Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The 2013 Pac-12 Power rankings: Post Week Nine

1. Oregon (Overall: 8-0, Conference: 5-0, Last Week: 1)
Oregon's offense did everything it could for two and a half quarters to keep UCLA in the game. For a little while it seemed as though UCLA was getting into position to pull an upset but Oregon in a flash turned the game into a signature blowout victory. Oregon played a C grade quality game and beat a top 15 quality team by four touchdowns.

2. Stanford (7-1, 5-1, LW: 2)
Concerns about the offense specifically with quarterback Kevin Hogan not only remain but are being amplified but the Stanford defense is just filthy.

3. UCLA (5-2, 2-2, LW: 4)
Lose by 28 points and move up one spot? Yes, when you give the best team outside the SEC since 2005 a real run for its money for almost three full quarters. The middle of the conference struggling certainly helps.

4. Oregon State (6-2, 4-1, LW: 3)
The Beavers' once dominant offense was exposed by Stanford but that's not all bad. The Beavers did look great on defense and there aren't a lot of Stanfords remaining on the schedule to copy the blueprint that Cardinal just established.

5. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1, LW: 5)
On a night when the Pac-12's "next best teams" got beat by the two powers, it was probably a good time for Arizona State to have its second bye week.

6. Washington (5-3, 2-3, LW: 8)
The Huskies were better against California and snapped their three game losing streak but the Huskies' passing game is still pretty hit or miss and let's face it, it's only Cal.

7. Arizona (5-2, 2-2, LW: 6)
B.J. Denker has been legitimately good at QB for three straight weeks now and the Wildcats' defense is rounding back into form as well. After Arizona gets through lowly Cal this week, the Wildcats should be 6-2 heading into a huge showdown with UCLA with significant Pac-12 South implications.

8. Washington State (4-4, 2-3, LW: 9)
Spent the bye week preparing all the wackiness and absurdities that are sure to come from a Mike Leach coached team playing in Pullman on Halloween night.

9. USC (5-3, 2-2, LW: 10)
A valiant effort by the USC defense went unspoiled by a competent and largely mistake-free offense against Utah. The Trojans won over the Utes despite having almost half as many scholarship players at the ready.

10. Utah (4-4, 1-4, LW: 7)
Utah's program defining win over Stanford is looking more fluky by the day. The Utes have struggled to run the ball all year but the hope was that the Utah tailbacks would rise to the challenge and pick up their ailing quarterback Travis Wilson. That makes the health of Wilson all the more important. If Wilson can;t get back to gripping and throwing the ball properly and pain free, Utah won`t get to six wins.

11. Colorado (3-4, 0-4, LW: 11)
Colorado was reasonably competitive in a conference game for the first time in over a calender year but there is still a very long way to go for this young, fledgling Buffalo program. The Buffs brought their best effort and still lost by 24 at home, a sign of how truly down the Colorado talent pool really is.

12. California (1-7, 0-5, LW: 12)
I started this last week without explaining it but here is the gist of what is happening underneath California`s name from now on: I`m sick of talking about how awful Cal is so I`m just going to post a picture of a sad bear in this space from here on out. What happened to you Cal? You used to be so much fun.

The Award Tracker:

Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year:
1. QB Marcus Mariota, So., Oregon (LW: 1)
Mariota's streak of consecutive games with at least one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown ended at nine but he did account for one TD with his arm raising his season total to 29. His numbers may not show it but he was efficient and mistake free; he didn't give us as many dynamic plays as we have come to expect from him but he gave the Ducks everything they needed to beat a good team.

2. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Jr., Arizona (LW: 3)
Carey ran for 121 yards and four touchdowns against Colorado and did most of his damage early and was later rotated in and out of the game in the interest of saving his legs. Four players lead the conference with 12 rushing touchdowns but three of those plays have played eight games and the other has played seven. Carey has 10 rushing touchdowns in only six games played.

3. WR Brandin Cooks, Jr., Oregon State (LW: 2)
Cooks had easily his worst game of the season to date so far but still managed a decent stat line against the great Stanford defense. Cooks' performance against Stanford was a hallmark of a truly great player, we all saw he wasn't at his best but he still managed a respectable out put of eight catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Honorable Mentions:
RB Bishop Sankey, Jr., Washington

QB Sean Mannion, Jr., Oregon State

RB Marion Grice, Sr., Arizona State

Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year:
1. LB Anthony Barr, Sr., UCLA (LW: 1)
Barr was a beast again against Oregon as he blew right past Oregon left tackle Tyler Johnstone for a strip sack early in the game and finished with four solo tackles, two for a loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.

2. LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford (LW: 3)
Murphy had a career day against Oregon State, tallying eight tackles, three and a half tackles for loss, two and a half sacks, and although he was only credited with one pass break up, he got his hands on at least three passes. Murphy now leads the Pac-12 in tackles for loss and sacks which tempted me to move him to first, but Murphy has an extra game played over Barr and I still prefer Barr`s body of work to date despite the stats. The gap between Murphy and Barr has narrowed to a finite margin though.

3. DE Scott Crichton, Jr., Oregon State (LW: 2)
Crichton had a very quiet day against Stanford's offensive tackles with the exception of one play where he absolutely blew up Dallas Loyd to force a fumble, recovered said fumble, and returned it 36 yards. No surprise though that Oregon State wasted that great play by punting five plays later.

Honorable Mentions:
LB Shayne Skov, Sr., Stanford

LB Addison Gillam, Fr., Colorado

CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Jr., Oregon

Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year:
1. RB Thomas Tyner, Oregon (LW: 2)
Tyner returned to being the third string tailback against UCLA but rushed for 77 yards and his eighth touchdown of the season on 14 carries. 66 of those yards came on Oregon's final drive and although the margin was 21 points at the time, the Ducks have looked to players like LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner to get that final kill shot late in the game. The fact that Tyner was able to get out there and push the Ducks over 40 points shows the Oregon coaches are building their trust in him.
2. QB Jared Goff, California (LW: 1)
Tyner's promotion to the top spot has less to do with Tyner's own performance (although he has been very good) and more to do with me having an epiphany over Goff and getting sick of him. He is a startign quarterback and therefore impacting his team more than any other offensive freshman but that doesn't mean he is playing will. Goff has been inefficient and turnover prone and has been benched twice already this season. Tyner doesn't play such a big role on his team but he is a far better player playing at a much higher level.

3. RB Michael Adkins, Colorado (LW: 3)
I'm keeping three candidates for this award strictly for the sake of continuity at this point. The crop of offensive freshman in the conference this season outside of Tyner has been very disappointing.
Honorable Mentions:
RB Paul Perkins, UCLA

QB Sefo Liufau, Colorado

RB Khalfani Muhammad, California

Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year:
1. LB Addison Gilliam, Colorado (LW: 1)
Gillam's numbers won't suggest it but he did everything he could to stop Denker and Carey from running all over Colorado. He wasn't credited with as many tackles as he should have and he wasn't always the first man to make contact but he was always around the ball and did well to track ball carriers. Unfortunately, the rest of Colorado's defense couldn't follow his lead.

2. LB Myles Jack, UCLA (LW: 2)
Jack had a great game against oregon as he made the big play on defense to set up both of UCLA's short touchdown drives. He made a great effort play to punch the ball away from Keanon Lowe to force a fumble from behind to set up UCLA's first touchdown. In the second quarter, Jack showed his athleticism by runnign around two Oregon blockers to swallow up a punt and set up another quick, short touchdown drive.

3. LB Scooby Wright, Arizona (LW: 3)
Another solid game with nine tackles for Wright against Colorado. Wright has gone from an under the radar recruit, to winning a starting job early in the season, to entering the top 20 in the Pac-12 in tackles.

Honorable Mentions:
DB Daquawn Brown, Washington State

DL Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA

LB Torrodney Prevot, Oregon

Pac-12 Coach of the Year:
1. Mark Helfrich, Oregon (LW: 2)
I'm starting to wonder if Helfrich may actually be better as Oregon head coach than Chip Kelly, we'll have to wait at least three more years when Helfrich has his own players to pass a true judgement but Oregon's performance last week in contrast to last year was telling. Last year, the Ducks made mistakes and let Stanford hang around but they kept making mistakes, allowed the game to go all the way to the end, and lost. This year against UCLA, Oregon recovered from its mistakes, soffocated UCLA on defense and found the kill switch on offense soon enough to still win by four touchdowns.

2. Jim Mora, UCLA (LW: 1)
Mora should be pleased by seeing his team slow down the Oregon death machine but I love his attitude after the loss. Mora said emphatically that he's "sick of being close, close is not good enough. We need to start winning these games." His players will respond to that and won't be happy to settle for being close but not good enough against top teams. Of his team responds the way I think they will, UCLA will get a second chance to win one of "these" games against either Oregon or Stanford in the Pac-12 title game.

3. Mike Riley, Oregon State (LW: 3)
Riley's 4th down decisions against Stanford were highly questionable and they may well have cost his team the game. That being said, Riley's body of work this season is still greater than all but two coaches in the Pac-12.

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