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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

September 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM

For openers: Who showed up, and who didn’t

Who performed, and who didn’t, on the opening weekend of Pac-12 play — this isn’t a ranking of teams as to their potential strength, only an assessment of how they did for openers relative to their opponent, the expectation and their own performance.

1. Cal (beat Fresno State, 36-21). Bears, who had a stiff defense a year ago, again showed one in their opener. “I was really impressed with their cornerbacks,” Fresno coach Pat Hill said Monday morning. “They really shut down our receivers.” The Bears allowed only 210 yards total offense.

On offense, quarterback Zach Maynard “can make plays with his arm or feet,” Hill said. He was 16 of 35 for 266 yards.

2. Stanford (beat San Jose State 57-3). The Spartans gift-wrapped this one for Stanford, losing three fumbles, and Stanford had a pedestrian 373 total yards. But the Cardinal defense held the Spartans to just 27 rushing yards.

3. Arizona (beat Northern Arizona, 41-10). NAU held the ball for more than 36 minutes. Lotta good that did. The ‘Cats rolled up 412 passing yards against a team that was 6-5 last year.

4. Arizona State (beat UC-Davis, 48-14). ASU executed solidly against a team that was 6-5 a year ago, holding the Aggies (243 total yards) scoreless until the fourth quarter. We’ll know a lot more about the Sun Devils after Friday night, when they host 21st-ranked Missouri. It’ll be “Black Out Night,” at Sun Devil Stadium, and the Devils will debut their new alternate-color black uniforms.


5. Washington State (beat Idaho State, 64-21). All right, Idaho State is nobody’s juggernaut, but the Cougars played attacking football on both sides and the great bulk of ISU’s yardage (453) was against reserves. The downer is not only the broken clavicle to QB Jeff Tuel, but a season-ending Achilles injury to promising freshman linebacker Darryl Monroe, who was already in the two-deep.
6. Washington (beat Eastern Washington, 30-27). Not exactly a boffo showing by the Huskies, who gained 250 yards total offense and didn’t quell questions about whether smallish QB Keith Price will be able to physically absorb the demands of a full season. But Eastern is an established program that knows how to win. And it almost did.
7. Utah (beat Montana State, 27-10). Utes’ QB Jordan Wynn was unimpressive, throwing for 101 yards coming off winter shoulder surgery. The zip on the ball didn’t please his coach, Kyle Whittingham, and his throwing motion left Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson aghast. Wrote Monson: “His mechanics were visibly jacked up, showing a mix of heavy-labored, side-armed, back-footed lobs that were reminiscent of historical stone throwers in kilts from the Scottish Highlands.”
This week, before the Utes play at USC in the first Pac-12 Conference game, they must deal with tragedy related to the football program. The wife of junior defensive lineman Ron Tongaonevai died in a car accident in Utah some 90 minutes after the game Thursday night.
8. USC (beat Minnesota, 19-17). The Gophers are widely projected to finish fifth or sixth in the Big Ten’s Legends Division. Media picked the Trojans to win the Pac-12 South. So where’s the logic in this result?
9. Colorado (lost at Hawaii, 34-17). The Buffs didn’t get a lot done offensively, gaining 240 yards. But, with a secondary in question, they didn’t get eaten alive, either, by Hawaii’s Bryant Moniz, allowing 178 passing yards.
10. Oregon (lost to LSU, 40-27). The stats mirror the images of the Pac-12 and the SEC: Oregon’s vaunted run game produced only 95 yards, while LSU ran for 175. The Ducks passed for 240, but it came on 54 attempts. LSU threw for only 98 and still won by two touchdowns. Not a good statement for the Ducks, or the Pac-12.
11. UCLA (lost to Houston, 38-34). Houston’s Case Keenum hit on 30 or 40 passes for 310 yards, and left UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel raving about his experience and quick release. Well, there are a few guys in the Pac-12 that will test the Bruins as well.
12. Oregon State (lost to Sacramento State, 29-28 in OT). It was a thoroughly sour start for the banged-up Beavers, who turned to redshirt freshman Sean Mannion after Ryan Katz was ineffective. You’d assume Katz would be the logical choice this week at Wisconsin, but coach Mike Riley has made a couple of recent head-scratching decisions, so who knows? It’s possible James Rodgers, the standout wide receiver coming back from a knee injury, sees the field this week.

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