Stanford Uses Three C's to Win Dawg Fight

It's the little details in a football game that lead to big wins.



    I hate bullies.  Most people do.  As a fan, there is nothing more frustrating than watching your team get bullied on the court, and they may be nothing more humiliating than finding out that your team has taken on the personality of a bully.  We have long been taught that bullies are cowards who are actually soft at their core.  Punch them in the mouth once, and you never have to worry about them again.  Nobody wants to be Biff Tannen.  One shot from George McFly and his identity crumpled like a wet newspaper.

    After blowing the doors off of Arizona and UCLA, I was a little worried that all the success Stanford had been having wasn't steeling their resolve.  I'll never complain about hanging double nickels against teams, but I did wonder what would happen if and when Stanford got punched in the mouth.  Great teams embrace that challenge.  Bully teams go away once their opponent establishes that the game is going to be a fight.

    Stanford took a 17-0 lead into halftime last Saturday night, and it seemed clear that Washington just didn't have enough on offense to make it a contest. However, the Huskies came out in the second half with purpose and the ferocious running of Myles Gaskin, who is going to torment Pac-12 defenses for years to come. The Huskies went five plays and 57 yards for a resounding touchdown that put the pressure back on the Stanford offense.  The Cardinal not only answered with a touchdown, it answered with two.  To me, that was one of the two big takeaways from the game.  First, Stanford moved the ball and scored against an excellent defense, and secondly, the Cardinal showed no traces of bully in its DNA.  In fact, the team seemed to relish the chance to push and punch back after facing some resistance.  So let's take a look at the character, cruelty, and creativity that pushed Stanford to a 5-0 record in the Pac-12.
   
    Stanford faced a 4th and 3 on the first play of the second quarter.  Once more, Coach David Shaw went for it, and the most interesting thing about it is that there didn't seem like there was any doubt about whether or not he'd do it.  Stanford comes out in an I-Formation with two tight ends on the left as well as a single receiver wide left.  Washington lines up with 4 down linemen and an edge rusher upright on the strong side.  The Huskies had two linebackers and two safeties playing nine yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Huskies are respecting the unlikely, but not impossible chance that the Cardinal might try to sneak one over the top.
   
    First off, Quarterback Kevin Hogan showed some veteran savvy by getting Stanford to the line and then holding off the snap for over 12 seconds.  It's hard to stay in a defensive stance that long and really explode off the ball, and Hogan expertly kept the Huskies crouched in their down positions.  Credit the Cardinal offensive line for staying set and not flinching, either. At the snap, Schultz and Hooper down block the defensive end, while Garnett pulls left and screens out the edge rusher who put himself in a bad spot by rushing straight up the field.  I remember one thing Rick Neuheisel said years ago about Stanford's strategy.  He mentioned how the Cardinal was always looking to create favorable blocking angles and on this play it sure seemed like Hooper and Schultz were set up for success in this regard.
   

    Of course, effort plays a role, and Hooper, after chipping off the double team block, moves to the second level and gets a piece of the Husky linebacker.  That leaves Marx leading Christian McCaffrey on a toss left.  Daniel smothers him like maple syrup on a pancake to create the left side of the seam for McCaffery.  Meanwhile, Kyle Murphy is able to hold off massive defensive lineman Elijah Qualls long enough for McCaffery to go through the hole.  The play went for seven yards, and the Washington defense would not be long for the possession after that.

    On the very next play, Stanford lines up in the same formation but puts its wide receiver to the weak and short side of the field.  On the left, Murphy, Garnett, Shuler, and Caspers wall off the left side of the Husky defense while Casey Tucker and one of the Ogres (Nick Davidson or David Bright) seal off the right side.  McCaffrey takes the handoff and starts up towards the left side, but in a flash makes a brilliant cutback right and after a quick stiff-arm that I missed until I watched it in slow mo, rumbles all the way inside the Husky five yard line.  McCaffrey could have run this play by the book and probably picked up a respectable four yards or so, but his vision and aggression turned it into a 19-yard gain. All that remained was for Remound Wright to Vulture in, and of course he finished the drive on his second try with a touchdown.

