Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Pac-10: Week 7 in review

Here's what we know:
Stanford is for real
The Cardinal went old-school in their hard fought victory over the Arizona Wildcats. Behind running backs Toby Gerhart and Anthony Kimble, Stanford ran over the Wilcats for 286 yards. The defense matched their effort with an outstanding performance that held the Wildcats to only a pair of field goals in the second half. This is exactly the type of game that Stanford has been unable to win in recent years. Down by six points with five minutes to play, with their starting quarterback out of the game with a concussion, sophomore Alex Loukas replaced struggling backup Jason Forcier, and marched the Cardinal down the field for the game winning touchdown with 25 seconds left to play. Now the Cardinal finds themselves in third place (3-1, 4-3 overall) in the Pac-10, and needing two wins in their next five games to become bowl eligible. This remarkable turnaround must be attributed to head coach Jim Harbaugh and the attitude he has brough to this program, squeezing every last drop of talent and effort from his players.

The Ducks can run, but they can't fly
Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli ran for an impressive 170 yards and a touchdown in a 31-24 victory over UCLA. The problem is that he was 5/19 for 42 yards passing, the fewest passing yards by the Ducks in a game since 1986. Yes, you read that right - 42 yards passing. In Masoli's defense, there were a lot of drops by his receivers, but with Arizona State, Cal, Stanford and Arizona coming up, the Ducks had better figure out how to throw the ball. The bye week couldn't come at a better time for Oregon, who will try to get healthy and repair their inept passing game. The answer may lie with the return of Justin Roper, the Ducks' best passer, to the starting lineup after missing four games with a partially torn MCL.

Pac-10 quarterback is one of the world's most dangerous professions
The Cougars lost freshman quarterback Marshall Lobbestael to a sprained MCL Saturday during the fourth quarter of their game against Oregon State. He will miss 2-4 weeks. This injury comes after losing starter Gary Rogers, whose football career likely ended with a cervical spine fracture against Portland State. Shortly after in the same game, the Wazzu lost backup Kevin Lopina to fractured lower back. Now the Cougars must turn to freshman walk-on Dan Wagner to carry the team.

After losing Nate Costa to season ending knee injuries in fall camp, the Ducks were forced to take the redshirt off true freshman Darron Thomas when injuries took out Justin Roper and Jeremiah Masoli. UCLA lost their top two quarterbacks to season ending injuries in Spring and Fall camp. Washington quarterback Jake Locker broke his thumb two weeks ago against Stanford and is out for the season. Meanwhile, Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter is doubtful after leaving Saturday's game against USC with an ankle injury. In addition, a concussion knocked Cardinal quarterback Tavita Pritchard out of Stanford's game against Arizona.

That makes five quarterbacks lost for the season and several more who have missed at least one game. What's the reason for this rash of injuries to quarterbacks? Many have pointed to the proliferation of spread offenses that expose quarterbacks to more injuries. The problem with that hypothesis is that only Justin Roper's injury can be attributed to running the spread offense. The rest are just freak injuries.

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