Who deserves to be on the Pac-12 All-Decade Team 2010-19? George and Ralph draft their best offense, defense, special teams, and coach to play a game. Starts at 43:00
Officiating calls continue to cause debate and controversy in college football and NFL games. We have a solution for the targeting call and catch/no-catch rules.
Did we leave anyone off the Pac-12 All-Decade Team 2010-19 or were we perfect? Leave a comment or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us who built the best team.
Listen to the Pac-12 All-Decade Team 2010-19 on Pac-12 Apostles Podcast
Make sure you like and subscribe to the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast with George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden on iTunes by clicking here or any other podcasting app. Visit our iTunes page for this podcast and other previous episodes by clicking here.
Who are the Pac-12 Apostles?
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.
The 2020 Pac-12 Tournament bracket has taken shape after another crazy week of Pac-12 Basketball. Oregon showed why they are the favorites to win this week’s tournament in Las Vegas, while last-place Washington shocked both Arizona and Arizona State. Officiating took some of the spotlight as teams jockeyed for position in the conference tournament.
Oregon Cements Front-Runner Status Ahead of Pac-12 Tournament
Oregon defended their home
court against California and Stanford, and they are looking like the
frontrunners in Las Vegas this week. Payton Pritchard has had a great senior
season, and is the favorite to win Pac-12 Conference Men’s Basketball Player of
the Year. Pritchard should also be included in conversations for the Naismith Men’s
College Player of the Year award. He has averaged 20.5 points per game this
season and shot 46.8 percent from the field. Pritchard has been one of the most
efficient players and will have a chance to lead his team to a second straight
Pac-12 Tournament Championship this week.
USC Beats UCLA, Teams Could
Meet Again In Pac-12 Tournament Semis
USC and UCLA played in a classic defensive duel on Saturday. With one second remaining Jonah Mathews made a 3-point shot in his last game at the Galen Center. USC got a much-needed win that helps their cause on Selection Sunday. UCLA is squarely on the bubble, but this loss does not diminish the turnaround they have had this season. The Bruins will be the two seed in Las Vegas, and USC will be the three seed. These teams could meet again in the Pac-12 semis. Both USC and UCLA can cement their tournament bids by winning games in the Pac-12 Tournament. However, both the Bruins and Trojans will face nerve wracking Selection Sundays if they are unable to get at least one win in Las Vegas.
Washington Shocks Both Arizona State and Arizona On Road
Washington poses a threat in the Pac-12 Tournament next week. They played excellent against both Arizona State and Arizona. They won both these games by playing the types of games their opponents are used to playing. The Huskies may also be getting back point guard Quade Green, who was declared academically ineligible in January. It is unclear if Green will play in the Pac-12 Tournament. If he does, he will add another dimension to a suddenly dangerous Husky team. Washington is considered a dark horse to win the Pac-12 Tournament but will have to do so as the last place team in the conference. Also, they have to play Arizona again on Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Arizona State Backs Their Way into Pac-12 Tournament First Round Bye
Arizona State took a huge
step back against Washington, but they were able to beat Washington State on Saturday.
A point of concern in ASU’s victory against the Cougars is that they
relinquished a 17-point lead in the second half. They were able to make enough
plays to get a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, but the Sun Devils are
also not a lock to make the Tournament field.
Arizona Tournament Bound,
But Struggles Showing
Arizona has done enough to make the tournament, but they have struggled during the back end of the season. The Wildcats are 1-4 in their last five games, with their only win coming last Thursday against Washington State at home. Their offensive woes have shown, as they only had five made field goals in the first half of their 69-63 loss against Washington. Arizona is like a lot of teams in the conference, as they do not have one player that can elevate them to victory on a consistent basis. Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji, who are both freshmen, have shown why they were top recruits at Arizona. However, they have not been able to lift the Wildcats to victory lately.
Colorado Is Simply Searching For Answers
The Buffaloes lost a controversial overtime game at Utah 74-72. Up 72-71, McKinley Wright was called for a foul on Utah guard Both Gach’s three-point shot. It was unclear if Wright even made contact with Gach on the play. However, Wright missed a pivotal free throw on the previous sequence. If Wright makes the first free throw, the Buffaloes get a chance to possibly go up by three points.
