Editor's Note: The following commentary offers the author's personal views of the on-field performances of some of Stanford University's exceptional student-athletes. In no way should constructively-intended criticism be deemed as a lack of respect or admiration for our players' obvious desire, dedication, sacrifice and commitment. The views expressed below do not reflect necessarily those of Bootleg management, Major Upset Productions, the Scout Network, Fox Sports, News Corp or Coach Harbaugh.
Last week it was difficult
to find fault in a 35-0 conference win on the road, this week may be even
tougher to find fault in a complete 68-24 shellacking of
That is your Stanford football
update. The Cardinal just dominated
RUNNING GAME: A+
Yes, maybe it is back to running
back by committee. After Stepfan Taylor (#33) lead the way with 20 carries
against UCLA, the touches were again spread out for the Cardinal running backs
No matter where the carries went, success was found. Stanford rushed for 303 yards. Gaffney led all with 76 yards followed by Andrew Luck (#12) at 69 and Taylor with 60 yards. Normally, you don't want your all-everything quarterback running that much, but when his first scamper goes 52-yards for a touchdown, that is acceptable.
Gaffney looked like the best runner on Saturday night although everyone looked good. He showed a nice combination of toughness in the middle and speed to the outside. It was certainly a surprise to see the true freshman Wilkerson as the primary backup early on. He will be a heck of a player, but initially it looked like he was struggling with his field vision. He will get better with increased playing time.
When a team rushes for 303 yards,
game balls need to be passed out to the entire offensive line. The line was
PASSING GAME: A
Do you think Chris Owusu (#81) was dying to play a real game? Two receptions for two touchdowns is not a bad way to start your season. Plus he had a great third-down conversion on the slant pattern where he made a diving catch to continue the drive. Owusu caught everything thrown to him which in itself is a huge boost for the Cardinal.
Then there is that Luck guy. He
was sub-.500 against UCLA, obviously out of synch. He was close to perfect
Again the offensive line gets huge props here for not allowing a defender near Luck for most of the night.
Losing Ryan Whalen (#8), apparently to an elbow dislocation, will hurt Stanford. He is a go-to possession receiver especially in close, crunch games. Hopefully his injury will not have him out for too long. Griff Whalen (#17, no relation) did a nice job in a relief role, hauling in three receptions.
RUN DEFENSE: B
We must find fault somewhere.
Stanford's second unit struggled in the third quarter against the
The starters did a very good job
for the most part. There were a few runs here and there but
Inside linebacker Shayne Skov (#11), back from a knee infection, showed no rust at all. He was all over the place in his 2010 debut. He showed speed to the outside when needed, and had some huge run blitzes right up the middle to shake up plays.
Safeties Michael Thomas (#3) and Delano Howell (#26) again played huge roles in covering the run. They both have showed great speed to get to the ball and toughness in making the tackles when they arrive. Thomas led the team with seven tackles, two of them for losses.
In the end
PASS DEFENSE: A
It may help play pass defense when you play against a true freshman quarterback, but the reality is that the Stanford pass defense has shown vast improvement in 2010. The unit is #1 in the country in pass defense. Stanford? Really?
Chase Thomas (#44) and Thomas Keiser (#94) continue to provide consistent pass rush from their new outside linebacker positions. Sione Fua got his second sack of the year and was very strong securing the middle of the defensive line.
Fifth-year senior CB Richard Sherman (#9) did not allow a catch. Junior corner Johnson Bademosi (#27)
was strong. The safeties were there to help.
The only knock was on
The Stanford defense will get much stronger looks as the season progresses, but working with what was presented in this game, the Cardinal was dominant with its first unit.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Will Nate Whitaker take some ribbing this week? His two uncharacteristic missed PATs kept Stanford from hitting 70 points.
In all seriousness, missing two extra-points may be a big deal. Clearly it is not a factor when the final score is 68-24, but in closer games, such poor execution would be unacceptable. Was it something about Saturday night? Just a bad day? A new trend about which to worry?
Other than that, it was the kickoff coverage that got most of the work in. Whitaker was consistent in his kicks to the goal line or beyond. The coverage unit allowed 25.5 yards per return. Not as dominant as last year, but clearly acceptable. There was only one Stanford punt. Doug Baldwin (#89) looked good with a 22-yard punt return in his only opportunity.
has taken over on kickoff returns and his exciting 60-yard return was a thing of
Overall, the only units that got a lot of practice in were the PAT and kickoff coverage groups.
Does it get much better?
Scoreboard....68-24. Not much more needs to be said. My favorite stat from the night: Stanford had more touchdowns than third downs (10-8). Does it get more dominating than that?
The ACC appears down this year,
Stanford improves the record to
3-0 and must move past the first three blow-outs and look ahead to challenging
road trips to Notre Dame and then
But for now, 3-0 certainly feels like an "A+" to start the season.
Dave Fowkes is a longtime Stanford Cardinal fan, who is finally seeing his loyalty pay some serious dividends. Born at Stanford hospital and raised on the Peninsula, he has been a football season ticket holder since 1981. In that span he has only missed three home games, but of course never a Big Game. Dave currently works in media both on the air and behind the scenes in advertising sales. He has covered sports on and off since 1992. Currently he works as a traffic, news and sports man on several Bay Area radio stations under a few different on-air aliases. Dave blends the passion of being a fan with the perspective of being a reporter in his stories. For more Stanford football coverage by Dave Fowkes, you can read the "Stanford Football Examiner" at www.stanfordfootballreport.com
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