DG on PX - Pac 10 Things We Learned in Week 5
Jacquizz Rodgers continues to carry the Beavers
Is Joe McKnight now a Heisman candidate? Is Cal's game at UCLA now a must win? Is Arizona State now a run n' shoot team? The answers were clear Saturday in the Pac-10.
SAN FRANCISCO – 10 observations from Memorial Stadium
- Cal has to beat UCLA to save their season
Is the third Saturday in October too early for a must-win game? It's come to that for the Golden Bears, who must beat UCLA to avoid another collapse. Jeff Tedford's failure to win in Los Angeles has been well documented.
If Cal can't break that dubious mark, that latest blow to their psyches could be the tipping point. Kevin Riley isn't making plays, Jahvid Best has been kept in check and that pressure is causing the defense to buckle.
This is a team on the brink.
- Joe McKnight is the Pac-10's most viable Heisman contender
The junior from Louisiana has finally become the back USC coaches thought he would be, rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns against Cal. He showed style on a first quarter score, diving into the end zone on a fine Reggie Bush impersonation, but is also becoming a tough and patient runner between the tackles.
As the Trojans' first featured rusher since the days of Bush and LenDale White, McKnight has already rushed for 473 yards and six touchdowns. With a big showing at Notre Dame, combined with his heroics at Ohio State, he could become the West Coast candidate.
- I'm still not ready to crown Stanford
Toby Gerhart is a beast, that's clear, but how will quarterback Andrew Luck respond against a defense capable of shutting Gerhart down? The Washington schools and UCLA aren't a sufficient test to say the Cardinal are the clear-cut No. 3 team in the conference.
- UCLA will be better with Kevin Prince under center
Kevin Craft is an admirable young man, but isn't cut out to be a quarterback at the Pac-10 level. He cannot throw the deep ball or go through his reads under pressure, both necessary to keep defenders from loading up near the line of scrimmage.
- Arizona State won't win any Pac-10 games throwing 58 times
QB Danny Sullivan put up a stat line more associated with June Jones or Mike Leach, not salty old Dennis Erickson, by throwing 58 times for 338 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Sure those numbers were inflated by circumstances, but the Devils need to get the running game going.
ASU had 199 yards on the ground versus putrid Idaho State and 107 against Louisiana Monroe, but hasn't topped 88 in games against FBS opponents.
- Oregon State scoffs at your primitive notions of offensive balance
The Beavers are simply going to ride the brothers Rodgers until they run out of eligibility or get banged up. Averaging a shade under 70 percent of the team's offensive output, James (10 receptions, 114 yards) and Jacquizz (81 yards rushing) scored three times in Oregon State's first conference win this year, helping them avoid a 2-3 start for the fourth straight year.
- Sark again finds himself under the gun for questionable playcalling
If he wanted that kind of aggravation, he could have stuck around USC.
- USC special teams are showing improvement
A 66 yard punt return touchdown, a clean sheet for the return teams with no holds or blocks in the back, outstanding coverage and three field goals by Jordan Congdon at Cal.
After years of conceding special teams, the decision to hire a full-time coach in Brian Schneider is starting to pay dividends.
- Washington State has been cursed by the injury gods
Will the Cougs ever catch a break? One week after putting up a good fight at USC, they were pounded by Oregon and true freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel was knocked out of the game in the first quarter.
- Was I the only one who suspected ulterior motives for LeGarrette Blount's reinstatement?
When I saw the first tweets about a possible return – while attending Kylie Minogue's concert, but that's a story for another day – in three to five weeks, I did the math. Four weeks would have put Blount back on the field for the USC game.
Dan Greenspan blogs about the Pac-10 for CollegeFootballNews.com. Follow him at twitter.com/dangreenspan or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.