Here it is. The stretch run of the season. We are down to the the last quarter of the regular season (or the last sixth if you’re USC). That means barring an unexpected injury or a very late surge that we can expect the players on here to be the ones in primary contention for the awards ballots at the end of the season.
This has been a useful exercise this year to get a sense for who is playing well around the conference and which teams are getting done without star contributions (Utah) and which ones are worse than the sum of their parts (USC).
There are a couple of differences between these teams and the one the conference actually will put out. They still use some outdated positions. There are 2 RB and 2 WR on the offense whereas I use 1 RB and 3 WR like a team in the 21st century. On defense the conference lists 4 DL, 3 LB, and 4 DB. I have it broken down into 2 DL, 2 ED, 2 LB, 3 CB, and 2 S which again is the default for most teams. The conference also has inconsistent definitions on whether a DE/OLB counts as DL or LB which makes predicting those spots challenging.
Going with 1 RB, 3 WR instead of 2 and 2 like the conference actually does.
If you want to look back at the previous version, you can find the link right here.
*On media preseason 1st team
**On media preseason 2nd team
1st Team- Michael Penix Jr.** (Washington); 3,204 pass yds, 27 total TDs, 7 INT
2nd Team- Caleb Williams* (USC); 2,972 pass yds, 38 total TDs, 4 INT
Honorable Mention- Bo Nix (Oregon), Shedeur Sanders (Colorado)
I really debated whether to elevate Nix to 2nd team over Williams here. There’s certainly an argument. Nix has 14 fewer fumbles and 2 fewer interceptions. He has nearly closed the gap in terms of yards per attempt (9.4 to 9.0). He has taken 20 fewer sacks on the season. It just feels like most of those stats talk about the relative quality of each team’s offensive line and the role they play in the offense.
Wiliams is asked to scramble around, dodge tacklers in the backfield, and make something out of nothing. Nix is asked to get rid of the ball quickly either behind the line of scrimmage or short of the sticks and rely on his receivers to make things happen after the catch plus his strong running game. The tiebreaker is that I’ve now experienced rooting against each when my team is facing them and I was infinitely more worried about Williams than Nix. Their game this upcoming Saturday could easily decide who finishes on top.
And despite his worst three-game stretch of the season I’m not moving Penix off 1st team. His numbers to this point of the season are still very close to those of Joe Burrow back in 2019 (3,198 yds, 33 TDs, 4 INTs to 3,204 yds, 27 TDs, 7 INTs). Although Burrow really started to skyrocket beginning this week and I don’t see that happening against Utah’s defense.
1st Team- Bucky Irving (Oregon); 1,102 total yards, 10 total TDs, 7.0 YPC
2nd Team- Jaydn Ott** (California); 951 total yards, 10 total TDs, 6.2 YPC
Honorable Mention-MarShawn Lloyd (USC), Damien Martinez* (Oregon State)
Irving is now 3rd in the conference in yards per carry behind USC’s MarShawn Lloyd and his teammate Jordan James. He is tied with UW’s Dillon Johnson and Cal’s Jaydn Ott for the most total TDs among running backs and leads the conference in missed tackles forced.
I likely would’ve put Lloyd in 2nd place here if he had gotten to run against UW’s defense on Saturday but missing that game hurt his case as he has at least 20 fewer carries than anyone else in consideration.
It was a tight race between Damien Martinez and Jaydn Ott for second place. Martinez has a slight edge in yards per carry but has 7 fewer touchdowns and they’re nearly identical in total yards despite Ott playing one fewer game. I think Martinez is the more talented runner but he also clearly has the better offensive line and is playing with the better QB. An upset of UW or Oregon sparked by his running likely bumps Martinez back to 2nd team.
1st Team- Rome Odunze* (Washington); 989 rec yards, 7 TDs. Troy Franklin (Oregon); 946 rec yards, 10 TDs. Ja’Lynn Polk (Washington); 888 rec yards, 8 TDs.
2nd Team- Tetairoa McMillan (Arizona); 747 rec yards, 7 TDs. Tahj Washington (USC); 833 rec yards, 6 TDs. Elic Ayomanor (Stanford); 800 rec yards, 5 TDs.
Honorable Mention- Xavier Weaver (Colorado), Kyle Williams (WSU), Silas Bolden (OSU)
It was a close decision but Ja’Lynn Polk’s consistency and better across the board numbers elevated him over Tetairoa McMillan. That could easily flip over the next 3 games though. There’s no argument for bumping Odunze or Franklin from the first team. They’re 1-2 in the conference in receiving yards and 1st and 4th in yards per route run. Both will get strong All-American consideration.
Tahj Washington has moved into 4th in the conference in receiving yards to secure his spot on the 2nd team. I ended up bumping Colorado’s Xavier Weaver in favor of Stanford’s Elic Ayomanor who over the last 4 games since the last update has a ridiculous 593 receiving yards and 4 TDs. That earned him a 2nd team spot. But Wazzu’s Lincoln Victor has a chance to work his way back in the fold despite a few missed games if he is healthy down the stretch.
