"Points After" by Coach John Ralston [1971]

Stanford Buck Club members used to look forward to weekly correspondence from the football coach. Beginning with John Ralston, these typed-up updates would arrive by mail, giving fans a glimpse of the staff's takes, win or lose, with previews of the upcoming games. It wasn't full 'open kimono' and it certainly wasn't poetry, but it sure was as Murphy used to say...a lot of fun.

"Points After" by Coach John Ralston [1971]

Stanford 3 - Duke 9

It is extremely difficult to explain just what happens to a football team from one week to the next. The mental frame of mind that they attack an opponent is extremely important and I don't think our Stanford team overlooked Duke University and our first game in the month of October. Nonetheless. we missed opportunity after opportunity and ended up losing to the Duke Blue Devils 9 - 3. Statistically, we were ahead in first-downs 19 - 8 and made 362 yards to their 139. However, the only statistic that really counts is the scoreboard and we suffered our first loss of the 1971 campaign.

I do not believe that we looked past Duke University, but perhaps we did take them too lightly. We talked a lot during the week about the Purdue game of a year ago and how we at that time were looking ahead to our game with the University of Southern California. This week we were careful not to mention the University of Washington or the University of Southern California, our next two games, which will be played away from home and our all-important league contests. Rather, we spoke of only “no let down” and “Remember what happened to us against Purdue the year before”. I would say that many of our players were mentally ready to go, but perhaps either through my negligence or lack of concentration by others we did not get a full team effort and the necessary emotional edge to play a team like Duke.

Then too, we began to make mistakes such as: dropping the ball in key situations, having penalties that stop drives, and suffering five turnovers, three fumbles and two passes intercepted. Duke is an extremely opportunist team and they took advantage of the turnover situations. One of the interceptions was returned by Ernie Jackson, their fine defensive back, all the way for a score. The field goal that they got later in the game was a result of a fumble deep in our territory by one of our offensive backs. On the other hand we were only able to get one fumble and one pass interception.

Duke parlayed a very conservative, mistake-free offense with a scrambling defense and an excellent kicking game, averaging 45.5 on nine punts, into good field position. Incidentally, we averaged only 28.8 on our punts. This is too great a difference. Again we were bugged by nagging injuries - Don Bunce a bruised shoulder. Mike Simone sprained ankle. Don Alvarado strained knee. Bunce and Alvarado should be ready next week. Roger Cowan missed the game due to a viral infection, put hopefully he’ll be ready for Washington. Hillary Shockley is still walking on a tender ankle and of course we hope he’ll be back. Pat Moore and Eric Cross, both hurt early in the year, can best be labeled "possible" for next week.

Our entire defensive team distinguished themselves against Duke. They face a real test against Washington, the nation's offensive leader with a 49.5 points per game average. However, I am convinced that our entire team has the leadership and pride to bounce back from the Duke loss. Keep your fingers crossed for our Indians in the next two games against the Huskies and Trojans.


Do you have a "premium" subscription to The Bootleg ? If not, then you are seriously missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest, broadest, and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories