Card Grind Out Win

Saturday's 16-6 win over Arizona was a very different game than any we have seen for Stanford football this season. The defense put so much pressure on Arizona so as to put the Cats in repeated 3rd and long situations, while Stanford controlled the tempo and clock throughout. The offense was up and down but with a minimum of turnovers got the job done.

It's amazing how much better an ugly win looks than an ugly loss.  A hard fought 16-6 victory over Arizona (who came into the game 0-2 in the Pac-10) may not look might much, but I think all Cardinalmaniacs™ will take it.

Chris Lewis was highly criticized last week for running out of bounds short of the sticks on fourth down.  He was pulled by Coach Teevens after that maligned play.  Teevens' tactic worked. Facing 3rd and 5 on the opening drive, Lewis went back to pass but quickly decided to run the ball up the middle and picked up six yards and the first down.  Then, after two consecutive incompletions, Lewis called his number again on third and ten and made it to the outside, gaining 26 to the Arizona 30.  After driving down to the 12 yard line, Stanford was dinged for an untimely personal foul.  The drive then bogged down and Mike Sgroi kicked a 45 yard field goal to give Stanford an early 3-0 lead.

The Cardinal offense was given a short field to work with following an interception by Stanley Wilson who returned it 52 yards to the Wildcat 17 yard line.  Two plays later, Lewis found Alex Smith in the end zone for a 12 yard touchdown.  After scoring 10 quick points in the opening 7:47, the game appeared to be transforming into a shoot out.  However, it turned into anything but that.

Leading 10-3 in the second quarter, Stanford seemed poised to strike again inside the red zone.  But once again a penalty, this time a holding call, moved the Cardinal back.  Then, Lewis was sacked.  Sgroi attempted a 40 yard field goal, only to miss wide left.

The Wildcats threatened to tie the game late in the first half.  Starting at their 33 and working with 3:55 on the clock, they promptly marched down the field.  Four plays into the drive, Juan Valentine raced 22 yards to the Stanford 32.  However, facing 3rd and 8 at the 11 yard line, Arizona could only pick up 5 yards.  With two seconds remaining in the half, Bobby Gill kicked his second field goal of the day to draw Arizona within four at 10-6.

Stanford initiated the second half with a 16 play, 70 yard, 6:59 drive which was capped by a 27 yard field goal.  After limiting Arizona on their next possession to one first down, the Cardinal offense proceeded to march inside the 10 yard line again.  However, Kyle Matter, who came into the game after Lewis suffered a minor shoulder injury, was picked off by Lance Briggs in the end zone.  Still, Stanford was able to run a substantial amount of time off the clock again, this time burning 5:56.

Nursing a seven point lead, the Stanford defense would need to step up once again.  After Babatunde Oshinowo sacked Jason Johnson, Oshiomogho Atogwe made in interception, giving Stanford a 1st and 10 at their own 13 yard line.

Once again, the Cardinal offense responded with a lengthy drive.  On the ensuing possession, they ran the ball a grand total of 14 times while only passing twice, running 9:06 off the clock in the process.  Sgroi continued his big day by completing the drive with a field goal from 21 yards out.  When it was all said and done, only 2:21 was left on the game clock, effectively ending any chance of a Wildcat comeback.

While Stanford suffered from two penalties inside the red zone, they did show significant improvement in this department.  They committed a total of four penalties for the game for 35 yards.  The defense did a much better job providing pressure on the quarterback, which resulted in six sacks for a loss of 58 yards.  Alex Smith led the offense with eight catches for 120 yards and Stanford's lone touchdown on the day.

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