Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Opening Week … Might as well be closing for a few Pac12 teams

   I’ve let everything fester, or ferment, or something long enough. If I wait another day I’ll start making my thoughts about two games for some teams. While much clearer in my mind, it wouldn’t be a fair way to trot out my prescient thoughts. I’d look better but feel worse, maybe. Anyway my conscience says I must plunge ahead with a review of the games last week.

   Starting with the Northern division favorite, which got a whole lot more favoriter, Oregon took on Eastern Washington in a game that would not have been as interesting if the QB for the Ducks hadn’t abandoned Oregon’s first week opponent, Eastern Washington, as a graduate transfer. The Eagles might have challenged with him still there but, on the other hand, he couldn’t have been a lot more successful than the two QB’s  EW still has in hand, who put up monstrous passing numbers. Their running game was less impressive and their defense even less so.

   Meanwhile Oregon ran and passed at will, piling up over 700 yards of offense, mostly via the ground game. Adams (the itinerate QB) threw for a high percentage of completions, a couple of which were TD’s, and ran for just under one hundred yards. He probably ran for at least one too many times, providing an EW defender an opportunity for a cheap shot that took him out of the game which was already well under control

   Oregon hid two facets from their 2nd week opponent, pass defense and punting. Neither did much. The punter might as well have worn flip flops to the game. The defense just flopped.

   USC, the consensus favorite, but not mine, played “Fight On” and probably left a trail of road apples on the sidelines. After 60 minutes of clock time they had a big win over a little team, Arkansas State, at home. I don’t like the Trojans so I’m not got going to write anything good about them, at least this week.

   Arizona State was the apple of a lot of eyes, but they were a small minority in a ‘neutral site’ game in Houston where Texas A&M made apple sauce out of them. The inevitable ‘but it wasn’t really a neutral site’ excuse fell pretty flat as far as I am concerned. Didn’t anyone in Tempe know they would be more than slightly outnumbered in the stands playing a Texas team in Texas.

   That the Sun Devils were out-numbered on the field wasn’t much of a surprise either. They have not demonstrated the ability to stop up-tempo spread type teams in the past, and continued to write that story in game 1. ASU always looks like a strong contender, and then underperforms up through their annual loss to Arizona during the last day of the scheduled season.

   Speaking of Arizona, they have a better scheduler. A decent test with UNLV provided the opportunity for a winning warm-up. They might have picked the best week possible to lose Scooby Wright for a few weeks. He may be the best defender in the conference. If he returns after sitting out, with an injury, a couple of games vs cupcakes, in time for the UCLA game. If not, things could get ugly early in conference play. UCLA is not going to lose many games this year.

Which, of course, segues me right into the Bruins. UCLA returns what could be the most impressive group of returning players south of Eugene. What they might have been missing is a quarterback who could handle the opportunity. It’s hard for a freshman quarterback to step into the starting spot at the Pac-12 level. If last week was an indicator, Josh Rosen just might do it. His composure and skills were all the Westwood faithful could have hoped for, vs a decent opponent. One more week like that and the Bruins will be my new Southern favorite.

   A little farther north the press is always looking for excuses why Stanford is going to eclipse Oregon in the north. Most of the excuses on the field, vs a mediocre Northwestern, were playing for the Indians’ (I will never go PC and call them the Cardinal) version of offense. It was a little more than a run run pass failure, a game plan which the Boilermakers see regularly in the Big-10ish. They evidently overcame their disappointment at not becoming the Boilermaker Union and sent Stanford home to their schoolbooks, which I presume they handle much better than they did the football. Kevin Hogan must have had his mind on the first day of class rather the first football game of the season. Go figure. He’ll probably make a whole lot more money doing something else next year.

   Utah, who most Michiganans designated the opening cupcake, probably due to Big Blue’s usual scheduling pattern, surprised them much more than they did me. After all of the Harbaugh hype, everyone ignored the probability that a team who sunk as far Michigan did is probably in a submarine rather than a battleship. Coach recruited well but has a bit more work to do.

 They’ll have a better idea of how big that job is when they host Oregon State this week, led by a very familiar, very successful coach they faced as he coached Wisconsin last year, and his new Beavers who are in a transition of style, with players not recruited to run the new game plan, The Corvallis crowd did better than expected in their opener. Seth Collins was the other Pac-12 Freshman quarterback who stood like a man in his first college game. Neither team is ready for prime time. Which one will nose ahead this week? I have a premonition they will be wearing Orange and Black, or whatever color Nike hangs on them now that they have joined the new age. The Beavs played a little better defense.

