Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pac 10 weekend in review

Georgia 27 - ASU 10
Not sure how much this game provides any insight into how the Sun Devils will perform in-conference, because most of what they struggled with (running the ball, protecting the passer, allowing chunks of yardage at a time) were due as much, if not more, to how good Georgia was rather than how bad ASU was. Georgia just had too many weapons on offense and were too big and fast on defense. Stafford looked like a top 5 QB, Green was unguardable at times at WR, and Moreno's strength, creativity, and unorthodox style remind me a lot of Lynch. Throw in a dominant front 7, and they have the talent to win the SEC (they always seem to find a way to lose a game or two though, so we'll see).

That said, ASU still clearly has problems protecting Carpenter, and does not seem able to dominate up front in the run game. Carpenter, though, played well and will put up numbers this year. Their secondary is strong just like last year, and they seem capable of quickly striking in the passing game if you go to sleep on defense. They look about the same as last year, but they have a tougher schedule, so I see them slipping a bit from last year's record.

Arizona 31 - UCLA 10
Did not watch this game (once again, the Pac 10's TV coverage blows - no Oregon, no UofA/UCLA). But I am told from a credible source who attended the game that UCLA's offense continues to be an abomination. Kevin Craft pulled an Edward Norton in Primal Fear--until now, we all believed there were two Kevin Crafts: first-half-of-the-Tennesse-game Craft aka "Bad Craft," and second-half-of-the-Tennessee-game Craft aka "Good Craft." Apparently, there is only one Kevin Craft, and it's Bad Craft.

There never was a second-half-of-the-Tennessee-game Kevin Craft.

But this really wasn't about Kevin Craft. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The Nudeweasel-Puppy Chow-DeWayne "Dy-No-Mite" Walker experiment is not as simple as good coach + good coach + good coach = great team. Resumes don't win games, and typically, throwing the same colors on a bunch of people who have won elsewhere doesn't mean they'll all win together. USC fans will tell you Puppy Chow can't recruit and didn't start doing well until Leinart got there. Washington and Colorado fans will tell you that Nudeweasel will start pointing fingers and placing blame, alienating his coaches and players at the first sign of trouble. And Dy-No-Mite lobbied hard for the UCLA job and wants his own head coach position. All three of these guys are strong personalities, with big egos, used to doing it their own way. It will be interesting to see how long this menage-a-trois works if UCLA keeps losing.

As for Arizona, great win. The Cats are in year two of the Texas Tech spread offense and finally seem to have the ingredients in place to be productive on offense: senior QB who knows the system (Tuitama), arguably the best all-around returning WR in the conference (Thomas), and a potential All-American at TE (Gronkoswki). Their biggest problem remains mistakes and inconsistency, a hallmark under Stoops. But, at 3-1, Arizona looks better than they ever have under Stoops, and are going to be a tough win for most conference teams. As a Cal fan, I can tell you that the thought of facing the Tech spread is bad enough, but having to go to Tuscon where every stroke of bad luck possible befell Cal two years ago is just plain bad juju. Before the season, I circled the Arizona game as a loss, and so far, my mind has not changed.

Boise State 37 - Oregon 32
Taking a page out of the Tedford guide to non-conference disappointment (or maybe it was Belotti's page to begin with and Tedford's been plagiarizing), Oregon committed the cardinal gaffe of playing Boise State. As I have said so many times, only fools schedule teams like this (others include Fresno State, Utah, BYU, TCU). Boise State is a damn good football team but your players never get up for the game, and if you win no one cares, but if you lose, everyone says you're overrated and a fraud because you lost. Just like Cal last weekend, Oregon sleepwalked through most of the game, got punched in the mouth, and woke up too late. Of course, Oregon had the built in excuse of being down to their 3rd string QB. Still, they should have beaten the Broncos at home. In any event, at this point in Tedford's tenure, the Cal-Oregon similarities are too numerous to ignore. Like teacher, like pupil. My only solace is that Tedford has had about as much success as Belotti since taking the Cal job, but has done it with crappier facilities. Maybe the new facilities will get him over the hump.

Washington State 48 - Portland State 9
Anytime you get your first win as a new head coach, roll up 638 yards of offense, and beat beady-eyed cracker Jerry Glanville, everything in life tastes better (even if that life is lived in Pullman, Washington). Congratulations Coach Wulff, we salute you. Of course, it wouldn't be a Cougar moment if there wasn't a poop splash somewhere in the background. The Cougars lost their first and second string QBs to injuries. D'oh.


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