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Pac-12 Notes – Arizona

November 3rd

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Washington State defeats Cal with last minute touchdown, 19-13

Game story from ESPN … Gardner Minshew threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Easop Winston Jr. with 32 seconds left to lift No. 10 Washington State to a 19-13 win over California on Saturday night, extending WSU’s long-shot quest to crash the College Football Playoff.

Minshew threw for 334 yards for Washington State (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12, No. 8 CFP), which is also seeking its first Pac-12 North title. The Cougars have a 12-game home winning streak, fourth-longest in the nation.

Utah loses quarterback Tyler Huntley for the season in loss to Arizona State

Game story from ESPN“Wilkins, Harry lead Sun Devils past No. 16 Utah 38-20”

Related … “Utah QB Tyler Huntley done for season with broken collarbone” … from ESPN

From the Salt Lake City Tribune … Utah’s seemingly well-paved road to the Pac-12 South football championship turned extremely bumpy Saturday.

The Utes lost quarterback Tyler Huntley to an apparent shoulder injury late in the third quarter and missed their opportunity to take full command of the division race, falling 38-20 to Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium.

After the game, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Huntley likely was done for the season due to the injury.

The loss means Utah (6-3, 4-3 Pac-12) is tied with Arizona for first place in the Pac-12 South, pending USC’s outcome at Oregon State. ASU (5-4, 3-3) is a half-game behind the Utes, owning the tiebreaker between the teams. Utah will have beat Oregon and Colorado in its last two conference games and get some help from one of ASU’s remaining opponents: UCLA, Oregon or Arizona.

Utah’s future may be complicated by Huntley’s injury, with redshirt freshman Jason Shelley as his replacement. Beyond Utah’s division title-hopes, the question becomes how much of this season the Utes can salvage.

Does anyone doubt there’s a November curse on this program?

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Oregon spoils Chip Kelly’s return to Autzen with 42-21 win

From ESPN … Justin Herbert threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns and Oregon defeated UCLA 42-21 on Saturday in Bruins coach Chip Kelly’s first game at Autzen Stadium since he left the Ducks following the 2012 season.

Dillon Mitchell caught eight passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns for the Ducks (6-3, 3-2 Pac-12), who became bowl eligible. The victory also snapped a two-game losing streak that had dropped the Ducks out of the rankings.

With the loss, UCLA (2-7, 2-4) was guaranteed to finish below .500 in Kelly’s first season with the Bruins.

During Kelly’s four-year tenure Oregon made four straight BCS bowl appearances and he was lauded as the architect of the Ducks’ up-tempo “blur offense.” He was greeted with warm applause when he was introduced prior to the coin flip.

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Washington holds off Stanford to stay in Pac-12 North race

Game story from ESPN: “Washington holds off Stanford’s late rally, wins 27-23″

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November 2nd

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Chip Kelly “excited” to return to Oregon

From the Los Angeles Daily News … Chip Kelly almost never ended up in Oregon. He turned down the Ducks’ offensive coordinator position when he was first offered the job in 2007. Now six years removed coaching his last game in Eugene, the head coach is looking forward to returning.

“Love the place,” Kelly said Monday before he leads UCLA to face Oregon in Eugene on Saturday. “I had a great run there for the six years that we were there. They were awesome people at the university and in the community, so I’m excited to go back.”

When asked at Pac-12 media day this summer of how he thought Oregon fans would receive their former head coach, Kelly half-joked that it would depend on UCLA’s record entering the game. Fans wouldn’t mind seeing the coach who brought them to four BCS bowls in as many years if he was leading a struggling UCLA team, he thought.

That’s exactly what the first-year coach has, as the Bruins (2-6, 2-3 Pac-12) fell back to reality with a 41-10 loss to Utah last Friday. During the past two games, UCLA missed 42 tackles, including a season-high 24 against Utah, committed six special teams penalties and turned the ball over four times. Three turnovers came from quarterback Wilton Speight, who started last week’s game for an injured Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

… “That crowd’s unbelievable up there,” Kelly said. “But if you’re a competitor, you’re excited about it because it’s an awesome environment to be a part of and it’s one of the special things that these guys will remember for a long time, getting to play a game in Autzen Stadium.”

UCLA hasn’t played at Autzen Stadium since 2013 and hasn’t won there since 2004. The Bruins have won just one of their past seven matchups against the Ducks, with Kelly handing them three of those losses.

