Best Offensive Performances from Pac-12 Football Week 6

What a Week for Pac-12 Football!

Pac-12 Conference states

It was another week of chaos for Pac-12 football. No other conference does it better. Unlike the rest, the Pac-12 conference rankings rotate like a Game of Thrones season. Every week brings unexpected wins, losses, winners, and losers.

Pac-12 Football’s Best Offensive Performances

With week 6 set and in the periphery, the best offensive performances clearly stand out.

Best Quarterback Performance

Khalil Tate – Arizona

If any Pac-12 football fans doubted Tate’s arm-strength prior to this game, his 75-yard touchdown shred those doubts. Tate, against a competitive Colorado team, was exceptional. He went 31 for 41 with three touchdowns and just one interception. In addition to that 75-yard bomb, Tate showed strength, touch, and precision. Unlike UW’s consolidated target share, Tate completed passes to 11 different receivers. Of those, five receivers had at least three receptions. Khalil Tate was a top-notch quarterback against Colorado.

Additionally, he displayed his dual-threat capability. On third and six, with just 57 seconds left, Tate ended the game with his legs. He rushed for 7 yards, a first down, and the win. Well done Khalil Tate.

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Best Running Back Performance

Cameron Scarlett – Stanford

Against the 15th-ranked Washington football team, Cameron Scarlett was productive and consistent. He carried the ball 33 times for 151 yards and one touchdown and upset the ranked, Pac-12 football opponent. Additionally, he caught two receptions for 32 yards. It was a good night for the senior back.

But most importantly, Scarlett was a closer. In the fourth quarter, without quarterback Davis Mills, Stanford elected to run the ball. Repeatedly. Other than when Ryan Bowman sacked Jack West, Scarlett rushed every offensive play of Stanford’s final two drives. 12 rushes on 13 plays. Those two drives took up nearly eight minutes of possession. Additionally, they resulted in a field goal (10-point lead) and a punt, placed at the Washington 17 with 54 seconds left. Scarlett closed that game for Stanford.

Best Wide Receiver Performance

Tony Brown – Colorado

Even though Colorado lost, Tony Brown can’t be blamed. He was, yet again, Colorado’s best player. He secured all 10 targets for 141 yards. 10 targets and 10 receptions. If only the Huskies had those hands.

On top of that, Tony Brown took an end-around for a 15-yard touchdown. He followed blocks, eluded defenders, stiff-armed a would-be-tackler, and earned that touchdown. His talent is becoming more and more apparent. He’s one of the best Pac-12 football receivers out there and is displaying versatility and reliability.

Best Tight End Performance

Jacob Breeland – Oregon

Against Cal, Jacob Breeland was Justin Herbert’s favorite target. 5 receptions for 87 yards. Most don’t expect to see a tight end lead his team in receptions and yards. Especially not with 17.4 yards-per-reception. But Breeland is a different type of beast for the Pac-12 football conference.

On the season, Jacob Breeland leads Oregon in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and is tied with Johnny Johnson III for most receptions. He is able to secure first downs easily. But, he also can take it to the house on a seam-route. Jacob Breeland is incredible.

Disagree with the Best Pac-12 football players list?

If you disagree with this list, send in your own recommendations. Each week, Unafraidshow will rank the best quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end performances from Pac-12 football. Be sure to comment, tweet Unafraidshow, or email us immad@unafraidshow.com with your favorite moments of each Pac-12 football week.

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 4 Top Performances

Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 Players: Week 4

Another great NFL week is over. Week 4 is in the books and there are plenty of excellent Pac-12 NFL performances. Here are the best, broken down by college.

Arizona

Reggie Gilbert – Tennessee Titans

Reggie Gilbert

After making his first appearance on Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 NFL Players list in Week 3, Reggie Gilbert improved. In his Week 3 performance, he managed to make the most of eight snaps. It clearly impressed coaches because he logged 48 (60-percent) snaps in Week 4

Against Atlanta, Gilbert was an impactful force on defense. His ability to make open field tackles and pressure the quarterback was needed. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t get much going against the Titans.

Arizona State

Terrell Suggs – Arizona Cardinals

Timeless.

At 36 (soon to be 37), he’s still making big moves. Against the Seahawks, Suggs displayed power and presence. Yet again, he was able to make big plays. His best play of the night was his strip-sack of Russell Wilson. 

On the day, Suggs totaled 8 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hit and 1 forced fumble. Brushing off his advancing age, Suggs put in another quality performance. Games like this remind us that he will always be one of the best Pac-12 NFL players to ever play.

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Cal

Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

For the first time this season, Aaron Rodgers surpassed 300 yards. In fact, he passed for 422 yards and 2 touchdowns. Rodgers also added 46 rushing yards, showing he’s still got athleticism. 

