Midseason All-Pac 12 Team: Offense
Midseason All-Pac 12 Team: Offense
The Pac 12 has looked strong this season, making an excellent case for being the strongest conference in the nation from top to bottom. They blazed through their non-conference schedule, playing as many automatic qualifying schools as anybody and coming out ahead more often than not. As the season crests over the midway point and we begin coming down towards the end of the year, it’s time to see which Pac 12 stars shined brightest through the first half of the year.
Many of the selections for the Midseason Offense All-Pac 12 team were incredibly difficult to make and could have easily gone to any number of players left off this list. Sean Mannion has broken several records already for the Oregon State Beavers as he leads the nation in passing…but he couldn’t crack this list. The tight end position has also been extremely strong so the most talented tight end in college football, Austin Seferian-Jenkins of the Washington Huskies, also got snubbed from this selection.
The absence of these big names (and others) only speaks to the incredible depth of talent in the Pac 12 this season. There are playmakers on every team that makes it possible for anybody to win on any given week (just ask the Stanford Cardinal about their trip to Salt Lake City). The conference should be well represented in the postseason awards this December (including the Heisman Trophy in New York City) and it might not even be these players who get there.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Midseason All-Pac 12 Offensive Team.
QB: Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks
He may not throwing the football quite like Mannion or some of the other big-armed quarterbacks in the conference this season, but nobody has been as efficient as Marcus Mariota. The Oregon Ducks rank No. 2 in the country and have blown people off the field because of his poise, leadership and playmaking ability. He's thrown for 1,724 yards while completing 60.6 percent of his passes and ranks No. 2 in the conference in passing touchdowns (17), No. 2 in total offense (358.3 yards per game) and tied for No. 1 in total touchdowns (25). And he didn't get into a 4th quarter until last week against UW. But most impressive: Zero turnovers this season through six games.
RB: Bishop Sankey, Washington Huskies
The Washington Huskies have blossomed this season into one of the best offenses in the country (No. 8 in total offense). A major reason why has been the work-horse in their backfield, Bishop Sankey. The junior running back leads the nation in carries (159) and yards per game (149.83) as he has established himself as the driving force behind the UW attack. Through six games, he's gained 899 yards (No. 1 in Pac 12) and scored nine touchdowns (No. 2 in Pac 12) and rushed for 125 yards or more in five of six games with at least one touchdown in each game. The one game he didn't break 100 yards came against FCS Idaho State when he only gained 77 yards...on four carries before the benches got emptied.
RB: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona Wildcats
After leading the nation in rushing a season ago, Ka'Deem Carey returned looking for a repeat performance in 2013. So far, he hasn't disappointed for the Arizona Wildcats. In four games this season (he served a one-game suspension for the opener), Carey has been as unstoppable as they come, even without the benefit of a consistent passing attack to loosen up the defense. He ranks No. 2 in the Pac 12 and No. 4 in the country in yards per game (142.25) and has rushed for 100 yards or more in 12 of his last 13 games, including eight straight. He's as reliable as they come and he remains Arizona's best offensive weapon (by a wide margin) as one of the conference's very best.
WR: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State Beavers
One of the benefits of being the favorite target of the No. 1 passer in the country is you benefit from a lot of opportunities to make plays. Brandin Cooks has taken full advantage of those opportunities and is making his mark on the record books in Corvallis this season. He leads the nation in receptions (63), receiving yards (944), receiving touchdowns (11) and receiving yards per game (157.3). Teams know that Mannion is looking for him each and every week and they still can't stop him as he averages a ridiculous 10.5 catches per game. Even if Marqise Lee were healthy and had a quarterback that could get him the ball, Cooks would be giving him a run for his money for top receiver in the conference.
WR: Jaelen Strong, Arizona State Sun Devils
Few players have made as big an impression as quickly as Jaelen Strong with the Arizona State Sun Devils. The junior college transfer came to Tempe this summer with high hopes on being the No. 1 receiver that the team had been lacking. Through six games this season, he's delivered in a major way. He ranks No. 3 in the Pac 12 in yards per game (113.0) and No. 4 in receptions as he's hauled in 42 catches for 678 yards and four touchdowns. He's become an incredibly reliable target for Taylor Kelly in the passing game and helped ASU become one of the more offensively explosive teams in the conference.
TE: Connor Hamlett, Oregon State Beavers
Another beneficiary of the incredible season of Mannion at quarterback, Connor Hamlett has been a huge redzone target for the Beavers in 2013. He leads Pac 12 tight ends by a wide margin in catches (25) and touchdowns (4) as he has blossomed into a reliable target in the passing game over the middle and in close to the goal line. The 6-foot-7 pass catcher is using his incredible size to box out defensive backs when they try and cover him and his athleticism to run away from linebackers. If Mannion ever gets into trouble, he can just throw a jump ball up to Hamlett and chances are that good things will come from it.
OT: Andrus Peat, Stanford Cardinal
It can be daunting to step into the starting lineup and make an impact at the major college level but Andrus Peat is doing just that. Not only did he step in seamless as a sophomore, but he did so on one of the best offensive lines in the country, pushing an All-American tackle down to guard, and been given one the biggest responsibilities on the line: protecting Kevin Hogan's blind side. The 6-foot-7 Peat has been huge (no pun intended) for the Stanford Cardinal this season. Not only is he massive, but he's agile and athletic which has helped him handle some of the best pass rushes the Pac 12 has to offer while still mauling people in the run game. There's no need to worry about the leadership of the Stanford line in years to come as long as Peat is in Palo Alto.
OG: David Yankey, Stanford Cardinal
David Yankey returned to Stanford for his senior season despite being an All-American tackle and highly regarded prospect by the NFL. For his trouble, Yankey got bumped down to guard this season where he has been even better than he was at tackle. Returning to his natural position inside has allowed Yankey to play with even more confidence (if that was possible) as the leader of one of the physical offensive fronts in the country. He's missed some time this season due to family issues back home, but when he's on the field for the Cardinal, he's one of the best in the Pac 12.
C: Hroniss Grasu, Oregon Ducks
So much of the success of the Oregon offense stems from its ability to run the football and protect the quarterback in passing situations. Hroniss Grasu makes sure that both get handled as the center for the Ducks' under-appreciated offensive line. Grasu has been excellent at recognizing and adjusting for defensive pressures this season while still being one of the best lead blockers for the Ducks' running game. His agility and athleticism to get pull after snapping and get out in front of the play has sprung some huge plays already this season and will undoubtedly spring several more before the season is over.
OG: Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA Bruins
The UCLA Bruins were very concerned about improving the play of their offensive line this season. All-American guard Xavier Su'a-Filo has made sure those concerns have been put to rest. He has been a rock for the offensive line of the Bruins, starting in all 27 games of his UCLA career, and has stepped up as a leader for the rest of the unit this season. The group is protecting quarterback Brett Hundley much better than they did last season when he was the most sacked QB in the conference and have opened up holes for the running game even without a dominant running back. Su'a-Filo is a force in the interior of that line and will be huge in getting the Bruins back to the Pac 12 title game.
OT: Ben Riva, Washington Huskies
When a running back leads the nation in rushing, it's usually due to some stellar play from their offensive line. For Washington, nobody has been as stellar on the line as tackle Ben Riva. The 6-foot-6 junior battled injuries last season but has come back healthy and stronger than ever this year, starting every game so far. It's no coincidence that the UW offense has similarly looked strong in 2013 with Sankey chewing yards in bunches and Keith Price having time to pick defense apart. With his health in check, Riva is as dominant as any tackle in the conference.