Reaction to Pac-12 developments on and off the field …
1. Bowl Jimmy Cruddy
Let’s kick off at the end of the week with a terrifying Oregon performance at the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.
The Beavers won a touchdown over Utah, scored on first possession and got an early break when Aggie’s starting quarterback Logan Bonner retired with injury.
His replacement, Cooper Legas, was the third player for most of the season and never tried to pass, so the favorites were looking quite good.
But then Legas backed down and made his first shot as a colleague. A 62-yard touchdown leveled the score, changed the game and sent the Bobrov to a terrible defeat.
Oregon’s offensive line, one of the best Pac-12s of the season, could not hold up to the Utah defensive front.
Oregon’s defense was much better than in previous games away from Corvallis, but it was lacking.
In addition, the Beavers took 13 penalties and played with a different passion than Utah.
OSU finished 2021 7-6 – a successful season, of course, but far from what it once seemed. In the end, the Beavers were 5-2 and in pursuit of the Northern Division title after a spectacular win over Utah in late October.
But they lost four of their last six, played particularly badly away, fired their defense coordinator (Tim Tibesar) and ended the season with a complete drand.
In general, the Beavers, under the guidance of coach Jonathan Smith, have made significant progress. The program is light years ahead of what it was just three seasons ago.
But it is clear that they still have many more opportunities, especially in defense, before we can imagine that they will win the championship title.
2.With a whimper
Luckily for all of us, Pac-12 played its last game of the season against teams from Mountain West or Brigham Young.
The ledger is ugly, inconceivably ugly, and Pac-12 has no one to blame but himself.
The conference ended 5-6 against MW and 0-5 against BYU.
You can count these 16 games. We will not worry.
The results include a 0-2 record against each of the Mountain West Division winners.
Washington and Oregon lost to Utah Mountain Division champion.
Utah and Arizona lost to West Division champion San Diego State.
There are many reasons why Pac-12 is in a seasonal fight with its neighbors, and some of them are quite plausible.
But the point is simple: the conference is not winning enough games against the teams it should beat, based on the caliber of the rosters and the level of resources.
Forget the drought in college playoffs or the frequent clashes with the Power Five rivals.
Any sustainable Pac-12 recovery must start with the basics. He can’t lose more games than he can beat Mountain West.
It can’t be.
And yet it happened.
3. One lost, five left
We are often asked if bowling matters, and the hotline’s answer is, yes, they matter.
They help shape the reputation of the conference; in certain situations, they affect the recruitment of personnel; they provide additional practice time; and they can create additional momentum after the successful regular season, which will continue into the next year.
The Pac-12 could have used a successful bowl season for sure, but the likelihood of a month that will change its reputation has been drastically reduced by the loss of Oregon.
The conference had five games left, and it lost all five.
UCLA – Narrow Dog vs. North Carolina State; ditto with Washington State vs. Miami. Meanwhile, Oregon is not expected to beat Oklahoma, and Arizona and Utah are significant underdogs against Wisconsin and Ohio, respectively.
In other words, Pac-12 won only one of six bowl games – and lost decisively.
We don’t expect 0 out of 6 performance, by no means. But it’s hard to imagine that the conference will win four of the five finalists it will take to climb the 0.500 high.
4. Talking about (potential) recovery …
The Oregon face manufacturing plant has completed a five-day stretch of undeniably positive developments for the conference – events that offer glimmers of hope for 2022 and beyond.
One of these includes the defenders we can expect next season. This week, three teams have significantly improved their capabilities.
– News broke on Tuesday that Indiana defender Michael Penix is moving to Washington, which makes a lot of sense for both sides:
Penix was one of the top defenders in the country in 2019 when he worked with Indiana-based offensive coordinator Calen DeBoer.
Yes, the same Calen DeBoer who was recently appointed head coach at Montlac.
Penix was a different player in the 2020/21 season, partly due to injuries and partly due to DeBoer leaving Bloomington to take over the state of Fresno.
If he stays healthy – which is hardly a safe bet – then Penix will improve the UW quarterback’s performance, either as a starter or as a veteran bar that Dylan Morris or Sam Huard can clear up.
– Two days later, a second notable quarterback appeared on the Pac-12 campus transfer portal:
Dillon Gabriel, with 70 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions in the UCF, has announced that he will retire from UCLA.
Of course, Dorian Thompson-Robinson hasn’t confirmed (at least not publicly) that he is leaving school for the NFL draft. But it’s safe to assume that Gabriel would not have gone to Westwood if he suspected the three-year-old starter was returning in his fourth year.
This appears to leave Gabriel in competition with Ethan Garbers for the starting job. The situation for the Bruins could have been much worse. Much worse.
– A day later, Friday, there were reports that a third veteran peddler would join Pac-12:
Purdue’s Jack Plummer travels to Cal, where he instantly becomes the overwhelming majority favorite to replace the departed Chase Garbers.
Plummer’s career has been mixed with the Boilermakers. He missed time due to injuries and was repeatedly fired for ineffective play.
However, the Bears now have a Big 10 starting lineup with 500 career attempts in the squad to compete with freshman Kai Millner for the # 1 spot.
5. Early forecast QB
The flurry of transfers to the conference brings some clarity to the quarterback competition that will take place this spring and possibly during training camps.
At this point, we see the following starters for each team (returning starters are in italics):
Arizona: Jordan McCloud
State of Arizona: Jaden Daniels
Cal: Jack Plummer or Kai Millner
Colorado: Brandon Lewis
Oregon: Ty Thompson
State of Oregon: Chance Nolan
Stanford: Tanner McKee
UCLA: Dillon Gabriel or Ethan Garbers
USC: Jackson Dart
Utah: Cameron Rising
Washington: Michael Penix or Sam Heward
Washington state: Jaden de Laura
That’s eight returning players, plus three (potentially) players from other leagues, plus a five-star rookie (Thompson).
At this extremely early stage in the 2021-22 offseason, Pac-12 is in better shape as a quarterback than a year ago.
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