View from the Press Box: Oregon

There were a lot of lessons learned during the course of Saturday's 48-10 season opening defeat at Oregon. For the second straight year, we bring you a detailed log of events, including some interesting sights we saw on the field as the game unfolded. The stark lessons were a defense that could not tackle and a special teams that hurt the Cardinal cause. Stalls on "O" hurt, too.

Pregame - Warm-ups confirm that neither of Stanford's two preseason top centers traveled for today's game.  Both fifth-year senior Tim Mattran and redshirt junior Preston Clover are back on The Farm...  A lot of true freshmen made the trip, despite a tight 65-man travel roster allowed for this road Pac-10 game: running back Toby Gerhart, nose tackle Sione Fua, defensive end Levirt Griffin, inside linebacker Nick Macaluso, wide receiver Richard Sherman and wide receiver Austin Yancy.  We'll be watching substitutions closely to see who and when are the redshirts burned today...  Redshirt freshman defensive end Tom McAndrew continues his miraculous return from a severed tendon in his big toe - on the field, suited and ready to perhaps play today...  Just watched a goalline defensive formation during the pregame walk-through, and there were two "Sam" outside linebackers on the field together: redshirt junior Udeme Udofia (starter) and redshirt freshman Will Powers (reserve).

12:35 - Game captains are at midfield, and Stanford has won the toss.  The Cardinal had extraordinary fortune with coin tosses last year, and that continues with this 2006 opener.  And just like he did every time last year, Walt Harris instructed his captains to defer the kickoff to the second half.  Last year that could have been rationalized possibly due to a stronger defense and poor offense, but those roles are reversed this year - and still Harris defers.  This is obviously a strategy for him, independent of his units' comparative strengths.

12:37 - Redshirt junior Derek Belch is on the field for the first time in a college football game, and he also has the challenge of kicking with a new shorter one-inch tee...  Belch boots it very deep into the endzone, yielding a touchback.  Nice start for Belch in his college debut.  That will boost his confidence tremendously.

12:38 - Stanford unveils its "magic" defense that has been kept under wraps since the spring.  Six defensive backs are on the field in a formation that has to confuse the Ducks.  In the game are three safeties and three cornerbacks: Trevor Hooper, David Lofton, Bo McNally, Nick Sanchez, Tim Sims and Brandon Harrison...  Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon is in the shotgun, and hands the ball off to wide receiver Brian Paysinger, who fumbles.  The ball bounces around, and Stanford redshirt junior Udeme Udofia recovers.  What a start!

12:40 - Stanford gets an unbelievable starting chance for its offense on the Oregon 16-yard-line...  But now an official comes onto the field to announce that Oregon has asked for a review of the play.  Remember that the rules have changed this year, allowing a coach to initiate instant replay, rather than only those made by officials.  This one is the first for Stanford, and a big one.

12:42 - Unbelievable turn of fortune - the play is ruled an incomplete pass.  Oregon keeps the ball and loses no yardage.  Their very next play is a short pass to Jordan Kent that moves the chains to the 31-yardline.  What a gift for the Ducks.  This changes the game completely.  How will the youngsters on Stanford's defense respond to the early emotional rollercoaster?

12:44 - Oregon is using short passes from Dixon out of the shotgun.  Smart.  He is still young in experience, and this boosts his confidence early with high-percentage completions, which also can pick up chunks of yardage as Oregon's speedsters run after the catch upfield.

12:45 - An incompletion knocks the ball up in the air, and two Stanford defenders appear to have a chance but can not haul in the ball.  Those opportunities may be rare, and the Cardinal need to convert to give themselves a chance in this game.

12:46 - True freshman nose tackle Sione Fua is in the game.  He's playing this year.  No redshirt for the 300-pounder.  Also in the game already, rotating at left defensive end is Tom McAndrew...  Now Gustav Rydstedt is in at right end.  The Cardinal clearly want to rotate frequently on the defensive line today to keep fresh legs.

12:48 - Stanford nets its first tackle for loss this season - Chris Horn wrapping up Dixon for a loss of five yards.  For the record, Horn had the start at left defensive end.

12:48 - Dixon forces the ball into heavy coverage in the endzone, and survives a big interception opportunity.  The ball deflects in pinball fashion between three defensive backs before dropping to the ground.