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Jon Wilner: Arizona his “five-star” pick

From the San Jose Mercury News

Colorado at Arizona (Friday)
Line: Arizona -3.5 (total: 59)
Record ATS: Colorado 5-2, Arizona 4-4
Trends: The past three matchups have zoomed past that point total, even the ’16 affair when CU had a terrific defense.
Comment: One team must deal with stunning success last week, the other with stunning failure. The short prep time adds a dynamic to the psychology — it’s not great for Arizona, but it’s much tougher for the Buffs.
Pick: Arizona

Straight-up winners: Arizona, Washington State, Utah, UCLA, USC and Washington.

Five-star special: Arizona. At home with momentum, a short week and a vulnerable opponent, the Wildcats turn in another impressive performance.

(FWIW … Wilner is 1-4 on his “five-star specials” so far this season) …

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November 1st

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“Even keel” Utes in control of Pac-12 South race

From the Daily Camera … Just three weeks ago, the Utah football team went to Stanford on a Saturday night with its season essentially on the line.

The Utes were facing an 0-3 start to Pac-12 play if they couldn’t beat the then-No. 14 ranked Cardinal.

Now, Utah (5-2, 3-2 Pac-12) is the hottest team in the South and the front-runner to win the division for the first time.

That’s how quickly things can change in the volatile South, which is up for grabs with five weeks to play. Every South team has two or three conferences losses.

“I think everybody in the Pac-12 South almost thinks they have a chance,” said CU head coach Mike MacIntyre, whose own team (5-2, 2-2) is a half game out of first and just a game out of last.

Right now, the leader in the race is Utah, which kicked off a three-game winning streak with a 40-21 rout of Stanford on Oct. 6. The Utes followed that upset of the Cardinal with a 42-10 rout of Arizona and running away from USC for a 41-28 win.

Utah visits suddenly sizzling UCLA (2-5, 2-2) on Friday night.

“Staying on an even keel, trying to avoid being too high or too low,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said this week about being consistent in the Pac-12. “We just want to be consistent in our approach. This group has been great about that. Their preparation each week has been very consistent. No peaks or valleys, they come out and take care of their business on the practice field, in the meeting room and that is really where it starts. They have done a great job of that.”

Continue reading story here

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October 31st 

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USC’s Clay Helton given vote of confidence by AD Lynn Swann

From CBS Sports … As one might expect at 4-4, things have quickly unraveled for USC. Following a Week 9 loss to Arizona State, coach Clay Helton shifted things around on his coaching staff. This included stripping offensive coordinator Tee Martin of his play-calling duties — Helton will call the plays moving forward — and firing offensive line coach Neil Callaway.

Midseason coaching changes in any capacity can be a mixed bag for results, but the immediate question is whether Helton and Martin are really on the same page. Martin’s Twitter account has undergone some rather interesting changes while Helton called his conversation with his OC “great.”

Regardless of whatever internal turmoil the Trojans are navigating through, however, athletic director Lynn Swann is putting on a good face publicly. On Tuesday evening, Swann gave Helton a vote of confidence.

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QB J.T. Daniels back in the starting lineup for USC

From ESPN … USC quarterback JT Daniels has cleared concussion protocol and is expected to start Saturday against Oregon State, coach Clay Helton announced

“I have all anticipation of him being ready for the game,” said Helton, who announced Monday that he will take over playcalling duties from offensive coordinator Tee Martin.

Daniels suffered a concussion against Utah on Oct. 20 and did not play in a loss to Arizona State on Saturday. The true freshman will be held of contact drills this week as the program’s medical staff continues to monitor his progress.

Redshirt freshman Jack Sears started against Utah and completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Should Daniels start, Sears will be the backup with Matt Fink, the Trojans’ primary backup for the first seven games, sidelined with cracked ribs.

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October 30th

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Washington State No. 8 in initial Playoff Rankings

From CBS Sports

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. LSU
4. Notre Dame
5. Michigan
6. Georgia
7. Oklahoma
8. Washington State
9. Kentucky
10. Ohio State
11. Florida
12. UCF
13. West Virginia
14. Penn State
15. Utah
16. Iowa
17. Texas
18. Mississippi State
19. Syracuse
20. Texas A&M
21. NC State
22. Boston College
23. Fresno State
24. Iowa State
25. Virginia

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October 29th 

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Clay Helton fires offensive line coach, takes over play-calling duties at USC

… Insert inevitable Klayton Adams comments here … 

From CBS Sports … Changes are coming for USC’s football staff following a 38-35 loss to Arizona State that dropped the Trojans to 4-4 on the season. On Monday, coach Clay Helton announced two major shifts. The first is that he will take over game day play-calling duties, though offensive coordinator Tee Martin will keep his title while continuing to oversee the wide receivers and recruiting. The second is that offensive line coach Neil Callaway has been relieved of his duties. Running backs coach Tim Drevno will take over the offensive line going forward.

