Friday, October 25, 2013
Mailbag: QBs, Heisman, dominant teams
By Ted Miller
Nine out of 10 doctors recommend the Friday mailbag. The 10th is a loquacious colon and rectal surgeon, so to be honest we don't really care if he hangs out here or not.
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To the notes.
Swede from Tucson, Ariz., writes: I'm wondering if the one-game suspension and the two early byes for Arizona destroyed any discussion of Ka'deem Carey's efforts as being a Heisman candidate. He's 1-2 games behind most other RBs at this point, yet still 11th in the country in total yards (and averaging 160 yds/game - best in the country). If that pace can be sustained for the remainder of the season, it's entirely possible he will have the most yards gained (again). What is it that is keeping him from even being considered in the Heisman discussion?
Ted Miller: Carey's case has been hurt by the reasons you mention, as well as Arizona losing two games. You'll notice that the top Heisman candidates almost exclusively play for highly ranked teams.
But Carey could get back in the race, particularly if Florida State and Oregon falter with their previously perfect QBs posting poor performances.
Regardless, I think Carey could enter the discussion if he posts big numbers and leads the Wildcats to three consecutive victories, which would include a win over Pac-12 South Division rival UCLA on Nov. 9.
If Carey still led the nation in rushing and the Wildcats were 7-2 and nationally ranked, he'd start to raise eyebrows.
To really extend this, if the Wildcats end up winning the South Division and he leads the nation in rushing at the end of the regular season, the odds would get better for him to get an invitation to New York.
Carey needs a lot to happen to get into the discussion, including for other top guys to slip. But it's far from inconceivable.
In my mind, he's the best running back in the country.
Koosh from New York writes: There are so many cliches when referring to two quarterback systems "two quarterbacks means you don't have ONE quarterback", etc. But I find that it is mostly about confidence. See Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and at the Niners. As a former quarterback, he knew that a confident quarterback was a winning quarterback and spoke effusively about both of them at every chance he got. Which brings me to my question, even though [Jared Goff] has had some turnovers, Sonny Dykes has created a quarterback controversy at Cal where the ONLY thing going for them this season was that their freshman phenom was putting up video game-like numbers. Why put that kind of doubt into an 18 year old's head? For the first 3 games, I thought our offense could win almost any game for us. Since [Zach Kline] has gotten into the mix, my optimism has waned considerably and I don't think it is a coincidence.
Ted Miller: It's a tough situation at Cal, and Sonny Dykes is looking for answers. One of them might be changing quarterbacks.
Will that hurt Goff's confidence? Perhaps. It would be understandable if it did. But the sort of QB who's going to lead Cal out of the Pac-12 basement would use a demotion as motivation to get better. You cannot underestimate how important resolve and mental toughness is in football, particularly at a highly scrutinized position like quarterback.
If Goff pouts or becomes gun-shy and obsessed with making mistakes and loses his confidence, he's probably not the right guy to lead Dykes' offense. My impression of Goff is he won't do any of those things. He'll just focus on what went wrong and try to get better.
The simple fact is Goff's performance slipped once the Pac-12 schedule started. As Jon Wilner pointed out:
Goff in  non-conference games: 7 TDs, 4 INTs
Goff in  conference games: 2 TDs, 3 INTs.
Is Kline the answer? No idea. But the preseason competition was close enough that Kline probably deserves a shot, particularly with things going as poorly as they are on both sides of the ball.
Of course, a coach has to know his players. It's in his best interest to know who needs his confidence consistently massaged and who responds better to tough love. It's a fine line. My feeling is that a coach can provide the unvarnished truth to a player in one-on-one meetings, but should spare the rod when talking to the media.
I haven't read any quotes from Dykes that seemed to throw Goff under the bus.
Matt from Washington, D.C. writes: What are your thoughts on UW's up-tempo offense thus far? I understand that this is where much of college football is headed, but at some point shouldn't UW play to its strengths, especially at receiver? (i.e. getting the ball to ASJ and Kasen Williams more) I feel like I've seen enough screen plays to Mickens and Kevin Smith to last all season.
Ted Miller: The biggest problem with Washington's offense isn't growing pains due to the new up-tempo style, it's Keith Price's thumb.
Pick up a football and throw it. Now imagine your thumb is working at about 50 percent. Not good.
The Huskies had a horrific performance at Arizona State, but otherwise the offense has been good, including the losses to Stanford and Oregon, which have the two best defenses in the Pac-12.
I think the chief issue in Tempe was Price's thumb. It will be interesting to see how well he throws against Cal on Saturday. I'm sure Price and coach Steve Sarkisian are both looking forward to the bye next week before playing host to Colorado.
But I do hear you: There is something to be said for targeting Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins more. Based on what Sarkisian has said of late, I think he agrees with you.
Eric from Somerset, Colo., writes: You guys are morons! I kid. I kid, because I love. Yes, AZ looks to be the better team against my Buffs. But! IF CU can put together a complete game - they've shown solid spurts in all phases at times this year, which has been lacking for a while - give Sefo some time, get Adkins and Powell going. Have Gillam stalk Carey the entire game, since it's at home, with a black-out (for cancer) at homecoming, there may be a little MikeMac Magic in the air, and they steal a win. If so? Is it a fluke, or do you guys see them pulling off two more wins and getting bowl eligible for the first time in nearly an eternity? Oh...we all remember the glory days (at least those of us over 40, who were there). Go Buffs!
