Pro Football Focus has released their list of the top ten returning players from the Pac-12 and has the Cougars tied for the most in the Pac-12 with the Huskies with three apiece.
The top-ranked Cougar is guard and Outland trophy finalist Cody O’Connell. He checks in at No. 3 on the list. PFF calls him "one of the most dominant offensive lineman in the nation". Here is what else they had to say about O’Connell.
The Cougars’ offensive scheme spreads the opposing defense out across the field and aids the offensive linemen with very large splits to help identify rushers. However, O’Connell was still one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the nation last year. O’Connell only allowed 1 sack, 1 hit and 4 hurries on 649 pass-blocking snaps and his 92.9 pass-block grade ranks No. 1 among all returning FBS offensive linemen. O’Connell isn’t just a one-trick pony, as he is also a people-moving run blocker. O’Connell’s 87.7 run-block grade ranks No. 1 among all returning Pac-12 offensive linemen.
Also making the top 5 was quarterback Luke Falk who took the fifth spot on the list. The site loves Falk’s accuracy, but wonders if his production will drop with the graduation of his top receivers. Here is all they had to say about Luke.
Luke Falk has put up gaudy numbers the last two seasons in Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense. Falk doesn’t have above-average arm strength but has he does have above-average ball location. Falk is very accurate, can throw with touch and can make layered throws that drop over second-level defenders. Falk’s 78.0 accuracy percentage ranks No. 2 among returning Power-5 quarterbacks after only Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (80.1). Falk also performs well under duress as his accuracy percentage under pressure of 64.6 ranks No. 4 among returning Power-5 quarterbacks. Falk lost two of his best targets in Gabe Marks and River Cracraft so it is highly likely that Falk’s numbers won’t be as big as they have the past two seasons.
Last but not least Hercules Mata’afa takes the tenth spot. PFF loves his pass-rush productivity as he was one of the best in the nation at getting after the quarterback by their metrics. Here is the rest on Mata’afa.
Hercules Mata’afa is an undersized interior defensive lineman who has done nothing but out-produce his size for two straight seasons. Mata’afa’s size and playing style are very reminiscent of Tedy Bruschi when he was at the University of Arizona. Mata’afa relies on quickness, instincts and last-second pre-snap shifts to consistently beat the blocker across from him. Mata’afa generated 5 sacks, 15 hits and 35 hurries on 361 pass-rush snaps and his pass-rushing productivity rating of 11.8 ranks No. 1 among returning Pac-12 defensive tackles and No. 3 in the Power-5. Mata’afa’s 25 run stops ranks No. 1 among all returning Pac-12 defensive tackles.
As far as football goes, right now everything is coming up crimson!
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