7:20 pm - Stanford wins the coin toss and defers. Given the struggles of Stanford's defense and the desire to start on the right foot with field position, I would have thought the Cardinal would want to take the kickoff and ball in the first half. I suppose the struggles of the kickoff return unit and the offense also make that dicey. You can't win when deciding on the coin toss decision, which is a microcosm of the team... Redshirt freshman Will Powers gets the first start of his career at SAM outside linebacker in place of redshirt junior Udeme Udofia... Good news to see senior cornerback Brandon Harrison in the starting lineup. He was questionable this week and said to be a gameday decision if he could play at all.
7:24 - Redshirt junior Derek Belch boots the opening kickoff deep for a touchback. That is great to see. Walt Harris has twice commented in the last couple weeks how he wishes Belch could give him more touchbacks. Harris said he was "spoiled" by the display at San Jose State. Belch did not have a touchback against either Navy or Washington State, so this is welcome for him and Stanford.
7:25 - I just finished a feature on him, and it is no surprise to see senior inside linebacker Michael Okwo make his presence felt with a strong solo tackle on the first UCLA play from scrimmage, but it comes after Chris Markey picks up seven yards.
7:28 - UCLA looks to pass downfield for the first time, picking up a couple of hard-charging Cardinal blitzers. Ben Olson gets enough protection to throw down the field to the left sideline. Redshirt junior cornerback Tim Sims goes up and makes a great play on the ball for a breakup. Sims had an uneven start to the season, but he surprised with a strong game last week against Washington State. If he continues that play tonight, it could be a huge help for the Card.
7:29 - Clearly more aggressive playcalling by Stanford's defense today. Brandon Harrison comes on a corner blitz, blows past a back and leaps toward Olson. The throw just gets off (was Olson hit as he threw?) but redshirt sophomore Wopamo Osaisai makes a nice play for a breakup. Strong start for Stanford's defensive backs.
7:29 - Hey, a punt! Before Stanford's opponent crosses midfield on their first possession!... Redshirt freshman punter returner and reserve cornerback Chris Hobbs fields the punt and makes the first return of his career. That is also the first punt return of the year for Stanford. No, I'm serious. It picks up just a few yards, but it's a start.
7:30 - As we reported earlier, Stanford is starting freshman Toby Gerhart at tailback tonight. That is his first start of his college career... He picks up just one yard on first down... On second down, he runs again and gets four yards. The Bruins are clogging the middle and look like they are anticipating the run. It's no big secret that Stanford wants to establish a ground game.
7:31 - Stanford has to pass on third down, and Trent Edwards looks to redshirt freshman tight end James Dray. He is well covered, and the pass deflects away incomplete. Three-and-out. Not the offensive response after the defense's early effort.
7:32 - What a disastrous turn of events. Punting after three-and-out, Stanford and redshirt junior Jay Ottovegio have the punt blocked and run in for a short touchdown. After no punts blocked in his first two seasons, that is two in two weeks for Ottovegio in his third year of action. The snap from redshirt junior long snapper Brent Newhouse was a little high, but that should not have cost enough time for that duo to allow that block. There had to be a breakdown in the protection, which is what happened last week. UCLA 7, Stanford 0. That hurts big time, after the defense actually held ground to open the game. Down a touchdown this fast, it might as well have been a Bruins scoring drive. Even when something goes right, this team can quickly turn something else so wrong.
7:36 - I praised the improvement in kickoff returning and special teams in the second half last week, but that same crew takes this UCLA kickoff and redshirt sophomore Ray Jones can only reach the 13-yardline. Another failed field position start for Stanford's offense. This unit needs a short field.
7:37 - A quick pass to redshirt junior fullback Emeka Nnoli picks up just three yards on first down, but Gerhart grabs a first down and moves the chains for the first time today running through traffic and carrying tacklers for an eight-yard gain. The play looked like it had little for him, but he powered through. I love this kid.
7:38 - Was that a designed quarterback run? Looked like it. Edwards picks up eight yards rolling to his right and running behind the block of Gerhart.
