Pac-10 Preview: Week 3
Arizona did what it had to do, what it should have done. The Wildcats dispatched sometimes-tricky Toledo in their opener and then flattened The Citadel in the second week, winning by a combined 93-8.
"I don't think anybody is getting carried away here," coach Mike Stoops said after a 52-6 victory over The Citadel.
That's because he and his team know the first two weeks were just tune-ups for this Saturday's game at Arizona Stadium against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
How intense will that game be?
"I was telling the guys if you haven't seen Coach Mike mad, you're going to see it this week," senior free safety Joseph Perkins said.
Stoops has been able to stay relatively calm in the first two weeks. On Saturday night, the Wildcats made sure they didn't fall victim to a lower-division team; such was the fate of Virginia Tech and Minnesota and others last weekend.
Arizona led 24-0 at halftime and then pushed its advantage to 38-0 within the first three minutes of the second half. After that, a lot of backups got a chance to play, including third-string quarterback Bryson Beirne, who finished the scoring with a 6-yard pass to Jack Baucus with 4:09 left.
"Obviously, we'll be going up against some very different teams over the next few weeks," Stoops said. "The stress levels are going to go up."
--As of late last week, Arizona was getting close to selling out the Iowa game this Saturday. The Wildcats drew a crowd of 54,814 in 57,400-seat Arizona Stadium for The Citadel.
--An estimated crowd of about 2,000 came out two hours before the game to cheer on the team during its new home tradition -- the Wildcat Walk. Players and coaches walk a couple of blocks through campus streets, with fans lined on each side. "It was exciting," Stoops said. "I think what you always want to do is create this environment of winning and involvement and understanding of how much difference they can make in a game."
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Nic Grigsby -- The senior continues to show he's a big-play threat, this time scoring on a 62-yard run against The Citadel. There wasn't too much too it; he took a handoff to the right, made one cut inside at the line of scrimmage ... and he was gone. Grigsby also scored on runs of 3 yards and 1 yard, giving him five scores through two games. He finished with 11 carries for 107 yards against the Bulldogs.
KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Matt Scott -- For the second consecutive game, the coaches put in Scott, the backup quarterback, early in the second quarter. Scott also got time in the second half against The Citadel with Arizona holding a comfortable lead. Scott, who lost the starting job to Nick Foles last season, is much-improved as a passer and has play-making ability with his legs (something Foles lacks). Will the coaches use Scott as a change-up against Iowa? Or will the expected tightness of the game mean they will stick with Foles the whole way?
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think Juron has made a lot of strides in his maturity and his consistency. Either you come to realize this is the way you are going to do it or you don't. I mean, he's got a whole bunch of talent. I think he's starting to see it and realize he can be pretty special. But you have to work hard." -- Coach Mike Stoops, on junior WR Juron Criner.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: Junior QB Nick Foles has looked to be in total command of the offense through two games. He ranks 11th in the nation in passing efficiency (174.77 rating), having completed 49 of 59 passes for 574 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Both of his interceptions this season have come after deflections, although one came on a high throw and the one pick against The Citadel came after he fired a ball into traffic. Overall, though, Foles has made all the throws, hitting the receivers in stride on the screen passes, able to put zip on the ball over the middle and showing touch on the deep passes.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Senior P Keenyn Crier has been enigmatic, especially in the past couple of seasons. A starter since his freshman season, he has always displayed a big leg, and it looked as if he could develop into an All-America talent. But he has been inconsistent in the past couple of seasons, and it showed again vs. The Citadel as he averaged 34.3 yards on three punts. That included a 27-yard shank in the fourth quarter. That wasn't a big deal against The Citadel, but it will be if he does the same thing against Iowa.
--WR Juron Criner, perhaps the most irreplaceable guy on the roster given his big-play abilities on the outside, suffered a shoulder injury early in the second half against The Citadel and did not return. Coach Mike Stoops said after the game that Criner was "fine," adding, "We felt like we didn't have to play him." Criner had two catches for 60 yards in his brief action against The Citadel, and it appears he will be ready to go for Iowa.
--S Adam Hall, who is a starter in Arizona's nickel package, injured his left shoulder on special teams Saturday. His arm was in a sling in the second half, and coach Mike Stoops called the injury a "stinger." Hall's availability for this week was not immediately known.
Considering the way the rest of the day was going in college football, Arizona State was just happy to get out with a victory against Football Championship Subdivision foe Northern Arizona.
But coach Dennis Erickson wasn't thrilled with the 41-20 victory.
"Probably the best word was sloppy," he said.
"We were sloppy on both sides of the football. We dropped balls or didn't throw it very well. We made some plays, but it was not a good day. We didn't execute very well and sometimes that stuff happens.
"We didn't play very well defensively. We gave up some points; we gave up the big play. Nothing against Northern Arizona -- they are going to do very well in their league -- but we play like that next week and it is going to be a long day."
ASU (2-0) didn't pull away from the Lumberjacks until the fourth quarter, when it scored 14 points. NAU had pulled within a touchdown late in the third quarter on a 35-yard pass from Michael Herrick to Khalil Paden.
"You just become annoyed," Erickson said. "You play somebody you're supposed to beat, and you let them hang in there."
