Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesUSC quarterback Matt Barkley is on pace to become the school's all-time leader in passing yards, completions, and touchdowns.
Matt Barkley will begin the year for No. 3 Southern California as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. Barkley would be the seventh Trojan to win the award (excluding Reggie Bush), tying USC with Notre Dame and Ohio State for most all-time.
His stellar play during the past three seasons has fueled the Heisman speculation heading into his senior year. To date, he has amassed over 9,000 passing yards and 80 touchdowns in 36 career starts (27-9) and is on pace to become USC’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.
High expectations are nothing new for Barkley as he entered USC in 2009 as the No. 1 player in the ESPN 150. After enrolling early, Barkley won the starting job during spring practice and became the only true freshmen to ever start the season opener for the Trojans.
Barkley also showed as a freshman that he would not shy away from the big stage. In just his second-career start, he led the Trojans on an 86-yard game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Ohio State in Columbus. Barkley finished the season with 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns, the most by a true freshmen in school history.
USC’s starting center Khaled Holmes said of Barkley, the Trojans first ever three-time captain, "Guys recognized not only his skill, but his work ethic, his willingness to learn and his mental strength as well."
It appears that Barkley's work ethic has paid dividends as his completion percentage, passing yards, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passing efficiency have all improved in each of his three seasons. In 2011, Barkley finished with the third-most touchdown passes (39) and had the eighth-highest passing efficiency (161.2) in the FBS.
The area in which Barkley has made the biggest stride is his downfield passing. In 2011, he led the Pac-12 with 13 touchdown passes on throws that traveled 25 yards or more downfield.
That matched the combined total of fellow Pac-12 quarterbacks Andrew Luck (4), Nick Foles (4), and Darron Thomas (5)
The 13 touchdowns were also nine more than Barkley’s combined total from his first two seasons. Most impressively, his interceptions went down while the touchdowns went up. In 49 attempts 25-plus yards downfield, Barkley threw one interception in 2011. He had five such picks in the previous two seasons.
One factor that led to Barkley’s improved downfield passing was the emergence of wide receiver Marqise Lee. Lee provided another quality option for USC so teams could no longer focus solely on containing all-American receiver, Robert Woods.
As a freshman last season, Lee caught eight of Barkley’s 13 touchdowns on throws of 25-plus yards, and he had more receptions on such throws than the rest of the team combined. As a duo, Lee and Woods caught 26 total touchdown passes, including 12 on throws of 25-plus yards. Both receivers are back for the 2012 season.
If Barkley, Lee, and Woods continue to make positive strides in 2012, there’s no telling how far the Trojans can go.
Thomas takes over: With RB LaMichael James out, QB Darron Thomas becomes the veteran presence inside a young Ducks offensive huddle. He's the guy everyone will look to. Arizona State's defense has rattled some pretty good QBs, most notably USC's Matt Barkley. Thomas hasn't put up big numbers this year, but he's thrown 15 TD passes and just two interceptions. It's likely strong passing numbers from Thomas will be a key in this game.
Barkley-Woods: Last year against California, Barkley threw five first-half TD passes, tying a USC -- full-game -- record. Robert Woods might be the best receiver in the nation in terms of pure talent. If you wonder what Cal needs to be concerned with tonight, it's Barkley-Woods, Barkley-Woods, particularly with starting CB Marc Anthony out.
Price increases Buffs' secondary costs: Washington QB Keith Price ranks second in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency and first in TD passes. Colorado's patchwork secondary, which has been riddled by injuries and suspensions, ranks 10th in the conference in passing efficiency defense and has yielded 14 TD passes, most in the conference. Not a good matchup for the Buffs. Colorado's solution to a struggling secondary is to attack with blitzes -- see 17 sacks, tied for most in the conference. The Huskies have yielded 11 sacks. If Price gets time to throw, he can make Colorado pay. But will he?
Utes up front: Utah's strength is its lines, and it needs to lean on that strength at Pittsburgh. The Panthers on offense are mostly one guy: RB Ray Graham, the nation's second leading rusher. The Panthers aren't good if they have to pass. They yield 4.67 sacks per game, most in the nation, and rank 96th in the nation in passing efficiency. So it's obvious: Make Pitt throw. On the other side, the Utes probably will faces that same strategy. The Panthers will try to make new Utes starting QB Jon Hays beat them. But RB John White and a solid offensive line might be good enough to still win that battle in the trenches.