7:39 - Fifth-year senior Josiah Vinson gets just his second start of the season, and he looks like he maybe does not deserve it. On third down, he does his best mannequin impersonation while a pass rusher strolls by him and swallows Edwards for an eight-yard sack...
7:40 - To make matters worse, fifth-year senior right tackle Jeff Edwards is down on the field. Replay shows that a Bruin was blocked into him and rolled up on his leg. Edwards has to be helped off the field. Super - another injury to the offense!
7:42 - UCLA comes hard at Ottovegio again, but he gets off a beauty. UCLA super frosh Terrence Austin lets the punt go, and it takes a Stanford roll. Did Austin touch it? The refs whistle the ball dead when fifth-year senior David Lofton grabs it, so I suppose not. At least the defense has a reasonably long field to defend despite the Stanford offense moving nowhere. That was a 52-yard punt, and the Bruins will start at their own 24.
7:44 - There is the first big Bruins running play. Chris Markey explodes through the line of scrimmage and then gets to the third level of the Stanford defense with the help of some blocking. 24 yards.
7:45 - Will Powers with the sack! That's the first of his college career. Great for him. Stanford also looks like they are putting forth a better early pass rush tonight than we saw in the first quarter (or maybe any quarter) of the previous four games.
7:46 - More pressure on Olson. A delayed blitz by Lofton chases Olson out of the pocket. He dumps off to a back who gobbles some yardage but cannot come up with the 17 yards UCLA needed. Another stop by the defense. I didn't expect that. The progress that players and coaches claimed this week they saw on film vs. WSU maybe was real.
7:47 - Great punt by the Bruins. It bounces inside the five and is downed on the four-yardline. This is field position reminiscent of the awful first quarter last week, when Stanford totaled two yards, ran three times and did not pass.
7:50 - On 2nd & 9, Edwards throws a rope to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kelton Lynn just past the marker. He is hit hard as soon as he catches it, and I'm sure the ball will come loose. But the gritty walk-on holds on and secures the first down. This is Lynn's second start in college.
7:52 - Edwards takes off on 3rd & 8 after dropping back and finding nobody open. He gets a good angle and can get the first down. He does, but he hesitates instead of taking the slide. That allows a UCLA defensive end to swipe at the ball from behind while tackling Edwards, popping it loose. Edwards falls to the ground and watches the ball bounce out of his reach. UCLA recovers. The run was excellent, but the fumble is a huge momentum swing to the Bruins. Now they start with the ball in Stanford territory (at the 35) and will have a chance to score their first offensive touchdown.
7:54 - Hey, a turn of events and turnover in Stanford's favor. How 'bout that?! Olson is pressured by redshirt freshman nose tackle Ekom Udofia and throws a ball that Brandon Harrison collects on the dead run. Harrison has room to return, but the only thought in my head is that he had better not fumble. We already saw him do that on kickoff return duty this year. No fumble, but there is a Stanford penalty of holding on the return. Not ideal, but those guys are not used to blocking. The important thing is the turnover. The defense has gone punt, punt, interception thus far. Who are these guys?
7:56 - Jeff Edwards is back on the field at right tackle. That's a relief, though who knows what his physical capacity is with the ankle injury... Ben Muth had been in his place while he was out.
7:57 - On third down, Trent Edwards drops back and looks and looks and looks down the field. Nobody is open, and Edwards is eventually sacked. That is a scene WAY too familiar from last week. These receivers just cannot consistently get open. That is what happens when you play walk-ons and true freshmen. Evan Moore and Marcus McCutcheon are needed in a hurry.
7:58 - Another turnover! Terrence Austin fields Ottovegio's punt down at his ankles and fumbles it. Lofton is fast onto the scene and dives onto the ball. There is a flag during the scrum. Is that a personal foul for something nasty in the pile?... Stanford does recover, and UCLA picks up the penalty. Stanford has the ball on the UCLA 31 and HAS to score here. This game is still very much up for grabs.
8:01 - On the first play of the drive and the last of the quarter, Edwards throws deep on a fade pattern to the endzone. It's for Lynn, who beats his defender to get open, but he cannot find the ball and drops it. What a killer. What an absolute killer. Open opportunities in the endzone like that come along once in a blue moon, and it is unconscionable for this Stanford team suffering its current problems to not convert. I love the playcall - going for a big strike when you have momentum fresh off a turnover. The failed execution is all that matters, however.