The Buffaloes were having a dream season, but a four-game losing streak has left them searching for answers. In reality, they ended the 2020 Pac-12 conference season with the same record (10-8) they had last year. This team is tournament-bound due to their performance in non-conference play, namely their win against a possible 1-seed in Dayton. However, they need to recapture the swagger they played with in January and the early part of February to have any shot at making noise in the postseason.
However, it is frustrating that the result of this game was basically determined on an official’s call at the end of overtime. Teams such as Colorado had everything to play for this past weekend, and the officials took center stage. Critical junctures in seasons call for players to perform at their best, and the Pac-12 needs to make sure their officials are performing at their best this week in the Pac-12 Tournament. Let the conference champion be determined by good basketball, not bad officiating.
Non-Conference Wins Difference for Presumptive Tournament Locks In Pac-12
Teams such as Stanford and
UCLA are in precarious positions because they do not have a non-conference win that
stands out. UCLA’s best win arguably was their road win against Colorado in
Boulder, and Stanford’s best win is against Oregon at home. However, multiple
teams, including Washington State and Oregon State, beat Oregon at home this
season. There has been so much parity in Pac-12 conference play, that the teams
that are considered safe bets to make the tournament are in that position
because of how they performed in non-conference play. Oregon has huge wins
against Seton Hall and Michigan. Colorado has a huge win against Dayton.
Arizona has a quality non-conference win against Illinois.
The Pac-12 will get at
least five teams into the tournament, but there are four teams (Arizona State,
USC, UCLA, and Stanford) that face an uncertain Selection Sunday at this point.
All four of these teams have arguments to get in the field, but some of their
bubbles may burst on Selection Sunday. However, every team in the conference
has a chance to make the tournament by winning the Pac-12 Tournament this week.
With all the parity that has presided over the conference this season, it
should be a fun tournament this week.
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.
Subscribe to the Best Pac-12 Podcast
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
The 2020 College Basketball season has already brought the madness that is usually seen in March. There is no clear-cut favorite, and the AP Top 25 constantly changes from week-to-week. Pac-12 Basketball has brought the craziness in the 2019-20 season, as unpredictability has been the theme of the conference so far.
Pac-12 only had three teams in the NCAA Tournament in 2019 (Washington, Arizona
State, and Oregon) and one team in the National Invitation Tournament
(Colorado). This season, the conference is looking to have far more teams in
Joe Lunardi, the most prominent “Bracketologist”, had five teams in his NCAA Tournament field for 2020 as of January 21. These five teams include Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Stanford, and USC.
The Pac-12 Basketball Favorites: Oregon, Colorado, Arizona
The Pac-12 conference could end up making an argument to have six or seven teams make the tournament come Selection Sunday, which is March 15.
Oregon is widely regarded to as the best team in Pac-12 basketball. Currently, the Ducks are 15-4, with a 4-2 mark in Pac-12 play. Led by senior Payton Pritchard, the Ducks have impressive non-conference wins against Memphis and Seton Hall at neutral sites. They also won an overtime thriller against Michigan. However, Oregon lost to Washington State this past Thursday. The Ducks have not always been consistent but should be at least a top-4 seed come tournament time.
Colorado is one of the most experienced teams in the Pac-12, led by junior McKinley Wright IV. The Buffaloes have an effective supporting cast with Tyler Bey, D’Shawn Schwartz, and Evan Battey to name a few, but sometimes the offense looks stagnant, especially in losses against Kansas and this past Saturday against Arizona. The Buffaloes have wins against Oregon and Dayton which should help their cause. If they can build upon their 14-4 (3-2 Pac-12) record, they should be strongly considered to be a top-4 seed come March.
Listen to the Best Pac-12 Football and Basketball Podcast
The Arizona Wildcats are having a bounce-back season in wake of the bribery scandal involving DeAndre Ayton a few years ago. The Wildcats are 13-5 (3-2 Pac-12) this season, but also have been inconsistent thus far in conference play. They have defended home court in conference play, defeating opponents by an average of 21.7 points per game. However, they lost to both Oregon and Oregon State.
