Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Roundup: September 1 Part Two

About Yesterday:

Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3. Nothing to learn or note here really. Oregon wore white jerseys at home for the first time ever so that was interesting, I guess. the Ducks put up a school record with 778 yards and had three 100 rushers in one game for the first time ever. A few depth chart notes for Oregon caught my eye. Despite a wealth of outside linebackers, true freshman Torrodney Prevot managed to see a lot of snaps and had his first career sack and forced fumble in the process. Jeff Lockie was the first QB off the bench for Marcus Mariota in the 4th quarter and ran for a touchdown but Jake Rodrigues came in for the next series and threw a touchdown pass so the backup QB competition appears to be still ongoing.

It's hard to say too much about Oregon looking like the same old team because the opponent was so pitiful but we'll know a lot more next week when the Ducks go across the country to play a solid Virgina team that just wona  big game at home over BYU. You can ignore what the Ducks did yesterday but pay very close attention to what happens in Charlottesville.

Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46. This was undoubtedly the shock of the weekend not only in the Pac-12 but all of college football. The Beavers have now lost to a FCS team twice in the last three years but far more concerning than that was the problems that were exposed in the Beavers defense. Yesterday's performance was beautiful and absolutely inexcusable. the Beavers surrendered 625 yards and 31 first downs and looked helpless against both the run and a the pass. the Beavs made EWU QB Vernon Adams a household name overnight as Adams accumulated 411 yards and four TDs passing as well as 107 yards and two TDs on the ground.

It takes a pretty special kind of terrible for a team's QB to complete 37/43 passes for 422 yards and two TDs with no interceptions and lose. Those were OSU's team passing numbers but they were produced by only one man, junior Sean Mannion who seems to have won the QB competition over Cody Vaz. Vaz did not take a single snap yesterday and Mannion obviously played great so this is his team for at least a little while. Vaz is a fifth year senior with a proven track record so I still think he will linger in the background on this team for the rest of the year. But, the fact that Mannion played every snap and played so well makes me think it's going to take a lot for Mannion to see the bench.

The fact that the defense played so well is a glaring concern because I actually thought defense was going to be the strength of this team. The Beavs have All-Conference talent at all three levels of the defense and depth everywhere but yesterday they couldn't get a pass rush, they missed tackles, they got pushed off the line in the run game, and no one could cover a damn thing. Other than that they looked great. The Beavs aren't going to look that bad all season but it certainly seems unlikely that they'll be able to once again be one of the best in college football like they were last year. The offense looked good enough that they can still win eight or nine games if the defense improves even a little bit. This loss really sucks for the Beavers and the conference in general but it's important to keep things in perspective. The Beavers were never going to be a national title contender and this loss has absolutely no impact on the Pac-12 standings. Don't forget, the last time a ranked team lost to an FCS opponent, it was Virgina Tech in 2010, a team that ultimately recovered to win the ACC and earn a berth in the Orange Bowl.

However, the offense also took a huge hit when star receiver Brandin Cooks was knocked out of the game with a back injury that hardly looked benign. Coach Mike Riley tried to put on a happy face when talking about Cooks' status but you could see the concern on his face and hear it in his voice. Here's to hoping Cooks is fine but his status is up in the air at best right now.

Auburn 31, Washington State 24. What a huge win for the conference this almost was and what a gut punch loss for the Cougars. Wazzou showed a lot of encouraging signs in this game and it demonstrated how far they have come since early last year. The major improvement that the Cougars showed on defense late last season was not a fluke at all as the Cougars held noted offensive wizard Gus Malzahn to under 400 yards. The Cougars run defense looked especially good as the entire unit controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game.

Offensively, the Cougars moved the ball seemingly at will but were done in by far too many mistakes. Connor Halliday made seem really nice throws and demonstrated a much better command of the offense than he showed last year. However, even in an Air Raid offense, 30 incompletions is far too many and three interceptions is crippling in any offense. Never the less, WSU fans should be very encouraged by what they saw. The Cougars actually ran the ball (I know, I know) really well and even scored two touchdowns on the ground giving reason for confidence in their red zone offense that was a huge concern last year. the defense as previous mentioned, looked every bit as good and in some ways better than it did in the second half of last year. Based on what I just saw, I think Wazzou could be in for a really good year and could go bowling with enough positive breaks. However, if that's going to happen, Halliday must learn to make more conservative throws and take better care of the football.

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