View from the Press Box: WSU

In Saturday's 36-10 defeat and second straight home embarrassment, it was a new collection of errors, starting with an 0-2 hole and widening despite several Washington State turnovers. The offense had problems blocking Mkristo Bruce, which were exacerbated by wide receivers failing to get open for Trent Edwards. The defense again was dashed, though special teams turned around in the second half.

Pregame - With magazine work this week I did not have a chance to author an article I wanted to create.  I have had the chance to explain it to some people who called me this week looking for insight and answers on this team, but here it is in a nutshell.  I think there are problems on defense, and there is underperformance on offense.  Sure.  But there are three areas I believe that can be improved and would help turn this team around.  First is special teams.  It is a matter of personnel and scheme, and while Stanford is hurting in both talent and healthy bodies up and down its roster, these units can do better.  Stanford reached a new low with its sinking special teams last week, turning the ball over twice.  That obviously must stop.  Beyond that, Stanford is getting killed in the field position battle due to both its kicking/punting and coverage units.  Stop giving the offense such long fields, and handing the defense short fields.  Second is the turnover margin.  It was the saving grace (along with special teams) last year that put Stanford on the cusp of a bowl game in what was clearly a turnaround season.  Interceptions and fumbles should not be creeping back this year, and the defense has to find a way to force a few of its own.  Finally, the kicking game must be upgraded.  Stanford is having to change its offensive playcalling because of its humiliating field goal capabilities, and missed extra points are just unacceptable (not to mention the margin of the SJSU loss).  Address these three areas, plus hopefully some incremental steps forward on offense and defense, and the tide will rise for this team.

Pregame - Game captains are redshirt junior long snapper Brent Newhouse, senior inside linbacker Michael Okwo and redshirt sophomore running back Anthony Kimble.  They represent the special teams, defense and offense.  It's interesting to see Newhouse out there, and good for him.  Though I cannot help but think that when the long snapper (who you really only examine when he screws up) as the top special teams representative at midfield, it is a damning statement on the rest of the many other players on the various special teams units.  Not any of them were worthy.  It was that bad last week...  It is nice to see Kimble just because he was banged up this week in practice and to my eyes looked doubtful that he would be able to play today...  Washington State wins the coin toss and elects to receive.  Whoops.  Stanford's defense will right away be tested and possibly put the Cardinal in yet another hole.

2:02 p.m. - Stanford on defense has a pair of starters of interest.  Redshirt junior Tim Sims is at cornerback for the recently injured and recovering redshirt junior Nick SanchezPat Maynor has the start at inside linebacker alongside Michael Okwo, instead of previous game starters freshman Brian Bulcke and fifth-year senior Mike Silva at the position.  I believe those latter two are healthy and can play today, so this is a coach's/strategic decision.

2:03 - After giving up a QB scramble for five yards on first down, Stanford makes a play on second down with redshirt junior defensive end Chris Horn tackling tailback Dwight Tardy in the backfield for a big five-yard loss.  Horn has been quietly effective and improved player in Stanford's beleaguered front seven on defense.  Good for him.

2:05 - On a 2nd & 1, Maynor comes off the field replaced by the freshman Bulcke.  After that play, Maynor substitutes back onto the field.  It looks like Stanford has designs on different linebacker personnel depending on run/pass situations and down-and-distance this game.  Interesting.

2:06 - After a first down incompletion, we have 2nd & 10 and Stanford goes to its "magic" defense, adding Sanchez and redshirt sophomore Carlos McFall for a six-defensive back set.  This was the defense employed all game against Oregon's spread defense, and much of the San Jose State game.  Washington State employs empty backfield sets with five wideouts often, so we could see this defense frequently this afternoon.

2:08 - Stanford has its best penetration of the day with Bulcke exploding into the backfield, hitting Tardy for what would have been a loss, but he breaks free and ends up gaining five yards.  Doh!

2:09 - Washington State is throwing high percentage short passes thus far, which was the case much of the time in the Oregon and SJSU games.  They do so again here, and Sims wraps up Jason Hill behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of one yard.  Sims had serious struggles in both of those games tackling in the open field, so that is nice to see for both him and Stanford.