Pac-12 Basketball NCAA Tournament Hopefuls: Stanford and USC
and Stanford are currently the top two teams in the conference standings, with
each having a 4-1 conference record, respectively. USC won against Stanford in
Los Angeles this past Saturday 82-78. The Trojans and Cardinal have both not
been shown any respect nationally. Neither team is ranked, but they are both
15-3 this season.
is USC’s most notable win, however. The Trojans lost by 32 to Washington in
conference play, and Oregon will be the first ranked team they play this
season. The only ranked team Stanford has played was Kansas, and they lost
Non-Conference Schedule Hurting Pac-12 Basketball
The Pac-12 as a conference needs to work on their non-conference schedule in basketball, especially given how the conference was perceived at tournament time last year. Larry Scott’s goal should be to have at least half the league in the NCAA Tournament each season.
conference needs to have a partnership with one of the other major conferences.
The Big Ten/ACC Challenge and Big 12/SEC Challenge are both great for college
basketball and bolster both conference’s resumes. The Pac-12 should look to
possibly partner with the Big East or even one of the other conferences to help
with the non-conference schedule.
Best Non-Conference Win For Pac-12 Basketball: Washington Over Baylor
beat Baylor 67-64 in the Armed Forces Classic on November 8 in Anchorage,
Alaska. Baylor was just awarded the number-one spot in the AP Poll on Monday.
Washington has struggled in conference play with a 2-4 record. The Huskies will
be the most prominent Pac-12 teams that will be living life on the bubble until
March because they beat Baylor.
the end, there should be at least four teams in the NCAA Tournament for the
Pac-12. USC should end up getting in if they end with a winning record in
conference play. Beyond that, Washington is the conference’s best hope to get
half the teams from the “conference of champions” into the tournament. The
Pac-12 needs to live up to its slogan and accomplish this feat. The season has
been crazy, but hopefully the committee will take notice of the product the
Pac-12 is putting out there this season.
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.
Listen to the Best Pac-12 Podcast
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
It is vitally important for the Pac-12 to put together a good bowl season. The conference has not had a winning bowl season since 2015 and has not sent a team to the College Football Playoff since 2016. The Pac-12 went 3-3 in 2016, 1-8 in 2017, and 3-4 in 2018. Having a good bowl season will help elevate the league’s perception to start the 2020 season.
The Pac-12 is sending seven teams to bowl games in College Football 2019. These teams are USC, Arizona State, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Washington State, and California.
Preseason Rankings and Not Winning Big Games Have Hurt the Pac-12
Preseason rankings play a role in how the final standings play out. The Pac-12 has only been represented in the College Football Playoff twice in the six years of the tournament. Going into the 2019 season, the Pac-12 did not have a single team in the top 10 in either the Associated Press or USA Today Coaches Poll. Oregon was the highest-ranked Pac-12 team in both preseason polls (No. 11 in AP Poll). However, they lost their first game to Auburn in College Football Week 1. This loss put the Pac-12 behind the 8-ball right away as far as their hopes to make the College Football Playoff.
Listen to the Best Pac-12 Podcast
In the last three seasons, the Pac-12 champion has lost their bowl game (Washington twice and USC once). The last time the Pac-12 champion won their bowl game was when Stanford beat Iowa 45-16 in the Rose Bowl to end the 2015 season. Washington lost in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl to Alabama 24-7 in 2016. USC only scored once and got beat around by the Ohio State Buckeyes 24-7 in the Cotton Bowl to end the 2017 season. In the 2018 Rose Bowl, the Washington Huskies’ rally from down 28-3 against the Buckeyes and fell short, losing 28-23.
Pac-12 Can Gain a Lot If Oregon Beats Wisconsin
If Oregon, the newly minted Pac-12 champion, can beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2020, it would help Oregon’s and the Pac-12’s standing heading into 2020. Their champion would win a game on the national stage on New Year’s Day, and the conference could feed off showing that their champion could have been competitive in the College Football Playoff. As a conference, the Pac-12 needs to get a team into the playoff. The conference is not spoken of in the same breath as the SEC or Big Ten. Winning the Rose Bowl would help the Pac-12’s cause.
