Sometimes it’s just not enough to have spring game and “two a day” practices to get your team in full game mode. You actually have to get out there to face competition to know what you have as a team; and the Pac-12, which is considered one of the top conferences out of the Power five Conferences, looked discombobulated in the first weekend of the college football season. Five out of the 12 lost this weekend and four out of the five were losses to unranked opponents.
Fans of the these teams shouldn’t retreat to panic mode yet, but there are definite questions surrounding Washington State and Colorado who have been trying to rebuild for some time now with no sign of improvement.
The Buffaloes went across the Pacific to face Hawaii in Honolulu and came up short. Despite rushing for twice as many yards than Hawaii; the Buffaloes turned the ball over more than Hawaii and couldn’t take advantage of opportunities they were given by Hawaii quarterback Max Wittek, who threw 2 interception, but made up for it 3 touchdowns passes lead to a 28-20 win.
Three years in Pullman and there appears to be a decline for the Washington State Cougars. While at Texas Tech his teams were setting all kind of school passing records, but the talent hasn’t’ followed him up to Washington State. He has the same M.O. but different results regarding wins and losses. You can’t expect to win if you can’t stop the run and get off the field. Portland State ran for 233 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
Luke Falk had 289 yards in the air with two touchdowns, but when you turn the ball over and your defense has trouble stopping the run; you have a low percentage of winning and the Vikings took advantage when the Cougars muffed a punt in the 4th quarter, which turned into 7 points for Portland State. And that ended up being the difference in the game.
Tough, rugged line play has been the mantra for Stanford football for some time now, and they let a Northwestern team beat up on them Saturday afternoon. True Freshman Clayton Thorson look more experienced than his counterpart Kevin Hogan, who was perceived to lead the Cardinal to a Conference championship. It can still happen it’s early in the season. This goes back to what I said in the beginning that we can’t overreact to week 1, but questions need to be answered. If Kevin Hogan plays like this anymore this season; the Cardinal are in a world of hurt.
Clayton Thorson didn’t pass for off the chart numbers, but he was effect in the pass and with his feet, rushing for 68 yards and a touchdown. But the story of how Stanford allowed over 200 yards on the ground was baffling. Keep in mind that the Cardinal is starting 9 new starters on defense. But a team who average less than 100 yards on ground allowed last season was pounded by Northwestern running back Justin Jackson for 134 on 28 carries; the defense is a major concern for Stanford.
The story of the weekend the defense of the Texas A&M Aggies against Arizona State. Miles Garrett and Daeshon Hall along with Qualen Cunningham gave Mike Bercovici fits throughout the whole game. The Aggie defense kept a lock on the Sun Devils’ big play H-back D.J. Foster. And just to rub salt in the wound; the top recruits coming out of Arizona the last two years went to A&M and put a hurting on their hometown team.
Kyle Allen the top quarterback coming out of Arizona two years ago had a solid game throwing for 198 and two touchdowns, and freshman Christian Kirk put his mark on the game with a 79 yard punt return for a touchdown; then seemingly icing the game with a dynamic 66 yard screen pass for a touchdown leading the Aggies to a 38-17 win.
Some of the notable impact players of the weekend include Cody Kessler (Heisman Watch Hopeful) with a typical game against Arkansas State 236 yards and 4 touchdowns in the air in a blowout game 55-6; Vernon Adams, Jr. made his debut in a Oregon uniform against his former team Eastern Washington throwing for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns; but the surprise of the weekend goes to true Freshman Josh Rosen showed no signs of jitters slicing the Cavaliers defense with 351 yards in the air and 3 touchdowns passes.