8:04 - We start the second quarter with Edwards having to scramble for his life. He gets some good protection, including what looked like a nice block by Gerhart against the secondary blitz. But just as he gets free, Edwards is tripped up behind by his ankles.
8:05 - Third down is a short pass complete to Lynn, but he cannot get to the marker. Field goal time?
8:06 - Redshirt sophomore Aaron Zagory is on the field for a 40-yard attempt. I have not been a fan this year, but in all fairness, he did have a toe injury that required his big toenail removed... The attempt is high and long enough, but just barely misses right. That was close, which of course counts for nothing... Continuing the thought, Zagory nailed both of his hurry-up pressure field goal repetitions I saw this week in practice. Both had surprising distance. With an improved big toe on his kicking foot, he might be better the rest of this year than we saw him start. But you do have to hit a 40-yarder, and Stanford needs points like man in the desert needs water.
8:09 - UCLA is picking it up on offense. They started on their own 23 after the missed field goal and plays of 23, 6 and 15 yards quickly move them to the Stanford 33. Yeesh! Did Stanford already waste its window of opportunity to hang in this game?
8:10 - Olson throws deep off play-action at the direction of Sims in single coverage in the endzone. Another breakup for Sims. And the crowd again doesn't like.
8:11 - But on the very next play, Olson finds Marcus Everett open on the left sideline with redshirt junior cornerback Nick Sanchez nowhere near to make a play. The connection goes for 15 yards. Sims is the guy who has struggled more the last two years, but if I am Olson, I might pick on Sanchez when he is in the game. He has not been healthy and may struggle staying with receivers.
8:14 - Olson throws high and wide in the direction of Brandon Breazell in the endzone. Not a good throw. Breazell, by the way, is the guy who caught the touchdown winner in overtime last year at Stanford Stadium.
8:15 - On third down, its another poor decision/throw by Olson. He throws into traffic, maybe seeing his target against Sims but not eyeing Harrison. The senior safety deflects the ball, and fifth-year senior safety Trevor Hooper calmly collects the interception. He thinks about running it out, but he is six or seven yards deep and that would be a BAD idea. Good thing he take a knee. Is that three turnovers already by UCLA? Stanford had better come up with some points, or the turnovers will be a minor footnote just like last week. Still, big "ups" to the Stanford defense for making big plays and keeping the Cardinal in this game.
8:18 - To start this Stanford series, we have a new tailback. Redshirt junior Jason Evans is in the backfield and carries for four yards on first down. This is Evans' first action on offense since his fumble in the opener at Oregon. He needs to protect the ball and help this offense.
8:18 - Evans carries again, this time showing some nice power to carry a tackler and picking up five tough yards. The Cardinal are very determined to run the ball tonight.
8:19 - No mystery here with an I-formation and two tight ends (redshirt freshman Erik Lorig, a nice run blocker, is in the game). It's a quarterback keeper, and something doesn't look right... But somehow Edwards gets two yards. Fortunate spot or did I just view the play poorly?
8:21 - Two more plays (short pass to Lynn and a Nnoli run) pick up another first down. It's modest progress, but the Cardinal have the ball at the 42-yardline.
8:22 - Something was botched on that play. A shotgun snap to Edwards where he doesn't look ready and others on the offensive line don't move. He rolls out but is sacked. I have to guess that redshirt sophomore center Alex Fletcher snapped that ball early, which is not a "snap count" issue if you are in the shotgun. Hmm.
8:23 - Wow - Edwards quick kick. I didn't see that coming, even after Edwards did it last week. The kick is low but gets a great roll down to the 12-yardline. Edwards as the next Randall Cunningham? Oh, I crack myself up... That goes 54 yards after his 56-yarder last week. Ottovegio's job is in jeopardy.
8:26 - On second down, Olson has the pocket collapse around him and scrambles. This guy is a good athlete, but he looks totally lost trying to run there. That's good news for Stanford, able to stop him a couple yards short of the marker.
