Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Inside the Pac-10 - Week Seven


Arizona State @ #8 USC

One would think that in a game where USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was able to play and they came away with a shutout
victory, that Pete Carroll's Trojans would be ecstatic.

That would not be the case. Turns out the game was much closer than the score indicated with USC turning the ball over an alarming five times, including three interceptions by Sanchez.

It's the sort of stat that usually belongs on the losing side of the field, but due to an overwhelmingly solid Trojan defense, USC was able to prevent the Sun Devils from making anything out of the turnovers. The defense really bailed the Trojans out this time.

There were some positives for USC's offense as sophomore Joe McKnight compiled 143 yards on 11 carries. USC has lacked a focal point in their run game this year and McKnight looked like he might be able to fit the bill.

On the other side of the field, Sun Devil quarterback Rudy Carpenter gutted through his ankle injury but might have been better served by staying home in Tempe as he was largely ineffective, totaling 126 yards and an interception before giving way to junior back-up Danny Sullivan in the third quarter.

All third quarter the Trojans tried desperately to give the game to ASU but the Sun Devils couldn't take advantage.

USC came in looking to make a statement - just not the one they ended up making.

UCLA @ Oregon

This game featured two quarterbacks who were barely on anyone's radar before injuries shoved them to the fore. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli started the season as a third stringer while his Bruin counterpart, quarterback Kevin Craft, was pressed into service when Patrick Cowan and Ben Olson were hurt during spring and summer practices.

In this game, the Bruins managed to shut the Ducks' pass game down on Saturday but unfortunately Masoli was still their undoing. The Oregon sophomore ran for an impressive 170 yards and a touchdown as the Ducks slipped past UCLA, 31-24. Duck running back LaGarrette Blount added 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns to the Oregon effort.

Craft threw for 288 yards and a touchdown for the Bruins and the running back tandem of Kahlil Bell and Derrick Coleman each had a touchdown.

The first half was quiet for the most part while the second half saw offensive explosions from both side. Blount's touchdown, in which he broke free for a 69 yard scramble, pretty much put the cap on it for Oregon. UCLA was able to score once more, but just didn't have the weapons to overcome a two score lead.

Arizona @ Stanford

The biggest question facing Arizona is whether their 4-1 record would hold up as they hit tougher competition. Well, Stanford isn't the hardest challenge they will face going forward but they stumbled anyway, losing to the Cardinal 24-23.

Stanford continued it's tradition of spoiling Pac-10 leading teams (last year it was USC) behind the solid running of running backs Toby Gerhart (111 yards and a touchdown) and Anthon Kimble (110 yards and a touchdown). They also had to overcome a concussion to starting quarterback Tavita Pritchard and the lackluster play of backup Jason Forcier but sophomore Alex Loukas stepped up and ran the ball well, even if he made some mistakes as well.

Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters that "Alex got in there and called a couple of formations wrong, but he is a gifted athlete and a determined runner." Loukas overcame his mistakes by running a total of 39 yards, most of which came during Stanford's 65 yard game-winning drive.

Wildcat quarterback Willie Tuitama continued his solid play, throwing passes for a total of 259 yards but struggled to get his team into the end zone, settling for field goals too often.

Washington State @ Oregon State

The Cougars have struggled in every aspect of their game and this loss to Oregon State was no different as they stumbled their way to the finish line in this 66-13 laugher of a game.

Beaver running back Jacquizz Rodgers continues to blow up defenses as he rumbles across the Pac-10, leaving fans and opposing coaches scratching their heads in disbelief, dismay and whatever other 'dis-' word you can come up with. Saturday, his damage total was 168 yards and a touchdown on the ground. It's not surprising the Cougars couldn't contain him when much better teams have tried and failed.

The Beaver defense was no more accomodating, shutting both the Washington State pass and rush game down. Neither aspect of the offense totaled more than 100 yards and the yardage total for the entire game was an anemic 132 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers beat that by himself.

Beaver wide receiver Sammie Stroughter had 116 yards and a touchdown and Jacquizz's brother, wide receiver James Rodgers, added a touchdown and 57 yards on the ground.

As the Cougars continue to be the punching bag of the Pac-10, it occurs to me that it's unfortunate as there are some decent prospects on this team (like wide receiver Brandon Gibson) who may get lost in the smoke of this flaming disaster of a season.