Quick response to incidents on and off the field…
1. Big News in Palaus
There are 238 days to the start of the 2022 season. If the hotline ever had to consider a scenario that seems extreme, – a scenario that is about five steps ahead of the current reality – it is time.
and here we go:
Washington State may have won the 2022 North Division quarterback reshuffle.
That’s right. The day the Cougars lost their promising young passer on the transfer portal, they would have set the stage for the next season to play the best quarterback in the division.
Jayden de Laura, the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, who bowled 23 touchdowns and took the Cougars to second, entered the transfer portal on Friday.
This could prove to be a debilitating blow to WSU’s prospects for next season. If things don’t go well in the coming months, and if none of the remaining quarterbacks on the roster develop, the Cougars could struggle aggressively into their first full season under coach Jake Dickert.
But again, we are playing the game of speculation.
What if WSU replaces De Laura with a better quarterback… a quarterback few Pac-12 fans have ever heard of… a quarterback who has never played the Down of Power Five football.
One of Dickert’s first moves upon being named to a permanent position was to appoint Eric Morris as his offensive coordinator.
Morris is familiar with WSU, having served on Mike Leach’s First Staff (2012). For the past four seasons, he has been the head coach at Incarnet Word, a Southland Conference (FCS) program based in San Antonio.
This season, Avatar Word’s quarterback Cameron Ward has entered the transfer portal. He is one of the top passersby in the country – not only in FCS but all in Division I.
247Sports Rating Services lists Ward as the No. 3 quarterback in the portal, only to be followed by Caleb Williams, formerly of Oklahoma, and Quinn Ivers, formerly of Ohio State. Ward is rated higher than Spencer Rattler (ex-Oklahoma) and Caydon Slovis (ex-USC).
On December 8, WSU officially announced Morris as the new playcolor.
The next day, Ward entered the portal.
Call us crazy, but the hotline suspects it’s headed to Pullman.
2. Segmentation Scenario
Now, let’s step back and assess the state of playing the quarterback in North next season, based on what we know and can reasonably anticipate.
Call us crazy, but Ward just might be the best QB division ever, If He ends up in Pullman.
— Better than Washington’s options: returning starter Dylan Morris, who seems like a candidate for a transfer; freshman Sam Huard, who is talented but crude; And Indiana transferred Michael Penix, who has sustained multiple ACL injuries to his right knee.
— Better than Oregon’s alternatives: freshman Ty Thompson, who has given 15 passes in his college career; and the transfer of the talented but indecisive Auburn Bo Knicks.
– Better than Cal’s alternatives: newcomer Kai Milner, who didn’t play in 2021; And Purdue replaced Jack Plummer, who was benched in the middle of the season.
— Better than Stanford’s alternative: Returning starter Tanner Mackie, a gifted passer-by with limited mobility.
—and better than Oregon State’s alternative: returning starter Chance Nolan, a skilled thrower in a run-oriented scheme.
At least four North teams could depend on transfers in ’22 – excluding Stanford and OSU.
The division lacks clarity at all stages, with the quarterback serving as both a reason and an example for the spot position.
3. Portal Problems
Transfer Portal has created free agency in college football, but it is unlike the professional version in one respect: the window is always open, 365 days per year.
It’s the most frenzied stretch, with a season ending and rosters being built for spring practice.
The hotline checks the 247Sports portal database at least twice a day.
Three observations for now:
– Washington has lost several players, including starting receiver Terrell Bynum and linebacker Jackson Sirmon, their top tackler, joining their father, Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon.
But the Huskies haven’t reached the point of an unfair escape given the coaching change.
That said, there will certainly be more departures when players returning from spring practice and new coaches get a chance to take stock of each other.
– Arizona State’s escape is both significant and surprising (because of the unsolved NCAA investigation into recruiting crimes).
Several members of the Herald’s 2020 recruiting class who have not yet reached the promotion are in the portal: running back receiver Johnny Wilson, cornerback Tommy Hill, linebacker Jordan Banks and Chip Treynam.
We expect Sun Devils to experience loads of portal traffic (outgoing and incoming) throughout the off season.
– Quality, not quantity, defines Colorado’s list of outgoing transfers. The Buffalos have lost their best offensive player, Brendan Rice, and two of their top defenders, cornerback Christian Gonzalez and safety Mark Perry.
Coach Carl Dorrell has reformed the coaching staff after his second season at Boulder. His defense will look markedly different next fall as well.
4. Draft Jumpers
We are also mindful of players going in for the NFL Draft, especially those with a deadline of just over a week (Jan 17).
USC and Oregon are by far the hardest-hit programs, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the talent on both rosters.
The Trojans have lost two Drakes (London and Jackson), while Oregon defensive trio edge rusher Kyvan Thibodaux, safety Veron McKinley and cornerback Michael Wright have also declared.
Add Washington cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon, and the players you’d expect to drop are really leaving.
We’ll see what the next nine days bring, and how many predictable mid-round picks depart from teams, with them in lineups, will have rosters capable of cracking the top-25.
One more point on the matter. As best we can tell, only a handful of internal defensive linemen or offensive linemen have declared: Stanford’s Thomas Booker, ASU’s Dohanovan West and Washington’s Jackson Kirkland.
The lack of high-round draft picks from trench positions is a major issue for the conference. There will be more performances in the national championship game alone than the Pac-12 all season.
5. Stadium Goes Boom
We will end the column not with additional words, but with a video.
The much-anticipated $153 million renovation of Oregon State’s long-awaited, Racer Stadium, began in explosive fashion on Friday with a…
Multiple simultaneous explosions, in fact.
Beavers blasted off the west side of the facility to begin a massive construction project, which is expected to be completed before the 2023 season.
And he caught it on film, from multiple angles.
The video can be found on Twitter via the OSU football handle @BeaversFootball, where it has already been viewed 500,000 times.
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