12:49 - Oregon stalls and has to kick a 35-yard field goal by Paul Martinez.  Given how the Ducks moved the ball for a stretch there, this may be a relief.  Still, Stanford has to be seething on the sideline after having a fumble ripped away from them by the zebras, and then two more turnover opportunities bounce out of their hands.

12:51 - Stanford's kickoff team takes the field for the first time in 2006.  Anthony Kimble and Marcus McCutcheon are deep, with their wedge personnel immediately ahead of them a pair of fullbacks: Nick Frank and Emeka Nnoli...  This kick is what we expected with the short tee.  Kimble takes it at the four-yardline and runs it back to the 27.

12:52 - The offense is on the field, and the starters are as expected.  Fifth-year senior Matt Traverso has the nod at tight end.  Left to right on the offensive line are Allen Smith, Ismail Simpson, Alex Fletcher, Jon Cochran and Jeff Edwards.

12:53 - Two quick passes for completions from Trent Edwards to Mark Bradford, totaling 17 yards.  The second was a wide receiver screen, with 6'7" Evan Moore leading the way.  We have seen a good number of the wide receiver screens in practice, which is such a smart play with that personnel.  I imagine we will see it often.

12:54 - End-around by Kimble is the first hint of exotic flavor in the playcalling, picking up a modest five yards

12:54 - The first true running play is less successful.  Kimble takes the ball up the middle and is stuffed quickly for no gain.

12:55 - Playcall on Stanford's first third down of the year?  Edwards looks to Moore streaking down the left sideline.  Moore is not just big, but he also runs past cornerback Walter Thurmond, who grabs a big chunk of Moore's jersey.  The pass interference penalty picks up the first down and moves Stanford into Oregon territory for the first time at the 36.

12:56 - Edwards has to scramble for the first time, signaling to his receivers to come back to him.  He finds Moore on the right sideline for four yards.  Not flashy, but still moving the ball and throwing for 100% today.

12:57 - This is the big test.  3rd & 1 on the Oregon 27.  As we expected, Stanford brings its "heavy" formation of Emeka Nnoli at fullback and Nick Frank at tailback...  Oregon blows up the play and hits Frank for a loss of two.  That formation inspired much confidence for the Cardinal coaches in fall camp, so this failure has to hurt.

12:58 - Field goal kicking is the biggest weakness on the entire team, and already that is evident with Stanford going on fourth down despite having the ball on the Oregon 29-yardline.  Edwards throws incomplete downfield after nobody got open, turning the ball over on downs.

1:01 - Oregon has a 15-yard face mask penalty on offense, but it is just a hiccup.  They are moving the ball with size and speed on seemingly every play.  The last was a 25-yard pickup by super sophomore running back Jonathan Stewart.  The Ducks are coming at Stanford at a variety of angles with a variety of players, each successful and potent.

1:04 - Stanford might get a stop here.  Another Oregon penalty moved them back to 1st & 20 at the Stanford 34.  They run straight ahead into the Stanford defense, with a quick wrap-up by Fua and McAndrew.  Then a pass down the right sideline goes long (why go away from the shorter, successful high-percentage pitches?).  Finally, a hand-off is swallowed in a HUGE hurry by redshirt sophomore Pannel Egboh for a loss of one yard.  That stops Oregon at the 35-yardline.

1:05 - Oregon tries for a delay of game penalty to give a little breathing room to punt, but Stanford declines  Brandon Harrison is back to return - not what we expected through most of camp, but the Cardinal went in a new direction to Harrison just in the last week...  Stanford is watching for a fake, with most of its defensive personnel on the field...  The punt rolls into the endzone for an anticlimactic touchback.

1:08 - Stanford takes the field for the second time on offense.  No changes on the line of scrimmage, at wide receiver or tight end.  But redshirt junior running back Jason Evans is in the backfield behind Nick Frank...  Left tackle Allen Smith starts Stanford in a hole with a false start.  That will only feed the frenzied crowd.

1:10 - Stanford stares at 3rd & 12 and brings Kimble back into the game.  Frank leaves the game with Evans, putting McCutcheon on the field for Stanford's first three-wide formation of the year...  Edwards hits Moore on the right sideline with a high pass that only he can catch, and he comes down just barely with a foot in bounds.  That's a big pickup of 25 yards.

