Weekend Observations - UW/Pac 12 (Week 5)

As the Huskies head into their bye week, they are still licking the wounds from their first loss. With a daunting conference schedule looming, the Huskies will need to figure some things out on offense in order to be competitive down the stretch. Here are some observations from the weekend as well as what we saw from the other Pac 12 programs who played...

UW/Stanford Observations

-- It's scary to think that Shaq Thompson is tied for the team lead in touchdowns -- four, along with WR John Ross -- when you consider that only one is on offense. Thompson just always seems to be around the ball and he's so athletic that he is able to make plays when most players would just fall on the ball and get possession back.

-- His one huge missed tackle aside, Marcus Peters showed on Saturday why many think he's a first-round talent. He locked up one of the most explosive players in the country (Ty Montgomery), limiting him to just 29 yards and a touchdown on four receptions. His interception in the second half was textbook as he used his body to shield Montgomery from ball and then the showed good hands in bringing the ball in.

-- If there is a punter having a better season at this point in the season than Korey Durkee, I'd sure like to see him. His directional punting has been masterful and when they needed him to boom one, he unleashed a 69-yarder than really changed field position, tilting the field back in Washington's favor. You can't ask for much more from him right now.

-- Credit Jeff Choate for really working with Durkee on his mechanics and getting Durkee's confidence back. Choate also changed up some of the philosophies (rugby punting) and coverage schemes and those have helped both the coverage units and Durkee this season.

-- John Ross is so special. When he touches the ball you just have to hold your breath because there is a great chance that he will take it the distance.

-- While Cyler Miles and Jonathan Smith are getting much of the blame for the offense's putrid output, and rightly so, there is a massive failure at almost every position on the team. The offensive line is not playing well, the receivers aren't blocking well and aren't getting open and the running backs are very tentative and not hitting the holes like you'd expect. Will that change this season?

-- I've been saying for a while that I think Coleman Shelton will wind up being a very good player for the Huskies before he finishes up his eligibility, but the Huskies are really missing Ben Riva right now. Hopefully, over the next two weeks, the senior can get right from a health standpoint and help anchor the offensive line.

-- Budda Baker is really starting to show why he was such a highly coveted player coming out of high school. He's playing much more aggressively and he's making some plays. Now, he just needs to get over the hump and put his ball-hawking skills to good use.

-- Two other freshman defensive backs -- Naijiel Hale and Sidney Jones -- also looked good on Saturday. Hale tipped away a third down pass to Montgomery that stopped a Stanford drive and Jones locked up his man most of the afternoon as well.

-- With some high-powered offenses looming on their schedule, this offense really needs to figure things out or they could be looking at a two or three win conference season.

Pac 12 Observations

Washington State 28 Utah 27
-- Talk about a comeback. Wow. The Cougars looked lost in the first quarter as they got down 21-0, but Mike Leach and his staff kept the players focused and they handled business, especially in the redzone, holding Utah to just two field goals the final three quarters.

-- Vince Mayle is proving to be a real threat from almost anywhere on the field. His 81-yard TD reception from Connor Halliday was a great read on both of their parts, but when Mayle got the ball, there was no catching him. He's big, he's strong and he's starting to play much more physically.

-- Travis Wilson needs to make plays with his legs in order to open things up for the passing game. The problem is, he's lost some of his dynamism and that has allowed defenses to lock things down outside, making it much tougher on him in the passing game.

California 59 Colorado 56
-- Nelson Spruce's 19 reception, 179 yard, three touchdown day was impressive. He's had a great season so far and he only seems to be getting more comfortable with Sefo Liufau who also seems to be hitting his stride.

-- Both Cal and Colorado's defenses lack speed. They are also undisciplined and they struggle against the pass.

-- Aside from Oregon's Marcus Mariota, no quarterback in the conference is playing better than Jared Goff (you could make an argument that Brett Hundley is playing just as well). He's putting up monster numbers and they are only going to get better.

UCLA 62 Arizona State 27
-- Hundley had a huge game, returning to the lineup after recovering from an elbow injury two weeks earlier vs. Texas. He only threw the ball 23 times, but he managed to finish with 355 yards and four scores on his 18 completions. He also rushed for 72 yards and another score. As long as he stays healthy, UCLA could be very tough to handle down the stretch.

-- UCLA's defense just continues to play lights out and they are opportunistic as they scored again when Ishmael Adams returned his interception 95 yards for a touchdown. Adams also had a 100-yard kickoff return for another score.

-- I am not a Jordan Payton fan by any stretch, but he's playing really well right now. He runs really good routes and he's got enough speed to make plays down the field.

-- ASU's Jaelen Strong is probably my favorite receiver in the conference. I got to know him during the recruiting process and he hasn't disappointed at all in what he's done since arriving in Tempe.

USC 35 Oregon State 10
-- Cody Kessler is playing efficient football, but you just know that Steve Sarkisian wants him to make more plays down the field.

-- Javorius Allen and Justin Davis make a very tough combination. They just keep pounding and pounding away and eventually they break through with a big run and then it's off to the races.

-- Sean Mannion is a great quarterback, but if you get pressure on him, he'll scatter the ball around and that's exactly what happened on Saturday as he went 15 of 32 for 123 yards and two interceptions.

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