But, more important, Rodgers came through in the clutch. Down 27 to 34, he led his team to the opposing three-yard line. With just 28 seconds left. It was another classic Rodgers performance. 

However, Rodgers threw his first interception of the season. It was a heartbreaking throw, reminiscent to Russell Wilson’s interception in Super Bowl XLIX. Nonetheless, Rodgers showed us that he still should be regarded as one of the better Pac-12 NFL players.

Colorado

Chidobe Awuzie – Dallas Cowboys

In a tight game against the Saints, Chidobe Awuzie played well. In addition to 6 tackles and defending a pass, Awuzie got his first interception of the season. And it was a beaut!

More than just the plays, Awuzie has an incredible attitude.

On how he expects Cowboys to respond to first loss: “There’s only one way. That’s the name of the game right there. Adversity, we’ve all been through it in this league and in our lives. I think we know what type of men we are in this room.”

Chidobe Awuzie

Oregon

Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota is one of the more controversial picks on this Pac-12 NFL players list. Particularly because he’s been up and down this season.

Though Mariota has been inconsistent this season, he played quite well against the Atlanta Falcons. Many criticize Mariota for having a game-manger, safe-quarterback attitude. But, he showed Sunday that he can still make plays and carry a team.

On the season, Mariota has 933 passing yards, 7 passing touchdowns, 7 passing touchdowns and 112 yards. If he is able to maintain this pace, he will end the season with 

  • 28 touchdowns
  • 3,712 passing yards
  • Zero interceptions
  • 448 rushing yards

Here’s to hoping he can finish similar to this stat-line.

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

Keep Jordan Poyer on the best Pac-12 NFL players list! He continues to play well for the Buffalo Bills. Most recently, against the formidable New England Patriots, Poyer and the Bills made it a game. Poyer swung in for some key tackles, big hits and even forced a fumble.

And while he may disagree with the officiating, we can all agree that his play is exceptional.

Stanford

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

  • 27 Carries
  • 93 Rushing Yards
  • 1 Rushing Touchdown
  • 10 Targets
  • 10 Receptions
  • 86 Receiving Yards

Honestly, it’s impossible for football fans to not like Christian McCaffrey. He continues to be the best dual-threat running back in the NFL. It’s also in his range of outcomes to reach 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. He would join Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk in glory.

Bottom line, tune in to watch Christian McCaffrey every game.

UCLA

Eric Kendricks – Minnesota Vikings

In their loss to the Chicago Bears, Eric Kendricks was all over the field for the Minnesota Vikings. He led the team with 12 combined tackles. For the few Vikings fans that are still watching, Kendricks is a bright spot in a dark chasm. He is a Pro-Bowl-caliber linebacker and needs to be recognized.

USC

Everson Griffen – Minnesota Vikings

No, this isn’t a Minnesota Vikings fan page. But, Unafraidshow still has to give props when they are due for our favorite Pac-12 NFL players. Everson Griffen is a baller. In each game this season, he’s hit the opposing quarterback at least once. Among NFL players, he’s one of 11 players with at least 8 quarterback hits.

Against Mitchell Trubisky, he managed to pressure him consistently and hit him twice. No, they didn’t get the win. But, Griffen still managed to put in a solid outing for Week 4.

Utah

Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

For Utah, Marcus Williams is playing at a near-elite level. Per Pro-Football-Focus, Williams has an overall grade of 89.3. 2019 is his season. He’s yet another defensive Pac-12 NFL player on our list.

Not only did Williams seal the victory for the New Orlean Saints, but he played every defensive snap for the Saints. He was incredible against the Cowboys.

Lattimore may be disappointing Saints fans this year, but Marcus Williams shouldn’t.

Washington

Kevin King – Green Bay Packers

Should Kevin King have been on Unafraidshow’s Week 3 best Pac-12 NFL Players list? Certainly not. The Denver Broncos picked on his inconsistency.

But, even though Kevin King has been inconsistent for the Green Bay Packers this season, he shut Alshon Jeffrey down in Week 4. King was the Packers highest-graded PFF defender.

Unfortunately for the Packers, King went down with a groin injury. Along with Davante Adams’ injury, the Packers lost key contributors in their loss to the Eagles. However, if he can come back quickly, King can add to an impressive secondary.

Washington State University

Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

Can we, in our Pac-12 loving hearts, ever take Gardner Minshew off this list? Jock-Strap King (per Leonard Fournette), is playing out of his mind right now.

In four games (just three starts), Minshew has 905 yards, 7 touchdowns, and just 1 interception. Additionally, his pocket-movement is beautiful. How can anyone go against the mustache at this point?

Missed the Best Pac-12 NFL Players List from Week 3?