8:27 - Doesn't matter. Markey rips off a 15-yard run up the middle. He looked like he might go the distance, if Lofton did not wrap him up.
8:29 - Redshirt sophomore defensive end Pannel Egboh beats his blocker - if this game was played during the day, he would have blocked out the sun from Olson's view. But Egboh leaps over and past the quarterback, allowing Olson to run ahead and pick up a huge 18 yards and a first down. That is simple youthful exuberance and inexperience on Egboh's part. His body was ready to make the play, but his brain thwarted him. He had an easy monster sack and should have swallowed Olson.
8:31 - Big pickup on 3rd & 8 by Olson, passing for 12 yards for a first down. Sims was right there and actually made a great play on the ball. I thought he was going to break it up. Though Stanford has had pressure on several plays, there was no pass rush that time and Olson had way too long to find his target.
8:35 - After a UCLA timeout, Markey runs on 2nd & 7 but is stopped by Powers and Okwo. That sets up 3rd & 4 with less than two minutes to go in the half on the Stanford 13-yardline. BIG play coming up... Stanford calls a timeout. Not sure why. Somebody not lined up properly?
8:37 - We're back and Stanford is ready for the pass. Olson has time and finds Breazell coming across the middle. Okwo blasts him right away, but the Bruin holds onto the ball for the first down. Big pickup for UCLA.
8:38 - UCLA is running Markey on first and second down with goal to go... They cannot get in and burn a timeout. 3rd & Goal just outside the one... Boy, it will feel like a world of difference whether Stanford gives up the touchdown or forces a field goal attempt. The Cardinal have done nothing this year to inspire confidence that the defense can make this stop, but they have done some new and surprising things in this game.
8:40 - UCLA gets too fancy? Olson fakes to Markey, who dives over the top and does cross the goalline. Stanford follows the fake, and Olson misses long with an ugly toss into the endzone.
8:41 - This is why almost every member of the Bruin Nation wants Karl Dorrell fired. UCLA runs a slow-developing sweep to the right, which is met by a swarm of the Stanford defense. Markey is forced out of bounds like a scout team scrub at the two. This guy is the #1 rusher in the Pac-10, by the by. Turnover on downs. Stanford is still down just 7-0. Huge stop.
8:43 - Well, Dorrell does one thing not dumb here. He calls a timeout once Stanford takes possession. Why? Because the new rule this year winds the game clock to start a possession as soon as the play clock winds. With Stanford pinned back by its own endzone, they would love to not run a play and jog into the locker room. There is no room to take a kneel-down, so there is some risk of a miscue for a safety or turnover. Dorrell is at least going to force them to run one non-kneel play... Edwards keeps the ball leaning forward behind his offensive line. That's good enough to get the Cardinal into the half. And trailing just seven points is not a bad place to be for this team on the road as 24-point underdogs. They have made lots of plays, and the defensive goalline stand is the event of the year thus far for Stanford (and the defense in particular).
9:05 - Stanford will receive the kickoff and have the ball on offense to start this half. I questioned deferring the ball to the second half earlier, but it looks like that all worked well in the first half. Shows what I know. Stanford has to love the opportunity to come out of the locker room with momentum and an immediate opportunity to go score on offense. I bet the mood in the locker room this halftime has been FAR better than the last two weeks.
9:06 - Ray Jones takes the kickoff out to just the 15-yardline. Boy, this KOR unit is bery, bery bad. Not the field position Stanford wanted to continue its emotional upswing from the finish to the second quarter.
9:06 - Hmm, Stanford opens with a single-back look. Gerhart carries for three yards, but I wonder what is up Walt Harris' sleeve this half. With just 69 total yards in the first half against a very stout defense, something needs to change.
9:09 - On third and short, Edwards finds Nnoli out of the backfield for a facile first-down pickup (six yards).
9:10 - After an incomplete pass on first down, it looks like Edwards will be buried... but that is only because Gerhart released his block on what was a screen pass. Edwards takes a lick but gets the ball off, and Gerhart darts ahead for 14 yards.