Beavers fall: Every year is a new year, so past trends don't always matter. Until they do. This year started out particularly bad for Oregon State, but losing Septembers are -- sorry -- standard in Corvallis. That's the bad news. The good news is the Beavers typically seem to get better. They have entered October with losing records eight consecutive years. But since 2004, they are 38-15 in October, November and December. After an 0-4 start, they are now 1-0 in October. Can they maintain their trend of mid-to-late-season improvement?
The 6-8 QB: Inside Autzen Stadium, everything starts with the opposing QB. How well can he handle the noise? Can he maintain focus and make plays and avoid miscues. Arizona State's Brock Osweiler, who it will be noted at least once on Saturday is 6-foot-8, made his first career start at Autzen in 2009 as a true freshman. That evening started badly and ended quickly when he was knocked out of the game. Suffice it to say, he's a different guy these days: Skilled, confident, knowledgeable. It's also impossible to believe the Sun Devils can record an upset without him playing lights out -- as he did against Missouri and USC.
Cougs up front: While Andrew Luck gets all the publicity, Stanford is as much about being physical up front on both lines as it is about Luck. Luck will stress the Washington State secondary, but the real measure of the Cougars' ability to hang with Stanford will be on both lines. Can the Cougs slow down the Stanford running game and force Luck to throw? That doesn't sound like a great thing, but it's critical in terms of slowing down Stanford. And, on the other side of the ball, will the Cougs be able to run well enough that the Cardinal doesn't load up with blitzes on Lobbestael? Playing at home will help. But Washington State's only chance is not getting exploited at the line of scrimmage.
No, not quarterbacks. They're great. The best in the nation. No, not running backs. They're great, too. Or tight ends or receivers or NFL-quality offensive linemen. The Pac-12 is fine on offense.
Yes, defense. Let's take a look at the numbers. Yeesh.
Hey, did you say something about quarterbacks?
Defense, the part of football they say wins championships, has been mostly lousy in the Pac-12 as we close in on the midseason mark.
No team ranks among the top-25 in total defense (Stanford is No. 26 and California is No. 27). Eight rank 50th or worse.
Well, scoring is really what defense is about, right? Right. And nine conference teams rank from No. 55 to No. 112 in scoring defense. Nine teams give up between 24.3 and 37.6 points per game. (Stanford is No. 6 in scoring defense, while Utah is 25th and Arizona State is 32nd).
And we can't entirely excuse these numbers by pointing to the super-awesomeness of Pac-12 offenses. We're only two or three games into the conference slate.
Arizona might own the second-worst defense among AQ conferences (Kansas is almost comically bad). The Wildcats' numbers are so bad writers spent much of the weekend finding fun ways to illustrated their badness -- here and here.
USC ranks 67th in total defense and 68th in scoring defense, terrible numbers for a unit with tons of talent that is coached by Monte Kiffin, a certifiable coaching legend. Things are worse across town, where UCLA ranks 105th in scoring and 98th in total defense. Who was stupid enough to write about UCLA's defense being "sneaky good" anyway? Never listen to that guy again.
So what gives? Does the conference just not care about defense?
Injuries are a legitimate excuse. The Wildcats have been missing three starters and a key reserve the entire season, and defensive tacle Justin Washington is now hurt. Arizona State is missing four top players. In fact, there are lots of big names out, including Washington defensive end Hau'oli Jamora, Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov and USC defensive tackle Armond Armstead, to name a few.
Still, every team has injuries.
Some guys who looked like budding stars have been disappointing so far: Washington, Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris and UCLA defensive end Datone Jones come to mind.
But, really, it comes down to this: No Pac-12 team has scary talent on all three levels. I'm not talking about LSU in 2011 scary or USC under Pete Carroll scary or Washington in 1991 scary. I'm talking Stanford in 2010, UCLA in 2006, Washington State in 2003, California in 2004 or Oregon State in 2000 scary.
