Dynasty Scouts Conference Review: Pac-12 and Around the Nation

Mike Valverde

Here at Dynasty Scouts, we’ll always do our best to keep you informed about the latest happenings in college football. We watch all of the games so you don’t have to. Here’s some of what we noticed this past weekend.


Premier Conference Performer

JuJu Smith-Schuster WR, USC (Junior) vs. Arizona

Nine catches, 133 yards, three touchdowns.

JuJu Smith-Schuster has seen an uptick in his numbers over the last few weeks after starting slowly this season. In the first four weeks he did not go over 100 yards receiving and had only two touchdowns with 19 receptions. In his last three games, he has six touchdowns gone over 100 yards in each game and has 21 catches. It helps when your not facing Alabama and Stanford.

He saved his best for last against Arizona (9-133-3) in a 48-14 victory. Smith-Schuster first touchdown came from three yards out, but it was his next two scores that he made exciting. He caught a screen pass from Sam Darnold that he took 39 yards for the touchdown after breaking several tackles, his third came on a jump ball which he caught and then took it in.

Smith-Schuster is tied for third in receptions (40), second in yards (565), and tied for second in touchdowns (8) for the Pac-12. The USC Trojans are on a three-game winning streak and will face California and Oregon in the next two weeks.

Rising Players

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Mike FaFaul QB, UCLA (Senior) vs. Washington State

24/40 passes, 258 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions.

Mike FaFaul got his first start of the season due to Josh Rosen being out with an injury. He was solid even though he couldn’t drive the UCLA to victory over the Washington State Cougars. Fafaul connected on 24 of 40 passes (60 percent) for 258 yards and three touchdowns. On the negative side he did toss two picks.

The Bruins were down 24-7 in the final quarter before they started to move the ball offensively at a more rapid pace. FaFuel hit Jordan Lasley for five yards with just under 12 minutes remaining in the fourth and then he hit Darren Andrews from four yards away to make the score 27-21 with a little over three minutes later. Unfortunately, after two possessions with the ball they couldn’t score again.

Phillip Lindsay RB, Colorado (Senior) vs. Arizona State

26 carries, 219 yards, three touchdowns.

Colorado was coming off a devastating loss to USC after being ranked in the top 25, so they gave running back Phillip Lindsay all he could handle as he rushed 26 times for 219 yards (8.4 yards per carry) and three touchdowns in the Buffaloes’ 40-16 victory. He ripped off a 75-yard touchdown on the first snap to start the second half and also scored from 13 and four yards out.

Lindsay will try to keep Colorado in first place when he takes on Stanford next week then UCLA the following. He has 614 yards on 107 carries and nine touchdowns. He also has been a good receiver for the Buffaloes’ as he has 21 receptions for 216 yards and a touchdown.

Darren Andrews WR, UCLA (Junior) vs. Washington State

Eight catches, 116 yards, two touchdowns.

Darren Andrews continued to show why he is the number one receiver for UCLA with his eight receptions for 116 yards and two touchdown performance. Even so, his solid performance was not enough to defeat Washington State and UCLA (1-3) now finds themselves buried in the Pac-12 South ahead of only Arizona (0-4).

Andrews first touchdown came on a 22-yard strike from quarterback Mike FaFaul which closed the Cougars lead to 10-7. His second touchdown came on a four-yard toss to cut the score to 27-21, which ended up being the final total. On the season, Andrews has 33 receptions (sixth in Pac-12) for 439 yards (seventh in Pac-12) and three touchdowns.

Falling Players

Ryan Burns QB, Stanford (Senior) vs. Notre Dame

10/19 for 120 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception.

Ryan Burns failed to be very accurate completing just 52 percent of his passes and those he did complete didn’t go very far. He finished with his lowest quarterback rating this season (95.2) and threw an interception without throwing a touchdown. The Stanford brass is already looking forward to seeing what freshman quarterback K.J. Costello can do, and he should get first dibs if Stanford falls out the race for the Pac-12 title. The good news is that Burns didn’t spoil it enough for the Cardinal to lose, breaking a two-game losing streak.

Demario Richard RB, Arizona State (Junior) vs. Colorado

Ten carries, 59 yards, zero touchdowns.

I am not expecting the world from Demario Richard. The Arizona State Sun Devils use Manny Wilkins as a quarterback and a running back so there are just a few opportunities for Richard to use his talents. But, when a player who rushes for just 59 yards with one that goes for a long of 37, shows that he didn’t make much work against Colorado. Taking that long run to the side, he rushed for just 22 yards on nine attempts good for 2.4 yards per carry. Arizona State is also struggling now that they have lost two of three after winning their first four games.

