Friday, February 22, 2013
Opening the mailbag: So much disrespect!
By Ted Miller
Follow the Pac-12 blog on Twitter. Unless you are afraid.
And Happy Birthday to 55USC.
To. The. Notes.
OK, I'm ready now.
Peter from Calgary, Alberta writes: Ted, I am still a bit baffled about why Kevin Hogan isn't getting the respect that some other QBs in the conference are getting. Sure, he didn't play as many games, but in the ones he did start, he won all of them against quality competition rather than some of the cupcakes of college football. In addition, if I dare compare Hogan's stats in 2012 to Andrew Luck's redshirt freshman year, Hogan looks pretty good. Please explain.
Ted Miller: It began with a secret meeting of the Trilateral commission in Zurich. "We must ensure that Stanford QB Kevin Hogan gets little to no respect. Bring in the Freemasons!"
Scratchy Evil Voice on the phone: Is this Kevin Gemmell?
Kevin Gemmell: No.
Scratchy Evil Voice: Yes it is.
Kevin Gemmell: Then why did you ask?
Scratchy Evil Voice: You must show no respect for Stanford QB Kevin Hogan!
Kevin Gemmell: Ted, please stop calling me.
I see no lack of respect for Hogan. His strong play starting -- and winning -- five games last year is a big reason everyone sees Stanford in 2013 as a top-five team, Pac-12 favorite and national title contender.
That said, his chief job as the Cardinal quarterback in 2012 was to hand the ball to Stepfan Taylor, use his legs to extend drives and not make mistakes. He was very efficient -- his rating would have finished fourth in the conference just 0.02 ahead of UCLA's Brett Hundley -- but he only passed for 109.6 yards per game. He's also good runner, but he only rushed for 26.3 yards per game.
Yes, stats aren't everything. Hogan gave coach David Shaw exactly what he wanted: a Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl win But the reason there's more hype surrounding Oregon's Marcus Mariota, Hundley and Arizona State's Taylor Kelly is they threw 32, 29 and 29 touchdown passes last year. Hogan threw nine.
I suspect Shaw will let Hogan, a rising sophomore, do a lot more this fall. But Stanford's physical, ball-control offense isn't about padding stats. Even Luck's numbers were never stratospheric.
Still, if Hogan ranks highly in passing efficiency and Stanford is again a national title contender, he'll raise some eyebrows. No matter the sinister efforts of a secret cabal of international power brokers.
Josh from Lynden, Wash., writes: With USC switching to a 3-4 this spring do you think it will give the coaches a fair look at the new QB's, beings they will be competing against a defense that is learning a new scheme?
Ted Miller: Yes.
While the quarterbacks competing for the Trojans starting job might get some gift big plays, the coaches will be well aware of when a touchdown pass comes against broken coverage.
The USC competition will be pretty straight forward, just as most quarterback battles are: 1. Don't throw interceptions; 2. Know the playbook; 3. Move the chains; 4. Show poise and lead; 5. Don't throw interceptions.
As for the new defensive look, it might actually help. There are a lot of odd-front Pac-12 teams out there now, including the top-two teams in the conference, Oregon and Stanford. Getting a look at a 3-4 on a daily basis might help the cause this fall.
Jason from Magnolia, Wash., writes: Are you seriously going to leave Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Desmond Trufant out of your top-25?!? Even though ASJ plays the same position as Ertz, doesn't mean he should be excluded. In fact, their stats are near even (with ASJ playing fewer games):Ertz, in 14 games: 69 receptions, 898 yards, 13 yds/catch, 6 TDsASJ, in 13 games: 69 receptions, 852 yards, 12.3 yds/catch, 7 TDs.
Ted Miller: Yes, we are. And yes it hurts. Both of those guys are very good players. You can make a strong argument for both being in a top-25 list. I certainly wouldn't slap my forehead over a list that included them.
But there were a pretty big handful of guys it hurt to leave off.
Kevin and I are going to be re-visiting the top-25 next week. We reached a consensus, but we certainly didn't agree on everything. I will even admit the top-three changed positions multiple times.
We also will be giving you guys a chance to voice your feelings -- and throw up your own top-25 lists -- next week.
Jeff from Oregon City, Ore. writes: Ted, I can see that you have completely missed on at least one player in your top 25. With three spots left, there are only two obvious choices: Marcus Mariota and Will Sutton. The third will be one of the USC receivers. That means that either Woods or Lee will be left out completely. Really?
Ted Miller: Lee was ranked No. 3. As good as Woods was and is, he was not seriously considered.
Robert Woods ranked ninth in the conference in receiving yards per game, just behind Seferian-Jenkins.
Can you imagine the Husky outrage if we included Woods?
The receiver it hurt most to leave off was Arizona's Austin Hill. He ranked seventh in the nation in receiving yards per game (104.9) with 11 touchdowns, same total as Woods.
Dave from Mesa, Ariz., writes: Ted,Now that you guys are down to the top three spots in the post season top 25, and you still have to slot Mariotta, Lee and Sutton, am I presuming correctly that you are going to completely leave off DA Thomas from your top 25?
Ted Miller: Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas was one of the last cuts. Kevin kept saying, "I can't believe we're leaving off DAT." And I kept replying, "Look at the numbers."
Thomas' numbers weren't as good this year as his true freshman season in 2011. As I previously noted: "He rushed for more yards (686 versus 595 in 2011) and more touchdowns (11 versus 7), but he was far less effective as a receiver (385 yards versus 605, and four touchdowns versus nine). His all-purpose yards decreased from 159.6 yards per game to 130.2."
Thomas ranked 29th in the nation and fifth in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yards. Compare his numbers to Arizona State's Marion Grice, who also didn't make the top-25.
Further, Thomas scored seven of his 18 total touchdowns against Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech. And you might remember a certain block he missed against Stanford. That might have been the national (mis)play of the year. If Thomas blocks Devon Carrington, and Marcus Mariota goes 92 yards for a TD, the Ducks might have played for the national title.
The truth is DAT sort of disappeared much of the year, only to reappear as his brilliant fancypants self against Oregon State in the season finale and the Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State. The bowl game alone almost pushed him back into the top-25.
This doesn't mean the Pac-12 blog doesn't highly esteem The Black Mamba. Heck, we ranked him No. 3 on our preseason list. Everybody in the stadium holds their breath when he gets the ball.
He will be ranked highly on our 2013 preseason list for the same reason we did so last August: potential.
Then the season happens and potential needs to meet reality.