Where Have All the QBs Gone? Bruins Batter LSU
I spent a lot of time on the couch Saturday enjoying the first full schedule of the college football season. It was nice to see fans in the stands after last year's COVID-wracked campaign. A number of things stood out:
QB Exodus: All five starting quarterbacks from the top ranked teams in the country (going into the weekend) are from the West Coast. Four from California and one from Arizona. Yet none of those teams are located west of Oklahoma.
Here are the players with their hometowns:
No. 1 Alabama—Bryce Young (Pasadena, CA)
No. 2 Oklahoma—C.J. Stroud (Empire, CA)
No. 3 Clemson—D.J. Uiagalelei (Inland Empire, CA)
No. 4 Ohio State—Spencer Rattler (Phoenix, AZ)
No. 5 Georgia—J.T. Daniels (Irvine, CA)
Big time talent simply isn't staying home on the West Coast. This is one of the main reasons why the Pac-12 hasn't had a national champion since 2004 and why it has only gotten two teams into the College Football Playoff in seven years.
What started as an occasional blip has become a vicious circle. The best high school players from the Pac-12 footprint are leaving because they want a better chance to win, a better chance to get into the playoff, and more TV exposure. But as long as they keep leaving, it's going to be harder for the conference to get more teams in the playoff and more exposure.
It was much easier to keep 'em down on the Pac-12 farm in the old days before the other conferences discovered the forward pass. Now teams like Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Clemson are throwing it all over the lot.
Ironically, Young originally committed to USC, and Daniels started at USC before getting hurt and losing his starting job to Kedon Slovis.
One thing that would help immensely would be for USC to return to its glory days. Oregon has recruited well, but lacks the big TV market and the brand like USC (or UCLA for that matter).
Bruins Silence LSU: Speaking of UCLA, it looks like Chip Kelly has rediscovered his mojo. The Bruins thoroughly outplayed No. 16 LSU, 38-27, earning one of the Pac-12’s biggest wins in several years. This after LSU's Cro-Magnon head coach Ed Orgeron called a UCLA fan a "sissy" for wearing light blue and gold.
The sissies, it turned out, were the guys in purple and gold. The Bruins dominated the line of scrimmage throughout and had a 210-49 advantage in rushing yardage.
Northern Blight: The North Division of the Pac-12, whose champion has won nine of the league’s 10 championships since it expanded to 12 teams, had a disastrous weekend. Only one of the six teams won, and even that wasn't pretty, as heavily favored Oregon barely escaped with a 31-24 win over Fresno State, which came in as a 20-point underdog.
Stanford was embarrassed by Kansas State, 24-7. Cal's offense disappeared after the first quarter in a 22-17 loss to Nevada. No. 20 Washington was shocked by Montana, a 22-point underdog, 13-7. Oregon State lost to Purdue and Washington State was upset by Utah State.
Washington beat Montana 63-7 when the teams met four years ago. This time, in perhaps the biggest FCS win since Appalachian State’s win over Michigan in 2007, the Huskies were held scoreless after their opening possession.
Southern Strength: The balance of power in the Pac-12 is moving south. In addition to UCLA's huge win, the rest of the Pac-12 South division looked very strong.
USC beat a tough San Jose State team in a game that was much closer than the 30-7 score might indicate, and Utah, Arizona State and Colorado each won easily. Arizona was the only loser, but showed some life against BYU after 12 straight losses under fired coach Kevin Sumlin.
QB Needed: Stanford alternated two quarterbacks, and neither looked adequate. Starter Jack West resembled a mediocre Division III player and threw two hideous interceptions. Tanner McKee showed better presence and was responsible for the only touchdown (a meaningless score with three minutes left), but missed on a couple of big plays and had a potential pick six dropped by the K State defender.
The Cardinal gained only 233 yards. Yet somehow head coach David Shaw thought the quarterbacks were "solid" and said "I like where we are."
That’s hard to figure. Along with the quarterback deficiency, Shaw got little production from his running game, and the defensive line resembled a sieve.
Stanford has now won only 8 of its last 19 games, and it could get worse. The Cardinal is at USC this weekend, then a game it should win at lowly Vanderbilt, then UCLA and Oregon at home and Arizona State on the road. A 1-5 start is possible unless Shaw can generate some offense and find a way to shore up the run defense.