BootAnalysis: Drive Charting: USC (2nd Half)

Another edition of our "drive charting" from Topher Anderson, football play-by-play announcer for student-run station KZSU Sports 90.1 FM. Editor's Note: This commentary occasionally offers views of the on-field performances of Stanford's exceptional student-athletes. Given the spectacular, historic upset of SC last Saturday, we really don't have many axes to grind this week! Down go the Trojans!

Stanford vs USC, 6 October 2007
  SECOND HALF
  DRIVE 1
  Line Dn Dist Formation R/P Gain Player Play
1 U43 1 10 Ace 2 wide R 2 Kimble Power R
Not even sure what this was supposed to be, as the wingback came to the inside on a block. As it is, the USC defensive line stands up the Stanford offensive line and Kimble's speed to the hole is all that gets him yardage.
2 U41 2 8 Ace 4 wide P Inc Moore Flood R
Lined up in the slot, Dray runs an out as Bradford goes upfield and Kimble goes into the flat. Tavita throws quickly, but it is high and long and deflected by Keith Rivers. A corner blitz on the other side, which leaves Sherman against a safety, takes too long to be effective.
3 50 3 8 I 3 wide P -9 Pritchard Sack
USC brings six on the play, including a linebacker and a safety. VERY large man Sedrick Ellis beats three blockers - Brewer, Marecic and Kimble - to make the sack. Tavita has no chance at throwing the ball after double-clutching in the pocket.
  RESULT Punt. RPP. 3/-7/1:26, 12:49. A three-and-out and a big punt return set up this drive, which was killed by the misfire on 2nd down. Before the punt, Chris Horn was honored as the student-athlete of the game. Great for him, although given the quality of these announcers I don't know if you want them honoring your academic achievements (they snidely suggest defensive tackle is a position for dummies).
  INTERCEPTION RETURN
  U28 3 1 I P Int Yancy Swing R
This play was supposed to be a crossing pattern to Patrick Turner going left to right. Kris Evans and Nick Macaluso bracket Turner's route, and Austin Yancy races to the outside in an unorthodox defensive scheme (to my eyes). It pays off - Booty slightly double-clutches the ball as he sees Turner is covered, and blindly throws to his fullback on a swing route. Yancy, standing for a full second right where the ball is throw, makes the pick and is gone. The color commentator is morose.
  RESULT Touchdown. The guys in the booth remark that USC safety Taylor Mays left the field limping on the drive. "Wait a minute, that appears to be Nick Sanchez." #2 on the wrong team. This sort of mistake would resurface later in the game.
  DRIVE 2
  Line Dn Dist Formation R/P Gain Player Play
1 S42 1 10 I R 2 Kimble Iso R
The line cannot hold their blocks against the speed of USC, and slow-developing tailback plays are failing to move the chains.
2 S44 2 8 Ace 4 wide P Inc Ladner Broken play
DE Lawrence Jackson shoots inside Marinelli, splitting the guard and tackle, and has the quarterback in his grasp. Tavita makes a nifty shift to counterbalance the defender, then spins away and rolls out right. Ladner looks open near the sideline, but the floating pass is knocked away by a defensive back.
3 S44 3 8 I 3 wide P -8 Pritchard Sack
The offensive coaches really had the wrong scheme in for this play. Muth assists Brewer with a blitz up the middle, leaving Dray to handle Ellis on his own. Dray gets away with holding and Ellis still blows right past him. Kimble doesn't even stand a chance. It's tough to ask a tight end to block one of the best defensive tackles in the country without any help. The play by play man notes that Ellis was voted best DL in the Pac-10 in a survey of conference offensive linemen.
  RESULT Punt. RPP. 3/-6/1:27, 9:31. Another run-incomplete pass-sack play sequence. Wopamo Osaisai makes a great play on the ensuing punt to wrap up the return man.
  DRIVE 3
  Line Dn Dist Formation R/P Gain Player Play
1 S22 1 10 I R 0 Kimble Zone L
More of the same; Stanford just can't push USC's defense backwards. Stanford gets a break with a personal foul against Southern California. The announcers first assume Bradford did something and "got away with it." The replay shows the USC safety shoving Bradford; Bradford says something to him, and then he slugs Bradford in the face mask.
2 S37 1 10 I P Int Bradford Post
After the play fake, Kimble throws a great block on Sedrick Ellis. Tavita sets and throws deep down the middle to Bradford who is covered by safety Taylor Mays. Mays has position on the play and makes the interception. Tavita gets the pick on the statsheet, but Bradford could have made a better effort on the ball. Still, I think the coaches will chalk this one up to acceptable risk - this was a low-percentage play to begin with, and the interception was as good as a punt (except it didn't give the defense much of a rest).
  RESULT Interception. RP. 2/15/0:26, 6:04.
  DRIVE 4
1 S25 1 10 Ace 2 wide P Inc Sherman Broken play
Tavita drops in the pocket, bounces away from a sure sack in a brilliant move, then rolls right and tosses an ill-advised pass into double coverage. I was prepared for some serious Taylor Mays suckup from the announcers, but the kid has actually made a lot of good plays. (Mays, incidentally, went to my rival high school.) At this point, Pritchard is 3 for 15 for 29 yards and one interception. That is about to change.
2 S25 2 10 Gun 4 wide R 4 Pritchard Iso draw L
The first appearance of the shotgun in the second half is designed to take advantage of Tavita's running ability. After a half-count pause in the backfield, Kimble gets a nice iso block on the OLB. Muth sucks his DE to the inside and out of the play. Speed of pursuit prevents a bigger gain, but it brings up a makeable 3rd-and-6.
3 S29 3 6 5 wide P 7 Moore In
With Moore lined up on the inside of a trips-right alignment, he runs downfield and slips inside the cornerback covering him. Tavita drops and throws over the middle, just long enough for first down yardage. His quick, decisive throw and good initial line play renders a USC stunt ineffective.
4 S36 1 10 Ace 2 wide R Int Stewart Toss sweep L
A corner blitz is on to the playside, but Ladner takes care of him. Bradford and Muth go downfield to run interference, while Moore blocks down on the OLB to open a lane. In a dynamic performance, Stewart spins off one tackler and drags another across the first down line.
5 S46 1 10 I P 15 Kimble PA out R
The pass protection is good after the play fake, but Lawrence Jackson gets through and nails Tavita right after the release. Bradford is double-covered on the play, but goes up with an elevation sensation to make the catch. The ball is put where only Bradford can get it or it flies out of bounds.
6 U39 1 10 I R 1 Kimble Iso
USC's rush defense is for real, swallowing up almost every Cardinal rushing play at the line. Wearing Weinberger's number, Brian Bulcke is in at fullback and makes a hit on Maualuga that probably surprised the accomplished Trojan linebacker.
7 U38 2 9 I P 37 Bradford Post
Looks like the same play as the interception - kudos to the staff for having the guts to use it again. Tavita playfakes and takes a shot under the chin from Jackson as he releases the ball. Bradford makes a better adjustment on this one and goes up to get it, landing at the 1. He calmly gets up and goes back to the huddle without any gesticulation. He's definitely in the zone now - as is the line. They are picking up blitz packages very well, and pass rushers are having to beat protection rather than go in untouched.
8 U1 1 G I tight R Int Kimble Zone
Kimble pounds into the line but gets hit from the side and stacked up. Just too much talent in the heart of USC's defense to hope a back can find a crease. End of quarter.
9 U1 2 G I tight R 2-TD Kimble Zone R
Kimble takes the handoff and sticks his nose into a rough-and-tumble pileup and dives forward for the score. Marecic blocks the corner on the outside, the only guy who could have made the play.
  RESULT Touchdown, 16-14 USC. PRPRPRPRR. 9/75/3:00. Pritchard is 3-for-3 after an incompletion on the first play of the drive. Kimble's dive is the first touchdown for Stanford's offense since Bradford's TD catch in the second quarter of the Oregon game. Harbaugh can be seen back-slapping and shouting "we needed that one!"