2:10 - WSU has 3rd & 11 after a false start penalty, and the shotgun snap rockets over quarterback Alex Brink all the way back to the other 39-yardline.  Should be an opportunity for a huge defensive play and change of field position, but Brink eventually picks up the ball, rolls out and throws a succesful incompletion past the line of scrimmage down the right sideline.  Stanford fans cheer the stop, which has been rare thus far this year, but I see that as another lost opportunity for the defense.  Those golden opportunities (like the Bulcke play in the backfield) need to be seized with the small margin this team has currently.  Still, a stop is better than the average delivered by the defense this year!

2:11 - WSU punts beautifully inside the five-yardline, with redshirt freshman punt returner Chris Hobbs vacating the area and the Cougars downing the ball on the two.  What a deep hole to start the offense.

2:13 - Stanford starts Kimble at tailback, which is a relief.  Both he and freshman Toby Gerhart were banged up this week in practice, and it looked very possible that we might see third-string tailback redshirt junior Jason Evans start in the backfield...  Kimble runs for one and two yards each on the opening two carries.

2:14 - I saw this in practice a few times in the preseason, so it is not totally shocking to see fifth-year senior quarterback Trent Edwards quick-kick from Stanford's five-yardline on 3rd & 7.  Edwards strikes the ball from his endzone with his left foot.  It has low trajectory but rolls perfectly to the WSU 39-yardline.  That is a 56-yard punt with no return.  Edwards ought to now be your conference's leading punter!  The call is smart from the perspective of field position, which has been a major bugaboo for Stanford this year.  We will see how this move pays off.  I bet there are some fans upset, feeling this is another "scared" tactic after last week's infamous kneel-down, but I like this call a lot.

2:17 - Washington State moves the ball early in this drive but then stubs their toe with a holding penalty that moves them backward...  Then Tardy takes the ball on the right side at Sanchez, who whiffs completely in the open field.  That is a bad sign.  Sanchez ostensibly upgrades Stanford's cornerback tackling after being missed much of this month, but if he also has problems, it could spell yet another huge yardage put up against Stanford's defense.

2:21 - We already are seeing more drop-back passing by Washington State than that by any of Stanford's three previous opponents.  We know full well of Stanford's woeful rush defense, but now we will learn about their pass defense - both coverage and rush/pressure.  Brink has a play here where he runs around seemingly forever in the backfield looking for somewhere to throw, and he gets the ball off after an eternity.  That is disappointing, but yellow laundry in the backfield and a clapping redshirt freshman nose tackle Ekom Udofia reveals a holding penalty.

2:23 - Brink again scrambles in the backfield, this time on 3rd & 14.  He finds a target on the left sideline, but short of the marker when tackled out of bounds by Okwo.

2:24 - WSU opts to go for it on 4th & 5 at the Stanford 21.  One of the most WIDE open receiving targets I have seen in my life, tight end Cody Boyd catches the ball in the middle of the field and races toward the goalline.  He is tackled by senior safety Brandon Harrison and fifth-year senior safety Trevor Hooper at the one-yardline...  What could be more devastating than that fourth-down conversion and 20-yard gain?  Harrison writhing in pain on the ground...  He has to be slowly helped off the field - looks like a bad right ankle.

2:28 - WSU running back Dwight Tardy runs the ball up the middle into the pile.  After a couple seconds, Stanford players jump up and start pointing the other direction, while redshirt junior outside linebacker Udeme Udofia runs out with the ball.  After huddling, the officials indicate Stanford has possession after a fumble.  This will be reviewed, but what a big save for the Stanford defense if the play stands.  The turnover margin woes of the past two weeks have been on the head of the offense and special teams for giving up the ball, but the defense has to sometime turn it over themselves.

2:30 - The play stands!  Now, the sobering reality is that Stanford has the ball on their own one.  This is even worse position than last possession, when Stanford ended with a quick-kick.

2:31 - Oh my goodness.  Edwards falls backward from under center (somebody stepped on his foot?) on first down, hitting the painted turf of the endzone for a safety.  After the bumbling in all phases of the game last week, you might have asked yourself what else could go wrong?  A self-imposed safety is the excruciating answer.  WSU 2, Stanford 0.

