Oregon Ducks Holding onto Pac-12 Football Recruiting Dominance
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
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
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.
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!
Multiple Pac-12 Football Programs Vie for Clay Millen
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:
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.
The 2020 Senior Bowl presented an opportunity for many Pac-12 players to help their draft stock. In what would be a 34-17 victory for the North team over the South team in Mobile, Alabama, some players were able to take advantage of their opportunity while others struggled.
Utah: DE Bradlee Anae, LB Francis Bernard, DB Terrell Burgess, DT Leki Fotu
Washington: C Nick Harris
Washington State: QB Anthony Gordon
Justin Herbert Leads Way for Pac-12
Justin Herbert started for the South team coached by Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. Herbert went 9-of-12 for 83 yards and threw a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. He also added 22 yards on the ground. Herbert won MVP honors for his performance. Showing poise throughout the first quarter, Herbert was able to put on a performance that should help his case for being a top pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.
Many expect the Bengals to select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick of the NFL Draft. However, Herbert and Burrow have similar games, and both can be threats running the football. If Herbert can add to his Senior Bowl performance with a great NFL Combine and Pro Day, he could be picked within the top five-seven picks. The Dolphins, Chargers, and Panthers (picks five, six, and seven) are all expected to strongly consider drafting a quarterback. Herbert separated himself from Jordan Love, another projected first-round pick and starter for the North team, in the Senior Bowl.
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Joshua Kelley and Anthony Gordon Also Impress on Offense in Senior Bowl
UCLA running back Joshua Kelley and Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon were the standout Pac-12 offensive players for the North team. Kelley had 15 carries for 105 yards, and Anthony Gordon had two touchdown passes in the third quarter. When Gordon went in, the game was tied at 10, but after the third quarter, the North was leading 31-10. Gordon could build off his senior bowl performance to possibly be a Day 2 pick at the NFL Draft.
Joshua Kelley was able to show that he can be physical inside, but can be explosive in space. He also could make a case for being a Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick if he builds off his performance in the Senior Bowl.
Bradlee Anae Steals the Show on Defense in Senior Bowl
Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae had a huge day at the Senior Bowl for the North team. He recorded three sacks on the day, and wreaked havoc against the South offensive line. Anae was the best defensive player on the field in Mobile and made his case to be a Day 2 pick at the draft.
Steven Montez, Calvin Throckmorton Have Uneven Performances in Senior Bowl
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez entered the game to start the second half and had a very uneven performance. Montez finished 3-of-8 for 22 yards and an interception. He took a sack on a 3rd-and-1 as he scrambled back and made a five-yard loss into a 15-yard loss on the sack.
However, Montez and fellow South quarterback Jalen Hurts did not get the protection from their offensive line to be fairly evaluated based on their performances. Calvin Throckmorton, an offensive lineman for Oregon, played for a big portion of the game and had trouble blocking Bradlee Anae on the few occasions they were matched up against each other. None of the tackles for the South fared well against Anae, but Throckmorton’s stock did not go up based on his performance.
Had Some of the Best Performances at 2020 Senior Bowl
Pac-12 had a positive 2020 Senior Bowl. Justin Herbert, arguably the premier
player in the conference this past season, was able to win MVP. Bradlee Anae
made a great impression nationally. There is talent in the Pac-12, and future
recruits can see that players that play on the west coast in the Pac-12 can be
Millions tuned in to watch the Men’s March Madness Championship game. The University of Virginia (UVA) took on Texas Tech in a game that turned out to be a thrilling, seat clinching exhibition. College basketball fans witnessed UVA clinch its first NCAA Championship when they defeated Texas Tech in overtime. While it was a first for UVA, the game may have been the last for graduate transfers like Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens of Texas Tech as the NCAA aims to stop graduate transfers.
Mooney and Owens landed in the Final Four due to one of the NCAA’s rare rules that actually benefits college athletes. That rule is the graduate transfer rule. However, that rare benefit that the college athletes receive may be reduced drastically if the NCAA adopts a proposed change later this month.