Pac-12 Could Take Image Hit If Utah Loses to Texas
the Pac-12 has a lot to lose from bowl season also. The Utah Utes are currently
ranked 11th in the country. They are playing the Texas Longhorns in
the Alamo Bowl. If the Pac-12 runner-up loses to the team that finished tied
for third in the Big 12 conference it would be devastating. Utah has been the
better team all year, but some may give the Longhorns a slight edge because they
simply have better recruits.
If Utah loses this game, an outsider who may not follow the Pac-12 conference may think, “Wow, one of the best two Pac-12 teams is not as good as a team that finished 7-5 in the Big 12”. People will tune into this game nationally because of Texas’ brand. Utah needs to show the nation that they are deserving of their ranking. They need to take care of business against an unranked Longhorns team.
USC Needs Bowl Win to Help Embattled Head Coach Clay Helton
Another bowl game that will generate interest within the Pac-12 and nationally because of “the brand” is the Holiday Bowl, which features the USC Trojans against the Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten. USC hired new athletic director Mike Bohn in early November, and he has endorsed head coach Clay Helton. Many believed Helton was coaching for his job at numerous points throughout the season.
Beating Iowa in the Holiday Bowl would cool all the seats Clay Helton will be sitting in during the offseason, whether that is on an airplane during the recruiting cycle or in his office after spring practice. There is still the pipeline dream that Urban Meyer may eventually take over at USC, but for now, it is Helton’s team. USC simply gets better recruits than Iowa. On paper, USC should beat Iowa. It would help with recruiting because it would show the nation that Clay Helton can beat an equal opponent. After a 5-7 season in 2018, many thought Clay Helton could have been gone. With the new athletic director, Clay Helton could have been gone. He needs this game so there is more certainty around the program entering 2020.
Pac-12 Needs Winning Bowl Season
The Pac-12 needs to go a minimum of 4-3 in their bowl games this bowl season. As a conference, they are suffering in terms of national image because of their inability to get their champion to the College Football Playoff. The conference can show that their teams are able to compete with the best programs. Going 4-3 would be decent, but the conference should be hoping for at least a 5-2 mark this bowl season. Also, Utah needs to absolutely win for the Pac-12 to look positively on this bowl season.
Oregon had Auburn on the ropes in College Football Week 1, and it hurt the conference that the Ducks were unable to finish the job. However, Oregon’s loss to Arizona State and Utah’s loss to Oregon were the main reasons the Pac-12 did not get a team into the College Football Playoff. The Ducks have a huge non-conference game against Ohio State next season.
Other schools have also scheduled tough non-conference games in 2020, such as the Colorado Buffaloes scheduling the Texas A&M Aggies. Many will choose Oregon and CU to lose these games. However, maybe a few pundits will have more confidence if the conference can have a positive end to a decade where more was expected for the conference.
Now that the dust has settled with Chris Petersen’s surprise step-down
It’s been almost two weeks since Chris Petersen announced his intention to step down. Washington Huskies football fans are still spinning in confusion and remorse. But, after reflecting, Petersen’s impact on UW football is massive and it will still reign purple and gold.
Chris Petersen’s brought championships to UW
From 2004 to 2008, the Huskies were in awful form. Their season records were as follows:
2004: 1 and 10
2005: 2 and 9
2006: 5 and 7
2007: 4 and 9
2008: 0 and 12
After that, the Dawgs got Steve Sarkisian as a head coach and he led them back to being a good, not great team. Sarkisian ended the seven-year bowl-drought for UW and that was a huge accomplishment. While his 34 and 29 record wasn’t amazing, it was a step in the right direction.
Then, in 2014, the UW football program lucked out and stole Chris Petersen away from Boise State. He kept what Sarkisian started and added to it.
From 2016 to 2018, the Huskies were on another level.
Three straight seasons with at least ten wins
Two Pac-12 Championships
Three straight NY6 Bowls
One College Football Playoff berth
Additionally, he set a record for the most games won by UW football in a four-year stretch. From 2015-2018, they totaled 39 wins. However, if Chris Petersen’s Huskies get a Las Vegas Bowl victory, he will set the record again with 40 wins from 2016-2019.
