We are now 25% of the way through the college football season. It feels like the opener was just yesterday but this sport waits for no man.
This year I thought it would be interesting to look after every three games to examine who would make my all-conference teams and see how they evolve throughout the season.
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 They still use some outdated positions.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.
*On media preseason 1st team
**On media preseason 2nd team
1st Team- Michael Penix Jr.** (Washington); 1,332 pass yds, 12 TD, 1 INT
2nd Team- Caleb Williams* (USC); 878 pass yds, 13 total TDs, 0 INT
Honorable Mention- Bo Nix (Oregon), Shedeur Sanders (Colorado), Cam Ward (Washington State)
This is the hardest position to decide for any conference in the country. Check out the advanced stats blind test below with stats from Pro Football Focus.
Player A: 85.8% adjusted completion %, 4.7% big time throw rate, 1.7% turnover worthy play rate, 9.1 yards per attempt
Player B: 84% adjusted comp %, 6.8% BTT rate, 1.6% TWP rate, 12.0 YPA
Player C: 86.4% adjusted comp %, 9.6% BTT rate, 2.4% TWP rate, 12.4 YPA
Player D: 85.1% adjusted comp %, 3.0% BTT rate, 0.0% TWP rate, 8.8 YPA
All of the players have about an 85% adjusted completion percentage so that’s a wash. Player C has the highest big time throw rate as well as the highest yards per attempt but I’ll spoil that he has the fewest total passing yards of the group. Player D has been the lowest risk and lowest reward with no turnovers but not a lot of big plays and the fewest yards per attempt. Players A and B are fairly similar except Player B has the highest yards per attempt.
The answers: A- Shedeur Sanders, B- Michael Penix Jr., C- Caleb Williams, D- Bo Nix
I ended up deciding that the gap in yards per attempt was too great between Penix/Williams and Sanders/Nix to justify putting either in the second group ahead. Penix has been slightly less efficient and done less with his legs than Williams but had a lot more attempts so I think I’m not a complete homer putting him 1st team right now. Also Sanders has taken a ton of sacks which hurts his case.
1st Team- Damien Martinez* (Oregon State); 351 rush yards, 1 TD
2nd Team- Jayden Ott** (California); 270 rush yards, 3 TDs
Honorable Mention- Bucky Irving* (Oregon), Carson Steele** (UCLA)
This one is pretty clear cut. Damien Martinez has been the best back in the conference so far and it isn’t all that close. He leads the conference in total rush attempts while averaging over 8 yards per carry. That includes averaging better than 5 yards per carry after contact. Ott is averaging 2 YPC less than Martinez but has an extra pair of touchdowns and is 2nd in the conference in rushing yards.
There’s a definite possibility that Irving or Steele end up on the 1st of 2nd team by season’s end. They’re each averaging better than 8 yards per carry as well but have fewer attempts than Martinez or Ott so they wind up a little bit short right here.
1st Team- Rome Odunze* (Washington); 419 rec yards, 3 TDs. Lincoln Victor (Washington State); 342 rec yards, 3 TDs. Xavier Weaver (Colorado); 386 rec yards, 2 TDs
2nd Team- Tetairoa McMillan (Arizona); 307 rec yards, 3 TDs. Troy Franklin (Oregon); 292 rec yards, 2 TDs. Ja’Lynn Polk (Washington); 300 rec yards, 2 TDs
Honorable Mention- Jalen McMillan** (Washington), Tahj Washington (USC), J. Michael Sturdivant (UCLA)
When you have this many good quarterbacks it means you’re going to end up with some receivers putting up big numbers as well. You could certainly make an argument that all of Washington’s receivers should be included. I decided it was maybe a little greedy to think that the Dawgs will get 3 of the top-6 spots though and I chose to put Polk over McMillan due to Jalen’s drop and fumble against Tulsa. Speaking of Jalen, he’s the only player in the top-7 of receiving yards in the conference to get left out of 1st/2nd team with Troy Franklin taking his spot.