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https://unafraidshow.com/the-best-pac-12-nfl-players-week-3-top-performers/

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: Week 3 Top Performers

Saints vs Seahawks 2019

Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 Players: Week 3

Another great NFL week is over. Week 3 is in the books and there are plenty of excellent Pac-12 NFL performances. Here are the best, broken down by college.

Arizona

Reggie Gilbert – Tennessee Titans

Finally! We can take Will Parks off this list. Granted, it’s still a stretch to name Reggie Gilbert a top performer. He only got eight defensive snaps in Week 3. But, the Arizona list of Pac-12 NFL players is quite small.

It’s important to put his eight snaps in context. This was Gilbert’s first active game for the Titans. Also, in just 8 snaps, Gilbert managed to make two solo tackles. Not a bad debut.

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy – New England Patriots

Everyone saw it coming, but the New England Patriots still put in a solid performance against the New York Jets. Part of that win was Lawrence Guy. Guy continued to block the gaps, make tackles and take on double teams. He made Le’Veon Bell bounce the ball outside and didn’t let the offensive line get any push.

Cal

Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers

Against the Houston Texans, Keenan Allen had himself a game! 

  • 17 Targets
  • 13 Receptions
  • 183 Receiving Yards
  • 2 Touchdowns

Allen did everything possible to secure a win for his team. And even though the LA Chargers los the game, Allen had the best performance of his career. 183 yards was also a career best. The Cal product shed his injury-tag last season and continue to be one of the best Pac-12 NFL players.

Colorado

Ahkello Witherspoon – San Francisco 49ers

Yet again, Ahkello Witherspoon kept doing his thing. He made it quite difficult for Mason Crosby.

Unfortunately for fans of the 49ers or defense, Ahkello Witherspoon is likely to miss a month. That’s a massive hit for the 49ers. Through three games, Witherspoon only allowed 13 targets, 5 receptions and 57 yards. His Passer Rating Allowed is only 32.9 (No. 5). Most of all, his plus-114.2 Coverage Rating is the league-best.

Witherspoon is the most important piece of the 49ers defense (or team) right now. Missing him is a big deal.

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Oregon

DeForest Buckner – San Francisco 49ers

While his teammate and fellow Oregon-alum Arik Armstead was a top Pac-12 NFL player last week, DeForest Buckner got the glory in Week 4. He made defensive play after defensive play in a tight win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Buckner led his team with 8 tackles and also added a quarterback hit, a forced fumble and a clutch fumble recovery. 

Oregon State

Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills

As good as Steven Nelson played in Week 3, Jordan Poyer gets to sit above him on the best Pac-12 NFL players list once more. He’s just too dominant to leave out.

Against the Cincinnati Bengals, he racked up 11 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. It was an unbelievable game for him. Poyer is a big reason why the Bills continue to win.

Stanford

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

  • 24 Carries
  • 153 Rushing Yards
  • 1 Rushing Touchdown
  • 4 Targets
  • 3 Receptions
  • 35 Receiving Yards

Stanford fans! Look away from the college games and pay attention to Christian McCaffrey instead. His elite, NFL career continues to shine a bright spotlight on the Stanford name. Ignore the Stanford program freefall and watch the rise of Christian McCaffrey. He’s one of the greatest Pac-12 NFL players to step onto the field.

UCLA

Kenny Clark – Green Bay Packers

Let’s keep Kenny Clark on the list. He’s one of the better Pac-12 NFL players and the best nose-tackle to come out of the Pac-12 in years. Against NFL centers, he continues to be a mismatch.

Clark is too strong and continues to overpower offensive linemen. Interior pressure is a huge advantage in NFL games. Clark brings that.

USC

Tyron Smith – Dallas Cowboys

This will be obvious. But, the Dallas Cowboys obliterated the Miami Dolphins. The tanking Dolphins were no match for the Cowboys. Nonetheless, Tyron Smith showed well and displayed why he’s an NFL great. 

Against Miami, the Cowboys racked up 235 rushing yards on 34 carries. It was a piece of cake for the stellar offensive line. Leading the way, as usual, was Tyron Smith. It’s been another good year for him. On 206 snaps this season, he’s allowed zero sacks and only has one penalty.

Utah

Marcus Williams – New Orleans Saints

Not only is Marcus Williams getting his second spot on Unafraidshow’s Best Pac-12 NFL Players list, but he was the Saints best defender in Week 3. On 83 defensive snaps. Wow. Marcus Williams glued himself to the field and helped the New Orleans Saints beat the Seattle Seahawks. Even though they had Teddy Bridgewater as their quarterback, the Saints made too many plays.

In the secondary, Williams continues to cover well and make tackles. It’s turning out to be a career year for Williams and he’s making a name for himself. 

