I'm happy to report that West Coast football is alive and well, or for Oregon State and San Diego State just alive. But what a bender it was! It's so great to have football back. From the shootout in the San Joaquin Valley to the beat down on the Puget Sound it was a fascinating opening weekend in the West. Below are my observations of the weekend by position:
BEST: Derek Carr (Fresno) had an outstanding game against Rutgers. Because of the system his numbers were gaudy. He threw about a million passes and almost all of them looked good. The main concerns with him are his ability to make multiple progressions. Most of his decision making is done pre-snap. He also doesn’t see much pressure so no chance to step up and throw. Throws a good deep ball, but most his passes are short. His stats this year are going to be ridonkulous. But only about 10% of his passes have a high degree of difficulty. His mechanics are great, but I just need to see more of him under pressure and not like he’s just at a pro day workout. Overall great start for a guy who could be a 1st Rounder.
Honorable Mention: Keith Price (UW) clearly benefitted from the Huskies' new offensive scheme. He look comfortable and made great throws. He escaped pressure and threw well on the run. In 2012 he was a train wreck, but it seems like he is ready to be the engine in U Dub's new offensive machine. Again, a lot of easy throws, and not a lot of pressure. I'll love to see how he does when faced with adversity. -- Brett Smith (WYO) introduced himself to the state of Nebraska by playing his ass off. He can run, he can throw, he can score. He made a bad decision that led to an INT, but that was about it. He was phenomenal. His throwing motion is quirky, and he will need to work on that, but NFL teams will love his athleticism and attitude. -- Chuckie Keeton (USU) was another guy who really shown in his first game. He played great. Show the ability to throw down field. He also has an odd throwing motion, but as a dual threat guy I was quite impressed. I look forward to seeing more of him this year. -- Vernon Adam (E. Wash) did just about everything in Eastern Washington's win over OSU. 518 yards will turn some heads. At 6'-0" 190lb it's doubtful he'll make it to the NFL but hey! You never know. He's still got a few more years to tear it up in FCS and maybe grow a couple inches.
BEST: Bishop Sankey (UW) also benefited from the new system in Seattle. He feet looked super quick. He hit holes and showed some toughness running between the tackles.
Honorable Mention: De'Anthony Thomas (UO) was well...De'Anthony. Nobody expected any different against Nicholls St but it was a good start.
BEST: Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper (CAL), both true sophomores, neither will be draftable in 2014, but boy do they look good in the Bear Raid Offense. Cal went up by realizing that the NW DBs couldn't cover these guys. Both were fast and caught most everything. Neither is big (both around 6'0") but they've got jets.
Honorable Mention: Kaisen Williams (UW) looked fast and tough. Had some nice catches, and was able to get open consistently. I really like his blocking on the edge. -- Devante Adams (Fresno) had a couple amazing catches that proved that he's more than just a product of the system, but Fresno had their way with the Rutgers DBs so it was tough to tell how great he was. -- Robert Herron (WYO) had a nice day. To me he didn't stand out with speed and seemed to be more a product or the system.
Needs Work: ASJ (UW) and Cody Hoffman (BYU) were both out due to injuries.
Best: Tyler Larsen (USU). From what I saw he looks like he has good strength and moves quickly. Need to see more.
Honorable Mention: Austin Wentworth (Fresno) was great in pass blocking, but struggled run blocking. He'll have to improve there to get drafted.
Best: Danny Shelton (DT UW). He had a hell of a game disrupting Boise's run game and getting pressure up the middle. I didn't even have him on my watch list but he is quickly rising on my board.
Honorable Mention: Eddie Yarbrough (DE WYO) played his ass off. He was making a lot of tackles for a lineman, and did a really great job against some good NEB o-linemen. He has good instincts and hands. He'll have to get stronger, but I look for him to be a force in the MWC this year.
Needs Work: Deandre Coleman (DT CAL) really didn't do much. He looks draftable, but only made one outstanding play. He got double teamed a lot and wasn't able to beat it. Cal couldn't get any pressure on the NW QB and Coleman was a big part of that. -- Demarcus Lawrence (BSU) had a rough day. He's fast! But that was about all he showed. He over ran some plays, wasn't able to make tackles, and looked bad when read in the Zone Read. I don't know what more to day.
BEST: Kyle Van Noy (BYU). Due to the rain delay I missed a lot a the game, but Van Noy was all over the place. He's a pure athlete with great speed and strength. He was constantly in the UVA backfield. Very slippery. It seems like his assignments are pretty simple, so I'm not sure how he would fit into a more rigid system. Good start for the potential 1st Round pick.
Honorable Mention: Shaq Thompson (UW). He's only a true Sophmore, but he looked every bit the part of a 1st Round LB. Fast, strong, made tackles.
BEST: Derron Smith (Fresno). Sure tackler, and showed great speed in coverage and running down Rutgers ball carrier.
Honorable Mention: Blair Burns (CB WYO) didn't have a huge game, but it said a lot that T-Magic didn't really throw at him. CBs should be anonymous and he was.
Needs Work: LJ Jones (CB Fresno) yeesh. Maybe better next week.