There's a chance ASU just wasn't emotionally all there. After all, NAU was the Sun Devils' second consecutive lower-division opponent, a scheduling oddity created when San Jose State backed out of a game in order to take a bigger payday at Alabama.
So, after beating Portland State and NAU, about the only thing ASU knows right now is that it would be leading the Big Sky Conference.
The level of competition completely changes this week when the Sun Devils travel to play Wisconsin.
"We're ready for Wisconsin," vowed junior receiver Mike Willie. "We just have to strap down and get ready for the big teams."
--It was the same old story for sophomore LB Vontaze Burfict, one of the most physically talented defenders in the Pac-10. Against NAU, he mixed a strong defensive effort (11 tackles, a forced fumble, a pass break-up) with two personal foul penalties in the fourth quarter. Burfict's freshman season was marked with exactly those kinds of careless penalties, an area coach Dennis Erickson tried to address in the offseason.
Apparently, there is still work to be done.
Erickson was asked after the game what would happen if Burfict continues to commit those kinds of penalties.
"Well, he won't play," Erickson said.
"As good of a football player as he is, we just can't afford to have that happen. I don't know exactly what happened, so I have to look at the tape. I think a couple of those calls were a little iffy but we'll see."
--Two Arizona State players made their first career starts Saturday against NAU: Redshirt freshman RG Evan Finkenberg and junior DT Bo Moos.
GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Mike Willie -- The transfer from Cerritos Community College had eight catches for 114 yards and one touchdown. He seemed to make the big play when ASU needed it, including an 8-yard catch on fourth-and-5 from the NAU 35 that eventually led to a touchdown. All eight of his receptions went for first downs. "He's worked hard during summer when he got here and at fall camp," QB Steven Threet said. "He helped me out a lot today."
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Gerell Robinson -- He missed the opener against Portland State because of a hamstring injury, but saw some action against NAU, entering late in the first quarter. The junior did not catch a pass, however. He should be able to contribute more this week against Wisconsin, adding to what appears to be a deep receiving corps -- which is exactly what the Sun Devils need while running a new no-huddle spread offense.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There was some improvement but way too many mistakes with poor throws and a couple penalties. We need to take care of that. We need to be hitting on all 10 cylinders these next 10 games." -- QB Steven Threet, on ASU's offense.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: After searching for a quarterback through the spring and fall camp, Arizona State looks settled at the position through its first two games. Michigan transfer Steven Threet hasn't been perfect against two lower-division teams, throwing two interceptions Saturday against NAU, but he has shown plenty of potential in ASU's new spread offense. Despite some shaky play, he was 33 of 49 for 391 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Lumberjacks.
STILL NEEDS WORK: ASU's offensive line has been a sore spot for the past couple of seasons, and it was discouraging to see the Sun Devils manage only 56 yards on 29 carries against FCS opponent NAU. If Arizona State couldn't get a push and open up holes against the Lumberjacks, then there wouldn't appear to be much hope when it goes up against powerful Wisconsin this week.
--Junior WR Gerell Robinson, expected to be a big factor in ASU's new spread offense, missed most of camp because of a hamstring injury and did not play in the opener. He played against NAU but did not catch a pass.
--Second-string DT Corey Adams (torn meniscus in left knee) missed the first two games and is questionable for the Wisconsin game.
--Second-string DT Toa Tuitea (elbow) missed the first two games and has a chance to play this week at Wisconsin, coach Dennis Erickson said.
Cal has yet to be tested after two games, but it has yet to play a road game either. The latter will change in the Bears' Sept. 17 game against Nevada, a Friday night game that not only provides Cal's first road challenge of the season but also gives Cal one less day to prepare.
Through two games, Cal has faced little resistance, essentially deciding both games by halftime. The 52-7 victory over Colorado on Sept. 11 was easier than expected, but the Buffaloes certainly are not a powerhouse team.
The most encouraging part of the win over Colorado from Cal's standpoint was the pressure applied to the Buffaloes' quarterback by the Bears defense. The entire offseason was filled with the promise that new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast would provide a more aggressive defense that would make things uncomfortable for the opposing quarterback.
And Colorado QB Tyler Hansen was uncomfortable throughout. Cal sacked him six times, forced Colorado into five turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns. Despite the score, it was really the Cal defense that was the impetus for the Bears' second straight 52-point output.
Whether the Bears can apply the same pressure next week is a bigger question. Nevada's Colin Kaepernick is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, and preventing him making some big plays will be a significant challenge for the Bears.
So far Cal has had nothing to worry about in the second half of its games, but the Wolf Pack should make the Bears work throughout.
The defense installed by Pendergast showed its potential against Colorado. Hansen seldom had time to throw, going 18-for-34 for 166 yards and three interceptions.
"We don't want to be a defense that stands back and holds back," Pendergast said. "We're going to be a turnover-oriented defense. That's something coach (Jeff) Tedford has been preaching."
The catalyst for the defensive pressure was outside linebacker Jarred Price, whose sack of Hansen in the first quarter produced a fumble that led to Cal's second touchdown. A few minutes later, Price hit Hansen when he was throwing, producing a flutter ball that was easily intercepted by Bryant Nnabuife and led to a field goal and a 17-0 lead.
