TSS Roundtable: Players to Watch in the Pac-12

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for our conference roundtable series to continue. This week, we’ll be discussing the Pac-12.

We’ve also included a complete list of all the leagues that we’ve covered at the bottom of the article.

Q: Who is the player to watch in the Pac-12 this season?

Kevin Causey
On Twitter @CFBZ

Christian McCaffrey is the best player in the conference and I really look forward to seeing him play this year but that answer is too easy.

Instead let’s swing our sword to the north and take a look at Washington State QB Luke Falk. Even the most diehard “run the damn ball” football fan likes to see the ball thrown around the field a bit. Falk and Wazzu will do just that this year and watching them play offense should be a lot of fun.

Last year, Falk led the Pac-12 in completions and completion percentage and came in second to Jared Goff in passing yards and TDs. I’m extremely interested in seeing how Washington State follows up their success last year and in how well Falk can do if he stays injury free.

Bart Doan
On Twitter @TheCoachBart

Jake Browning, Washington.

I could leave it there and feel confident, but I won’t. Browning was the second ever true freshman to start at quarterback at Washington. The other guy was pretty good, Marques Tuiasosopo.

The promise is immense, and this will be Washington’s deepest, most fit for his style team that Chris Petersen will have had. The purging of players not fit for the program is over. Browning stuck out a respectable 63 percent completion rate last year and tossed 16 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

Perhaps it’s just the desperation of wanting Washington to be great again coupled with a coach most everyone has believed in since the second he got hired, but the Huskies are climbing up preseason polls and expectations, like it or not, are there. In large part, they’re because of Browning and his promise.

The only caveat is one he cannot control … the offensive line needs to be significantly better, but the thought here is that it will be, and Jake Browning will go from, “yeah, I think I’ve heard of him” to “that’s a future top 10 NFL pick.” He has that kind of promise.

Terry Johnson
On Twitter @SectionTPJ

Without question, it’s Christian McCaffrey.

Make no mistake about it: McCaffrey was the best all-around running back in the country last year. The focal point of the Cardinal ground game — which ranked 19th nationally in rushing yards per game last season — McCaffrey led the Pac-12 in rushing, racking up 2,019 yards. He was also dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 45 passes for 645 yards and 5 TD’s.

In addition, he completed 2-of-3 passes for 39 yards, with both of his completions going for touchdowns.

While these numbers speak for themselves, it’s worth noting that McCaffrey compiled these stats against strong competition. In 11 games against FBS teams that finished with a winning record, he averaged 146.18 yards and an average of 6.09 yards per carry. He posted even better numbers in conference play, running for average of 162.9 yards per game and 6.27 yards per carry.

Still not impressed? In two postseason games last year (the Pac-12 Championship Game and the Rose Bowl), McCaffrey ran for 379 yards (7.58 ypc) and caught 8 passes for 210 yards an two touchdowns.

It’s hard to argue with those results. Expect Stanford to lean on him heavily this season, especially in the early going as the quarterback situation sorts itself out.

*Editor’s Note: We’ve also previewed Washington State and Arizona. Those previews contain a list of four key players for each squad.

Previous Conference Roundtables
Sun Belt
Conference USA
Mountain West
Big 12