This week, I really feel like I need to call out some slightly different people. Without further adieu:
THE HALLOWEEN SPICE DROPS AWARD OF BEING A TOTAL STUD
This award was a tough one. I wanted to give it to Sean Mannion because he is a total stud. Sean has turned into the type of QB that makes those around him better. I also thought about giving this to a running back as both Ward and Woods have really come on strong. But this week I wanted to give it to someone new, someone that has been steady all year and yet has not received any fanfare.
Josh Mitchell is the center and has been a steady player all year. This week, he really stood out to me on a lot of plays. When you watch the early big run by Ward, Mitchell takes his guy down and ends up blocking two guys. It wasn’t a blow up block in terms of knocking his guy off the line, but it wasn’t meant to be. He created a lane for the defender, which he took and then he closed the door on him and gave Ward a lane to run in.
Throughout the game Josh was key in finishing combo blocks, picking up blitzes and played very much like Alex Linnenkohl did. He was smart and violent when needed. I think Josh and all of the interior linemen took a big step forward this week, but I just keep seeing 50 making block after block or flying around down field. Josh is going to be a great player over the next three years, and I have been excited to see him play better each week.
THE JUJIFRIUT AWARD FOR JUST GETTING BETTER
Not that he didn’t play great at times this year, but honestly, Lavonte Barnett was instrumental in Oregon State winning this weekend not only with his sack, but with the pressure he was able to get on the quarterback late in the game. Barnett has gotten better and better each week. He is getting better with his hands and in shedding his blockers. He has good speed to cover ground and has been a very solid tackler.
The other part of Lavonte that I appreciate is that he has been in the program a while and is really making the most of his shot. Like Jabral Johnson last year, Barnett is getting in the game and making a difference. So this award is for you Lavante, keep up the great work!
THE GOOD N’ PLENTY AWARD OF WHY THE CRAP DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING?
Watching Coach MacIntyre flip his lid at the end of the game was humorous for sure, but it underlies a bigger issue within the Pacific-12 and that is the trouble with officiating. While I am sure Coach MacIntyre was equally as distressed with the terrible PI call that gave him a first down on 3rd and 7 on a drive that ended with them scoring a touchdown, or the no call when Mullaney got face-masked by the defender in the endzone. A defender that never once turned to look at the ball. Yes, I am sure that Mikey Mac was livid at the horrid officiating against the Beavers as well.
No, no he wasn’t, and that is the problem. It is fans.
Duck fans will swear up and down that the refs killed them in the Arizona game. Totally ignoring their HUGE issues at receiver and offensive line or the massive lack of discipline by their linebackers and lack of attack by the Pellum regime. Likewise, Arizona fans probably wonder why they got called for REPEATED penalties like Unsportsman Like Penalties and holding, while the ducks enjoyed a relative freedom to slam shoulders into prone heads and hold jerseys like a Black Friday sale at the Beaver Store.
Beaver fans can complain about a lot, as can Colorado fans. I guarantee there was some ref jobbing against WSU and a few calls that Cal thinks were suspect at best. Same for the fans of all teams. The reality is that refs are not perfect. They never have been. Overall I think officiating in the Pac 12 is down, even with the exodus of King Phantom Infraction Jay Strickertz. The thing is, while it is terrible, it is equally terrible for everyone. The thing I DID like about the officiating on Saturday for the Beavers is that it was equally lacking. While I think the afore mentioned pass interference call was a bad one, the huge no calls felt pretty even across the board. I would rather have fewer penalties and bitch about no calls than a ton of penalties and bitch about how hard it was to do anything.
So this week, I am giving out a co-award for shaming the game of football. Partially it goes to the overall worsening of officiating in the conference, but equally shared is the fans response to said officiating and our inability to see the gifts we git amid the jealousy towards the gifts of others. Mike MacIntyre can flip his lid over a lack of a call on their last drive, but he certain benefitted by 14 points from the miscues that the Beavers were dealt by the refs. I don’t know about you guys, but 45 – 24 would have been a way better score in my mind for that game. Of course as the winner it is far easier to be objective about these things…