Post-UCLA Notes

Digging deeper yet, we offer this collection of observations, stats and tidbits to further explore Saturday's 21-14 win over UCLA. Who set career marks? What did we learn about the recipe for a win? How can you claim that the passing performance was good? And is it necessarily bad when the passing yardage is so low? Read on for the second wave of post-UCLA coverage...

  • Though the doors were closed to the Stanford locker room immediately after the game, while Buddy Teevens addressed his team, the brick and mortar could not contain the reverberating sound of a thundering chant. Unmistakably you could hear the screams in unison: "C-House!... C-House!... C-House!"
  • Good call by Teevens on the quarterbacks today. He had decided earlier in the week that he would play both Chris Lewis and Trent Edwards and go the rest of the way with who had the hot hand. Lewis performed well early and gave Stanford a quick lead with a score on its second possession. Edwards was scheduled to come in soon thereafter, but Teevens made the right call to not rock the boat while it was on course.
  • Are we back on track with the tight ends? The bunch formations were prominent today. Alex Smith caught a third of Stanford's passes (four for 38 yards), and he had another big gain called back on a needless OL personal foul penalty. If you're wondering why the tight end was back en vogue today, look at the yesterday's story on the subject. The analysis and prognostications by the coaches and Brett Pierce proved prophetic. They said the running game was the key to the tight ends in the passing game, predicated on play-action. Sure enough, Kenneth Tolon and the running game was on today and the tight end plays worked beautifully off play-action.
  • Kudos to Michael Craven for a breakout game. It looks like the Cardinal coaches were very well-timed with their decision to start the Desert Devil for the first time this year. He recorded a career-high with seven tackles, all solo efforts. His previous highs of six came last year twice, against Notre Dame and Boston College. Craven also netted the first two sacks of his career. Through his first 15 games, the redshirt sophomore had claimed 4.5 tackles for loss. In this single game he recorded three TFL.
  • Kudos as well to strong safety Trevor Hooper, who recorded the first INT of his Stanford career. The subsequent return of 33 yards crushed the previous high on the season of six yards by Oshiomogho Atogwe.
  • Atogwe's fumble recovery was his fourth of the year. He was leading not just the team, but also the Pac-10, coming into the game with 0.50 per game. His league-leading average per game has now risen to 0.57.
  • Stanford's latest freak of medical science, redshirt junior defensive tackle Scott Scharff, did indeed play in this game without an ACL in his left knee.
  • For all those fans who have wondered if and when sophomore defensive end Julian Jenkins could push ahead of starter Will Svitek, the pair in fact played together in the game in spots. This confirms the principle that the defensive coaches laid down at the beginning of the year, whereby they have contended that the DEs should be able to play either the strong or weak (rush) side of the line.
  • This game saw more sacks than in any contest for the Cardinal in the last several years. Stanford planted Matt Moore eight times on this day: Michael Craven and Babatunde Oshinowo each had a pair; Jared Newberry, Will Svitek, Kevin Schimmelmann and Julian Jenkins each had one. The team had just 11 total sacks in their first five games, but eight today. The previous high this season was the five strikes at BYU, when Stanford's attacking 3-4 defense emerged. The top single-game sack total a year ago was the six-bagger in the Arizona win.
  • Matt Traverso's touchdown reception was his first catch as well as his first score as a Stanford Cardinal. That now puts two of Stanford's tight ends who have one catch for one TD in their young careers. Patrick Danahy is the other (USC, 2003).
  • Kenneth Tolon's 20-yard run in the second quarter which set up the Cardinal's first touchdown was his longest run of the year. That is not representative of the kind of electric runner he can be. His longest runs in 2001 and 2002 were 71 and 38 yards, respectively.
  • Let fans take note that offensive yardage is not tantamount to success. Stanford actually recorded its best yardage output since San Jose State last week at Oregon, yet on the scoreboard concluded their most foul stinking game of the year. Fans have bitched and moaned about passing stats, but this was a decidedly sweet complete team performance in spite of the 91 yards in the air from Chris Lewis against UCLA. Fans roll their eyes at the statements by players and coaches in this sport about the need for a "complete" game. Well, with the clutch stops and turnovers by the defense, big special teams plays, and timely offensive conversion... this is what it feels like to give a complete game. That doesn't mean this is Stanford's best game they can put together, but it was a better overall performance because of success with all three of their units.
  • On that note, fans are fanatics by nature and will find something to lambast in almost any game. The target that will be harpooned in this affair will most likely be the second half offensive performance. Stanford went three-and-out on three straight series in the third quarter. They had two more three-and-done possessions in the fourth quarter. After picking up 4.5 yards per play in the first half for a total of 145 yards, the "O" managed just 61 yards and 2.0 yards per play in the second stanza. Stanford punted once in the first half, but seven times in the second.
  • This is the second time this year that Stanford has passed for just double-digit yardage. They have however won both games. The other was of course the 56-yard effort against BYU. That now makes just seven games in Stanford history with sub-100 yard passing performances. The good guys have come away with five wins and just two losses in those games, if you can believe it.
  • The 91 passing yards doesn't look like much, but Stanford only attempted 20 throws in the game. Chris Lewis in fact completed 12 of those attempts for a 60% completion rate. That is the highest completion percentage in any game for Stanford this year.
  • It's no coincidence that Stanford had its fewest turnovers of the year (one INT, no fumbles) in its best and most complete game.
  • When you see that this game was won without big offensive numbers, you begin to appreciate the field position battle that Stanford dominated in the game. A tremendous amount of that credit goes to fifth-year senior punter Eric Johnson, who had a career day. He ripped an average of 47.2 yards per boot, and that average was reduced because of some of his shorter placement kicks he had to make. To that end, it should jump out and grab you that he put four punts inside the 20-yardline. For comparison's sake, he put just seven balls inside the 20 all of last year. Johnson's only punt less than 40 yards was a 27-yarder that rolled out of bounds unreturnable at the 15-yardline. He also launched five punts over 50 yards.
  • Pop over to the UCLA message boards right now and I bet you'll find a very familiar sight. When you toss aside the very late scoring drive the Bruins mustered in the 4th quarter, on the back of one big pass and a pair of gift-wrapped donations from the officials, you are left only with their 18-play possession that really moved the ball. Matt Moore afterward called it a "really nice drive." You can bet the Bruin fans are teed off that it takes 18 plays to move the ball down the field, and then the players are so pleased afterward. To be blunt, that's the position Stanford's offense was in last year and has been at times this year. It is not a sustainable offensive base if that is the extent of your firepower. That forces your defense to create turnovers and field position to set you up for manageable scoring opportunities. All too familiar. But it's nice for that shoe to be on somebody else's foot this week.

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