2:33 - I wonder with a strange fascination what Stanford's "free kick coverage" unit will look like.  We have already seen several failures from every one of the other special teams units...  Redshirt junior punter Jay Ottovegio knocks it deep (61 yards), and the coverage is excellent with redshirt sophomore cornerback Wopamo Osaisai getting there in a hurry and wrapping up.

2:34 - WSU runs on first down, and it is sad to see Okwo hit the ballcarrier just past the line of scrimmage but bounce off him while trying to tackle with one arm.  There are some angles where Okwo will be disadvantaged while he still has a hard cast on his right hand.  That was a vivid example.

2:35 - 3rd & 1 and the Cougars employ a single back.  Do you need a fullback to run against this defense?  They pick up three yards running off tackle.  Too easy.

2:35 - WSU throws deep for the first time today, airing it out for sensation wide receiver Jason Hill.  He is covered by Sims, which is an excellent opportunity for the Cougs.  But kudos for Sims in winning the contested ball battle and breaking up the pass.  Bright start for Sims today.

2:36 - Running the ball on the next play nets WSU 14 yards.  Makes you wonder why there is any merit to throwing downfield against this defense.  I suppose even the occasional threat will keep this soft defense even looser, but why not run until they stop you?  Stanford hasn't stopped anybody yet this year on the ground.

2:38 - Another wide open completion to WSU's tight end Boyd has me scratch my chin pensively...

2:39 - A perfect example of horrific tackling - freshman nose tackle Sione Fua fills the running late, and the WSU back then is grabbed by two Stanford tacklers in the backfield, but he breaks loose and squirts up the field for a positive gain of several yards.  That is so terrible..

2:40 - Stanford catches another big break when Tardy fumbles the ball after taking the hand-off.  The ball bounces around, squirts loose a couple times, finally recovered by redshirt freshman nose tackle Ekom Udofia.  Stanford is awfully lucky to be down just two points, and for once they are on the right side of the turnover ledger.  This will mean little if they cannot drive the ball and either score or change the field position battle.

2:43 - Stanford starts the second quarter and its third possession on its own 11, and that is by far its best field position of the day - yikes!

2:43 - Gerhart is in the backfield for Stanford.  Good to see him healthy, but we will see what he can do.  First down is a gain of just one yard, not the start he and Stanford need.

2:44 - The Cardinal give up a sack and seven-yard loss for a 3rd & 16 hole.  Sheesh...  Kimble comes into the game and runs a draw play with his shiftiness for seven yards.

2:45 - Redshirt freshman tight end Erik Lorig has the tackle on the punt return, and boy is he fired up!  That is his first playmaking mark in college.  And this is a fine moment to mention that this kid is a FREAK of an athlete who needs to find a way onto the field, whether it is offense or defense, for Stanford.  That display of fire is also in short supply from what I see right now.

2:48 - I asked what would happen when Stanford faces a "pro-style" offense that occasionally takes more than a three-step drop.  Here, Brink drops back, has the ball knocked out by Horn as he is about to throw.  The ball shoots straight back, and Brink just beats a diving Snyder.  Not a turnover, but a 13-yard loss is something to make Stanford smile.  Playmaking on defense - what a concept!

2:50 - Note that redshirt freshman safety Bo McNally is in Harrison's spot in the defense.  Harrison by the way was Stanford's best defensive back, as a tackler and playmaker, and his loss hurts severely.

2:51 - On 3rd & 19, Brink looks to Boyd to continue their connection success, this time deep down the middle of the field.  The ball sails a little high, and McNally is there to punish Boyd in the air...  WSU has to punt, and this time it rolls into the endzone.  Stanford will have the ball on its 20...  Kudos to Cougar punter Darryl Blunt for what ultimately was not a successful punt, but boy did he rocket that ball into the stratosphere.  That's two impressive efforts from him.

2:53 - Stanford starts Kimble in the backfield on this series...  Play-action has Edwards roll right with redshirt junior fullback Emeka Nnoli in front of him but near coverage.  That scene is eerily familiar to the killer interception last week against Navy.  Edwards this time does not throw to that spot and instead keeps rolling to the sideline.  He scorches a pass too high to redshirt junior wide receiver Kelton Lynn.  Incomplete but better than some of the alternatives.