With Petersen at the helm, the Huskies were Pac-12 Champions, routinely top-25 ranked and demanded respect. He rejuvenated the UW program and brought success. His leadership and coaching were instrumental to the purple and gold.
Perfect in Apple Cups
For true Dawgs, the Apple Cup is a huge priority. Friends, colleagues and even family are torn apart each year because of the UW-WSU rivalry. It’s serious business.
Conquering Washington State is always both a delight and a must. But, Chris Petersen did it with perfection. In his six Apple Cups, UW:
Won six out of six times
Scored 221 points (36.83-per-game)
Held WSU to 82 points (13.67-per-game)
Although Washington State might be glad that he’s stepping down, they unfortunately still have to face Jimmy Lake.
Listen to the Best Pac-12 Podcast
Passes the Huskies torch to highly sought-after Jimmy Lake
After the Huskies lost the Rose Bowl last year to the Ohio State Buckeyes, it was a shock that Washington retained Jimmy Lake. Lake was a sought-after defensive coordinator for a head-coaching job. He certainly garnered attention.
However, with the news of Chris Petersen stepping down, it makes more sense. This step-down was a surprise to everyone outside of the UW program. But, it remains a mystery whether Peterson, Lake or other staff knew. Nonetheless, this is excellent news for Washington football. Lake’s defensive coaching is a large part of UW’s success in recent years. Though he’ll create his own culture at UW with the absence of Petersen, promoting Lake was a calculated move. It keeps the successful environment intact.
Washington Huskies Top Recruiter
As of today, Washington’s 2020’s recruiting class ranks 1st in the Pac-12 and 15th nationally.
With the staff and culture Chris Petersen built, it set them up for top-recruiting. From 2018 to 2020, Washington’s ranked 16th, 15th and 15th nationally.
It’s no surprise either. Remember that the University of Washington is a historic program. Since 1889, they’ve won seventeen conference championships, seven Rose Bowls and two NCCA recognized national championships. Combining that history with Chris Petersen’s leadership and success is the perfect base for recruiting.
But, with Petersen stepping down, there’s a large fear that his recruiting success leaves with him. However, recent signs show otherwise. As of this Wednesday, zero of their 21 commits de-committed. Additionally, it’s been Jimmy Lake’s already been involved in the recruiting process with Petersen. As a proper head coach does, they delegate. So, positional coaches and Jimmy Lake already have practice in the recruiting process.
Moreover, Jimmy Lake’s defensive brilliance will aid his recruiting of defensive talent. The “Jimmy Lake Defense” is a known quantity in Montlake and well-respected. Currently, there are eight defensive backs in the NFL that had Jimmy Lake as a coach. Also, the Huskies defense, in an off-year, still rank 24th-best in scoring. If Washington hires a promising offensive coordinator, their recruiting will continue their reign.
Wishing you the best of luck and healing Chris Petersen
Say what you want about stepping down during your prime, but Chris Petersen made a choice for his quality of life. His decision was praised by Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll. Carroll, who can empathize with coaching an elite, college program.
“The college thing is really, really demanding in terms of the constant recruiting pressure and strain,’’ Carroll said. “It’s really the strain of it. It just doesn’t go away. You’re on the next year always anyway. It’s just an ongoing process. That’s one part of it.”
With the way college football programs are set up now, it’s easy to see burnout in coaches. Petersen said it himself that he didn’t enjoy the Rose Bowl like he should have.
“You work your whole life to get to (the Rose Bowl),” he said, “and I didn’t really appreciate the week. I didn’t appreciate the game like I need to, you know, as a kid growing up looking at that game. I think that was one of the things that really hit me loud and clear. So, you know, you start to pay attention to that. Then you go and you put your heart and soul into what you’re doing.”
So, with all that Chris Petersen has given the Huskies, let’s wish him the best. Football was his life. But, football also was the cause of constant stress, anxiety, missed expectations, demands, pressure, and exhaustion. It’s time for Petersen to take a break and recovery. Whether or not he ever coaches a football team again, he’s done enough with UW football to earn his status as a lifetime Husky.
