Week 2 Gold Stars: USC's passing connection and a battle-worn Beaver highlight the list
Welcome to the Week 2 edition of Gold Stars, my weekly look at the Pac-12’s best individual performers.
We’ll keep a running track of the Gold Stars of the Week, all leading up to the Gold Stars of the Year column in December. It’s exactly like the Heisman Trophy, only there’s no ceremony, no trophy, and no one puts this on their résumé. As a note: 1st-place finishers get 3 gold stars, 2nd-place get 2 and 3rd-place gets 1.
Also, I’m on the voting committee for Pac-12 weekly awards, and I’ll include my ballot below Gold Stars.
Last week’s winners were: Arizona WR Jacob Cowing (3 stars), Washington QB Michael Penix (2 stars), Washington State LB Daiyan Henley (1 star).
On to the Gold Stars of Week 2 …
1. USC QB Caleb Williams (3 stars)
Williams looked every bit a Heisman candidate in the first half of a 41-28 win over Stanford.
The former Oklahoma quarterback said he transferred to USC in part because he did not want to restart his college career in a new offense after Lincoln Riley left for Hollywood. He looked plenty comfortable running Riley’s offense in his Pac-12 debut against the Cardinal.
Williams had touchdown passes on 4 of USC’s first 5 drives to open the game, including a gorgeous 75-yard bomb to Pittsburgh transfer Jordan Addison.
While he lost a bit of his accuracy in the second half, he still finished 20-of-27 for 341 yards, making him 45-of-57 overall this season for 671 yards with 6 scores and no interceptions.
Here’s guessing he ends up on this list often.
2. Oregon State S Kitan Oladapo (2 stars)
The Beavers’ defensive back served as the last line of defense against the dynamic Fresno State passing game and quarterback Jake Haener. While Haener had his fun against the Oregon State defense, Oladapo stopped him from having an absolute party.
Oladapo had five tackles and a key pass breakup at the Beavers’ 5-yard line near the end of the second quarter, forcing the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal. At the end of the third quarter, he had a crucial 3rd-down sack and he added 5 more tackles in the fourth quarter.
It’s not just his production, either. The Oregon State redshirt junior was a Pro Football Focus Third-Team All-Pac-12 selection last year.
— ron callan (@roncallan) September 11, 2022
3. USC WR Jordan Addison (1 star)
Is there a more electric player in all of college football than the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner?
Addison had 7 catches for 172 yards and 2 scores against the Cardinal, and both of his touchdowns were highlight reel material.
On the first, Addison took a short in route, waited for the blocking to set up in front of him and then displayed tremendous body control in weaving through traffic for a 22-yard score.
His second touchdown was just a thing of beauty, a 75-yard deep bomb from Williams. Addison hauled in the pass and wiggled his way out of a touchdown-saving tackle to pick up his fourth score of the early season and his 21st since the beginning of last year.
JORDAN ADDISON GOES THE DISTANCE 😱 pic.twitter.com/sh62Bcomdl
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 11, 2022
My Pac-12 Weekly Awards ballot:
Defensive Line POW: USC DL Tuli Tuipulotu
Tuipulotu had 6 tackles, including 4 for loss, in the Trojans’ win over Stanford. The star junior also had a sack, a pass break-up and a forced fumble.
Defensive POW: Oregon State S Kitan Oladapo
Oladapo has been one of the Beavers’ top defenders this year and the end of last year. He has 31 tackles in his past 4 games, including 15 against Fresno State on Saturday. His sack on 3rd-and-13 forced a Bulldogs punt in the third quarter.
Honorable mentions: USC DB Max Williams, USC DL Tuli Tuipulotu, Arizona State LB Kyle Soelle
Freshman POW: Arizona WR Tetairoa McMillan
With quarterback Jayden de Laura and wideout Jacob Cowing off on their timing, McMillan showed why he was the Wildcats’ top recruit in program history. McMillan had 4 receptions for 69 yards, including a 27-yard grab.
Offensive Line POW: Washington State OL Jarrett Kingston
Washington State’s offensive line held strong on a sustained final drive, which allowed the Cougars to run out the clock. Against a strong Wisconsin defense, Kingston did not allow a pressure on WSU’s 50 snaps.
Offensive POW: USC QB Caleb Williams
Williams has been a standout for the Trojans through 2 games, ranking No. 2 nationally in completion percentage and passing efficiency and No. 3 in yards per attempt.
The Caleb Williams Renaissance continues with @USC_FB 🐴
🔻 20/27 Comp/Att
🔻 341 Pass Yds
🔻 4 TD pic.twitter.com/QkpGt332pw
— ESPN (@espn) September 11, 2022
Honorable mentions: Oregon State RB Deshaun Fenwick, Utah TE Dalton Kincaid, Oregon QB Bo Nix
Special Teams POW: Oregon State P Luke Loecher
Loecher ranks second in the Pac-12 and 18th nationally in punting average, with 45.22 yards per boot. He was even better against Fresno State, punting 5 times for a 47.8 yard average, including a 64-yarder.