2:54 - With 10:54 to go in the second quarter, Stanford has a first down!  The crowd goes wild.  The volume obviously is a response to this being the first time Stanford has moved the chains this game, but I'll add the note that despite a sparse crowd this afternoon, the noise is audibly improved over the old stadium.

2:56 - Edwards has nothing and decides to run to his left.  He shows impressive acceleration in beating the defense to the first down marker for a 12-yard gain.  The crowd loves it.

2:57 - The crowd can't love this.  Edwards looks to Gerhart in the flat and throws the ball directly into the arms of WSU defensive end Mike Graise, who runs the ball 33 yards back for a score.  Edwards is the only man who could tackle him, but he slides off like a fireman down a pole.  There goes the benefit of the turnovers, in the blink of an eye.  Washington State leads 9-0, and Edwards has three terrible interceptions now in the last three weeks.  His touchdown-to-interception ratio was outstanding last year and the hallmark of his ascension.  But his decisions have been uncharacteristic and costly in three straight games.  If Edwards is in a funk, there is NO hope for this team.

3:01 - After no gain on a Gerhart run on first down, Edwards has an open redshirt freshman tight end James Dray 21 yards down the field.  The ball hits him right at the midsection and he flat drops it.  Terrible.  That is shades of the Mike Miller drop at about the same spot on the field last week, which took away Stanford's best offensive opportunity early in that game.  This is a team that absolutely cannot stomach those mistakes.  And Dray's strength is his receiving skills...

3:03 - After a holding penalty negates an Edwards scramble for a first down, Stanford has 3rd & 20.  A completion of 11 yards to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kelton Lynn does little good.

3:04 - The Stanford special teams swoon deepens.  Ottovegio has his first punt blocked of his career.  WSU recovers on the Stanford 13-yardline.  This could be the point where the game spirals out of hand.  That would also be the season spiraling into an abyss, with UCLA and Notre Dame road games on horizon...

3:08 - Washington State picks up a 3rd & 8, and then from two yards out sees Brink complete a soft toss to Jed Collins in the endzone.  Stanford had a man running at Brink in the backfield but left the tight end open...  WSU misses the extra point but leads 15-0.

3:11 - How thin is Stanford today?  They have third-string quarterback (who also took wide receiver this week) Tavita Pritchard on the front line of the kickoff return team.  I don't like that move.  Stanford has leaked terribly on that front line this year, letting waves to tacklers reach the wedge and then Stanford's returners.  How is Pritchard going to help in a blocking role?  Well, for the record, the special teams duty today is Pritchard's college debut (I believe).

3:13 - Here comes Stanford's first short-yardage situation today.  3rd & 1 at the 29.  They go with a power I-formation with two tight ends and a single wideout.  Kimble dances a little in the backfield with nothing in front of him and cannot pick up anything.  Why run Kimble there, when he specializes in change-of-direction and speed in space?  Gerhart could be the best power tailback in maybe the last decade for Stanford.  Give him the ball because he will run straight ahead and power for every inch.

3:15 - A mild celebration - Harrison is back on the field to start this series... though he leaves after the first play.

3:16 - Next Stanford player down: fifth-year senior safety David Lofton.  McFall has to come onto the field.  Stanford is playing its base defense of four DBs and not the "magic" set.

3:19 - Brink fires out to the left sideline to flanker Brandon Gibson, who then jukes around Sims to pick up extra yardage.  The ball is on the Stanford 25, and there is three minutes left in the half - plenty of time to score and send Stanford to the locker room with a huge hole and hangover.

3:21 - WSU picks up a first down on 3rd & 4, but Okwo has the open-field tackle - his 10th of the day.  That already ties his career high.  He's playing one-against-11 out there.

3:23 - The Cougs call a timeout with 3rd & 3 on the Stanford four-yardline.  1:32 left in the half.  I'd use a little play-action or a roll-out and pass to what will surely be an open target in the endzone.

