Washington sophomore safety Trevor Walker and all of his defensive teammates receive performance grades following each game.
Every player gets a pass or fail for each snap he is on the field, which goes into an overall percentage. Walker, who played for Mansfield Timberview, has been working hard to get his percentage as close to 100 percent as possible.
The Huskies (5-1, 1-1 Pac-12) will need nearly perfect grades across the board Saturday night if they want to upset No. 9 Oregon (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) and slow down quarterback Marcus Mariota on the road.
“We have to stop the run,” said Walker, who has played in all six of Washington’s games this year with 13 tackles, nine solo, and a fumble recovery. “They can’t drop back and pass it every play. Our D line, getting back there and stopping the run, is the key to the game. That sets the tone. If we can get them in third-and-long situations, it will be harder to make throws. Mariota can throw it. He has a perfect throw and can throw it anywhere on the field. At the same time, he’s a running back in the backfield too.”
Walker had multiple offers coming out of high school, including close schools like Arkansas and Oklahoma State along with Duke and Harvard, but chose Washington for its business program, campus and community.
“I didn’t want to commit to a school for a coach,” Walker said. “I wanted to base it on my education. Now, I’m getting ready to declare as a business finance major, and we are sitting here at 5-1 in the Pac-12 with the opportunity to go wherever we want as a team.”
Walker learned an important lesson about commitment while still in high school. After Timberview made its run to the state semifinals in 2011, Walker’s junior year, coach Mark Walker left to become the assistant athletic director for the Mansfield school district.
Mark’s departure had an impact on Trevor, who also lost his head coach at Washington when Steve Sarkisian left for USC after the 2013 regular season. Chris Petersen, who had once tried to recruit Walker out of high school, then left Boise State to lead the Huskies.
“You have to understand that business comes first, whether that’s for players or for coaches,” Trevor said. “People are going to react to certain situations and take care of themselves and their families. That helped me out when coach Sark left last year. A lot of guys were surprised and didn’t think it could happen. But he has a family, and he’s going to take care of them. You can’t get mad. That’s how life is.”
In Washington’s 31-7 win against Cal last week, Trevor received a passing grade on 34 of his 36 snaps. This week, he will be tested by a Ducks team that is scoring 43.3 points and racking up more than 500 yards of offense a game.
“If I’m flying to the ball, getting the right break on the ball, breaking on the quarterback, tackling all of my assignments, those are the best ways I can help our defense,” Trevor said. “I can always improve. I look at practice every day, every rep and individual drills, and I look at the improvement. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better from when I first got here.”
Games to watch
No. 10 Georgia (5-1, 1-1 SEC) at Arkansas (3-3, 0-3 SEC) (3 p.m. Saturday, SEC Network): Could this be the game the Razorbacks break through? Arkansas is much improved and has come close to getting its first conference win since 2012 (the Razorbacks are in the middle of a 15-game SEC losing streak). Last week, Arkansas came a point short, 14-13, against Alabama even though it outgained the Crimson Tide 335-227. In its previous game, Arkansas blew a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead and lost to Texas A&M in overtime. Georgia will be without star running back Todd Gurley, who is suspended indefinitely, but still dominated Missouri 34-0 without him on the road last weekend. This game will feature punishing rushing attacks, and Arkansas fans will try to help will their team to a massive upset.
No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0) at No. 2 Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC) (7 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/8): This game has everything. A Top-5 matchup featuring two undefeated traditional powers, with the Seminoles playing as defending national champions. Both quarterbacks have provided much drama with off-field incidents — with Florida State’s Jameis Winston a constant in negative headlines this season for numerous reasons. This is game will shape the playoff picture, with the loser most likely out, which makes the matchup must-see TV.
No. 23 Stanford (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) at No. 17 Arizona State (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) (9:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN): The road to a third-straight Pac-12 championship is getting much tougher for Stanford, starting this week on the road against the Sun Devils. Arizona State has a lot of momentum — the Sun Devils last game was an upset win at USC that came on the game’s last play, a 46-yard Hail Mary from Mike Bercovici to Jaelen Strong. Arizona State has had a week off to get healthy and ready to host a Stanford team that has already lost two games. It should be a great matchup of the nation’s best defense — Stanford is No. 1 with just 10 points allowed a game — and the Sun Devils, who are No. 14 in the country in scoring with 41.2 points a game.