Even though the Apple Cup was in Seattle, the Washington State Cougars began with a bang. They took the ball 81 yards down the field on a patient, 13-play drive. Capping the drive off with a Max Borghi one-yard touchdown, WSU looked great.
Then, the Cougars defense sacked Jacob Eason on his first offensive play. They held strong and forced the Huskies to a three-and-out on their first possession. Ball goes back to the Cougs and they’re already leading 7-0.
The stage was set for a WSU upset in the Apple Cup. Anthony Gordon looked comfortable, patient and was willing to take what the defense gave him. Mike Leach schemed up open looks and it was perfect weather for the Air Raid offense. 41 degrees, sunny and no wind.
But, everything changed after that.
Anthony Gordon’s Dreadful Apple Cup Performance
Although Gordon’s 103.0 Passing Efficiency Rating against Utah in Week 5 was poor, that was at least against an elite defense and the Pac-12’s best team. But, even though the Washington Huskies played exceptionally well, they are no Utah. Somehow, the Huskies held Gordon to 308 yards and zero touchdowns on 62 attempts, while intercepting two of his passes. So why did Gordon struggle so much in this Apple Cup?
Listen to the Best Pac-12 Podcast
Offensive Line Issues
Up until the Apple Cup, Washington State ranked first in the FBS in Sack Rate, per footballoutsiders. Their 2.1-percent Sack Rate was phenomenal. Keeping Anthony Gordon upright was standard procedure. Just 13 sacks on 585 attempts. Their line was top-notch.
However, against the Huskies, they fell apart. Washington consistently pressured Gordon and sacked him five times. In just one game, they accounted for 28-percent of all sacks against WSU this season. Joe Tryon, Edeguan Ulofoshio and Ryan Bowman took Gordon down for negative-45 yards and a forced fumble on their five sacks.
Even more impressive, they delivered back-to-back sacks on the Cougars fourth drive. After starting out leading 7-0 and playing with a lead, Gordon’s fourth drive was a nightmare. Down 10-14, sacked twice in a row and throwing from his own end zone on 3rd-and-27. The Huskies manhandled WSU’s line time and time again.
Even after a poor Apple Cup showing, Anthony Gordon still leads the FBS in passing yards (5,228) and touchdowns (45). In fact, his 5,228 passing yards is almost 1,000 yards better than Joe Burrow’s second-ranked 4,366 yards. Yet, against UW, he couldn’t get anything going after their opening drive.
Call it preparation, home-field advantage or the Chris Petersen edge. Whatever it is, the Cougars consistently fail in the Apple Cup. In Peterson’s own words. the Cougars “run the same offense every week.” Because of this, preparation was simple and all the Huskies needed to do was execute their game-plan.
In their game plan, they often dropped eight into coverage and only rushed three. UW’s secondary gave up nothing deep and forced Gordon to check passes down. It was a rare occasion to see even an attempt, let alone a reception downfield. Instead, Max Borghi led the team with 12 receptions. Then, when Gordon actually tried to make something happen, he threw into a sea of defenders.
Offensively, the Cougars came into the Apple Cup with all the counting stats. But, UW matched up in perfection. They covered downfield, gave their defensive line time to get to Gordon, forced everything short and kept Gordon fearful of taking shots.
Jacob Eason Let’s it Fly in the Apple Cup
Unlike Anthony Gordon, Jacob Eason and the Huskies were willing to take chances downfield. And it paid off in spectacular fashion.
Though Jacob Eason started off the game with a sack, a deep incompletion and a three-and-out, he kept his gunslinger attitude. He took advantage of Terrell Bynum’s speed and hit him for 57-yards on their first touchdown drive.
More importantly, Eason and the Huskies maintained their confidence, even with more issues. Remember that Eason started off the game with a three-and-out, missing on a deep shot. Then, in the second quarter, he overthrew a wide-open Hunter Bryant and was then bailed out on a deep overthrow because of a penalty. Aside from his earlier 57-yard connection with Bynum, it appeared that Eason’s inaccuracy was hurting the Huskies. But, they continued to put faith in Eason and their receivers.
