Pac-12 Conference Football: What We Learned in Week 5
Who would have guessed the offense of the future would turn back the clock for Washington?
A hurry-up, no-huddle scheme has given the Washington Huskies added bite through four games of the 2013 season, evident in a 39.8-point per game average. However, in Saturday's 31-13 defeat of Pac-12 rival Arizona, Washington's strategy looked like more of a throwback.
The Washington defense overwhelmed the Wildcats' own hurry-up offense, while running back Bishop Sankey set a program record with 40 carries for 161 yards.
His historic workload was a stark contrast from the Huskies' Week 4 rout of Idaho State, in which Sankey carried just four times.
Both the limited reps last week and the overtime he put in Saturday were part of the grand design of dictating tempo against Arizona, head coach Steve Sarkisian said.
"That’s why he had four carries last week and 40 tonight," Sarkisian said in his postgame press conference, per GoHuskies.com. "We knew coming into the game that both teams were going to go fast."
Arizona's defense kept the Wildcats in the game while the offense sputtered in the first half, but the Sankey onslaught wore them down enough to roll off 20 decisive, second-half points.
Sankey also reclaimed the lead among Bowl Subdivision ball-carriers at 151.8 yards per game. His Heisman candidacy is just beginning to pick up steam, and next week brings a potential make-or-break test against the stingy Stanford rush defense.
The Cardinal have allowed 420 rushing yards on the season—284 of which came from the triple option attack of Army in Week 3.
Oregon Has Ways to Score Without De'Anthony Thomas
Do-everything Oregon back De'Anthony Thomas injured his right ankle moments into the Ducks' rout of Cal, rolling it on the rain-slicked Autzen Stadium turf during the game's opening kickoff.
Thomas told Andrew Greif of The Oregonian he is "pretty sore, that's about it."
Not the most scientific of diagnoses, but promising for Duck fans who hope to see the dynamic playmaker back in the lineup during Pac-12 play.
Still, if Thomas is sidelined for any length of time, Saturday night was an indication of just how effectively Oregon can still score points without him.
Six different Ducks reached the end zone by rush, reception or return.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running backs Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall combined for four scores via the ground; Mariota threw touchdown tosses to Josh Huff and Daryle Hawkins; and Bralon Addison ran a punt back 75 yards to paydirt.
Oregon's many weapons are what make this a championship contender.
Marion Grice's Contributions Can Be Summed Up Succinctly
"Wow, that guy scores a lot of touchdowns," Arizona State head coach Todd Graham said of his running back, Marion Grice.
Graham's concise, postgame press conference assessment per TheSunDevils.com only scratches the surface. Grice rushed for a pair of touchdowns Saturday against USC, which gives him eight on the season. That's tied for most in the FBS.
He has another four as a receiver. Grice's versatility makes him an invaluable asset in the Sun Devils' up-tempo offensive scheme.
"I am glad he is on our team," Graham said.
Arizona Has an Air Problem
Washington's tenacious defense made Arizona work for every inch it could accrue on the ground, an effort that was increasingly tenuous with quarterback B.J. Denker's struggles in the passing game.
Denker did not complete a pass until the second quarter and finished 14-of-35 for 119 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.
"It’s pretty obvious when you see things and you are like—'gosh, you shouldn’t do that,'" head coach Rich Rodriguez said.
Denker won a preseason quarterback competition that included former USC Trojan Jesse Scroggins and true freshman Anu Solomon. However, redshirt freshman Javelle Allen has been the Wildcats' No. 2 through the first four games.
Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham is also in the mix.
Rodriguez has options should he opt to experiment with the lineup in preparation for Arizona's Week 7 matchup with USC. An immediate shakeup does not appear likely, however.
"He’s a smart guy though, he’ll learn from that," Rodriguez said of Denker.
We Knew Sean Mannion Could Pass, But He Can Also Catch
The Oregon State quarterback had another prolific outing, leading Oregon State to a 44-17 rout of Colorado with six touchdown passes and 414 yards. He's over 2000 yards on the season to lead the FBS, and his 21 scores are four more than the next closest competitor, Utah State's Chuckie Keeton.
Mannion also made his first collegiate reception on a pass from running back Terron Ward. The play went for six yards.
Mannion is much too valuable at quarterback to see in future receiving situations. He also need not worry about Ward pressing him for this job.
"It’s always fun seeing [Ward] throw the ball, because he is just so short," Beaver safety Ryan Murphy said per OSUBeavers.com. "So when he pushes the ball out...it looks like a shot-put, a little flick."
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kensing45.
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