 passes for 877 yards last year in quarterback Brett Hundley's first year as a starter. With no Johnathan Franklin at running back, the Bruins should be throwing plenty.

Utah: The Utes should be much better throwing the ball this season. For one, quarterback Travis Wilson can only be more mature after starting as a true freshman. Second, new co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson likes to spread defenses out and throw the ball. Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott are a good tandem, and one or the other could make a run at 1,000 yards.

Washington: The Huskies have two legit candidates -- wide receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. But Jenkins is working through a DUI arrest that has him presently suspended. Williams, who caught 77 passes for 878 yards a year ago, is a strong bet to be Keith Price's go-to guy.

Washington State: That list with likely new 1,000-yard receivers? Colorado's Richardson, UCLA's Evans and Washington's Williams would be on it. But atop the list would be Washington State's Gabe Marks. If he stays healthy, he's almost a sure thing, considering how much coach Mike Leach likes to throw the ball.

Utes stumble in OT to Utah State

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
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As far as losses go, this one is going to sting Utah for a while.

In an electric atmosphere in Logan, Utah, the visiting Utes fell 27-20 to Utah State when they failed to score a touchdown in the first overtime session.

After Kerwynn Williams' 1-yard touchdown run put the Aggies ahead 27-20 in the extra period, it appeared the Utes had knotted the score on a touchdown pass to tight end Jake Murphy. But he was called for offensive pass interference after pushing off his defender, negating the score. The penalty backed Utah up 15 yards on third down, and the Utes failed to reach the end zone in the next two plays.

Adding salt to the wound, Utah lost quarterback Jordan Wynn to a shoulder injury toward the end of the first half. He spent the second half on the sidelines with his left arm in a sling. ESPN’s Jemele Hill, who was working on the sidelines for the ESPN2 telecast, reported late in the third quarter that X-rays on Wynn had come back negative.

[+] EnlargeJordan Wynn
AP Photo/Rick BowmerUtah quarterback Jordan Wynn left Friday's game in the first half with a shoulder injury and spent the second half with his left arm in a sling.
Wynn’s injury history is well-known to Utah fans. He’s had three shoulder surgeries since he started his Utah career -- two on his right shoulder (December 2010 and October 2011) and one on his left shoulder following the 2010 spring game. Although he is in his fourth year, he’s started only 21 games (including Friday). Prior to the injury, Wynn was 6-of-11 for 47 yards. Utah's pass protection was extremely shaky throughout the game, but especially in the first half. Wynn was sacked three times and hit eight times before being knocked out of the game.

He was replaced by Jon Hays, who finished 12-of-26 for 154 yards and a touchdown. Travis Wilson also saw some spot duty, throwing one pass, a 28-yard touchdown.

What this means for Utah moving forward is unclear. The Utes host BYU next week in the Holy War before opening Pac-12 South Division play with a trip to Arizona State. They then have a bye before the much-anticipated showdown with USC on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Friday's victory was Utah State’s first over Utah since 1997.

Utah fell behind 7-0 when Utah State blocked Sean Sellwood’s punt and Clayton Christensen recovered in the end zone. At the end of the first quarter, USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton connected with Joe Hill on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Keeton finished 22-of-32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

Coleman Petersen got the Utes on the board with a 42-yard field goal at the end of the first half, sending Utah into the locker room trailing 13-3.

Utah tied the game at 13 in the third on another Petersen field goal and Wilson’s touchdown pass -- a flea-flicker to Kenneth Scott. Scott also caught a fourth-quarter touchdown that tied the game at 20, this one a 24-yard jump ball from Hays. Scott was the standout offensive player for Utah, catching three balls for 82 yards and two scores. Running back John White IV was mostly ineffective, carrying 27 times for 96 yards (3.6 yards per carry).

Neither team was particularly efficient on third downs. Utah converted just two of 17, and Utah State converted two of 13 -- although Utah State outgained the Utes 371-325 in total yards.

Petersen had an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation but failed to connect on a 52-yard field goal.

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