Monday, October 17, 2011
Weekend rewind: Pac-12
By Ted Miller
Taking stock of the seventh week of games in the Pac-12.
Team of the week: Oregon. The Ducks overcame injuries to running back LaMichael James -- before the game -- and quarterback Darron Thomas -- in the third quarter -- to beat No. 18 Arizona State 41-27. The Ducks won with backups and the defense stepping up, which is what happens with good teams.
Tailback Kenjon Barner and Oregon held on to beat Arizona State.
Best game: Oregon-Arizona State. While the final margin was fairly decisive, Arizona State took a 24-21 lead just after Thomas went down. The game was a back-and-forth affair before the Sun Devils' defense seemed to wear down. And the Ducks didn't.
Biggest play: Late in the second quarter at Oregon, Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler completed a 12-yard pass to Gerell Robinson on the Ducks 22-yard line. It appeared to set up the Sun Devils, leading 17-14 at the time, for more points. But Robinson took issue with safety John Boyett, who tackled him, and kicked him as he stood up. That earned a personal foul flag and pushed ASU back to the 37. Osweiler's next pass -- the receiver ran the wrong route --was intercepted by Cliff Harris in the end zone and returned 50 yards. Three plays later, the Ducks scored a TD and went up 21-17. That 10- or perhaps 14-point swing could have come in handy for the Sun Devils.
Offensive standout: Washington quarterback Keith Price completed 21 of 28 passes for 257 yards with four TDs and no interceptions in the 52-24 blowout win against Colorado. His 21 TD passes this season, already tied for fourth most in program history, rank second in the nation, tied with Boise State's Kellen Moore, just one behind Baylor's Robert Griffin. So his company is, you know, good.
Defensive standout: Utah's senior defensive end Derrick Shelby, the Walter Camp Football Foundation defensive player of the week, had a team-high seven tackles (six solo), including 2.5 for losses and 1.5 quarterback sacks. He also intercepted a pass and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown.
Special teams standout: Utah kicker Coleman Petersen was 4-4 field goals with a long of 45 in the win at Pittsburgh. He also was 2 for 2 on PATs.
Smiley face: You must give credit to Oregon's backup quarterback Bryan Bennett for playing smart and showing poise coming off the bench in the third quarter against the Sun Devils. It seems like it's been taken for granted that Bennett would be fine, but he was a redshirt freshman taking his first meaningful snaps, trailing a ranked team. Said coach Chip Kelly, "You get a look at him and see how he is. But he didn't look like he was panicked at all. I didn't have to give him the speech about you have to do this and this. I was like, 'Alright, here you go, this is what we're calling."
Frowny face: California. While Arizona, Oregon State and Colorado are starting to look like the bottom third of the Pac-12, the Bears, nonetheless, are on the same beleaguered cruise ship to nowhere at 0-3 in conference play. The worst news is quarterback Zach Maynard seeming to regress, instead of progress, each week.
Thought of the week: Washington and Stanford finally get a game in which to make a Pac-12 and national statement. Neither has a win against a team with a winning record. The Huskies fell short in their only game with a ranked foe, falling at Nebraska. The Cardinal wants to win impressively to prove it belongs in the national title discussion. A Huskies victory would transform expectations in the North Division.
Questions for the week: If Huskies quarterback Price outplays Andrew Luck in an upset win at Stanford on Saturday -- say he throws three more TD passes -- does he become a Heisman Trophy candidate? He presently ranks fifth in the nation in passing efficiency, and the Huskies likely would climb into the top-15 of the BCS standings. Perhaps the question is: How could he not?