Washington

Vita Vea – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Although the Giants ultimately won the game, due to Daniel Jones’ heroics, Vita Vea played well. On just 65% of defensive snaps, he consistently gave the Giants offensive line trouble. In addition to accidentally stepping on Daniel Jones’ helmet, he totaled two quarterback hits.

After getting hit twice from the 350-pound Vea, Jones must be feeling it.

Washington State University

Gardner Minshew – Jacksonville Jaguars

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Gardner Minshew, better start now. Minshew must be in all Pac-12 hearts.

Against Tennessee in Week 3, Minshew put in a stellar game for his first NFL win. Buy in now to the Minshew hype because he’s going to be one of the great Pac-12 NFL players from WSU. 

Missed the Best Pac-12 NFL Players List from Week 1?

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Utah vs USC on a Friday Night is Another Pac-12 Conference Bad Idea

Pac-12 9am games Larry Scott Commissioner

Utah vs USC Starts at 9:00pm EST

Utah Utes logo

Sitting at No.10 overall, Utah eyes its first college football playoff birth. It’s a great time to be a Utah fan. Their upcoming matchup is the Pac-12 South game of the year. Utah vs USC. No. 10 Utes vs the now-competitive Trojans. If Utah continues to win, they’ll surely rise up the ranks. But, Pac-12 scheduling set this game for Friday night. Will this night game hurt their national exposure? In a line of poor ideas and bad commissioning from Larry Scott, Utah’s late matchup harms both Utah and the Pac-12. The conference outsources it’s scheduling to a company in Colorado. Then the Pac-12 brass, school presidents, and athletic directors approve it.

The Problem with Night Games

Keep in mind, night games are not inherently a problem. Especially for east coast teams and viewers. But, on a Friday night, Pac-12 games can be extremely bothersome. For example, the Utah vs USC game starts at 6:00pm on the west coast. That’s not too bad. For those who get off work at 5:00, they can make it home by the first whistle.

However, that same time is 9:00pm for east coast viewers. It’s not rocket science to figure out why that is a bad idea. Because college football games last an average of 3 1/2 hours, they have to stay up past midnight to see how it ends. 12:30am, at the end of a workweek, to watch a Pac-12 rivalry game. Honestly, how many non-conference fans would commit to that for Pac-12 games? It undermines national exposure for the Pac-12 conference.

Even Chris Peterson agrees with this sentiment.

“It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it,”

Chris Petersen, 2017

Late games just get less eyes. From fans, from scouts and from the press. For a contending team like Utah, they need all the eyes they can get. But, because of Larry Scott and his ideas, he’s holding back the Pac-12. Again.

We Discuss the Friday Night games more on Pac-12 Apostles Podcast

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Why Does Larry Scott Want Late Games?

“The reason we play almost a third of our games at night is that was a way to unlock significant value from television in our last negations,” Scott said. “ESPN and Fox placed a high value on us giving them a little more flexibility and being willing to play more night games.”

Larry Scott

“We essentially extend their day,” Scott said. “We give them a whole other window of high-quality, highly rated games. … Playing more night games than we did in the past unlocked the kind of value our schools were looking for.”

Larry Scott

To Larry Scott, the exclusivity of the late-night games are worth the pain. With more flexibility to play later, he claims to obtain “high value”. However, perhaps it is just a complete lack of leverage. Recall that Larry Scott deliberately put a wedge between major networks and the Pac-12. Betting on the Pac-12 Network to hit it big didn’t happen. Because every other power five conference has contracts with these networks, it leaves the Pac-12 to pick up the scraps. So, instead of putting the lower-ranked teams in the Friday night lights, Larry Scott and the Pac-12 schedulers put Utah.

For goodness sake, the Utah vs USC game deserves to get national exposure. The Utes deserve that. Does anyone think Roll Tide fans would stand for this? Of course not. If Larry Scott wants a Pac-12 program to make it to the college playoffs, he has to put steps in place for them to get there. Playing on Saturday, during the day, when everyone can view them, is best practice. But, then again, it’s unclear if Larry Scott actually knows what’s best for the Pac-12.

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players: The Preseason Edition

The Best Pac-12 NFL Players by Team

Pac-12 Conference states

We know the ten Pac-12 players that could be first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. But, who are the best Pac-12 NFL players already in the league? Our list below compiled the best talent, on offense or defense, from each Pac-12 school.

Arizona

Nick Foles

Although he’s a few years removed from his Cinderella story Super Bowl run, Nick Foles is still a good quarterback. Though his play oscillates dramatically at times, he still has a ceiling fit for a championship ring. At the top of his game, he is up there with the elite quarterbacks.