1:11 - Stanford throws long again, this time deeper and on the left side for Bradford.  The play draws a pass interference flag, and the home crowd just loves it, of course.  Of course it was the right call.  And it's a great playcall.  Stanford is challenging Oregon's corners.

1:13 -  Edwards looks deep yet again, this time to Moore on the 14-yardline.  He pulls down the pass and a yellow flag, being held on the play.  Stanford declines the penalty and is in the red zone for the first time.  The Cardinal's big and strong receivers are hurting Oregon's inexperienced cornerbacks, as expected on paper.

1:15 - Edwards looks and looks and finally tries for Moore on the ride sideline in the endzone, but the pass is caught a yard out of bounds.

1:15 - Stanford goes again to the wide receiver screen, this time with McCutcheon as the lead blocker for Bradford after the catch, but McCutcheon is flagged for holding.  Killer penalty, moving Stanford out of its great field position and maybe out of field goal range.  3rd & 17 at the 21-yardline.  The crowd is loud.

1:17 -  Edwards sees nothing and feels pressure in the pocket, slipping away from one defender as he scrambles.  No chance of the first down, and he smartly slides.  That picks up four yards and gives Stanford its first field goal chance of the year.

1:19 - Kudos to Aaron Zagory, who hits his first career college field goal (34 yards)!  The redshirt sophomore gets it off easily, with good height and distance.

1:20 - There were four penalties on that drive, three against Oregon and one against Stanford.  Not the cleanest game, but not at all unexpected for the season opener.

1:22 - Belch takes his second kickoff, and this goes only about three or four yards deep.  With Stanford nowhere near (the new tee makes for lower trajectories), Jonathan Stewart takes it out and breaks a big return up the right sideline.  Redshirt freshman Clinton Snyder missed the best chance to tackle Stewart, which perhaps highlights the disparity in strength between the two players.  Oregon gets to start its offense all the way across midfield at the Stanford 46.  There is your Cardinal's first special teams breakdown of 2006.  Sayonara to the special teams of '05.

1:24 - Stanford is sticking with the six-defensive back "magic" defense.  It has thus far had weak success against Oregon's spread offense and excellent team speed.

1:30 - The first quarter took nearly an hour.  We expected a long game, and that looks to be the case.  And these two teams have only scored six combined points!  The Ducks could change that tally quickly, as they start the second quarter with 1st & Goal on the Stanford eight-yardline.  Stanford just does not have the answers or ability to stem this Oregon offense.  They need some breaks... and more help from the offense.

1:31 - Stewart moseys into the endzone from one yard out to give Oregon the lead again on the game's first touchdown.  10-3, Ducks.

1:35 - Toby Gerhart is the third tailback for Stanford into the game, starting the third series in a rotation that exactly matches what we saw in practices this week.  There is your second redshirt burned...  Gerhart is eased into his first college action by play-action on first down.  The pass goes for short yardage...  Gerhart carries on second down and is swallowed quickly after a one-yard gain.

1:36 - On 3rd & Long, Edwards scrambles deep behind the line of scrimmage, sees nobody and decides to take matters into his own hands by running the ball.  Bad, bad idea.  He had no chance of moving the chains, pinned against the sideline with several Duck defenders in front of him, and he takes a punishing hit - all for a gain of one yard.

1:37 - Jay Ottovegio is on for his first punt of the year.  It goes 41 yards, short of where Oregon's returner was set up.  Wopamo Osaisai blazes down the field and meets him quickly - that is why he is such a special weapon as the Cardinal's gunner.  But, he whiffs on the tackle, and Oregon breaks a 20-yard return.

1:40 - Trent Edwards is having his right hand taped on the sideline.  Injury to Edwards could devastate this offense and this team.  He just has to be smarter about when he runs.  Even on third down.

1:41 - Dixon starts the drive with a pass in the middle of the field to Garren Strong, who runs for more yardage and puts the Ducks on Stanford's 15 in the blink of an eye.

1:42 - Dixon connects with Jaison Williams short of the goalline, and the big receiver powers into the endzone.  Special teams miscues plus an inconsistent offense are not what Stanford needs given the mismatch between its defense and the Oregon "O."  Suddenly it's 17-3, and the game could get away.  We have played only 20 minutes so far.

1:46 - Stanford starts with the ball on its own 18.  Kimble is back in the game at tailback.  His run on first down picks up one yard.  That ineffectual first-down rushing offense is all too familiar to Cardinalmaniacs™, suffering miserably the last few years.

