Bad, Sweat & Tears

It was a hot Saturday night in Tempe, but the Cardinal never really caught fire, getting scorched by the Solar Satans of #14-ranked Arizona State by the score of 41-17. Stanford was still very much in the game in the third quarter and the score could have been a lot closer, but in all honesty, we were beaten by a superior opponent on this sweaty night to forget.

Here is a quick recap of Saturday night's disappointing loss to the 14th-ranked ASU Sun Devils

The Good: 

  • QB Tavita Pritchard led the offense on a terrific touchdown drive on the Cardinal's first possession, one of the finest, most confidence-inspiring drives he has produced in his career. 
  • Redshirt sophomore running back Toby Gerhart ran hard and while he only picked up 67 yards on 16 carries and never broke loose for a big gain, he did score both of the Cardinal's touchdowns and was responsible for many of the team's third-down conversions. Had the game unfolded differently and we hadn't been forced to throw, Toby would have easily gone over 100 yards. After having concerns about his durability, it was rather reassuring to see him running hard and moving the pile. The running game was not our problem.
  • We threw short to the backs on several occasions, with clear success. We see no reason why this should not be continued
  • Team leader and stud linebacker Clint Snyder, whose number was rarely called last week against OSU, finally uncoiled a big-time play, sacking the living daylights out of the Devil's outstanding QB Rudy Carpenter and causing a fumble recovered by Stanford
  • Sophomore running back Jeremy Stewart, who normally would not be my preference for returning kicks, had two very nice returns (including a 55-yarder) filling in for injured Corey Gatewood
  • We did not have any kicks blocked. 
  • We did not lose any fumbles. 
  • We suffered just one sack in 31 pass attempts
  • Other than to pride, we did not seem to suffer any other major injuries (pending the Pannel Egboh and Richard Sherman assessments).

The Bad:

  • To call Jason Forcier's series unproductive would be an understatement. I like the guy, but he wasn't going to be our momentum-turner tonight. Alex Loukas looks a little better out there, but has got to work on telegraphing his passes less. After watching our three QBs struggle tonight, one has to believe the Andrew Luck redshirt topic has to be, at a minimum, on the table. 
  • A miserable total of three first downs by passing is simply not acceptable.
  • Linebacker Pat Maynor's roughing-the-passer penalty, giving ASU another set of downs as the half was winding down and allowing the Devils to extend their lead to 20-10 instead of 13-10 at the half, certainly did not help our cause.
  • Doug Baldwin's only punt return caromed off his should pads and fortunately was recovered by alert true freshman Johnson Bademosi.

The Ugly:

  • Having Cal go up to Pullman and have running back Jahvid Best go for 200 yards on 14 carries and help the Bears come away with a 66-3 win. 
  • We haven't had time to analyze the numbers, but I really wonder whether in the entire history of our program Stanford has ever had a higher ratio of pass interference calls in our favor to team receiving yards. 
  • Stanford's average pass yards per attempt was well under four, which is.... not going to lead to success.
  • Some of our tackling was really hard to watch. I will pick on Pat Maynor only because he is a senior, the guy is very good, and he made plenty of solid plays tonight. However, Pat won't want to watch the one play in which he pushed/jarred, but didn't actually attempt to tackle an ASU receiver. Expect this calling out of Maynor to result in an outstanding performance against TCU!
  • Richard Sherman. No, not because of any lack of effort. The "bad" part was seeing the only serious playmaking threat in our receiving corps struggle to get up to speed against a lingering knee problem. The "ugly" part was seeing him carried off the field. Even if he is ok, having his availability for the remainder of 2008 even come into question was enough to make Cardinalmaniacs™ physically ill contemplating how listless the Stanford offense would be without its most dangerous weapon.
  • No matter how you spin it, the final score of 41-17 just doesn't look good for a team seeking to resurrect its standing in the eyes of college football fans (and of our undecided recruits, of course).

OK, so we are 1-1. Not so bad. We were not expected to waltz on down to the desert, take on the #14 team in the country in 100° heat and come away with a victory. Sure, it could have been prettier, and getting outgained 469-227 was a bit humiliating, but screw it, a loss is a loss. Coach Harbaugh won't let the kids get down. On we go to TCU. Go Cardinal! Beat the Horny Frogs.

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