Again and again, it paid dividends. While the Cougars lacked downfield threats or ability, the Huskies took advantage of their Apple Cup matchup. Not only that, but UW finally utilized their talent properly. Hunter Bryant led the team in receptions and yards, which completely makes sense given his talent.
But, unlike prior games where Aaron Fuller and Chico McClatcher took up targets and space, sophomores Terrell Bynum and Cade Otton got involved. Their combined 6 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown were huge. They made play after play, getting first downs, yards after the catch, or making difficult catches.
The Huskies Won the Apple Cup by Sticking with Their Gunslinger
It took Anthony Gordon 62 attempts to reach 308 passing yards. On the opposite sideline, Eason threw just 22 times, but compiled 244 yards and led his team to four touchdowns. The Huskies leaned into Eason’s gunslinging style and schemed up ways to get his receivers one-on-one matchups downfield. Even though Eason missed some throws and Bryant and Bynum dropped passes, they stuck with it.
Unlike this, the Cougars collapsed and failed to adjust. Gordon was afraid to throw it deep and continued to dump it off to his safety valves. His passes routinely traveled to the short-middle or the flats.
If Mike Leach ever wants to win an Apple Cup, he needs to make adjustments and have a backup plan. It was clear that he didn’t have that on Friday.
It was assumed that the UW offense would solve their problems with a bye-week. Well, even with the extra week of preparation, Washington flopped. With their fifth loss of the season, the Huskies displayed both poor scheme and execution. This is the Washington Huskies downfall in 2019.
First Half Washington Huskies Woes
In the first half, the Huskies couldn’t sustain or finish drives. Even with six drives in the first half, they couldn’t score a single point.
3 plays, 2 yards, Punt
13 plays, 64 yards, Interception
3 plays, 0 yards, Punt
3 plays, -13 yards, Punt
3 plays, 8 yards, Punt
7 plays, 25 yards, Punt
Six drives, five punts, one interception and zero points. Just awful. Also, ignoring the 64-yard drive, UW attempted just 19 plays for 22 yards. How on Earth can the Huskies expect with offensive performances like this?
Subscribe to the Best Pac-12 Podcast
Eason’s poor showing
For UW fans, this season seems like a Jekyll-Hyde tale. Eason fluctuates from brilliant to ineffective week to week. It’s absurd.
Against Colorado, he completed just 21 of 34 attempts for 206 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His ESPN QBR was a measly 39.9. Colorado got in his face, hurrying him four times and sacking him five times. It was clear that he was under duress. But, worst of all, Eason led just two scoring drives. On 10 offensive drives, Eason and the Huskies scored two touchdowns.
Game on the line. Down by six. UW and Eason had two more drives to attempt to take the lead. But, they came away with nothing. Eason and company proved this season that they can’t finish games.
No room to run
On 25 attempts, Richard Newton and Salvon Ahmed combined for 61 yards and one touchdown. That’s just 2.44 yards-per-attempt. Moreover, the Huskies couldn’t run anywhere on first down. On first down, they had runs of: 1, 3, -2, 0, -2, 0, -1, 1, -2, 0 and 4 yards. On the other sideline, Colorado had 207 rushing yards off of 41 attempts. This massive difference displays the Huskies offensive line troubles.
Huskies Second Down Predictability
Oh my goodness. It is unbelievable how predictable UW is on second down. Here is their second down playcalling:
After a first down rush: pass 73-percent of the time
Following a first down pass: rush 73-percent of the time
So, there was a 73-percent chance that the Huskies would apply a balanced (pass-run or run-pass) first and second down approach.
Come on UW. This is Pac-12 football. Leave that predictability to high schools.
UW disappointing season continues
Honestly, UW had the perfect arrangement for the end of the season. They were set up to finish the 2019 season in spectacular fashion. With wins against Colorado and WSU, along with a Bowl game, UW fans would leave happy. Albeit, disappointed from missed expectations, but still left on a good note.
But, as is tradition this year, the Huskies let everyone down again. Now, Husky fans are in chaos-mode. If UW loses against WSU in the Apple Cup, they’ll be demanding a shake-up. Everyone will be on the hot-seat. Coaches will get fired.