    The second half opened with the aforementioned Husky touchdown, and after three straight runs produced a first down, Stanford found itself facing 3rd and 10 thanks to two straight incompletions.  On the first, Hogan was hit as he threw, and on the second, Francis Owusu, perhaps confused because there was no defender for him to also grab, dropped a crossing route that would have gone for big yards.  That gave the Huskies a high leverage defensive down and a real shot to get its offense the ball back.  Setbacks like this are what cripple ordinary offenses.  Not this year, however.

    Stanford lines up in a Trips Right Single Back Single Left formation.  Washington answers with 2 down linemen bracketed by 2 upright rushers.  One linebacker is five yards back and over the right tackle, while another is six yards back and basically over the center.  At the snap, that SAM linebacker blitzes, while Caspers pulls to simulate a run play.  Harb-Shaw teams do this quite often, and its a very effective precursor to a play action ball fake from the quarterback.  Hogan fakes to Wright, then hits McCaffrey on a quick screen out to the right.  Schultz and Tucker create just enough of a seam for Christian the Lion to extend past the line of scrimmage.  However, he hits first contact five yards shy of the line to gain but nevertheless bounces off the first tackler and lunges forward to leave the Cardinal a yard shy of the first down.  McCaffrey's toughness and physicality have come to the forefront of his game as he's grown into the role of a featured back.  It's extra efforts like this that have Stanford on the verge of greatness.

    Remound Wright enters the game and out of a Power I with split fullbacks follows a Stanford O Line who absolutely collapses the UW front and picks up the needed yardage plus four more. With the UW defense on its heels, Stanford breaks the huddle into a Twins Left Split Back Single Right formation.  Hogan makes a play action fake to Wright that along with a Garnett pull to the right, sells the Washington safety on the run.  Nobody sees McCaffrey wheeling out of the backfield and up the right sideline, and Hogan tosses it to him for a 50-yard touchdown and a huge response to Washington's touchdown drive.  This was Stanford taking a punch, smiling, and hitting back.

    The Cardinal wasn't finished counter-punching.  After stopping the Huskies on the ensuing drive, Stanford takes over with 5:45 left in the third quarter on its own 20.  A screen to Barry J. Sanders sandwiched by two runs from Christian the Lion earn Stanford a first down, and then a Hogan keeper for five yards sets up 3rd and 2.  Stanford is the best 3rd Down offense in the Pac-12, by the way, and this play highlights a number of reasons why that's the case. Stanford puts four (?!?!?!) tight ends on the field with a Strong Left formation that includes two tight ends in three-point stances bunched two yards behind the line of scrimmage to go with a Single Back and a Single WR Right lined up tight to the formation.  On the snap, Remound Wright makes a great effort to come from Hogan's right and pick up a blitzer firing from his left.  Cajuste, the receiver on the right, runs a shallow cross, Hooper runs into the left flat, Taboada crosses Cajuste going the other way while Schultz runs up the middle and squats down inside the zone's soft center.  Hogan looks left and as the blitzer's left arm slithers around his hip hits a wide open Schultz for 22 yards and the first down. 

    Two plays later, Stanford comes out in a Twins Left and a Trips Right formation that includes Left Tackle Kyle Murphy split wide right.  At the snap, Murphy on the right and McCaffrey split wide right don't go anywhere.  They just turn and face Hogan, with Murphy gesticulating wildly for the ball.  All the comedic subterfuge works, as Taboada negotiates another wide open space up the middle and snags a high throw from Hogan to bring the ball to the Washington seven yard line. Two plays later, McCaffrey ends up lying on the red grass for another touchdown, and this one was all but over.

    This win, while not the offensive bonanza that the wins over Arizona and UCLA, was even more satisfying.  UW is the best defense Stanford's gonna play in conference, and to see the Cardinal dig deep into its reservoir of character, cruelty, and creativity, was impressive.  Stanford put 31 on a defense that held USC to 12 points in the Coliseum.  Whether it was the backs straining and fighting for yards, receivers holding blocks and searching for additional defenders to block, Joshua Garnett pancaking every purple pants wearing player in sight, or using new ball fakes, lineman split wide, or play action, Stanford maxed out on the three C's, and Washington, an up and coming team, had no chance.