If Arizona State had cornerback Omar Bolden, defensive back James Brooks, linebacker Brandon Magee and defensive back Junior Onyeali, it probably would be a top-25 defense. Stanford is good but took a step back when its leader and best player, LB Shayne Skov, was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Who has a pair of lockdown corners who are able to press at the line of scrimmage and handle man-to-man coverage? Who can consistently get pressure with a four-man rush? Who can stonewall an opposing running game and force a team to throw to win? Who can beat you without using risky stunts every other play?
In the early going, it appears Stanford has the conference's best defense. Oregon's defense is probably better than its early numbers suggest (its yards per play -- 4.84 -- is better than Kansas State, which ranks 16th in total defense and is a top-30 number). California has young talent on all three levels. Washington has shown improvement he past two weeks. Utah is well-coached and solid across the board. USC can't possibly be this mediocre. Arizona State has been above average, despite the injuries.
Defense might not win championships in the Pac-12, but here's a bet that the two teams playing for the Pac-12 title on Dec. 2 will rank in the top-third of the conference and top-50 in the nation in most major defensive statistical categories.
And when the smoke clears on the 2011 season, conference teams might need to figure out a way to kick up the defensive recruiting a notch or two.
You should take all complaints to the guy sitting next to you with a book on his lap and noise reduction head phones on your next flight.
6. Boise State
8. Oklahoma State
11. Georgia Tech
15. Arizona State
16. Kansas State
17. South Carolina
18. Virginia Tech
22. Michigan State
23. West Virginia
Here's what the official Pac-12 release had to say:
Barkley, a junior from Newport Beach, Calif., broke two USC records in the 48-41 win over Arizona. He completed 82.1-percent of his passes (32-of-39) for a game record 468 yards with four touchdowns, while also running for a short score. Barkley was 22-of-26 for 301 yards with three touchdowns in the first half. His 470 yards of total offense was also a single-game record. Both records belonged to Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. Barkley’s career-long 82-yard touchdown pass was the longest at USC since Palmer’s 93-yard pass to Kareem Kelly in 2001. Barkley ranks fifth on USC’s career lists for passing (579 completions) and total offense (7,063 yards).
Hoffman-Ellis, a senior from Los Angeles, Calif., registered a game-high 14 tackles in the Cougars’ 31-27 comeback victory at Colorado. His 14 tackles, which included 12 solo tackles and two sacks, were a WSU-high for 2011 and one shy of his career-best effort. Hoffman-Ellis had 10 tackles in the second half, with five in the decisive fourth quarter. The win marked the first time WSU had rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat a conference opponent on the road since 1984, when the Cougars trailed Stanford by 21 and went on to win, 48-42.
Miles, a junior from Peoria, Ariz., became the only player in the nation this year to have returned a punt for a touchdown, a kickoff for a touchdown, thrown a touchdown pass and caught a touchdown pass. Miles returned a punt for 78 yards and a touchdown with 6:11 in the third quarter that gave ASU a 21-13 lead over Oregon State. It was the first punt return allowed by the Beaver special teams all season. Miles tallied 249 all-purpose yards in the 35-20 win, including 87 on punt returns and 55 on kickoff returns. He had 45 rushing yards on six carries and led Sun Devil receivers with 62 yards. Miles has caught three touchdown passes this season.
Also Nominated (Defense): Alden Darby, LB, ASU; Jordan Poyer, S, OSU; Jarek Lancaster, LB, STAN; T.J. McDonald, S, USC; Brian Blechen, LB, UTAH; Jamaal Kearse, OLB, WASH.
Also Nominated (Special Teams): Andre Heidari, PK, USC.
Just to keep my head from hangin' down
Ain't gonna hide and I ain't gonna run
Hell ya'll know me I'm William's son.
- Arizona's defense by the (bad) numbers. The offense has been good, though.
- Observations from Arizona State's win against Oregon State.
- Freshmen linebackers are making an impact for California.
- Colorado is facing bad Luck in more ways than one.
- Oregon running back LaMichael James is even better than you think.
- Oregon State and Arizona will be a passing fancy.
- Stanford's defense has work to do. But Andrew Luck is so good he can call his own plays.
- UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel reflects on the loss to Stanford. The Cardinal and Bruins don't have much in common.
- What is wrong with the USC defense? Grading the Trojans.
- Is it a no-Wynn situation for Utah?
