It all started with a fox running on to the field on Thursday, and then it ended with the biggest WTF Pac-12 official moment since Oregon didn't recover and onside kick in 2006. And in between there was football. Oh glorious, beautiful football. Larry Scott must have forced his AD's to all schedule big games on September 14th, thinking that the Pac-12 was going to own that day on the football calendar- which they did for everyone who didn't want to watch Johnny Eff-ing Football Cam. That combined with the Mountain West having few if any watchable game leads to a Pac-12 heavy week. The West is emerging as the QB region. We knew Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota were good. But I'm not sure that we knew they were this eff-ing good. Keith Price might as well be wearing a velour track suit he looks so comfortable in the Huskies' new offense. Taylor Kelly was impressive considering his receivers soak their gloves in Vaseline. And Chukie Eff-ing Football - yeah I said it - is getting ready to put Logan on the CFB map.
BEST: Brett Hundley (UCLA) took a little bit to wake up for the 9AM PST kick in Lincoln, but once he did he was on. When the ball leaves his hand it's like Blake Lively moving through the air. He's got good touch, and strong arm. His decision making was good. He definitely isn't the runner that Mariota is, but he's got Kurt Russell-like escapability. His TD celebration of holding up the Nick Pasquale towel brought tears to my eyes. After seeing most of the QB's in the West he's at the top of my draft board.
Honorable Mention: Marcus Mariota (ORE) looks like he's playing with a PS3 controller in his hand. 456 yards? Sure. Why not? Tennessee was going to make Mariota beat them with his arm and he did. It's still tough to tell how NFL ready he is, but he's definitely raising eye brows. I like the way he adjusted on the fly to mixed coverages. He started off a little cold, but warmed up and seemed to find the open man every time. The 2013 UDUB season should be titled "How Keith Got His Groove Back". Keith Price (UDUB) is feeling it. Sark is putting him in position to succeed. When he has time to set his feet Price is as good as anyone. He's also moving(not running for his life) more and throwing on the run well. It's fun to watch.
BEST: Bishop Sankey (UDUB) had a career day with 208 yards. He doesn't run like a gazelle or move like a squirrel, but he's very steady and has great vision. He's kinda like watching a camel race; you know they're running fast, but it just looks weird.
Honorable Mention: De'Anthony Thomas (ORE) had a pedestrian 13 for 86 and a TD, but clearly Tennessee was going to force Oregon to throw so he served as more a decoy. When he does run, he's got decieving power in his legs. His track training isn't beefing up his upper body, but his legs are like pistons. He also had a long KO return that was called back. ASU RB Marion Grice's nose for the end zone is like Rick James' nose for the Bolivian Marching Powder. Every time I looked up he was in the end zone. 4TDs!?! He's a straight ahead runner who hits the hole. He doesn't really create his own hole. He's also got some supple hands receiving out of the backfield.
Needs Work: Kaisey Carrier (UNM) never got going. The Lobos were clearly over matched by Pitt. He never had room to run.
BEST: Shaq Evans (UCLA) only had 3 catches but he made them count (97 yards, TD). He looks fluid in his routes, and has NFL level speed. He had at least one route where he had his man beat deep, but Hundley threw just a little too long. I can't wait for him to get matchup against some better CBs.
Honorable Mention: Josh Huff (ORE) continues to look like the perfect NFL #3 WR/Special Teamer. He's an aggressive blocker (called for holding) and he's strong so he can fight through jams at the line. John Mundt (TE ORE) had a coming out party. He must have been wearing a predator suit because Tennessee seemed to not see him. Kaison Williams (UDUB) is sure handed. I didn't see him bust a big one, but he seems to get open for 1st downs. Cal's dynamic duo of Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs are fantastic. They held their own against a very tough Ohio State secondary. Harper had the stats, but that's because Treggs was matched up against the best CB in the country in Bradley Roby. Bear Raiders have a lot to look forward to with these two.
Needs Work: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (UDUB) didn't look like the best TE in the country. He was just a guy. He's split out quite a bit, but when he's in with the linemen his blocking isn't great. Colt Lyerla (ORE) was out sick, although Coach Helfrich called it circumstances. This isn't his first time out for mysterious circumstances, and running his mouth to reporters isn't going to help him much.
BEST: Xavier Su'A-Filo (G UCLA) is a bulldozer in the run game, and security guard in the passing game. It looks like Nebraska's pass rushers wanted nothing to do with him. I watched him knock a DT off balance with a one arm shove. I don't advocate dwarf tossing, but I bet he'd be all-world.
Honorable Mention: Anybody who thinks Oregon is a finesse team isn't watching their Center Hroniss Grassu. He gets off the ball, and smashes two defenders on every run play. It's amazing to watch him get down field in front of DAT and layout linebackers. I'm pretty sure he's the bi-product of some crazy grizzly-antelope breeding experiment in Southern California.
BEST: Josh Shirley (UW) had 3 sacks. That's about says it. He's fast, strong and likes to hit quarterbacks. He can disappear at time, but he didn't disappear for long against Illinois. He looks a little small to me, but I'd never say that to his face.
Honorable Mention: Taylor Hart (DE UO) is freaking everywhere. He worked over a good OT in Antonio Richardson a couple of times. He got after the QB and made tackles. He's like a your uncle Rick who always knows where the fish are going to be. Will Sutton (ASU) may have put on weight but he doesn't seem to have slowed down. He shoots the gap, and takes on double teams. He opens a lot of gaps for his teammates to get after the QB. He's not great against the run as he often blows by the RBs. He's an ideal one gap DT. I know it's not his game, but I would like to see him shed some blocks and make tackles. Cassius Marsh (UCLA) not only has an awesome name, but has a well rounded game that makes him a viable NFL prospect. He did well against a stout Nebraska offensive line, getting after Martinez as well as scrapping the line and making tackles.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Barr (UCLA) didn't quite live up to the hype. After watching KVN last week my expectations for rush LBs might be a little high. He had a great game but most standards, but really couldn't get by Sirles. He was in on a a ton of tackles (10, 1.5TFL) and forced a fumble. Who knows? that might have been the game plan all along. Eric Hendricks (UCLA) had a nice day too. I like his versatility of being able to tackle and cover.
BEST: Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrence Mitchell are running a maximum security prison on the edges of Oregon's defense. They locked up Tennessee's best receivers and threw away the key. It's tough to tell who is better. Mitchell leans back a little more in his stance and opens up quicker, so I would have to give the edge to IEO. They both get up on receivers at the line, and neither shies away from a tackle. They allow Allotti to run a yoga studio for a defense.
Honorable Mention: Osahon Irabor (CB ASU) had a big game. He came on a couple of corner blitzes getting a sack and a couple TFLs. He also didn't give up much in the passing game, although he wasn't matched up against Abbrederis. He seems like a nickel corner in the NFL. Alden Darby (SS ASU) also played well. He broke up a couple of passes, and fits their aggressive scheme well. I'm not sure he didn't take a bad angle on Melvin Gordon's long run, but no ones perfect.
It's a pretty crappy slate of games nationally, but there are two games in the West that are worthy of everyone's attention. Utah State @ USC will feature Chuckie Keeton against USC's stacked defense. A great game by Keeton could a) get Lane Kiffin Fired and b) catapult him on to the national scene. Arizona State @ Stanford should be a reenactment of the War to End All Wars. Will Sutton v. David Yankey and Co. should be a battle. I really hope Fox shoots in grainy black and white film.