Offense is the key, to get that victory

Stanford's offense needs to step up if the Cardinal are to beat UCLA



Defenses win championships.

That is a general statement that is oftentimes true. But when Stanford faces UCLA on Friday afternoon at the Rose Bowl, offense is the key for Stanford.

When analyzing a game matchup, people often look to strength against strength. Sometimes that comes to play but I’ve always found the bigger question is weakness against weakness. Which side steps up from the lesser units often tells the bigger story.

When Stanford went to Berkeley, it was the same key – could the offense score enough points? The going thought was that Stanford’s defense would be good enough to hold Cal’s talented offense in check. Could the offense carry its share of the load to support the defense? The answer was clearly yes.

The same factor will be the deciding factor in Southern California. Stanford’s offense needs to win its matchup against the UCLA defense. And the UCLA defense is a little bit better than Cal to put it mildly.

UCLA’s offense has been humming lately, scoring at least 36 points in four out of five games as part of the current five game win streak. Quarterback Brett Hundley has finally found the zone and he leads the nation in completion percentage. Paul Perkins leads the conference in rushing. UCLA is a very good team that seems to be peaking.

But Stanford’s defense is just as good. The Cardinal lead the conference in scoring defense and total defense. The Cardinal has faced many similar challenges and, with the exception of Oregon, has never crumbled. Sure, it makes sense that UCLA will score its share of points, but it is unlikely they will roll through the Cardinal for a ton of points without some help.

So that means it is up to that wildcard, the Stanford offense to determine the hope of the Cardinal’s chances this week.  Statistically speaking, that does not give much optimism. Stanford is 11th in total offense and 10th in pass offense in the conference.  Meanwhile, UCLA ranks third in total defense, although at 27.2 points allowed per game the Bruins rank 8th in scoring defense. Bottom line is UCLA’s defense is playing well of late and is much better than Cal.

Oh, and Stanford must tackle this tough task without Ty Montgomery who is out with a shoulder injury.

But Stanford’s offense remains a bit of an enigma. The talent is there. Kevin Hogan has won bigger games than this. The tight end position is back in the fold. While Montgomery is gone, Francis Owusu, Jordan Pratt, Michael Rector, and, of course, Devon Cajuste make for fine wide receivers. The run game reemerged against Cal behind Remound Wright. Which running back will it be this weekend?

The talent is there for Stanford to score points. Of course it always has been, but they still fail to do it against ranked teams.  As Coach David Shaw said earlier this week when he went through the tape of every red zone sequence, the Cardinal has had this year, the opportunities are there but the execution has not been.

“You see turnovers, you see missed opportunities left and right, you see a missed block, a bad snap,” Shaw said. “Those things have shot us in the foot.”

While UCLA focuses on a win and trying to make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game, Stanford can play the role of spoiler. But that is not on the mind of Shaw.

“The role of spoiler, other people can say that if they want to, but that can’t ever be a motivation for me,” Shaw said. “Our motivation is to try and put together our best 60 minutes together, because we still think we have the ability to play extremely well. We have a lot of good players. I believe in all of our schemes that we do. If we show up and execute and play up to our ability then we have a chance to win the game.”

The players are buying into that mantra as well. Graham Shuler, Jordan Richards and Blake Martinez all in their own manners echoed the same thing. The team is focused on just trying to win the next game and let the effects of that win shake out as they do.

So in terms of putting together a perfect 60 minutes, the defense has come close several times, the offense…..not so much.

The first step to fixing any struggling offense starts in the offensive line. This unit of highly recruited players has underachieved this season based on expectations. It is not to say they have been bad, just they have not been the dominant unit that Stanford fans has become accustomed too from the offensive line. For Stanford to win this Friday, the offensive line must control the line of scrimmage.

From there it goes to playing a smart game. Turnovers and penalties must be at a minimum. This is somewhat obvious but the reality is that Stanford has killed themselves when things are going well with critical penalties and too many turnovers. Against a quality UCLA team, Stanford needs to play a smart and clean game.

Give me a dominant offensive line. Give me a clean game. Now give me one player who stands on his head with a coming out game. You’d like it to be the quarterback. It’s there for the quarterback, but maybe it is Owusu. Maybe Kelsey Young goes crazy. Maybe Christian McCaffrey. Somebody needs to step up and have a special game.

Anything less than the above three things from the offense and the Cardinal will probably continue to struggle to consistently move the ball. And if that is the case, UCLA’s offense will eventually wear out the Stanford defense.

There is a lot of on the line for both teams in the final game of the season. For Stanford to win, the defense needs to do what they have done all year long while the offense needs to do what it has not done against good teams. The offense needs to be good and consistent. The offense needs to put together its best 60 minutes of the season.

I think they get it done:  STANFORD 27 UCLA 20

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ONE AND ALL!!!!!!!




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\r\nFollow\r\n@sportsking\r\n\r\n
\r\n
\r\n\r\n

Defenses win championships.

\r\n

That is a general statement that\r\nis oftentimes true. But when Stanford faces UCLA on Friday\r\nafternoon at the Rose Bowl, offense is the key for Stanford.

\r\n

When analyzing a game matchup,\r\npeople often look to strength against strength. Sometimes that\r\ncomes to play but I’ve always found the bigger question is\r\nweakness against weakness. Which side steps up from the lesser\r\nunits often tells the bigger story.

