-- I’ve started to come around and I really want to see more of Shaq Thompson on offense. I was completely against it during fall camp when they gave him reps there and I was very hesitant as the season got underway and they gave him a few reps here and there. However, with Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman obviously not ready to go, the junior has looked really good taking a bulk of the carries. He explosive and he’s tough to bring down. Now, can he do that vs. much better defenses? We’ll see what happens if he gets all the carries against UCLA because the Huskies could surely use his big-play potential.
-- It was nice to see Josh Perkins and Kasen Williams each make important receptions during the game. On Perkins’ one reception, a 25-yarder down the seam, it appeared that he was a “hot read” for Miles who went to him as soon as he came out of his run fake. With Williams, he appeared to be the receiver who the play was called to go to and he got a first down at a crucial point in a scoring drive.
-- The offensive line just continues to absorb injuries. It appeared that Coleman Shelton was lost early on, resulting in James Atoe moving outside and Mike Criste coming in at right guard. The Huskies have some experienced depth, but it’s definitely being tested. This unit wasn’t playing very well when all of the starters were healthy and in there, now they are missing three players (Dexter Charles, Shelton and Ben Riva). Can they take much more?
-- Marcus Peters had a pretty good day. He batted away two passes, had a decent shot at a pick and, aside from one glaring missed tackle where a tight end overpowered him on a key third down, he continued to show the physicality and instincts that will likely make him a first round pick. One big play was his read of a planned reverse by the Buffaloes where Peters got in so quickly that Sefo Liufau had to pull the ball back and not complete the play.
-- It was nice to see the defense rebound after a poor start to the game as they allowed Colorado to go 70 yards in nine plays, 72 yards in 10 plays and 59 yards in seven plays in their first three drives leading to 17 points.
-- As much as I loved watching Charles Frederick back in the first few years after the turn of the century, I think that Dante Pettis could wind up being the best return man the Huskies have had in quite some time. Every time he touches the ball, I get the feeling he could take it the distance and he’s only going to get better.
-- There sure seemed to be plenty of opportunities for the Huskies to use the fly sweep, but chose not to. I don’t know if Jeff Lindquist has the option to hand it off or not, but on one third down play where the Huskies failed to gain the necessary yardage, it sure looked like the Buffaloes were keying on Lindquist and no one went with the fly sweep (it appeared to be Jaydon Mickens, but I’m not sure). If Lindquist hands that ball off, it’s a 20-yard gain pretty easily.
-- This staff really appears to be working on the mental toughness of the team. They did a good job of keeping their guys focused when the onslaught came early on and they just slowly and methodically came back and asserted their dominance over an improved, but still not very good, Colorado program.
-- I really like what I have seen out of Keishawn Bierra. His improved play appears to be a reason why the coaches seem much less reluctant to keep Thompson at tailback. Bierria flashes great speed and he hits hard. He still makes a lot of youthful mistakes, but he makes them going 100-mph which is what the coaches want from a guy with his experience level.
-- A real bright spot over the past couple of weeks has been the play of Andrew Hudson. I’ve always liked his motor, but he was playing out of position with the old staff since he didn’t fit what they wanted to do along the defensive front. This staff uses him at his more natural strongside defensive end position and he’s really starting to play with abandon.
Pac 12 Observations
Oregon 45 Stanford 16
-- With Oregon’s offensive line getting back to health, their offense is as potent as ever. They might not have all of the big plays in them they did when D’Anthony Thomas was playing for them, but they can grind you into the ground with guys like Marcus Mariota, Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner as well as Byron Marshall who is now playing wide receiver.
-- Without a good running game, Kevin Hogan has looked terrible. He’s always been more of a game manager, but without a good ground game to take the pressure off, he’s looked like a below-average signal-caller.
Arizona State 19 Utah 16
-- Game of the day in the Pac 12. Great defense on both sides with Devontae Booker (146 yards) and Demario Richard (116 yards) both grinding out tough yards. I would much prefer to watch games like this every week than the abysmal 55-54 games we are treated to most weeks.
-- That miss in OT by the Utah kicker, Andy Phillips, who had been great all season, was just brutal. It was a relatively easy make and it’s why Utah is now 6-2 on the season instead of 7-1.
-- This game really goes to show you how you cannot let opportunities pass you by in the game of football. On two separate occasions, the Utes had chances to end ASU scoring chances by getting picks and they dropped them.
USC 44 Washington State 17
-- First off, I have never been a big Connor Halliday fan, but he’s always seemed pretty tough, evidenced by him playing an entire half of football with a lacerated liver a couple of years ago. So, to see him writhing in pain on Saturday was a bit of a surprise. You knew it had to be bad. With him goes any hope of Washington State to get another win this season.
-- Nelson Agholor is a big-time receiver. Would love to see the Seahawks reach out and grab him at some point. He plays much bigger than his listed size of 6’1”, 190 pounds, he’s fast and he has a knack for the big play.
-- No way do I think that WSU would fire Mike Leach at the end of the season, but with them looking as bad as they have and with the fact that they could be even worse next year, could his days be numbered? Probably not, but it’s interesting to consider.
California 45 Oregon State 31
-- Isn’t it ironic that the night that Sean Mannion sets the conference record for career passing yards that the Beavers still lose their game with Cal by 14. I went back and looked at the top 10 passers all-time within the conference and only a couple ever won anything of any significance. Most were on bad teams that never won anything or went to just minor bowl games. To me, this is a dubious record to hold.
-- Other than that, I didn’t take away much from this game. Two iffy teams that are either treading water and likely trending down (Oregon State) and the other which has improved marginally, but still lacks talent in some very important areas (Cal).
UCLA 17 Arizona 7
-- This is the one game of the night that I really wanted to see. It started off like I figured it would, with Arizona dominating on defense and with their offense getting it done against a good, but what had been an under-achieving defense. However, after the first quarter, it was really all UCLA, at least on defense, as Anu Solomon and the rest of the Wildcats were unable to generate much of anything on offense.
-- Arizona’s Scooby Wright and UCLA’s Erik Hendricks are the two best linebackers that I have seen in the conference this season. Yes, UW’s Shaq Thompson is a stud and he’s been opportunistic, but Hendricks is every and a tackling machine while Wright leads one of the better defenses in the conference. He’s also a pretty darn good pass rusher when he’s asked to fill that role. Both are quick to the ball and they are physical at the point of attack.
-- UCLA’s offensive line is not very good. I know they are pretty young, but they should be better than they are. Brett Hundley’s mobility keeps them from allowing more sacks. He’s constantly under pressure and running for his life.
Weekend Observations - UW/Pac 12 (Week 10)
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