Getting to Kaepernick will not be as easy. He had 402 yards total offense in Nevada's 51-6 victory over Colorado State on Sept. 11. He had 161 yards on the ground and completed 21 of 29 passes.
It will be interesting to see Pendergast's scheme for Nevada, especially with a short week of practice in the Bears' first road game.
--Jarred Price is 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, and he produced his two big plays plus another sack while going against Colorado OT Nate Solder, a 6-9, 315-pounder who was a first-team all-Big 12 selection last season and is projected as a possible first-round NFL draft pick next spring.
--Cal has outscored its first two opponents 104-10. The 10 points is the fewest Cal has yielded in the first two games of a season since the 1968 Bears gave up just seven points in the first two games.
--Cal freshman wide receiver Keenan Allen, who had a monster game in his college debut in the opener against UC Davis, had five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown against Colorado. He was credited with six receptions immediately after the game, but a review of the statistics revealed he was credited with a catch that should have been awarded to Marvin Jones.
--The loss was Colorado's 13th straight on the road.
GAME BALL GOES TO: LB Jarred Price -- Although he had just four tackles, he produced the two biggest plays of the game. Both created turnovers that led to scores that put Cal ahead 17-0. He did it against Colorado's standout offensive lineman Nate Solder. Price is not a starter, but he comes in on passing situations, and Colorado, which uses a lot of three-wideout formations, was in a passing situation a lot. His speed will pose a problem for any tackle trying to pass-protect, and he will be a key for Cal against Nevada.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Marvin Jones -- Although Keenan Allen is getting most of the publicity, Jones provides a threat on the other side. He had four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown against Colorado, and has eight catches and two touchdown receptions through two games. Jones also ran the ball once for 23 yards. He is a returning starter, and was the team's leading receiver last year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like going against a dude that tall. If I dip my shoulder, there's nothing they can do." -- Cal OLB Jarred Price, on his success against 6-9, 315-pound Colorado OT Nate Solder.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The Cal defense yielded only 81 yards total offense against UC Davis, and it was even better in the Sept. 11 win over Colorado. Although Cal yielded a lot more yardage (239) against the Buffaloes, it forced five turnovers and created the favorable field position that enabled Cal to pile up points. The aggressive style taught by new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is producing results, including six sacks and 11 tackles for losses against Colorado. The defense also scored two touchdowns against Colorado. Pass defense was Cal's biggest weakness last season, but the Bears had three interceptions against Colorado.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Cal's running game has not been as productive as the Bears would like. Jeff Tedford relies on offensive balance, with TB Shane Vereen being the chief ground threat. But Vereen had only 67 yards in the opener, albeit in limited action, and added only 59 yards on 16 carries against Colorado. That's an average of just 3.7 yards a carry against Colorado, and he had no runs of 15 yards or more.
--Darian Hagan returned a fumble 82 yards for Cal's final touchdown. He is the son of Darian Hagan Jr., who was Colorado's starting quarterback when the Buffaloes won a share of the 1990 national championship. The elder Hagan is Colorado's running backs coach, so he saw his son's performance.
--Cal QB Kevin Riley threw four touchdown passes against Colorado, giving him seven touchdown passes with no interceptions for the season.
--TB Shane Vereen caught three passes against Colorado, and he has caught at least one pass in all 28 collegiate games he's played.
--OT Matt Summers-Gavin played a few plays against Colorado, which was his first game action of the season. He missed most of preseason practice with a knee injury.
If there was ever any doubt about the explosiveness of the Oregon offense, Saturday's game against Tennessee dispelled those thoughts.
Having waited through a storm delay and trailing 13-3 late in the second quarter, the Ducks ran off a staggering 45 consecutive points in the final 33 minutes to knock out the Vols, 48-13.
"I'm really proud of how we came out and played in the second half," coach Chip Kelly said.
"That's something we really pride ourselves on -- our conditioning. We felt like that would really be something we could hang our hat on. We decided at halftime that we really wanted to pick up the tempo and use that."
It was a stunningly effective display, one that further stamps Oregon as the Pac-10 favorite as the defending conference champions. The Ducks picked up a feel-good victory for the conference and moved to No. 5 in the AP poll.
It appears the Ducks, with an excess of speed in the backfield (all over the field, really), don't really miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who is playing for Mississippi following his suspension from the Oregon program in the offseason.
Oregon showed its lightning in the second half with three big scores -- a 72-yard run from LaMichael James, a 76-yard interception return from Cliff Harris and an 80-yard punt return from Kenjon Barner.
By comparison, a 29-yard touchdown pass from Darron Thomas to Lavasier Tuinei looks miniscule.
The Ducks made a believer out of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.
"That's what they do," he said of the big plays.
"We said that's one of the keys here. What they do is they wear on you, they get you tired, you don't line up right or you don't have the right eye control or you miss tackles. They've got special enough players to make you pay when they do that."
--Coach Chip Kelly didn't necessarily listen to his own advice as he took his team into Tennessee's Neyland Stadium. "That's an unbelievable environment to play in out there," he said. "I mean, this place is impressive. I tell my players all the time, 'Don't look at the stadium,' but I was looking at the stadium."