1:47 - Edwards is in the game, by the way.  He throws to Bradford for a connection that picks up five yards.  That ball control offense is not sexy, but it (combined with some deep attempts to Bradford and Moore) are the core of this team's chances.

1:48 - The backs are safety valves in the passing offense, and Edwards hits Nnoli for a nice catch-and-run on third down that picks up 15 yards moves the chains.  Nnoli was a great story for Stanford in fall camp, and he continues his success with the biggest play right there of his college career.

1:50 - Edwards cannot connect on second- and third-down attempts, stalling the drive Stanford's own 43-yardline...  Ottovegio has a nice kick that rolls untouched to the 11-yardline...  But there is flag thrown as soon as the play starts.  Illegal participation against the Ducks, and that not only costs 15 yards but also transpired before the change of possession.  So Stanford takes the field again on offense, now on the Ducks' 42.

1:52 - Gerhart with his second carry in college picks up a solid four yards on an inside zone play...  Very next play, Gerhart shows his power and speed picking up 12 yards.  Best Cardinal run of the day, and it comes from a freshman.

1:53 - Kimble comes on the field to spell Gerhart after that run, and Edwards uses play-action.  Lots of time in the pocket with Oregon confused.  Edwards hits Bradford all alone for a 26-yard touchdown - soft and easy.  Zagory hits his first PAT in college, and Stanford breathes a big sigh of relief.  They answered the Oregon onslaught and have pulled to within a score.  17-10, Oregon.

1:53 - What happened on that Belch kickoff?  Oregon takes it from their own 21 and ends up at the 38-yardline.  The Ducks did fumble but recovered.  Another instance of Stanford hurting its cause on special teams today.  Though we did expect as much.

1:55 - Stanford takes its first timeout.  The defense had 10 men on the field.  Osaisai was the man missing.

1:58 - Oregon just looks unstoppable on offense, unless they stub their own toe.  On the very first play of the drive, Stewart runs for 13 yards.  Too easy...  Then Dixon scrambles with nobody open for another 12 yards and a first down.  This time, two Stanford defenders fall over each other in futile pursuit of the fleet quarterback.  An impartial football fan would laugh at that display.

2:00 - There is a welcome scene: Stanford tackles Oregon and superman Stewart for a loss of a yard.  Redshirt freshman Fred Campbell makes his first tackle in college, and it's a wonderful sight for a good kid who has had a rough time of injury and family loss the last year.

2:01 - The celebration is short-lived.  Dixon passes to Kent for a catch-and-run to the 22-yardline.  Those chunks of yardage cannot be yielded on every play.  If a team throws deep on lower percentage attempts, you live with what you give.  But quarterback scrambles, running back rambles and short catch-and-runs for 10 or more yards almost every down is a recipe for a long afternoon.

2:03 - There was a simple hand-off to Stewart for a pickup of seven yards up the middle.  Stanford's defense does not know where the ball will be run and cannot react fast enough to Oregon's speed.  That means the Ducks on most plays can expect at least five yards.  This Oregon offensive scheme is well-crafted and hard not to admire.

2:05 - On top of all that, add missed tackles.  Pat Maynor whiffs completely on Stewart on a three-yard touchdown run.  The Stanford redshirt sophomore slid off the Duck ballcarier like a man tackling a greased pig.  Tackling was the glaring failure for the Stanford defense during the spring game and was again a problem during parts of fall camp.  It was the single greatest focus of the Cardinal coaches on defense in August, and it is still an issue.  24-10, Oregon.

2:07 - Kimble takes his second straight kickoff return that fails to clear the 20-yardline.  He does not look like a playmaker in the kickoff return roll, a little too tentative.  But the rest of his unit did not block well and put too many Ducks in his face too soon.  They played a big part in making him look ineffective.

2:08 - Jason Evans rotates into the backfield to start this series... and he fumbles the ball on the opening play.  Ball security is not his greatest strength, and the redshirt junior may have touched the ball for the last time today.  Oregon gets the ball on the Stanford 12.  This could put the game away - before halftime.

2:10 - Oregon could have hammered a nail in the Cardinal's coffin, but they stalled on the seven-yardline.  For reasons we cannot fathom, the Ducks put reserve quarterback Brady Leaf into the game for this series.  On third down, his pitch to a tailback fell short.  Oregon recovered the fumble but just blew an easy touchdown opportunity.