- Washington's defense looked better at Utah.
- Washington State coach Paul Wulff looks back at Colorado and ahead to UCLA.
Team of the week: Washington State. While the Cougars buddies in Seattle deserve a tip of the cap for winning at Utah, it's not an exaggeration to say Washington State's comeback, 31-27 victory at Colorado was the most important result of the Paul Wulff Era. It was a show of mental toughness that will be nearly as important as improved talent for the Cougs' return to relevance.
Biggest play: Well, in order to spread the wealth -- Lobbestael-Wilson duly noted above -- Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall, playing on a nagging sprained ankle, turned in a physical, multi-tackle breaking 37-yard TD run against Oregon State that put the Sun Devils up 28-20 in the third quarter of a surprising tight contest with Oregon State.
Most memorable play: New category here to commemorate Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's unbelievable, one-handed 13-yard reception against UCLA that also included him athletically getting a foot in-bounds. Hey, if the quarterback thing doesn't work out, there's always tight end (and we're only half-joking; he could play tight end).
Offensive standout: There will many outstanding offensive performances, but USC quarterback Matt Barkley completed 32-of-39 passes for a school-record 468 yards with four touchdowns in the Trojans' 48-41 victory against Arizona.
Defensive standout: Washington State linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis had 14 tackles -- 12 solo -- and two sacks against Colorado.
Special teams standout: Jamal Miles, Arizona State's multi-purpose star had a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win against Oregon State.
Smiley face: The state of Washington. As Bud Withers of the Seattle Times pointed out, Washington and Washington State won road conference games on the same day for the first time since Oct. 18, 2003. Might the Apple Cup have some real stakes for both teams this year?
Frowny face: The new Pac-12 members. Colorado and Utah are now a combined 0-3 in conference play and 3-6 overall. The Buffaloes blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against Washington State, and Utah might have lost quarterback Jordan Wynn for a few weeks with a shoulder injury.
Thought of the week: Pac-12 defenses need to pick it up. No conference team ranks in the top-25 in total defense -- Stanford and California are 26th and 27th, respectively -- and eight rank 50th or worse. Here's a guess that the teams playing for the Pac-12 title on Dec. 2 will have top-50 defenses.
Questions for the week: Does Arizona State (4-1, 2-0) sew up the South Division on Saturday at Utah? The Utes, widely viewed as the Sun Devils top competition for the division title when the season began, are 0-2 in conference play and likely won't have Wynn. USC isn't eligible due to NCAA sanctions, and Arizona, UCLA and Colorado haven't shown much thus far.
If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.
See last week's power rankings here.
1. Stanford: No reason to drop the Cardinal after a physically dominant win against UCLA, though the defense wasn't as dominant as it had been with LB Shayne Skov.
2. Oregon: Ducks have extra time after bye week to prepare for California on Thursday. Or is it the other way around?
3. Arizona State: Some might see the sloppy win over Oregon State as a negative. I see it as confirmation. The Sun Devils played poorly and won by 15 points. Questioning that is the way we analyze good teams.
4. Washington: If the defense continues to improve, there's the whiff of "maybe" with this team. As in: "Maybe Stanford and Oregon -- particularly Oregon -- might not want to take the Huskies for granted."
5. USC: Barkley to Woods. Barkley to Woods. That alone means the Trojans are dangerous against any foe.
6. Utah: This optimistically assumes a return of quarterback Jordan Wynn, who hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder against Washington. Without Wynn, the going will be tough for the Utes.
7. California: Bears have extra time after bye week to prepare for Oregon. Or is it the other way around?
8. Washington State: Forget the win at Colorado. (Sure, it was nice, but get over it). Re-focus. One win doesn't make a season or save a coach. Don't stop pressing the gas.
9. UCLA: UCLA has beaten two struggling teams and lost to three unbeaten teams. Are the Bruins mentally tough enough to realize they still have hope?
10. Arizona: The Wildcats have lost to three top-10 teams and a 4-1 USC squad. It's possible this team could rally from a 1-4 start.
11. Colorado: The Washington State loss, particularly how it went down, should hurt. But it will hurt worse to stew and whine. That could lead to a very bad season.
12. Oregon State: The Beavers showed enough at Arizona State to suggest the basement of the Pac-12 isn't a certainty. Now how hard will the Beavers fight to avoid it?
