Individual performances propel Card
Usually, I analyze football from a team perspective. In that light, Stanford's 244-140 rushing edge proved the difference Saturday, as I had predicted in my preview of the contest. Stanford was lucky to win in many ways -- they had fewer first downs, less time of possession, and 70 more penalty yards than the Huskies, but a 6.8 yards per carry average was too much for Washington to overcome.
And while that analysis would be wholly accurate, it would only tell part of the story. To my eyes, Saturday night was really about three players:
1. Jake Locker: As much as losing Toby Gerhart hurt the Cardinal, Jake Locker's loss hurt the Huskies five times more. Locker wasn't so much irreplacable through the air, where backup Ronnie Fouch threw for 186 yards and a score, as he was on the ground. The agile quarterback entered Saturday's contest with double the rushing yards of any of his teammates, so when Locker left the contest, Washington's rush game lost its only real rushing threat and went belly-up. Freshman David Freeman, who led with 65 yards, may be the answer in two years' time, but he simply wasn't ready Saturday.
2. Anthony Kimble: In marked contrast to Washington, when Stanford lost its best player, his replacement made his presence felt. Kimble has been waiting for an opportunity for the entire season and didn't disappoint. He finished with 157 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, one an 83-yarder that blew the game open in the third quarter.
3. Tavita Pritchard: Just like Kimble, Pritchard surely entered Saturday's contest with something to prove after a tumultuous first four games. 16-of-24 with 222 yards and three touchdowns later, Pritchard had most certainly quieted his critics for the week. He most impressed me by finding eight different receivers with his 16 completions. His ability to spread the ball allowed for Ryan Whalen to put together breakout performance of seven receptions, 76 yards and a touchdown, the first of his collegiate career.
Seeing players a line or two down on the depth chart, like Whalen and Kimble, enter games and shine when called upon is a great indicator of the health of this team. It suggests that the entire three-deep is working hard, not just the starters, and, in turn, that team chemistry and morale is strong. The season is long, and a brutal November stretch of USC, Oregon and Cal is going to test that chemistry, but right now, Stanford football looks to be in a pretty good place.
That's my take. Let's see what some other scribes thought about Saturday's final.
Anthony Kimble ran for a career-high 157 yards, including an 83-yard dash early in the second half and Stanford took advantage of a costly injury to Washington star quarterback Jake Locker in the Cardinal's 35-28 win over the Huskies.
helps deliver a huge ground game
Palo Alto Online
Anthony Kimble has run the same play dozens of times for a few yards here and there. On Saturday, a simple cut off the right tackle resulted in the biggest run of his career and put him squarely in the Stanford record books.
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