2:14 - After timeouts by both Oregon and Stanford, Paul Martinez hits the short 24-yard field goal.  That is still important in that it gives the Ducks a three-score lead, but Stanford dodges a bullet just before halftime.

2:15 - The new rule this year starts the clock on kickoffs once the ball is kicked, and not once it is touched by the return team.  With only eight seconds left in the half, Oregon smartly squibs it and rolls the clock before any Cardinal player can recover the ball.  Nick Frank grabs the ball and runs out the clock.

2:35 - Some halftime stats to chew on: Stewart already has 123 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries...  The Ducks have 157 yards rushing, against just 26 for the Cardinal...  The Ducks also nearly double up Stanford in total yardage (280 vs. 161)...  Oregon ran 43 offensive plays in the first half, to Stanford's 29...  17 Oregon first downs to the Cardinal's 10.

2:39 - Stanford opens the half down 17 points and puts a three-wide formation on the field with Kimble as the single back.  Edwards throws a wide receiver screen to Bradford, which picks up a modest four yards.

2:40 - A smarter run by Edwards, after he is nearly sacked in the backfield, picks up 11 yards.  He slides before taking a bad blow.  That elusiveness in the backfield is not Dennis Dixon, but it is a subtle weapon and asset for the Cardinal.

2:41 - Stanford goes back to the two-back set, signaling a run, and instead use play-action.  Oregon does not bite; no receivers are open; Edwards is plastered for a six-yard sack.

2:42 - Back to the three-wide, though this time Frank is the lone back.  He carries for six yards on a nice little piece of running from the 250-pounder.

2:43 - A big Ottovegio punt of 45 yards pushes Oregon further back after a holding penalty on the return.  The Ducks will start with the ball on their own 12 for their first offensive series of the half...  We see Stanford's defense on the field during the TV timeout and note that Wopamo Osaisai is a cornerback in the Stanford defense in place of Nick Sanchez.  Sanchez has his helmet off on the sideline.  He missed a chunk of camp with a concussion.

2:46 - Osaisai makes his presence felt with a tackle for loss on a short pass completion.  He is not only fast, but the redshirt sophomore speedster is surprisingly strong.

2:48 - Stanford looks like they could have a turnaround of defensive fortune when Oregon is already starting at 3rd & 10, but Stewart scampers down the right sideline for a 14-gain and first down.

2:50 - Oregon proves it does not have to be all Stewart all the time to skewer Stanford.  Second string tailback Jeremiah Johnson runs for the game's biggest play, 52 yards.  The Ducks are quickly knocking at the door on the Cardinal 16-yardline.

2:52 - The replay shows that Johnson stepped out of bounds 20 yards earlier, which is a bad break for Stanford.  Where is the instant replay?  And it gets worse.  Ekom Udofia pressures Dixon after a fumbled snap, and after throwing the ball away, Dixon takes a shove from Tom McAndrew.  That draws a personal foul penalty, turning a botched Oregon play into forward progress.

2:52 - Terrible, terrible tackling.  Dixon looks to pass on third down at the two-yardline.  Nobody open, and he obviously scrambles.  Maynor whiffs first, and then Egboh and David Lofton miss, crumpling harmlessly to the turf.  Dixon scores and puts the Ducks up four scores, 34-10.  The tackle that should have been made would have kept it a three-score game, for what little it is worth.  But ignoring the scoreboard, tackling appears to be a grave problem for this defense, in the big picture.

2:59 - Gerhart takes the field as the lone back in another three-wide formation to open a series.  He runs for five yards.  Marcus McCutcheon is hurt on the play and has to be helped off the field.

3:00 - Who replaces McCutcheon as Stanford's third wideout?  Redshirt junior Mike Miller.  Regardless, it's Gerhart who runs for 15 yards.  Good burst and he powers through a tackle, keeping his balance, to add more yardage at the end of the play.

3:01 - Edwards wants to pass on the next play, has nobody open, and runs.  He has loads of green on the right sideline and picks up a first down, stepping out of bounds without taking a hit after 19 yards.  He can run.

3:02 - Edwards connects with Kimble on the first screen to a running back this game.  We saw a good deal of that play both in the spring and in fall camp.  This picks up five yards, not as much as it should.  Kimble is a good receiver out of the backfield, and we'd like to see more of that play called this year.

