Going into Saturday, I was feeling a little vulnerable. A man like me should have lots of reasons for this. I'm broke. My wife is ugly. My kids are fat and have no future. The IRS thinks I owe them $280,000. My boss has started inviting my secretary to his staff meetings in my place. My dog hung a sign on our front door reading "New Management Wanted: Inquire Within".
OK, none of those things are really true (well, maybe the IRS thing). Nevertheless, I was feeling vulnerable. The Pac 12 had sleepwalked through Week 1. Arizona got blasted on Thursday night. ASU squeaked by on Friday night. Our first man up on Saturday morning was Oregon State and they greeted us with a negative 4 yard punt in the first quarter of their game. As a Western boy living in SEC country (where Defense is optional), I was feeling exposed. Then the rest of Saturday happened and things turned up. A retrospective follows after the jump.
Utah at USC
Going into this game, I was already starting to get to the far-too-premature conclusion that USC's offense was peculiarly one-dimensional. I made reference to that in my sightline for last week.
I'll particularly be focused on what Utah does to stop Robert Woods.
USC did nothing to convince me that their offense was more than one dimension as they struggled to put up 17 points against a Utah team that came to fight. They also came with with a good game plan to shut down Robert Woods. The plan featured the diminutive but game Sr. CB Conroy Black. Woods finished with 8 catches and 102 yards, but it never felt like he was taking over. USC was clearly the better team on the field, but they didn't dominate and three turnovers kept it close. Utah was hitting hard and laying it all out there, but QB Jordan Wynn, who showed a lot of savvy and good decision-making, has serious limitations based on what his arm will allow him to do. Utah just couldn't get it done. The good news in all of this for Husky fans is that both teams beat the crap out of the other.
Arizona at Oklahoma St
My sightline will be focused on Mr. Foles. Is he a Heisman contender or is his line too weak to give him a chance?
After the Thursday night beatdown, I'd say that Nick Montana has as much a chance at the Heisman as Nick Foles. That is not to say that Foles didn't look good. In fact, I thought he looked excellent. Unfortunately, his star didn't shine as bright as the Elder One, Casey Weeden (who, as was mentioned in the broadcast, is older than Aaron Rodgers). Nick's O-Line is in very bad shape - maybe the worst in the Pac 12 - and his defense has more holes in it Tiger Woods's golf swing. I will say that I came away impressed with UA's receiving corps. Dan Buckner is a beast and, in my mind, is probably better than Juron Criner right now. Freshman Austin Hill also had a coming out party. Get used to that name, Dawgpounders, as he will be vexxing us for a few more years.
Nevada at Oregon
My sightline is the scoreboard as in how many effing points can the Ducks score in 60 minutes? It won't be pretty.
Ummm, no, it wasn't. Oregon averaged more than a point a minute as they racked up 69 in en route to a route of Nevada. Darron Thomas threw for 6 TDs in an odd showing. He was efficient, but it was almost as if the passes were too easy. Hard to explain. De'Anthony Thomas, the true Frosh, had two plays over 60 yards on his way to a big day. Again, though, it was weird. He got bottled up on most plays his way, until he wasn't. He looks like a feast or famine kind of guy, at least for now. Either way, Oregon was clicking and they were mad.
WSU at UNLV
My sightline will be focused on WSU's QB play. Is Lobster a reliable caretaker of the offense or is he the same old Lobster...
WSU is the best looking team in the Pac 12 after two weeks. Excuse me while I spit out the puke that just popped up into my mouth. Yuck. Marshall Lobbestael had 361 points and 5 TDs on his way to this second straight career game and the Cougs looked every bit the match for Oregon in the North division. The Cougs haven't played anyone close to resembling even average competition, but the momentum and confidence being established now matters and will make this team dangerous going forward.
California at Colorado
While I am intrigued by Zach Maynard, my sightline will be the front seven of the Cal Bears.
Obviously, I didn't get to see a bunch of this game - although I was watching it during commercial breaks of the Husky game and I did get to see the OT. It's clear, however, that Colorado was ready to play and that the Cal front seven wasn't good enough. Rodney Stewart, who I think is an emerging stud, was kept in check (although he did have some timely, back-breaking types of runs). QB Tyler Hansen was not. Hansen threw for 474 yards and 3 TDs in what was a stellar performance highlighted by his connection with WR Paul Richardson - a sophomore who racked up 11/284/2 on the day. The Cal front could not get any pressure on Hansen and forced no turnovers. It really took some amazing plays from Zach Maynard (a playmaker through and through) to overcome another choppy day and to lead Cal to a squeaker victory.
San Jose St at UCLA
The secondary was particularly bad last week and they are my sigthline for UCLA in Week 2.
Spartan QB Dasmen Stewart racked up just 111 yards on a yards per completion average of 3.5 yards. The Spartans were much more effective on the run, chalking up double the yards per attempt than they had in the passing game. I'll give the credit to the UCLA secondary on that and note that they were pretty lucky to get out of that game with a 10 point victory which will do nothing but fan the flames under the Weasel's chair.
Stanford at Duke
Whatever it is, I'll be watching to see if Stanford can improve on their rather pedestrian 5 of 13 third down conversion rate that they posted against San Jose State. I also wouldn't mind seeing Shayne Skov actually make a football play
I didn't see his stats, but I'm guessing Skov did ok which will make his two bestest fans, KirkD and SunDodger, pretty happy. However, Stanford did not really improve on their 3rd down efficiency against inferior opposition going 4 for 9 for the day. In addition, the Stanford D was in "bend don't break" mode all day - Duke ran 72 offensive plays against the Cardinal and converted 17 first downs of their own - almost all of them through the air. Duke couldn't run the ball at all. Add in two big passing plays (one to Owusu, one to Fleener) and you have the ball game right there.
Missouri at Arizona State
The question I have is whether or not they still look that fast when matched up against a ranked Big 12 opponent. In particular, I'll be watching how the injury riddled ASU secondary handles Missouri's spread offense.
ASU did look fast. They looked very fast - especially the defensive front four. They didn't play perfect by any means - they gave up 500 yards of total offense to a good team - but they did hold Missou to just 3-15 on third down and they found ways to make plays when they needed to - including OT. Add to that a very impressive Brock Osweiler and it is becoming clear that, despite their injuries and depth concerns, ASU is the favorite in the South.
Oregon State at Wisconsin
My sightline is on Katz - will he rise to the occassion and make a statement against a powerhouse in Wisconsin or will he crumble and lose control of the QB job in what might result in a permanent seat on the bench?
Say goodnight to the Ryan Katz era in Corvallis. He played the opening series of the game and then got reinserted for single plays here and there throughout the rest of it. Sean Mannion got the lion's share of the work and, despite throwing up a goose egg against Wisconsin, has undoubtedly seized the starter's job. Short of an injury to Mannion, I expect Katz to transfer. Seriously.
Hawaii at Washington
Not that the left side was much better, but I was particularly stressed by how that right side got pushed around on Saturday...Can our RG and RT handle the step up in competition a week after getting owned by an FCS school?
Did the UW O-Line redeem itself? Can Chuck Norris start a fire by rubbing two ice cubes together? Against what I believe is a Pac 12 caliber D-Line, the right side of the UW line held up very well. They held serve in pass blocking and opened holes when Polk went their direction. I think Keith Price got sacked just once and that the pressure came from the middle on that one. It was a good day for the O-Line. Now, if we can just get that D-Line back up to par.