--The Tennessee-Oregon game was delayed at the 8:53 mark of the first quarter because of a lightning storm. At that point, the Ducks were down 6-0 and hadn't taken an offensive snap because they lost a fumble on a kick return. "It was weird," LB Casey Matthews told the Eugene Register-Guard of the delay. "But it gave us time to fix what was going wrong."
--The game was played in front of 102,035 fans, which marked the third-largest crowd to see an Oregon game. The largest -- 109,733 at Michigan in 2007. The second-largest was 102,247 at the 1995 Rose Bowl.
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB LaMichael James -- Returning from a one-game suspension, James turned the game in Oregon's favor for good with a 72-yard run early in the third quarter. That gave the Ducks a 20-13 lead and started a second-half avalanche that buried the Vols. James, a sophomore, rushed 16 times for 134 yards.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Oregon's punt return game -- The Ducks got two punt returns for touchdowns in the opening game, those coming from CB Cliff Harris, the backup returner. Against Tennessee, speedy RB Kenjon Barner resumed regular duties, and he broke off an 80-yard return for a score in the second half. The Ducks have scored on three of their five punt returns this season, averaging 43.6 yards per attempt.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel like their offense set such a tempo. As a defense you have to match that, and if you don't then you're going to get ran right by. And that's what they did to us." -- Tennessee LB Nick Reveiz, in the Eugene Register-Guard, on the Oregon offense.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: After games against New Mexico and Tennessee, Oregon is a point-a-minute outfit, scoring 120 points in 120 minutes. Special teams and defense are responsible for some of that, but, clearly, the offense looks to be in sync behind new starting quarterback Darron Thomas, a sophomore. He has been in control and is making solid decisions. Thomas was 17 of 32 for 202 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions against Tennessee, which marked his first career start on the road.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Oregon just needs to keep doing what it's doing and not let up this week as it takes a step down to host Football Championship Subdivision opponent Portland State. Not that coach Chip Kelly is one to take his foot off the accelerator, but the Ducks need to make sure they're still humming as they head into the Pac-10 opener Sept. 25 at Arizona State.
--PK Rob Beard was back after missing the opener due to a one-game suspension. He made both of his field goal attempts vs. Tennessee, from 37 and 42 yards.
--P Jackson Rice, who was not used in the opener against New Mexico, made his season debut at Tennessee, averaging 41.8 yards on four attempts.
Good luck figuring out the Trojans after two games.
USC looked to be all offense and no defense in its season opener at Hawaii. On Saturday against visiting Virginia, the Trojans appeared to be all defense and no offense.
Through all the inconsistency, new coach Lane Kiffin has managed to lead his team to a 2-0 record, even if a 17-14 victory over the Cavaliers did little to make USC feel good about what is going on.
"I'm extremely disappointed with our performance," Kiffin told reporters after the game.
"It's the most miserable 2-0 locker room I've been in, which is good. We need to get better. ... The disappointment is for the Trojan family and fans. We disappointed them."
USC gained 524 yards against Hawaii but allowed 588 yards.
USC gained only 340 yards against Virginia but allowed 329.
Still, nobody expected USC to be outgained through two games. And the Trojans haven't helped themselves with 24 penalties for 240 yards.
Lucky for the Trojans, they have been able to ease into this season against decent but lesser opposition. It's not as if USC has been playing Ohio State, as it has in recent years.
This week, the Trojans will try to get things working all together when they play at Minnesota, which is coming off a loss to lower-division South Dakota.
"There was no celebration," defensive tackle Jurrell Casey told the Riverside Press-Enterprise after the Virginia game. "We know we're supposed to be SC -- one of the greatest programs in the country. We shouldn't have close games like this."
--CB Shareece Wright, who was academically ineligible for the 2009 regular season, is now the leader of a young secondary. The senior made eight tackles, including one for loss, broke up a pass and blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter that could have brought the Cavs within 17-10.
--Coach Lane Kiffin, showing some of former coach Pete Carroll's gambling spirit, twice went for it on fourth-and-short against Virginia. The first situation came on fourth-and-2 from the Virginia 38 early in the second quarter. The Trojans were penalized for holding, nullifying a catch by FB Stanley Havili, and had to punt. The second situation came in the third quarter, when QB Matt Barkley connected on a 12-yard pass to TE Jordan Cameron on fourth-and-1 from the Cavs 48. That drive ended on a missed field goal.
GAME BALL GOES TO: FS T.J. McDonald -- He led a stout defensive effort against Virginia, coming up with a team-high 14 tackles and saving a touchdown early in the game with a leaping interception in the end zone. The secondary blanketed the Cavs' passing game all evening, holding QB Marc Verica to 17-of-36 passing for 190 yards.
KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Dillon Baxter -- The touted true freshman made his debut against Virginia after being suspended for the Hawaii game. He carried nine times for 49 yards and caught two passes for 8 yards. "Dillon played strong the whole game, he really ran hard through the tackles," QB Matt Barkley told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "He was looking really strong. For his first game, I think he played well."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I would say we were outcoached. We played at home, at the Coliseum, the crowd was great, we've got really good players and the game was close. I'd say we were outcoached." -- USC coach Lane Kiffin, after the Virginia game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: Sophomore QB Matt Barkley has thrown for seven touchdowns and has not been intercepted in the first two games. He ranks 12th nationally in passing efficiency with a 171.8 rating and has completed 38 of 58 passes for 459 yards. Barkley has a bevy of weapons at his disposal, and the Trojans offense remains very dangerous, despite its struggles against Virginia.
STILL NEEDS WORK: USC was penalized 13 times for 150 yards against Virginia, a stunning lack of discipline. One of the penalties -- a holding call -- erased a 53-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Johnson. "We're not getting it done," coach Lane Kiffin said. "I'm sure we lead the world in penalties right now." Close. USC ranks second-to-last nationally with 12 penalties per game and second-to-last in penalty yards per game (120). Florida International is last in both areas.
--DE Nick Perry, who did not play in the opener at Hawaii, was still bothered by a sprained ankle vs. Virginia and sat out the second half. He started at left end and made one tackle.
--DL Armond Armstead moved from end and started the Virginia game at defensive tackle, replacing DT DaJohn Harris in the lineup. Armstead made one tackle against the Cavs.
--True freshman WR Robert Woods, who has started the first two games, caught three passes for 64 yards against Virginia. He was the first true freshman to start a season opener at receiver for USC since such record-keeping began after World War II.
Defense was the big question mark for Stanford, and was the aspect that left doubts about the Cardinal's ability to challenge for a Rose Bowl berth.
If the Cardinal defense the rest of the season resembles the one that shut out UCLA 35-0 on Sept. 11, Stanford could win the conference, which seems to be wide open.
Dominating the Bruins, whose offense was feeble and was left with quarterback questions, does not prove Stanford's defense has arrived. The Cardinal's Sept. 18 home game against Wake Forest will be a better test for the Cardinal defense under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Wake Forest has scored more than 50 points in both of its games, and it rolled up 500 yards in its 54-48 victory over Duke on Sept. 11. Which quarterback Stanford will face is in question, because Demon Deacons starter Ted Stachitas left the game against Duke with a bruised left (non-throwing) hand, and his status is uncertain for the Cardinal game. However, freshman Tanner Price went 12-for-19 and threw three touchdown passes as Stachinas' replacement, so he will offer a challenge to Stanford's pass defense if he plays.
So far, Stanford's defense has been better than anyone expected after ranking ninth in the Pac-10 in total defense last season.
"I think our defense surprised a lot of people," Stanford safety Mike Thomas told the San Francisco Chronicle after beating UCLA.
The Cardinal forced four turnovers and limited the Bruins to 233 yards for its first shutout over UCLA since 1941. More significant is that Stanford yielded just 81 passing yards, an impressive number considering the Cardinal ranked 110th of 120 FBS schools in pass defense a year ago.
The poor performance by UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince certainly helped the Cardinal defense look good, but shutting out any Pac-10 opponent on the opponent's home field should not be dismissed. It was particularly impressive because Stanford's best defensive player -- linebacker Shayne Skov (knee infection) -- did not play.
The Cardinal defense was the chief reason Stanford dominated the game despite a mediocre game by Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who was just 11-for-24 for 151 yards.
Luck again was without one of major weapons, Chris Owusu, who missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. The Cardinal offense was also without running back Jeremy Stewart, who was the starter in the Cardinal's opener but sat out the UCLA game with an ankle injury.
Nonetheless, Stanford demonstrated it could run the ball without Toby Gerhart, churning out 211 rushing yards, albeit against a UCLA defense that proved vulnerable to the run the previous week against Kansas State.
--Stanford's victory over UCLA put the Cardinal in first place in the Pac-10, and the Cardinal will stay there until at least Sept. 25. No other team plays a Pac-10 conference game until then.
--Stanford had an 18-play, 68-yard drive for a touchdown in the third quarter that made the score 21-0. What made the drive more significant, though, was that QB Andrew Luck completed just one of nine pass attempts in the possession. Luck did assist the drive with some runs, however.
--The win over UCLA ended a six-game losing streak to UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The Cardinal had not beaten UCLA on the Bruins' home field since 1996. Stanford has had success in Los Angeles recently. Its best game of 2009 was its rout of USC in Los Angeles, and the Cardinal pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history when it beat USC in L.A. in 2007. Jim Harbaugh's only loss in L.A. as Stanford's coach came in 2008, when UCLA won 23-20 by scoring the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left.
