Weekend Observations - UW/Pac 12 (Week 6)

For Husky fans, the bye week couldn't have come at a better time. Not only did the Washington football team have a chance to heal up, focus on areas where they need to improve, but Dawg fans also got the chance to watch one of the craziest weekends of college football in recent memory. Here are some thoughts about what we saw over the weekend...

UW Bye Week Observations

-- I realize I am not inventing the wheel here, but after watching all of the games in the conference this past weekend, if the Huskies can't figure out a way to score 32 points a game or more, they are going to have a lot of trouble getting bowl eligible, much less be in contention for the Pac 12 North title. With the offenses in this conference, you had better be able to put up points no matter how good your defense is playing.

-- During a media gaggle during the week, Husky offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith admitted that the coaches are looking at a lot of different things, not the least of which is whether they are putting their players, particularly Cyler Miles, in the best position to succeed. Could there be some new play calls on the way for the remainder of the season?

-- After having a chance to watch defensive line play across the country, I still haven't seen anyone yet who is playing at a higher level than Danny Shelton.

-- Shelton and Hauoli Kikaha will be keys for the final eight games of the season. If they can continue to generate the pressure they have gotten in the first five weeks of the season, the Huskies should be in decent shape against the explosive offenses they will face on a weekly basis.

-- Lavon Coleman needs to see a majority of the rushing attempts moving forward with Dwayne Washington being the "change of pace" guy for the Huskies. Washington is the home run guy who has a lot of power, but Coleman is a much more instinctive runner and he's got the size to handle 25 carries a game.

-- Husky offensive line coach Chris Strausser heaped praise on the play of LT Micah Hatchie from the Stanford game saying that he had a great day against a very tough Stanford offensive line. The problems were breakdowns at several of the other line positions.

-- If Ben Riva can make it back to health, the Huskies should be much better along the offensive front. This is not an indictment of the job that Coleman Shelton is doing, he's held his own for the most part, but the redshirt freshman just isn't ready to handle things on the edge vs. Pac 12 defensive ends, at least not yet.

-- Marcus Peters is still the best looking corner I've seen so far this season. Keep your nose clean for two more months Mr. Peters and you have a big NFL payday coming your way very soon.

-- Budda Baker and Sidney Jones are no longer freshmen. Those two players will see a lot of targets from Pac 12 quarterbacks and how they play down the stretch could go a long way in determining UW's final record.

-- At this point, I'd be absolutely shocked to see Shaq Thompson in a UW uniform next fall. He's turning himself into a first or second round draft choice and he'll likely be advised to leave following the season.

Pac 12 Observations

Arizona 31 Oregon 24
-- Boy does Oregon's line look bad. Four guys who were projected starters heading into the season are out and while Tyrell Crosby should wind up being a solid offensive lineman before he's done in Autzen, he just looked lost in trying to keep pass-rushers at bay.

-- Marcus Mariota may not make it to November at the rate he's being pressure. He took several monster hits against Washington State and looked tentative throwing the ball and when he clearly had a chance to run and make a play with his legs. Is he hurt? No one is talking right now.

-- Arizona looks tough defensively and they have some weapons offensively. Anu Solomon isn't being asked to do too much and that's definitely helpful to him and his progress, but things start to ramp up for them up front soon.

-- Terris Jones -Grigsby is a tough little runner. He isn't big at all (5'7, 205), but he's tough to bring down and when the Wildcats needed a first down late, he found a way to get the yardage necessary to put the game away.

Notre Dame 17 Stanford 14
-- Why, why, why would you pull back and rush only three against Everett Golson on 4th-and-11 and allow the game-winning touchdown when he wasn't able to handle the rush the two plays before that? Baffling.

-- Kevin Hogan is a good game manager, but he's never going to win you a game with his arm.

-- Ty Montgomery reverted a bit as a receiver dropping several passes that were right in his hands. Yeah the conditions were bad, but you're one of the most explosive players in the country, you have to be better than that.

-- Here's a statline for you -- Stanford 9 penalties for 66 yards...Notre Dame one penalty for 10 yards. Home cooking anyone?

Oregon State 36 Colorado 31
-- Sure, Colorado is 0-3 in the conference, but they are going to beat someone that doesn't take them seriously. Sefo Liufau is playing well considering the pedestrian skill position players he's surrounded by.

-- The Buffs still have little in the way of speed on defense and that's what really seems to hurt them when their stop unit is on the field.

-- Sean Mannion was efficient vs. Colorado going 27 of 37 for 278 and a TD, but he still doesn't look very comfortable back there. He's a QB that seems like you can rattle him if you get any sort of pressure on him.

Arizona State 38 USC 34
-- Hey Hayes Pullard -- jump up and knock the ball down. You do not defend a hail mary waiting for the ball to drop into your hands.

-- The Trojans had so many opportunities to pull away in this game and they just didn't take advantage of things. They had several drops in the redzone and one that would have been a touchdown that could have helped put things away.

-- ASU WR Jaelen Strong is ready for the pros right now. He had 10 receptions for 202 yards and three touchdowns. There isn't a route he can't run and with his explosive leaping ability, he can go up and get the ball with the best of them. To me, Strong is a poor-man's Julio Jones.

-- Mike Bercovici had a huge night for the Sun Devils going 27 of 45 for 510 yards and five scores, but ASU will not win many games being that unbalanced.

Utah 30 UCLA 28
-- As bad as Oregon's line has looked the past two weeks, UCLA's looked even worse. Some of that was Brett Hundley's fault as he held the ball too long, but there were plenty of times the Utes got quick pressure on Hundley and they had free-running pass-rushers on many occasions.

-- The combination of RB Devontae Booker and QB Kendal Thompson, who looks like he will be the permanent replacement for the ineffective Travis Wilson, could cause some serious problems for Pac 12 defenses the rest of the way. The two combined for 239 yards and a score in the win.

-- That call by the Pac 12 refs for "running into the kicker" was very questionable and just added more fuel to the fire for those who rage about the lack of quality of the officiating within the conference.

California 60 Washington State 59
-- I spoke to a family member who is a WSU alum and this person took pride in the fact that Connor Halliday threw for 734 yards and six touchdowns. Who cares? He still lost. A passing yardage/attempts record is a dubious record at best.

-- Deny it all you want Coug fans, your inability to run the ball well cost you this game. You know you have a kicker with a shaky psyche right now and you have the ball first and goal at the Cal 4 and you can't punch it in? You really have to question why Mike Leach hates running the ball so much.

-- Vince Mayle is playing almost as well as Strong and looks like a beast out there. He's a threat from almost anywhere on the field. He isn't super-fast, but he's got plenty of speed for a guy his size.

-- River Cracraft is one of the best slot receivers in the conference. His chemistry with Halliday is second-to-none.

-- Neither of these teams can tackle. Is that because their defensive athletes aren't very good, is it because of the scheme or is it because of the lack of hitting/tackling in practice that they can't tackle. The art of physical/body tackling has been lost on today's game, but these two teams are extreme examples of poor tackling.

-- If games like this are where football is headed, I am probably going to be lost as a fan of the game. Games like this are boring, boring, boring and, when you have a 4.5 hour game like this one was, you are going to lose the average fan pretty quickly.

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