Week 4 Gold Stars: Cal freshman Jaydn Ott has first career day of many
Welcome to the Week 4 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.
Week 3 winners were: Washington QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington State LB Daiyan Henley, Washington WR Ja’Lynn Polk.
Week 2 winners were: USC QB Caleb Williams (3 stars), Oregon State S Kitan Oladapo, USC WR Jordan Addison (1 star).
Week 1 winners were: Arizona WR Jacob Cowing (3 stars), Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (2 stars), Washington State LB Daiyan Henley (1 star).
|Michael Penix Jr.||Washington||Quarterback||5|
|Jaydn Ott||Cal||Running Back||3|
|Daiyan Henley||Washington State||Linebacker||3|
|Jacob Cowing||Arizona||Wide Receiver||3|
|Kitan Oladapo||Oregon State||Safety||2|
|Jordan Addison||USC||Wide Receiver||1|
|Ja'Lynn Polk||Washington||Wide Receiver||1|
On to the Gold Stars of Week 4 …
1. Cal RB Jaydn Ott (3 stars)
The Cal freshman running back put on an absolute clinic against the Arizona defense, reeling off the best day by a Bears back since Jahvid Best put up 311 yards against Washington in 2008. Ott only rushed for 274 yards, ho-hum. Just the best single-game total of the season so far.
But it was the way Ott ran that is particularly inspiring.
His 73- and 72-yard touchdown runs were not busted calls by the Wildcats’ defense. They were Grown Man runs. Ott was patient, let the offensive line set their blocks, waited for contact, hit the burners and power-ran his way into the end zone. Both times. And they’ll go down as two of the best plays of the season.
Now the same question has to be asked of Ott. Cal’s highest recruit of the Justin Wilcox era is following in the footsteps of Bears greats Best, Marshawn Lynch and Shane Vereen. He’s off to a scintillating start with 463 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first 4 games, with a 200-yard game and a 100-yard game. Yikes.
2. Oregon QB Bo Nix (2 stars)
The Embattled Bo Nix (TM) has bounced back in a big way from a season-opening beat-down at the hands of Georgia, the best team in college football.
Nix was ruthlessly efficient in Weeks 2 and 3 against vastly different opponents; he went 28-of-33 for 277 yards and 5 touchdowns and no interceptions in a 70-14 win over FCS beast Eastern Washington in Week 2 and 13-for-18 for 222 yards and 2 scores with no picks in a Week 3 41-20 win over BYU.
But he was at another level on Saturday at Washington State. Battling from behind the whole game, Nix went 33-of-44 for 428 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception in a 44-41 win. Nix was particularly good down the stretch, tossing 2 touchdowns in the final 3 minutes, 48 seconds.
He flashed his arm several times.
One of many great passes from THE Bo Nix!🔥💯 pic.twitter.com/MKbHo39YgX
— Sir Mells (@SirMells40) September 26, 2022
3. UCLA LB Laiatu Latu (1 star)
The Bruins linebacker continues his comeback player of the year candidacy, tallying another multi-sack game with a career-high 3 sacks, along with four tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass defended in a 45-17 win at Colorado.
While the Buffaloes aren’t exactly the strongest opponent (AKA the weakest) and they started a true freshman quarterback in his first game, the UCLA defense shined in a way it hasn’t in quite some time. It started with the season-high five sacks, and that’s where Latu stepped up the most.
His return from what was thought to be a career-ending neck in jury at Washington is one of the stories of the year.
My Pac-12 Weekly Awards ballot:
Defensive Line POW: UCLA DE Laiatu Latu
Latu won plenty of 1-on-1 matchups against a flat Colorado offensive line, and he propelled himself to the top of the conference sack leaderboard.
Defensive POW: UCLA DE Laiatu Latu
Latu’s sacks were as timely as they were impactful; his 3rd-quarter sack of Colorado QB Owen McCown led to a touchdown 2 plays later. He was constantly in the Colorado backfield.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) September 26, 2022
Honorable mentions: Oregon LB Noah Sewell, Oregon State S Kitan Oladapo.
Freshman POW: Cal RB Jaydn Ott
Has there been a more obvious selection in the history of this award? Maybe the best day by a Pac-12 freshman in conference history.
Offensive Line POW: Cal LT Ben Coleman
The entire Cal offensive line deserves the award, but Coleman was the main mauler in Ott’s big day. Coleman played all 70 snaps at left tackle and had a 93% grade from the Cal coaches.
Offensive POW: Cal RB Jaydn Ott
Getting one 73-yard touchdown is enough. Adding another 72-yard touchdown in the same game is absurd. Finishing with 274 rushing yards is enough. Doing it as a freshman is absurd. Ott’s big day was the biggest day of the year so far for an FBS running back, and it could hold up all year.
Honorable mentions: Oregon QB Bo Nix, Washington State QB Cameron Ward, USC RB Travis Dye.
TRUE FRESHMAN JAYDN OTT OMG
19 Carries – 274 Rush Yards – 3 TDs
TD runs of 18, 72, and 73 🦦
HE IS SPECIAL 🥶🥶🥶 pic.twitter.com/vJwcIzDSJX
— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) September 25, 2022
Special Teams POW: Washington K Peyton Henry
Henry had an 8-for-8 day, including all 4 field goals and all 4 PATs, in a 16-point day in Washington’s 40-22 win over Stanford. He leads the Pac-12 in points this year.