    So now Stanford heads out on its treacherous final two road trips of the season.  Luckily, the media and Pac-12 have done all they need to do to motivate Stanford, as if this group didn't wake up daily with chips on its collective shoulders.  Washington State is the flavor of the week, with everybody lining up to praise the Pirate even though Stanford is the highest ranked team in the Pac-12.  Then the league delivered a very clear message to Coach David Shaw by assigning the Cardinal a 10 AM Pacific kick against Colorado after Stanford (among others) had complained about the incessant string of night kickoffs.  At first I was frustrated, but then I remembered how well this team plays when salty, and as long as they pack their three C's the next two weeks, I love their chances.









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The Bootleg Top Stories

\r\nFollow\r\n@RJ_Abeytia\r\n\r\n
\r\n
\r\n    I hate bullies.  Most people do.  As a\r\nfan, there is nothing more frustrating than watching your team get\r\nbullied on the court, and they may be nothing more humiliating than\r\nfinding out that your team has taken on the personality of a\r\nbully.  We have long been taught that bullies are cowards who\r\nare actually soft at their core.  Punch them in the mouth once,\r\nand you never have to worry about them again.  Nobody wants to\r\nbe Biff Tannen.  One shot from George McFly and his identity\r\ncrumpled like a wet newspaper.
\r\n
\r\n    After blowing the doors off of Arizona and UCLA,\r\nI was a little worried that all the success Stanford had been having\r\nwasn't steeling their resolve.  I'll never complain about\r\nhanging double nickels against teams, but I did wonder what would\r\nhappen if and when Stanford got punched in the mouth.  Great\r\nteams embrace that challenge.  Bully teams go away once their\r\nopponent establishes that the game is going to be a fight.
\r\n
\r\n    Stanford took a 17-0 lead into halftime last\r\nSaturday night, and it seemed clear that Washington just didn't have\r\nenough on offense to make it a contest. However, the Huskies came\r\nout in the second half with purpose and the ferocious running of\r\nMyles Gaskin, who is going to torment Pac-12 defenses for years to\r\ncome. The Huskies went five plays and 57 yards for a resounding\r\ntouchdown that put the pressure back on the Stanford offense. \r\nThe Cardinal not only answered with a touchdown, it answered with\r\ntwo.  To me, that was one of the two big takeaways from the\r\ngame.  First, Stanford moved the ball and scored against an\r\nexcellent defense, and secondly, the Cardinal showed no traces of\r\nbully in its DNA.  In fact, the team seemed to relish the\r\nchance to push and punch back after facing some resistance.  So\r\nlet's take a look at the character, cruelty, and creativity that\r\npushed Stanford to a 5-0 record in the Pac-12.
\r\n   
\r\n    Stanford faced a 4th and 3 on the first play of\r\nthe second quarter.  Once more, Coach David Shaw went for it,\r\nand the most interesting thing about it is that there didn't seem\r\nlike there was any doubt about whether or not he'd do it. \r\nStanford comes out in an I-Formation with two tight ends on the left\r\nas well as a single receiver wide left.  Washington lines up\r\nwith 4 down linemen and an edge rusher upright on the strong\r\nside.  The Huskies had two linebackers and two safeties playing\r\nnine yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Huskies are respecting\r\nthe unlikely, but not impossible chance that the Cardinal might try\r\nto sneak one over the top.
\r\n   