With a solid defense around him in Jacksonville, Foles doesn’t have to revert back to his old Rams days. Instead, he can manage the game and come up with big plays when it’s clutch time. Foles has played well in playoffs in recent years. The Jaguars haven’t. That’s why they need Foles and its why he made our best Pac-12 NFL players list.

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy

Obviously a Super Bowl Ring helps illuminate players like Lawrence Guy. Nonetheless, his 2018 play is deserves a highlight. Guy made 30 defensive stops against the run last season. His run-stopping ability helped hold the Los Angeles Rams to just 62 yards rushing. 

But, he’s more than just a run-stopping big man. Guy was one of 11 interior defenders with 30-plus run stops and 20-plus pressures. In fact, he racked up four quarterback hurries in the Super Bowl, disrupting Jared Goff again and again. When an Arizona State player comes up big in the Super Bowl, he lands himself square on the best Pac-12 NFL players list.
No, Guy isn’t going to flash and dazzle like Aaron Donald, Von Miller or Fletcher Cox. But, as an interior defender, he’s brilliant and sound. It’s no wonder he posted an elite PFF grade of 91.1.

Cal

Cameron Jordan

Shocking as it may be, Cameron Jordan takes this spot from Aaron Rodgers. While many can argue against this, Jordan is currently performing better. Honestly, Cameron Jordan could be one of the best Pac-12 NFL players of all time when he’s done. First off, Jordan is extremely consistent. In his nine seasons in the NFL, he’s played every game. Get that. 128 straight games. He’s a machine.

Moreover, in those seasons he’s been a steady source of disruption. He’s totaled 409 tackles (98 for a loss), 143 quarterback hits, 71.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 9 fumble recoveries. In his last three seasons, he’s earned a PFF grade of 90.0-plus. For that reason, PFF ranked him 16th on their 2018 Top 101 and 16th in for their 2019 rankings. Additionally, Cameron Jordan is a top-5 edge in run-defense and pass-rushing ability. His 66 pressures in 2018 show that he continues to be a nightmare for quarterbacks. He’s reliable, well-rounded and elite. Offenses beware.

Colorado

David Bakhtiari

Other than Aaron Rodgers, the next best player on the Green Bay Packers in David Bakhtiari. Bakhtiari is a staple of consistent, elite, pass protection. And in Green Bay, pass protection is gold.

In three straight seasons, Bakhtiari leads all offensive tackles in PFF’s pass-blocking grade. He’s earned pass-blocking grades of 93.0-plus in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He’s not only one of the best Pac-12 NFL players, he’s one of the best in the whole league. Per PFF, he is their highest-ranked offensive lineman for the 2019 PFF50. In 691 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, Bakhtiari only allowed 25 pressures. Of those, 18 were hurries, 3 were hits and only 4 were sacks. He protects his quarterback. 

Oregon

DeForest Buckner

At 6-foot-7, 291lbs with 84th-percentile arm length, DeForest Buckner is a large man. Combing that with a 112.4 (84th-percentile) Burst Score and an 11.98 (77th-percentile) Agility Score, Buckner is a difficult defended to stop. The defensive lineman performed quite well in back to back seasons. In 2018, Buckner totaled was tied for 14th in sacks and 10th in tackles for a loss. Also, Buckner added 53 pressures, 37 defensive stops and even 3 passes defended. Most of all, Buckner did all of this on a 4-12 San Francisco 49ers team. In 2019, he’ll hopefully have more opportunities to win.  

2019 should be a big year for Buckner and he can set himself apart from even the best Pac-12 NFL players. While not elite just yet, he’s entering his fourth season and has steadily risen. With Nick Bosa joining the pressure, Buckner has the chance to face easier blocking and schemes for his production. With more favorable opportunities, Buckner should wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks this season.

Oregon State

Brandin Cooks

Each of the last four seasons, on three separate teams, Brandin Cooks topped 1,000 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s a remarkable talent, gifted with raw athleticism. Athletically, Cooks is known best for his blazing 4.33 (99th-percentile) 40-Yard Dash speed and equally impressive 10.57 (99th-percentile) Agility Score. His raw speed and agility made him one of the best Pac-12 NFL players in the 2014 NFL draft. But more than that, Cooks has ball skills. Even in the deep quadrants of the football field, he posted a 87-percent (No. 25) True Catch Rate. Imagine what his catch rate would be closer to the line of scrimmage. 

But putting him closer isn’t optimal. Because no matter the opponent, Cooks is a threat to take the top of the defense. Because of this, he’s well-respected by opposing defenses. This allows his teammates to operate with greater success. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Jared Goff owe a lot to Cooks and his powerful skill-set. 

Stanford

Christian McCaffrey

With the NFL evolving into a league that places more and more importance into pass-catching running backs, Christian McCaffrey emerged in 2018. He caught an otherwordly 107 passes for 867 yards, leading all backs in both categories. Additionally, he rushed for 1098 yards and tallied 13 total touchdowns. McCaffrey was electric in 2018.