The Graduate Transfer Rule
The current graduate transfer rule gives college athletes a certain level of autonomy. The graduate transfer rule allows college athletes who have completed their four-year degree and have remaining eligibility to transfer to another school and compete as a graduate transfer without having to sit out a year. The athlete must enroll in a graduate program. The current graduate transfer rule actually makes sense. An athlete who has remaining eligibility and has completed his undergraduate degree at one university should be free to use his remaining eligibility at the graduate school of his choice.
The rule allows college athletes to freely decide where to pursue their graduate education while providing the opportunity for them to continue playing the sport they love. Due to the freedom the rule provides college athletes to take control over their careers, it should come as no surprise that the rule is under fire.
Critics Issues With the Graduate Transfer Rule
Some feel that college athletes abuse the system. Critics argue that college athletes only use the rule as an opportunity to play in hopes of making it to the pros, rather than focusing on their graduate degree. Some liken the graduate transfer rule to the one-and-done rule because some graduate transfers leave after only playing one year. A study from 2012 found that only one-third of men’s basketball and one-quarter of football graduate transfers earn their graduate degree after two years. Due to this concern, a reform to the graduate transfer rule has been proposed.
The New Proposal
The proposal requests that colleges commit to providing two years of scholarship to each graduate transfer unless the athlete completes the degree in one year. In sum, the school must be willing to give up a scholarship the next year for each graduate transfer they take unless the graduate transfer finishes his degree in a year. This proposed rule change will only affect men’s and women’s basketball and football. That is right, this change will only affect the major revenue-producing sports.
If Adopted the Proposal Will Essentially do Away With Graduate Transfers
There are several issues with this proposal. One is that it is not practical to think that any graduate student will finish their program in one year. This is especially true in regards to college athletes, who are balancing the demands of their sport with academics. Another issue is that if this rule is adopted, graduate transfers will no longer be an attractive option to coaches. Most coaches will not want to forfeit a scholarship for the next season to get a graduate transfer or two. The benefits simply do not outweigh the cost. For this reason, the proposed change would drastically limit college athletes’ ability to seek opportunities as graduate transfers.
This proposal does not benefit college athletes at all. It takes away college athletes’ ability to pursue a graduate degree of their choosing while playing. Yes, an athlete could play as a graduate if he remains at his original school. However, that may still put the athlete at a disadvantage. What if the original university does not have the athlete’s desired graduate program? Now the athlete is unfairly forced to chose between their preferred graduate program and what is probably their last opportunity to play their sport on the big stage.
Another issue is that yet again, the rule unfairly affects the athletes who participate in the major revenue-producing sports. This very fact shows that the proposal has little to do with making sure athletes are getting their graduate degrees. This proposal is all about control. Proponents of the proposal want to control every move men’s basketball and football players make. There is nothing about this proposal that benefits the college athletes. It does the opposite by severely limiting men’s and women’s basketball players and football players options.
What Will the NCAA Do?
Will the NCAA keep the current system, which serves as a major benefit to many athletes? Or will the NCAA in typical fashion swoop in and severely limit the college athletes options? The NCAA will most likely do the latter. This is true especially given the fact that NCAA President Mark Emmert stated that he would not be surprised if the rule was revised.
Which makes sense. Somehow, with injury after injury at quarterback, his USC offense finished third in the Pac-12 in points per game. Additionally, remember that Kedon Slovis was a 2019 FWAA Freshman All-American. Giving Harrell a full offseason with Kedon Slovis at the helm is excellent for USC and for Pac-12 football.
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Although Todd Orlando got the boot in Texas, USC still went for him. His 2019 Longhorns ranked 54th in Football Outsider’s DFEI rankings, while USC barely trailed them at 57th. Apparently his experience at Texas is more important than their defense at Texas. It’s a safe move, but remains to be seen whether or not he can lift USC’s defense any higher.
WSU Hires Nick Rolovich, Rolovich Buys Drinks for Cougar Fans
Mike Leach will forever be remembered as one of the most entertaining coaches in Pullman. However, new head coach Nick Rolovich is coming out swinging.
Certainly, this is one of the oddest moves of a head coach. But, it’s a move that gained respect and admiration in the Cougar fanbase. Yes, Leach is gone, However, it appears that Rolovich understands Cougar nation.
Well, this is great news for Oregon State. The Beaver’s talented Isaiah Hodgins declared for the 2020 NFL Draft after his breakout junior season. Losing him is huge. So, adding receiving talent is a must for Oregon State if they want to compete with other Pac-12 football programs.
Being a head coach at a Power 5 program is every college football coach’s goal. However, a coach needs to be a top-notch recruiter to be successful at a Power 5 program. Mel Tucker has taken his first steps to be a successful recruiter for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Mel Tucker Buffs Up Colorado Defensive Line
The 2019 Colorado Buffaloes wound up finishing 8th in the Pac-12 in total defense (5,303 yards allowed) in 2019. There were growing pains on the defensive side adjusting to Tucker’s defensive philosophy. However, finishing 8th in the conference was an accomplishment despite giving up 30 or more points in the first nine games of the season.
Mel Tucker has already proven he can get talent to come to Boulder. On November 4, 2019, Tucker achieved his first major recruiting victory. Antonio Alfano, a five-star defensive end who spent his freshman year at Alabama, decided to transfer to Boulder. Tucker sent a message that he could recruit top talent to Boulder.
He also added four-star defensive end Jason Harris, a defensive lineman from Gilbert, Arizona. Harris, who is 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, is ranked 84th in the 2020 ESPN 300. These two additions of Harris and Alfano should help the Buffaloes’ defensive line win the battle in the trenches for years to come.
Position Group for Colorado Buffaloes: Wide Receiver
The 2020 Colorado Buffaloes will go into the season without arguably their top two threats at wide receiver in 2019. Laviska Shenault and Tony Brown combined for over half of the team’s receiving yards in 2019. On top of that, they had nine of the team’s 18 touchdown receptions.
Fortunately for the Buffaloes, Darrin Chiaverini, Colorado’s Wide Receivers Coach, has always been able to recruit effectively at wide receiver. Some of the players he has recruited include Shenault and K.D. Nixon. He was able to add another receiver, Brenden Rice from Chandler, Arizona, to the team. Rice is the son of Jerry Rice, arguably the best wide receiver to ever play football.
nationally will be interested to see what the son of a legend can do, and that
will get more eyeballs on Colorado football. Consequently, recruiting should be
helped because more and more people will talk about Colorado nationally.
Colorado Buffaloes Get Four-Star Quarterback and Running Back
The Buffaloes improved their offensive weapons this recruiting cycle. They signed a four-star quarterback and got a commitment from another, according to the ESPN 300.
Brenden Lewis is a 6-foot-2, 205 pound quarterback from Melissa, Texas. Lewis has an outside chance at starting his freshman year. However, he will have to beat out Blake Stenstrom and Tyler Lytle. Lewis figures to be a starter down the line for the Buffaloes. He has one distinct advantage: being a quarterback who was recruited by the current coach of the team.
CU also got a commitment from four-star running back Ashaad Clayton. Clayton may be redshirted during his freshman year, but could get playing time behind Alex Fontenot and Jaren Mangham. Clayton figures to have a more prominent role down the line for the Buffaloes, but not necessarily in 2020.
What Does Strong Recruiting Mean For Future?
The Buffaloes having the 33rd-ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports. However, they are still not seen as a threat regionally in the Pac-12. Colorado has the worst odds to win the Pac-12 in 2020 according to sportsbettingdime.com. However, the fact that Mel Tucker has had a year to implement his philosophy should help the Buffaloes improve. There is a lot to like with how Tucker has pursued higher-rated recruits such as Brenden Lewis and Antonio Alfano.
Winning the Pac-12 should not be expected from the Buffaloes this season. However, they should be able to have close games at home again. The Buffaloes have to be competitive at home and on the road in 2020. They struggled on the road in 2019, finishing with a 1-4 record. Winning more road games is integral to the Buffaloes being taken more seriously by other teams and fan bases within the Pac-12.