\r\n    First off, Quarterback Kevin Hogan showed some\r\nveteran savvy by getting Stanford to the line and then holding off\r\nthe snap for over 12 seconds.  It's hard to stay in a defensive\r\nstance that long and really explode off the ball, and Hogan expertly\r\nkept the Huskies crouched in their down positions.  Credit the\r\nCardinal offensive line for staying set and not flinching, either.\r\nAt the snap, Schultz and Hooper down block the defensive end, while\r\nGarnett pulls left and screens out the edge rusher who put himself\r\nin a bad spot by rushing straight up the field.  I remember one\r\nthing Rick Neuheisel said years ago about Stanford's strategy. \r\nHe mentioned how the Cardinal was always looking to create favorable\r\nblocking angles and on this play it sure seemed like Hooper and\r\nSchultz were set up for success in this regard.
\r\n   
\r\n
\r\n    Of course, effort plays a role, and Hooper, after\r\nchipping off the double team block, moves to the second level and\r\ngets a piece of the Husky linebacker.  That leaves Marx leading\r\nChristian McCaffrey on a toss left.  Daniel smothers him like\r\nmaple syrup on a pancake to create the left side of the seam for\r\nMcCaffery.  Meanwhile, Kyle Murphy is able to hold off massive\r\ndefensive lineman Elijah Qualls long enough for McCaffery to go\r\nthrough the hole.  The play went for seven yards, and the\r\nWashington defense would not be long for the possession after that.
\r\n
\r\n    On the very next play, Stanford lines up in the\r\nsame formation but puts its wide receiver to the weak and short side\r\nof the field.  On the left, Murphy, Garnett, Shuler, and\r\nCaspers wall off the left side of the Husky defense while Casey Tucker and one of the Ogres (Nick Davidson or David Bright) seal off\r\nthe right side.  McCaffrey takes the handoff and starts up\r\ntowards the left side, but in a flash makes a brilliant cutback\r\nright and after a quick stiff-arm that I missed until I watched it\r\nin slow mo, rumbles all the way inside the Husky five yard\r\nline.  McCaffrey could have run this play by the book and\r\nprobably picked up a respectable four yards or so, but his vision\r\nand aggression turned it into a 19-yard gain. All that remained was\r\nfor Remound Wright to Vulture in, and of course he finished the\r\ndrive on his second try with a touchdown.
\r\n
\r\n    The second half opened with the aforementioned\r\nHusky touchdown, and after three straight runs produced a first\r\ndown, Stanford found itself facing 3rd and 10 thanks to two straight\r\nincompletions.  On the first, Hogan was hit as he threw, and on\r\nthe second, Francis Owusu, perhaps confused because there was no\r\ndefender for him to also grab, dropped a crossing route that would\r\nhave gone for big yards.  That gave the Huskies a high leverage\r\ndefensive down and a real shot to get its offense the ball\r\nback.  Setbacks like this are what cripple ordinary\r\noffenses.  Not this year, however.
\r\n
\r\n    Stanford lines up in a Trips Right Single Back\r\nSingle Left formation.  Washington answers with 2 down linemen\r\nbracketed by 2 upright rushers.  One linebacker is five yards\r\nback and over the right tackle, while another is six yards back and\r\nbasically over the center.  At the snap, that SAM linebacker\r\nblitzes, while Caspers pulls to simulate a run play.  Harb-Shaw\r\nteams do this quite often, and its a very effective precursor to a\r\nplay action ball fake from the quarterback.  Hogan fakes to\r\nWright, then hits McCaffrey on a quick screen out to the\r\nright.  Schultz and Tucker create just enough of a seam for\r\nChristian the Lion to extend past the line of scrimmage. \r\nHowever, he hits first contact five yards shy of the line to gain\r\nbut nevertheless bounces off the first tackler and lunges forward to\r\nleave the Cardinal a yard shy of the first down.  McCaffrey's\r\ntoughness and physicality have come to the forefront of his game as\r\nhe's grown into the role of a featured back.  It's extra\r\nefforts like this that have Stanford on the verge of greatness.
\r\n
