Week 1 Roundup
Trouble in the Ess-Eeee-See
As you’ll see from the power poll below, it was not a good week for the PAC12. But the SEC might have had it worse. Six teams lost in twelve contests (with one to go tonight) including stunning losses by MissSt to Southern Alabama and #5 LSU to Wisconsin. It could have been worse. #9 Tennessee needed all of regulation to squeak past FCS App St while Arkansas and TAMU barely handled their contests against La Tech and UCLA, respectively. While the PAC was outclassed in their two head to head contests, the SEC slip ups help balance out the strength of schedule calculations that will ultimately go into the playoff rankings. In addition, there will certainly be some poll implications which could see UW rising.
The USC Crotch Rocket
USC Jabari Ruffin took “getting frustrated” to a whole new level in the Trojans loss at Alabama.
It isn’t so remarkable that a USC player lost his composure. A lack of player discipline has kind of been a thing since Pete Carroll was coach. What really shocked me was that Ruffin lost it in the first half before the game was out of hand.
No word yet on how long Ruffin’s suspension will be. I think instead of suspension, Ruffin should be forced to stand blind-folded in front of the goal post and let every Trojan player that he let down get one chance to test their ball accuracy skills.
So, apparently Lane Kiffin hasn’t quite gotten over his tarmac firing from USC three years ago.
Post game w the game ball!!! #3:14AM-LAX pic.twitter.com/cxQkJ89254— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) September 4, 2016
Missing Man Formation
College football fans bore witness to the loss of a couple of young men this past offseason. The Arizona Wildcats honored their teammate, Zach Hemmila with a tribute and a helmet sticker. Nebraska did this for fallen punter Sam Foltz:
The Cool Chart
12. Washington State 0-1/0-0 (last poll: 7)
Last Result: EWU 48, WSU 44
If you are a Coug fan, it’s like deja vu all over again. How low are the odds of a Power 5 conference losing to an FCS team not one but two season openers in a row?
About as low as Mike Leach hosting a Democrat fundraiser.
Mike Leach argued in the postgame that WSU was missing its two best players (though he may have been talking about his defense since both Luke Falk and Gabe Marks played). Even still, this version of WSU was one that was not supposed to give up 600 yards of offense to an FCS team. UW fans have seen this before (out of renowned Husky killer Vernon Adams) and it did not bode well for the rest of the season. For WSU this is a disaster that has fans wondering if they will ever win a season opener as long as Leach is the head coach.
Up Next: @ Boise State
11. Oregon State 0-1/0-0 (last poll: 11)
Last Result: OSU 23, Minnesota 30
The Beavers were supposed to get destroyed. A road matchup against an up-and-coming Big Ten opponent with a legit pro QB prospect at the helm. Except it didn’t quite happen that way.
Gary Andersen’s team showed discipline and grit in going toe to toe with Minnesota. They weren’t always clean - penalties and a pair of QB fumbles were killers - but Darrell Garretson was sharp (25/40, 3 TDs), RB Ryan Nall was a factor in the pass and run games, and WR Seth Collins showed that he is more than a former starting QB. With the exception of the MIA alert on WR Jordan Villamin, this was a good start for the Beavs.
Up Next: BYE
10. Arizona 0-1/0-0 (last poll: 8)
Last Result: Arizona 16, BYU 18
The Wildcats might be in a little more disarray than what I initially perceived.
Against a rebuilding BYU team, one expected to see an explosive offense and some signs of life on a defense in the midst of a scheme conversion. What we saw was what we didn’t expect to see, and that is unnerving.
RB Nick Wilson was fabulous (138 yds, 2 TDs)...and that’s about it. The Wildcat D fared well in preventing points, but actually had a hard time containing the Cougars. The QB play under Anu Solomon was inefficient. The receivers were a non-factor. This is a team that put up a lot of red flags in Week 1.
Up Next: vs. Grambling
9. Colorado 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 12)
Last Result: CSU 7, Colorado 44
Mike MacIntyre boasted beforehand that Colorado was going to “kick some ass.” He wasn’t kidding. The Buffs owned both sides of the ball against a decent Colorado State team. I was particularly impressed with RB Philip Lindsay (95 yds, 2 TDs). QB Sefo Liufau took a few too many shots, but there is no doubt about this one. It was a statement performance. The fact that Colorado didn’t surrender a point until the fourth was Washinton-eque
Incidentally, congratulations to Sefo. He now owns the Colorado record for career passing yards.
Up Next: vs. Idaho State
8. Arizona State 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 10)
Last Result: Northern Arizona 13, Arizona State 44
It is hard to know what to make of ASU after what started out as a sluggish affair affair against a poor FCS team. On one hand, there should be some concern that NAU could stand up to the Devils for a half. On the other hand, you like seeing Todd Graham’s team take over convincingly as they score on their final seven possessions of the game.
I’m giving ASU the benefit of the doubt here. New QB Manny Wilkins looks shaky as a passer. However, all of the key playmakers did something of note: WR Tim White, RB Kalen Ballage, and even true frosh WR N’Keal Henry made plays. The defense was ok overall, though just one sack (and that not coming until the fourth quarter) coming out of the PAC’s biggest blitzing team is an eyebrow-raiser. Also, questions about the rebuilt offensive line were hardly answered. Still, I’m bumping the Sun Devils.