“I felt it was an appropriate time to become more involved in the offense as we continue to develop our team for the future,” said Helton in a release from the school.  “Tee and I have had conversations about this decision and he was supportive.  He has done a tremendous job here.  He will stay involved with the offense as he remains the offensive coordinator, helps put together our practice and game plans and serves as my offensive eyes during games.

“I want to thank Neil for all his hard work at USC.  He is an outstanding coach and a great friend.  I wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

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Chris Petersen: Jake Browning still the starting QB despite benching

From the Seattle Times … Chris Petersen was emphatic on Monday: Washington senior Jake Browning will “absolutely” start at quarterback against Stanford on Saturday.

“Jake Browning is and always has been our quarterback here,” Petersen said, adding: “There’s no one I care for more, have more respect for as a football player and as a person, than him. And I’ve been coaching a long time.”

Browning was benched late in the third quarter of Cal’s 12-10 upset of the then-No. 15 Huskies on Saturday in Berkeley.

With the Huskies leading 7-6, Petersen turned to redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Haener, whose only other appearance for UW was in mop-up duty against North Dakota in September. Haener’s second pass attempt Saturday was intercepted by Cal’s Evan Weaver and returned 37 yards for the Bears’ only touchdown of the game.

“We put (Haener) in a tough spot,” offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said after the game.

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CBS: Pac-12 continues to be its own worst enemy 

From CBS Sports … The Pac-12 doesn’t have a perception problem. The Pac-12 has a Pac-12 problem. It’s a conference that continues to shoot itself in the foot year after  year.

The latest example came on Saturday in Palo Alto, California. That’s where then No. 24 Stanford was hosting a 6-1 Washington State team that entered the game ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25. Washington State also happened to be the lone Pac-12 team with a realistic shot at earning a spot in the College Football Playoff. Doing so would make the Cougars the third Pac-12 team to do so in five years, and the first since Washington following the 2016 season.

The reason the Cougars were the only Pac-12 team with a shot at the CFP was that they were the only Pac-12 team remaining with fewer than two losses. Clearly, the game between Washington State and Stanford was the most important game in the Pac-12 this weekend as it was not only a pivotal game in the Pac-12 North’s division race, but it provided the conference’s lone playoff hope another chance to add a solid win to its resume just days before the first College Football Playoff Rankings were released for the first time this season. In fact, given Washington lost to Cal on Saturday to drop to 6-3 and is no longer ranked in either major poll, Saturday’s game against Stanford may have been Washington State’s last chance to impress anybody.

But I bet you didn’t watch it.

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Jon Wilner: A weekend of upsets as Pac-12 underdogs go five-for-five

From the San Jose Mercury News … The arc of the Pac-12’s football ethos bends toward parity, and it was in glorious form this weekend.

All five underdogs covered the spread.

All five underdogs won outright.

Disregard injuries and circumstances and focus only on the results:

* Arizona State beat USC to end the Trojans’ 19-game home winning streak.

* Washington State rallied from a 28-14 deficit to outlast Stanford and collect its third consecutive win in the series.

* Cal didn’t score an offensive touchdown but toppled No. 15 Washington.

* Winless (in conference) Oregon State rallied from 28 points down to beat Colorado in overtime for its first road win in four years.

* Arizona dominated No. 19 Oregon by a score (44-15) eerily similar to that of the Wildcats’ 2013 upset of the No. 5 Ducks (42-16)

It’s delicious anarchy, riveting theatre and exactly what commissioner Larry Scott says the conference wants.

The downside:

It’s not even November, and the Pac-12’s prospects for sending a team to the College Football Playoff are only slightly better than those of Conference USA.

Continue reading story here

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10 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. Aaaaaaaaaaaaah Pac 12 football and basketball for that matter.

    Famous saying from Pro HC………….”You are what your record says you are”

    Clearly the Utah QB getting hurt is too bad. Does it give the Buffs a chance? Think OSU backup.

    Clearly WSU was looking ahead to the Buffs. Hence the loss of focus, execution and game plan

    Famous saying from a Pro HC “You Play to win the game”

    Changes in the coaching staff, changes in the players, and results remain the same.
    Results remain the same and only the HC remains the same.
    r= results P=players A=assistant coaches H=head coach

    R = (P-P) + (A-A) +H

    Famous saying from Pro HC “You fail all the time, but you aren’t a failure until you start blaming someone else”

    Go Buffs

    Note : 3 to get 1.
    Note 2: Famous HC The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others
    Note 3: Famous HC Pressure is what you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing

    Special aside note: Did you know that the possibility exists for every team in the Pac south to finish 4 and 5? Pray for that possibility cause then the Mighty Buffs would be 7 and 5

    1. Good quotes. Servant leadership means you serve others, not yourself. Mac has more to learn in this area. Blaming others means that you do not take ownership. Fierce ownership is the key for the person at the top of any organization. There is a look on Mac’s face from time to time (that I have seen before organizational changes were made to remove them from their positions) that says “I feel something is wrong but I don’t know what it is and what to do what about it”. What then happens is a lot of spin and activity from that person but usually not the type of activities that produce the desired results.