3:24 - Brink pitches to Tardy, who does not look like he has much of a prayer in front of him, but he twists away from tacklers and stumbles to the goalline.  That just misses a touchdown but gives new downs to WSU...  The next play is a quarterback keeper for the score.  22-0, Washington State.  The only thing uglier than this first half will be the halftime locker room.  This is shameful.

3:26 - The kickoff is taken for a touchback, but our eyes move to the back side of the wedge, where two beefy freshmen are playing: Fua and Bulcke.  Stanford has to fix its kickoff return, and I am interested to see if some personnel changes make a dent.

3:28 - I'm at least relieved to see that Stanford is not mailing it in with less than a minute on the clock, though they are on their own 20.  Edwards is in shotgun for the hurry-up offense.  First down is a short pass to the sideline completed to freshman wide receiver Austin Yancy for a walloping four yards.

3:29 - Second down is par for the course today - Edwards is knocked from the backside for a sack.  Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Ben Muth is getting a crack at left tackle, and he blew his block.

3:30 - Stanford calls a timeout despite a long field and 30 seconds left.  They're trying... but failing - Edwards hits Yancy at the first down marker, and he drops it.  He made some solid plays last week but looks every bit the freshman right here.

3:31 - The downside to that timeout is that WSU has great field position and some time to maybe muster a field goal.  They pass on first down to Boyd in the middle of the field for 23 yards.  The Cougars call timeout and have it on the Stanford 35 with eight seconds on the clock.  Lovely.

3:32 - They have no more timeouts and are too far out for a field goal, so WSU heaves it toward the endzone - long and incomplete.  Why not try a sideline pattern for short yardage first?  Stanford mercifully escapes to the locker room.  But a first-half shutout on the scoreboard is a dark and depressing weight to carry for a team already anchored at the bottom of pool of losing and poor performance.

3:54 - First half stats are just as shocking as the action we have witnessed.  16 net rushing yards and 26 passing yards for Stanford.  42 offensive yards!  And the offense is the "strength" of this team!  Washington State has already run 55 plays (to Stanford's 21) for 277 yards.  19:43 advantage of time possession to Stanford's 10:17.

3:56 - Replacing the earlier quick-kick, Stanford has a new play of the day!  Ray Jones runs back the kickoff to the 35-yardline.  A spark for special teams - woohoo!  In all seriousness, I argued earlier in the week that one of two players needed to be put back there on kickoff return: Jones or Gerhart.  Running backs are used to protecting the ball (apparently a concern after last Saturday on KOR), and both have some speed.  Nice work here by Jones, and also a credit to some running room by the blocking in front of him.

3:58 - Stanford has almost doubled its offensive yardage with three plays to open the half - the first a 12-yard catch and run by Lynn, the second a six-yard carry by Kimble, and the third a five-yard run again by Kimble...  By the way, those quick two first downs match the first half total.

3:59 - There is a completion of 14 yards from Edwards to Yancy, who holds onto the ball and gives Stanford another first down.  Edwards is getting a lot of pass protection on most plays, and he had a long time to sit in the pocket there.

3:59 - I spoke too soon.  Muth breaks down once again to give up a backside sack.  Edwards goes down for a five-yard loss, which pushes Stanford back to the 30 and 2nd & 15.

4:00 - With nobody open, Edwards scrambles for the second time this half to the right sideline for a short gain (this time four yards).  At some point, it takes a toll when your wideouts are freshmen and walk-ons, and it has been a too-familiar sight today for Edwards to bounce on his feet in the pocket searching desperately for a target.  They made some plays last week against Navy, but Pac-10 defensive backs are a much different test.  Thus far, the wideout reserves-turned-starters are floundering to my eyes...  If you are wondering by the way where freshman phenom Richard Sherman is, he threw a couple temper tantrums in practice this week that had him booted down the depth chart and into work with the scout team.  I love the kid, but that had better be his last freshman outburst of immaturity.  This team is in epic danger at his position, and he has the chance of a lifetime for playing time - and blows himself off the field.  Hopefully upperclassmen like Mark Bradford and Evan Moore straighten him out in a hurry.  They would kill to be in his shoes, healthy with a chance to play.

