Gold Nuggets Week 12: UCLA stifles USC's GameDay aspirations once more
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 12 …
Arizona: Jayden de Laura faces familiar foe
Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura’s attitude about facing his former team flipped on Tuesday, according to the Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev. After saying of Saturday’s matchup with Washington State, “It’s personal,” de Laura took his foot off the gas pedal when speaking with the media three days later.
“At the end of the day, it’s just another opponent,” de Laura said. “We just go in this week, grind, watch the film. And then, offensively and defensively, we go out there on game day and do our thing.”
Had de Laura struggled in his time at Washington State, that would be one thing. But he thrived, winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors last season in Pullman.
“I would love to say that it’s gonna be just another game for everybody,” UA coach Jedd Fisch said. “I would assume that it’s going to have some form of an impact on Jayden. He was the starting quarterback there. He was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year there. And now he’s here. It’s Jayden’s job to make sure it doesn’t affect him and he doesn’t play the game any differently. That he goes out there and he executes in the manner that he executed last week. And I believe he will. As you all know, I believe in Jayden de Laura very much.
“If he could just play within himself and not let the opponent affect him and treat them like they’re nameless and faceless, in a lot of ways that will help him and all of us.”
Arizona State: Shaun Aguano makes his pitch for Sun Devils to stay local
Even if he doesn’t end up getting the permanent coaching gig with Arizona State, Shaun Aguano is invested in the program and the area as a former head coach at Chandler High. He wants to ensure whoever gets the job has some ties to the community.
“The continuity, the passion for Arizona State football. It’s hard for somebody to come from the outside that has no idea what Arizona State football means to people,” Aguano said, according to the Arizona Republic’s Michelle Gardner. “I think that’s No. 1, especially in this transition in understanding what type of recruited athletes that we want here, to build a program that is disciplined and held accountable, and put on a product that is tough, that never quits. Those are the type of things that, from a criteria standpoint, that I would want to see as being a Sun Devil fan myself. And so, those are the things that I think are important to the Sun Devil community and hopefully, that fits well.”
Aguano has done a respectable job, going 2-5 with losses to 3 ranked teams and an upset win over then-No. 21 Washington. But he has no time as an FBS coordinator or head coach, other than this interim stint. He is said to be a candidate for the gig, but the ASU athletic leadership has hired a search firm to aid with the hire.
Cal: Horrible offensive showing costs 2 coaches their jobs
Cal’s offense, which has had its moments at times this year, fell to a new low on Saturday in a 38-10 loss at Oregon State.
The Bears managed just 9 rushing yards — including just 20 for lead rusher Jaydn Ott — and 147 passing yards in the loss.
Head coach Justin Wilcox reacted to the putrid performance by firing the 2 coaches most responsible for the drop in play: Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and offensive line coach Angus McClure, both in their third seasons with the program.
“I felt these changes to our coaching staff were needed and made them with the best interest of our football program in mind,” Wilcox said. “We thank Bill and Angus for their contributions and the investments they made in Cal football, and we wish them all of the best in their future endeavors.”
Colorado: Buffaloes get back another talented back
Two weeks ago, Alex Fontenot returned from a long layoff to get his first game action since September, and last weekend he burst through for his 1st 100-yard game this season.
Now the Buffaloes expect to get another top running back back in the fold on Saturday against No. 15 Washington. Deion Smith, who was injured against Oregon on Nov. 5, returns against the Huskies to give the Buffaloes a solid 1-2 punch.
“Alex is an incredible running back and I think the offensive line, we just try to do our job every play,” offensive lineman Tommy Brown said, according to Buffzone’s Brian Howell. “It doesn’t work out every time, but most of the time we do our job and things go well, so we’re just gonna keep doing that.”
Oregon: Ducks’ vaunted offensive line suffers a blow
First came the insult — in the form of a sack allowed on Saturday in a 37-34 loss to the Washington Huskies on Saturday, just the unit’s 2nd sack allowed this season.
Then came the injury, or make that plural. Ducks star center Alex Forsyth and guard Ryan Walk suffered shoulder and foot injuries, respectively, in the loss to the Huskies.
Their status is in doubt for Saturday’s big game against Utah, though Dan Lanning has not provided an update on their health.
“We came away dinged in that game,” Lanning said Monday night, according to the Oregonian’s James Crepea. “I will say that I feel a lot more positive today getting to hear some news on where things are at right now.”
Oregon State: Beavers’ win over Cal a lucrative for Jonathan Smith
The Oregonian’s Nick Daschel reported this week that Oregon State’s 38-10 over Cal wasn’t just a blowout for the Beavers but a blow-up for Jonathan Smith’s contract.
“A clause in Smith’s contract adds another year if OSU wins at least 7 games during the 5th, 6th or 7th year of his tenure,” Daschel reported.