Just like last week, Stanford is ranked No. 4 in the coaches poll, but it fell a spot to No. 7 with the AP. That's not unfair, though, because Wisconsin earned the jump with a blowout win of Nebraska.
Oregon is ninth in both polls, moving up from 11th with the coaches during a bye week and staying the same with the AP. Arizona State is 22nd with the writers and 24th in the coaches poll. The Sun Devils were unranked by the coaches and 25th with the AP last week.
Washington's victory at Utah wasn't enough to push it into the polls. The Huskies were the equivalent of 28th in the AP poll among others getting votes and 31st with the coaches.
USC also received votes in the AP poll. It's not eligible for the coaches poll due to NCAA sanctions.
LSU is No. 1 with the AP. Oklahoma is No. 1 with the coaches. Alabama is No. 2 in both polls.
Rose Bowl Game: Stanford vs. Big Ten
Valero Alamo: Oregon vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday: Arizona State vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun: Washington vs. ACC
MAACO Las Vegas: Utah vs. Mountain West
Kraft Fight Hunger: California vs. ACC or Army
Gildan New Mexico: Washington State vs. Big 12
There are reasons for cautious optimism over the Washington defense: Sure, the Huskies again gave up big passing numbers -- Utah threw for 305 yards. But the Huskies also held a team that wants to run to just 17 yards rushing. While the Utes' five turnovers speak of sloppy football, perhaps the Huskies deserve some credit for inspiring that sloppy play? And, really, the bottom line is Utah only scored 14 points, seven of which came in mop-up time during the game's waning moments.
This Pac-12 isn't going to be that easy for the new guys: Colorado and Utah are now a combined 0-3 in conference play, and that doesn't include the Buffaloes' loss to California, which was a pre-scheduled nonconference game that doesn't count in the standings. While Colorado was expected to be down, the Utes' 0-2 start is more of a surprise. They face Arizona State on Saturday -- potentially without quarterback Jordan Wynn -- which makes 0-3 a strong possibility. And Colorado is at Stanford.
Arizona State can win ugly: Winning ugly is better than losing pretty. Recall that Arizona State last year had a handful of impressive losses. So even though Oregon State is struggling, and it's not good for your QB to turn the ball over four times, what is good is winning. And, by the way, winning by 15 points. And being 4-1 and ranked.
Stanford wears you down: The Cardinal have scored 56 fourth-quarter points in four games. It might seem sometimes like Stanford is struggling. It seemed, for example, like UCLA was in the game Saturday at various times. But a 45-19 final really isn't that close, is it? What the Cardinal do in the first and third quarter sometimes isn't that sexy. But it leaves its opponent ripe over the final frame to be smushed and eaten up.
Matt Barkley, USC: The USC quarterback completed 32-of-39 for a school-record 468 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in the Trojans' 48-41 victory over Arizona.
Robert Woods, USC: Woods caught 14 passes for 255 yards with two touchdowns in the win over Arizona.
Marshall Lobbestael, Washington State: The Cougars quarterback passed for 376 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-27 comeback win at Colorado, including a 63-yard game winner to Marquess Wilson.
Chris Polk, Washington: The Huskies running back rushed for 189 yards on 29 carries and moved up to second on the program's career rushing list in the 31-14 win over Utah.
Rodney Stewart, Colorado: The Buffaloes running back rushed for 132 yards on 26 carries against the Cougars.
Jamal Miles, Arizona State: The Sun Devils multi-purpose star had a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 35-20 win over Oregon State. He also rushed six times for 45 yards and caught eight passes for 62 yards.
Andrew Luck, Stanford: The Cardinal quarterback completed 23-of-27 for 227 yards with three touchdowns in the 45-19 win over UCLA.
