"The Report Card-inal": Stanford 48, Cal 14

Dave Fowkes has an excess supply of red ink – since so little of it has been consumed while grading the Card's performances during a 10-1 run leading up to Saturday's finale against OSU. The "Big Performance" will go down as one of the more flawless games ever played by a Stanford squad. Here's to hoping the Cardinal can pack up it's "A+" game and reproduce it against the dastardly Dam-Builders.

"The Report Card-inal": Stanford 48, California 14

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 The Bootleg's executive management, Major Upset Productions, the Scout Network, Fox Sports, News Corp, Joe Kapp, Oski, or Jim Harbaugh.     

The Big Beatdown! 45-0 after three. 48-14 final. As anyone who watched the 113th meeting of Stanford and California would concede, it was not as close as the final score would indicate. Not a bad day's work in Berkeley on Saturday as the ever-improving Cardinal poignantly pummeled Cal to win back the much-coveted Stanford Axe. The Big Game was a showcase, demonstrating just how good this Stanford team can be, but also just how exposed the current edition of Cal Football  can be on any given Saturday. Like all well-coached and well-focused teams are prone to do, the Cardinal did what they needed to do: They made the Bears pay dearly for their mistakes and at 10-1 moves on in an attempt to complete a truly historic 10-1 regular season.




It was a real yeoman's effort for the oft-praised Card ground attack. It started out slow, with carries of two and three yards. But in the second half those carries turned into increasingly productive runs of four and five yards. And by the fourth quarter they were going for six and seven yards. The Bears were gassed. All credit for that goes to the Stanford offensive line for continuing to wear down the Cal defense, which was on the field too often for Jeff Tedford's liking. The Bears looked stout against the run early, but after falling behind and getting pummeled play after play, the Roman/Drevno-driven run game took command.


Of course the highlight run was off a designed pass. Andrew Luck's spectacular scamper for 58 yards was a highlight moment that Cardinal fans will relive for years. Luck would end up the leading rusher in the game with 72 yards on his three carries.


Anthony Wilkerson (#32) and Stepfan Taylor (#33) may not have been splashy but combined they were very effective. They totaled 33 carries for 126 yards. The average was less than four yards per carry but the yardage continued to increase as the day went on and they combined to produce four touchdowns.


Change-of-pace quarterback Alex Loukas (#5) looked good out of the wildcat formation with three carries for 23 yards. It was tough to see him leave the game with a left knee injury (apparently a medial collateral ligament sprain), especially after all he went through last year with his right knee.


Sure, statistically these may not have been the overwhelming rushing totals that Stanford has seen in the past, but overall it was an outstanding performance.




#12 is not just a runner, the kid can really throw. 16-20 for 235 yards and two touchdowns, those are the types of numbers that lead to being named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week. That is indeed the very award that Andrew Luck would garner this week. He was flat-out dominant, leaving gridiron observers grasping for incrementally complimentary superlatives. He demonstrated all the attributes that are making the NFL scouts salivate.


Senior Doug Baldwin (#89) stepped up huge again for injured starter Chris Owusu (#81). After a bit of a roller-coaster career, Baldwin is clearly going out on top. He had five catches for 97 yards, but the quality of catches was what grabbed everyone's attention, including that of his own Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback. This touchdown reception was picture-perfect, with Baldwin leaping sky-high over the Cal defender. His 47-yard fly pattern, where Baldwin out-worked two close defenders for the ball, was also brilliant, an example of superior desire leading to well-deserved success. 


Redshirt freshman tight end Zach Ertz (#86) had two nice catches, first for 32 yards and then for 13 yards and a touchdown. Veteran stalwart Ryan Whalen (#8) handled his three opportunities with his usual efficiency.


Again, major kudos go to the Tunnel Workers Association™ that for the most part left Luck unfettered by a supposedly fierce  Cal pass rush.




Last year Cal's Shane Vereen rushed for 190 yards in the Big Game. This year he managed just 67, much of it coming late on a direct-snap play. I call that a great effort by Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio's surging and surly unit. Overall the team did give up 125 yards on the ground, but again, a lot of those yards came late when the game was well-decided. While the run defense did bend a bit early on allowing some misdirection plays to gain first downs, they did not allow the big, game-changing plays that have crushed them in years past. The defense played the run very well across the board.


Sophomore inside linebacker Shayne Skov (#11) was everywhere as always. Owen Marecic (#48) matched Skov with a team-high six tackles. Michael Thomas was also huge with five tackles on the day. The defensive line also played strong with Matt Masifilo chipping in with five tackles and Sione Fua and Brian Bulcke combining for four. Overall it was just a very strong team effort.




Before we give complete props to the pass defense, I will point out the obvious - that Cal's junior  quarterback Brock Mansion did not have a strong day. At times he was so woefully inaccurate that his errant throws could not even be picked off by Stanford defenders in perfect positions.


That said, emotionally-charged fifth-year senior Richard Sherman (#9) had an outstanding outing in his final Big Game performance. Not only did he have an interception, but his determined tackle on the bubble screen, as he chased a Bear receiver down the line of scrimmage, was one not seen very often in these parts. "Sherm" was in the "defender zone"! 


Junior Michael Thomas (#3) was a force at safety and at times as the nickel corner. Delano Howell (#26) was in and out of the lineup, but when he was out there you could always tell.


Senior safety Taylor Skaufel (#40) had Stanford's only sack but Thomas Keiser and Chase Thomas applied consistent pass rush pressure coming off the edges.


Again, overall it was just a fabulous team effort. Only in the fourth quarter, with the back-ups rightfully on the field to gain some experience, did the defense give in a bit to the Bear starters.




Not much to review from special teams in a name-taking blow-out like this. Nate Whitaker (#39) connected on his only two field-goal attempts. His kick-offs were often into the end zone and when they were not, the coverage was admirable. Sophomore Drew Terrell continued to demonstrate his promise with a breathtaking 32-yard return after an over-the-shoulder catch. Senior David Green (#38) was afforded a chance to handle the Cardinal's lone punt of the game and it was good for 35 yards with no return. 




Yet again, it was a fabulous overall game plan. Some of the elaborate offensive shifts made before standard running plays bordered on comical, apparently a statement to Cal about their past excessive use of deception and trickery. The complex substitution patterns of running people on and off the field late were executed somewhat improbably to perfection. As has been the case in so many other games this season, the Stanford coaching staff simply out-coached the opposition. On defense, it was what we all would have expected. Stop the run and make the quarterback beat you. He could not and did not.




It can never be stated emphatically enough, 48-14 in the Big Game! Could easily have ended 62-0. The first half of football on Saturday was as close to a perfect half as a team can get: Five possessions, four touchdowns and a field goal, and the defense providing a goose egg. The Cardinal never once failed to score while Luck was at the helm. The historic 2010 season marches forward. The Cardinal has the mighty Axe back on campus to protect the mighty and still momentum-packed 10-1 season. Yes, that seems like a solid "A+" to me.


Bootleg Players of the Big Game:

OFFENSE: Andrew Luck & Doug Baldwin

DEFENSE: Richard Sherman

SPECIAL TEAMS: Drew Terrell/Nate Whitaker


Wishing one and all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING! As Stanford Football fans, we have so much for which to be thankful! 

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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