The Pac-10 Report: Week 3
Conquest Chronicles: “Saturday night really opened up the nations eyes as to just how good the offense is going to be. The offensive line was absolutely flawless in their execution of the game plan and their protection of Mark Sanchez. Yes, they allowed one sack in the 4th qtr. when SC was going for it on 4th and short but by then things were well in hand. Pete Carroll has been questioned in his use of a rotation system with the running backs but it has worked pretty well even though it was pretty much Joe McKnight’s night as hehad the hot hand and got the bulk of the carries. The unit that has also stepped up are the receivers, they are finally starting to make plays. Last night was Damian Williams night as he caught to TD passes and appears to be THE go to guy for Mark Sanchez.”
Addicted to Quack: “[Justin Roper] cannot throw the ball deep. Jaison Williams (who in my opinion is getting too much blame thus far) had one-on-one coverage on the outside most of the day, but we were never able to take advantage of that, because either Roper cannot throw deep, or the coaches will not let him throw deep. This flaw has been apparent since the UCLA game last year. He has consistently had low yards per attempt, and the only reason that has gone over 6 in any game is because receivers have taken short passes and made more out of them.”
Building the Dam: “The hype that Sammie Stroughter generates makes Shane Morales so much better. He had 151 yards at Stanford, 40 and Penn State, and now 93 against Hawaii. Shane has about 30 more yards total than Sammie through the first three games. Shane is a smart kid who knows how to get open, and it doesn’t hurt him that he’s got a good bond with Lyle.”
Alright, that’s the good stuff. Onto the multitudes of bad, including some thoughts on Maryland and Michigan State for Cal fans.
Tuscon Citizen: “New Mexico averaged 4.7 yards a carry in a surprising 36-28 win over UA. The Lobos’ smash-mouth approach Saturday torched Arizona for 221 rushing yards – 158 by Rodney Ferguson. In doing so, they kept the Cats from starting 3-0 for the first time since 2001. “We should have been able to defend the run better,” UA coach Mike Stoops said. “We committed a lot of guys to the run on a lot of those plays.””
Pitchfork Nation: Our senior signal caller, who looked so much more comfortable than in past seasons moving around and throwing on the run so far this season, looked timid and not confident. His throws were off, his timing was off and, worst yet, I feel like Rudy wasn’t looking down his receivers well enough. We’ll never know what he was looking at when he threw that 2nd quarter interception, but it certainly wasn’t the correct receiver, that’s for sure. I have no idea where he was mentally on the 3rd down in overtime, but all I know is that I saw Chris McGaha streak right by me ready to make the catch for at least a 1st down while RC threw the ball out of the end zone.
Sporting Contrarian: “The fact is, second place in the Pac 10 is wide open. Tier 1 is USC, Tier 2 is Oregon, Cal, and ASU, and Tier 3 is everyone else. It’s a down year and there isn’t a single game on the schedule that Cal can’t win, including USC, though that will be the only game where the odds are less than 50 percent. Most prognosticators pegged Cal somewhere between 7-5 and 9-3. Not much has really changed, but after watching this team over the past three weeks I tend to think they will finish more around 9-3 than 7-5.”
Fort-Worth Star Telegram: “Stanford had a 30-yard run by Toby Gerhart and scored on a 38-yard end-around by Doug Baldwin, and that was mostly the extent of the visitors’ ground game. TCU offensive coordinator Mike Schultz, on the other hand, put [quarterback Andy] Dalton in the shotgun with an empty backfield on the Frogs’ first play and picked away. The TCU quarterback threw 36 times, completing 20 for 145 yards. But he did much more damage executing the read option, handing the ball off to Ryan Christian or deftly faking into Joseph Turner’s belly and keeping the ball himself. Dalton’s ball-handling and decision-making are significantly improved from last season, when he was a raw freshman. “I never thought playing in the rain would be fun,” Dalton said after the game. “But it was a great atmosphere. The crowd really got into it.””
Bruins Nation: “Well, a good place to start would be not to get into any kind of blame game and recognize the reality that right now we don’t have the horses to compete at an elite level. Please note that when I make that assertion it’s not meant to be an attack on any of our players in the team. I have no doubt these kids are doing everything they can and will do everything they can to help the new regime build a foundation for the long term future of this program. But that doesn’t preclude us from making the observation that right now we don’t have the talent and experience to compete at the top level of the Pac-10 conference or even the MWC.”
UW Dawg Pound: Husky fans may not be patient with Tyrone Willingham but they need to be patient with the team because they only have an average of 2.12 years of experience across the board. They have started seven different freshman, and a record ten have played already this season. The tough lessons learned over the past three weeks will pay dividends in the future. The real question is whether Willingham will be around to see that future.
CougCenter: “I still hold the opinion that Gary Rogers gives us the best chance to win now. However, Kevin Lopina, as a redshirt junior, gives us the best chance to win next year. Tonights numbers: Lopina 17/26, 174 yds, 1 TD (rushing), 2 INT. Rogers: 6/12, 89 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. So, in a quarterback battle that Wulff has said will be decided in the context of games, no one distanced themselves from the other. One thing that bears noting: Lopina may fit the Wulff system better, in terms of his mobility. One rushing touchdown and the 21-yard scamper tonight make Kevin look like a more intriguing rushing quarterback. With limited pass and rush protection, that may be what WSU needs right now. Regardless, it’s safe to say the job is up in the air until someone earns it.”
For Cal fans only
Turtle Waxing: “The defensive line obviously played much better this week against a good Cal offense. They were able to get to Cal QB Kevin Riley five times after barely getting a whiff of the QB against Delaware and Middle Tennessee. Moise Fokou had two sacks on blitzes and Rick Costa made a strong case that he is a much better pass rushing LEO than Trey Covington. The rest of the line was able to force Riley to move around and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. He missed several key throws on third down after the pressure got to him. They also anchored well in the running game and allowed linebackers line Dave Philistin to flow to the ball and make tackles. Mack Frost may have reinjured his knee but Jared Harrell is showing some nice ability in pass rush situations.”
The Enlightened Spartan: “The day belong to Javon Ringer. The senior had a career day for MSU, rushing for 282 yards on 43 carries and 2 TDs (4th best rushing total in MSU history)… singlehandedly lifting MSU to its 17-0 victory over FAU. Ringer was a stud. Both QBs, all the receivers had a very very difficult time holding onto the ball. Countless deep snaps in the shotgun, on punts, on kicks all sailed through QB and kickers hands. Receivers couldn’t hold onto the ball for the life of them. As a result, FAU’s QB Smith ended with awful numbers: 8-of-34 for 143 yards; Hoyer was 5-of-15 for 88 yards. The rain did not let up until the middle of the third quarter, when MSU went on a long drive led by Ringer and a deep throw (each team had just one deep pass during the game) from Hoyer to Dell, that put MSU up 17-0.”
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