Ted Miller: The Buffs need three more wins to become bowl eligible, so I rate that as a long shot, particularly with the schedule ahead -- six consecutive games with no bye, including three on the road.
As for your specific take on the meeting against Arizona on Saturday... maybe. Stranger things have happened. If the Buffs can slow down Carey and force B.J. Denker to throw, that might invite trouble for the Wildcats, though Denker has been passing much better of late. Further, the greatly improved Wildcats defense might be missing two key pieces: spur LB Tra'Mayne Bondurant, who is out, and bandit safety Jared Tevis, who is highly questionable.
Still, I've got the Wildcats winning decisively, as does Kevin. There's a reason Arizona is favored by nearly two touchdowns on the road.
There is no question Colorado is vastly improved. Yet I'd rate the chances 50-50 whether the Buffs can get two more wins down the home stretch of the season and finish 5-7. The most favorable opportunity to pick up win No. 4 is on Nov. 16, at home against struggling California. Otherwise, each of the other five foes at present own winning records, so the Buffs will have to post an upset as a likely big underdog.
The Buffs are young and they are playing hard under Mike MacIntyre. There is reason for optimism for the future. Even a 4-8 finish would represent a significant step forward from the woeful 1-11 performance last year.
Wat from Parts Unknown writes: The claim that Oregon has been the most consistently dominant team in the country is a strange one. FSU has won games 41-13, 62-7, 54-6, 48-34, 63-0 and 51-14. Baylor has won games 69-3, 70-13, 70-7, 73-42, 35-25, 71-7. Neither of those are far removed from Oregon's 66-3, 59-10, 59-14, 55-16, 57-16, 45-24 and 62-38. Other than some attempt to parse the relative merits of 4-3 Washington, 3-3 Boston College and 2-4 Kansas State, that is a pretty equal rate of dominance. Especially considering that ASU had a larger margin of victory over UW than UO did. You guys on the west coast might not want to acknowledge it, but Baylor is the #1 offensive team in the country (in points and yards and by a large margin) and FSU has the largest scoring margin in the country. Further, FSU has the most impressive wins of the 3, over 5-2 Maryland and 6-1 Clemson. It is fine to prefer Oregon over FSU and Baylor, but don't base it on false claims of "most explosive", "most weapons", "fastest", "best offense", "best scheme" etc. because all of those are factually false based on actual numbers and statistics against similar opposition. Instead, go with something that is actually true, such as how Oregon has earned it by finishing in the top 10 every year since 2008 and winning 2 consecutive BCS bowls. But when you do, don't complain about the SEC pulling the same "track record" argument also. But don't complain about the SEC's unquantifiable and sometimes demonstrably false "toughest, deepest conference/best defenses/best up front" propaganda while trying to contrive nonsense to artificially elevate Oregon over FSU and Baylor.
Ted Miller: The Pac-12 blog appreciates your note and the effort it took. For that reason, we are not going to go item by item and point out how you cherry-picked several things, such has Florida State's scoring margin being all of 0.6 points higher than Oregon's, or not accounting for the differences between playing at home and on the road. Or that Baylor is eliminated from the "consistently dominant" argument by winning only by 10 at Kansas State, where it trailed entering the fourth quarter.
Further, we won't tweak the idea of including Maryland, which just lost by 24 points at Wake Forest, as an "impressive" win.
(Would you pick Maryland over Tennessee? Of course you wouldn't. Or, for that matter, would you pick Boston College or Kansas State to beat Washington, which has whipped Boise State, Illinois and Arizona? Of course you wouldn't).
I continue to think that Oregon has the "most explosive", "most weapons", "fastest", "best offense", "best scheme" based on what I've seen this season, and I'm far from alone on that. There is a reason both polls have Oregon ranked No. 2 behind Alabama and the Ducks are getting the second-most No. 1 votes.
All that said, there is no question the most impressive performance so far this year by any team was Florida State's dominant win at Clemson.
Could you make an argument that FSU has been just as "consistently" dominant as Oregon? Absolutely.
Could you make a sound argument that FSU deserves to be ranked No. 1? Sure.
But I also think the assertion that Oregon has been the most consistently dominant team this year doesn't quite reach the realm of strange.
Strange would be claiming that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is so detail-oriented that he couldn't stand the idea of trash falling in between a trash can and its plastic liner in a hotel meeting room so he got on his hands and knees and fixed the liner and replaced the trash in the bag.
Oh... wait. That's true.
Jeff from Eugene, Ore., wrties: If you were lucky enough to be me, would you rather go to College GameDay or sleep in.
Ted Miller: That you even ask this makes me question whether this is the real Jeff from Eugene.
Everybody knows that if you sleep in and miss GameDay when it's on your campus, Corso will haunt you dreams, playing the role of Jacob Marley, and give you the full-on Ebenezer Scrooge treatment.
Three ghosts of College Football -- past (Knute Rockne), present (Nick Saban... eeeek!) and future (Scott Frost) -- and lots of traumatic experiences later, and you will see the error of your ways and never contemplate missing GameDay again.
You. Have. Been. Warned! Potential Impostor Jeff From Eugene!