Well, well, well, just another wild Saturday in the Pac-12, huh?
Unfortunately for the West Coast’s premiere conference, this group of teams seems to be eating themselves alive as the season goes on. That likely won’t make for a College Football Playoff participant, but it sure makes our weekly discussion about the games and the prospects that play them worth reading about.
Oregon went down on the road, Washington beat a tough test and Utah pulled off a big comeback win with the help of a running back stud we should be taking about a lot more.
Here are our draft notes and scouting updates from a crazy weekend in the Pac-12.
Herbert Hits A Wall
To this point, Oregon quarertback Justin Hebert has been without question a player, not only worthy of the QB1 title, but also a player who a team should feel confident in taking in the Top 5. I’m not saying that Saturday’s lowlight for him means that he can’t still be that, but there are holes in his armor, as Washington State exposed on Saturday.
Herbert went just 25-for-44 with 270 passing yards and one touchdown in the Ducks’ loss at Wazzu. During the first half, Oregon’s offense could barely even get across the 50-yard line. WSU brought a lot of chaotic pressure to the line of scrimmage, and Oregon’s offensive line was not up for the challenge. And we also have to note that Herbert wasn’t getting much help from his receivers, as they could barely get any separation all night. However, Herbert did look ratted under pressure and was backing up in the pocket more than he was stepping up to make throws. There’s context in every snap, but it appears Hebert still needs some confidence when navigating pressure.
Most of his throws were fine, when he could even make them, but overall this wasn’t his best week.
Huskies Defense Impresses
The Washington Huskies were the highlight of the week for the conference, as the No. 15 ranked team in the nation took down a solid Colorado team by a score of 27-13. Up to that point, Colorado had not scored less than 28 points all season. So how did Washington do it? They did it with a plethora of NFL prospects.
Cornerbacks Byron Murphy and Myles Bryant were targeted often, but aggressive in their actions on Saturday with seven tackles between them. Safeties Taylor Rapp and JoJo McIntosh weren’t as active on the stat sheet, but they were still active on the deep end limiting the explosive plays Colorado tried to take. And the star of the night was linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, who recorded a team-high eight tackles and an interception.
With so many teams in front of them in the rankings losing, expect the Huskies to make a big jump close or into the Top 10 thanks to a stout defensive performance.
Browning A Big “QB Win” Example
As we have gone through the season, we at The Draft Network have been pretty critical of Washington quarterback Jake Browning‘s NFL future. None of us are taking anything away from him being a nice college quarterback, but there just hasn’t been much there ceiling wise.
This has been met with some flack from people who are fans of his, and most of it seems to stem from him being a winning quarterback for Washington over the past three years. Saturday against Colorado was another example of how just because Browning got the win didn’t mean what he did was translatable to the next level.
Browning went 15-for-25 with 150 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. Those just aren’t catalyst-like numbers, and the spotty performance around the matched. His arm, either by nature or injury, is clearly limited when it comes to pushing the ball with regularity, urgency and consistency.
Browning is a nice college quarterback for what Washington has done over the last few years. You don’t have to fool yourself into thinking he’s more than that.
Zack Moss Has Another Monster Day
I thought Myles Gaskin and Bryce Love were suppose to be the powerhouse running backs out of the Pac-12 this season, but instead, the more weeks go by, the more yards Utah’s Zack Moss just continues to rack up in his stat column instead.
Moss ran for 136 yards on 25 carries in the Utes’ win over USC on Saturday, and that’s already his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, Moss loves contact; he thrives in it. It just seems like the fiercer the defense in front of him, the more he enjoys the game. Saturday was no different, and he was the difference maker.
His bulldozing game style has a place in the NFL.
Minshew Wields Wazzu Air Air Offense
Anytime you go up against an Air Raid offense you have the chance to catch an “L”, and Oregon learned that the hard way as they went up against the godfather of the modern day Air Raid, WSU head coach Mike Leach and his quarterback Gardner Minshew, and fell to the scoring duo by a score of 34-20 on Saturday.
Minshew is a grad student from WSU. He started his career at junior college at Northwest Mississippi before transferring to East Carolina. Mishew won a junior college national championship as a freshman, and got some decent playing time at ECU, but he wasn’t done after his two years there.
At WSU, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback is having his best year yet with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. On Saturday, he threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns against Oregon. Minshew is an aggressive quarterback, but doesn’t have the rare arm to match to make him a coveted NFL prospect. Maybe he’s this year’s Chad Kelly, in that regard — fun mentality, but can the arm match?
It can in college, as Oregon found out the hard way.
Pac-12 Power Rankings
- Washington State
- Arizona State
- Oregon State