Sunday, September 6, 2009

2009 Pac-10 season: Week 1 in Review

After the Pac-10's disasterous start to season Thursday night, the rest of the conference gave a good account of itself Saturday. As expected, USC, UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona State steamrolled their vastly inferior opponents, so there is little we can learn from their victories. However, we learned a lot about the rest of the conference.

Here's what we learned:
These quarterbacks can play (for now)
In a conference full of freshman and sophomore quarterbacks, others returning from injuries, and still others trying to prove they belong; the league's young signal callers made impressive debuts. New starters Matt Barkley, Matt Scott, Kevin Prince and Danny O'Sullivan put forth workmanlike efforts, managing their teams efficiently. But all have yet to be tested against real competition. Washington's Jake Locker looked fairly sharp coming back from a thumb injury. Most impressive were Stanford freshman Andrew Luck and Cal 's Kevin Riley, which is why...

The Bay looks strong
Stanford was firing all all cylinders Saturday in an impressive 39-13 victory over the Cougars. The only question mark was the quarterback position where Andrew Luck showed why Jim Harbaugh had no problem starting a redshirt freshman over a veteran senior. Luck made smart decisions while running back Toby Gerhart racked up 121 of the Cardinal's 288 yards rushing.

Meanwhile, back in Stawberry Canyon, the Cal Bears spent their afternoon trouncing the Maryland Terrapins 52-13. Tailback Jahvid Best looked spectacular as expected, but it was the performance of Kevin Riley that gave Cal fans a sigh of relief. Riley, who has been inconsistent over his career, was the missing piece to a loaded, veteran team looking to dethrone the Trojans as conference champions. Against a solid opponent that embarassed Cal last year, Riley went 17 of 26 for 298 yards and 4 touchdowns. Watch out for the Bears.

Washington is better
One thing is clear after Washington's 31-23 loss to LSU - this is a changed football team. The Huskies were the worst team in football last year, and they gave one of the top team's in the SEC all they could handle. Under new head coach Steve Sarkisian, this team looks sharper, smarter and hungier than it has in a long time.

Oregon must hit the reset button
We will know what kind of football team Chip Kelly has next weekend against Purdue. While the team has some major football issues to work out (replacing Lagarrette Blount, fixing their inept offense), the Ducks have to make a real gut check to put last Thursday behind them and move forward with the rest of the season. They must show some passion, learn from the experience and prove they are not the team that thought they could just show up in Boise.

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