\r\n    Remound Wright enters the game and out of a Power\r\nI with split fullbacks follows a Stanford O Line who absolutely\r\ncollapses the UW front and picks up the needed yardage plus four\r\nmore. With the UW defense on its heels, Stanford breaks the huddle\r\ninto a Twins Left Split Back Single Right formation.  Hogan\r\nmakes a play action fake to Wright that along with a Garnett pull to\r\nthe right, sells the Washington safety on the run.  Nobody sees\r\nMcCaffrey wheeling out of the backfield and up the right sideline,\r\nand Hogan tosses it to him for a 50-yard touchdown and a huge\r\nresponse to Washington's touchdown drive.  This was Stanford\r\ntaking a punch, smiling, and hitting back.
\r\n
\r\n    The Cardinal wasn't finished\r\ncounter-punching.  After stopping the Huskies on the ensuing\r\ndrive, Stanford takes over with 5:45 left in the third quarter on\r\nits own 20.  A screen to Barry J. Sanders sandwiched by two\r\nruns from Christian the Lion earn Stanford a first down, and then a\r\nHogan keeper for five yards sets up 3rd and 2.  Stanford is the\r\nbest 3rd Down offense in the Pac-12, by the way, and this play\r\nhighlights a number of reasons why that's the case. Stanford puts\r\nfour (?!?!?!) tight ends on the field with a Strong Left formation\r\nthat includes two tight ends in three-point stances bunched two\r\nyards behind the line of scrimmage to go with a Single Back and a\r\nSingle WR Right lined up tight to the formation.  On the snap,\r\nRemound Wright makes a great effort to come from Hogan's right and\r\npick up a blitzer firing from his left.  Cajuste, the receiver\r\non the right, runs a shallow cross, Hooper runs into the left flat,\r\nTaboada crosses Cajuste going the other way while Schultz runs up\r\nthe middle and squats down inside the zone's soft center. \r\nHogan looks left and as the blitzer's left arm slithers around his\r\nhip hits a wide open Schultz for 22 yards and the first down. \r\n
\r\n
\r\n    Two plays later, Stanford comes out in a Twins\r\nLeft and a Trips Right formation that includes Left Tackle Kyle\r\nMurphy split wide right.  At the snap, Murphy on the\r\nright and McCaffrey split wide right don't go anywhere.  They\r\njust turn and face Hogan, with Murphy gesticulating wildly for the\r\nball.  All the comedic subterfuge works, as Taboada negotiates\r\nanother wide open space up the middle and snags a high throw from\r\nHogan to bring the ball to the Washington seven yard line. Two plays\r\nlater, McCaffrey ends up lying on the red grass for another\r\ntouchdown, and this one was all but over.
\r\n
\r\n    This win, while not the offensive bonanza that\r\nthe wins over Arizona and UCLA, was even more satisfying.  UW\r\nis the best defense Stanford's gonna play in conference, and to see\r\nthe Cardinal dig deep into its reservoir of character, cruelty, and\r\ncreativity, was impressive.  Stanford put 31 on a defense that\r\nheld USC to 12 points in the Coliseum.  Whether it was the\r\nbacks straining and fighting for yards, receivers holding blocks and\r\nsearching for additional defenders to block, Joshua Garnett\r\npancaking every purple pants wearing player in sight, or using new\r\nball fakes, lineman split wide, or play action, Stanford maxed out\r\non the three C's, and Washington, an up and coming team, had no\r\nchance.
\r\n
\r\n    So now Stanford heads out on its treacherous\r\nfinal two road trips of the season.  Luckily, the media and\r\nPac-12 have done all they need to do to motivate Stanford, as if\r\nthis group didn't wake up daily with chips on its collective\r\nshoulders.  Washington State is the flavor of the week, with\r\neverybody lining up to praise the Pirate even though Stanford is the\r\nhighest ranked team in the Pac-12.  Then the league delivered a\r\nvery clear message to Coach David Shaw by assigning the Cardinal a\r\n10 AM Pacific kick against Colorado after Stanford (among others)\r\nhad complained about the incessant string of night kickoffs. \r\nAt first I was frustrated, but then I remembered how well this team\r\nplays when salty, and as long as they pack their three C's the next\r\ntwo weeks, I love their chances.
\r\n
\r\n
\r\nFollow\r\n@stanfordrecruit\r\n\r\n
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\r\n","mobileBody":" Follow @RJ_Abeytia

