Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) celebrates after winning Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Seattle Seahawks won 43-8. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks have this thing for players from his old college stomping ground, but of all the men from the Conference of Champions that had on a white, blue and green uniform last night, the most unlikely to be part of the MVP ceremony picked it up. Yet another example of the Pac-12 and it’s depth and talent in the NFL today.
Malcolm Smith’s (USC) night was bigger than them all, recording a team-leading (tie) 10 tackles and two takeaways, one going back 67 yards to the hizzy for a huge final first half touchdown. He was far from the only contributor though.
Marshawn Lynch (California) didn’t do much on the night, going for a hard-earned 39 on 15 carries, but he did what he normally does when he has a pedestrian ground day… he scored on a 1 yard Beast Mode caliber touchdown. Talking about the run game, center Max Unger (Oregon) was leading the way, along with the versatile Zach Miller (Arizona State) at tight end, who also recorded a 10 yard reception on the night.
Doug Baldwin (Stanford) “pedestrian’d” his way to 5 catches for 66 yards and a brilliant, yet most regular move to avoid tackles for his 10 yard touchdown. While we’re on the subject of Pac-12 receivers, how about Jermaine Kearse? The former Washington star was one of the receivers I had sorely hoped Seattle decided to snag in free agency a couple of years ago. Needless to say, he had a big game as well, and an even more spectacular whirling-dervish catch and run for his 23 yard touchdown among his four for 65 yards.
Richard Sherman (Stanford) should’ve had a pick early and could’ve had another (had he not been tackled by the receiver before getting to the ball). He was as lock-down as ever and kept Manning away from his side of the field. I’m not sure I remember more than one dinky completion on that side.
Other outstanding defensive performances from the conference included Derrick Coleman (UCLA) who made the first tackle of the game on the opening kickoff, pinning Denver inside its own 15 and setting up the safety exactly one play later. Then there was Brandon Mebane (California), who didn’t do much in the way of stats, but heck if he wasn’t a huge piece of a defensive front that straight phased Peyton Manning. Three tackles and a TFL in the Super Bowl isn’t a bad night for a nose tackle though. Walter Thurmond (Oregon) posted that exact stat line from the nickel position.
Overall the Seahawks have 11 Pac-12 players that entered the night on the active roster, 10 of which recorded a stat of some kind and as you can see most of which made large contributions. Denver has only five such players and only one of them made any statistical contribution last night. Coincidence? Probably not.
That brings us back to Pete Carroll (USC), Ken Norton Jr. (USC), Tom Cable (California), three known coaches with major Pac-10/12 Conference ties. All three have reason to be proud after assembling and coaching up all this Pac-12 talent, even taking a chance on most of them for one reason or another. The Pac-12 must be so happy for this whole group.