Pac-12 Football Review: USC NSD Fail, Donte Williams, NFL Combine Invites

Pac-12 Football Review: USC NSD Fail, Donte Williams, NFL Combine Invites

USC’s Poor National Signing Day Highlights it’s Pac-12 Football Recruiting

Last Wednesday, National Signing Day came and left. While there wasn’t much Pac-12 football activity, Colorado kept its guy. That is to say, Ashaad Clayton signed with Colorado.

And all Buffaloes sighed.

Certainly, the four-star running back out of New Orleans is a great addition. With that signing, Colorado made a big move. It showed its school is doing the work.

However, the program that needed to make the biggest leap failed miserably.

So many Pac-12 football programs brought it this offseason. Utah and Arizona State made huge strides. Meanwhile, USC fell. Firstly, USC boasts (if that word can be used) just 13 three-five star recruits for 2020.

  • Two four-star recruits
  • 11 three-star recruits

In short, their 2020 recruiting is dismal.

When compared to Pac-12 football programs, USC’s 2020 class ranks 10th. Just above Washington State and Arizona. Overall, USC’s distressing 2020 class is outside of the top-50 in college football. Their 55th-ranked class is completely pitiful. Especially considering their 2019 feats:

  • 8 wins, 5 losses
  • 32.5 points per game
  • Holiday Bowl berth
  • Breakout true-freshman Kedon Slovis

This was a huge alarm for the Trojans. But thankfully, USC stole Donte Williams away from Oregon.

Pac-12 Top-Recruiter Donte Williams Heads to USC

Unfortunately, cornerbacks coach Donte Williams’ move to USC was not because of football. As seen from his Tweet, it’s a move to his “father’s aging/failing health”. Family first. Respect.

Though is move to USC is family-driven, Williams is still a gift for their program. Prior to this news, USC recruiting was in free-fall. They were 10th in the Pac-12. Barely ahead of Washington State. That’s not acceptable for their program. So, they need to treat Williams as best as they can. During his short time with Oregon, he’s ranked:

  • 5th-best recruiter in Pac-12 in 2019 class
    • 62nd-best in nation
  • Best recruiter in Pac-12 in 2020 class
    • 7th-best in nation

Understanding that, this move is incredible for USC. They needed him bad. With his recruiting, he’ll become instrumental in their success. Certainly, Williams will be missed in Oregon. But for USC, he’s their savior.

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2020 NFL Combine Pac-12 Football Participants

On Friday, the NFL released its full list of 2020 NFL Scouting Combine invites. Of the 337 prospects invited, here are the Pac-12 football players:

Arizona (1 invite)

  • J.J. Taylor, Running Back

Arizona State (4 invites)

  • Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver
  • Eno Benjamin, Running Back
  • Cohl Cabral, Offensive Line
  • Michael Turk, Punter

Cal (3 invites)

  • Ashtyn Davis, Defensive Back
  • Jaylinn Hawkins, Defensive Back
  • Evan Weaver, Line Backer

Colorado (4 invites)

  • Tony Brown, Wide Receiver
  • Steven Montez, Quarterback
  • Laviska Shenault Jr., Wide Receiver
  • Davion Taylor, Line Backer

Oregon (7 invites)

  • Jacob Breeland, Tight End
  • Troy Dye, Line Backer
  • Jake Hanson, Offensive Line
  • Justin Herbert, Quarterback
  • Juwan Johnson, Wide Receiver
  • Shane Lemieux, Offensive Line
  • Calvin Throckmorton, Offensive Line

Oregon State (2 invites)

  • Isaiah Hodgins, Wide Receiver
  • Jake Luton, Quarterback

Stanford (2 invites)

  • Colby Parkinson, Tight End
  • Casey Toohill, Line Backer

UCLA (4 invites)

  • Devin Asiasi, Tight End
  • Darney Holmes, Defensive Back
  • Joshua Kelley, Running Back
  • JJ Molson, Kicker

USC (2 invites)

  • Austin Jackson, Offensive Line
  • Michael Pittman, Wide Receiver

Utah (9 invites)

  • Bradlee Anae, Defensive Line
  • Francis Bernard, Line Backer
  • Julian Blackmon, Defensive Back
  • Terrell Burgess, Defensive Back
  • Leki Fotu, Defensive Line
  • Javelin K. Guidry, Defensive Back
  • Jaylon Johnson, Defensive Back
  • Zack Moss, Running Back
  • John Penisini, Defensive Line

Washington (7 invites)

  • Trey Adams, Offensive Line
  • Salvon Ahmed, Running Back
  • Hunter Bryant, Tight End
  • Myles Bryant, Defensive Back
  • Jacob Eason, Quarterback
  • Aaron Fuller, Wide Receiver
  • Nick Harris, Offensive Line

Washington State (2 invites)

  • Anthony Gordon, Quarterback
  • Dezmon Patmon, Wide Receiver

Somehow, Utah leads the way in combine invites for Pac-12 football programs. As a result, their school gained instant respect. Their school-record nine combine invites is great for their program’s recruiting. But, it’s a tough task to replace.

“It is not hard to figure out why we were formidable on defense this past year and why we had statistically one of the best defenses we have ever had at Utah,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “It is going to be a big challenge replacing those guys.”

Deseret News

Apart from a lackluster finish, Utah played well in 2019. As a result, they nearly made the College Football Playoffs. Or, at least they were in the discussion. These nine combine invites were a large part of their winning. In other words, it’s a big loss to the program.

Nevertheless, Utah is upping their recruiting game by leading the Pac-12 in combine invites.

Colorado’s Mel Tucker Calms Anxious Fans

Last Tuesday, Mark Dantonio retired after 13 seasons as Michigan State’s head coach. It was reported that Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell and Colorado’s Mel Tucker were those interviewing.

Although it was Tucker’s first season ever as a head coach, no program wants to lose their H.C. Furthermore, no program wants to lose their coach after the coaching carousel already hired the most qualified candidates. Consequently, it’s not the best time to hire.

But, Tucker made sure to raise the spirits of the Colorado program, its players and its fans.

Arizona State Close to Adding Robert Rodriguez as D-Line Coach

Reportedly, the Arizona State Sundevils are reportedly close to signing Robert Rodriguez as defensive line coach. Because of Jamar Cain’s departure, Rodriguez is a big hire.

Rodriguez just completed his fifth year with the Vikings. During that time, he worked closely with Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson. They utilized aggressive schemes for playmakers Daniel Hunter and Everson Griffen. As a result of his NFL experience, Rodriguez is a sound hire. Above all, Rodriguez will be paid to bring defensive pressure.

Unfortunately, Cain left behind more than defensive coaching. Jamar Cain is considered one of the best recruiting coaches. Losing him hurt. But, Rodriguez coached for UTEP from 2008 to 2014. So, at least he does understand how collegiate coaching and recruiting works. Both as a player and a coach.

Aaron Hernandez Documentary: Has Weaknesses, But Spotlights Concerns

Aaron Hernandez

Criticisms of Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez

Not Enough Focus

At times, the docu-series felt extremely sporadic. Yes, it was still compelling as they “uncovered” the secrets in Hernandez’ life. Nonetheless, each episode lacked focus. It bounced around too often and didn’t allocate time well. If “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” stuck to its focal points better in each installment, the documentary would improve.

Too Much Speculation and Not Enough Facts

Even though the documentary spanned 200 minutes, many aspects of “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” were shallow. It left viewers wanting more. Again, this was most likely due to the editing and story-line choices. With a better episode-by-episode focus, his story would unfold.

Additionally, Netflix’ access to speakers on the subject were likely very limited. This story involved high school, collegiate and professional football suspicions. Those are accusations against the giants of sports. Because of football’s power, it’s probable that many remained silent. With an underrepresented sources, the story can’t be completely told. For that reason, the docu-series hurt.

Dennis Sansoucie “Star Quarterback”

Speaking of sources, Dennis Sansoucie earned heavy criticism. He’s been called a liar, fake, greedy or just another looking for the spotlight. Coming from Dennis Sansoucie himself, Aaron Hernandez and him were both friends and young lovers. At one point, Sansoucie delcared that he and Hernandez were the two best players on the field. Quarterback and tight end. That point received the most condemnation.

Dennis Sansoucie’s Actual Stats

In his four years of high school, Sansoucie only managed four starts at quarterback. But, each of those starts came at the start of the 2005 season. He was their starting quarterback for four games. In those, he threw 11 touchdowns, nine of which went to Aaron Hernandez. On his short resume, Sansoucie also posted one start with nearly 300 yards (297) and five touchdowns.

Sep. 16, 2005New Britain Golden HurricanesL 23-53   
Sansoucie CompletionsPassing YardsTD-INTHernandez ReceptionsReceiving YardsTouchdowns
8-221702-031052
Sep. 23, 2005Bloomfield WarhawksW 28-7   
Sansoucie CompletionsPassing YardsTD-INTHernandez ReceptionsReceiving YardsTouchdowns
7-171012-14892
Sep. 30, 2005South Windor BobcatsW 9-12   
Sansoucie CompletionsPassing YardsTD-INTHernandez ReceptionsReceiving YardsTouchdowns
13-182975-171643
Oct. 7th, 2005Hartford Public OwlsL 13-39   
Sansoucie CompletionsPassing YardsTD-INTHernandez ReceptionsReceiving YardsTouchdowns
10-252052-061662
Oct. 16th, 2005Maloney SpartansW 40-13   
Sansoucie CompletionsPassing YardsTD-INTHernandez ReceptionsReceiving YardsTouchdowns
N/AN/AN/A92583
Matt Coyne CompletionsPassing YardsTD-INT   
14-243755-0  

Moreover, additional speculation came out surrounding Sansoucie’s junior season.

This would explain why Dennis Sansoucie felt that he was a star of the team, yet lacked a full season as quarterback. Whether or not this story is true, it gives light into Sansoucie’s reasoning. There are certainly many adults that look back into their high school days with glory. If Sansoucie lost his starting job because of an off-field issue, he would still think of himself as the star.

Strengths of Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez

After its January 15th release, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” immediately gained popularity and intrigue. The three-part Netflix true crime documentary explores court cases and circumstances that could lead to those.

Overall, it was well received. “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” boasts:

You Can’t Turn it Off

On first watch, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” is highly entertaining. It’s certainly binge-worthy and captures your attention immediately. We all want to know the whole story. Aaron Hernandez’ psyche is a an enthralling reason. There’s no watching just one episode. Instead, it compels every viewer to watch all three episodes in a row. For that, the Netflix documentary succeeds.

Access to Prison Phone Calls

Without a doubt, the highlight of “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez” is hearing the phone calls from prison. Those phone calls give us a greater insight into Hernandez’ character. They’re personal, private, unfiltered. Viewers hear him talk to his fiance, daughter, mother, agent. It added a layer of realism to the story.

Most Importantly, Aaron Hernandez’ Story Raises Questions and Concerns

Homophobia in Football Culture

In the series, Dennis Sansoucie and Ryan O’Callaghan both discussed the plight of growing up as closeted gay men. Sansoucie talked about his and Hernandez’ fathers as men that would beat the gay out of a kid. And although the documentary speculated that Aaron Hernandez was “gay” instead of acknowledging other sexual orientations like bi-sexuality, it was still an important subject. Mental health is a massive issue in our society. Denying your own identity out of fear would derail anyone.

CTE

It’s the NFL’s biggest Boogie Man: CTE. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The disease continues to appear in professional football. In a 2017 study published in the medical journal JAMA, the results were shocking. Of the 111 post-mortem brains of former NFL players, 110 had CTE. CTE plagues the well beings of current and former players. It’s symptoms include:

  • Memory Loss
  • Confusion
  • Impaired Judgment
  • Impulse Control Problems
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Parkisonism
  • Progressive Dementia
  • Suicidality

Do any of those symptoms sound like Aaron Hernandez? Completely. Does CTE excuse his actions? Of course not. However, would he be a murder if he didn’t have CTE? That is the million-dollar question. And that’s important not only for the lives of football players, but to the victims of criminal acts by those players.