1st Team- Ben Yurosek** (Stanford); 192 rec yards, 1 TD
2nd Team- Jack Westover (Washington); 107 rec yards, 4 TDs
Honorable Mention- Cooper Mathers (Washington State), Michael Harrison (Colorado)
This one isn’t particularly difficult. Yurosek is the primary receiving option for Stanford and is by far the leader in receiving yards among tight ends in the conference. It’s pretty close after that with four players between 105 and 113 yards. Westover is the only one with more than 2 TDs so he gets the edge for 2nd team. Mathers has the most yards per route run and Harrison is the one with 2 TDs.
1st Team- LT Joshua Gray* (Oregon State), LG Christian Hilborn (Washington State), C Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon), RG Jonah Saivaiinaea (Arizona), RT Ajani Cornelius (Oregon)
2nd Team- LT Jordan Morgan** (Arizona), LG Wendell Moe (Arizona), C Jaren Kump (Utah), RG Tanner Miller (Oregon State), RT Garrett DiGiorgio (UCLA)
Honorable Mention- LT Troy Fautanu* (Washington), LG Jack Bailey (Colorado), C Duke Clemens (UCLA), RG Parker Brailsford (Washington), RT Roger Rosengarten (Washington)
I’ll be honest that I haven’t exactly watched every lineman in the conference to make assessments here so I’m leaning heavily on Pro Football Focus. At least one of the Husky OL members likely winds up on the 1st team by season’s end but right now the lack of success run blocking as moved them a notch below.
1st Team- Bear Alexander (USC); 7 tkl, 12 pressures, 1 sack. Keanu Tanuvasa (Utah); 8 tkl, 4 pressure, 1 sack.
2nd Team- Anthony Franklin (Stanford); 6 tkl, 10 pressures, 1 sack. Shane Cokes (Colorado); 9 tkl, 3 pressures, 1 sack.
Honorable Mention- Casey Rogers (Oregon), Bill Norton (Arizona)
This is another position that is tough to evaluate when you haven’t gotten a chance to watch every team every week. Having the QB pressure numbers helps but the best interior linemen soak up blockers for their teammates and aren’t necessarily going to put up strong tackle totals.
Georgia transfer Bear Alexander has been the elite interior pass rusher that was expected for USC so far. Meanwhile, Utah’s Tanuvasa has the most stops of any interior defensive lineman while Shane Cokes is 2nd. This is a position that will probably see some shuffling over the course of the next few months.
1st Team- Laiatu Latu* (UCLA); 7 tkl, 16 pressures, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles. Ron Stone Jr.** (Washington State); 10 tkl, 10 pressures, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
2nd Team- Grayson Murphy (UCLA); 9 tkl, 13 pressures, 1 sack. Solomon Byrd (USC); 6 tkl, 10 pressures, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
Honorable Mention- B.J Green (Arizona State), Gabriel Murphy (UCLA), Xavier Carlton (California), Jonah Elliss (Utah)
This category is dominated by UCLA as was largely expected coming into the season. Latu and the Murphy twins are 1st, 3rd, and 4th in the conference in total QB pressures and have been game wreckers off the edge. Ron Stone Jr. has been the best of Wazzu’s very good edge duo and I’m considering split votes for UCLA getting him on to the 1st team.
There were cases for B.J Green (2nd in pressures) plus fellow Sun Devil Prince Dorbah and Stanford’s David Bailey (t-2nd sacks) to make the list but I decided team success would be the tiebreaker there. We’ve seen enough good seasons that I opted to put 4 honorable mentions rather than just 2 of them.
Washington’s edge duo expected to be here certainly but Bralen Trice is still sackless after 3 games although PFF thinks he has been fantastic against the run to help compensate. ZTF missed a game but has a chance to play his way back in contention if he has more games like he did against Michigan State.