4:01 - On 3rd & 11, Edwards finds Lynn just shy of the first down marker.  It's 4th & 1 (less than a yard).  Stanford is going for it, but Kimble is the tailback...  Edwards keeps it and leans on the surging offensive line for an easy two yards.  First down on the WSU 14-yardline.

4:02 - There is the fourth sack of the game for WSU pass rushing monster Mkristo Bruce.  Stanford loses nine yards.  Edwards was again sitting in the pocket with nobody open.

4:03 - Deja vu all over again with nobody open for Edwards, though this time he nimbly escapes, rolls to this left and then finds Dray moving with him across the field.  That picks up 10 yards and sets up 3rd & 9 on the 13.

4:04 - Again nobody open and again Edwards feels the pressure.  He escapes and then uses a block to cut up the field, but he is hit and drops the ball on the turf.  Fifth-year senior offensive guard Josiah Vinson dives on the ball on the 17, saving possession for a shot at a field goal.

4:05 - Color me surprised, redshirt sophomore walk-on kicker Aaron Zagory has a new career long with a 34-yard field goal.  Stanford is on the board.  WSU 22, Stanford 3.  That gives the home fans something to cheer, but it was a nice drive that moved the ball 50 yards and into striking distance of a touchdown.  The Cardinal could conceivably climb back into this game, but they will not likely fell the Cougars via death-by-field goals.  If you score a touchdown there, you could really feel like you are back in this game.

4:08 - There is a big play by the defense!  Okwo strips the ball on WSU's first offensive play of the half, and Sims dives to recover.  Stanford's defense now has three turnovers today.  If you had told me that would happen, I would have said the Cardinal could win this game.  Unfortunately their many miscues have more than outweighed those of the Cougars thus far.

4:09 - Nice catch and run by Gerhart, who takes it to the eight.  This is Stanford's best penetration yet today...  But Gerhart carries the next play and apparently fumbles as he pulls tacklers forward to the two-yardline.  The officials signal a fumble, which WSU recovers.  That is a Card killer.

4:10 - The replay shows that Gerhart was down when that ball was ripped out.  The play is being reviewed.  Stanford could really use a break (and the correct call) here.  This position on the field is crucial to retain.

4:12 - The officials say that there is "no conclusive evidence" to overturn the play.  Ouch.  Washington State ball...  And the Cougars pick up 11 yards on first down.  There goes the last wind out of Stanford's sails.  They came out charging to start this half, and honestly they could beat what looks like a very unimpressive WSU squad.  But the Card continue to beat themselves (with some help from the zebras).

4:14 - Another quick first down for Washington State.  The ball is out to the 37.  With just six-plus minutes left in the third quarter, and Stanford trailing by three scores, time and life are ticking away.

4:15 - Brink throws for 25 yards to Michael Bumpus, who was wide open for the reception.  Already WSU is at the Stanford 35.

4:17 - A completion on the right sideline to Hill picks up 12 yards to the 18.  Brink had all day to find somebody open, and Sims left Hill during the play.  Those kinds of breakdowns, either by concentration or by scheme, are maddening to watch for a Stanford fan.

4:19 - WSU calls a timeout for some reason or another on 1st & Goal at the Stanford six.  Coming back, we see Stanford swarm to the ballcarrier on the left side for a smothering one-yard loss.  Barring a miracle, this game is probably about to be over.  But it is always interesting to follow mini-games within the game.  It would be nice to see Stanford do something positive on this short-yardage stand near the goalline.

4:20 - So much for that idea.  Brink finds Jason Hill in the endzone for a seven-yard strike.  WSU 29, Stanford 3...  At least I was able to grab a bowl of fruit salad during that timeout.  Raspberries and blueberries are in here (bonus!), with melon, pineapple and strawberries.  Yummmm.  You have to find the little things to enjoy and buoy your day.

4:24 - Despite some bad breakdowns, Muth is still in at left tackle.  Something may be wrong with redshirt sophomore and starter at that left tackle spot, Allen Smith.  Too bad.

4:25 - Stanford gives up a sack on first down.  Bruce has five now on the day, which is a WSU record.  I know Booties will blast the offensive line, but they have been pretty good this year, and what I'm seeing today are largely coverage sacks.