3:05 - Stanford has to go for it on 4th & 4 on the Oregon 33 after a third-down pass from Edwards that found Frank on the sideline.  It was a close call, ruled on the field out of bounds and now confirmed by instant replay review...  Down 24 points, the Cardinal cannot punt...  Interesting formation included a "bunch" on the right side, but Edwards goes to Kimble at the marker.  He is hit but pulls himself forward for the first down at the Oregon 27.

3:07 - Edwards hits Bradford on a sideline pattern, which the senior receiver leaps to snare right at the marker.  This looks like a loss for the Cardinal, but it is nice to see Mark Bradford making plays.  This is what we expect from him - sure-handed and making plays on the balls thrown near him.

3:08 - Hey, a productive running play!  Kimble takes the ball outside for seven yards and picks up a first down at the seven-yardline.  First & Goal for the Cardinal.  Gerhart in the game as the single back.

3:09 - The red zone play we all expect is called.  Edwards throws the fade to Moore on the right sideline, though it is broken up, incomplete.

3:10 - Gerhart runs on second down and picks up four yards up the middle.  The freshman is powerful.  He slammed into a big linebacker in the second level and knocked him back after bursting through the hole at the line of scrimmage.  No flash or change of direction on the run, but it moved the ball forward inside the 10-yardline, which has rarely been done running the ball the last four years.

3:12 - 3rd & Goal after a timeout.  The personnel in the huddle look like a power set.  Two tight ends.  Nnoli and Frank in the backfield...  Surprise, surprise.  It's a halfback option pass for Frank.  We saw this a few times in fall camp, but I did not at all expect it here.  It looks ugly.  Frank throws the ball weakly before going out of bounds.  A flag is thrown for intentional grounding.  That's a loss of down, and the ball moves back to the 15-yardline.

3:15 - Zagory field goal?  Wide left.  He hooked it, maybe not planting well with his off foot.  What a terrible finish to an otherwise encouraging drive.

3:16 - We have just over a minute to go in the third quarter, and Stanford has 10 points.  The defense and special teams have been poor, to say the least, but the offense has not carried weight for the Cardinal at all like we expected and like this team needs.  34 points by Oregon through three quarters is not surprising.  Just 10 for Stanford is scary.

3:17 - More reprehensible tackling by Stanford's defense, this time letting Stewart slip through several players on the way to 21 yards.  Stewart is hurt on the play, which could be the only sour note for Duck fans this day.

3:19 - Now a shovel pass picks up 18 yards, but worse is the injury at the end of the play to Brandon Harrison.  Looks like his left arm.  He walks gingerly off the field and is replaced by redshirt sophomore Carlos McFall.

3:20 - Levirt Griffin is on the field at right defensive end, making for Stanford's third true freshman this game.

3:24 - We start the fourth quarter with a Dixon drop-back pass to tight end Dante Rosario.  Osaisai falls to his knees, stumbling ineffectively toward the Oregon player after the catch.  Another 18 yards for the Ducks.

3:25 - Oregon moves backward on a face mask, ripping off the helmet of Udeme Udofia...  Then on the next play, Fred Campbell hits Jeremiah Johnson to force a fumble, which Ekom Udofia recovers on the 25-yardline.  With 14:13 to go in the game, there is a mathematical chance for a comeback.  I was about to suggest pulling Edwards with the game out of reach, but we're not quite there yet.

3:29 - Gerhart is the single back in a two-tight end set.  Note that Josiah Vinson is playing left guard.  He is the fourth guard for Stanford in the game.  Mikal Brewer also played earlier.  Ben Muth has also seen time at left tackle, switching with Allen Smith...  Gerhart picks up four yards on first down...  But he is hit for a loss of one the next carry.

3:30 - Edwards throws short to Bradford in the middle of the field, and the senior wideout is blasted off his feet by a shot to the head by J.D. Nelson, the son of Cardinal running back great Darrin Nelson.  Ouch!

3:31 - Ottovegio punts, and the hang time appears low.  We held high expectations for the redshirt junior coming into this season, and he has had some distance but not great height on his punts today, from my vantage.  That gives Oregon an easier chance to return the ball before the Cardinal coverage team can get downfield.

