Week 6 Gold Stars: UCLA takes top 2 spots
Welcome to the Week 6 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 5 winners were: Utah CB Clark Phillips III (3 stars), UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (2 stars) and Arizona QB Jayden de Laura (1 star).
Week 4 winners were: Cal RB Jaydn Ott (3 stars), Oregon QB Bo Nix (2 stars) and UCLA LB Laiatu Latu (1 star).
Week 3 winners were: Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (3 stars), Washington State LB Daiyan Henley (2 stars), Washington WR Ja’Lynn Polk (1 star).
Week 2 winners were: USC QB Caleb Williams (3 stars), Oregon State S Kitan Oladapo (2 stars), 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|
|Daiyan Henley||Washington State||Linebacker||3|
|Jacob Cowing||Arizona||Wide Receiver||3|
|Jaydn Ott||Cal||Running Back||3|
|Kitan Oladapo||Oregon State||Safety||2|
|Zach Charbonnet||UCLA||Running Back||2|
|Ja'Lynn Polk||Washington||Wide Receiver||1|
|Jordan Addison||USC||Wide Receiver||1|
|Jayden de Laura||Arizona||Quarterback||1|
|Tuli Tuipulotu||USC||Defensive Lineman||1|
On to the Gold Stars of Week 6 …
1. UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (3 stars)
The UCLA senior quarterback has set a new standard for his play the past 2 weeks, and in the process, entered himself firmly in the Heisman Trophy race.
Thompson-Robinson has been remarkably efficient, and that continued on Saturday against Utah, which shut down Oregon State’s passing game the week prior. DTR completed 18-of-23 passes for 299 yards and 4 touchdowns with 1 late meaningless interception, and he added a rushing touchdown, as well.
In the process, he became UCLA’s all-time passing touchdown leader, surpassing Brett Hundley, and he moved past Josh Rosen and into second place on the career pass completions list.
The Bruins’ offense has been really clicking lately; they scored on their first 4 drives of the second half to run away with the game.
DORIAN THOMPSON-ROBINSON HAS NOW BROKEN THE SCHOOL RECORD FOR MOST CAREER TOUCHDOWN PASSES WITH THIS 70-YARD STRIKE pic.twitter.com/76uv7aIcs7
— Barstool UCLA (@StoolWestwood) October 8, 2022
2. UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet (2 stars)
Charbonnet had a revelatory performance against Utah in a 42-32 win, looking like arguably the best back in the country en route to 198 yards and a score on 22 carries against a very good defense.
Charbonnet’s yardage was a career-best, and it’s clear that coach Chip Kelly was holding him back early this season and saving him for bigger things. He’s had 22 carries each of the past 2 weeks, combining for better than 320 yards. Utah and Washington just wilted against the Bruins’ mighty back.
He now ranks 6th in the country in rushing yards per game and 1st in the conference.
Along with Cal’s Jaydn Ott and Oregon’s Bucky Irving, Charbonnet is 1 of 3 Pac-12 running backs averaging over 7.0 yards per carry.
Have a DAY Zach Charbonnet! 💨
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) October 8, 2022
3. USC LB Tuli Tuipulotu (1 star)
In a crowded field, the USC stud pass rusher stands atop the rest of the Pac-12 defenders and among the nation’s elite.
Tuipulotu had a career day in a 30-14 win over Washington State, sacking Cameron Ward 3 times and racking up 4.0 tackles for loss to jump to the top of the national leaderboard in both categories. Tuipulotu now has 7 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss on the year, fine numbers for a full season, much less a half-dozen games.
USC’s defensive line has been a dominant force at times this year, and now the Trojans lead the nation with 24.0 sacks. They were particularly efficient against the Cougars, holding Wazzu to its lowest point total of the season.
My Pac-12 Weekly Awards ballot:
Defensive Line POW: USC DL Tuli Tuipulotu
Tuipulotu had 5 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 3 sacks, including 2 sacks in 3 1st-quarter plays. He leads the nation in sacks with 1.17 per game.
USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu already has two sacks against Washington State. Gets the first one by short stepping his get off to get the RT to shoot hands early before engaging and just pulling him forward to shed the block. pic.twitter.com/zkXnCTRKVX
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) October 9, 2022
Defensive POW: USC DL Tuli Tuipulotu
Tuipulotu’s 4.0 tackles for loss gives him 12.5 on the season, a nation-leading 2.1 per game.
Honorable mentions: Arizona State DB Jordan Clark, Utah CB Clark Phillips III, UCLA LB Darius Muasau
Freshman POW: Washington State RB Jaylen Jenkins
Jenkins had a tremendous all-around game, rushing for 130 yards and added 54 receiving yards on two catches. Jaydn Ott may soon have some competition for freshman of the year honors.
Offensive Line POW: Oregon OT TJ Bass
I’m going with Bass in back-to-back weeks, as he posted a tremendous 82.4 PFF grade and helped Oregon rush for 306 yards and 7 scores, the Ducks’ second straight 300-yard day. Oregon also allowed zero sacks, with just one allowed this year.
Offensive POW: UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Thompson-Robinson tallied five total touchdowns, 4 through the air, 1 on the ground, and completed 82.6 percent of his passes, continuing his exceptional accuracy. He has vaulted to the top of the conference player of the year rankings.
Honorable mentions: Oregon QB Bo Nix, UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet, Oregon State WR Tre’Shaun Harrison, USC RB Travis Dye
Special Teams POW: Arizona State K Carter Brown
Brown connected on a career-high 53-yard field goal that stands as the sixth-longest field goal in program history. More importantly, it was the longest field goal made by a true freshman in ASU history. He’s been one of the conference’s best freshmen.