Up Next: vs. Texas Tech
7. California 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 9)
Last Result: Cal 51, Hawaii 31
Thanks to Cal’s Sydney trip, we were able to talk about the Bears’ victory over Hawaii in last week’s poll. There really isn’t any new news to go through today. The Bears look like what we all expected. It will be interesting to see if the defense can do anything to stop a relatively weak SDSU offense when they travel to San Diego this weekend.
Up Next: @ SDSU
6. USC 0-1/0-0 (last poll: 4)
Last Result: USC 6, Alabama 52
If you are looking for a team that I ought to have punished more in the Pac-12 week from hell, look no further than USC. That they got annihilated by the national champs earns them some consideration. Still, this was a disaster for a team trying to claim a “new attitide.”
The Trojans failed to score a TD in a game for the first time since 1997. QB Max Browne was awful, especially compared to what Alabama true frosh Jalen Hurts was able to do. JuJu Smith-Schuster had one catch. The vaunted offensive line was a sieve. The defense was unspeakable.
The performance on the field, the sexual assault accusations facing LB Osa Masina and DE Don Hill and now the Jabari Ruffin situation all lead me to believe that Clay Helton already has a mess on his hands.
Up Next: vs Utah State
5. Oregon 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 6)
Last Result: UC Davis 28, Oregon 53
It did not start well for Oregon. In fact, they flat out “lost” the first quarter against the unheralded FCS team from Northern California (the home of Chris Petersen).
Fortunately, Oregon was able to find its footing. QB Dakota Prukop looked ok - albeit not exactly the best QB on the field - in guiding the Ducks to a win over the mighty Aggies. I think that the Duck fan narrative that Prukop is the second coming of Marcus Mariota (or even Jeremiah Masoli) is now debunked. It doesnt mean he cannot play, but he did not come off as a guy who can carry the team. Whether or not Oregon can win with him and a defense that surrendered over 6 yards per play to an FCS doormat remains an unanswered question.
Incidentally, welcome back to TE Pharaoh Brown (who is really a WR now). His comeback from that gruesome leg injury is truly inspiring.
Up Next: vs. Virginia
4. UCLA 0-1/0-0 (last poll: 2)
Last Result: UCLA 24, Texas A&M 31
UCLA gets points for taking on a serious opponent. However, it is hard to overstate just how bad QB Josh Rosen was in this one before a fourth-quarter comeback got the game into overtime (and that long pass at the end was a beaut). It was unforced error after unforced error for the celebrated sophomore QB. Whether we are talking about egregious interceptions or simply underthrown passes to wide-open receivers, it was all ugly. A surprisingly porous offensive line carries much of the blame.
On the plus side, UCLA’s D looked active and physical. DT Eddie Vanderdoes made his comeback and was his typical hot/cold self. The D kept UCLA (the linebackers looked fast and CB Fabian Moreau was stellar) in it as long as they could before watching the offense finally come to life in the fourth. We’ve seen this kind of hot/cold, up/down, Jekyll/Hyde persona from other UCLA teams. This loss is a big ding on the UCLA playoff résumé.
Up Next: vs. UNLV
3. Utah 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 5)
Last Result: Southern Utah 0, Utah 24
Kyle Whittingham said after the win that the Utes always had control but never had control. If you watched the game, you know what he meant. The Utes struggled more than expected with their overmatched rival, mostly due to a sluggish offense. Troy Williams looked good at times, but wasn’t as efficient as the coaches probably had hoped. There was a dearth of big plays and the running game, split between Troy McCormick and Joe Williams, was surprisingly ineffective. One bright spot was the emergence of 6’5” WR Tim Patrick (105 yds, 2 TDs).
In any other week, Utah may have dropped in the power poll. However, pitching a shutout is hard and this was always a defense-first team. Your first priority is to flex your strengths. Utah did just that.
Up Next: vs BYU
2. Washington 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 3)
Last Result: Rutgers 13, Washington 48
There weren’t too many teams of the “hyped variety” that had more impressive opening weekends than UW (looking at you, Tennessee, Michigan State, and Oklahoma). You have every right to remain unconvinced by Jonathan Smith and his offense (the Lindcat package lives on), but the truth is that everything we thought was a strength for UW (defensive line, secondary, return game, John Ross) showed up in spades. If there were a red flag, it would be the run blocking of that offensive line and receivers. Still, on a weekend of imperfect debuts, the Huskies shined like emeralds.
Up Next: vs. Idaho
1. Stanford 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 1)
Last Result: Kansas State 13, Stanford 26
Most people are probably surprised with the relatively narrow margin of victory that Stanford squeaked out against a not-very-good K-State team. Still, in opening games, you are looking to see how teams answer the questions that exist around the program. I’d say Stanford answered theirs pretty well.
Ryan Burns was efficient at QB and delivered a few big plays. Christian McCaffrey fared well. The Stanford D delivered 8 sacks, answering a significant concern about their D-Line. It was a good showing. It’s fair to wonder about a lack of explosiveness after one week, but there isn’t any reason to move Stanford out of the top spot. For now.
Up Next: BYE