Stanford formations

A detailed breakdown on the formations Stanford has been using

Diversity Kills

Defenses have long relied upon the data they gather before the snap in the hopes of correctly anticipating the play, and neutralizing the advantage the offense has in the split seconds after the snap when they know what’s coming and the defense doesn’t. In simple terms, this means that many defenders make assumptions based on formation. Consequently, there is yardage to be gained via pre- and post-snap deception. We’re going to set aside one of my most firmly held offensive beliefs for the moment: To be a great team, you have to run when they know you’re going to run, and you have to be able to pass when they know you’re going to pass. I still believe that, but Stanford is in no danger of being a great offensive team at the moment, so I want to focus on formation, personnel, and the use of deception pre- and post-snap in the hopes that we can unearth some possible solutions that might make Stanford a functional offense that at least approaches respectable point totals on a consistent basis.

Last season’s offense often used formations that gave away the play pre-snap. While the national media fawned over Coach Shaw’s “Ogre” formation, I cringed every time I saw those extra O-Linemen on the field, because it told the defense what Stanford intended to do, in no uncertain terms. As a physical expression of Stanford’s Power philosophy, it was an interesting statement. Nobody seemed to want to comment on the rapidly dwindling returns the actual plays produced. When there is no chance of a play outside the tackles, there is no reason to put a defender outside the tackles. When there are 9, 10, or 11 men inside the tackles and within three yards of the line of scrimmage, there is not going to be any successful running. It’s arrogance to think otherwise. Worse, it’s delusion.

Stanford also liked to line up in five wide receiver sets on occasion last year. Again, it refused to do anything but pass the ball out of an obvious pass formation. Defenses responded by sending extra rushers and/or pressing receivers at the line. Stanford’s receivers have no answer for press coverage, Stanford’s quarterback has neither the release nor the quick-reading ability to execute out of that formation, but that matters little when you can showcase offensive “diversity.”

Two problems immediately stick out in my perception of Stanford’s current offensive difficulties, and they are rooted in the uncertainty over the unit’s identity and philosophy. Stanford utilizes its personnel in a far too egalitarian manner. The Cardinal vacillates between formations that showcase the presumed strengths on its roster and ones that showcase who it once was. We are talking in general about two specific personnel groupings:

• Three WR, One RB, One TE.

• I-Formation w/ FB, HB, TE, and WR or extra OL.

My major contention was that Stanford has been shuffling players and formations too frequently to develop any kind of rhythm or consistency. So I went to the ASU game film, steeled myself against the ensuing Horror, and took a look at the Cardinal’s first three drives of each half. Here’s what I found:

Stanford used five different basic formations over the course of the 39 plays I studied. This is not taking into account distinctions between I-Left or I-Right, for example, or other permutations like the Ogre formation. They are considered the I-formation for these purposes. Stanford went into its three WR, one RB, one TE formation for 11 of its 39 plays. It used the I-formation on 13 of those 39 plays. So again we see that there is a reluctance to fully commit to a real philosophy here. The former formation is a nod to where Stanford’s presumed strengths lie this year. Its wide receivers were thought of as the deepest, most experienced, and most talented among the three receiving skill positions. The I-formation is about being who Stanford has been since Jim Harbaugh matriculated to campus and who the coaches wanted to be again this year, based on the promise of the newly constructed offensive line. Against the Sun Devils, those two formations formed the rock of futility and the hard place of ineptitude sandwiching the Stanford brain trust. As documented in my previous article, it didn’t really matter what formation Stanford was in last Saturday night. The Cardinal struggled to run (10 carries for 22 yards) and couldn’t consistently pass (7/14 completions) well enough on first down. It’s not that Stanford can’t be successful out of these looks, but frankly the diversity of formation has thinly veiled utter predictability of the ensuing plays, which accounted for 62% of the observed snaps. To wit: Out of formations utilizing the shotgun, Stanford passed on 30 of 33 snaps. By comparison, out of 14 snaps from the true shotgun, ASU ran seven times and passed seven times. In the pistol, Stanford passed on all five times Hogan took the snap from that distance. ASU used that formation for Bercovici for the majority of its snaps. The Sun Devils passed 21 times and ran 27 times. They had far more balance and unpredictability pre-snap than Stanford. The Sun Devils’ diversified play-calling allowed it to continue the subterfuge on 3rd down, where it ran seven and passed 12 times. Stanford passed on 14 of its 16 third downs, leaving Hogan vulnerable to blitz pressures with no concern on ASU’s part that they might get caught over-pursuing a run play. All those backside pressures that short-circuited Stanford’s run game? Page 1 of the Bill Walsh Playbook has the answer. So does the name of this WEBSITE!!!! Play action QB bootleg to the side from where the pressure came. Contain is forfeited and you can drag receivers across or, with a QB who can run well (#8), take off up the field. Stanford can do two things this week to get better right away: First, run play-action more often, but more importantly, run out of pass formations and pass out of run formations. Secondly, we shift from the “what” to the “who.” On its opening series, Stanford used seven different skill players to run its three plays. Of those seven, only Montgomery and Wright were on the field for all three plays. Wright was the RB for the entire series and the first play of Drive 2. At that point he was replaced by Sanders for the final three plays of the drive. Stanford then kept the same 5 skill guys on the field for consecutive plays for the first time. The first resulted in a false start, and the second was Barry Sanders running for 9 yards. This, of course, led to Wright immediately replacing him for 3rd down. Wright whiffs on a block though this may have been the first of at least two times Hogan shifted the protection away from the blitz. In any case, Wright couldn’t get there, Hogan didn’t see the pressure (coming from his open, or non-blind side), and ASU blew the play to smithereens. It’s hard to imagine this team getting the repetitions it needs to master plays if the substitutions in practice are this frequent.