    I hate bullies.  Most people do.  As a fan, there is nothing more frustrating than watching your team get bullied on the court, and they may be nothing more humiliating than finding out that your team has taken on the personality of a bully.  We have long been taught that bullies are cowards who are actually soft at their core.  Punch them in the mouth once, and you never have to worry about them again.  Nobody wants to be Biff Tannen.  One shot from George McFly and his identity crumpled like a wet newspaper.

    After blowing the doors off of Arizona and UCLA, I was a little worried that all the success Stanford had been having wasn't steeling their resolve.  I'll never complain about hanging double nickels against teams, but I did wonder what would happen if and when Stanford got punched in the mouth.  Great teams embrace that challenge.  Bully teams go away once their opponent establishes that the game is going to be a fight.

    Stanford took a 17-0 lead into halftime last Saturday night, and it seemed clear that Washington just didn't have enough on offense to make it a contest. However, the Huskies came out in the second half with purpose and the ferocious running of Myles Gaskin, who is going to torment Pac-12 defenses for years to come. The Huskies went five plays and 57 yards for a resounding touchdown that put the pressure back on the Stanford offense.  The Cardinal not only answered with a touchdown, it answered with two.  To me, that was one of the two big takeaways from the game.  First, Stanford moved the ball and scored against an excellent defense, and secondly, the Cardinal showed no traces of bully in its DNA.  In fact, the team seemed to relish the chance to push and punch back after facing some resistance.  So let's take a look at the character, cruelty, and creativity that pushed Stanford to a 5-0 record in the Pac-12.
   
    Stanford faced a 4th and 3 on the first play of the second quarter.  Once more, Coach David Shaw went for it, and the most interesting thing about it is that there didn't seem like there was any doubt about whether or not he'd do it.  Stanford comes out in an I-Formation with two tight ends on the left as well as a single receiver wide left.  Washington lines up with 4 down linemen and an edge rusher upright on the strong side.  The Huskies had two linebackers and two safeties playing nine yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Huskies are respecting the unlikely, but not impossible chance that the Cardinal might try to sneak one over the top.
   
    First off, Quarterback Kevin Hogan showed some veteran savvy by getting Stanford to the line and then holding off the snap for over 12 seconds.  It's hard to stay in a defensive stance that long and really explode off the ball, and Hogan expertly kept the Huskies crouched in their down positions.  Credit the Cardinal offensive line for staying set and not flinching, either. At the snap, Schultz and Hooper down block the defensive end, while Garnett pulls left and screens out the edge rusher who put himself in a bad spot by rushing straight up the field.  I remember one thing Rick Neuheisel said years ago about Stanford's strategy.  He mentioned how the Cardinal was always looking to create favorable blocking angles and on this play it sure seemed like Hooper and Schultz were set up for success in this regard.
   

    Of course, effort plays a role, and Hooper, after chipping off the double team block, moves to the second level and gets a piece of the Husky linebacker.  That leaves Marx leading Christian McCaffrey on a toss left.  Daniel smothers him like maple syrup on a pancake to create the left side of the seam for McCaffery.  Meanwhile, Kyle Murphy is able to hold off massive defensive lineman Elijah Qualls long enough for McCaffery to go through the hole.  The play went for seven yards, and the Washington defense would not be long for the possession after that.

    On the very next play, Stanford lines up in the same formation but puts its wide receiver to the weak and short side of the field.  On the left, Murphy, Garnett, Shuler, and Caspers wall off the left side of the Husky defense while Casey Tucker and one of the Ogres (Nick Davidson or David Bright) seal off the right side.  McCaffrey takes the handoff and starts up towards the left side, but in a flash makes a brilliant cutback right and after a quick stiff-arm that I missed until I watched it in slow mo, rumbles all the way inside the Husky five yard line.  McCaffrey could have run this play by the book and probably picked up a respectable four yards or so, but his vision and aggression turned it into a 19-yard gain. All that remained was for Remound Wright to Vulture in, and of course he finished the drive on his second try with a touchdown.

    The second half opened with the aforementioned Husky touchdown, and after three straight runs produced a first down, Stanford found itself facing 3rd and 10 thanks to two straight incompletions.  On the first, Hogan was hit as he threw, and on the second, Francis Owusu, perhaps confused because there was no defender for him to also grab, dropped a crossing route that would have gone for big yards.  That gave the Huskies a high leverage defensive down and a real shot to get its offense the ball back.  Setbacks like this are what cripple ordinary offenses.  Not this year, however.