4:26 - Edwards on third down finds Yancy for an 11-yard gain in the middle of the field on a comeback.  Don't look now, but Stanford may threaten to crack the vaunted 100-yard passing mark here soon, folks!

4:28 - There is a 10-yard sack of Edwards, and it was two running backs (Kimble and Nnoli) who could not combined block 6'7" 317-pound defensive tackle Aaron Johnson.

4:29 - On the final play of the third quarter, and 3rd & 13, Edwards does not get on the same page as Lynn with a ball sailing away from the receiver's direction.  At least I have some refreshing mounds of melon carried by a spoon to cool these flames of futility and frustration.

4:31 - At least special teams are improving this half.  That 45-yard punt by Ottovegio is covered well by Osaisai and Lofton, with the latter making a great solo tackle while Bumpus tried to reverse field.  That goes for a minus-five yards on the return.  Very well done.  That punt and coverage is one of the first shades of the superlative special teams play that boosted Stanford last year.  Again, look for the games within the game.  That's all you can do at this point.

4:33 - Nice pressure from redshirt freshman defensive end Matt Kopa, who forces Brink to run a long distance before tossing an incompletion out of bounds.  I'll note here that Kopa started this half for the Stanford defense.  He was battling some ailments during training camp and may now be getting healthy.  It's nice to see him have opportunities and to make some plays.

4:36 - Last night and again today before the game, I was explaining and hyping Gerhart to my best friend from college, who is in town and in attendance for his first taste of this season and the new Stanford Stadium.  Gerhart just carried here for no gain, and I think that is six yards on four carries in the game.  Whoops.

4:37 - That's more like it.  Gerhart has some room and hits the hole hard, picking up 14 yards.  That is the first double-digit gainer on the ground for a Stanford running back today.

4:38 - After the back-to-back runs by Gerhart, we see play-action.  Edwards goes outside to Nnoli, who turns upfield and is hit, fumbling the ball out of bounds.  It is ruled an incompletion.  The drops are really difficult to swallow the last couple weeks for this offense.

4:39 - There is how it is supposed to work.  Edwards finds Kimble in the middle of the field, and he uses his speed to head into open green ahead of defenders for a big 26-yard pickup.

4:40 - Stanford takes its first shot at the endzone, with Edwards giving a little pump fake and then hitting Lynn just over the defensive back in the back-left corner of the endzone.  Beautiful pass, which is what we have come to expect from Edwards.  Nice route and reception by Lynn.  That is his first touchdown at Stanford.  WSU 29, Stanford 10...  Might we see an on-sides kick from the Cardinal?

4:42 - Stanford's freshmen students are dancing for their first time ever after a Stanford touchdown.  The Stanford Band's rendition of "All Right Now" is played from tape over the loudspeakers.  After they trashed trailers that used to be their home, the LSJUMB has been justly placed on probation and are not allowed to perform at Stanford Stadium.

4:42 - 37,498 is announced as the paid attendance today.

4:45 - Stanford kicked away (not on-sides), and WSU now as the ball on their own 32 with 3rd & 2...  Brink throws down the middle of the field for the tight end, who is well covered by Lofton.

4:46 - The Cougs kick a terrible punt, traveling only 15 yards.  Somebody remind me to go back and edit out those kudos I handed Blunt earlier...

4:48 - Stanford started this drive on the WSU 47 - sensational field position.  But on 3rd & 1 Edwards and Lynn had opposite ideas late in a passing opportunity downfield.  Now on 4th & 1, Edwards sails a ball high and incomplete for Mike Miller for what would have been a first down.  Thus ends the last gasp of glimmering hope for the home Cardinal.

4:50 - During this timeout, I am thinking about who might be good to interview.  But the sad truth is that this will be an excruciating post-game locker room.  The worst part of this job (aside from the Southeast Asia sweatshop-esque hours and pay) is talking to these kids in this kind of environment.

4:52 - WSU is driving for a score that would put them over 30 and finalize the wide margin of victory to stamp this lopsided performance...  Time to head down to the field.  Later, folks.


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