1st Team- Jack Velling (Oregon State); 363 rec yards, 8 TDs
2nd Team- Tanner McLachlan (Arizona); 389 rec yards, 2 TDs
Honorable Mention- Jalin Conyers (Arizona State)
It’s kind of hard to not make Velling the first team tight end when he has double the number of touchdowns as any other TE in the conference. He also is just narrowly behind McLachlan for total receiving yards. This isn’t exactly a banner year for the position in the Pac-12 but right now they’ve been the two best.
For those who care about such things, Devin Culp is #1 in the Pac-12 on a per snap basis per Pro Football Focus. But just 12 catches while playing fewer snaps than Jack Westover won’t get it done
1st Team- LT Jordan Morgan** (Arizona), LG Spencer Holstege (UCLA), C Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon), RG Tanner Miller (Oregon State), RT Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State)
2nd Team- LT Troy Fautanu* (Washington), LG Heneli Bloomfield (Oregon State), C Parker Brailsford (Washington), RG Steven Jones (Oregon), RT Ajani Cornelius (Oregon)
Honorable Mention- LT Jonah Monheim (USC), LG Wendell Moe (Arizona), C Duke Clemens (UCLA), RG Josh Carlin (UCLA), RT Roger Rosengarten (Washington)
Once again, I leaned pretty heavily on Pro Football Focus grades here since I don’t get a chance to do film study on every offensive lineman in the conference and other stats are pretty lacking. Washington gets a boost with Troy Fautanu and Parker Brailsford jumping up to the 2nd team from honorable mention.
Brailsford has actually barely overtaken Oregon’s Powers-Johnson in PFF (80.4 to 80.3) but since they’re essentially tied I’m giving the edge to JPJ who has played center all season. Still, it’s so incredibly impressive that Brailsford as a first year starter has been one of the best centers in the country taking over the spot midseason.
You can tell the top-3 lines in the Pac are the NW schools minus Washington State as 8 of the 10 spots on the 1st and 2nd team come from one of those programs. I’d be a little surprised if the actual conference votes are quite that skewed to just 3 teams though.
1st Team- Bear Alexander (USC); 35 tkl, 29 pressures, 2 sacks. Brandon Dorlus (Oregon); 12 tkl, 30 pressures, 4 sacks
2nd Team- Joe Golden (Oregon State); 22 tkl, 20 pressures, 5 sacks. Amari McNeill (Colorado); 27 tkl, 10 pressures, 4 sacks.
Honorable Mention- Anthony Franklin (Stanford), Dashaun Mallory (Arizona State)
The first team stays in place here as Alexander and Dorlus have pretty clearly been the best two interior pass rushers in the conference. They have a significant gap over the rest of the field in total QB pressures along the defensive line. The second team of Golden and McNeill though have as many or more sacks than them so they’ve been better at getting the QB to the ground even if they haven’t created as much overall havoc.
Honorable mention Dashaun Mallory leads the D-linemen in total stops but hasn’t been much of a pass rusher so just misses out. Gary Smith III of UCLA leads the conference in PFF grade but the counting stats aren’t quite there to justify him making it.
1st Team- Laiatu Latu* (UCLA); 21 tkl, 47 pressures, 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 INT. Jonah Elliss (Utah); 21 tkl, 38 pressures, 12 sacks, 1 forced fumble.
2nd Team- Gabriel Murphy (UCLA); 18 tkl, 44 pressures, 6 sacks. B.J Green (Arizona State); 26 tkl, 47 pressures, 8 sacks, 1 forced fumble.
Honorable Mention- Grayson Murphy (UCLA), Bralen Trice* (Washington), Ron Stone Jr. (Washington State), Solomon Byrd (USC)
There’s not much of a question at the top. Latu and Elliss have been absolute terrors all year and Latu has the best pass rush grade in the country. At least one of them is going to be an AP All-American depending on who has the better stretch run. The rest of UCLA’s terrifying three-headed pass rushing monster with the Murphy twins also needs recognition and you can flip a coin which one is 2nd team and which is honorable mention.
It’s an open question who gets that last 2nd team placement. B.J Green has been the lone defensive bright spot for an ASU defense that held the Huskies without an offensive touchdown in Seattle. Meanwhile, Bralen Trice has come on strong having led the country in QB pressures in consecutive weeks. Trice could end up playing his way back onto the 1st team as expected at the beginning of the year if he keeps up that recent pace since the actual media vote combined interior DL and edge players into one category.
1st Team- Edefuan Ulofoshio (Washington); 61 tkl, 2 sacks, 1 INT. Easton Mascarenas-Arnold (Oregon State); 80 tkl, 1 sack, 2 INT.
2nd Team- Darius Muasau* (UCLA); 43 tkl, 4 sacks, 1 INT. Jacob Manu (Arizona); 59 tkl, 6 sacks.
