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College Hotline - Stanford football: Grading the Week

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Oct 26, 2015.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    Expecting a kickoff time for 11/7 at Colorado to be announced today. Also expecting it to be the early game on the Pac12Nets — NOT official, but that’s my hunch based on several recent conversations.

    That would end Stanford’s string of five consecutive night games, the longest such streak in league history (as far as I’m aware).

    The Cardinal seems to enjoy the time slot — 26 wins in a row at home — but it’s not good for many fans, it’s not good for players’ off-the-field lives, and it could have a cumulative effect.

    Shaw on the situation (from last week):

    “Sunday is the players’ day off, and it’s tough sometimes, getting back to their dorms at 3 or 4 in the morning from a road trip. This is the day they have to catch up on schoolwork and spend the day away from football, and they’re in bed until 1 (p.m.) and half their day is gone. It’s hard to recover from a night game if there are things you need to get done. It is what it is. But it would be great if we played a few more games when the sun is out.”

    Not only won’t the sun be out Saturday in Pullman, but the rain could be falling and there will be a chill in the air.

    Result: Beat Washington 31-14

    Grade: B

    Comment: Mildly impressive performance when the opposition’s personnel at the most position is taken into account.

    The Huskies were 11th in the conference in offense with their No. 1 quarterback. Now put Jake Browning on the bench (shoulder), bring in the backup, K.J. Carta-Samuels, who’s also a freshman, and UW had zero chance to score more than 14 or 17 points unless Stanford served up turnovers and special teams mistakes.

    To the Cardinal’s credit, it did not.

    Carta-Samuels completed 9 of 21 passes for 118 yards, the majority of which came long after the outcome had been determined. Washington didn’t even cross midfield until early in the second half.

    *** Yes, the Cardinal has been extremely fortunate when it comes to the poor health and lack of experience of opposing quarterbacks.

    Is that the reason Stanford leads the conference in total defense and is second in scoring defense? It’s a contributor, for sure.

    But in the larger picture, add the good fortune with opposing QB to Stanford’s own good fortune with injuries, especially when compared to the L.A. schools, and it creates a distinct sense that this is the Cardinal’s year.

    *** Quarterback Kevin Hogan was again flawless when it mattered — the fourth quarter interception came in garbage time — and has an efficiency rating of 200 in league games. Nobody is close.

    His execution on third down, in particular, has been exceptional. (Hogan also rushed for 37 yards and seems to have finally recovered from the Week 3 sprained ankle.)

    *** Christian McCaffrey had 300 all-purpose yards, bringing his season total to 1,818. He’s on pace to break Barry Sanders’ NCAA record.

    McCaffrey probably should be considered a second-tier Heisman candidate at this point in a race that will contract or expand after LSU tailback Leonard Fournette faces Alabama next week.

    My question about McCaffrey: Is he even Stanford’s best player?

    No player can have a greater impact on the game — on a team, on the season — than a quarterback executing at an off-the-charts level.

    While McCaffrey is on pace for the NCAA all-purpose record, consider this:

    Hogan’s efficiency rating in Pac-12 play is higher than last year’s number for Marcus Mariota, when he produced one of the greatest seasons in league history.

    *** Stanford in situational football:

    Turnover margin: -1
    Third-down conversions: 6 of 14
    Red zone TDs: 2 of 4

    *** Last item before looking ahead:

    Shaw has admitted to becoming more expressive on the sideline this season, at the urging of his players (mostly cornerback Ronnie Harris).

    My reaction: It’s mildly interesting, unless Shaw’s emotional evolution affects Stanford’s play on the field, in which case it becomes quite interesting.

    Tough to quantify, but that appears to be the case.

    Next up: at Washington State

    The matchup: Favorable, but not to the extent of recent seasons.

    *** The Cardinal demolished WSU in ’13 (in Seattle) and led from start to finish last season in a 34-17 victory.

    I suspect this will be more challenging because of the road environment and the weather and WSU’s momentum (three consecutive wins) and the Cougars’ overall roster upgrade.

    But has WSU closed the gap completely? I’m not convinced.

    And a good portion of my skepticism in that regard is rooted in the matchup: Stanford has handled pass-happy teams over the years, and (for the most part) handled them resoundingly.

    *** From the outside, it appears the Cougars have made a greater effort to run the ball, but they remain an offense designed to throw 50-60 passes with 4/5 receivers on the field.

    That’s the style of play WSU’s defense faces in practice every day, but that’s not the style of play WSU’s defense will face Saturday.

    Instead of seeing five receivers, WSU will face formations with six linemen and two tight ends … or six linemen, two tight ends and a fullback.

    WSU might score more points than Stanford has typically allowed this season. But how will the Cougars stop Hogan and Co. from those 10-play, 75-yard, clock-chewing drives?

    *** Stanford opened as an 11-point favorite, which feels about right. Closer than ’14, much closer than ’13, but in the end, not that close.

    Stanford 45, WSU 35, or thereabouts.


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    by Jon Wilner

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