  DRIVE 5
  S30 1 10 Stanford penalty - Illegal substitution
1 S25 1 15 Ace 2 wide P 7 Sherman Flare R
Sherman gets a quick pass in the slot, and follows a block from the split end Moore to gain some yards.
2 S32 2 8 I R 5 Kimble Iso
For the first time this half, the line forces a draw with USC's defensive front. Marecic stones Maualuga, but Keith Rivers is unblocked on the play. I think that was a scheme issue rather than a missed block; Rivers was in an odd position to start the play.
3 S35 3 5 5 wide P 13 Bradford Broken play
This appears to be a deep pass play, until pressure forces Tavita out of the pocket. When Bradford comes out of his cut and notices the quarterback rolling to the left, he goes left as well, getting behind Maualuga and elevating to make a great catch. A brilliant job by both players to make something out of nothing. I think this was the "refuse-to-lose" play that really galvanized the offense.
4 U48 1 10 Ace 2 wide R 12 Stewart Toss sweep R
Stewart takes the toss and stays on the outside hip of the pulling guard Marinelli until he crosses the line of scrimmage, when he turns on the burst. Give Moore credit for a great seal block that kept inside pursuit out of the alley.
5 U36 1 10 I P 6 Pritchard Scramble
Stanford sends three men into the pattern; as Jackson closes in, Tavita feels the pressure and escapes to the right, resolutely tucking the ball and running out of bounds, helped along by a nice stalk-block downfield by Sherman.
6 U30 2 4 Ace 2 wide R 2 Stewart Zone dive
USC's defense had begun to look tired, but they rise up on this play, pounding the line and stacking up Stewart.
  U28 3 2 Stanford timeout (1)
7 U28 3 2 I R 0 Stewart Iso
There's only one fullback, and he meets two-and-a-half linebackers (one was partially blocked already) in the hole.
  U28 4 2 Placekick FG Made Belch 45 yards
Derek Belch's kick starts out to the right, but just fades over the upright for the conversion. USC's corner on the block unit jumped over the line a hair early, giving Stanford a first down if they take the penalty. They do. The foppishness and inattentiveness of the broadcast crew is on full display: "the kick was wide left, doesn't matter anyway as USC is called for offsides."
  U23 1 10 USC penalty - offsides (5 yards, first down)
8 U18 1 5 Ace 2 wide P 7 Ladner Bootleg L
Andrew Phillips in at LG for Brewer (ankle). A simple play, well-executed - Tavita fakes right and rolls left, finding Ladner open in the flat. Ladner makes contact with Rivers, spins in his grasp and pulls the linebacker forward over the first down marker. Ladner is tough; I propose a Stanford Dirt Dog designation for grinders on the team, with Ladner and Nick Sanchez as charter members and Mattran as well.
9 U11 1 10 I R 1 Kimble Iso
A hard-luck afternoon for Kimble, who just can't get a good hole for himself. This play is stacked up again at the line.
10 U11 1 10 Ace 4 wide R Inc Dray Pivot
Mattran does a great job fighting off Lawrence Jackson while Tavita fires over the middle to Dray. He's covered by a corner, a good matchup, but just drops the ball. Tavita's streak of six straight completions is over, but he's gone from 3-15-20 to 9-22-119, a gain of 99 passing yards, in two drives.
11 U11 1 10 Ace 2 wide R 1 Kimble Toss sweep R
Bradford can't seal one playside linebacker, forcing Marinelli to low-block him, and another backer gets through, forcing Kimble to the outside where he is forced out of bounds. If the play had worked as well as it did for Stewart earlier in the drive, Kimble might have scored.
  RESULT 26-yard field goal, 23-17 USC. PRPRPRRRRPR. Harbaugh's gutsy call to erase the 45-yard field goal set the tone for the rest of the game and gave the defense some much-needed rest. They would respond on the ensuing possession, picking off John David Booty for the third time to set up the deciding drive.
  DRIVE 6
1 U45 1 10 Ace 2 wide P Inc Sherman Dash right
Tavita fakes and rolls right, going deep into the end zone from midfield. Sherman is covered and makes a great defensive play to faceguard (which is legal in college) the defensive back and prevent an interception.