Honorable Mention- Eric Gentry (USC), Karene Reid (Utah)
Utah’s Landon Barton unfortunately drops off the list completely after he suffered a season-ending injury and so he won’t get to claim a 1st team spot. I ended up deciding to elevate Ulofoshio all the way from honorable mention rather than either of the 2nd place finishers. Edefuan now leads the conference in PFF grade by a sizable margin and has a well above average PFF grade in every category (run defense, tackling, pass rush, and coverage). Cal’s Jackson Sirmon has also missed a few games that knocked him off the list for consideration.
The two injuries meant that a new set of HM players was needed. There has been a pretty steep drop-off in overall quality behind that group due to injuries but I sided with Gentry and Reid in part due to their sound tackling and quality coverage skills. Those names could easily change by the final edition though.
1st Team- Khyree Jackson (Oregon); 21 tkl, 2 INT, 6 PBU. John Humphrey (UCLA); 25 tkl, 2 INT, 3 PBU. Christian Roland-Wallace (USC); 30 tkl, 2 INT, 6 PBU.
2nd Team- Alex Johnson (UCLA); 15 tkl, 4 INT, 1 PBU. Jabbar Muhammad** (Washington); 32 tkl, 1 INT, 1 sack, 4 PBU. Tacario Davis (Arizona); 21 tkl, 1 INT, 9 PBU.
Honorable Mention- Collin Wright (Stanford), Jordan Clark (Arizona State), Treydan Stukes (Arizona)
This is one of the most difficult positions to sort out in the conference. A lot of players have similar statistics and the ones who are doing really well in one area are maybe not doing as well in some others. I ended up putting together the stats I most care about for the top-30 corners in terms of total snaps played and this edition laid it out based on those results. The stats were: Interceptions, Pass breakups, Missed tackle rate, Yards per reception in coverage, and PFF Grade.
I’ve been a big Christian Roland-Wallace fan going back to his time at Arizona and despite not starting to begin the year, he has come on strong and been solid across the board. I’m hesitant including USC defenders on the 1st team but he has a case. John Humphrey of UCLA also moved up to the 1st team to join Oregon’s Khyree Jackson who has been the best corner in the conference when available.
Jabbar Muhammad gets demoted to second team after his poor Stanford game. He’s joined by Alex Johnson who leads all Pac-12 corners with 4 INTs and Tacario Davis for Arizona who leads Pac-12 corners with 9 PBUs.
1st Team- Jaden Hicks (Washington State); 59 tlk, 2 sacks, 1 INT. Calen Bullock* (USC); 56 tkl, 2 INT, 6 PBU.
2nd Team- Kitan Oladapo* (Oregon State); 51 tkl, 2 sack, 3 PBU. Cole Bishop* (Utah); 47 tkl, 2 sacks, 2 INT.
Honorable Mention- Chris Edmonds (Arizona State), Evan Williams** (Oregon)
What did I just say about putting USC defenders on the first team, Max? I know, I know. But he is tied for 2nd among safeties in interceptions, leads safeties in PBUs, and is 7th in missed tackle rate. USC literally never uses him as a pass rusher so he’s strictly a center fielder but he puts up the stats. Whatever the problems for USC’s defense, he’s not it.
He’s joined by Washington State’s Jaden Hicks who continues to be one of the bright spots for the Cougars this season despite their swoon. Two of the three safeties that showed up on the media preseason team (they do it by DB not corner and safety) end up on the second team here in Oladapo and Bishop who are both having very good seasons but are just a notch below the ones I have on the first team.
Final Totals by Team
Previous edition ranks in parentheses next to team name
(listed in order of 3 pts for 1st team, 2 for 2nd, 1 for HM)
1st- Oregon (4, 1)- 21 pts. 1st (5), 2nd (2), HM (2)
2nd- Washington (2, 3)- 20 pts. 1st (4), 2nd (3), HM (2)
2nd- Oregon State (8, 6)- 20 pts. 1st (4), 2nd (3), HM (2)
4th- UCLA (1, 2)- 18 pts. 1st (3), 2nd (3), HM (3)
5th- USC (10, 6)- 17 pts. 1st (3). 2nd (2), HM (4)
6th- Arizona (7, 4)- 13 pts. 1st (1), 2nd (4), HM (3)
7th- Utah (5, 5)- 6 pts. 1st (1), 2nd (1), HM (1)
7th- Arizona St (12, 12)- 6 pts. 1st (0), 2nd (1), HM (4)
9th- Washington State (3, 8)- 5 pts. 1st (1), 2nd (0), HM (2)
10th- Colorado (6, 9)- 6 pts. 1st (0), 2nd (1), HM (2)
10th- Stanford (11, 11)- 4 pts. 1st (0), 2nd (1), HM (2)
12th- California (9, 9)- 6 pts. 1st (0), 2nd (1), HM (0)