9:11 - Ooh, that was a scary moment. A bubble screen to Lynn is bobbled and nearly intercepted for a big play. Lynn hauls the ball back in and picks up yards to set up third and short. Collective Cardinal sigh of relief.
9:13 - Strange play on third down. Edwards hits Lynn at the marker, and he is tackled while UCLA linebacker Christian Taylor strips it and rolls away with the ball. The officials don't know what to call... The replay shows that the ball never touched the ground, so it is a reception and first down or a turnover. I think Lynn's knee is down before the ball changes hands. This is a big moment in the game.
9:14 - The booth officials have reviewed the play and finally call it UCLA's ball. That's a crucial call against the Cardinal and probably the wrong call. There just is no luck for Stanford in 2006. Lynn, however, has to hold onto the ball. Another miscue by an inexperienced Card.
9:16 - Well, UCLA cannot do anything with the ball. It's three and out, with a near sack on second down and near interception on third down.
9:17 - The Bruins punt and Hobbs has his second return of the year - another short jaunt for one? yard. But more important is UCLA's personal foul penalty, which is as good as a 15-yard return. The "turnover" took away a strong drive and good field position for Stanford, but it's still a seven-point game with 25 minutes to go in the game. Stanford has been in much worse positions the last two weeks.
9:21 - Evans is in the backfield for this second series of the second half. It's a pitch, and Edwards runs behind Nnoli and freshman wide receiver Austin Yancy to get eight yards. Modest but nice play.
9:23 - The story of the Stanford offense - nothing open and a blocker breaks down. This whiff is reserve tackle and redshirt sophomore Ben Muth. Edwards is sacked on third down, and Stanford has to punt. The defense is making stands and plays. Remember that the touchdown was on the head of the special teams. But will this offense score at all? Could this be a second straight shutout loss for the Cardinal in the Rose Bowl (2004 = 21-0)? A seven-point loss might - MIGHT - be some form of moral victory for Stanford given where they have been thus far this season, but a 7-0 loss will have its own sour sting.
9:26 - Markey runs for UCLA on first down, but he is stood up and then moved rapidly backward by Okwo. What a player. He's playing at home for the last time in college (and maybe forever with no NFL team in L.A.), and he's bringing it.
9:27 - Right there is the difference (other than the blocked punt) between Stanford and UCLA tonight. Despite the stutters on some plays, the Bruins have been able to pick up some sizable chunks on offense. A completion from Olson to tight end Logan Paulson on the sideline yields 20 yards and a first down. Stanford's longest pass completion all game thus far was the 14-yard screen to Gerhart. UCLA has had plenty of plays for more yards.
9:28 - This might be the beginning of the end. UCLA's number two tailback Kahlil Bell runs out to the right and up the sideline for 32 yards. The Bruins are down to the Stanford 13. They're knocking at the door.
9:30 - Olson hits Paulsen on 2nd & 8, with the tight end lunging forward after he is off-balance. That sets up 3rd & 1. This presents a short-yardage situation somewhat similar to the (in)famous finish to the first half...
9:31 - Markey runs into a defensive pile, and it takes a measurement. But the Bruins have the first down by a nose. That would have been a big stop, but now UCLA has another set of cracks at the endzone. More than a cliché, football is indeed a game of inches.
9:32 - Fullback Michael Pitre gets the carry on 1st & Goal from the three. He picks up just a yard.
9:32 - Now it's freshman tailback Chane Moline, and he waltzes into the endzone with a big hole opened by his offensive line. That is a huge touchdown for the Bruins, and Stanford now has zero margin for error on offense. Given their proclivity for empty productivity and the strength of the Bruins' defense, I expect this game just left the Cardinal's clutches. UCLA 14, Stanford 0.
9:35 - It has to be repeated that the "turnover" called on the Lynn reception-and-strip enabled that touchdown drive. Stanford was driving and could very well have scored at least a field goal themselves. That is a big, big swing by the zebras. The ruling of the Gerhart "fumble" last week stung pretty hard, but this one will be much more painful when we look back after the game.
9:36 - A touchback on the kickoff. That's Stanford's best "return" tonight!
