Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Roundup: September 8 Part One

It was a relatively light week in the Pac-12 and the conference as a whole avoided any devastating upsets (although Cal and Colorado tried). Before we get to the rundown of yesterday's events, We have some very sad news in the Pac-12 on this Sunday afternoon. UCLA Backup wide receiver Nick Pasquale was struck by a car in San Clemente, California earlier today and was pronounced dead at the scene. Athletes in Space would like to extend its most sincere condolences to Nick's family and the UCLA football team. There is no easy way to transition from the far too early death of a 20 year old to football but alas we must do it. Here is a rundown of everything that happened yesterday:

Utah 70, Weber State 7. Utah did not demonstrate much consistency on offense last week and its productivity was mostly based on getting a few big plays. That did not change yesterday other than the fact that the Utes produced a lot of big plays, as in six different players with at least one run of 10+ yards and six different receivers with at least one catch of 10+ yards. Travis Wilson is quickly rising up the board of top young quarterbacks in the game as he completed 14/19 passes for 264 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks while also rushing for 93 yards and two more touchdowns in only one half of work.

Utah also did not feature much of the running game. The Utes have yet to settle on a feature tailback in their offense and that did not change yesterday. Last week against Utah State, Utah gave three backs (Kelvin York, Karl Williams, and James Poole) equal opportunity to carry the load and none of them impressed. This week, Williams did not play for reasons that were undisclosed while York and Poole combined for just seven carries in one half of work. Both players broke off one big run as York ran 24 yards for a touchdown on Utah's opening drive and Poole ran one for 32 yards on Utah's third drive to set up a rushing touchdown by Wilson. There was not much to learn from this game considering the low quality opponent for Utah. The Utes did what they had to do to beat a bad team and Wilson and the defense are continuing to get better. Things start getting serious for Utah next week as it starts the conference portion of the schedule by hosting Oregon State.

Oregon 59, Virginia 10. Oregon is a mind blowing team. I was watching the game think, "You know Marcus Mariota has missed a bunch of throws, the receivers have dropped a bunch of passes, the interior line can't block Virginia's DTs, they've gotten stuffed on two fourth and ones, and they've committed 100 yards in penalties, the Ducks are really playing poorly." Then I looked at the scoreboard at the bottom of the TV screen and I could see Oregon was up 59-10 on the road against a half-decent ACC team. It's insane to think that Oregon seems to have actually gotten faster in the post-Chip Kelly era. eight of the Ducks' nine scoring drives took less than two minutes and four were under one minute.

Oregon was mistake prone and has a lot to fix, Oregon was flagged 11 times for 119 yards a lot of that yellow laundry was of the 15 yard variety. All due respect to Virginia's defensive line, but Oregon's run blocking and physical play up front was a major concern. The Ducks were most notably stuffed on a 4th and Goal from the one yard line. I guess it's also quite a marvel that the Ducks beat a competent team on the road by 49 points and I'm sitting here saying that it could have been so much worse. In addition to the interior offensive line, two other offensive players need to play better for the Sucks. Star tight end Colt Lyerla dropped three passes and in all three instances he was trying to use his body instead of hands to catch the ball. Running back Byron Marshall also struggled mightily as he ran for just 31 yards on 15 carries. Marshall also cost the Ducks four points when Mariota saw an all out blitz coming on 3rd and 10 on the first drive of the second half and checked to a screen pass. The Ducks had a perfect set up and the play would have gone for a score but Marshall dropped the ball that hit him right in the midsection and the Ducks had to kick a field goal.

Oregon has a lot to work on but it was a solid win and something they can build on. The Ducks have another big non-conference game coming up when they host Tennessee at Autzen Stadium next Saturday.

Cal 37, Portland State 30. Oh Cal, blessed and silly Cal. You watched Oregon State law an egg against Eastern Washignton last week and said, "Boy losing to an FCS team at home sure looks like fun, we should do that!" And oh did Cal ever try to give this game away but they luckily survived and got Sonny Dykes his first win as Cal head coach. The good news is freshman QB Jared Goff did a much better job playing within himself and did not commit any turnovers while becoming the second player ever to account for 400+ yards of total offense in his first two games (former Hawaii star Colt Brennan is the other). Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper were great as always but the Bears also got a big game from tight end Richard Rodgers who is starting to develop into that third option Cal wants to complement Treggs and Harper.

The bad news is that Cal looked really bad on defense, like really, really bad. Cal surrendered 553 yards to what should have been an over matched FCS offense. Most disconcertingly, the defensive line that was supposed to be a strength for this team couldn't get a consistent pass rush all game. Cal was able to make a few adjustments and at least get a few stops in the second half that allowed Cal to hang on and prevent a catastrophic upset. This is a very young team and they were often accused of lacking focus last year so perhaps these guys got caught looking ahead to their huge game against Ohio State next week. Whatever it was, Cal needs to get better defensively and improve its red zone offense if it hopes to hang with the Buckeyes.

Colorado 38, Central Arkansas 24. Speaking of trying to hand a win to an FCS opponent, I did not forget about you Colorado. Things looked great early for the Buffs as Paul Richardson scored a 55 yard touchdown (what else is new?) and Greg Henderson scored his second defensive touchdown in as many weeks to give the Buffs a 14 point lead 19 minutes into the game. Then Colorado settled into a sort of malaise, they let CAU hang around, and suddenly, they found themselves watching the Bears go on a 24-3 run and suddenly, the Buffs were trailing in the fourth quarter. CU did finally wake up though as the Bears were driving to go up by 14 but Jered Bell picked off a pass and returned it 79 yards to tie the game. Richardson struck again to take the lead and the Buffs even got an insurance touchdown as Connor Wood threw his third TD of the game to Nelson Spruce for his first touchdown catch of the season to cover the spread.

The meticulous and mistake free football that Colorado played last week was mysteriously missing this week as Colorado committed four turnovers. Colorado's poor special teams also reared its ugly head again as the Buffs fumbled a kickoff (they did get the ball back but it put the ball at their two yard line) and they gave up an 88 yard kickoff return to start the second half that led to a short field goal. Colorado is making progress and they may well have lost this game last year but there is obviously a lot of work to be done and this team clearly isn't ready to compete in the Pac-12 just yet.

That's it for the first half of the Saturday slate. Recaps of the other four games will be along in a bit.

No comments:

Post a Comment