Pac-12 Championship: Wildcats vs. Ducks
Friday night's Pac-12 Championship serves as this week's first #PFFGoesToCollege game. Gordon McGuinness has a look at the standouts on either side and full player grades can be found on ...
Pac-12 Championship: Wildcats vs. Ducks
Every week PFF has been dipping our toes into the world of college football (#PFFGoesToCollege) and this week is a little different, as we cast our eyes over some of the conference championship games. Kicking us off we have the PAC-12 Championship game where the Arizona Wildcats battled an Oregon Ducks team looking to solidify their position, and win a conference championship, ahead of the College Football Playoff.
It was a game that started out with some typical big-game nerves, with both teams stumbling their way through the first quarter. Oregon got their offense on track in the second and third quarters, though, and had sealed the game before the fourth quarter began.
With the lights at the brightest they’ve been all season, some players shone while others looked startled, so let’s dig into some of the more interesting points from the game.
Arizona Wildcats – Performances of Note
Scooby Wright III, LB: +6.4
Breakdown: It was a rough night for the Wildcats’ defense, but while the 51 points on the scoreboard suggest otherwise, we did see some impressive play by Wright in particular. Very good against the run, he finished the game having recorded six tackles resulting in defensive stops.
Signature Play: Q2, 15:00 remaining. Beating left tackle Jake Fisher inside on the play, Wright may not have recorded a pressure, but he did force a holding penalty from the offensive lineman.
Jonathan McKnight, CB: -2.9
Breakdown: Struggling mightily against the Ducks’ Darren Carrington, who he allowed four receptions for 96 yards against, it wasn’t a great night for McKnight. When all was said and done, he’d allowed 107 yards through the air and missed a tackle.
Signature Play: Q3, 8:32 remaining. Losing Carrington downfield as Mariota scrambled, he gave up the big play here.
The Arizona Quarterbacks: -9.0 combined
Breakdown: It started with starter Anu Solomon being limited by injury, but neither Jesse Scroggins or Jerrard Randall could offer much in relief. Offering little in the way of a threat to beat the Ducks’ defense deep downfield, the offense seemed limited all night long.
Signature Stat: The trio combined to connect on just one of the nine passes they attempted 10 yards or more downfield.
Oregon Ducks – Performances of Note
Darren Carrington, WR: +2.5
Breakdown: When the Oregon offense struggled early on, Carrington proved himself to be an impressive outlet for Mariota, with several nice grabs for first downs. Seeing 11 passes thrown his way, he finished the game with eight catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.
Signature Play: Q3, 8:06 remaining. A fair reward for his play throughout the game up to this point, here Carrington caught the ball for a touchdown on a crossing route at the back of the end zone, beating Jarvis McCall Jr. to the ball.
Royce Freeman, HB: +3.3
Breakdown: As exciting as the Oregon offense is, they were at their best when the ball was in Freeman’s hands. Showcasing an impressive blend of speed and power, the freshman forced four missed tackles on the ground on his way to a 157-yard rushing day, his second-highest total of the season.
Signature Play: Q1, 11:21 remaining. In the history books this play doesn’t even count, wiped out by penalty that didn’t impact his effort on the play, but it will always be there to see in highlight form as Freeman cut past two would-be tacklers before bursting for the end zone.
Marcus Mariota, QB: -2.0
Breakdown: The Heisman Trophy favorite saw plenty of support for his performance, given that he left the field throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for three more. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however, and, in reality, he should have been picked off several times. There were overthrows, late throws into coverage and careless penalties in a performance that never clicked like his touchdown total suggests.
Signature Stat: On throws 20 or more yards downfield, Mariota completed just three of the 10 he attempted.
PFF Game Ball
It was tempting to give this to Scooby Wright III, but in a winning effort it was too difficult to ignore freshman running back Royce Freeman. Explosive, tough to bring down and well worth the game ball honors from the PAC-12 Championship Game.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.