Welcome back for this week’s Gold Nuggets, Saturday Out West columnist Jon Gold’s weekly trip around the Pac-12.

Read below for news, notes and quotes from Week 10 …

Arizona: Overlooked freshman making others pay

True freshman linebacker Jacob Manu is putting all the FBS schools who overlooked him on his hit list. In other words, all the other FBS coaches.

Arizona was the lone program that offered Manu a scholarship, but he’s made an instant impact with the Wildcats. Manu had 7 tackles against the Trojans, seeing the field in several different packages.

“He’s growing up, he’s one of our main guys,” UA defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen told reporters, according to AZ Desert Swarm’s Brian J. Pederson. “He’s very vocal with the older kids and I think they’re starting to follow his leadership, so I’m very proud of where he’s at right now.”

Arizona State: Aguano calls a blowout

If something looked different about the Arizona State offense on Saturday, it may have been a bit of Shaun Aguano’s creativity. Aguano, who seized play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas, helped the Sun Devils ring up a season-high 557 offensive yards and 6 touchdowns against overmatched Colorado.

With Aguano and former backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet taking the reins of the offense, the Sun Devils looked better than they have all year by mixing it up.

Bourguet hit 9 different receivers in a 435-yard day as Aguano pushed the pace.

“The kids were excited just because I think there’s so many kids that played in that system prior from coming to high school, I think they’re used to that,” Aguano told reporters after the game, according to Arizona Sports’ Jake Anderson. “So that tempo helped us, especially keeping the defense off balance.”

Cal: No change at QB

Give credit where credit is due: Justin Wilcox is standing by his man.

He said as much on Saturday night after Kai Millner outshined Jack Plummer on Saturday in a 42-24 loss to No. 8 Oregon. When asked if Plummer would remain Cal’s starting quarterback, Wilcox quickly responded yes, according to Cal Sports Report’s Jake Curtis. Then he added about Millner, “I thought he did a good job when he got the opportunity to get in there.”

Riding a 4-game losing streak in a season that is surely going south, Wilcox is resisting the temptation to go with the redshirt freshman.

For now. And that’s a big “for now.” After completing 8-of-11 passes for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions, Millner heads back to the bench perhaps along with Wilcox’s future. Wilcox is in no danger of losing his job after signing a 6-year extension reportedly worth $28.5 million, with an escalating buyout clause that starts at $3.6 million this year and increases to $3.75 million in 2023, $3.9 million in 2024, $4.05 million in 2025 and $4.2 million in 2026.

But he could lose favor with Cal fans and recruits if Plummer falters while Millner sits.

Colorado: Maybe a change at QB for Buffaloes

Much like credit is due to Wilcox for his handling of the Bears’ quarterback situation, so too is credit due to Colorado’s interim coach Mike Sanford, who could be on his way to playing the long game with Owen McCown.

The true freshman quarterback has looked pretty decent in parts of 4 games with 3 starts, but he remains banged up with a core injury and his redshirt remains intact. Choosing to shut him down the rest of the way and rolling with JT Shrout might just be the prudent decision.

“Those are ongoing discussions that we’re having internally,” Sanford told reporters on Saturday after Colorado’s 42-34 loss to Colorado, according to BuffZone’s Brian Howell. “I want to do what’s, No. 1, best for the student-athlete, because that’s what we’re here for is to put those guys in the best positions possible.”

With the Buffaloes out of bowl contention at 1-7, Sanford’s decision is made a little easier. McCown made it a little tougher when he played better — and sooner — than expected, completing 57-of-100 passes for 600 yards and 2 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. Shrout, meanwhile, has completed 56-of-130 passes for 729 yards with 5 scores and 4 picks.

“When you get into this type of a stretch and you’re already a little bit banged up, we have to think about he’s the type of player that probably traditionally would have redshirted,” Sanford said. “I mean, he’s a developmental player.”

Oregon: Ducks’ 3rd-down defense leaves a lot to be desired

Oregon’s 3rd-down defense was exposed in a Week 1 loss to Georgia, when they allowed 9-of-10 conversions en route to a 49-3 loss.

And again in Week 3 against BYU, and again Week 6 against Arizona and again in Week 7 against UCLA.

For all the good the Ducks have done this year, with a 7-1 start and a No. 8 ranking in both the College Football Playoff poll and the Associated Press poll, Oregon ranks 126th in the country in opposing 3rd-down conversion rate at 47.3 percent.

Things were on the upswing on Saturday against Cal. The Bears converted just 4-of-15 3rd downs in a 42-24 Ducks win.

Oregon State: One step forward, two steps back for Beavers in injury department

With Chance Nolan returning to practice to back up 3-0 Ben Gulbranson, not all is well in Corvallis.

Head coach Jonathan Smith told reporters that starting left guard Marco Brewer will miss the rest of the season with an undisclosed injury after exiting the Beavers’ 42-9 win over Colorado. In Brewer’s place enters Heneli Bloomfield, the team’s top-rated guard according to Pro Football Focus.