WR Austin Hill, concussion, questionable
WR Juron Criner, hand, probable
OG Adam Tello, back, retired from football
RB Cameron Marshall, ankle, probable
CB Osahon Irabor, concussion, probable
OT Aderious Simmons, ankle, probable
CB Parker Orms, leg, out
CB Travis Sandersfeld, leg, out
CB Paul Vigo, hamstring, out
DB Vince Ewing, knee, out
C Daniel Munyer, ankle, probable
OL Shawn Daniels, calf, questionable
RB Malcolm Agnew, hamstring, out
OT Michael Philipp, knee, out
OG Grant Enger, shoulder, questionable
DT Castro Masaniai, suspension, probable
S Josh LaGrone, knee, probable
CB Sean Martin, foot, doubtful
C Grant Johnson, back, questionable
OG Josh Andrews, knee, out
TE Coby Fleener, concussion, questionable
RB Anthony Barr, knee, out
LB Glenn Love, hamstring, questionable
CB Sheldon Price, knee, questionable
S Dalton Hilliard, shoulder, questionable
S Alex Mascarenas, concussion, questionable
S Tony Dye, shoulder, probable
CB Andrew Abbott, concussion, probable
K Kip Smith, hip, probable
RB Johnathan Franklin, hip, probable
CB Torin Harris, shoulder, doubtful
OT Matt Kalil, undisclosed, doubtful
OG Martin Coleman, shoulder, doubtful
LB Lamar Dawson, ankle, questionable
RB Amir Carlisle, ankle, questionable
OG Giovanni Di Poalo, shoulder, out for season
TE Christian Thomas, hip, out for season
OG Abe Markowitz, foot, out for season
OT Tony Bergstrom, knee, questionable
TE Jake Murphy, knee, questionable
WR Luke Matthews, shoulder, probable
CB Adam Long, knee, out
S Taz Stevenson, knee, out
LB John Timu, neck, doubtful
RB Jesse Callier, hamstring, probable
DT Danny Shelton, foot, probable
S Nate Fellner, hamstring, probable
RB Johri Fogerson, knee, out
DE Hau'oli Jamora, knee, out
CB Daniel Simmons, knee, questionable
C Andrew Roxas, ankle, questionable
DE Adam Coerper, knee, out
TE Aaron Dunn, quad, questionable
If you follow me on Twitter, you will receive total consciousness. Or, you know, something approximating it.
To the notes.
Jesse from Phoenix writes: Thanks for finally giving my Sun Devils some unbiased coverage. I think all our complaining forced you to be fair to ASU and stop favoring the turds in Tucson.
Ted Miller: Turds in Tucson!
It seems like at least a couple times a year, the Pac-12 blog needs to address the issue of bias. Longtime readers, I apologize for the redundancy.
I confess that I do favor teams, at least in terms of coverage.
I favor the winning, highly ranked teams. I tend to go more often to their games. I tend to write more about them. Particularly winning teams with really good players who might end up in New York this December.
Why? Fan interest, intriguing storylines, etc. But mostly because my boss, Ruthless Reynolds, calls me and says, "You are worthless and weak. Now get thee to Oregon. But first come here so I can give you a good smacking."
And, like a good minion, I comply.
If it seems Arizona State is getting more favorable coverage, that is because the Sun Devils started winning games. If it seems Arizona is getting less, it's because the Wildcats are losing. And because Nick Foles didn't call me back this week, apparently because he's transformed from Sunshine to Cloudy Day.
I try to give you thorough coverage of all 12 teams. But if there's a matchup of ranked Pac-12 teams, that gets priority. I am headed to Salt Lake City -- typing, in fact, in the airport right now! -- because the Utah-Washington game was deemed the best, most competitive, most meaningful game this week. Not because my blood runs Utah red or Husky purple.
In terms of inherently liking one team more than another, I don't. And if I actually did, it would be my job to work extremely hard to hide it. I suspect I'd overcompensate, such as by observing the 2011 Atlanta Braves make me ill.
Shirley from Goodship, Colo., writes: This fake injury thing seems to raising it's head on every level of football now and there would seem to be a very easy fix. Why not simply have the "injured player" have to sit out the next 5 plays -- or the next turnover of downs, which ever is less. It is in the best interest of the "injured" player and isn't that what football is always claiming to attempt?
Ted Miller: This makes sense to me.
But rule changes require a sense of urgency from the powers-that-be, and I have not sensed one here outside of a couple of college football outposts, such as Eugene and Morgantown, West Virginia.