      As frustrating as the current situation is, I feel it sets up nicely for Mac2 to show that he can do something about it. He has had plenty of bowl eligible opportunities and then done nothing with them. Now he has the following three opportunities:

      WSU- looked less than stellar last night. This is a chance to knock off a higher ranked team and have one win out of 17 losses. The game is in Folsom. Rise up and get it done and get the monkey off of your back. Show that you can do it, once. If not:

      Utah- loses its star QB. If Shenault can play, Utah loses a star player, CU gains one. The game is in Folsom. If the WSU is the expected loss, the team is 5-5. It is senior day with everything riding on it. Another chance to get it done. Against a quality team and a better game day coach who has owned Mac head to head. If not:

      Cal- a road game which have presented massive difficulties for Mac2. If Utah and WSU are losses, then here is one last time to show that he can perform under pressure.

      Any one, or all three, of these represent golden opportunities for Mac to show, one way or another, that he can “make the play” as a coach for bowl eligibility. And do something different and better, in the results column.

      If he can’t, he needs to be shown the door. That is as it should be: “three strikes and you are out”.

      Go Buffs

  2. I voted there will be a hangover in the next game. And it wont be because of the resilient 18-22 year old kids. It will be because the coaches will go with the same brain dead plays at the same brain dead time in the game. I have seen it for so long now. I have to believe it will be the same until i see different. And our redundant O must affect the D as well. I cant believe they in practice they see much more than our 2 page playbook. If the scout team really did imitate schemes and plays the coaches see on film of the coming opposition you might think they would learn a thing or 2 from them.
    And if the same ol sleepwalking by the coaches continues on offense no question the resiliency and motivation of those 18-22 year old players starts to evaporate too. I have seen Montez’ exasperation and eye rolling over that very thing.
    So whose to blame for allowing the opposition D coordinators take the week off before the Colorado game? Chev? Roper? Adams? Ever since we called a timeout on third and goal in the UDub game only to come back out on the field with another doomed run up the middle I have to believe its the head cheese MM. Another item that leads me to believe this was the “personality difference MM had with Leavitt. Maybe MM keeps his underlings on a really short lease and hates to have the image that Leavitt’s second year D outshined his own coaching. I can see Leavitt getting hot under the collar if MM was meddling with what he knows would work. Maybe lingering was a scapegoat. If that is the case I owe him a big apology.
    Montez and Viska single handedly took this team on his shoulders to beat the first 4 cupcakes. ASU was the only game this team looked like they were in command.
    Once Wild cat and sideways pass to Viska was keyed on it was dead as a doornail and the coaches had almost nothing else under their sleeve.
    If that is the case MM better learn how to quit micromanaging or head down the road to coach a high school somewhere.

  3. Just sitting here wondering if we are going to see Einstein’s theory of insanity continue to play out or will there be some O play changes to mitigate the pressure on the I linemen? Is Mac/Chev, whoever is responsible really insane? Its hard to believe the limited plays called in these games is all they practiced since August. Do they think the players cant execute something new with a week of practice? My money says the players would joyously welcome a little more offensive diversity. Remember when Elway and Shanahan were drawing up plays counter to Reeve’s instructions? P–sing off the fans is one thing but Mac has to realize his job and rep is on the line. Not only may he get fired here but he may never get into the hallowed SEC. Maybe all the money he scooped up here so far is enough for him.

  4. I do not have the Pac-12 Network so if the Buffs are not on national TV (such as ESPN or FS1) then I cannot watch the game and, instead, rely upon Mark Johnson and Coach Barnett’s radio call on the CU Buffs App, which is how I followed the Oregon State game. Even when the Buffs were rolling in the first half, Coach Barnett was lamenting the o-line play (which to my memory is sort of a recurring refrain of his during the broadcasts). He not only lamented their inability to consistently win the battle up front – so that the run game was more consistent – but he commented several times on the fact that Oregon State was shutting down one particular play the Buffs kept trying to run by defending it in exactly the same way that USC had done two weeks earlier. He seemed annoyed at our coaches’ apparent failure to recognize what Oregon State was doing and kept running the same play with the same poor results.