3:34 - Jonathan Stewart has not returned to the game and is said to have an ankle sprain.

3:37 - Oregon is still spreading the ball around, and moving it at will.  Play after play moves forward.  It's devastating... and now the Ducks' fifth touchdown of the afternoon.  41-10.  We are now officially watching a blowout loss in Stanford's season opener.  This was obviously considered possible, but it confirms several questions about the Cardinal.  And maybe then some more.

3:41 - First sign of a blowout in Autzen: Luke Bellotti (son of the Oregon head coach) takes the kickoff.  A pitiful ball snakes down the field to wedge blocker Patrick Danahy.

3:43 - Stanford is not ready to give up.  On first down, Edwards goes deep down the right sideline for Bradford on a 39-yard hookup...  Edwards has Bradford on the next play on the left sideline but overthrows him inside the 10-yardline.

3:44 - After a Gerhart carry of four yards, the ball is at the Oregon 20 for third down.  Kimble comes in and has a screen pass called for him, but he drops the ball.

3:45 - In a move to maybe give Zagory some confidence, rather than aiming for a score in the endzone, Stanford rolls the field goal unit onto the field.  The attempt is blocked and run back for a 72-yard touchdown.  So much for Zagory's confidence.

3:46 - If you listen, off in the distance, you can hear the ticket sales drive for the new Stanford Stadium come to a screeching halt.  48-10 in a game televised up and down the West Coast is nightmarish.  There is no promise evident today for this team.  Not only are they getting hammered, but they are doing it with almost no excitement on offense - the one expectation for fans that drove hope in 2006.

3:50 - Edwards is still in the game.  Bradford is not.  Kelton Lynn joins Moore and Miller in the three-wide offense.  Gerhart is in the backfield, gaining valuable experience.  He picks up five yards on his first-down carry...  Just three yards on second down, as Edwards trips coming away from center and barely hands the ball off.

3:52 - Edwards scrambles on a pass play, picking up eight yards up the middle.  But he slides just barely under a diving defender that could have blasted him.

3:53 - Edwards passes complete to James Dray, which is the first completion for the redshirt freshman tight end.  The 11-yard gain is the first completion to a tight end in this game.  We would have expected more thrown to that deep and talented unit.

3:55 - Miller substitutes in for Moore, which puts the weakest receiving pair on the field of this game for Stanford.  That signals to me a sure running play, despite the long yardage at 2nd & 14...  Indeed, it is a hand-off to Gerhart, and he is sniffed out in the blink of an eye for a four-yard loss.

3:55 - The Cardinal throw deep toward Lynn on the left sideline, somewhat surprising.  He is grabbed by the Oregon cornerback and still almost makes a play on the ball.  Lynn nets a flag and 15 yards on the play.

3:56 - Wow.  There is no doubt that Walt Harris wants to play certain freshmen, emptying the bench with Richard Sherman and Austin Yancy into the game.  Yancy hauls in a seven-yard reception on his first play in college.  This may be "garbage" time, but with three frosh on the field for the offense, Harris is using the opportunity to mature his newest players.

3:58 - Stanford goes for it on fourth down and completes a pass to Dray for eight yards.  He is hit and appears to fumble the ball, but the play is ruled down.  Replay shows that the ball was stripped before he hit the ground.  Now here comes a review of the play.  That will be changed to a fumble.  Dray picks up the first down but turns over the ball, a black mark on his first Stanford Football game.

4:01 - Now it is announced that the play cannot be reviewed, since Dray was ruled down by forward progress.  He was being pulled backward when the ball was stripped; thus the play ended before he lost the ball.  This frosh-forward drive stays alive.

4:02 - Note that Ben Muth is playing at right tackle in place of Jeff Edwards.  The Cardinal coaches are probably not pleased with much of the blocking by this offensive line and would like to generate some tape of several players to grade, assessing possible shuffles in the front five.

4:03 - On 4th & 9, the Cardinal offense finishes their game with a whimper.  Edwards looks for Miller, but the pass goes through his hands incomplete.  Oregon takes over on downs with 1:09 left in regulation.  And that means I'm heading down to the field for post-game interviews.  These should be pleasant!

4:04 - Whoah - wait!  Freshman inside linebacker Brian Bulcke is in the game.  He was converted just two weeks ago from defensive end, and here he is burning his redshirt.  Wow...

Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories