Pac-12 Roundup: Offensive and Defensive Awards

Week one was pretty level for the PAC 12, with only Washington State and Colorado failing to come up with the goods. Disappointing losses for both teams, who had hoped to improve on last season’s woes. There’s still time for that, but a hot start never hurts. Also eye-opening was Washington squeaking by Hawaii, and UCLA struggling against Virginia, teams who had combined for a mere three wins last season.

Game of the Week

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Washington State Cougars

It was a battle between high-octane passing and a balanced offense, and balance won. WSU’s Connor Halliday had an outstanding day, completing 40 of 56 passes for 532 yards and five TDs, with one interception on the opening drive. However, the Cougars’ lack of running game (just six yards), and a defense that was routinely gashed by Rutgers, spoiled his big day. Paul James rushed for 173 yards and three TDs for the Scarlet Knights, while Gary Nova passed for 281 yards and another pair of scores. The Cougars had taken the lead in the fourth quarter, and subsequently forced Rutgers to punt, but Richard Cracraft whiffed on the return, and the Knights recovered. Then they drove to a quick TD to retake the lead, and stuffed Washington’s State last ditch drive to steal the win.

Offensive Player of the Week

Anu Solomon, Arizona Wildcats

Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez played his cards close to his chest all offseason, claiming no starter had taken a step ahead of the others. After watching Solomon play on Friday, one has to wonder if he can take him at face value again. Solomon came out firing, completing 25 of 44 passes for 425 yards and four TDs, before giving way to Jesse Scroggins at the beginning of the fourth quarter with the Wildcats up 51-13. The redshirt freshman also chipped in with 50 yards on eight carries, and even punted once for 32 yards.

Defensive Player of the Week

The UCLA Bruins Unit

With the Virginia defense surprisingly making life very difficult for Brett Hundley and the Bruins offense, the defense rose to the occasion with 3 second-quarter TDs that gave UCLA a 21-3 lead. Ishmael Adams opened the scoring when Cavalier quarterback Greyson Lambert’s arm was tipped, and Adams broke on the wobbling ball, taking it 20 yards to the endzone. Late in the quarter, the Cavaliers were putting a nice drive together when receiver Kyle Dockins fumbled an apparent first down catch right into the hands of safety Randall Goforth, who took it back 75 yards. On the ensuing drive, Lambert under threw a pass that linebacker Eric Kendricks caught in stride and returned 37 yards for the 21-3 lead. Virginia embarked on a fierce comeback behind backup quarterback Matt Johns, but the Bruin defense kept them just out of reach, and their last gasp drive was foiled when Myles Jack broke up a fourth down pass.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Kaelin Clay, Utah Utes

One has to feel sorry for Idaho State. Not only did they have to endure a pounding at the hands of the Utah offense and defense, but they had to put up with Clay on special teams too. With the Utes up 21-7, the defense forced Idaho State to punt from deep in their own endzone. Despite a decent punt and coverage, Clay broke a couple of tackles before following a wave of blockers to the end zone. After the Bengals scored a third quarter TD to pull to 42-14, they made the mistake of kicking to Clay again. Although the coverage got there quickly, Clay again took off on a tackle-breaking run, before outrunning the rest of the coverage for his second score of the day. He finished with 146 total return yards, and the two TDs.

Team of the Week

California Golden Bears

One could put quite a few teams in this spot, and justify everyone of them, but Cal matched their win total from last season with a solid 31-24 win over Northwestern. Jared Goff was the catalyst, passing for 281 yards and three TDs, with one interception, as he led the Bears to a 31-7 lead early in the third quarter. Northwestern struck back scoring a couple of quick TDs, courtesy of Goff’s pick, but they couldn’t consistently navigate the Bears defense, which was night and day better than the 2013 edition. The unit held the Wildcats to 354 yards, allowing just 7 of 19 third downs converted, and intercepting quarterback Trevor Siemian twice, including one to kill their Wildcats final drive.

*Section Photo Credit to Rick Scuteri, Associated Press; Featured Photo (above) credit to Arizona Athletics

Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt Faces No Further Punishment
Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt Faces No Further Punishment