    Is the issue with the offensive line play the skill set of the kids playing the positions, is it the coaching, or is it a combination of both? As someone whose time at CU was spent when Coach Mac, Coach DiNardo, and Coach Barnett installed the wishbone and then recruited, first, Sal Aunese, and, then, Darian Hagan, to run it, it is almost incomprehensible to me that there are large chunks of most games (even games the Buffs win such as at Nebraska) during which our o-line seems incapable of holding its own at the line of scrimmage. It was their underwhelming performance last year that caused me to be so surprised that the o-line position coach was promoted this past off-season to co-offensive coordinator. Quite hard to figure out from afar (here in the swamps of Jersey) exactly what it was he did to merit a promotion.

    Three weeks ago, I had been hopeful that our worst case scenario at October’s end was to be 6-2 with a puncher’s chance of splitting our final four games. At 5-3 and in what certainly looks like a freefall I’m hoping like hell that they don’t go “0 fer” in November.

    1. Barnett’s comments about that are interesting. It did indeed look like CU has spent the last three weeks running the exact same running plays, against defenses that are defending them the same way, for terrible results.

      What’s so strange about this is that the first few weeks of the season, we had a huge amount of misdirection, jet sweeps, etc. Then the USC loss happened, which was in large part because USC’s defense was disciplined and didn’t bite on the misdirection and stayed in contain against the wide sweeps. So instead, the last 2.5 games have been “no misdirection, no horizontal running”, leaving us with calling HB dive/counter/isos as every single running play.

      I just don’t get it. Is chev so stubborn that he can’t add screen plays or draws to the offense? Why has there been like 2 passes complete to running backs the entire year? I don’t think I saw an outside stretch run against Oregon State until CU’s final drive. How are you expecting your offense to be good when only have like 5 plays you ever call, and the defense has proven that they can blow up your favorite play (inside counter run) every time you run it?!

      1. IMO, Mac’s inability to handle stress is the common theme. “ Cautious” against USC. Second half conservatism against Washington. Lack of killer instinct and aggressiveness against OSU in second half and protecting lead. Chev came from TTech. Does this look anything like TTech or the first 5 games? Mac is stressing out because he has been one win away from bowl eligibility for the last three games. He has been 0-17 against higher ranked opponents and wants one of those badly. Perhaps when Mac starts stressing out in games, he gives conservative direction to Chev. It’s speculation but could be reality. Unfortunately, Mac’s track record when things are at stake isn’t good going well back in time and before Chev was calling plays. The concern I have is that Mac will get wrapped even tighter around the axle going forward. He appears to handle program pressure over time but not pressure in high stake, more immediate situations. My guess is the the next three games will be significant margin losses for the Buffs. I sure hope I’m wrong and will be happy to eat my words if/when Mac shows killer instinct to win. How about starting with to play all out this Friday like he has nothing to lose? Go Buffs!!!

  5. USC fired their offensive line coach?

    //Looks at Klayton Adams

    But seriously, if there’s anyone on the coaching staff that should fear for their job, it’s Klayton Adams. The corners have been a disaster but Ambrose is new and there have been at least some extenuating circumstances (injuries, best corner leaves early for draft, etc). Makes me wonder if Mac will work with the corners more in the coming weeks though, given that coaching DBs is one of his greatest strengths.

    But Adams…Man. Read somewhere that this was the first game where all five starting lineman played the whole game. Seems ridiculous. More importantly, if you’re both the offensive line coach, “running game coordinator”, and “co-offensive coordinator” yet allow your gameplan to devote a staggering 40% (made up stat) of your plays to shotgun dives or counter plays that get a median of two yards per carry on first down, you have been doing a terrible job.

    It’s not even that the offensive line itself is playing poorly, it’s that the coaches *are not putting the offensive line in a position to succeed*.

    1. Well the players will be here next year. The coaches may not be. They get paid a lot to do a lot.

      If they don’t/can’t/won’t do it. Fire em

      Wow usc. Fire the Oline coach. Mac doesn’t have the guts and is too loyal hence is middling performance and results. Soft

      Wow, come on Mac take over play calling. Oh wait you already do.

      Buffs.

      Mac is a nice guy, family man, religious, a rebuilder, but not a coach that can get to the next level.

  6. From a Buff fan:

    I am still so pissed. Colorado had so much momentum this season. Bowl game at a minimum was a lock. Recruiting trending in the right direction. A loaded team returning next year.
    And MM likely destroyed all of it in one sunny afternoon of utter incompetence.

    Buffs

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