Yes, the NFL says it’s doing its best to get ahead of this issue. But, as pointed out in this documentary, it starts long before the NFL. Additionally, how often has the league ignored player health and safety?

College and NFL Teams Make Injured Players Play

“My body is so fucked up… They banned that shit from the league saying you can only get that if you have a serious injury,” he said. “Guess who they gave that shit to every fucking game? Me.”

Aaron Hernandez, prison call with his fiance

Fill them up with pills or injections and put them out on the field. It’s a part of the game. Organizations want wins. Players want money. No player wants to be labeled as injury prone or soft. Adding to that, the next man up could always be the replacement. Injured players need to heal. Instead, due to a lack of integrity by teams, they are pushed onto the field to play sports most brutal game.

Football wrecks bodies. It’s a gladiator’s sport. Understanding it’s brutality, coaches and team medical staff need to support players. Player health and safety should be a top concern. But, wins secure jobs for coaches and staff. As a result, players need to play. Irregardless of injury. Why else would teams constantly refer to injuries as a “pain-tolerance” issue?

It becomes an especially-jarring concern when Aaron Hernandez stated that the Patriots gave him Toradol every single game. Again, the case of Aaron Hernandez showed why NFL players deserve better advocates. Whether it is mentoring mental, emotional or physical health, these athletes need help. They shouldn’t have to ask. And they certainly should have to commit suicide before football anwers.

Pac-12 Football Review: Oregon leads 2020 recruiting, BYU Games, KJ Costello

Pac-12 Football Review: Oregon leads 2020 recruiting, BYU Games, KJ Costello

Oregon Ducks Holding onto Pac-12 Football Recruiting Dominance

247Sports Composite Pac-12 Football Team Rankings

With just one day away from National Signing Day, the Oregon Ducks remain at the top of Pac-12 football. Their 2020 class is highlighted by three five-star recruits:

  • Justin Flowe, ILB
  • Noah Sewell, ILB
  • Dontae Manning, CB

With a 247 Composite score of 256.52, Oregon’s recruiting also ranks 12th in the nation. The Ducks are riding high in their ability to gain quality commits. Oregon is a force and consistently competes. Their staff does an excellent job at scouting, recruiting and developing players.

Not too far behind, Washington’s nine four-star recruits raise them to near-Oregon status. Although they don’t have the five-star recruits the Ducks have, they certainly bolstered their team with an impressive amount of talent.

USC Needs to Make Moves

But, we already know that Washington and Oregon are currently the programs to beat in recruiting power. The big surprise is USC. After ranking 3rd in Pac-12 football and 20th in the nation, they fell hard in 2020. Currently, USC ranks 10th in the Pac-12 Conference and 52nd nationally. If they want to build a team around Sophomore Kedon Slovis, they need to gain 2020 commits.

Stanford Adds Four Games to their BYU Football Series

https://twitter.com/BYUfootball/status/1222572467178237952
  • November 28th, 2026
  • November 25th, 2028
  • August 30th, 2031
  • September 1st, 2035

In the 2020’s, Stanford faces off against BYU six times. Surprisingly, they only have five games against Utah in the same decade. Yes, Utah is in-conference. However, this BYU series is extremely important to Stanford and the Pac-12.

With regard to the Pac-12 football conference, BYU adds a lot of value. Because they are an independent school, programs like Stanford can fill in gaps in the late season with a solid competitor. In the past 15 years, BYU has 13 winning seasons and only one losing season. Additionally, they ranked in the AP-25 polls 8 times, twice in the top-10. It’s a solid football program.

Because Pac-12 football routinely earns little respect from other conferences, regular matchups (and wins) against BYU will help this. Our conference desperately needs appreciation.

Stanford Graduate K.J. Costello Transfers Joins Mike Leach at Mississippi State

Even though Mike Leach departed the Pac-12, he managed to bring grad-transfer, K.J. Costello, with him. In three seasons and 29 games, Costello compiled:

  • 6,151 Passing Yards
  • 49 Touchdowns
  • 18 Interceptions
  • 143.8 Quarterback Rating
  • 62.6-Percent Completion Percentage

It’s a known quantity that Mike Leach’s Air Raid Offense is extremely quarterback friendly. Nabbing a veteran quarterback like Costello is an excellent transfer for Mississippi State’s depth.

Arizona State’s Defensive Line Coach Jamar Cain Departs for Oklahoma

Losing Jamar Cain is a big one for Arizona State. Cain, in just one season with Arizona State, improved them drastically. Most notably, Cain’s recruiting lifted the program higher. He is responsible for recruiting Daniyel Ngata, Elijhah Badger, and Omarr Norman-Lott.

Because of his abilities, he was considered the fifth-best recruiter in the Pac-12. Thankfully for ASU, they at least got one year out of him. But, Arizona State is going to miss him. Great signing for Oklahoma. Big loss for the Sun Devils.

Why the Rose Bowl is so Important to College Football and the Pac-12

Rose Bowl Pac-12

Every year, college football fans travel, host parties and call in sick just to watch the New Year’s Six bowl games. The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. Each representing a part of college football’s bowl history. But, none hold a candle to the Rose Bowl’s importance and stature among collegiate sports.

The Rose Bowl was the First

120 years ago, college football had it’s very first post-season game, the “Tournament of the Roses”. Stanford vs Michigan. It was a historic mark on college football. Yet, it still was a premature birth of the bowl-era. Because Michigan thoroughly defeated Stanford 49-0, the next football game wasn’t until 1916 when Washington State beat Brown 14-0. However, from 1916 on, the East-West bowl game has been a staple of college football enthusiasm and greatness.

In addition to being the first-ever bowl game, the Rose Bowl Game was also the first:

  • Transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event (1927)
  • Local telecast of a college football game (1948)
  • National telecast of a college football game (1952)
  • Coast-to-coast color telecast of a college football game (1962)
  • College Football Playoff Semifinal (2015)

Because of its rich history, it’s is the grandfather of all bowl games.

The Pageantry of the Rose Bowl

Honestly, is there any other event that’s done it like the Tournament of Roses? For over 100 years, they’ve given football fans everything.