10 Times in program history that Notre Dame has played an opponent with both teams boasting a 6-0 or better record, and this weekend’s game against Florida State will be No. 11. The Irish are 9-0-1 in those games.
119 Combined points between TCU and Baylor last week, the most ever in a matchup of two AP Top 10 teams since the poll began in 1936. The previous high was 105 between Nebraska and Oklahoma State in 1988.
“I’m not concerned.” – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher when asked about his star quarterback Jameis Winston being investigated after a high number of autographed memorabilia items were authenticated. Fisher addressed the distraction, saying he asked Winston if he took any money, to which Winston responded he’s “never taken a dime.”
“I’m going to head to Georgia for the weekend, a little Six Flags and stuff.” – Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott on his off week plans after his Bulldogs won three straight games against then-Top 10 teams.
Tweet of the week
“Thanks to everyone who supported, I appreciate it and now it’s time to strap up for bigger things!” – Notre Dame WR DaVaris Daniels (@DaVarisDaniels) announced he will not try to return to the Irish after being suspended and investigated for academic misconduct. Daniels, who would have been the top returning Notre Dame receiver this year, also tweeted he will not attempt to transfer and that “ND is where my heart was” but is also “ready for my future.”
Rising, falling, holding steady
Rising: Dak Prescott After leading Mississippi state from unranked to No. 1 in just six weeks, and thanks to Todd Gurley’s and Jameis Winston’s off-field issues, Prescott has vaulted into the Heisman front-runner position. While Oregon’s Marcus Mariota could still make his case, Prescott has wowed and still has opportunities to lead the Bulldogs against Alabama and Ole Miss.
Falling: Texas A&M The Aggies climbed as high as No. 6 before falling back to No 21 after two straight losses. A&M couldn’t survived the Mississippi gauntlet, losing at Mississippi State and at home against Ole Miss. Now the Aggies will have to pull off a win on the road against No. 7 Alabama if they want to pull out of their tail spin.
Holding Steady: Mississippi We are in the middle of a third straight week of all-Mississippi hype. But Mississippi State and Ole Miss have legitimized all of the attention with four huge wins. Don’t expect the frenzy to die down anytime soon either. The No. 1 Bulldogs are off this week before playing Kentucky, Arkansas, and UT Martin in their next three games. No. 3 Ole Miss will get Tennessee, LSU, and No. 6 Auburn.
Power 5 conference grades
ACC: C Duke knocked off then-undefeated Georgia Tech last week, leaving No. 2 Florida State and No. 24 Clemson as the conference’s ranked teams. The ACC desperately needs the Seminoles to defeat No. 5 Notre Dame this week to give the whole conference a boost.
Big Ten: C- Last week, Michigan finally got a Big Ten win by beating Penn State, and No. 8 Michigan State topped Purdue 45-31. This week features the conference’s top three teams in games that shouldn’t be difficult to win – the Spartans at Indiana, No. 13 Ohio State hosting Rutgers, and No. 19 Nebraska at Northwestern.
Big 12: B+ The Big 12 delivered some of the best football last weekend with the classic between TCU and Baylor. Texas came close to knocking off rival Oklahoma (the Sooners won 31-26), and West Virginia beat Texas Tech 37-34 on a last-second, 55-yard field goal. Hopefully this week is just as entertaining.
Pac-12: B+ Oregon’s win at UCLA wasn’t as big as it could have after both teams lost the week before, and then-No. 10 Arizona lost to then-unranked USC (which is back in the rankings at No. 22 this week). The Pac-12 may be too balanced to produce a juggernaut, and the teams keep trading upsets. But if the Ducks can survive with one loss, they will still have a great chance to make the first playoff.
SEC: A- Things may be topsy-turvy in the SEC right now with Mississippi State and Ole Miss on top, but it’s no different than the last several years with the winner between Auburn and Alabama playing for the national championship. So far, things are still set up for the SEC West to deliver at least one team to the playoff, even if that team is a surprise.
QB Dak Prescott, junior, Mississippi State: Last week, 18-for-34 passing for 246 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions; 21 carries for 121 yards and two touchdowns in 38-23 win against Mississippi.
QB Marcus Mariota, junior, Oregon: Last week, 17-for-27 passing for 210 yards and two touchdowns; seven carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns in 42-30 win against UCLA.
QB Everett Golson, senior, Notre Dame: Last week, 21-for-38 passing for 300 yards, three touchdowns and one interception; 12 carries for 71 yards in 50-43 win against North Carolina.