As down as we've been on the defense, there are a lot of good things happening on the offensive side of the ball. And it starts with Jeff Tuel.
How good has he been? In an ode to everyone's favorite freelance reporter Howie Stalwick, here's a look at his Pac-10 rankings:
- Tuel is fourth in passing yards per game, better than Jake Locker, Matt Barkley, Kevin Riley and Ryan Katz.
- Tuel is sixth in passer rating ahead of Steven Threet, Ryan Katz and Jake Locker (barely, but he's ahead of all of them).
- Tuel is seventh in yards per attempt, but that's better than Locker and Katz. Same goes for completion percentage.
- Tuel is tied for fifth in TDs, ahead of Locker, Katz and Nick Foles (although they've only played four games each, Tuel had the handicap of a terrible offensive gameplan through three weeks, so that makes them even in my book).
- Even with the three-interception game against USC, Tuel is still ahead of Darron Thomas and Threet in INTs thrown.
And, if you're not big on counting stats and prefer those newfangled efficiency stats at Football Outsiders, the Cougs are the 54th best passing team in the country according to S&P+. That's only eighth in the Pac-10 -- ahead of ASU and UCLA -- but it's a heck of a lot better than last year's 119th rating.
Is he the best quarterback in the Pac-10? Nope. But he's clearly average, and that's a hell of a place for a true sophomore who only has 10 starts (and really just eight full games) under his belt.
Anytime I talk about how well Tuel is doing, I feel like I should say, "I'm sorry, Paul, that I didn't think you should have pulled Tuel's redshirt off. You were clearly right. I was clearly wrong," and then go give myself 50 lashings with a wet noodle.