GAME BALL GOES TO: S Mike Thomas -- Thomas twice stripped UCLA ball carriers, creating fumbles recovered by Stanford. In his second strip, Thomas took the ball away from UCLA QB Kevin Prince and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cardinal a 28-0 lead late in the third quarter. He also had five tackles, including one for a loss. Thomas was a cornerback last season, but earned the starting safety job in preseason. He had never started a game until this season.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Doug Baldwin -- He had three receptions for a team-high 50 yards against the Bruins, and he has seven catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinal's first two games. Baldwin leads the team in receiving yards and TD receptions after two games, even though he would not have been a starter were it not for the undisclosed injury to Chris Owusu. With Owusu's status still uncertain, Baldwin becomes a key figure in the Cardinal's passing game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I definitely didn't play my best game by any means. I was a little overjuiced." -- Stanford QB Andrew Luck, after going 11-for-24 for just 151 yards against UCLA.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The Cardinal running game was a major concern this season after the departure of Toby Gerhart, but the Cardinal ran for 211 yards against UCLA, with most of the yardage coming right up the middle. TB Stepfan Taylor, who made his first career start, had a team-high 81 rushing yards, and QB Andrew Luck again showed he is a threat with his legs as well as his arm. Luck had 63 rushing yards on seven attempts, and nearly scored on bruising 3-yard run in the third quarter. It was originally ruled a touchdown, but Luck was declared down at the half-yard line after a replay. UCLA does not have a good run defense team, however, so the numbers may not be as impressive as they seem.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Passing game. This is certainly not a concern with Andrew Luck as the Cardinal quarterback, but Stanford expects more than a 45.8 completion percentage and 151 passing yards, which is what it got against UCLA. Luck started the game well, but misfired on a lot of throws throughout the game. The absence of WR Chris Owusu and TE Levine Toilolo did not help, but the Cardinal has more than enough weapons, and Luck has received outstanding pass protection. Luck just needs to be more accurate.
--WR Chris Owusu was in uniform against UCLA but not play. He has missed Stanford's first two games with an undisclosed injury, and it's unclear when or if he will return. Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has said little about Owusu's condition, but said in the days leading up to the UCLA game he expected Owusu to play.
--LB Shayne Skov has missed both games, reportedly with a knee infection, and it's uncertain when he will return. Max Bergen played in Skov's place, and the Cardinal miss Skov's intimidating presence in the middle.
--RB Jeremy Stewart missed the UCLA game with an ankle injury, and his status for the Wake Forest game Sept. 18 in uncertain. He started the season opener against Sacramento State.
It's almost back to the drawing board for UCLA.
After a humbling 35-0 home loss to Stanford in the Pac-10 opener, Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel will have to figure out what to do with his offense, specifically sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince.
Prince was 6 of 12 for 39 yards with an interception and a lost fumble against the Cardinal. Backup Richard Brehaut was 5 of 9 for 42 yards and an interception. He also fumbled, but UCLA recovered.
Neuheisel and coordinator Norm Chow installed the Revolver offense in the offseason -- a hybrid of the Pistol -- and the passing game has suffered.
"The run portion of the offense is working," Neuheisel said. "The difficult thing right now is the throwing game -- the inability to convert a third down."
Well, the passing game is just one of the difficult things right now. Prince might still be rusty after being limited in camp because of a slightly torn back muscle. Brehaut played a little more than the final quarter against Stanford.
After the game, Neuheisel said it was too early to announce a change, but it was something the coaching staff would look at.
The Bruins, who opened with a loss at Kansas State, are already staring at a difficult season with a team that just might not be good enough up front on both sides.
"We have a lot of good, young players that have to grow up and stop making silly mistakes, and we have also got to make tough decisions as coaches for who is ready to play and who isn't," Neuheisel said.
"Young men have to understand that that's just the consequence. You can't be on the field unless you are ready to play."
--RB Derrick Coleman, who was taken off the field on a stretcher during the Stanford game, was released from a local hospital after midnight after being diagnosed with a concussion and neck sprain. He had rushed six times for 23 yards before being injured. There was no immediate timetable for his return.
--UCLA had won six consecutive games against Stanford in the Rose Bowl before being shut out Saturday.
--The Bruins were shut out at home for the first time since Oct. 16, 1999, when they lost 17-0 to Cal. Overall, the last time UCLA had failed to score was at BYU on Sept. 13, 2008.
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Jonathan Franklin -- UCLA's running game is doing OK, and Franklin rushed 11 times for 73 yards in the loss to Stanford. The Bruins rushed for 152 yards against the Cardinal, but finished with only 233 total yards.
KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Malcolm Jones -- He was the Gatorade national high school player of the year as a senior, and he has done well in his first two games as a Bruin. He had three rushes for 20 yards in the opener at Kansas State and followed up with seven carries for 52 yards against Stanford. Jones figures to get more opportunities because of the concussion/neck sprain to RB Derrick Coleman.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Their quarterback was as advertised. He was terrific. We had him covered, and he made plays with his legs and got the first down. He made some really sensational throws." -- UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, on Stanford sophomore QB Andrew Luck.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: UCLA is 0-2 and still staring at a difficult schedule (at home vs. Houston and then at Texas), so the outlook does not look promising. Coach Rick Neuheisel has put together three excellent recruiting classes, so perhaps it's just a matter of time before the Bruins really take off. At least that's what UCLA has to keep telling itself as it takes its lumps with shaky quarterback play, an offensive line that has endured some losses and an inexperienced defensive front.
STILL NEEDS WORK: UCLA isn't ready for a physical team. "Physical" and "tough" describe UCLA's first two opponents -- Kansas State and Stanford -- and it showed in the ability of each team to run against the Bruins. K-State rushed for 313 yards and Stanford managed 211. Through two games, UCLA's rush defense ranks 116th out of 120 teams, allowing 262 yards per game. With only one returning starter in the defensive front seven, this could become a season-long theme.
