Pac-12 – Week 1 Players of the Week

5 09 2010

Players of the Week

We had some awesome performances by our athletes this week and it started on Thursday night with Utah’s DeVonte Christopher who hauled in 8 receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Following that up was USC against Hawaii and they have two players that deserve mentioning. Matt Barkley led the way for the Trojans on an 18-23 performance for 257 yards and 5 touchdowns. The biggest problem with Barkley last year was forcing balls into tight coverages, but he was fortunate that the one time he tried to force one in the game it was dropped by the Hawaiian linebacker. Here are the USC highlights.

Barkley’s favorite target was Ronald Johnson who caught 7 balls for a meager 59 yards and three touchdowns. I thought his touchdowns of 1 and 3 yards were the result of Lane Kiffin trying to pad Matt Barkley’s stats by throwing in running situations, but he was the beneficiary. His stat line normally wouldn’t have him on my player of the week list, but his beautiful 89 yard punt return warrants making the list.

The MVP this week belongs to Kenjon Barner of the Oregon Ducks with his 17 carries for 149 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 60 yards and another score and was on ESPN all day long with highlight reel runs which you can find here.

I thought that Barkley would have had the best numbers of all Pac-10 QB’s, but Nick Foles was even better on Friday night throwing 33 of 37 for 360 yards and 2TD’s. They showed a graphic during the game that essentially showed his first ~20 passes were under fifteen yards, but he was quick with his reads and accurate in his delivery.

Another Wildcat that makes our Player of the Week list is the recipient of the Nick Foles aerial assault, Juron Criner. The 6’4″ receiver caught 11 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. Criner gained quite a few YAC yards and also hauled in a beautiful one handed catch which shows up about 20 seconds into these highlights.

If you have the ComcastNet Sports Channel you might have been able to see a future Pac-12 star in Keenan Allen for the Cal Bears today. His four 4 receptions accounted for 120 yards and a 48 yard touchdown reception. Allen also had 3 carries for 38 yards with his best play coming on an end around play designed as a pass, but he quickly reversed field and cut back 20 yards for the touchdown. You can check out the Keenan Allen highlights here.

Stanford’s Andrew Luck put some separation between the Luck-Locker debate when he went 17 of 23 for 360 yards and four touchdowns. This was the one game I didn’t watch, but the numbers are phenomenal. Andrew Luck reminds me of Aaron Rodgers with his ability to make quick decisions, accuracy, and strength throwing the ball. He had a couple beautifully thrown deep balls in the Stanford highlights.

Bust of the Week

On the flip side of the list is the Pac-12 bust of the week which has to be Jake Locker of the Washington Huskies. This was supposed to be one of, if not the best offense in the conference. Locker was good in spurts, but his offensive line gave him very little time to get his feet set in the pocket and Sarkisian didn’t do him any favors with the play-calling. His Heisman hopes are dashed as he had the opportunity to take what would have been the game winning score on three separate drives, but failed to score any points in those possessions.

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Pac-10 Positive Outlook

30 08 2010

I can’t remember a time when the conference was as wide open as it is this year with seven teams legitimately competing for the championship. Some people have UCLA as a dark horse, but their offensive line has been decimated in the off-season from players leaving for missions, injuries, and now academic ineligibility.

I’m tired of ESPN plugging the SEC as the top conference in the country just because they signed a $2.0 billion deal to cover their games. That conference is always top heavy with a couple teams that can beat anyone, but they also have six bottom feeders that would be average in any BCS conference. I don’t think Florida or Alabama could go undefeated against the top 7 in the Pac-10, but both of them somehow came out of the SEC unscathed until the conference championship. If I was betting on these Pac-10 teams to win the conference championship it would be due to the reasons mentioned below.


  • Darron Thomas will be a household name by the end of the year, but not because he’s being mentioned on the police blotter like a former Ducks QB. Oregon fans will tell you about how awesome he was in the spring game and that he’s a more accurate passer than Masoli.  He will also be playing behind a talented offensive line and a stronger LaMichael James. If he’s anything near Dennis Dixon 2.0 then the Ducks could repeat as conference champion.


  • This team has all of the pieces in place, but the one thing that will make them a contender for the championship is the bump in production that typically happens to Pac-10 quarterbacks. Joey Harrington, Carson Palmer, Kyle Boller, Derek Anderson and Sean Canfield all know what it’s like to trod with mediocrity for three years only to see things slow down like Neo in the Matrix during their senior season. Kevin Riley is capable with the weapons he has at his disposal which could push the Bears over the top.

Oregon State

  • The Beavers have as much firepower as any team in the conference, but this year they will combine that with increased production in the trenches. Last year’s team ranked 8th in the conference in sacks allowed and the defense ranked 9th in sacks. Ryan Katz will have a much smoother transition with a more experienced offensive line and defensively the new linebackers will be looking for Stephen Paea to create gaps for them by taking on double teams.


  • This team is replacing their defensive coordinator, both starting defensive tackles and their entire linebacking corps, but their defensive ends (Brooks Reed & Ricky Elmore) will be the best pass-rushing tandem in the conference. Combined with the fact that they have one of the best secondaries in the conference, they’ll have a solid defense to match their powerful offense.


  • There’s been coaching turnover, players transferring, and the distractions of Reggie Bushgate, but USC  still has the talent to contend for the Pac-10 championship. The best USC teams of the decade had monsters on the defensive line that could get to the quarterback with a four man rush which allowed the linebackers and secondary to create turnovers. Jurrell Casey is one of the top defensive tackles in the country and Armond Armstead has shown big upside at defensive end.


  • Kirk Hirbstreit already put the dreaded curse on Stanford by predicting that they will win the Pac-10 championship, but Jim Harbaugh wants to know what his deal is for adding pressure to an under the radar Stanford team? They have the best quarterback in the Pac-10, but for them to compete for the Rose Bowl it will be because of their currently underrated stable of running backs Jeremy StewartTyler Gaffney and Stepfan Taylor. The Cardinal offensive line proved that they’re one of the best in the conference, but even moderate production from the ground game will allow Andrew Luck to do whatever he wants through the air.


  • The Huskies have the most balanced offense in the Pac-10, but if they’re going to compete for the championship it will be due to a scrappy defense that creates turnovers. Nick Holt has seven returning starters which should translate into a better understanding of his schemes. With two all-conference calibur players in cornerback Desmond Trufant and linebacker Mason Foster, I’m anticipating a much more aggressive campaign from the Huskies.

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