Monday, January 28, 2013
Proving grounds revisited: Pac-12 South
By Kevin Gemmell
Remember back in summer of 2012? Chip Kelly was still a Pac-12 coach, six quarterback spots were up for grabs and we learned that Abraham Lincoln apparently hunted vampires. It was a simpler time when each team was full of hope and whimsy. Back then we examined 12 players -- one from each team -- who we felt had to step up and prove themselves in 2012. Time to take a look back at the summer proving grounds post from the Pac-12 South and see if we identified the right players who needed big seasons. We'll look at the Pac-12 North tomorrow.
Matt Scott, QB, Arizona: He led the Pac-12 in passing yards per game as the league's only quarterback to average more than 300 yards per game. He tossed 27 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, was second in the conference with 3,620 passing yards. He also rushed for 506 yards and six touchdowns while leading Arizona to an 8-5 record and a win in the New Mexico Bowl.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: He answered the call by winning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and achieving All-America status. He led the league with 1.08 sacks per game for a whopping minus-102 yards and tied with UCLA's Anthony Barr in total solo sacks on the season (12). He also led the league with 23.5 tackles for a loss, averaging almost two per game.
Doug Rippy, LB, Colorado: He appeared in nine games and recorded 32 tackles (24 solo) with one tackle for a loss. But with a history of multiple knee surgeries, he never really had the breakout season that Colorado and its defense needed. He also missed three games early in the season -- Fresno State, Washington State and UCLA -- which put a big dent on his overall stats.
Datone Jones, DE, UCLA: The switch to a 3-4 was wildly effective and Jones was truly one of the benefactors. He recorded a team-high 19 tackles for a loss -- which was fifth in the Pac-12 -- while tallying 6.5 sacks and 64 total tackles. He also forced a pair of fumbles, blocked two kicks and notched a safety. It was the year UCLA fans had been hoping for and as a result, his draft stock is trending way up.
T.J. McDonald, S, USC: He led the Trojans in tackles with 112 while notching 6.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. He also had a pair of interceptions with three passes broken up and five defended. He added a blocked kick to his résumé. It wasn't a bad year for McDonald, but he'll be the first to say it wasn't a great year, either. Certainly not the year he expected when he returned to lead USC into what many thought would be a special season.
Jordan Wynn, QB, Utah: His comeback tour came to a bitter and frustrating end when he suffered a career-ending injury on Sept. 7 against Utah State, capping a career that started so brilliantly, but fizzled with each successive injury. He's since moved on to work on Norm Chow's staff at Hawaii.