Beyond the typical counting stats, McCaffrey had 57 Evaded Tackles, an 86.3-percent Catch Rate (No. 2), and only dropped 3 passes. His 2.4-percent Drop Rate was second-best for running backs in 2018. Also, per PFF, his receiving grade of 89.3 ranked first in the NFL of running backs with at least 60 targets. He makes his case to be on the best Pac-12 NFL players of all times list if he keeps this production. All in all, Christian McCaffrey is the most elite pass-catching back in the league and is primed to do so for years to come.

UCLA

Kenny Clark

In year three, Kenny Clark broke out in a big way. He’s currently one of the best defensive interiors in the NFL. Clark earned the No. 43 spot on PFF’s 2018 Top 101 and spot 37 on the 2019 PFF50. As a sophomore and a junior in the NFL, Clark was an excellent rush defender. Clark’s 9.9 run-stop percentage ranked 16th-best in run-stop percentage at the position. 

But, Clark’s pass-rushing growth is what made the biggest difference. Clark went from earning pass-rushing grades below 70 in his first two seasons to an amazing 88.8 in 2018. Clark ranked 11th in pass-rush win percentage and ninth in total pressure percentage. His year three proved he can win in all facets of the game and put himself square on our best Pac-12 NFL players list.

USC

JuJu Smith-Schuster

At just 22 years of age, JuJu Smith-Schuster battled (and arguably won) Antonio Brown for the top spot in the Pittsburg Steelers offense. His 22-year-old season included:

  • 111 Receptions (5th for wide receivers)
  • 1426 Receiving Yards (5th for wide receivers)
  • 587 Yards After the Catch (1st for wide receivers)
  • 7 Touchdowns (13th for wide receivers)
  • 839 Air Yards (10th for wide receivers)
  • 16 Redzone Receptions (2nd for wide receivers)

He’s so young. And abundantly talented. He’s already climbed above even the best Pac-12 NFL players. Smith-Schuster, now operating in an offense sans-Antonio Brown, now has his chance to truly shine as the number one. His elite career is just beginning.

Utah

Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle is entering his 13th year in the league. This veteran safety has been one of the best Pac-12 NFL players for a while. He’s 34-years-old, but that didn’t stop the Los Angeles Rams from signing him to a two-year, $10.5 million contract. Despite his age, Weddle continues to play at a high level. 

Joining John Johnson, the Rams duo make for an elite safety tandem. The Rams secondary just got stingier. Though Weddle turned down larger offers from other teams, his eyes are set on the Super Bowl. Signing with the Rams is his best shot at that. Weddle is still a strong contributor and will add value to the Rams. Joining John Johnson, the Rams duo make for an elite safety tandem. The Rams secondary just got stingier. 

Washington

Desmond Trufant

Though Desmond Trufant is no Jaylen Ramsey, he’s certainly a good cornerback. Washington Huskies fans certainly remember why he’s one of the best Pac-12 NFL players around. Even with the Atlanta Falcons defense struggling last season, Trufant remained solid. He led his team with 12 passes defended and made a plethora of veteran plays. Moreover, Trufant was exceptional in deep coverage. Among 59 qualifying cornerbacks by PFF, Trufant ranked 9th in deep target coverage. On 12 targets 20-plus yards down the field, he allowed just 2 receptions. Of those 12 targets, he forced an incompletion on 25-percent of them. He made it difficult to go deep against him.

Overall, Trufant remains an above-average cornerback. He is one of three cornerbacks that have “allowed less than a yard per coverage snap for four consecutive seasons.” In his six seasons, he’s had a PFF grade above 70. No, he’s not elite. But he certainly is great.

Washington State

Joe Dahl

For the Detroit Lions, Joe Dahl gets his shots with versatility and availability. A converted left-tackle, Dahl played both guard spots, center and even fullback for the Lions. An injury here or there, and Dahl would slide into the five-man O-line.  Yes, it’s surprising for a spot-starting lineman to make it on the best Pac-12 NFL players list. But, he’s played well in his starts and has a promising future.

While Dahl hasn’t impressed enough to be a consistent starter yet, this year is his shot. 

“I think he’s really transformed his body over the last year,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said on Thursday. “He just looks bigger and stronger. He moves better.”

Matt Patricia

Dahl is vying for the starting left guard position for the Lions. With Matt Patricia’s (projected) run-heavy scheme in 2019, Dahl’s guard position is incredibly important. The WSU product needs to build chemistry with the other offensive lineman and cement his place in the starting five.