Freshman Spotlight

Sam Darnold, QB, USC (Senior) vs. Arizona State

23/40 passes, 396 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions,

I have to hand it to Sam Darnold. He took over the job given to junior Max Browne, but after three starts, and a 1-2 record, coach Clay Helton made the switch to his freshman. His first Darnold had 253 yards but did not throw a touchdown nor an interception in a loss to Utah. Since then, he has 11 touchdowns and just one interception in his last three games and USC has won all three. He has 102 attempts and has connected on 68 passes (66.6 percent completion rate) for 945 yards. Not only has numbers been stellar, but he also has gotten JuJu Smith-Schuster involved where Browne could not. Smith-Schuster had an 11-99-2 stat line with Browne and a 29-466-6 with Darnold. Even though the freshman signal caller has one more game under his belt, you can see the huge difference.


Premier Conference Performerhenderson

Carlos Henderson WR, Louisiana Tech (Junior) vs. Massachusetts

12 catches, 326 yards, five touchdowns.

Carlos Henderson made Ryan Higgins day that much easier when he caught 12 balls for 326 yards and five touchdowns (27.2 yards per catch average). These totals promoted him to offensive player of the week for Conference USA.

On the first drive Henderson caught a 50-yard touchdown pass and then caught a 42-yarder in the second with just over six minutes remaining. With just five seconds to go in the first half, Henderson was open for five yards and added to his touchdown total. His last touchdown came from six yards out.

Henderson has 20 catches and 558 yards and eight touchdowns the last two games.

Rising Players

Ryan Higgins QB, Louisiana Tech (Senior) vs. Massachusetts

26/33 passing, 484 yards, five touchdowns, one interception.

Ryan Higgins completed 26 of 33 passes (78.9%) for 484 yards and five touchdowns. He did have one interception on the day. That interception ended his streak of 181 consecutive passes without throwing one. The pick occurred in the third quarter with 9:08 remaining. He was pulled from the game with 7:14 remaining.

Higgins is 59 of 78 for 938 yards and ten touchdowns in his last two games.

Jarvion Franklin RB, Western Michigan (Junior) vs. Akron

33 carries, 281 yards, one touchdown.

Quarterback Zach Terrell threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more and Jarvion Franklin contributed with 281 rushing yards and a touchdown as the Broncos destroyed Akron 41-0 and put No. 24 Western Michigan in the top 25 for the first time in school history.

Franklin, whose previous career-high rushing game was 211 yards against Idaho two seasons ago, scored a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He has had 87 carries in his last three games going for 582 yards (6.68 yards per carry) and four touchdowns.

On the season, Franklin has 795 yards rushing and five touchdowns. They have Eastern Michigan and Ball State in the next two weeks as they try to keep their undefeated record alive. They are the only team in the conference without a loss.

Richie James WR, Middle Tennessee (Sophomore) vs. Western Kentucky

16 catches, 223 yards, two touchdowns.

Richie James did all he could to keep Middle Tennessee win streak alive, but fell short in overtime 44-43. James went on to catch 16 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown came with just 0:31 seconds remaining in the first half, as quarterback Brent Stockstill spotted him for a 28-yard touchdown. His second came in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 27 from 38 yards out. His 223-yard performance broke his school record.

Falling Players

Riley Ferguson QB, Memphis  (Junior) vs. Tulane

21/34 passes, 236 yards, one touchdown, one interception.

A difficult day in the pocket for Riley Ferguson, but still led the team to victory. He was successful on 61.8 percent of his passes his lowest on the season. He did throw for 236 yards and a touchdown. His score was the first in his last three games after throwing six against Bowling Green. Even so the Tigers have only lost once all season. He also threw a pick.

Ito Smith RB, Southern Mississippi  (Junior) vs. LSU

16 rushes. 64 yards, one touchdown.

An overall a brutal day for Ito Smith. He has been on the decline for the last three weeks after rushing for over 100 yards four straight games. Even in his last three there has been a drop in production going from 94-yards to 64 yards last week. He did score one touchdown on a one-yard plunge to cap off a long drive to open the first quarter. On the season, Smith has 775 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He leads the Conference-USA in yards and is sixth in touchdowns.

Equanimous St. Brown WR, Notre Dame (Sophomore) vs. Stanford

Three catches, 40 yards, zero touchdowns.

Not sure what is going on with Equanimous St. Brown, but he is struggling to make things happen. His last two games are an indication of that. Two weeks ago he only caught three passes for 30 yards and now its three catches for just 40 yards or a combined 6-70-0. Given that 5-75-2 was his lowest output of the season it makes a person scratch their head in wonderment.

I will give the fact that NC State and Stanford or not the easiest teams to move the ball on, but he is slowly declining. He is still leading the Independent Conference in yards and touchdowns and is third in receptions. He will try to rebound against Miami.

Freshman Spotlight

Brandon Mcllwain QB, South Carolina vs. Eastern Carolina

16/28 passing, for 195 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions; nine carries, 34 yards, two touchdowns.

Brandon Mcllwain played the short game upon facing the Eastern Carolina Pirates and came away with the victory. He was on point with 57 percent of his attempts and finished with 195 yards. Most of his damage came with his feet however as ran for 34 yards and two touchdowns, making the difference in the game.

Next up for the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-1) will be on the road to Kentucky then home against #10 Texas A&M.


mike valverde
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