   Something else (well, one of the many somethings else) I don’t have a clear picture of is the California Bears team. They used a good quarterback and an undefinable rest of the team to a steamrolling of Grambling, who has not been a big challenge for quite a few years now. This week they will get some more practice time vs San Diego State, and I still won’t have a good handle on them. When they play Texas after that, I should be able to sound a little more like I know what I am talking about when they are the subject of my babble. Good scheduling, Bears.

   And now to the wait til next year squads.

   A couple of years ago Washington brought over Boise State’s miracle worker, Chris Petersen, but this is not a league peopled by such as the little sisters of the poor. He has well over half of his team with two or less years experience.  That may or may not have been a good plan. During Year 2 of the experiment the Huskies are going to be challenged by all but their next two opponents, at least in theory.

   Opening away, on the Smurf Turf in Boise, very little promise emerged for his offense. His version of a first year quarterback looked more like that deer-in-the-headlights frosh you’d expect. While UW defense kept them in the game, Jake Browning, seemed to have little idea where he was. Recruiting windows close quickly at the Pac-12 level and Petersen’s is closing really quickly, especially when about the best class he can hope for this season (without a BIG turnaround) could well be between sixth and ninth best in the conference.

   Even so, Washington may not be the worst in the state. WSU has at least an equal grip on the honor after a loss to Portland State to open the season. The Vikings people a mediocre team in the next best division in major college football, the one at the bottom. Maybe the Cougars should recruit a running back and draw up some plays for him.

   When looking at the teams in the conference, a lot of people forget about Colorado. This would be a good year to do that.

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Absolutely Unofficial, Unsanctioned, Unneeded Unwanted PAC 12 sports blog

This blog really ought to start out with apologies to all who really write sports stuff, know what they are writing about or work for a living. On the other hand, I’d spend most of my life apologizing if I dealt them out everywhere they are due. Instead, let’s get right to it.
I’ve got sort of a legitimate place in the world of Pac12 sports. I’ve been around since it was the Pac8, suffered through the years they admitted Arizona and Arizona State (who early in their membership tried to jettison some of the northwest schools), and stick around now that it has metamorphosed into a north and south monster. I umpired baseball in the Pac10, and have, or at least had (haven’t checked in a while) my picture in the University of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
Needless to say, you might find some of what I’ll write here a bit biased toward Oregon, a little biased against Oregon State, and maybe downright hateful toward the University of Washington.  Neither do I have much use for Trojans. That’s not to say I wouldn’t sit down with a beer to talk sports with Beavers and Huskies. I just wouldn’t buy the beer. I wouldn’t sit down with a Trojan unless I was already drunk.
I’ll also unload on the Big10ish and the SEC whenever opportunity knocks. If you are a Pac12 fan, you’ll grow to love me. Otherwise, probably not. Part of my agenda is to balance the world against the hated EAST COAST BIAS, which doesn’t do much better at understanding the Pac12 than they due at pronouncing ‘Oregon’.
With little more knowledge of what I am writing about than I have about what the next paragraph is going to be about, I promise you nothing but the straight stuff, delivered with a straight face, straight from the rear side of my Levi’s. I have a humor blog called Untie Me Now here on Blogspot, so if you want the humorous stuff, you’ll have to trot over there. This blog is for the serious business of sports.
I’m happily stuck up here in Maine now, so you won’t find any interviews, which usually don’t amount to much anyway. You can probably provide the same answers to the canned questions that the players and coaches do. The others you can probably handle better, or at least more honestly. Occasionally the voices might provide something they whipped up in their chem lab, when they aren’t too busy burning popcorn. They know both endeavors annoy me. Best not to quote the quotes when they sneak into the posts.
I don’t think the Pac12 will mind my mentioning their name from time to time as I long as don’t claim to represent them. Otherwise you’ll find me among the dirt they dig up over on ESPN being held up as an example of what not to do. I also don’t have anything to do with them or any other group of talking heads. We wouldn’t have each other.
Another warning; get used to typos sneaking in as I seldom catch them all. If anything you read doesn’t make sense, it’s probably a typo.  Nothing I write should not make sense if you wrap your head around it the right way, or believe everything you read. If that all works for you, you might want to become a follower of this blog so you get warning when I post something. I really need followers other than the detectives and psychiatrists who are following me now.
Don’t follow me everywhere though, like right now I am going out to do the heavy research it takes to review all of the conference football teams. I don’t want too many people crowding me and freeloading the beer and pretzels. (Especially the Beavers and Huskies)