  U45 1 10 Ace 3 wide P Pen Sherman Comeback
Tavita doesn't spend much time in the pocket before escaping, rolling right and throwing on the run to Sherman. A USC DB runs Sherman over before the ball arrives, drawing an easy pass interference call. This is reminiscent of last week's penalty-filled defensive meltdown for USC against Washington, where only the Huskies' incompetence saved the game for Southern California.
2 U30 1 10 Ace 4 wide P 4 Stewart Halfback pass
Stewart takes the pitch at the 38, and looks to throw for an instant before he's pursued by a blitzing defensive back. He jump-stops away, runs past Sedrick Ellis and then runs out of a Rey Maualuga tackle to gain four yards. From an eight-yard sack to a four-yard gain, this is one of the hidden plays that saved the game for Stanford.
3 U26 2 6 I P 7 Pritchard Broken play
They could make a film called "Escape From The Pocket" about this game. Tavita steps up and to the left as pressure comes, pump fakes downfield and steps around a defender, running out of bounds just past the marker. In the first quarter, Tavita was caught from behind on this sort of play; this time, the USC defense is tired and he's able to get the first down.
4 U19 1 10 I P Inc Bradford Hairpin
Bradford runs downfield and cuts out and away from the defender; the ball is well-thrown, but the play on the ball is perfect and the pass is knocked away.
  S30 2 10 Stanford penalty - holding
5 U19 2 20 I 3 wide P Inc Moore Post
Kimble's great block on an outside rusher allows Tavita to get the pass away. The ball sails five yards beyond Moore, over the middle inside the 10.
6 U19 3 20 I 3 wide P Inc Moore Fade
The pocket holds very well for Tavita's throw to the left. Moore makes the catch, and gets one foot inbounds. He's called for illegal touching on the play - going out of bounds on his route and being the first player to touch the ball.
7 U19 4 20 Ace 3 wide P 20 Sherman In
Sherman is in the right slot. USC rushes four, and the pockets holds long enough for Tavita's five-step drop. USC drops into a cold zone; it's difficult to believe they didn't have a defensive back dedicated to covering Stanford's most dangerous open-field receiver. The pass is on target, and Sherman makes the grab while getting hit hard by Taylor Mays. He gets the spot he needs, just outside the 9-yard line, and after USC blows a timeout asking for a review, Stanford stays alive.
8 U9 1 G   R 4 Pritchard Bootleg run L
On a designed run, Tavita rolls left and cuts upfield. With one more move he might have been loose outside, but he dives forward for four yards and lives for another play.
9 U5 2 G Trips right P Inc Moore Vertical
Moore is in the middle of the trips on the right side and runs straight downfield into the end zone. Moore has a height advantage on all the defenders, but Tavita throws the ball late and Moore makes the catch in the air on his way out of the end zone.
10 U5 3 G I P Inc Moore Fade
The pass to Moore is long and to the inside, where the DB has position. Moore has had only one catch all game, but he makes a game-saving play here to knock the ball away from Terrell Thomas' hands.
  U5 4 G Stanford timeout (2)
  U5 4 G USC timeout (3)
  U5 4 G Stanford penalty - illegal substitution
11 U10 4 G Trips P 10 Bradford Fade
A stutter-step to the inside gets Bradford outside his corner. This time Tavita slightly underthrows the ball, giving Bradford the opportunity to stop and go up for it in front of the defender. He gets the ball at his highest point and gets the left foot down before falling out of bounds. A play that will live forever in Stanford history and could have been a career-making call is botched by the broadcast team: "Touchdown USC!...Stanford, touchdown Stanford! / Jim Harbaugh if you ask him is going to go for the tie here, he's holding up...obviously they're tied right now, he's going to go for the extra point / you've got to..." They also claim on replay that Bradford pushed off the defender, which is preposterous.
  RESULT Victory. 24-23 Stanford. PPPPPPPRPPP. 11/45/2:01. For all these pass plays, Tavita only completes two - both on fourth down. Great confidence by Harbaugh to put the ball in Tavita's hands almost every play of the drive.

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