Weekend Observations - UW/Pac 12 (Week 1)

The Pac 12 went 10-2 the first weekend of the college football season although they almost finished 9-3 as the Huskies eked out a 17-16 win over Hawaii to end the day. Here's just a few observations and what to look for as we head into week two of the 2014 campaign...

UW/Hawaii Observations

-- Even though he's listed as the backup on the depth chart for this week's game vs. Eastern Washington, redshirt freshman RB Lavon Coleman sure looks like he's ready to take over the starting tailback job. Coleman ran hard and was effective in-between the tackles, especially as time wound down and the Huskies had to run out the clock.

-- Why didn't the refs take a look at the third-down run by Coleman that resulted in the final first down? If every play is reviewed by the replay officials, that's one you have to ring the officials on the field and say that you need to take another look. The Huskies got lucky on that one. Coleman should have stayed inside and allowed the clock to run. Yes, his gamble paid off, but that was because the replay officials didn't do their job correctly.

-- Hawaii is better than they were in 2013. This iteration of the Warriors won't set the world on fire, but they will win a handful of games and they will make their opponents work hard to get a win.

-- After re-watching the game twice, the offensive line actually handled themselves pretty well considering that they were missing one of their best linemen -- Ben Riva. Even when Hawaii knew the Huskies were going to run toward the end, they were able to open holes for Coleman to keep the chains moving and eat up the remaining time.

-- Coleman Shelton looked like a future stud although he did make a couple of mistakes that caused the Huskies some problems.

-- Hawaii definitely targeted the two most inexperienced defensive backs on Saturday. Budda Baker was constantly picked on and Jermaine Kelly definitely had his struggles as well (if you're going to let a receiver make the reception, for the love of God, at least make the tackle). Both are uber-talented and should be playmakers down the line, but with the wide-open offenses of the Pac 12 looming, they will need to grow up quickly.

-- Can't believe how poorly Marcus Peters played on Saturday. I have been Peters' biggest supporter and believe he will go down as one of the best corners to ever don the purple and gold, but, that being said, he did not look like a young man who could leave early for the NFL after the 2014 season. His coverage was iffy at best and he had one really bad pass-interference penalty that gave Hawaii new life on a drive when the defense appeared poised to hold them to a three-and-out.

-- Man did the linebackers, the spot on defense I was least worried about, look bad on Saturday. Shaq Thompson was not a factor at all and John Timu also looked lost at times. I expect a big rebound from these two this weekend.

-- The players looked hesitant at times and I think that had to be expected as they were still getting used to the new defensive scheme.

-- I was very surprised about how flat the team was when they came out to play the game. There was very little in the way of fire or emotion from them. Will that change this week? Let's hope so.

-- You have to wonder what happened to Jeff Lindquist after halftime to make him so skittish. He went 7 of 11 in the first half and just 3 of 15 in the second half and almost all of those were situations where receivers were open, but he just couldn't complete the pass.


Pac 12 Observations

-- Hey Connor Halliday...who cares if you throw for over 500 yards. If you don't win the game, take the blame for the loss. You're the leader of your team, or at least you're supposed to be, but with answers like that you look like a petulant child who has no understanding of how to handle pressure.

-- I know Mike Leach is famous for not caring about time of possession and to a certain extent I get it, but when your team is struggling on defense, you have to keep possession longer than you normally do.

-- River Cracraft is already a solid player and he will have a nice career by the time he leaves WSU, but you have to fair catch a punt to the 45 with 7:30 left on the clock and your team in the lead.

-- Here's a game to play, how many rushing yards will the Cougs have by the end of the season? I say less than 700.

-- Colorado has improved, but Colorado State could wind up being really good this fall. The Buffaloes definitely need to improve their run defense as they allowed 266 to CSU which is a very good running team, but that just can't happen.

-- Nelson Spruce could wind up being an All-Pac 12 player. He looked really good against a decent CSU defense. If they can find a competent receiver on the other side, Spruce could put up some big numbers.

-- If they can stay healthy, USC is going to be tough to beat this fall. The no-huddle/hurry up sure seems to suit Cody Kessler pretty well. Now, what remains to be seen is how good Fresno State ends up being as Tim Deruyter is a really good coach, but the Bulldogs lost a ton of talent from last year's squad.

-- How amazing is Juju Smith? That kid is going to be Pac 12 freshman of the year. No question in my mind. He could wind up doing what Myles Jack did last year and take both the offensive and defensive honors for freshmen.

-- UC Davis was no test for Stanford. They didn't pass midfield until the last play of the game. Will the Cardinal be prepared for their game against USC this weekend?

-- Northwestern is definitely down from last season, but congrats to California for going on the road and getting a big win in a "must win" season for Sonny Dykes. Cal's defense was still porous, but it definitely was an improvement from the 2013 season where they were one of the worst defenses in the country.

-- Boy, how lucky is UCLA that Matt Johns didn't play until the second half? The Bruins couldn't do anything offensively against what will prove to be a pretty good Virginia defense, but they did manage to get three defensive touchdowns off of Cavaliers starter Greyson Lambert who couldn't challenge them down the field. Once Johns came in, things changed and UCLA was lucky to escape with a 28-20 win.

-- Oregon State is really going to miss Brandin Cooks. Sure, Sean Mannion threw for 328 yards, but there was no one to stretch the field and most of the Beavers' receivers looked pretty pedestrian. They like to use their tight ends though and that will bode well for them in the redzone.

-- Storm Woods (16 carries for 125 yards) looked good against Portland State, but then again, it was Portland State. Will that productivity continue as the competition level increases?

-- OSU travels to Hawaii this weekend to take on UW's first opponent and it will be interesting to see what the Beavers can do compared to what Washington did.

-- The Beavers struggled to stop Portland State's Paris Penn (9 carries for 112 yards and 2 TDs). Will Joey Iosefa who rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown against a much better from seven from UW be able to replicate that effort against Oregon State? If he does, the Warriors could come out with the win.

-- Game of the weekend is Michigan State at Oregon. The Ducks, as expected, trounced South Dakota in their warm up for he Spartans. The nice thing for Husky fans is that the game vs. Eastern should end just as the MSU/OU game kicks off so you have a chance to see some great football while enjoying some adult beverages after the game wraps up at Husky Stadium.


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