Grant from Corvallis, Ore., writes: Why is it that nobody is pointing out that Mark Ingram had multiple games under 100 yards in his Heisman season including being held to 1.9 yards per carry against Auburn. Also why are people giving LMJ credit for having over 100 yards of total offense and being Oregon's leading receiver against LSU? If LMJ can average over 150 yards a game and play well on the big stage against Stanford and USC and ends up with over 2000 yards of offense and over 2500 all purpose yards if he continues to return punts and kickoffs why can't LMJ still be in the conversation for the Heisman?
Ted Miller: Oregon fans need to relax. The Heisman Trophy race isn't won in September. If James continues at his present pace and Oregon keeps winning, he'll be back in the top-five in November when things matter.
What likely gets James invited back -- or not -- to New York is the Stanford game on Nov. 12. If the Ducks win and James turns in big numbers -- as he did last year against the Cardinal -- he'll get an invitation (assuming the Ducks are still winning).
Jon from Beavercreek, Ore., writes: I may just be 'out of the loop', but what happened with Oregon's Tacoi Sumler? Are they red shirting him or is there another reason he hasn't been playing? From my understanding Sumler is faster than De'Anthony Thomas. He could be a handful for PAC-12 defenses, and a real threat to stretch the field.
Ted Miller: While plans could always change, it appears Sumler and fellow true freshmen receivers Devon Blackmon and B.J. Kelley are headed for redshirt seasons.
Yes, that surprises me a bit, considering how receiver was a questionable position entering the season, the Ducks have had some injuries there -- namely Josh Huff -- and these guys were so highly touted.
But it's not like Chip Kelly is against playing freshmen. He's played plenty so far, including guys you thought would play (running back De'Anthony Thomas) and guys you thought wouldn't (offensive lineman Jake Fisher).
If Kelly thought Sumler could help him win right now, I suspect Sumler would be playing.
Gordon from Los Angeles writes: In a recent post you quoted a passage from Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles without attribution. Why did you not identify the source?
Ted Miller: I've been using quotes since we started the blog in 2008. I don't identify the source because it's more fun: Folks get to see if they can figure it out for themselves. And if they are curious, they can simply cut and paste into Google.
Neil from Springfield, Utah, writes: I was a little disappointed by your hot and not article. Where are the Utes? They have the defensive player of the week, they crushed BYU, and their running back has the most yards in the league and not a single letter about Utah? Wow. Clearly you aren't a fan of the Utes which is fine, but dude, you aren't even paying attention.
Ted Miller: Neil, I'm a little disappointed that you didn't realize that Utah didn't play last weekend, which makes it difficult to judge the Utes as hot and not for a given week.
Were you paying attention?
Further, I don't spend a lot of time trying to give teams equal time on hot and not. It's more about finding extremes of good and bad.
(Yes, I did use Stanford's No. 1 rushing defense (hot) and winning streak (hot) even though the Cardinal were off, too, but that was because I wanted to point out Arizona's bad run defense (not) and FBS losing streak (not).
Patrick from Seattle writes: Reading some of the comment threads, I noticed a pattern among fans. There are some definite stereotypes being portrayed -- Cal verbosity, UW righteous indignation, OR ... well, you know what they are like. I think it would be great to do a post with a representative comment from each fan base. I think everyone would find it pretty funny....
Ted Miller: I like it!
You guys' assignment for the week is to send in a comment that you think best represents the attitude of each Pac-12 fan base.
Utah and Colorado fans might need to represent themselves because we are still getting to know you.
I'll publish the ones that amuse me. And seem insightful.
Send your comments here.
Might want to start on Monday, though. The mailbox gets pretty full on the weekends.
- Arizona needs to find a way to protect quarterback Nick Foles.
- Arizona State needs to avoid a letdown against Oregon State.
- California kicker Giorgio Tavecchio is eager for redemption against Oregon.
- Colorado is expecting Washington State to bring an air show.
- Oregon has shut down access to media and fans.
- A report from Oregon State practice -- still some injury questions.
- Stanford is good when it comes to YAC-ing.
- Some quick hits from UCLA practice.
- USC will challenge Arizona's struggling run defense.
- Is John White ready to join Utah's long list of productive running backs?
- Washington has been good in close games.
- Washington State offensive tackle Wade Jacobson is cooking something up.
- Big fan of "The Soup," and I had no idea this guy played football at Washington -- and during the glory days, too.