- Stanford overcame a slow start to rout Duke, 44-14. Andrew Luck threw for four touchdowns and 290 yards, while the Stanford defense pitched a near-shutout.
- The Cardinal showed their class in a nearly perfect second half. Stanford's offense scored touchdowns on its first five drives of the half, while its defense held the Devils scoreless in Duke's first five possessions of the half. Stanford used the spurt to turn a 17-7 halftime lead into a 44-7 laugher by the mid-fourth, sending many a Blue Devil partisan home early.
- The period-plus of perfection harkened back to a game early last season against an ACC foe. Stanford scored touchdowns on eight straight possessions in a 68-24 laugher against visiting Wake Forest. It was the other coast and a different opponent, but the story was much the same in Durham.
- Stanford's streak started when Duke got greedy to begin the second half. Ignoring fundamentals they must have been taught since age five, Duke's defensive backfield went for the ball instead of the sure breakup of Luck's 30-yard pass to tight end Coby Fleener, streaking open on a seam route. Duke managed neither the interception, the breakup, nor the tackle, however, and Stanford capitalized on the poor form to stake a 24-7 lead with 6:34 left in the third. Notice how this D sounds like Stanford's defense of four years ago – when we could never get our heads around for the ball? The big things add up.
- Chase Thomas, the Card's defensive MVP on the day, then forced a fumble on Duke's next drive. Spelling a cramped Delano Howell, touted sophomore Devon Carrington recovered the fumble and Stanford was back in business. Jeremy Stewart ran untouched for a 30-yard touchdown a minute later for Stanford's next score. How's that sequence for depth?
- Duke aroused the announced crowd of 24,785 from a sleepy first half with their only points of the afternoon. Luck didn't give himself much margin for error, choosing to throw to a well-covered Chris Owusu on a 3rd and 8 from the Duke 37. The throw was slightly high and behind the slanting Owusu, who stumbled slightly and could only get his hands on what would have been a most impressive catch. The Devils' Lee Butler caught the tip without breaking stride, and shot off 76 yards in the opposite direction.
- Butler's score cut the Cardinal's lead to 10-7, and Duke Coach David Cutcliffe seized the initiative, dialing up a successful onside kick. With 2:12 left in the second quarter then, Duke had the opportunity to take a halftime lead and put a serious scare into the Cardinal. Unfortunately for the Devils, events steadily deteriorated in a hurry.
"We knew it'd be tough sledding running the ball against eight- or nine-man fronts. We knew it'd be tough sledding, getting four or five yards, but we never cracked one. We're not the type of team to see it's tough and then run it 60 times. So we made some adjustments. We left some guys unblocked, and they pulled the trigger and made some plays."
"They had a history of surprise onside kicks. We talked about it right before the play, but you know what, you can't look for the ball, you have to go get it." Shaw projects competence. He gives a realistic take on events that jives with what all of us saw. He shows a flexibility and willingness to adjust to these on-field realities. He does his scouting and prepares his team for likely events. He keeps a level head and doesn't let his emotions distract him. All this while making sure not to throw his guys under the bus. It's easier when you're winning by 30, but not bad.
"[Today] had a lot to do with character, a little with responding to adversity, and the D, how they've done all last year and this year, they rose to the challenge."
"[OL breakdowns] were a combination of personnel and scheme. They had good guys beat us one-on-one, and then it's on the coaches. They had good schemes to attack our protections." Note how this contradicts Moose Martin, who said that individuals getting beat wasn't a major driver. Something to monitor as the competition gets stiffer.
"[The weather] wasn't as much of a factor, but we lost a couple of guys for a couple of plays. You can't simulate this environment back in Palo Alto. Bob Bowlsby is in the room and nods along approvingly. Oh the contrast from watching Ted Leland and John Hennessy looking utterly lost after yet another blowout in the days of yore. Never saw Leland travel with the football team either.
"[Fleener] is 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, and gets behind people game after game after game."
"[Owusu had a] good game. We're hard on Chris: he had over 100 yards but should have had 200. He did draw an interference, so he did make plays down the field. The defense was right there but I'm an old receiver. We've got a rule: you get your hands on it, you catch it." Wonder how much the pressure on Owusu stems from the rest of the wide receiver corps. Preseason, Phil Steele ranked our receivers ninth in the Pac-10. I thought it was low at the time, but someone's got to step up. Shaw also mentioned a few times that he thought Owusu was interfered with on the interception.
"We're extremely fortunate to have the backs we have. We run physically. Tyler didn't have as many carries, but made a huge save on a protection when we were able to hit Fleener on a pass."
"They did a great job [with the pass rush]. Delayed blitzes are tough. We prepped for teams that did that in the past. Linebackers didn't come right away, but then blitzed after. When we made adjustments, we stopped getting the quarterback hit. They did stunts, but then we were more physical in our pass protection too."
"I've only been around a couple of quarterbacks who see everything. He's able to tell exactly where safeties are. Even for run-game purposes, he knows a safety down's 40 yards, so he'll be hard to block, so we have to run it back to strong side."
"Pass protection, it was the stunts. They were very good with a couple of pick stunts, but as game went on, our OL got better, better and better."
"We were trying to get a receiver on a safety, we'd get a receiver on a safety, but then the corner would get a tackle. You can only block 10 vs. 11, so that's the challenge for our running backs, make someone miss."
"I wish I could take it back, but maybe pressure had a correlation with that play." On the interception – it's closest I've seen him come to not putting all the blame on his shoulders.
"We're all college football fans, so of course we all watch. We all have ESPN as a favorite on our browsers, we don't live under a cave or a rock, so we see games. But I don't think we get too caught up in ‘we should be ranked ahead of them,' or ‘let them be ranked higher.'" Nice to hear Luck speak with a sliver of honesty and not give the token we don't pay attention to any of that whatsoever answer.
"I think the depth we had last year, with the ones out and the twos in, the level of play dropped. This year, we preached we have to have 22 on D or more step up and play. We've seen them step up and dominate play the way we want." Depth – perhaps the biggest takeaway from the first few weeks.
"The coaches give me a lot of opportunities to make plays: a lot of twists, and more leeway, where I can go either way. Some of the holes I saw came off some great stunts, so it's hard not to tackle the quarterback when he falls right in your lap." A hearty endorsement for our defensive coaches, and in keeping with what we've seen on the field thus far this season.
"The blocking was a lot better in the second half. The pass protection was good, but not the run. It was just a bunch of young guys who took a while and came out real slow. The second half, the run blocking was much improved, but there were too many hits on the quarterback still."
"The communication wasn't all the way down. … They're young and talented, it's just getting used to the communication and it's definitely improved from last week. Even last year it wasn't completely down until later in the season. We progressed slowly." It's apples to, well, oranges to compare Week 2 2011 Stanford to Orange Bowl 2010 Stanford. Martin was on a darn good line last year, and seems confident that this year's unit can get there as well. Also nice to see him set a high bar, where a blowout win with great halftime adjustment is unacceptable.
"DeCastro's a beast obviously. The young guys are doing better and are all freaks. It's just taking a while getting there." Again, that the consensus is that the problem isn't physical but one of experience should be a huge relief to Stanford fans. Get a little experience under our belts the first two months, and the sky's the limit.
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