Smith also said safety Alton Julian would be shut down for the season after failing to improve after requiring knee surgery last October. Smith said Julian’s knee “wasn’t recovering the way we want,” according to the Oregonian’s Nick Daschel.

Stanford: Starting safety Patrick Fields named semifinalist for Wuerffel Trophy

Fields, who is studying for his master’s in management science and engineering after earning 2 degrees at Oklahoma, was named a semifinalist for the second straight year. He finished as a finalist last year for the award, which is known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” and named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel of Florida.

“These twelve young men separated themselves from a remarkable group of nominees because of their service to others and their wide-ranging impact on those around them,” Wuerffel said of the semifinalists. “They are leaders not only on their teams but in their university communities and hometowns as well. Congratulations to the 2022 Wuerffel Trophy semifinalists.”

Fields planned and led a 3-day mentorship and networking event in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., prior to Juneteenth, bringing together high school and college students with black business owners, leaders and mentors. While a Sooner, Fields founded the Black Wall Street Scholarship, a collaboration with the president of the OU National Black Alumni Association “to establish an endowment with the purpose of providing scholarships for underrepresented and lower-income students from inner-city Tulsa.”

UCLA: Late kickoff irks Kelly

Chip Kelly usually doesn’t concern himself with such trivial things at kickoff times, but when UCLA’s top players are fighting for national recognition, he balked at the Bruins’ 7:30 start at Arizona State on Saturday night.

“The only thing that’s sad about starting at 7:30 at night is we have a running back that’s No. 2 in the country in all-purpose yards and three-quarters of the country doesn’t get a chance to see him play,” Kelly told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch. “How many people on the East Coast saw that run (against Stanford) that we just talked about for Zach (Charbonnet)? Part of being able to play earlier in the day is those highlights are shown throughout the day.

“I could tell you the highlights of all the games that occurred at noon ‘cause we were in our hotel room, we were here (at the Luskin Center on campus) and you could watch all of them. So part of the one thing that’s sad about playing those night games is the exposure that our student-athletes don’t get that other student-athletes get.”

It makes sense that Kelly bristles at the late kick: Charbonnet and Dorian Thompson-Robinson are in the running for some major awards.

USC: Young offensive lineman gets praise from older teammates

With one of the best offensive linemen in college football sidelined on Saturday, the Trojans were forced into some musical chairs up front.

Justin Dedich moved to left guard, Jonah Monheim slid inside to right guard and Mason Murphy picked up his first career start at right tackle.

His performance in a 45-37 win at Arizona drew rave reviews from his teammates.

“We knew he was ready,” Monheim told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Ryan Kartje. “(My advice was) just go out there and don’t hesitate. You’re good enough, you prepared well enough. Just let it fly, let it rip. We’ve got his back no matter what. That’s what I told him. I think he did that.”

Utah: Offense could look drastically different Saturday

Already down one potential all-American tight end, the Utes might be down another on Saturday in a Saturday night matchup with Arizona.

Losing Dalton Kincaid, who was injured scoring a touchdown in Utah’s 21-17 win over Washington State last Thursday, would be a big blow to the Utah offense, which already might be without Cameron Rising for a second straight week.

Even more than the offense changed when Rising went out and Bryson Barnes was called in, Kincaid’s absence would send ripples throughout the offense.

“I wouldn’t say drastically but the wide receivers become more prevalent in what you’re doing,” Whittingham told reporters, according to the Deseret News’ Jeff Call. “The guys that are available need to step up and pick up the slack. We’ll see how things develop.”

Washington: Huskies get back a baller with a month left

Stud linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio is getting right just as he can make the biggest impact for the Huskies down the stretch. The talented run-stuffer, who suffered a knee injury late last year, is back practicing in pads, according to the Seattle Times’ Mike Vorel. Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer said that the second-team all-conference selection could make his season debut this Friday against Oregon State, though he’ll see more time against Oregon in a huge matchup next week.

Whenever Ulofoshio makes his debut, DeBoer expects big things.

“You can tell, with the way he moves and his body type and his size, there’s a confidence that certain guys move with that he certainly has,” DeBoer said. “Having him out there is great for his psyche but also our team’s, taking a couple reps out there. But I’m sure it will take a little while to knock the rust off, too.”

Washington State: Cougars looking to finish strong

Jake Dickert knows a thing or two about closing out on a good note.

The Washington State head coach had his interim tag removed because of the Cougars’ 3-1 finish down the stretch last year, which included a 40-13 Apple Cup victory over the hated Huskies.

Now with the Cougars at 4-4 and needing 2 more wins for bowl eligibility, Dickert knows how to control the message.

“We gotta bounce back, and we’ve got four winnable football games,” Dickert said, according to the Seattle Times’ Colton Clark. “They’ll remember November. We’ve got an opportunity to be a really good team and put our stamp on the season.

“This isn’t heads down and moping around, all is lost. This isn’t that. It won’t be that, and it starts with me.”