On its third drive of the game, the Cardinal managed to get some first downs. However, no single skill player stayed on the field for the first three plays. Stunningly, Stanford swapped runners on each of the first three plays. Wright started the series, was followed by Sanders, and then Kelsey Young. After that, the series belonged to Wright at least in terms of the RB position. Stanford swapped two or more players on every single play of this drive. I’m purposely trying to avoid writing too much about the results of every single play, because the argument here is more about the cumulative process whereby Stanford runs X amount of plays over the course of a game, and achieves 10 points. It’s not about any one swap or moment, it’s about the fact that Stanford needs to commit to a core group of players and allocate nearly all of its reps and in-game plays to that group.

The previous point notwithstanding, Stanford on the first drive of the second half twice ran consecutive plays with the exact or nearly the exact same personnel grouping. The first time they did it, Wright ran for five yards, and then 21. Not too shabby. The second time, they gained six yards and 13 yards while only making one personnel swap. Now, this is the very definition of a small sample size, and it’s preposterous to argue that all Stanford has to do is keep the same guys in consistently and their problems will go away. What’s relevant is showing that it can work, that being relentlessly and excessively diverse in terms of substitutions isn’t a prerequisite for success. It also doesn’t hurt the offense’s ability to deceive a defense.

After another drive with the “revolving door” style of substitution, Stanford streamlined its substitutions out of necessity. Down 17 in the 4th quarter, the Cardinal stuck with the same formation (Trips WR R, Single RB, Single WR L) on consecutive plays and the same personnel on three consecutive plays (gasp!). This was the Cardinal’s only touchdown of the game. Now, correlation doesn’t imply causation, but again, it doesn’t need to. Stanford needs to streamline. It needs to streamline its playbook and its use of personnel. Less is more.

So who wins the battle for Stanford’s offensive soul? The Three Wide, wide receiver emphasized formation or the I-formation days of yore? Really, it’s a combination of both. The truth is that the wide receivers are not the most dependable group on this offense. Neither are the running backs. It’s the tight ends. Use the trips set that includes a tight end. Replace extra offensive linemen with tight ends. Keep the threat of run and pass alive through the snapping of the ball.

So now Stanford heads home to confront Beaver Nation. The Cardinal can’t do anything about its record against ranked teams this week, but it has the talent it needs to put together an offensive blueprint that succeeds against both the unranked and the ranked.





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The Bootleg Top Stories

\r\nFollow\r\n@TheBootleg\r\n\r\n

\r\nDiversity Kills\r\n
\r\n

\r\n

Defenses have long relied upon the data they gather before the\r\nsnap in the hopes of correctly anticipating the play, and\r\nneutralizing the advantage the offense has in the split seconds\r\nafter the snap when they know what’s coming and the defense\r\ndoesn’t. In simple terms, this means that many defenders make\r\nassumptions based on formation. Consequently, there is yardage to\r\nbe gained via pre- and post-snap deception. We’re going to set\r\naside one of my most firmly held offensive beliefs for the moment:\r\nTo be a great team, you have to run when they know you’re going\r\nto run, and you have to be able to pass when they know you’re\r\ngoing to pass. I still believe that, but Stanford is in no\r\ndanger of being a great offensive team at the moment, so I want to\r\nfocus on formation, personnel, and the use of deception pre- and\r\npost-snap in the hopes that we can unearth some possible solutions\r\nthat might make Stanford a functional offense that at least\r\napproaches respectable point totals on a consistent basis.

\r\n

Last season’s offense often used formations that gave away the\r\nplay pre-snap. While the national media fawned over Coach Shaw’s\r\n“Ogre” formation, I cringed every time I saw those extra O-Linemen\r\non the field, because it told the defense what Stanford intended\r\nto do, in no uncertain terms. As a physical expression of\r\nStanford’s Power philosophy, it was an interesting statement.\r\nNobody seemed to want to comment on the rapidly dwindling returns\r\nthe actual plays produced. When there is no chance of a play\r\noutside the tackles, there is no reason to put a defender outside\r\nthe tackles. When there are 9, 10, or 11 men inside the tackles\r\nand within three yards of the line of scrimmage, there is not\r\ngoing to be any successful running. It’s arrogance to think\r\notherwise. Worse, it’s delusion.

\r\n

Stanford also liked to line up in five wide receiver sets on\r\noccasion last year. Again, it refused to do anything but pass the\r\nball out of an obvious pass formation. Defenses responded by\r\nsending extra rushers and/or pressing receivers at the line.\r\nStanford’s receivers have no answer for press coverage, Stanford’s\r\nquarterback has neither the release nor the quick-reading ability\r\nto execute out of that formation, but that matters little when you\r\ncan showcase offensive “diversity.”

\r\n

Two problems immediately stick out in my perception of\r\nStanford’s current offensive difficulties, and they are rooted in\r\nthe uncertainty over the unit’s identity and philosophy. Stanford\r\nutilizes its personnel in a far too egalitarian manner. The\r\nCardinal vacillates between formations that showcase the presumed\r\nstrengths on its roster and ones that showcase who it once was. We\r\nare talking in general about two specific personnel groupings:

\r\n

\r\n• Three WR, One RB, One TE.

\r\n• I-Formation w/ FB, HB, TE, and WR or extra OL.

\r\n

\r\nMy major contention was that Stanford has been shuffling players\r\nand formations too frequently to develop any kind of rhythm or\r\nconsistency. So I went to the ASU game film, steeled myself\r\nagainst the ensuing Horror, and took a look at the Cardinal’s\r\nfirst three drives of each half. Here’s what I found:

\r\n

\r\nStanford used five different basic formations over the course of\r\nthe 39 plays I studied. This is not taking into account\r\ndistinctions between I-Left or I-Right, for example, or other\r\npermutations like the Ogre formation. They are considered the\r\nI-formation for these purposes. Stanford went into its three WR,\r\none RB, one TE formation for 11 of its 39 plays. It used the\r\nI-formation on 13 of those 39 plays. So again we see that there is\r\na reluctance to fully commit to a real philosophy here. The former\r\nformation is a nod to where Stanford’s presumed strengths lie this\r\nyear. Its wide receivers were thought of as the deepest, most\r\nexperienced, and most talented among the three receiving skill\r\npositions. The I-formation is about being who Stanford has been\r\nsince Jim Harbaugh matriculated to campus and who the coaches\r\nwanted to be again this year, based on the promise of the newly\r\nconstructed offensive line. Against the Sun Devils, those two\r\nformations formed the rock of futility and the hard place of\r\nineptitude sandwiching the Stanford brain trust. As documented in\r\nmy previous article, it didn’t really matter what formation\r\nStanford was in last Saturday night. The Cardinal struggled to run\r\n(10 carries for 22 yards) and couldn’t consistently pass (7/14\r\ncompletions) well enough on first down. It’s not that Stanford\r\ncan’t be successful out of these looks, but frankly the diversity\r\nof formation has thinly veiled utter predictability of the ensuing\r\nplays, which accounted for 62% of the observed snaps. To wit: Out\r\nof formations utilizing the shotgun, Stanford passed on 30 of 33\r\nsnaps. By comparison, out of 14 snaps from the true shotgun, ASU\r\nran seven times and passed seven times. In the pistol, Stanford\r\npassed on all five times Hogan took the snap from that distance.\r\nASU used that formation for Bercovici for the majority of its\r\nsnaps. The Sun Devils passed 21 times and ran 27 times. They had\r\nfar more balance and unpredictability pre-snap than Stanford. The\r\nSun Devils’ diversified play-calling allowed it to continue the\r\nsubterfuge on 3rd down, where it ran seven and passed 12 times.\r\nStanford passed on 14 of its 16 third downs, leaving Hogan\r\nvulnerable to blitz pressures with no concern on ASU’s part that\r\nthey might get caught over-pursuing a run play. All those backside\r\npressures that short-circuited Stanford’s run game? Page 1 of the\r\nBill Walsh Playbook has the answer. So does the name of this\r\nWEBSITE!!!! Play action QB bootleg to the side from where the\r\npressure came. Contain is forfeited and you can drag receivers\r\nacross or, with a QB who can run well (#8), take off up the field.\r\nStanford can do two things this week to get better right away:\r\nFirst, run play-action more often, but more importantly, run out\r\nof pass formations and pass out of run formations.\r\nSecondly, we shift from the “what” to the “who.” On its opening\r\nseries, Stanford used seven different skill players to run its\r\nthree plays. Of those seven, only Montgomery and Wright were on\r\nthe field for all three plays. Wright was the RB for the entire\r\nseries and the first play of Drive 2. At that point he was\r\nreplaced by Sanders for the final three plays of the drive.\r\nStanford then kept the same 5 skill guys on the field for\r\nconsecutive plays for the first time. The first resulted in a\r\nfalse start, and the second was Barry Sanders running for 9 yards.\r\nThis, of course, led to Wright immediately replacing him for 3rd\r\ndown. Wright whiffs on a block though this may have been the first\r\nof at least two times Hogan shifted the protection away from the\r\nblitz. In any case, Wright couldn’t get there, Hogan didn’t see\r\nthe pressure (coming from his open, or non-blind side), and ASU\r\nblew the play to smithereens. It’s hard to imagine this team\r\ngetting the repetitions it needs to master plays if the\r\nsubstitutions in practice are this frequent.

\r\n

\r\nOn its third drive of the game, the Cardinal managed to get some\r\nfirst downs. However, no single skill player stayed on the field\r\nfor the first three plays. Stunningly, Stanford swapped runners on\r\neach of the first three plays. Wright started the series, was\r\nfollowed by Sanders, and then Kelsey Young. After that, the series\r\nbelonged to Wright at least in terms of the RB position. Stanford\r\nswapped two or more players on every single play of this\r\ndrive. I’m purposely trying to avoid writing too much about\r\nthe results of every single play, because the argument here is\r\nmore about the cumulative process whereby Stanford runs X amount\r\nof plays over the course of a game, and achieves 10 points. It’s\r\nnot about any one swap or moment, it’s about the fact that\r\nStanford needs to commit to a core group of players and allocate\r\nnearly all of its reps and in-game plays to that group.

\r\n

\r\nThe previous point notwithstanding, Stanford on the first drive of\r\nthe second half twice ran consecutive plays with the exact or\r\nnearly the exact same personnel grouping. The first time they did\r\nit, Wright ran for five yards, and then 21. Not too shabby. The\r\nsecond time, they gained six yards and 13 yards while only making\r\none personnel swap. Now, this is the very definition of a small\r\nsample size, and it’s preposterous to argue that all Stanford has\r\nto do is keep the same guys in consistently and their problems\r\nwill go away. What’s relevant is showing that it can work,\r\nthat being relentlessly and excessively diverse in terms of\r\nsubstitutions isn’t a prerequisite for success. It also doesn’t\r\nhurt the offense’s ability to deceive a defense.

\r\n

\r\nAfter another drive with the “revolving door” style of\r\nsubstitution, Stanford streamlined its substitutions out of\r\nnecessity. Down 17 in the 4th quarter, the Cardinal stuck with the\r\nsame formation (Trips WR R, Single RB, Single WR L) on consecutive\r\nplays and the same personnel on three consecutive plays\r\n(gasp!). This was the Cardinal’s only touchdown of the game. Now,\r\ncorrelation doesn’t imply causation, but again, it doesn’t need\r\nto. Stanford needs to streamline. It needs to streamline its\r\nplaybook and its use of personnel. Less is more.

\r\n

\r\nSo who wins the battle for Stanford’s offensive soul? The Three\r\nWide, wide receiver emphasized formation or the I-formation days\r\nof yore? Really, it’s a combination of both. The truth is that the\r\nwide receivers are not the most dependable group on this offense.\r\nNeither are the running backs. It’s the tight ends. Use the trips\r\nset that includes a tight end. Replace extra offensive linemen\r\nwith tight ends. Keep the threat of run and pass alive through the\r\nsnapping of the ball.

\r\n

\r\nSo now Stanford heads home to confront Beaver Nation. The Cardinal\r\ncan’t do anything about its record against ranked teams this week,\r\nbut it has the talent it needs to put together an offensive\r\nblueprint that succeeds against both the unranked and the ranked.

\r\n

\r\n

\r\n

Tweet\r\n\r\n
\r\n

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Are you fully subscribed to The\r\nBootleg? If not, then you are missing out on\r\nall the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our\r\naward-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in\r\nStanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com\r\n(sign-up)!

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Diversity Kills

Defenses have long relied upon the data they gather before the snap in the hopes of correctly anticipating the play, and neutralizing the advantage the offense has in the split seconds after the snap when they know what’s coming and the defense doesn’t. In simple terms, this means that many defenders make assumptions based on formation. Consequently, there is yardage to be gained via pre- and post-snap deception. We’re going to set aside one of my most firmly held offensive beliefs for the moment: I still believe that, but Stanford is in no danger of being a great offensive team at the moment, so I want to focus on formation, personnel, and the use of deception pre- and post-snap in the hopes that we can unearth some possible solutions that might make Stanford a functional offense that at least approaches respectable point totals on a consistent basis.

Last season’s offense often used formations that gave away the play pre-snap. While the national media fawned over Coach Shaw’s “Ogre” formation, I cringed every time I saw those extra O-Linemen on the field, because it told the defense what Stanford intended to do, in no uncertain terms. As a physical expression of Stanford’s Power philosophy, it was an interesting statement. Nobody seemed to want to comment on the rapidly dwindling returns the actual plays produced. When there is no chance of a play outside the tackles, there is no reason to put a defender outside the tackles. When there are 9, 10, or 11 men inside the tackles and within three yards of the line of scrimmage, there is not going to be any successful running. It’s arrogance to think otherwise. Worse, it’s delusion.

Stanford also liked to line up in five wide receiver sets on occasion last year. Again, it refused to do anything but pass the ball out of an obvious pass formation. Defenses responded by sending extra rushers and/or pressing receivers at the line. Stanford’s receivers have no answer for press coverage, Stanford’s quarterback has neither the release nor the quick-reading ability to execute out of that formation, but that matters little when you can showcase offensive “diversity.”

Two problems immediately stick out in my perception of Stanford’s current offensive difficulties, and they are rooted in the uncertainty over the unit’s identity and philosophy. Stanford utilizes its personnel in a far too egalitarian manner. The Cardinal vacillates between formations that showcase the presumed strengths on its roster and ones that showcase who it once was. We are talking in general about two specific personnel groupings:

• Three WR, One RB, One TE.

• I-Formation w/ FB, HB, TE, and WR or extra OL.

My major contention was that Stanford has been shuffling players and formations too frequently to develop any kind of rhythm or consistency. So I went to the ASU game film, steeled myself against the ensuing Horror, and took a look at the Cardinal’s first three drives of each half. Here’s what I found:

Stanford used five different basic formations over the course of the 39 plays I studied. This is not taking into account distinctions between I-Left or I-Right, for example, or other permutations like the Ogre formation. They are considered the I-formation for these purposes. Stanford went into its three WR, one RB, one TE formation for 11 of its 39 plays. It used the I-formation on 13 of those 39 plays. So again we see that there is a reluctance to fully commit to a real philosophy here. The former formation is a nod to where Stanford’s presumed strengths lie this year. Its wide receivers were thought of as the deepest, most experienced, and most talented among the three receiving skill positions. The I-formation is about being who Stanford has been since Jim Harbaugh matriculated to campus and who the coaches wanted to be again this year, based on the promise of the newly constructed offensive line. Against the Sun Devils, those two formations formed the rock of futility and the hard place of ineptitude sandwiching the Stanford brain trust. As documented in my previous article, it didn’t really matter what formation Stanford was in last Saturday night. The Cardinal struggled to run (10 carries for 22 yards) and couldn’t consistently pass (7/14 completions) well enough on first down. It’s not that Stanford can’t be successful out of these looks, but frankly the diversity of formation has thinly veiled utter predictability of the ensuing plays, which accounted for 62% of the observed snaps. To wit: Out of formations utilizing the shotgun, Stanford passed on 30 of 33 snaps. By comparison, out of 14 snaps from the true shotgun, ASU ran seven times and passed seven times. In the pistol, Stanford passed on all five times Hogan took the snap from that distance. ASU used that formation for Bercovici for the majority of its snaps. The Sun Devils passed 21 times and ran 27 times. They had far more balance and unpredictability pre-snap than Stanford. The Sun Devils’ diversified play-calling allowed it to continue the subterfuge on 3rd down, where it ran seven and passed 12 times. Stanford passed on 14 of its 16 third downs, leaving Hogan vulnerable to blitz pressures with no concern on ASU’s part that they might get caught over-pursuing a run play. All those backside pressures that short-circuited Stanford’s run game? Page 1 of the Bill Walsh Playbook has the answer. So does the name of this WEBSITE!!!! Play action QB bootleg to the side from where the pressure came. Contain is forfeited and you can drag receivers across or, with a QB who can run well (#8), take off up the field. Stanford can do two things this week to get better right away: First, run play-action more often, but more importantly, run out of pass formations and pass out of run formations. Secondly, we shift from the “what” to the “who.” On its opening series, Stanford used seven different skill players to run its three plays. Of those seven, only Montgomery and Wright were on the field for all three plays. Wright was the RB for the entire series and the first play of Drive 2. At that point he was replaced by Sanders for the final three plays of the drive. Stanford then kept the same 5 skill guys on the field for consecutive plays for the first time. The first resulted in a false start, and the second was Barry Sanders running for 9 yards. This, of course, led to Wright immediately replacing him for 3rd down. Wright whiffs on a block though this may have been the first of at least two times Hogan shifted the protection away from the blitz. In any case, Wright couldn’t get there, Hogan didn’t see the pressure (coming from his open, or non-blind side), and ASU blew the play to smithereens. It’s hard to imagine this team getting the repetitions it needs to master plays if the substitutions in practice are this frequent.

On its third drive of the game, the Cardinal managed to get some first downs. However, no single skill player stayed on the field for the first three plays. Stunningly, Stanford swapped runners on each of the first three plays. Wright started the series, was followed by Sanders, and then Kelsey Young. After that, the series belonged to Wright at least in terms of the RB position. Stanford swapped two or more players on I’m purposely trying to avoid writing too much about the results of every single play, because the argument here is more about the cumulative process whereby Stanford runs X amount of plays over the course of a game, and achieves 10 points. It’s not about any one swap or moment, it’s about the fact that Stanford needs to commit to a core group of players and allocate nearly all of its reps and in-game plays to that group.

The previous point notwithstanding, Stanford on the first drive of the second half twice ran consecutive plays with the exact or nearly the exact same personnel grouping. The first time they did it, Wright ran for five yards, and then 21. Not too shabby. The second time, they gained six yards and 13 yards while only making one personnel swap. Now, this is the very definition of a small sample size, and it’s preposterous to argue that all Stanford has to do is keep the same guys in consistently and their problems will go away. What’s relevant is showing that it work, that being relentlessly and excessively diverse in terms of substitutions isn’t a prerequisite for success. It also doesn’t hurt the offense’s ability to deceive a defense.

After another drive with the “revolving door” style of substitution, Stanford streamlined its substitutions out of necessity. Down 17 in the 4th quarter, the Cardinal stuck with the same formation (Trips WR R, Single RB, Single WR L) on consecutive plays and the same personnel on consecutive plays (gasp!). This was the Cardinal’s only touchdown of the game. Now, correlation doesn’t imply causation, but again, it doesn’t need to. Stanford needs to streamline. It needs to streamline its playbook and its use of personnel. Less is more.

So who wins the battle for Stanford’s offensive soul? The Three Wide, wide receiver emphasized formation or the I-formation days of yore? Really, it’s a combination of both. The truth is that the wide receivers are not the most dependable group on this offense. Neither are the running backs. It’s the tight ends. Use the trips set that includes a tight end. Replace extra offensive linemen with tight ends. Keep the threat of run and pass alive through the snapping of the ball.

So now Stanford heads home to confront Beaver Nation. The Cardinal can’t do anything about its record against ranked teams this week, but it has the talent it needs to put together an offensive blueprint that succeeds against both the unranked and the ranked.

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