It all starts at 8:00am on New Year’s Day with the Rose Parade. Five and a half miles of marching bands, equestrian units, a royal court and delicately-decorated floats. Filling winter’s gloom with flowers and beauty.

“The Rose Parade’s elaborate floats have come a long way since the Tournament’s early days, and the Rose Parade has stayed true to its floral beginnings. Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. The most delicate flowers, including roses, are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.”

Tournament of Roses

Obviously, California is the perfect setting for the unimaginable. While countless states deal with winter’s worst each year, Pasadena sits in the 60’s and 70’s. No puffy coats, handwarmers or extra layers are needed for the Golden State. Even more, the backdrop of snow-capped mountains sets it all off. Is there nothing the Rose Bowl can’t offer?

Instead of shivering and trudging through snow, the Rose Parade and the proceeding bowl game breed jealousy from other states. Sunshine, flowers and football on January 1st is pure majesty.

Sponsors Come Second, Not First

Just look at the different bowl games.

  • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
  • PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
  • Capitol One Orange Bowl
  • Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
  • Allstate Sugar Bowl
  • Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual

Do you see the difference? It’s not the Northwestern Mutual Rose Bowl Game. No. Instead, it’s the Rose Bowl Game, presented by Northwestern Mutual. That small difference makes a huge impact. While every other bowl game is led by their sponsors, this one is different. They used their stature to retain their naming rights.

Because of this decision to prioritize the Rose Bowl’s identity, the fame only grew. Even the newest college football fans know the Rose Bowl.

It’s the first of many, the most decorated and its name is the most known. The Rose Bowl is, and will always be, the king of bowl games.

How Can the Pac-12 Leverage the Rose Bowl for Expanding College Football?

Because of Larry Scott’s failures and the Pac-12’s lack of participation in the College Football Playoffs, something needs to be done. While expanding playoffs is a great idea, Larry Scott still refuses to give up the Rose Bowl.

While the Pac-12 has every right to retain the Rose Bowl, it’s pageantry and history, the Pac-12 is also hurting. It’s the joke of other conferences. For good reason, too. In the College Football Playoff era, just 24 of the 24 participating teams were from the Pac-12. It’s not a good look.

But, if Larry Scott and the Pac-12 conference can leverage the Rose Bowl for playoff expansion, the Pac-12 will rise again. If done correctly, the Pac-12 wouldn’t even be sacrificing the Rose Bowl. Here’s how it can be done.

  • Offer up the Rose Bowl for College Football Playoffs with an eight-team expansion
  • If a Pac-12 team makes it into the playoffs, the Pac-12 decides which round (excluding the championship game) the Rose Bowl plays. If a Pac-12 team is in that round, they play.

Because most fans and conferences want each conference to have at least one participant in the eight-team expansion, the Pac-12 would always have rights to the Rose Bowl. If they wanted to risk a larger viewing audience, they could bank on a Pac-12 team advancing in the playoffs. But, if they wanted to play it safe, Larry Scott and the conference could schedule the Rose Bowl in the first round of each college football playoffs.

Either way, they get to offer up the most historic bowl in college football history for playoffs each year. The Pac-12 needs expansion and the Tournament of Roses is the way in.

Pac-12 Football Review: Three Pac-12 Teams Send Offers to Clay Millen

Pac-12 Football Review: Senior Bowl, Clay Millen Offers, Todd Orlando

Pac-12 Football Players Light up the Senior Bowl

First off, before any other news is commented on, first look at Eric Bean’s 2020 Senior Bowl Review. In it, he goes into great detail on each Pac-12 football player and how they performed. Spoiler alert: they shined!

https://unafraidshow.com/pac-12-players-perform-well-at-the-2020-senior-bowl/

Multiple Pac-12 Football Programs Vie for Clay Millen

After Oregon State’s latest offer, Clay Millen now holds offers from Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, UNLV. After sitting his freshman and sophomore year, Millen produced a fantastic junior season.

  • 256 completions on 360 attempts
  • 3,145 passing yards
  • 34 passing touchdowns
  • 1 interception

Because of this promising junior season, the 6-foot-3 quarterback out of Snoqualmie earned 4-star ranks in recruiting.

To Pac-12 football fans, the name Millen might sound familiar. That’s because his older brother Cale Millen plays as a backup quarterback for the Oregon Ducks. Additionally, his father Hugh Millen played for the Washington Huskies and in the NFL for eight years. Because of his size, family ties and breakout junior season, Clay Millen got noticed.

With another year to strut his stuff for Mount Si, Millen is certain to earn more than just Pac-12 football interest. However, we desperately want him to stay in the Pac-12.

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Gerald Alexander Leaves Cal, Golden Bears Sign Marcel Yates

Losing Gerald Alexander is a huge loss for the Cal Golden Bears. In three seasons as Cal’s defensive backs coach, he was pivotal in their defensive success. Alexander’s defensive backs rose to elite with his excellent coaching and leadership. Per calbears.com, Cal’s 2018 defense was top-ten in the nation in:

  • Interceptions
  • Defensive touchdowns
  • Turnovers gained
  • Passing yards allowed.

Among those stats, Alexander’s defensive backs accounted for:

  • 17 of 21 interceptions
  • 3 of 5 defensive touchdowns
  • 3 of 7 fumbles recovered

Thankfully, Cal hired Marcel Yates (recently fired Arizona Wildcats defensive coordinator) as defensive backs coach. Somehow, they talked Marcel Yates to be okay with a defensive assistance coach position. Now, the Bears have four coaches with defensive coordinator experience. Justin Wilcox, Tim DeRuyter, Peter Sirmon and Marcel Yates have a combined 41 years of D.C. experience. Well done Cal.

USC hires Todd Orlando as Defensive Coordinator

Recall that last week we mentioned that USC eyed Todd Orlando as their 2020 defensive coordinator. Well, now they made it official. However, Trojans need to temper expectations. Orlando is still a very speculative add. His 2019 Longhorns ranked 54th in Football Outsider’s DFEI rankings, almost matching USC’s 57th ranking. His middling 2019 defense got him fired from Texas, but his experience still got him hired for USC.

With 15 years as defensive coordinator, Orlando is known as an aggressive coach with positive influences. Hopefully, 2019 was just a blip on his career and due to the Longhorns defensive injuries. If that’s the case, USC did exceptionally well.

Keep in mind, the Trojans somehow kept Graham Harrell at Offensive Coordinator. With Kedon Slovis and Graham Harrell at the offensive helm, USC football will certainly put up points. Because of this, Orlando’s defense can afford to be risky and aggressive. It could be the perfect fit for a USC team on the rise. Be ready for a surge up the ranks as USC. Pac-12 football’s 2020 champion could very well be USC.

UCLA Athletics Rack up an 18.9-Million Dollar Deficit

As if UCLA wasn’t already at a low point in Pac-12 football, now they’re running a nearly 20-million dollar deficit. Yikes. Although they generated 108.4-million dollars in revenue, the UCLA Athletics Department ran up 127.3-million dollars in expenses. Because of this, the deficit was covered by an interest-bearing loan from central campus.

For the budget nerds out there, we’d highly recommend you read this work by Jon Wilner of Mercury News. In it, he breaks down the Bruins debt in detail, along with any solutions. The biggest solution seems to be clear for most. UCLA needs to win games.

Andy Reid needs a Super Bowl Victory to Cement His HOF Legacy

Is this the season Andy Reid changes his legacy?

At 61 years old, with 21 years of head coaching experience, his teams experienced incredible regular season success. Of 21 season with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, he only missed the playoffs six times. Most recently, with Kansas City, their regular-season records include:

  • 11-5
  • 9-7
  • 11-6
  • 12-4
  • 10-6
  • 12-4
  • 12-4

His teams won 10 division titles and they had an overall 61.8-percent winning percentage. But, even with all of the wins, his teams have still fallen short of the big game. Andy Reid is largely looked at one of the greatest coaches to never win a Super Bowl. He’s been called out for poor clock-management, letting his foot off the gas and losing in critical games. His 12-14 playoff record hangs over any of his feats. And he’s ridiculed for it every, single season.

But, with a Super Bowl victory, he can change all of that and vault himself into a new category of NFL coaches.

Andy Reid’s coaching tree is already better than Bill Belichick’s

Everyone knows Bill Belichick’s success with the New England Patriots is otherworldly. However, his coaching tree produced very few winners. In a recent article by Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media, he compared in detail the differences between Andy Reid and Belichick’s legacy of head coaches. In comparison, Reid’s successors are far better in comparison:

Belichick’s Coaching Tree

  • Combined Record: 281-330-1
  • Playoff Appearances: 8
  • Super Bowl Titles: 0

Reid’s Coaching Tree

  • Combined Record: 350-307-1
  • Playoff Appearances: 19
  • Super Bowl Titles: 2

Even without a Super Bowl title himself, Andy Reid’s success lives through his coaching tree. Although, if Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and the Kansas City Chiefs win this year’s Super Bowl, his legacy will boom.

Andy Reid, Offensive Genius

With respect to Philadelphia and Kansas City’s scouting, drafting and signing, Andy Reid’s coached so many offensive powerhouses. It takes only a second to think of incredible playmakers from the Eagles and Chiefs. Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Terrell Owens, and DeSean Jackson highlight his years in Philadelphia. While Patrick Mahomes, Jamaal Charles, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are huge in Kansas City.

But, even without the superstars, he’s gotten the most out of every running back and receiver on his teams. He even made Alex Smith look like an NFL MVP. Regardless of the players available, Reid’s teams put up points. 13 of his 21 teams ranked in the top-10 of offensive points per game in their respective seasons. Additionally, nine of them ranked in the top-six in scoring offense.

Now, with Patrick Mahomes at the helm with Travis Kelce, Tryreek Hill, Damien Williams, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins to utilize, Reid’s offense is at full force. This offensive power was on display in their 51-31 win against the Houston Texans. With a Super Bowl victory, Andy Reid’s genius will be immortalized.

Reid is too good to not have a ring

In his two decades of experience, Andy Reid amassed 207 wins, 10 division titles, and one Super Bowl appearance. In terms of head coaching success, Reid ranks seventh all-time in regular-season wins. Don Shula, George Hala, Bill Belichick, Tom Landry, Curly Lambeau, Paul Brown and Marty Schottenheimer each join him in the 200-plus win club.

Despite his exceptional company, he is the only one of them without an NFL title. This Super Bowl victory would vault him into the discussion of a future Hall of Fame coach.

Andy Reid has the wins. He’s known as an offensive genius. Any layman can name countless elite players from his teams. All he needs is two more wins to get the respect he deserves.

Mike Leach heads to Mississippi State. What does it mean for Leach and WSU?

Mike Leach Washington State Mississippi State

Mike Leach Leaves Washington State After Eight Seasons

After losing both the Apple Cup and the Cheeze-It-Bowl to finish the season, Mike Leach is out. He’s de-committed from his extension to 2024 (do agreements mean anything in college football?) and he’s off to Mississippi State.

Though his 6 and 7 season in 2019 wasn’t perfect, he was still heralded as one of the greatest coaches in Washington State history. He led the Cougars to five straight bowl games and an incredible 11 and 2 season in 2018. But, the bright lights of the SEC stole Leach away. What does his new tenure mean for both him and WSU?

What Leach Brings to Mississippi State

When it comes to Mike Leach, people love him for three reasons: wins, offense, and personality.

Wins

In each of his ten seasons with Texas Tech, Mike Leach’s teams had winning records. Additionally, they won five out of nine bowl games. Then, he took his Air Raid offense and winning to WSU.

After a large drought, Mike Leach finally brought back winning seasons to Washington State. In fact, he led the Cougars to four consecutive winning seasons, most notably an 11 and 2 2018 season, capped off with an Alamo Bowl victory. Leach took an aimless program and turned it into a competitive one.

His coaching record of 139-90, including taking over the hapless Cougars, displays his talent.

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Offense

Most notably, Mike Leach brings the Air Raid offense with him wherever he goes. His concepts pushed heavy passing offenses and were always near or at the top of the NCAA. His Texas Tech teams led the NCAA in passing five times, while his Washington State Cougars led four times. Astounding.

With his fast-paced offense, he’ll look to utilize the SEC’s level of recruiting talent to his advantage. He’ll have his work cut out for him against SEC opponents, but his offense is sure to bring frustration for defensive coordinators as well.

Personality

It’s no surprise that the press adores Mike Leach. Although they don’t always agree with him, they love to cover him. Few coaches bring a level of honesty, oddity and downright boldness in their press conferences. Leach is willing to say anything without thinking twice. Like him or hate him, he’s got a personality we can’t look away from. Now, with the move from Pullman to Starkville, his press coverage will boom.

What Leach Leaves Behind at Washington State

Though Mike Leach takes his Air Raid offense with him, he still leaves behind pieces. Yes, we’ve talked about this offense as the “Mike Leach Air Raid Offense” many times. However, with the obvious exception of Anthony Gordon, many players are already familiar with the offensive scheme. If Pat Chun decided to someone from the Mike Leach coaching tree or a pass-friendly coach, WSU could utilize the personnel already set up for an Air Raid offense.

“I believe coach Leach has left us in great shape,” Chun said. “Based on what he took over and what’s here now, this is not a rebuild anymore at Washington State. We will and need to go find the right person that’s going to add to this program.”

WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun

Additionally, Leach brought Washington State out of embarrassment and into relevance. Though his recruiting classes were always at the bottom of the Pac-12, Leach brought winning back to WSU. In eight seasons, he ranks third in wins by a WSU head coach. Additionally, he is the only coach to lead Washington State to five-straight bowl games. That prominence is not without appreciation for Pullman football.

How Washington State can Improve without Mike Leach

While losing Mike Leach is a huge chasm, there are two major areas of growth where Leach lacked: Apple Cups wins and recruiting.

Seven Straight Apple Cup Losses

https://youtu.be/JSurdBxFMfs

“They do the same thing year in and year out. So it makes it really easy to game plan when an offense does the same thing every year.”

Jimmy Lake

Even with all of his success at Washington State, Mike Leach couldn’t get past the Huskies. They continued to best his teams in the Apple Cup and thwart any Pac-12 title run. Most of that, according to Jimmy Lake’s repeated mentions, is due to the fact that Leach runs the same offense each year. With that understood, it was simple for a top defensive coordinator like Lake to game plan against Washington State.

Now that Leach is gone, Washington State has the chance to upset UW. With new coaching and play-calling, they can give Lake a run for his money. Show him different schemes, run different plays and become unpredictable. Will upsets be easy? Of course not. But, it’s not like Leach has given Washington much of a fight anyway.

Bottom of the Pac-12 Recruiting

One would think that after an 11 and 2 season, recruiting would be excellent. But, in 2019, WSU ranked dead-last in the Pac-12. According to 247sports, WSU’s recruiting under Mike Leach never cracked the top-seven of the Pac-12.

  • 2012: 12th in Pac-12, 58th Nationally
  • 2013: 10th in Pac-12, 50th Nationally
  • 2014: 8th in Pac-12, 53 Nationally
  • 2015: 8th in Pac-12, 42nd Nationally
  • 2016: 10th in Pac-12, 56th Nationally
  • 2017: 9th in Pac-12, 44th Nationally
  • 2018: 9th in Pac-12, 46th Nationally,
  • 2019: 12th in Pac-12, 66th Nationally
  • 2020: 11th in Pac-12, 61st Nationally

Though Leach put the blame on recruiting on Washington State, he’s a large part of that recruiting. Chris Petersen and Jimmy lake have repeatedly been praised for successful recruiting classes. But, that wasn’t something Leach could do. Granted, they were recruiting for the University of Washington in Seattle and not recruiting for Pullman. But still, Leach couldn’t bring Washington State into the upper echelons of Pac-12 recruiting and that is something new administration can improve on.

Mike Leach Judged Without Excuses

Now that Leach is out of the Pac-12, out of Pullman and into the SEC, he has no excuses for his recruiting classes. He can’t hide behind the lack of talent excuse anymore. Currently, Mississippi State’s 2020 class ranks 27th in the nation. If their recruiting tanks, that falls solely on him. He hasn’t proven himself as a quality recruiter so far in his career and he will face harsh judgment in the SEC.

Additionally, Leach is going to get burned at the stake if he loses seven straight to Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss. Chris Petersen and Jimmy Lake out-coached Leach for seven straight Apple Cups. Even with those brutal losses, Washington State was still on his side and extended him until 2024. However, Mississippi State and Egg Bowl losses won’t give him the same leash. He’s going to be judged quickly and with nothing held back. It’s time to see who the real Mike Leach is.

Justin Herbert’s Rose Bowl Win and 3 Rushing TD’s Saved His NFL Draft Stock

Justin Herbert NFL Draft

Justin Herbert’s First Drive was Phenomenal

12 plays, 75 yards and a rushing touchdown highlighted by a Justin Herbert stiff-arm.

It was a near-perfect opening drive for Herbert and the Oregon Ducks. Herbert’s first possession stats included:

  • 4-of-5 completions for 49 yards
  • 2 rushes for 7 yards and a touchdown

With ease, Justin Herbert and company carved through the Wisconsin Badgers. Although Oregon fans have become accustomed to high-scoring outings by their Ducks, this was against Wisconsin’s ninth-ranked defense in the nation, per Football Outsiders DFEI. To start like that was incredible. If Herbert kept his play at that high of a level, his 2020 NFL Draft stock would have risen substantially.

However, that didn’t happen.

Stalled Offense and Poor Decision Making

On his very next drive, Justin Herbert erased his flawless first possession. Tied at 7-7, following a Wisconsin kick-return touchdown, Herbert threw a horrible throw into traffic. Granted, most of the time passes near lineman are batted down. Few are intercepted like this. But, this throw was different. It was oddly low, into a cluster of players and Wisconsin’s Jack Sanborn was sitting there, waiting with eyes on Herbert. Herbert didn’t even try a different read.

Either he didn’t see the Sanborn or the Wisconsin cluster, threw the ball far lower than he wanted to or thought he could force a football through too tight a window. Regardless of why the interception happened, it grades very poorly for Herbert.

After opening the game with a 12 play, 75 yard touchdown drive, Oregon’s offense faltered for five consecutive drives. Justin Herbert couldn’t get anything going. Interception, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs.

It wasn’t until the final four minutes of the first half when Herbert was able to lead any significant drive. But, that wasn’t solely because of him. Instead, it was mostly due to the Oregon Ducks’ defensive plays.

Relying on Defensive Turnovers

At the end of the game, Oregon forced four turnovers. Three fumbles and one interception. Considering Brady Breeze took one fumble to the house, Herbert doesn’t get credit for those seven points. However, two of Herbert’s three touchdown drives came off of turnovers. His team got him the ball at the Wisconsin 36, the Wisconsin 33 and the Wisconsin 30.

With field position like that, Herbert’s scoring drives were less impressive. Ignoring drives after turnovers and his first-half kneel, Justin Herbert’s nine remaining drives included:

  • One Touchdown
  • One Interception
  • 6 Punts
  • One Game-Sealing Drive to Run out the Clock

Not great. Yes, we can’t take away his touchdowns. He had two, critical touchdowns in the game that came off of turnovers. He didn’t lead them to field goals on those. They came away with 14 points because of him. However, a top-NFL scout needs to be able to create his own success and not rely so heavily on his defense.

Justin Herbert Shows Off Stiff Arm and Dual-Threat Ability

Thankfully, for Justin Herbert’s case, he chose to run. His three rushing touchdowns displayed the NFL’s newest delight: dual-threat ability. In the NFL, the game is evolving. Quarterbacks are running more read-options and designed quarterback runs. It’s a new era. NFL play-callers desperately want quarterbacks with versatility.

With successful stiff-arms and a game-winning 30-yard rushing touchdown, Herbert showed off that versatility. It changed the way scouts will look at him.

Although he’s no Lamar Jackson, Herbert’s athleticism in the Rose Bowl saved his lack of throwing success.

Just Enough to Cover-Up Mistakes and Maintain Draft Stock

While some saw an erratic passer, others saw a leader with grit and the clutch-gene. Herbert’s three rushing touchdowns displayed his athleticism. His 30-yard rushing touchdown showed his athleticism and game-winning ability. Then, at the end of the game, his poise on a game-sealing drive demonstrated his “winning effort”. Like Bucky Brooks said, his play “wasn’t always pretty”. But, Herbert did just enough to erase his mistakes.

At the end of the day, the Rose Bowl is still just one game. Justin Herbert’s four-year career for Oregon has been iconic. Some would even put him above the likes of Marcus Mariota in Ducks’ fame. With his highlight-reel three-touchdown scamper and the Rose Bowl “W”, Herbert kept himself in the top-three quarterback discussion.

UW Football wins Las Vegas Bowl for Chris Petersen

Washington Huskies Las Vegas Bowl

38-7 Dominant Win

Reminiscent of their Apple Cup victory, the Huskies completely bottled up the Broncos in the Las Vegas Bowl. Nearly everything went right for the Dawgs.

Running Backs Galore

Both Richard Newton and Salvon Ahmed enjoyed big performances in the Las Vegas Bowl. While Newton took the majority of the carries, Ahmed managed to score two touchdowns on just six rushes. For any running back, scoring two touchdowns in a bowl game is huge. However, Newton went and one-upped Ahmed with a highlight to remember.

https://twitter.com/BoomItsFBALL/status/1208595987771641861

As a redshirt-freshman, Richard Newton had an impressive season. This season, he displayed his upside. He scored touchdowns on his first rush, first reception, and first pass. 2020 better be filled with Newton touches.

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Jacob Eason played well, but the glory went to the running backs

Whenever a team scores three rushing touchdowns, it takes away the glory from the quarterback. Additionally, remember that Richard Newton threw a touchdown pass. So although Jacob Eason only threw for one touchdown in the Las Vegas Bowl, he led the Huskies to five touchdowns and a field goal.

But, the Las Vegas Bowl wasn’t about the offense

Yes, the Huskies rolled up 38 points on the Broncos in the Las Vegas Bowl. However, they somehow took a powerful offense and completely thwarted them. In the first half, Boise State didn’t score a single point. The last time the Broncos were held scoreless in a half was in 2006 against BYU. This was not their game.

It was very much like the Apple Cup dismantling of Mike Leach’s Air Raid Offense. Against Boise State, in the limelight, UW Football’s defense shined:

  • 7 points allowed (Boise State averaged 36.8)
  • 266 yards allowed (Boise State averaged 441)
  • Boise State just 3-11 on third downs, 1-2 on fourth downs
  • 5.1 yards-per-pass
  • 3.5 yards-per-rush
  • 6 different defenders had a tackle for a loss
  • 3 turnovers (2 interceptions and a fumble)

Additionally, Elijah Molden took the MVP home.

His play was exceptional. Nine tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception. He was the clear winner and set the stage for Jimmy Lake’s Defense.

Jimmy Lake earns respect in Las Vegas Bowl performance

This game was the message Jimmy Lake needed to send. Because he’s taking over as head coach next season, he needed to flex his strength. And the defense is definitely his strength.

In their last four games, the Huskies held Oregon State, Colorado, Washington State and Boise State to a combined 47 points. The Apple Cup and the Las Vegas Bowl capped an impressive, defensive run for UW Football. These are the types of defensive wins that keep the recruits coming in. Well done Jimmy Lake. Well done.

Players and Jimmy Lake aside, the narrative was all on Chris Petersen

Elijah Molden won the MVP. Richard Newton threw a touchdown pass. Jimmy Lake put together a defense that held the Broncos to seven points. And yet, all eyes were on Chris Petersen.

And how could they not be? Chris Petersen completely took over UW Football. He brought success and changed the culture. Everyone loved (loves) him. Like Barry Sanders, Petersen is the coach retiring in his prime. When everyone adores him, respects him and holds him high.

He rides off into the sunset a hero to everyone. College football fans respected him. Coaches feared him. Players loved him. Boise State and UW football fans will worship and regard him.

Thank you, Coach Pete.

Las Vegas Bowl Preview: Chris Petersen will beat his former team

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 12 Las Vegas Bowl

Chris Petersen faces off against former team in Las Vegas Bowl

Call it bittersweet, but Chris Petersen says goodbye to both of his collegiate teams in the Las Vegas Bowl. In his fourteen years as a head coach, Petersen split it between Boise State and Washington. Eight years for the Broncos. Six years for the Huskies. With both, he significantly raised their success and ceiling.

https://unafraidshow.com/chris-petersen-washington-huskies-passes-on-a-far-better-program/

To say the least, Petersen had an illustrious career with both programs. In his time with them, he’s responsible for the Broncos and Huskies best seasons of recent history. To each, he’s a coaching titan.

But now, after stepping down due to anxiety and quality of life, Petersen’s final game is match-up between the two teams he holds most dear. And the two programs that hold him most dear.

So, a question remains: Can coach Petersen shrug off his familial ties with the Broncos and lead the Huskies to a Las Vegas Bowl victory?

Las Vegas Bowl Match-up by the Numbers

Boise State

  • 12 wins, 1 loss
  • 0.39 (No. 29) DFEI, per footballoutsiders
  • 36.8 (No. 14) points-per-game
  • 20.6 (No. 24) points-against-per-game
  • -3.19 (No. 95) Strength of Schedule
  • 10.74 (No. 24) Simple Rating System, per sports-reference
  • 267 passing yards per game
  • 174 rushing yards per game
  • 33 pass attempts to 39 rush attempts per game
  • 234 passing yards-allowed-per-game
  • 34 pass attempts-allowed-per-game
  • 113 rush yards-allowed-per-game
  • 32 rush attempts-allowed-per-game
  • -0.3 in turnover battle

Washington

  • 7 wins, 5 losses
  • 0.49 (No. 20) DFEI, per footballoutsiders
  • 31.5 (No. 48) points-per-game
  • 20.4 (No. 23) points-against-per-game
  • -2.6 (No. 45) Strength of Schedule
  • 11.10 (No. 22) Simple Rating System, per sports-reference
  • 245 passing yards per game
  • 152 rushing yards per game
  • 31.5 pass attempts to 35 rush attempts per game
  • 225 passing yards-allowed-per-game
  • 35 pass attempts-allowed-per-game
  • 133 rush yards-allowed-per-game
  • 34 rush attempts-allowed-per-game
  • -0.4 in turnover battle

Boise State won’t go down easy

First off, it’s important to remember that Boise State nearly went undefeated heading into bowl season. They narrowly lost to BYU 25-28 in October. If not for that loss, the Broncos could be vying for a third undefeated season this century.

Keep in mind, Boise State’s road to the Las Vegas Bowl wasn’t simple. They started three different quarterbacks this season due to injuries. Yet, even with the bad luck, they still went 12-1 with 36.8 (No. 14 in FBS) points-per-game. Coach Bryan Harsin created an excellent offensive system with interchangeable pieces. Each and every year, Boise State proves that they can win on offense no matter what playmakers they have. It’s an outstanding program.

Because of this high-powered scoring, they are always a threat to score over 30 points and keep games competitive. The Huskies need to respect this offense and Jimmy Lake has his work cut out for him.

Washington’s has advantages in the Las Vegas Bowl

Strength of Schedule

Although Boise State’s 12-1 record is far above Washington’s 7-5 record, context must be added. According to Sports Reference, Boise State’s negative-3.19 Strength of Schedule ranks 95th in the FBS, while Washington’s negative-2.6 ranks 45th. Because of this, the Huskies 11.10 Simple Rating System ranks 22nd, just ahead of the Broncos’ 10.74 SRS (24th). Yes, Boise State almost went undefeated. But, opponents matter.

Explosive Offensive Plays

Opponents are the first advantage of Washington. Washington has been tested. Granted, they lost five games this season. But, going up against top Pac-12 defenses and still churning out 31.5 points-per-game is impressive. Now, instead of going against a Utah or Oregon defense, the Dawgs get Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. As shown in the Apple Cup, Washington is comfortable letting quarterback Jacob Eason let it fly.

Downfield throws are a large part of the Huskies offense. If the Huskies can execute a similar scheme to the Apple Cup victory, they should do well. In that game, they:

  • Let Eason take deep shots
  • Utilized young talent
  • Mixed up pass-to-rush ratio
  • Went for it on fourth downs

They were aggressive and came to play. In order to beat Boise State, they’ll have to do the same. Thankfully, Boise State’s defense is nothing compared to some of the Pac-12 opponents Washington already faced this season. Yes, missing Hunter Bryant will hurt. He’s the team’s leading receiver. However, with rising play-makers like Terrell Bynum and Cade Otton, Eason should have a capable receiving corps to throw to.

Washington’s Defensive Prowess

Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake (soon to be head coach), put together another strong Washington defense. Per Football Outsiders, the Huskies rank 20th in DFEI and allow just 20.4 (No. 23) points-per-game. Additionally, the Huskies are in the top-40 in yards-allowed-per-game and explosive plays allowed.

As shown in their deafening win against Washington State, Lake’s defense can make plays. Players like Joe Tryon are stepping up for the Huskies. His 8 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss display the Dawgs strength. If UW football wants to win the Las Vegas Bowl, they’ll have to make life difficult for the Broncos’ high-powered offense. Tryon needs to get to the quarterback and UW’s secondary needs to cover. They made it look easy against Washington State.

But, as said above, Boise State’s offense is their success. The Broncos will come to play. However, if Lake’s defense can keep Boise State under 25 points, the Huskies should win. That, based on their stats against Pac-12 competition, is completely doable.

Reigning Purple and Gold in Vegas

Although Chris Petersen’s UW tenure shows a struggle at the finish line, he now has his big moment. In his six seasons with the Huskies, he’s brought them to six consecutive bowls. However, so far, he’s lost four of five. This is his time to finish his coaching career on a brilliant note. Beat his former team, end his Washington career as a hero and ride off into the sunset.