\r\n

When Stanford went to Berkeley,\r\nit was the same key – could the offense score enough points? The\r\ngoing thought was that Stanford’s defense would be good enough\r\nto hold Cal’s talented offense in check. Could the offense carry\r\nits share of the load to support the defense? The answer was\r\nclearly yes.

\r\n

The same factor will be the\r\ndeciding factor in Southern California. Stanford’s offense needs\r\nto win its matchup against the UCLA defense. And the UCLA\r\ndefense is a little bit better than Cal to put it mildly.

\r\n

UCLA’s offense has been humming\r\nlately, scoring at least 36 points in four out of five games as\r\npart of the current five game win streak. Quarterback Brett Hundley has finally found the zone and he leads the nation in\r\ncompletion percentage. Paul Perkins leads the conference in\r\nrushing. UCLA is a very good team that seems to be peaking.

\r\n

But Stanford’s defense is just as\r\ngood. The Cardinal lead the conference in scoring defense and\r\ntotal defense. The Cardinal has faced many similar challenges\r\nand, with the exception of Oregon, has never crumbled. Sure, it\r\nmakes sense that UCLA will score its share of points, but it is\r\nunlikely they will roll through the Cardinal for a ton of points\r\nwithout some help.

\r\n

So that means it is up to that\r\nwildcard, the Stanford offense to determine the hope of the\r\nCardinal’s chances this week. \r\n\r\nStatistically speaking, that does not give much optimism.\r\nStanford is 11th in total offense and 10th\r\nin pass offense in the conference. \r\nMeanwhile, UCLA ranks third in total defense, although at\r\n27.2 points allowed per game the Bruins rank 8th in\r\nscoring defense. Bottom line is UCLA’s defense is playing well\r\nof late and is much better than Cal.

\r\n

Oh, and Stanford must tackle this\r\ntough task without Ty Montgomery who is out with a shoulder\r\ninjury.

\r\n

But Stanford’s offense remains a\r\nbit of an enigma. The talent is there. Kevin Hogan has won\r\nbigger games than this. The tight end position is back in the\r\nfold. While Montgomery is gone, Francis Owusu, Jordan Pratt,\r\nMichael Rector, and, of course, Devon Cajuste make for fine wide\r\nreceivers. The run game reemerged against Cal behind Remound Wright. Which running back will it be this weekend?

\r\n

The talent is there for Stanford\r\nto score points. Of course it always has been, but they still\r\nfail to do it against ranked teams.  As Coach David Shaw\r\nsaid earlier this week when he went through the tape of every\r\nred zone sequence, the Cardinal has had this year, the\r\nopportunities are there but the execution has not been.

\r\n

“You see turnovers, you see\r\nmissed opportunities left and right, you see a missed block, a\r\nbad snap,” Shaw said. “Those things have shot us in the foot.”

\r\n

While UCLA focuses on a win and\r\ntrying to make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game, Stanford can\r\nplay the role of spoiler. But that is not on the mind of Shaw.

\r\n

“The role of spoiler, other\r\npeople can say that if they want to, but that can’t ever be a\r\nmotivation for me,” Shaw said. “Our motivation is to try and put\r\ntogether our best 60 minutes together, because we still think we\r\nhave the ability to play extremely well. We have a lot of good\r\nplayers. I believe in all of our schemes that we do. If we show\r\nup and execute and play up to our ability then we have a chance\r\nto win the game.”

\r\n

The players are buying into that\r\nmantra as well. Graham Shuler, Jordan Richards and Blake Martinez all in their own manners echoed the same thing. The\r\nteam is focused on just trying to win the next game and let the\r\neffects of that win shake out as they do.

\r\n

So in terms of putting together a\r\nperfect 60 minutes, the defense has come close several times,\r\nthe offense…..not so much.

\r\n

The first step to fixing any\r\nstruggling offense starts in the offensive line. This unit of\r\nhighly recruited players has underachieved this season based on\r\nexpectations. It is not to say they have been bad, just they\r\nhave not been the dominant unit that Stanford fans has become\r\naccustomed too from the offensive line. For Stanford to win this\r\nFriday, the offensive line must control the line of scrimmage.

\r\n

From there it goes to playing a\r\nsmart game. Turnovers and penalties must be at a minimum. This\r\nis somewhat obvious but the reality is that Stanford has killed\r\nthemselves when things are going well with critical penalties\r\nand too many turnovers. Against a quality UCLA team, Stanford\r\nneeds to play a smart and clean game.

\r\n

Give me a dominant offensive\r\nline. Give me a clean game. Now give me one player who stands on\r\nhis head with a coming out game. You’d like it to be the\r\nquarterback. It’s there for the quarterback, but maybe it is\r\nOwusu. Maybe Kelsey Young goes crazy. Maybe Christian McCaffrey.\r\nSomebody needs to step up and have a special game.

\r\n

Anything less than the above\r\nthree things from the offense and the Cardinal will probably\r\ncontinue to struggle to consistently move the ball. And if that\r\nis the case, UCLA’s offense will eventually wear out the\r\nStanford defense.

\r\n

There is a lot of on the line for\r\nboth teams in the final game of the season. For Stanford to win,\r\nthe defense needs to do what they have done all year long while\r\nthe offense needs to do what it has not done against good teams.\r\nThe offense needs to be good and consistent. The offense needs\r\nto put together its best 60 minutes of the season.

\r\n

I think they get it done:  STANFORD 27 UCLA 20

\r\n

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ONE AND\r\nALL!!!!!!!

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTweet\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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