What is the New NCAA Independent Investigation Unit

NCAA Announces New Independent Investigation Unit

The NCAA has formed an independent investigation unit to oversee “complex cases.” Only a school representative, NCAA enforcement staff, or member of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions can bring a case under the new investigation process. What is the unit’s purpose and how does it plan to effect change?

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process

The unit is broken up into four committees:

Independent Accountability Oversight Committee: oversees the entire investigation process, appoints members to the other three committees, and develops policies and procedures to ensure fairness and impartiality. 

Infractions Referral Committee: reviews and confirms requests for complex cases.

NCAA investigation unit
Credit: NCAA

Complex Case Unit: carries out factual investigations regarding approved complex cases and guides the case through the review process. The Complex Case Unit is made of independent investigators and advocates with no school or conference affiliations and various NCAA enforcement staff.

Independent Resolutions Panel: reviews Complex Case Unit findings and the school’s response, oversees case hearings, and determines penalties. This group consists of fifteen members with legal, higher education, and/or sports backgrounds, and who have no affiliation with any NCAA school or conference. A rotating panel of five members hears each case. All decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

Should We Trust the Process?

The Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) was created upon the recommendation of the Condeleeza Rice Commission to fix college basketball. Its main purpose is to defeat perceived conflicts of interest. However, the IAOC is made entirely of NCAA officials who determine the other members of the unit. Furthermore, the NCAA decides what qualifies as a complex case. If the NCAA truly wanted to promote independence, it would have been better served outsourcing the entire process instead of tethering it to its brand.

The IARP also fails to include methods to protect student-athletes. Noticeably, student-athletes have no right to request a hearing. There’s no mention of how mitigating factors or the effects of institutional control may affect an investigation. It appears the “why” and “how” of a situation is irrelevant in analyzing a case. Strict decision-making may be effective to govern administrations, but a number of variables come in to play when teenagers are involved. The IARP fails to take such factors into consideration. 

The IARP is The Same As Current NCAA Policy

The NCAA already has the NCAA Infractions Program. The NIP was designed to “uphold integrity and fair play among the NCAA membership, and to prescribe appropriate and fair penalties if violations occur.” Like the IARP, the Infractions Program requires decisions to be made by a panel of independent arbiters. Specifically, Section 19.3.4 of the NCAA Division I Manual states:

No member of a hearing panel shall participate in a case if he or she is directly connected with an institution under investigation or if he or she has a personal, professional or institutional affiliation that may create the appearance of partiality. It is the responsibility of the panel member to remove himself or herself if a conflict exists. Objections to the participation of a panel member in a particular case should be raised as soon as recognized but will not be considered unless raised at least one week in advance of the panel’s review of the case. Objections will be decided by the committee chair.

One of the unit’s first cases may be the investigation of corruption in college basketball. But it’s odd that the NCAA would create a new committee just for this purpose. What more is there to learn from this subject outside what the federal cases already provided? 

The NCAA Independent Investigation Unit is the latest in a string of new committees put in place to advance the administration. In May, the NCAA formed the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group. The purpose was to analyze proposed federal and state legislation focused on student-athletes receiving benefits based on the use of their name, image, and likeness. The thought was this group would bring the NCAA into the 21st century. Instead, the NCAA has spent the past months challenging California legislation and threatening schools.

Will the NCAA Independent Investigation Unit Work?

Until more transparency is provided, the IARP appears simply another measure meant to provide hope that will ultimately fail to make a significant impact on the landscape of college sports.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram.

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Brooklyn’s Finest: Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving Sign With The Nets

Kyrie Irving Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets NBA

Brooklyn, stand up. You just pulled off the heist of the summer. Kevin Durant was expected to take meetings throughout the next couple of days and then make a decision on his next NBA team. That didn’t happen. On his sports business network, The Boardroom, Durant announced that he would be signing with the Brooklyn Nets on the first day of NBA Free Agency.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzWZV18lRxx/

For Nets fans, it gets better. Kyrie Irving is also signing with the Nets.

Brooklyn did the damn thing. Knicks, who? Six years ago, the Nets made arguably the worst trade in NBA history when they traded an abundance of players and 1st round picks for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. In six years, the Nets were able to erase their mistake and build a franchise that is set to make a run at a championship in the next few years. Sean Marks, the GM of the Nets, should have a statue of himself outside the Barclays Center.

Although many teams and fans (myself included) prefer their teams to tank, Brooklyn did the complete opposite. The Nets hired a coach, Kenny Atkinson, who was capable of building young talent and inspiring players to reach their full potential. The Nets took a chance on D’Angelo Russell, who after being run out of LA, showed his true potential by making the All-star game last season. With a young and inexperienced roster, the Nets won over 40 games and made the playoffs.

Now, the Nets signed two superstars that will allow them to take the next step towards a championship. If Kawhi Leonard leaves for Los Angeles, the East will once again be wide open. Milwaukee and Philly would be the favorites, but the Nets and Raptors would not be far off. The Nets should compete for a playoff spot this year with Kyrie and then when KD comes back in 2020, the Nets should be the favorite to make the NBA Finals.

Where Brooklyn at? Well, they’re going to be at the top of the Eastern Conference and maybe the entire NBA in a few seasons. Better days are ahead for the Brooklyn Nets.

MLB Minor Leaguer Bunted and Made Soft Baseball ‘Purist’ Mad.

MLB minor league baseball bunt break up no hitter

Let me start off by saying, I love the game of baseball. I appreciate how difficult pitching and hitting at a high level is in the MLB. Baseball “purist” who cite “unwritten rules” are the softest and most easily triggered sports fans. They get fighting mad over bat flips, celebrations, and bunting to get on base in a no-hitter. The purist claim that these things ruin the game of baseball. They claim violations of the unwritten rules should be met with fastballs to the head or clubhouse discipline. I could not disagree more. There is nothing tough or hard-nosed about hitting a defenseless batter.

The latest example to send baseball fans into a conniption fit was a minor league game. This play turned into a bench-clearing altercation between the teams. Is there anything more weak than being upset about this? Hartford was up 3-0 in the top of the 9th inning and was 2 outs shy of a combined no-hitter. The Trenton batter bunted for a single.

Why are purist so mad he bunted for a base hit?

  • You play to win the game.
  • They were only down by 3 runs. A good rally can score more than 3 runs in one inning.
  • Nobody goes in the record books for a team combined no-hitter.
  • Bunts are legal. It is not the batter’s job to help you get a no-hitter.

Baseball fans are torn about bunts whether it is breaking up a no-hitter or getting on base against a defensive shift. I am of the Herman Edwards school of sports, “You play to win the game”. If that means bunting to get on base, then that is what everyone should do. I am truly confused why any legal strategy to win would ruffle feathers. It’s time for MLB fans to stop being so soft.

Negotiating the CBA: The Biggest Issues Facing the NFL and NFLPA

CBA: NFL NFLPA Roger Goodell DeMaurice Smith

The above is a far cry from 2017 when NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith declared the likelihood of a strike or lockout of the 2021 NFL Season “almost a virtual certainty.” What’s changed? At the time, one major issue was the league’s position on national anthem protests, which was eventually settled after the NFLPA filed a grievance in 2018. The NFL’s profitability is also motivation for resolution, with yearly revenue approaching nearly $14 Billion per year.

No major issues have surfaced during the groups’ two formal sessions, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell describing the discussions as “direct and open.” But it’s a long way to 2021. Below are some of the biggest issues surrounding extending the current NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement:

Stadium Credits

It’s laughable a group of billionaires believe they are entitled to benefits to finance stadiums. Stadium credits are player-funded allowance, taken from NFL revenue before it is split with the players to alleviate costs associated with construction. Owners used their full amount of credits provided with the 2011 CBA. With the league looking to build new stadiums in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and renovate existing ones in other cities, this topic has developed into a strong negotiation point.

Players receive roughly 47 percent of revenue earned by the league, down from 50 percent due to the last round of negotiations. With stadium credits decreasing the total amount of sharable revenue, the NFLPA must fight to (1) decrease the amount of allocatable stadium credits or (2) increase their revenue share. Otherwise, it will be the players, and not the billionaire owners, left footing the bill.

Marijuana

Credit: The Dan Patrick Show

Last week, the NFL and NFLPA announced the creation of a “Joint Pain Management Committee” to research pain management and alternative therapies. In other words, the NFL is slowly opening the door to players using marijuana as a means to combat injury. On the heels of XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck stating the XFL would “prefer not to test for marijuana,” coupled with the legalization of marijuana in California, Nevada, Colorado, and other states, it only makes sense for the league to modify its stance.

Two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long recently admitted to using marijuana throughout his playing career. The NFL tests for the drug once per year, usually within the first two weeks of training camp. Once passed, players are free to smoke at will. At this point, the NFL’s policy is merely for show, and the next iteration of the CBA should remove punishments for use.

Guaranteed Contracts

Kirk Cousins is the first quarterback in NFL history to sign a fully guaranteed multi-year deal. Notwithstanding, players still struggle to obtain their worth. This is the reason why players such as Russell Okung and Todd Gurley believe a strike is necessary.

Owners of one of the world’s most violent sports should not be able to escape paying fully guaranteed contracts. Why this issue isn’t presently being discussed brings into question the seriousness of the current state of negotiations. NFL careers can end at a moment’s notice. If a structure for greater guarantees is not obtained now, the NFL will continue to kick this bucket down the road.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw