Weekend Observations - UW/Pac 12 (Week 7)

Washington is 5-1 heading into their game with Oregon this Saturday. Here's a look at some observations from the Huskies' convincing 31-7 win over Cal as well as the what we saw in the other three conference games...

UW/California Observations

-- You had to love the, ahem, "animated" intensity of Chris Petersen even with his team up 31-7 with less than :30 left on the clock. As Washington was just trying to run out the clock, they decided to "hard count" Cal in order to get themselves some breathing room as they were on their own one yard line. Instead of drawing the Golden Bears offside, LT Micah Hatchie moved, resulting in the ball moving half a yard. The TV cameras switched to Petersen who definitely had some choice words for his fifth-year senior. It showed that, no matter what the score, the first-year Husky coach demands perfection and he will not settle for less.

-- It was nice to see the Huskies use the middle of the film more. Cyler Miles hit several passes early in the game to extend drives using the middle of the field and really made things easier on the passing game as the contest moved along.

-- Miles couldn't have thrown a better pass to Josh Perkins for the 25-yard touchdown to put the Huskies up 14-0 with 1:44 left in the first quarter.

-- Shaq Thompson's 100-yard touchdown return to start off the scoring was a back-breaker for Cal. It was basically a 14-point swing and just seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Cal offense.

-- While the running game looked better, it wasn't anything special. Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington both had some nice physical runs, but neither has shown game-breaking ability yet.

-- The offensive line was definitely much better than they were against Stanford, but against a more physical team, this team still doesn't look ready to dominate. Cal's best defensive lineman was missing after the first or second series and that helped out the Huskies a lot.

-- Budda Baker just seems to get better and better. He's around the ball all the time and he's seemed to eliminate his assignment breakdowns. Now he just needs to get his hands on the ball more and he should come down with at least a couple of big plays on the defensive side of the ball.

-- We continue to say it -- get John Ross the ball more. Is there a more explosive player in the conference? Every time he gets his hands on the ball, something exciting seems to happen. He's touching the ball less than four times per game on offense (not including his kick returns). That needs to double, if not triple, in the coming weeks as the competition gets better.

-- Hauoli Kikaha has just been dominant along the defensive line. He's seemed to start to figure things out at the BUCK linebacker spot and looks much more comfortable. Also helping matter is that the defensive coaches are calling for him to rush the quarterback much more now and that is paying big dividends.

-- The Pac 12 has got to figure out how to improve the officiating within the conference. Terrible spots, inconsistency among the calls, time-keeping issues, etc. are total embarrassments for what many consider to be, arguably, the second-best football conference in the country. There were at least three blown spots by the crew doing the Husky game and several more mistakes throughout the weekend.
Pac 12 Observations

Stanford 34 Washington State 17
-- The Cardinal looked disinterested in this game. They didn't blitz, they preferred to sit back and let WSU drive down the field and make plays in the redzone. They still battered Connor Halliday, but not like you would expect.

-- Speaking of Halliday, his body language said it all -- not a leader. He had every right to be upset with the constant hits and pressures he received, however, if you are a leader, you don't express it that way. I'd be surprised if the players didn't start to question his ability to take them to where they want to be.

-- Stanford's ground-game, the staple of their offense, isn't what it used to be. They don't have an explosive back who can make something out of nothing like Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney were able to do the previous three years.

-- Jeremiah Allison is going to be a good linebacker for the Cougars. He's fast and he's smart. If he can stay healthy, he will be All-Pac 12 before he's done in Pullman.

USC 28 Arizona 26
-- Great game. Back and forth most of the way and filled with drama. It's too bad the game had to end with a missed field goal, but this was a drama-filled contest with some big plays on both sides of the ball.

-- I'm not one you would consider as a Anu Solomon fan, but he's definitely improving. He threw the ball 72 times though. Arizona won't win a lot of games doing that.

-- The Wildcats could be in some trouble if Terris Jones-Grigsby is lost for any amount of time. He looked pretty woosy coming off the field in the third quarter.

-- Two things about Arizona kicker Casey Skowron - 1) you couldn't have done a better job on the on-side kick. That second bounce was incredible and looked like it was thrown right to the UA receiver who went high in the air to get it and 2) stop "flopping" when you miss a field goal. Just man up and admit that you missed the kick.

-- Sua Cravens is the best non-defensive line defender in the conference. Man is that kid special. He's athletic and he hits like nobody's business. Where he winds up in the NFL is debatable since he's too small to play LB, but he was everywhere for the Trojans.

-- If USC loses any more DBs to injury, they could be in some serious trouble. They lost their two starters at corner and struggled down the stretch. As good as Jonathan Lockett is, he's still only a freshman and he didn't look ready to handle covering Pac 12 wideouts.

Oregon 42 UCLA 30
-- Marcus Mariota had one of his best games vs. the Bruins running for 75 yards and two touchdowns while completing 17 of his 27 passes for 210 yards and two more scores. He's the best player in the conference. Washington, as well as the rest of Oregon's opponents, will have their hands full as long as he's healthy.

-- Brett Hundley just does not look comfortable at all. He did rush for 89 yards and a TD while throwing for 216 and two more touchdowns (as well as an interception), but there's just something about watching him run the UCLA offense that doesn't instill a lot of confidence in his ability to lead them to the promised land.

-- Be on the lookout for more blowups on the UCLA sidelines (the one between Jim Mora and DC Jeff Ulbrich was a good one) if the wheels start to fall off like it appears they are right now. Mora has a well-known temper and word is he's starting to wear thin on people within the program. With Cal and Colorado on the schedule the next two weeks, things should go rather smoothly for the Bruins, but then they face Arizona at home, Washington on the road and USC at home and that could be three-straight losses for a team many thought could represent the conference in the new college football playoffs.

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