    Stanford lines up in a Trips Right Single Back Single Left formation.  Washington answers with 2 down linemen bracketed by 2 upright rushers.  One linebacker is five yards back and over the right tackle, while another is six yards back and basically over the center.  At the snap, that SAM linebacker blitzes, while Caspers pulls to simulate a run play.  Harb-Shaw teams do this quite often, and its a very effective precursor to a play action ball fake from the quarterback.  Hogan fakes to Wright, then hits McCaffrey on a quick screen out to the right.  Schultz and Tucker create just enough of a seam for Christian the Lion to extend past the line of scrimmage.  However, he hits first contact five yards shy of the line to gain but nevertheless bounces off the first tackler and lunges forward to leave the Cardinal a yard shy of the first down.  McCaffrey's toughness and physicality have come to the forefront of his game as he's grown into the role of a featured back.  It's extra efforts like this that have Stanford on the verge of greatness.

    Remound Wright enters the game and out of a Power I with split fullbacks follows a Stanford O Line who absolutely collapses the UW front and picks up the needed yardage plus four more. With the UW defense on its heels, Stanford breaks the huddle into a Twins Left Split Back Single Right formation.  Hogan makes a play action fake to Wright that along with a Garnett pull to the right, sells the Washington safety on the run.  Nobody sees McCaffrey wheeling out of the backfield and up the right sideline, and Hogan tosses it to him for a 50-yard touchdown and a huge response to Washington's touchdown drive.  This was Stanford taking a punch, smiling, and hitting back.

    The Cardinal wasn't finished counter-punching.  After stopping the Huskies on the ensuing drive, Stanford takes over with 5:45 left in the third quarter on its own 20.  A screen to Barry J. Sanders sandwiched by two runs from Christian the Lion earn Stanford a first down, and then a Hogan keeper for five yards sets up 3rd and 2.  Stanford is the best 3rd Down offense in the Pac-12, by the way, and this play highlights a number of reasons why that's the case. Stanford puts four (?!?!?!) tight ends on the field with a Strong Left formation that includes two tight ends in three-point stances bunched two yards behind the line of scrimmage to go with a Single Back and a Single WR Right lined up tight to the formation.  On the snap, Remound Wright makes a great effort to come from Hogan's right and pick up a blitzer firing from his left.  Cajuste, the receiver on the right, runs a shallow cross, Hooper runs into the left flat, Taboada crosses Cajuste going the other way while Schultz runs up the middle and squats down inside the zone's soft center.  Hogan looks left and as the blitzer's left arm slithers around his hip hits a wide open Schultz for 22 yards and the first down. 

    Two plays later, Stanford comes out in a Twins Left and a Trips Right formation that includes Left Tackle Kyle Murphy split wide right.  At the snap, Murphy on the right and McCaffrey split wide right don't go anywhere.  They just turn and face Hogan, with Murphy gesticulating wildly for the ball.  All the comedic subterfuge works, as Taboada negotiates another wide open space up the middle and snags a high throw from Hogan to bring the ball to the Washington seven yard line. Two plays later, McCaffrey ends up lying on the red grass for another touchdown, and this one was all but over.

    This win, while not the offensive bonanza that the wins over Arizona and UCLA, was even more satisfying.  UW is the best defense Stanford's gonna play in conference, and to see the Cardinal dig deep into its reservoir of character, cruelty, and creativity, was impressive.  Stanford put 31 on a defense that held USC to 12 points in the Coliseum.  Whether it was the backs straining and fighting for yards, receivers holding blocks and searching for additional defenders to block, Joshua Garnett pancaking every purple pants wearing player in sight, or using new ball fakes, lineman split wide, or play action, Stanford maxed out on the three C's, and Washington, an up and coming team, had no chance.

    So now Stanford heads out on its treacherous final two road trips of the season.  Luckily, the media and Pac-12 have done all they need to do to motivate Stanford, as if this group didn't wake up daily with chips on its collective shoulders.  Washington State is the flavor of the week, with everybody lining up to praise the Pirate even though Stanford is the highest ranked team in the Pac-12.  Then the league delivered a very clear message to Coach David Shaw by assigning the Cardinal a 10 AM Pacific kick against Colorado after Stanford (among others) had complained about the incessant string of night kickoffs.  At first I was frustrated, but then I remembered how well this team plays when salty, and as long as they pack their three C's the next two weeks, I love their chances.


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