--Lou Groza award-winning kicker Kai Forbath had made 40 consecutive field goals from within 50 yards. That streak ended against Stanford, when he missed wide right from 49 yards in the second half. Still, being 40 of 40 from inside 49 yards isn't bad.
--DE Datone Jones, the team's only returning starter on the defensive line, suffered a broken foot in fall camp and figures to miss at least half of the season.
--Junior C Kai Maiava, a projected starter, suffered a fractured ankle in fall camp and could be out at least until late October.
--OT Mike Harris, who was suspended for the opener, did not play against Stanford.
It took a little longer than they wanted, but finally, in the second half of the second game of the season, the Washington Huskies began to show glimpses of the team that had elicited such high expectations this season.
UW, after losing at BYU 23-17 in the opener, led Syracuse just 13-10 at halftime Saturday after a sluggish 30 minutes that included a few more special teams mistakes and some shoddy tackling.
But the Huskies outscored Syracuse 28-10 in the second half to pull away for a 41-20 win and let everyone breath a sigh of relief in Seattle.
"Once we settled down, I knew we would be OK," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I was proud of our guys for not panicking."
Much of the rest of Husky nation, however, undoubtedly was when UW fell behind 10-0 after Syracuse's first two possessions of the game. Penalties on a punt and a kick return helped lead to the slow start.
But a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jake Locker to Jermaine Kearse late in the second quarter put UW on top for good and foreshadowed a big second half for the duo.
On the first play of the third quarter, Locker hit Kearse on a short pass that Kearse turned into a 57-yard TD, breaking down the sideline for the score. Locker hit Kearse on a similar-looking 28-yard touchdown later in the quarter.
Sarkisian said that since Syracuse likes to bring a lot of pressure up the middle, the plan was to get rid of the ball quickly to the perimeter, where Washington receivers could then use their athletic ability.
"One of the big (points of emphasis) for Jermaine coming into this year was yards after the catch," Sarkisian said. "That's something we have been working on since spring ball and in training camp and that showed up tonight. I mean, everything he was doing was after the catch."
Kearse finished with a bevy of career highs -- three touchdowns, 179 yards receiving and nine receptions. The junior who was an all-conference second team pick last season now has four of UW's seven touchdowns this year.
Kearse's big day helped Locker have a big day as well as he completed 22 of 33 passes for 289 yards in executing well a game plan that called for a lot of short and intermediate high-percentage passes.
He barely ran, however, with just 8 yards on five carries as Syracuse, like many teams, committed itself to keeping him in the pocket.
The defense also rebounded from last week's game to notch its first three sacks of the year and get two turnovers.
But much bigger tests await as the Huskies host Nebraska on Saturday.
"We have to keep the momentum going and keep believing in ourselves," junior cornerback Quinton Richardson said.
--WR Jermaine Kearse has had more than 100 yards receiving in three straight games dating to the final game of 2009 against Cal.
--QB Jake Locker is now third on UW's all-time career passing list with 5,929 yards, behind only Cody Pickett (10,220) and Brock Huard (6,391). He passed Damon Huard and Marques Tuiasosopo on Saturday.
Locker also has 41 touchdown passes, also third in school history behind Pickett (55) and Brock Huard (53).
GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Jermaine Kearse -- Kearse was the best player on the field against Syracuse, dominating the Orange secondary with nine catches for 179 yards and three TDs. It was a nice rebound from a somewhat disappointing game the previous week when he had three drops at key times in the loss at BYU. Kearse had previously been known largely as UW's best deep threat, but on Saturday he did most of his damage with short passes that he then turned into long gains.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Devin Aguilar is turning into a solid complement to Kearse, catching seven passes for 81 yards and a TD against the Orange. He is more of the prototypical possession receiver, though he's able to make the big play at times.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought our kids showed again the mental toughness that it takes to be a really good football program. ... To fall down 10-0 and not to panic. ... I thought we started to play, and I thought we started to play better and better and better as the game went on, on both sides of the ball." -- Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: QB Jake Locker. After a somewhat sporadic outing in the opening game when he hit 20 of 37 passes at BYU, Locker connected on 22 of 33 for 289 yards and four touchdowns, executing well a game plan that called for high-percentage passes designed to get the ball to receivers in space and let them make plays.
--UW's receiving corps indeed looked like one of the best in the Pac-10, especially juniors Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar, who combined for 16 catches, 260 yards and four touchdowns.
--RB Chris Polk had a fumble but otherwise was solid with 20 carries for 117 yards, including a 52-yard TD rumble in the fourth quarter.
--LB Mason Foster had another solid game with 10 tackles, two for a loss, and a forced fumble.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The secondary might have been the biggest issue of the day as Syracuse had a lot more receivers open then the stats would indicate. A few timely bad throws and dropped passes made the stats look better on UW's end. But the Huskies have to shore it up as the competition increases.
The special teams were also an issue early as the Huskies had two costly penalties on a punt and a kickoff return in the first quarter that helped lead to Syracuse's first 10 points. UW also had some issues covering kickoffs.