However, the goal remains the same for Colorado Buffaloes: Making a Bowl Game In 2020
Tucker has been praised for the job he has done on the recruiting front so far. However, recruiting is only part of the equation. Mel Tucker will have the opportunity to coach them and mold them into players that can help the Colorado Buffaloes win football games.
The Buffaloes made only one bowl game last decade. The culture change that Tucker has brought to start this new decade should result in the Buffaloes’ first bowl appearance since 2016. However, this culture change did not lead to a winning record in 2019. It is hard to buy the hype based off of Tucker’s first full recruiting cycle. On the surface, it looks like the recruiting is already better under Tucker. However, he must produce wins for fans to completely take notice of the improvements in recruiting he has made.
Although the Pac-12 football season is over, the offseason is just as important. Unafraidshow’s Pac-12 Football Review updates everyone on the biggest stories of each week of the Pac-12 football offseason.
Recruits, transfers, coaching changes and returning players drastically change next year’s landscape. Which players are leaving for the NFL draft? Who are the newest coaches or recruits? What news is the most important or compelling from each program?
The Biggest News Around the Pac-12, Program by Program
Arizona: The Wildcats hire Andy Buh as OLB coach
With 22 years of collegiate coaching experience, Andy Buh adds leadership and knowledge to the Wildcats defense. Most recently, Buh was defensive coordinator for Rutgers in 2019 and Maryland from 2016 to 2018. In his decades of coaching, he mainly spent time as defensive coordinator or linebackers coach. Pac-12 fans should remember him from his days with Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. The signing of Buh will round out a new Arizona coaching staff after Marcel Yates and Iona Uiagalelei were both fired.
In his first two years as a Pac-12 football coach, Herm Edwards is 15 and 11 with two bowl game appearances. His collegiate success with Arizona State surprised many. While his 7 and 6 2018 season was a good start, he put his faith in freshman Jayden Daniels . Many coaches overlook 175lb freshman quarterbacks. But, Edwards displayed excellent coaching instincts and uncovered a Pac-12 Star. Daniels’ led the Sun Devils to a huge victory over the Oregon Ducks. If Arizona State and Edwards continue to find success in recruiting and personnel management, the Sun Devils will make a run for the title soon enough.
Cal: Golden Bears name Angus McClure Offensive Line Coach
Most recently, Angus McClure aided the Nevada Wolf Pack to back-to-back bowl games. His offensive lineman in 2018 allowed just 1.31 (18th in FBS) sacks per game. Adding McClure to the coaching staff should aid UCLA’s 64th-ranked offensive line.
With 28 years of experience, including a decade with UCLA, Angus McClure is also known for his excellent recruiting. He understands the west coast and the Pac-12. UCLA needs any help they can get and landed an excellent coaching piece.
Colorado: Laviska Shenault signs with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group
After a breakout 2018 season and lesser, but still explosive, 2019 campaign, Laviska Shenault is headed to the NFL Draft. On Wednesday, Shenault signed with Klutch Sports Group, founded by Rich Paul. Paul and Kultch Sports represent NBA stars LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, and many more. Currently, they only represent Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon and Jarvis Landry in the NFL. So, Shenault is joining impressive company. He joins Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah as Klutch Sports’ potential draftees.
Oregon: The Ducks keep four more juniors
In excellent news for the Rose Bowl champs, four NFL Draft eligible juniors announced a 2020 return. Thomas Graham, Deommodore Lenior, Jordon Scott, and Austin Davis want one more season with the Ducks. This decision is huge for the Ducks’ 2020 defense. They finished the 2019 season ranked as No.6 in the nation, per footballoutsiders. Retaining these four junior cornerbacks and defensive lineman likely frustrated the Pac-12 competition.
In great luck for the Beavers, both Addison Gumbs and Jeromy Reichner were awarded an NCAA extension. Neither made an impression in the 2019 Pac-12 football season. Reichner missed all of 2019, while Gumbs played just a game and a half. with the adjustment, Gumbs will be a redshirt sophomore in 2020. With the extensions, Oregon State can bolster its 2020 defense and try for a better season.
