PAC-12: Week 8 Preview

Stanford vs Arizona State

Reports out of Tempe, Arizona are that Taylor Kelly will possibly play on Saturday against Stanford.  Depending on how he looks this week in practice rotating reps with Mike Bercovici.

‘We’re balancing the reps,” offensive coordinator and deputy head coach Mike Norvell said. “Both guys are preparing to play this week. We’ll evaluate as the week goes on.”

“We expect him to play,” Head Coach Todd Graham said. “What that role will be — if I left it up to Taylor, he’s all ready to go — but we’re also going to be careful. I think he will play. I think Mike will play, too, so we’ll see kind of how that works. But it’s his senior year and as soon as he can get back, obviously it’s his team.”

If Taylor Kelly isn’t 100 percent to play on Saturday Graham might want to resign the thought on playing him because Stanford will bring the heat and force Kelly to put the ball down and run, which could re-aggravate his injured foot.

Stanford has 17 sacks on the season thus far and 41tackles for loss, so they know how to get pressure up front.  If Kelly can’t move well or make people miss in the pocket; he will be a statue and the Cardinal defense will tee-off on him.

Though this will only be Mike Bercovici’s 3 starts, he has shown that he can do well, and is poised to handle the pressure, and is gaining confidence.  There isn’t any need for Arizona State to rush or push Kelly to come back to a snake pit.

It’s understandable that Kelly wants to redeem himself from the disappointing lost to Stanford last season.  But came back still a little gingerly may do more damage than good for the Sun Devils.

Washington vs Oregon

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; Oregon is not back per say.  They are back on track.  They are heading back in the right direction.  Their confidence appears to be back.  One person doesn’t make a team, but one man’s confidence can spread amongst his teammates, and that is what looks to have happened for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.  marcus-mariota-ncaa-football-wyoming-oregon1-850x560 Getting offensive lineman and senior Jake Fisher back seem to raise the confidence of the rest of the O-line for the Ducks, which in turned raised the confidence in Mariota that he wouldn’t be under much duress in the pocket in their game against UCLA last Saturday, and that proved to be the case.  Oregon looked like a totally different team than they have shown in the past few weeks.  They passed and ran the ball effectively against the Bruins; going for 210 yards in the air and 258 yards on the ground, leaving UCLA having no answers and their coaches frustrated with each other.

Oregon will need to maintain that confidence in Eugene when the Washington Huskies come into town, which are coming off a big when against Cal; slowing down their high flying offense to only 7 points given up. Huskies’ linebackers Shaq Thompson and Hau’oli Kikaha will be looking to disrupt and corral Mariota and the talented running backs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner.  Oregon has to protect the ball, because the Huskies defense swarm to the ball like vultures, and when they do they are looking to remove the ball from your possession at every opportunity.  They have forced 12 fumbles, recovering 10, and returning 3 of them for touchdowns (all by Shaq Thompson). 15941965-standard

If Washington wants to keep the game close they will need to force turnovers and get some pressure on Mariota to make him second guess his throw and lose some of that confidence he was starting have in the offensive line.  Washington QB Cyler Miles just has to be proficient and not make many mistakes that will allow the crowd to stay in the game and win the field position battle.

The winner of this game will have at least a game advantage in the standings in the North Division, and for Oregon especially, still a chance to be looked at as a contender for the College Playoff.

UCLA vs Cal

Disappointing weekend for both UCLA and Cal last week has they were dismantled by Oregon and Washington respectively.  Neither team looked to play up to their potential or the way they have been playing for most of the beginning part of this season.

UCLA doesn’t look like the same team that blew out Arizona State 3 weeks ago 62-27.   With back to back home losses to Utah and Oregon, UCLA has given up 810 yards of total offense in the two games; and an average of 250 yards on the ground in the those games.  You can see why there was some dissention amongst Head Coach Jim Mora and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich on the sideline last week.

UCLA’s hopes for a bid in the playoff is gone and over, but if they want to have a shot at getting back in the conversation for at least a conference championship they better get back to the UCLA of a few weeks ago.  They need to protect Brett Hundley; receivers can’t drop passes; the defense needs to tackle better and get pressure on the opposing quarterback.  And that won’t be easy against Cal, whom they play this week.  Cal Head Coach Sonny Dykes has his team playing a whole lot better than they did last season.  They have already doubled their win output from last season. A few hiccups along the way against Arizona, who scored 36 points in the 4th quarter, which included a hail mary to win and a last week against Washington.  Cal will not be a door mat where the Bruins can show up and they will win.  They are going to have to earn this victory, especially if they can’t protect Hundley and play better pass defense.

Paul Perkins, Andre HeidariUCLA running back Paul Perkins will be a key in this game rushing the ball.  Cal doesn’t defend the run well giving up 116 yards per game, while Perkins averages 122 yards and 6.3 yards per carry; that keeps the Bruins ahead of the chains and keeps the Cal offense and quarterback Jared Goff of the field

Keys for UCLA to win are:  pressure on Goff and run Perkins and protect Hundley.

Keys for Cal:  spread out UCLA defense and get Daniel Lasco out in the open field and get Hundley off rhythm.

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