Pac-12 Power Rankings — 9/30/13

1. Oregon (4-0, 1-0) — De’Anthony Thomas’ status is unclear after he injured his ankle on Saturday and reappeared on crutches. Sophomore Byron Marshall carried the ball 19 times in his stead, racking up 130 yards and two touchdowns.

2. Stanford (4-0, 2-0) — Don’t look now, but Kevin Hogan is currently the Pac-12′s most efficient quarterback (174.58). The Cardinal also might have found a new target in junior Devon Cajuste, who caught two touchdowns, bringing his career total to three.

3. UCLA (3-0) — The Bruins still look like the consensus third-best Pac-12 team after the bye week, but Utah is a tough place to play. Forecasts predict a 50 percent chance of rain on Thursday. Continue reading

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Noel Mazzone praises Utah’s physical defensive line


Even without All-American tackle Star Lotulelei, Utah’s defensive front is still physical and disciplined.

“Maybe they don’t have the marquee name guy like they did last year,” Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said, “but I think the defensive line for them is probably the best front four we’ve gone against.”

Mazzone also pointed out the longevity of the Utes’ schemes. Head coach Kyle Whittingham has kept defensive coordinator Kalani Fifita Sitake on his staff for all nine of his years in Salt Lake City, though the latter spent the first four as linebackers coach.

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Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos talks Utah offense


UCLA defensive coordinator Lou Spanos said this year’s Utah team uses very similar personnel to the 2012 squad that lost 21-14 at the Rose Bowl. One key difference is the maturity of sophomore Travis Wilson, who went from averaging 3.3 rushing yards per game to 62.75 — third-best among conference quarterbacks. Continue reading

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Brett Hundley talks about UCLA run-pass ratio


Back in August, quarterback Brett Hundley admitted that he will have to shoulder a larger part of the offense. Without all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin by his side, the thought was that UCLA would have to become a more pass-happy team.

That hasn’t happened dramatically, even given offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s love for spreading the field. In 2012, the Bruins’ run-pass ratio was 1.21. After three games this season, it’s up slightly to 1.33.

The number is skewed by blowouts that allow UCLA to run the ball more late in games, but Hundley still thinks it’s the running game that sets the table in this offense. Continue reading

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Jim Mora talks about Utah’s offense and Dennis Erickson


Due to the short week of prep leading up to Thursday’s game at Utah, UCLA treated Sunday as it would a usual Tuesday practice. The Bruins had Friday and Saturday off after practicing last week, and moved into game prep for the Utes today.

Jim Mora spoke a bit after Sunday’s session:

– On early impressions of Utah: “They’re tough. They’re physical. They’re disciplined. They play hard all the time. Just like last year. They’re going to play good defense. They’re going to run the ball.”

– The addition of co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson has made Utah’s offense much more dynamic. In 2012, when former Ute quarterback Brian Johnson had sole schematic reins, the team finished with 19 pass plays of at least 25 yards and nine runs of at least 20 yards. Continue reading

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