--UW suffered a huge loss during practice this week as punter Will Mahan was lost for the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his left (plant) leg when another Husky rolled into him. He is a fourth-year senior so UW will try to get a redshirt year for him. He was replaced by walk-on junior Kiel Rasp. Rasp had an uneventful game against Syracuse with six punts for a 40.3 average, though he was less than sure getting a few off.
--Backup TB Johri Fogerson sat out the game with a hip flexor suffered early in the week in practice. His status for this week is unclear. UW had true frosh Taz Stevenson, recruited as a safety, playing at tailback all week to add depth.
--QB Jake Locker bruised the top of his left hand, but he insisted after the game it was fine. He suffered the bruise midway through the second half but kept playing.
--DT Cameron Elisara sat out for a while with a quad contusion.
As the old wisecrack goes, Washington State needed a win in the worst way, and that's what the Cougars got Saturday against Montana State.
Snapping a 10-game losing streak was certainly better than losing, so there was at least some cause for celebrating a 23-22 win over the visiting Bobcats, ranked No. 23 in last week's FCS poll.
But other than the win, there was little to feel good about from a game in which the Cougars were dominated by a team that a Pac-10 squad would be expected to beat handily, winning only due to a rather improbable 16-point rally in the final quarter.
"We're rebuilding and we'll take a win," said WSU coach Paul Wulff, who is now 4-23 as head coach, two of the wins coming against lower-division teams (the other a rout of Portland State in 2008). "We didn't play great and we found a way to win."
Still, this was hardly a confidence builder for the Cougars as they were outgained 407-316 and couldn't punch it in on three plays from the 2-yard line in the late going, having to settle for an 18-yard field goal with 2:13 left that gave them the winning points.
That was set up by one of three interceptions in the final 18 minutes that proved the only difference between victory and what would have been one of the most embarrassing defeats in WSU history.
WSU rushed for just 112 yards on 36 carries, 70 yards coming on one play by James Montgomery, as the Cougars did not move the ball consistently on Montana State until the fourth quarter.
Even after falling behind, Montana State drove quickly to WSU's 26-yard line. But instead of playing it safe and setting up a winning field goal, the Bobcats decided to throw, and a tipped pass was intercepted by the Cougars to seal the win.
As Wulff said, it was a win, and WSU finally had a lead in a game in regulation for the first time sine 2008.
But the schedule now turns tough with a game Saturday at SMU, followed by the Pac-10 opener against USC, and similar performances won't get it done against those teams.
--Tackle Micah Hannam made his 39th consecutive start, the most for a Cougar lineman since Mike Utley from 1985-88. Utley later went on to play for the Detroit Lions and is remembered for having his career ended with an injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
--The 15-point deficit was the largest WSU has overcome since beating Stanford in 1984 in a game in which it trailed 42-14 before winning 49-42.
--James Montgomery's 70-yard run was the longest for the Cougars since Chris Ivory went 80 yards against Idaho in 2006.
GAME BALL GOES TO: Senior linebacker Myron Beck -- Beck had a team-high 10 tackles as well as a third-quarter interception that turned the game around. Montana State led 22-7 and had the ball in WSU territory when Beck picked off a pass leading to a Cougars score and the comeback.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Freshman linebacker C.J. Mizell -- The former Florida State commit who was the prize of the 2010 recruiting class, came off the bench to chip in five tackles and had the game-clinching interception on a tipped pass in the final minutes.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's part of development. It's nice to make mistakes and still find a way to win football games. Hopefully we can really build off this game." -- WSU coach Paul Wulff, finding positives in the escape over Montana State.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: James Montgomery had 116 yards on 20 carries, which looks better if you don't consider that 70 came on one play -- which indicates how Montana State mostly shut down WSU's running game. But it was the first 100-yard running game for WSU since Montgomery had 118 against Hawaii last season and a nice comeback story for a player whose career seemed over when he had a serious leg injury later in the 2009 season.
PK Nico Grasu made the 18-yard field goal that won the game, continuing a good start to the year that included nailing a 56-yarder at Oklahoma State last week.
The defense at least came up big when it had to, picking off three passes in the final 17 minutes and stopping MSU on downs with a sack on a fourth-and-4 and the score 22-14.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Other than being opportune, WSU's pass defense was picked apart much of the day as MSU was 26-of-39 passing for 284 yards, with receivers open everywhere; the Cougars managed just two sacks. Massive improvement is needed to slow down SMU's high-powered passing attack next week.
The running game was non-existent other than the 70-yard run, WSU getting 42 yards on its other 35 carries (including three sacks for 11 yards, which makes the rushing numbers look only a little bit better).
And the run defense wasn't much better. If you take out the QB sacks, Montana State had 158 yards on 27 attempts. Considering the opponent, pretty alarming numbers.
--DT Bernard Wolfgramm hurt his shoulder and couldn't play in the second half, but he was the only new injury to a key player that could last beyond this week.
--WR Jared Karsetter, who had suffered a concussion the previous week, played and caught three passes for 37 yards.
--WR Gino Simone, out the first week with a hamstring injury, returned and caught one pass for 9 yards.
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