9:36 - First down is a seven-yard catch and run on the sideline by freshman wide receiver Richard Sherman. Quick drop and pass by Edwards, letting Sherman run with the ball behind blocking. That's a good answer to the sacks.
9:37 - Next play is the same, but reversed to the left side of the field. Sherman this time has to break an open-field tackle before picking up seven yards and the first down.
9:38 - An incompletion by Edwards, but I like it. Why? The pocket was fracturing and pressure was coming, so he threw it near Gerhart rather than take the sack. That's better.
9:39 - Third down, and this time as nobody is open and the protection starts to weaken, Edwards scrambles loose to his right. He has one defensive lineman in front of him, but Fletcher hauls ass to get out and neutralize the Bruin. Edwards is able to run free for the first down at the sideline, untouched. 11 yards on 3rd & 11. How many times have Stanford players been able to make a play when the offense breaks down? That's something to celebrate, even if it merely pushes the ball out to the Stanford 45.
9:42 - Sherman is making his mark this drive. Edwards hauls it high down the left sideline, and Sherman goes up and beats his defender for the ball. Nice athletic play, and it nets 29 yards - the biggest offensive gainer for Stanford today. That moves the ball to the UCLA 26. Can the Card answer?
9:43 - Very next play, Sherman is on the right side and Edwards throws another jump ball. This is a little more underthrown, and Sherman does not make any decent play on the ball. It is picked off by Trey Brown at the goalline. The runback gets another 15 yards when Dray hits the Bruin out of bounds... Is it any mystery? Turnovers are the king cause of Cardinal woes on offense this year. The phenomenon is so hard to believe because that was the offense's greatest strength just last year... Unfortunately, that was an obviously freshman mistake on Sherman's part. He can be a playmaker, but he is young and it showed painfully on that play. Kudos for the plays he made earlier in the drive, but the turnover trumps them all.
9:48 - Stanford is able to stop UCLA with a three-and-out. Man, the defense is doing their part tonight. Shades of 2004 and 2005, if you ask me.
9:49 - Hobbs gets crushed after catching the punt. He had not returned a punt the previous three games, including a mixture of balls he let drop and others he fair caught. Did somebody give him orders to not wave fair catches and instead do anything he can to attempt a return? Sure looks like it. Or he is just starting to get a little confidence.
9:50 - Walt Harris talked a little this week about Edwards needing to be better at feeling the pass rush. It was a reference to the blindside sacks he took last week, but this time a guy comes from the right side, at his face, and Edwards saw and did nothing. Another sack.
9:51 - That time, Edwards has to scramble and is caught from behind. Three-and-out for the Stanford "O." We are into the fourth quarter, by the way, and time is ticking away. It looks like the defense has finally stood tall, and the offense has all the blame squarely on its shoulders in this soon-to-be defeat.
9:54 - UCLA starts on their own 39 after a blocking penalty on the punt return, but it takes just one play to move into Stanford territory. Olson rolls left and hits Breazell on the sideline. He runs and picks up 21 yards. There are those chunks again. It has been sporadic, which is why UCLA only has seven offensive points through three-plus quarters, but it is much more than Stanford has mustered.
9:55 - Speaking of 2004, isn't this the point in the game where a very valiant Stanford defensive effort melts down in the late minutes after the offense leaves them on the field too many times and for too many minutes?
9:56 - In case you were worried that Stanford is not blitzing and taking enough chances on defense, they bring a bunch on this play. Olson fires it deep and has Austin open but overthrows him in the endzone. They got away with it, but the scene is a reminder of the risk that comes with gambling blitzes.
9:57 - Olson again throws too long in the endzone, but it again is due to Stanford's pass rush. Did you think you could hear that this year?
10:00 - After a Stanford timeout (alignment problem on defense?) Olson is pressured and is only able to dump it off short to the left sideline. Bell is swarmed by Lofton and Osaisai and stopped short of the marker.
10:01 - UCLA hits the 23-yard field goal - no doubt. That's a big kick because it makes this a three-score game. The chances of Stanford ever getting two scores (or one) are super slim, but in college football calculus it is an important margin.
10:04 - Time to rescind all of my previous praise to Ray Jones for his little jolt to the kickoff return game last week. He has not passed the 20 this week, and he just made his worst gaffe by far right here. He fields the kickoff a yard or two deep and starts to step forward. He halts himself, but his foot already crossed the goalline. Realizing that he has lost the touchback, Jones has to scramble against a rush of Bruins to avoid a safety. He makes it just to the four-yardline. Special teams has been brutal all day (again), and it just dug Stanford a deeper hole.
10:06 - There is a big first down hitting Sherman in the middle of the field. His misplay on the ball at the goalline cost the Cardinal dearly, but he is in the game and staying in the game because he is making more plays than Lynn did. That is the third time in five games this year where one of those two has started/played early but been passed by the other.
10:07 - Of course the last gasp of any hope should end on a Stanford turnover. Edwards throws right into the arms of safety Chris Horton for the fourth? (if you count the punt block) turnover of the day.
10:10 - UCLA has the ball to start at the Stanford 38-yardline... On 3rd & 6, Olson hits tight end Ryan Moya on the left sideline just shy of a touchdown. For fans who bet on either side of this game, the final outcome is not in doubt but the margin sure is. If you picked up either team with a 23.5-point spread, this stand / touchdown is all the difference.
10:11 - Moline moves into the endzone for the second time tonight. UCLA 24, Stanford 0... You know what? Stanford really did some good things on defense tonight, and this feels like a better performance than the 2004 game in Pasadena. However, the result on the scoreboard is now worse. Given just how excruciatingly awful that game two years ago was, the scoreboard tonight is a stinging realization. It speaks to how costly turnovers are and how much special teams can torpedo the outcome.
10:14 - On the ensuing kickoff, Jones is still back there. Surprising. But where else can you turn? He takes a knee for a touchback, which must net mock cheers from some jaded Cardinalmaniacs™ watching tonight.
10:15 - Stunning. On first down, with the game now well out of reach, Edwards is hit with a sandwich sack, including defensive end Justin Hickman poking the ball loose. A defensive tackle picks it up and runs the short distance for a touchdown. UCLA 31, Stanford 0. The turnover machine is now a deafening joke. Redshirt freshman Chris Marinelli was in at right tackle and gave the worst impression of a blocker we have seen this year. Redshirt sophomore Allen Smith at left tackle blocked Hickman for a moment but let him through as well. I tell you what - the tackles have had MAJOR problems these past couple weeks and are not improving. There needs to be an examination the coaching at that position, and I am not one to casually make those statements.
10:18 - Mercifully, Edwards is out of the game. But where is the mercy for redshirt junior quarterback T.C. Ostrander, who has to take his place? On the one hand, I feel sorry for Edwards because of the terrible play around him on offense. On the other hand, he is making more and more mistakes of his own. He could and would be a national golden boy quarterback if given a decent supporting cast, but Edwards is nevertheless melting down and should shoulder a significant share of the blame for this night.
10:20 - The pass protection was good the first three games. How did it turn south so dramatically? Ostrander is met by much of what Edwards endured, going three-and-out including a big nine-yard sack on third down. Whatever progress they made in the off-season and during August training camp, the Cardinal O-line appears these last two games to have reverted fully to 2002-05 form.
10:22 - UCLA is running out the clock and has put Patrick Cowan into the game at quarterback. He goes three and out. Third down is a pass to Moline, who is hit so hard by Okwo that the Stanford senior's helmet flies off.
10:26 - The game is mercifully over, with Ostrander throwing an incompletion short while attempting a hurry-up offense. A 31-point defeat is hard to swallow in the wake of such an improved defensive effort. The offensive line is now back to "lethal liability" form. Special teams still stink. And there is as much chance of a turnover as a punt whenever the offense possesses the ball... The other part that stings is that Stanford lost by a sizable margin a second straight week to what looks like a completely unimpressive team. Washington State last week had loads of miscues and turned the ball over several times, yet they ran away with the game. This Bruin offense had a better back in Markey but a similarly middling quarterback performance and their share of turnovers and brain-dead coaching. 31-0 to this crew is appalling.
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