Although not finalized, Vince Oghobaase is expected to head to Boston College. But, that might not be the worst thing. Every college football fan knows that the 2019 UCLA defense was horrid. They let opponents roll up 34.8 points per game (116th in the nation). So, while losing a defensive line coach to another program sounds bad, it opens up the possibility for better recruiting and player development.
USC: Kedon Slovis named FWAA Freshman All-American
While the Pac-12 is losing many big-named quarterbacks to the 2020 NFL Draft, young stars like Kedon Slovis and Jayden Daniels are the future of the Pac-12 football. Slovis is the first freshman since Sam Darnold to be named FWAA Freshman All-American. However, Slovis earned that title as a true freshman. He is the first true freshman in USC history to gain that honor. His 3,505 passing yards, 30-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 71.9-percent completion percentage were outstanding. Slovis is primed for 2020.
Utah: Leki Fotu is getting noticed
There isn’t much news coming out of Utah right now. But at least Leki Fotu is getting draft love. Like Paulson Adebo, defensive lineman Leki Fotu made it on PFF’s 200 Top-100 Draft Board and is ranked 91st on drafttek’s 2020 NFL Draft list.. He is the 12th-best defensive tackle, per Walter Football, and is looking like a quality defensive lineman in the 2020 draft. Pac-12 football players getting drafted is always important for our programs.
Washington: Huskies hire Offensive Coordinator John Donovan
In a peculiar move, the Washington Huskies hired John Donovan as their new offensive coordinator. Donovan, spending his last four years as a Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive quality control coach, hasn’t been an O.C. since 2014 for Penn State. Additionally, the year after Donovan was fired in Penn State, they went on to win the Big 10 Championship.
After the 2019 season, the Huskies had a huge coaching void. Chris Petersen stepped down and the Dawgs fired Bush Hamden and Jordan Paopao. So, with promoting defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake to head coach, it made it even more important for a quality offensive coordinator. They went with Donovan, who has a lot of question marks and concerns.
Washington State: Mike Leach leaves for Mississippi State
As noted by our own article, Mike Leach left the Pac-12 for the SEC. Read the above article for the full breakdown.
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 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.
There is a hot topic brewing amongst Pac-12 fans during bowl season. It is causing serious debate in Facebook groups and subreddits. Should Pac-12 fans “Back the Pac” and cheer for every other conference team to win, including their rivals?
There were many recruiting surprises during the early signing period. A couple of teams may have signed program changing classes. Assistant coaches also have more power than they ever have.
Do you Back the Pac-12? Leave a comment or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Pac-12 Apostles is a podcast for fans who love the Pac-12 conference. George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden are committed to the honest and fair conversation about the conference. Join us by becoming a Pac-12 Apostle. Subscribe and share the podcast.
Please leave a review of our podcast on iTunes if you can! We record a podcast once a week during the off-season for football and then from the months of August to January we record two podcasts per week. Our podcasts are always heavy on Pac-12 football but we make it a point to also try and cover the other notable Men’s and Women’s Pac-12 sports. We cover recruiting and any other major storyline in the Pac-12 universe.
George Wrighster is a former Pac-12 and long-time NFL tight end. As a television/radio host, opinionist, and analyst, who is UNAFRAID to speak the truth. Contrary to industry norms he uses, facts, stats, and common sense to win an argument. He has covered college football, basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB since 2014. Through years of playing college football, covering bowl games, coaching changes, and scandals, he has a great pulse for the conference and national perspective.
Ralph Amsden is a Wyoming-born sportswriter and podcaster who spends his days tweeting through the misadventures that come with shuttling four kids around the Arizona desert. Ralph is the publisher of Rivals’ ArizonaVarsity.com, the founder of ArizonaSportsCast.com, and was previously the managing editor of the Arizona State Rivals affiliate, DevilsDigest.com. He is also a professional hater of all things pineapple. Whether you’re talking food, movies, music, parenting, politics, sports, television, religion, or zoological factoids, Ralph has questions for you. He might be sub-.500 in spousal disputes and schoolyard fights, but he’s always UNAFRAID to square up.
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.
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.
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.