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, Jim Harbaugh, Bob Bowlsby or Benny Beaver.
When it was agreed that I
would craft the weekly "Report Card-inal" for The Bootleg again this
season, I had no idea it was going to be so easy... so often. Once again, the
Cardinal rocked and rolled, producing a masterful 38-0 shutout of an
RUN GAME: A-
We get spoiled by success
so admittedly we tend to chip at a squad down where we can. The
fact is that
But just when you thought OSU had found a way to control the run game, there was Stepfan Taylor (#33) bursting through the middle for a crowd-waking 62-yard touchdown run, becoming opnly the sixth Stanford player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
That one play did skew the
averages a bit. For a team averaging over 200-yards rushing per game, they only
hit a net of 165 yards on Saturday and that did include
Maybe most impressive by the OSU defense was their ability to limit Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck to just eight yards rushing (actually to negative seven when including one sack).
In the end it was a another great effort by the defense, but just like so many other games this year, the Cardinal finally prevailed in the end by just grinding it out and beating down the opponent. Once again, those two yard runs in the first quarter were turning into four and five yards in the fourth quarter.
PASS GAME: A
Luck may not have found daylight running the ball but he did not need to run when he could rely on his arm. He showed early in the game that he would be in complete control. On third and 12 on the first drive of the game, he hit tight end Zach Ertz (#86) for a first down. The team easily drove down the field for a touchdown from there.
For the game Luck was 21-30 for 305 yards and four touchdowns. There was a time in the second half when you could still count his incompletions by naming them. He was accurate on both short and deep throws and like always had full command of the offense, whether it was third and short or long.
Once again distance was not a huge factor as Stanford converted nine of 15 third downs and is on track to finish with the highest conversion percentage since the statistic began being tracked in 2005.
The Cardinal offensive line did
well despite giving up a rare sack. Luck was also under more pressure than he
usually sees. But
Doug Baldwin (#89) was again a huge factor with five catches for 97 yards and the 42-yard touchdown reception. Ryan Whalen (#8) was back and looked fully healthy for the first time. He came through with seven catches for 54-yards. Ertz has sent notice for next year that he will be a play-maker at tight end with four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.
RUN DEFENSE: A
This post is almost a duplicate
of the Big Game grade.
The veteran Cardinal defensive
line was great at creating havoc in the middle. Inside linebackers Shayne Skov
(#11) and Owen Marecic (#48) were great at filling their gaps. Note: Skov
was named to Scout.com's Second-Team All-American and Marecic was named a
First-Team All-American all-purpose back by the American Football Coaches
Chase Thomas (#44) was everywhere and led the team with nine tackles including three and a half for losses, earning himself recognition as Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week. When things got bottled up inside, the Stanford safeties once again provided great support against the run. Michael Thomas (#3) ended with eight tackles. Matt Masifilo (#98) had five tackles from the down lineman position.
PASS DEFENSE: A
Beav QB Ryan Katz had no time to throw and when he did have time, he had no one open. Katz would end the game just 19-36 for 183 yards with three costly interceptions.
The Cardinal pass rush was all over Katz. Thomas had two and a half of those sacks, Masifilo had one sack. Others provided constant pressure to keep Katz off balance.
In the secondary, three interceptions were made. The pick by safety Delano Howell (#26) in the end zone was legendary as he came out of nowhere to make a leaping catch over the receiver. Richard Sherman (#9) again was very solid and ended with a "Hail Mary" interception at the end of the first half. He added three pass breakups to go with it and provided high energy and confidence all night long.
Cornerback Barry Browning (#31) was burned on the first two pass plays of the game. After that, he settled down and played his best game. The true freshman had one interception, but he was a slip away from a pick-six and dropped another opportunity. He had good coverage all night with two more pass breakups and showed that he has a lot of potential at corner in the coming years.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
The one "flaw" in the game for Stanford, if there was one, seemed to be on kick-off coverage. Again this is a spot where Cardinal fans have become spoiled. But, the fact is that in six opportunities OSU did manage to pile up 161 return yards.
Other than that, it was a nice overll effort. Nate Whitaker (#39) hit his only field-goal attempt. His kick-offs were routinely to the opponent's goal line.
Drew Terrell (#9) looked sharp returning punts again and I am convinced he will take one for a touchdown at some point in his Stanford career. The Cardinal punted more than usual with four punts from David Green (#38) averaging 42.8 yards per kick.
It was another great coaching
plan for the offense and an even better one on defense. The Cardinal managed to
stop the run and pressure the quarterback at the same time and that left few
opportunities for OSU. On offense it was a clear cut that mentally, we
are stronger that OSU this year. There was far less "cuteness" to the
formations or motions that we saw against
The numbers for the game and the season say it all. After winning the rivalry game, Stanford showed zero let-down. 38-0! It is the third shutout of the season which has not been accomplished at Stanford since 1969. 11-1 on the year, which is a first for Stanford. It may not have been the perfect game, but it was darn near close. Just like the entire season.
The Bootleg's Players of the Oregon State Game:
OFFENSE: Andrew Luck
DEFENSE: Chase Thomas
SPECIAL TEAMS: Drew Terrell
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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