Pac-12 Football Recap: What We Learned

Sep. 5 -- Plenty of questions were answered in Week One of the Pac-12 season (like it or not). Here's a roundup of Pac-12 analysis from around the network after the weekend games...

Despite solid wins over the Big Ten (Washington rolled its hype train over Rutgers) and Big 12 (Stanford's machine consumed Kansas State), the Pac-12 conference emerged from Week One worse off than when it entered from a reputation standpoint.

UCLA failed to secure a long-needed "statement" win by losing to Texas A&M in overtime. USC gave the SEC a year's worth of conference bragging ammo after its 'Bama beatdown. Oregon State let mediocre Minnesota off the hook, and, perhaps most embarrassingly, Washington State got outplayed by an FCS school (Eastern Washington.)

But it's only Week One and teams can learn (and correct) quite a bit about themselves even with just four quarters complete for 2016. Here's a roundup of Scout team-site analysts' reactions to weekend games around the Pac-12.

Arizona Wildcats (lost to BYU, 18-16)

Arizona started the game with Anu Solomon at quarterback, but the junior struggled throughout the first half with making reads. He completed 11-17 passes for 119 yards, but consistently led receivers right into coverage and refused to keep the ball on the zone read option. Solomon picked things up at times in the second half, finishing 20-30 for 213 yards. The big issue for the signal caller was his decision making and the two interceptions that he threw in the game.

One bright spot for the Wildcats was the defense. Coming into the game, many on the Arizona side would gladly have taken a game in which BYU scored just 18 points. Despite giving up 415 yards, the Wildcats' defense did what it needed to a majority of the night, getting stops and forcing BYU to kick the football. - Full story

Arizona State Sun Devils (beat NAU, 44-13)

Overall it was basically an average first start for Manny Wilkins. He will need to make quicker and better decisions moving forward. He protected the ball for the most part and made plays with his feet. He is clearly the starter as we only saw freshman backup Brady White only take one snap in garbage time.

ASU’s defense seemed more like the 2015 edition, which is not good. ASU surrendered 369 passing yards and only had one sack and created zero turnovers. It surrendered 11 explosive plays and created nine negative plays. ASU was mainly it is base defense much of the night. In the first half it used its nickel package without much success and stayed more in its base look as the night progressed. Overall it used the nickel on six plays and allowed three explosive plays - Full story

Colorado Buffaloes (beat Colorado State, 44-7)

CU obliterated Colorado State, thanks to a defense scoring one touchdown and forcing at one point six straight three-and-outs and an offense that wasn't perfect but still rolled up 37 points. Was this a case of CU playing well or CSU playing poorly? BuffStampede writer Patrick Ghidossi says a bit of both. "CSU is going to struggle, but I think the two things that CU fans can take from this game is the play of the defensive line, and the tempo of the offense was encouraging. You run that tempo against anyone, and the other team is going to struggle." - Video analysis

Oregon Ducks (beat Cal-Davis, 53-28)

Normally racking up 522 yards (271 rushing, 263) against an opponent is a good day especially considering the Duck defense was below last year’s average of yards given up (392), but this was to a Big Sky team out of the FCS that only won two games last year. Something was missing. Was it game preparation, execution, attitude, communications or all of that?

Defensively, Brady Hoke’s new scheme looked like it was going help the Ducks out and in many instances, particularly with the starters in, there was noticeable improvement over last year’s squad. - Full story

Oregon State Beavers (lost to Minnesota, 30-23)

The very first thing that stood out to me when the defense lined up was the fact that the defense looked bigger, like they were the same size as their opponents. The Beavers of the last few years have seemed smaller than most of their competition. It’s clear that the work put in this off-season is paying off.

The offensive line had some struggles in both pass protection and in the run game. Some of that can be attributed to the stout Minnesota defensive line which could be one of the better lines they see all year. QB Darell Garretson did a lot of good things in his first game as a Beaver. He saw the field pretty well and made some tough throws. The two fumbles were killers, but that can’t be completely shouldered by him. - Full story

Stanford Cardinal (beat Kansas State 26-13)
My initial reaction is that we have to be realistic. We have a new QB, new offensive linemen. It wasn't overwhelming, it wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy. K-State didn't roll over ... It's easy to get spoiled after years of success. We saw a performance we'd be really satisfied with 10 years ago, and given the last few years, maybe it wasn't the eye candy we've come to expect. - Full story

UCLA Bruins (lost to Texas A&M 31-24)

QB Josh Rosen (USA Today)

Kennedy Polamalu, for his part, looks like a work-in-progress as a first-year play-caller, which we suppose was to be expected. The red zone play calls were curious, particularly the two sweep-type plays to Ishmael Adams out of the backfield, and, though this is a qualitative and subjective statement, we thought the play-calling overall lacked some rhythm. Now, that might have been largely due to some of the other struggles UCLA was having, namely on the offensive line, at quarterback, and at receiver, but some of it has to fall on the coordinator.

The receivers were shaky. There isn't another great way of putting it ... But perhaps the biggest issue was not one that was on our radar coming in -- Josh Rosen also looked shaky. He had three interceptions, two of which looked like they were completely his fault, and he just was off most of the day, with even the throws where he connected not being thrown perfectly. - Full story

USC Trojans (lost to Alabama, 52-6)
Is Clay Helton the right man for this job? Should USC have gone all-out for Houston's Tom Herman? If he'd been here, would this have happened? And if Nick Saban had taken over at USC last December, would Alabama have won this game this way? You know the answer to that. We all do. USC fans want to be playing on this stage. We all do. And they're going to demand a coach who can get them there. But for now, he'd better beat Utah State for starters next Saturday morning in what will be a pretty quiet Coliseum. - Full story

Utah Utes (beat So. Utah 24-0)
Defensively, the Utes were good. They weren't great, but they were good, and after a slow start where the Thunderbirds were able to pick up chunks of yardage on the ground, two forced turnovers courtesy of Marcus Williams helped stall out potentially promising drives. Troy Williams had a good debut for the Utes, going 20 of 35 for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. His ability to throw the deep ball was on display with beautiful passes to Raelon Singleton and Tim Patrick for 52 and 57 yards respectively.

You're only as good as your offensive line allows you to be, and tonight they were awful. Awful may not even be a strong enough word to describe how bad they were. - Full story

Washington Huskies (beat Rutgers 48-13)

USA Today Sports

This was a solid first win for a team that many think was a little overhyped heading into the season. They played solid fundamental football and didn't give Rutgers any hope of coming back. WR John Ross proved himself to be threat many think he can be while the defense definitely lived up to expectations. However, this is just the first step toward the ultimate goal of winning the Pac 12 North and then moving on to the conference championship game. - Full story

Washington State Cougars (lost to Eastern Washington 45-42)
The defense had no answer for WR Cooper Kupp (12 catches for 207 yards) and no answer for the quarterback, Gage Gubrud (474 yards, 5 TDs). No adjustments were made, no scheme attacked ... Offense started hot, but shot themselves in the second half with a lot of negative plays. ... Luke Falk to Gabe Marks is the only answer on offense right now. This offense isn't utilizing the other weapons they have. - Full story

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