1st Team- Darius Muasau* (UCLA); 14 tkl, 2 sacks. Lander Barton** (Utah); 12 tkl, 3 QB hits, 1 INT.
2nd Team- Easton Mascarenas-Arnold (Oregon State); 23 tkl, 1 INT. Jackson Sirmon* (California); 20 tkl, 1 sack.
Honorable Mention- Kaleb Elarms-Orr (California), Jacob Manu (Arizona)
This is one spot where Pro Football Focus gets it right in my opinion as Barton and Muasau are 1 and 2 in the Pac-12 linebacker grades and there’s a sizable gap after that. The counting stats aren’t as significant for Barton but watching most of the Florida and Baylor games he was a game changer despite what the stats say.
There are a lot of names in contention after that pair. Seven players have at least 19 tackles so far this season and it’s reasonable to put almost any of them in the other 4 spots on the list. The four I have on there all have at least one sack or interception as the resulting tiebreakers. Both Tuputala and Ulofoshio from UW have chances to ascend into serious consideration if they continue to play well.
1st Team- Travis Hunter* (Colorado); 10 tkl, 1 INT, 3 PBU. Nohl Williams (California); 9 tkl, 2 INT. Khyree Jackson (Oregon); 10 tkl, 2 INT, 1 PBU.
2nd Team- Zemaiah Vaughn (Utah); 11 tkl, 1 INT, 3 PBU; Jaylin Davies (UCLA); 6 tkl, 1 INT, 2 PBU, Jabbar Muhammad** (Washington); 6 tkl, 2 PBU
Honorable Mention- Chau Smith-Wade (Washington State)**, Martell Irby (Arizona), Alex Johnson (UCLA)
It’s almost a given that Travis Hunter will fall off the next few additions of these updates given that he’s projected to miss the next 3 games due to injury. But he absolutely deserves to be on the 1st team based on what he has shown when on the field so far. Joining him are a pair of players with a pair of interceptions each.
I opted to give Jabbar Muhammad a spot on the 2nd team even though his INT/PBU stats aren’t quite as impressive as some of the folks on the list. But opponents are completing just 27% of their passes targeting his receivers which has to count for something, and does in my book.
1st Team- Jaden Hicks (Washington State); 16 tlk, 1 sack, 1 INT. Cole Bishop* (Utah); 15 tkl, 2 sack, 1 INT.
2nd Team- Kitan Oladapo* (Oregon State); 13 tkl, 1 sack, 1 PBU. Trevor Woods (Colorado); 22 tkl, 2 INT, 1 PBU.
Honorable Mention- Max Williams (USC), Craig Woodson** (California)
This is a pretty easy first team in my mind. Bishop has looked really good so far while Hicks has played like an All-American for Washington State in the early going. It would probably take an injury to dethrone them for the top spots here.
There are also some other really nice safety performances from around the conference this season as reigning 1st teamer Calen Bullock didn’t even make the honorable mention list although he was in strong consideration.
Final Totals by Team
(listed in order of 3 pts for 1st team, 2 for 2nd, 1 for HM)
UCLA- 17 pts. 1st (2), 2nd (3), HM (5)
Washington- 16 pts. 1st (2), 2nd (3), HM (4)
Washington State- 15 pts. 1st (4), 2nd (0), HM (3)
Oregon- 14 pts. 1st (3), 2nd (1), HM (3)
Utah- 14 pts. 1st (3), 2nd (2), HM (1)
Colorado- 13 pts. 1st (2), 2nd (2), HM (3)
Arizona- 12 pts. 1st (1), 2nd (3), HM (3)
Oregon State- 12 pts. 1st (2), 2nd (3), HM (0)
USC- 9 pts(?!?). 1st (1). 2nd (2), HM (2)
Stanford- 5 pts. 1st (1), 2nd (1), HM (0)
Arizona St- 1 pt. 1st (0), 2nd (0), HM (1)