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Hit or Miss: Midseason review of the Pac-12

Zach Charbonnet
Zach Charbonnet (USA Today Sports Images)

It’s near the midpoint of the college football season so it’s time to review what I got right and wrong in my preseason predictions as well as name some standouts and disappointments. Here’s the Pac-12.



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... Clay Helton was my No. 1 coach on the hot seat, and he was the first Power Five coach fired this season. It was inevitable that the end would come soon for him at USC, but I doubt few had him gone so early into the season.

... UCLA's RB's were among my top position groups, and they've been outstanding. Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown have combined for more than 1,000 yards already and, as a team, the Bruins are averaging 225 yards per game on the ground.

... I said that CJ Verdell and Charbonnet would have bounceback seasons, and they've been the top two backs in the conference. It is unfortunate that Verdell is down with a season-ending injury but his impact has been felt.



Kedon Slovies
Kedon Slovies (USA Today Sports Images)

... I had Kedon Slovis as the league MVP. USC has been poor this season, and Slovis has already been injured and has not shown any growth over last season. Despite Drake London being arguably the best receiver in the country, Slovis' completion percentage, yards per attempt, and TD-to-INT ratio all are down.

... My top two coaches on the rise were Justin Wilcox and Jimmy Lake, both of whom have fallen flat on their faces. Cal has been one of the most disappointing teams in the country, starting 1-4, and Washington lost to FCS Montana. Not a good look for either coach.

... I had USC winning the South. That's definitely not going to happen.



Drake London
Drake London (USA Today Sports Images)

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Drake London, USC - It's a tough call here among London, Verdell, Charbonnet, and B.J. Baylor, but I'm going with the nation's leader in receptions. Despite up and down quarterback play, London has shown that he is an elite talent, and he's up to second in the country in receiving yards. He's unguardable at the college level.

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Darien Butler, Arizona State - A bit of a surprise pick, but Butler has been the best player on the league's best defense. Without a true standout in the conference, I wanted to highlight a Sun Devils team that leads the conference in total defense and points allowed. Butler is the fifth-highest graded defender in the conference according to PFF and has shown versatility in both stopping the run and being among the best coverage linebackers in the country.

Transfer of the Year: RB Zach Charbonnet, UCLA - Charbonnet has been exactly what the Bruins needed, as he's paired with Brown to form one of the top running back tandems in the country. Despite losses to Arizona State and Fresno State, this UCLA team is firmly in the mix in the Pac-12 South race and is going to be competitive week in and week out.

Offensive Freshman of the Year: WR Jalen McMillan, Washington - There is not a lot to choose from here - the conference as a whole is playing fewer freshmen than anyone else, so it was a tough call, but I went with McMillan, as he leads in yards from scrimmage and total TDs. He has 15 catches for 221 yards and two scores and has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season for the Huskies.

Defensive Freshman of the Year: DB Jimmy Wyrick, Stanford - The true freshman corner has played more snaps than any other first-year player in the conference, and he's excellent in both coverage and as a run defender. He has yet to allow a touchdown when targeted, and opposing quarterbacks have a QB rating of only 44.7 when throwing toward him.

NFL Draft Stock Up: CB Mykael Wright, Oregon — He wasn’t near the top of anyone’s cornerback ratings heading into the season but now he’s squarely in the round two discussion. His game against Ohio State was huge.

NFL Draft Stock Down: QB Kedon Slovis, USC — Slovis was one of many quarterbacks entering the season with the hope of pushing into late first-round discussion. He can forget that now as he’s a mid-rounder if he comes out.

Unsung Hero: OT Kellen Diesch, Arizona State — The Texas A&M transfer has been exceptional for the Sun Devils and as consistent as they come in pass protection and run blocking.