The Beavers’ win over Cal was their 7th of the season, giving Smith an extra guaranteed year at the helm of his alma mater, worth a reported $4.75 million salary. And Smith’s earning potential isn’t over yet.
“As for remaining 2022 bonuses, Smith earns an additional $25,000 if OSU beats Oregon, $50,000 if the Beavers participate in a bowl game, and $25,000 if he’s Pac-12 coach of the year,” Daschel wrote. “If OSU wins exactly 8 regular-season games, Smith earns a $50,000 bonus, and 9 regular-season games nets him $75,000.”
Stanford: Big Game a potential saving grace for failing Cardinal, Bears
With both teams entering the 125th Big Game with 3-7 records, both Stanford and Cal were playing for little more than respect long ago. Now they’ll play for Bay Area bragging rights without much else on the line.
“Without a bowl being in reach, it gives guys something else to focus on,” defensive lineman Stephen Herron said, according to Alex Simon of the San Jose Mercury News.
“This game is kind of a season within itself. Both teams being from the Bay Area, fans on both sides of the Bay,” center Drake Nugent said. “Even around here, I just feel the students, the fans, everyone cares about this just a little bit more, just because it is that close of a rivalry game.”
UCLA: Bruins play GameDay keep-away with USC
There is no better platform for a college football Saturday than ESPN’s College GameDay.
Somehow, UCLA has kept its cross-town rival off the prestigious programming for a second time this year, as TrojansWire’s Matt Zemek pointed out.
The Bruins’ Week 11 upset loss to Arizona prevented a top-10 matchup between the two Los Angeles teams for the first time since 2014. Instead, GameDay will take its road show to Bozeman, Montana for the Montana State-Montana game on Saturday.
This is not the only time the Bruins had a hand in stifling USC’s attention ambitions. In Week 6, UCLA beat Utah, 42-32, dealing the Utes their 2nd loss of the season. It also caused GameDay to skip the Utah/USC game the following week.
USC: Korey Foreman comes to the forefront against Colorado
If Friday’s blowout win over Colorado was any indication, former USC top recruit Korey Foreman might be ready to turn his talent into something grander for the Trojans.
Foreman played fewer than 20 snaps against the Buffaloes, but he earned an elite run defense grade of 91.0, in addition to an overall 75.2 grade by Pro Football Focus. He had 3 tackles, including a tackle-for-loss, in the win.
“He did some good things for us tonight,” USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said, according to USCFootball.com’s RJ Abeytia. “We’re just constantly trying to find ways to stimulate guys to make plays and find those individuals that will and then also from that, they’ve got to be consistent. It was good to see him make some plays for us.”
Utah: Talented wideout ready to test the NFL Draft
Utes leading wide receiver Devaughn Vele has made it clear that he is ready to test the NFL waters after a 4-year Utah career, despite the fact that he has 2 years of eligibility remaining.
Vele told the Salt Lake Tribune’s Josh Newman that with a 2-year LDS mission under his belt, he understands that he enters the NFL pool older than most with his experience.
“It’s not an eligibility issue, it’s more so my age,” he said. “With me going on a (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) mission, I am a little bit older than a lot of the other guys. They have me as a sophomore, but I’m 24 years old, so time is against me. I want a good shot at the NFL. I think this is the most opportune time to accomplish that.
“I don’t want to leave. It’s not something I want to do. I want to stay here as long as I can, but like I said, the clock is against me. If I was 20 years old, I’d be here for the next 3 years.”
Washington: Kalen DeBoer joins exclusive club
Among their 30 head coaches in program history, the Huskies boasted some of college football’s great minds.
But Kalen DeBoer did what only 1 other Husky head man has been able to do in program history.
DeBoer joined the great Chris Petersen as Washington coaches to win 8 games in their first season at the helm, a drastic turnaround from the Jimmy Lake-led club of the year prior. DeBoer took a diplomatic approach when describing his status as one of the Huskies’ most successful coaches in history.
“There was great talent in the program,” DeBoer said, according to Inside the Huskies’ Dan Raley. “It was getting everyone headed in the right direction. We’re doing that.”
Washington State: Cougars bowl-bound for 7th time in 8 seasons
After leading Washington State to a 2nd-straight bowl game and into the postseason for the 7th time in 8 years, Jake Dickert celebrated the team’s success while decrying its inability to finish off Arizona State in a 28-18 win on Saturday.
“We need to be a little bit more mature to handle leads,” Dickert said, according to CougFan.com’s Jamey Vinnick. “I think it is the second time or so — Colorado State comes to mind. We got a big lead, we did what we needed to do but we didn’t finish the game. It’s maturity, it’s things that we’ll work on. But it wasn’t just the offense, defense didn’t finish the game either.”