First a Promo
FINALLY, THE PAC-12 HAS COME BACK, TO NATIONAL PROMINENCE!
This is a matter of respect. This conference has had to fight its way back to prominence. We've taken our shots, our abuse, and we deserve greatness. So CBS and the SEC, you proclaim to have the best football in the best conference, but how entertaining is a 10-9 shootout where a quarterback had to be pulled? I wonder who got the save.
There are those with doubts. There are those amongst us who don't believe in us as a whole.
Well, tell us more about how you feel...
IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW YOU FEEL!
This conference is, top to bottom, the most competitive in the country. We have teams that can play with anyone. We bring it every week. Every game is going to be a brawl. We set records, we put up points, and most of all, we make football fun. It is explosive, heart-rending, where anything can happen!
"Well, you don't play defense," is your retort. For some of us, this is true. But does it stop us? Hell no! But if you want defense, take a look at the Stanford Cardinal. They've held opponents of 43 points this year. A little more than eight points per game. That's about as many points per game as a backup point guard for Kentucky. And that defense may break, but it will rebuild and renew into an even more terrifying machine.
We've beaten each other up to make each other stronger, and some say this is a weakness. Any team in this conference is capable of putting up a fight with the best of the best, and there are no weeks off. Even the bye weeks are wrought with planning for the extra danger that every spread offense, or air raid, or no huddle attack, or 3-3-5 defense brings to the table. We cause just that many more headaches for opposing coaches.
And maybe, just maybe, you don't underestimate us. You see us for what we really are, a collection of some of the greatest talent to play college football. Maybe you see Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, DJ Foster, Ty Montgomery, Jared Goff, Buck Allen, Sean Mannion, Connor Halliday, Kaelin Clay, Nick Wilson, Shaq Thompson, and Sefo Liufau for the threats that they. There are 256 players who have come out of our schools to find a spot in the NFL currently, whether it be on the practice squad or in the show. You can hear the millions (and millions) of fans of Pac-12 schools chanting their school's name. Just know that we bring it every single weekend, and you will see the results of this come playoff time
Have a nice day!
Actual Substantive Analysis
There were so many plays that could be focused on, but I'd like to stick to one that wasn't from the offensive bloodbath that was the Cal-Washington State game. Both teams' defensive backs seemed over matched when dealing with the Bear and Air Raids respectively. A lot of plays in that game were made by great offensive execution, such as the tunnel screen to Trevor Davis, or any of the mesh concept plays that Connor Halliday threw. Instead, I decided to go with a different exciting game for the play, and pick something from the ASU-USC game. I went with the second to last touchdown, a 73 yarder from Mike Bercovici to Cameron Smith.
This play starts with ASU in the gun, obviously going to throw it being down 9 with less than three minutes left. USC plays soft zone on this play, which proves to be their downfall. The receivers on the right side of the play all run inside crossing routes, which forces the linebackers and safeties to come pick them up. This is how a zone defense is supposed to work. Players are taught to find the biggest threat to their zone and cover it.
The flow moves inside, and the safeties decide to be over aggressive and play up closer to the end of the routes. Normally, this would be a good move, but since this play resulted in a long touchdown, it obviously was not. One safety came down to try to get an early hit on Smith, but since Bercovici rolls out, he's stuck in no man's land and comes down just a little too far. Smith gets to freelance, moves with Bercovici, sheds an arm tackle from the USC corner, and he puts ASU right where they need to be.
When plays break down, often times you can get the true sense of how good the defense and the quarterback really are. The defense can either capitalize on the opportunity to throw off the QB, or they can let him make a play. With the rise of the spread quarterback, players are better at throwing on the run than in the past, and I don't think that as many mistakes will be induced by forcing a QB scramble. Either way, this wasn't even the most egregious mistake of the night for the SC defense, which is in a link above. This just goes to show that anything can happen on any given night in the Pac-12. Parity is something often lacking, but it makes the Pac-12 the best conference in the game.