Stanford 101: Lots of short passes expected

IF THE COUGARS think they are feeling low after the loss to Oregon State, Stanford feels worse. The Card barely survived a shootout with Navy in their opener, only to be humiliated by division I-AA UC-Davis the following week. To put the Davis loss into perspective, this is a program that only recently moved up from Division II, and has only 35 scholarship players on its roster. The Aggies have since lost to Portland State and New Hampshire, so it's not a matter of Davis being underrated.

Cougars vs. Stanford
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
2 p.m. Pacific Time

WHERE:
Martin Stadium

TELEVISION:
None

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
WSU by 13 1/2

THE SERIES:
Stanford leads 31-23-1. Last year WSU lost 23-17

CF.C PREDICTION:
Cougars 35, Card 21


The fact that Stanford not only lost to them, but also was out-gained 361 yards to 192, speaks volumes about the problems facing the folks down on The Farm.

Stanford's starting offense and defense consists of 21 out of 22 upperclassmen --- eight seniors and three juniors on offense, six seniors and four juniors with only one sophomore on defense. But the Cardinal has not yet clicked with the new schemes and coaching staff and the Cardinal come to Pullman to face a very grumpy Cougar team looking to vent some frustration.

THE CARDINAL ON OFFENSE

Players to Know:
Trent Edwards, QB: Edwards was one of the top recruits in the nation in 2001 but has thrown far more interceptions than touchdowns in his career. He has battled a hand injury most of this season and has been slow to pick up the west coast offense. So this season in two games plus a few snaps in another in which he was injured, he has thrown for just 400 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions.

Mark Bradford, WR: Bradford was a monster recruit out of high school with fantastic size and speed. But he has only shown glimpses of his potential at the collegiate level. Since flanker Evan Moore suffered a dislocated hip, he has been Stanford's only significant playmaker with 161 receiving yards.

Anthony Kimble, RB: Kimble started the season as a receiver, but proved to be a serviceable running back so he will get the start this week. He splits carries with Jason Evens but both have been the victims of poor offensive line play and halftime deficits this year. The pair has averaged 93 yards per game and only 3.5 yards per carry.

Overview: New coach Walt Harris was supposed to bring the West Coast offense with him from Pittsburgh, but it apparently didn't make the trip (although he clearly didn't leave it behind for Dave Wannstedt). The Cardinal line has under performed in the new system and Edwards has failed to live up to the Elway-esque expectations his fans had for him. This is the same line that beat the Cougs last year, but the Harris system focuses on short, high percentage passes, which hasn't forced defenses to respect the deep ball at all. Stanford also had one of the worst rushing offenses in the country last year and little appears to have changed. As a result defenses tend to suffocate the Cardinal offense as the game progresses.

Strategy: This is an offense that never actually got into the end zone against UC-Davis, so the Cougs shouldn't need to play it overly cautious. Bradford is a legitimate playmaker, but no one else has diverted a defense's focus since WR Evan Moore got injured. Containment is the name of the game, as this offense doesn't look to have the firepower to win the kind of shootout the Cougars will dictate.

THE CARDINAL ON DEFENSE

Players to Know:
Julian Jenkins, DE:
Jenkins remains one of the better ends in the Pac-10. He averages nearly a sack per start, but is also a solid run stopper at 275 pounds.

Kevin Schimmelmann, LB: Schimmelmann averages 10 tackles per game and leads the team with two sacks. He has been a solid contributor on a disappointing Stanford D.

Babatunde Oluwasegn Temitope Oluwakorde Adisa Oshinowo Jr., NT: Oshinowo clogs the middle with his 320 pound frame and clogs the airwaves when announcers try to pronounce his full name.

Overview: In a conference filled with young defenses and poor secondaries this season, Stanford may be the worst. Stanford is surrendering over 470 yards per game this season including 320 through the air. Even comparatively weak offenses like Navy and UC-Davis have moved the football with ease against the Cardinal. Stanford operates from a 3-4 formation.

Strategy: If Brink and the Cougs want to throw for 500 yards per game, Stanford doesn't appear in much of a position to stop them, as coaches have unable to make any adjustments to fix the pass defense. The Cougs might try to turn the game into a track meet. The key will be avoiding the costly turnovers that killed the Cougs last week.

THE CARDINAL ON SPECIAL TEAMS
You know you are a bad team when your kick-returner leads the team in all-purpose yards. T.J. Rushing averages an impressive 34-plus yards per return and is one of the few bright spots on the team. Kicker Michael Sgroi has converted only 62 per cent of his field goal attempts and punter Jay Ottovegio is averaging just 38 yard per punt.

INJURY REPORT
WSU: LB Will Derting (knee), DT Ropati Pitoitua (leg), DE Adam West (concussion) are out. WRs Jason Hill (quadriceps) and Chris Jordan (hip pointer), CBs Alex Teems (shoulder) and Omowale Dada (knee), DE Lance Broadus (shoulder), P Kyle Basler (flu), Jacob McKinney (knee) are all probable with Hill a game time decision.

Stanford: WR Justin McCullum (questionable, ankle), Center Brian Head (questionable, undisclosed), WR Evan Moore (doubtful, hip), Casey Carroll (out, knee)

FINAL THOUGHTS
Harris was a nice head coaching pick for the Cardinal, but he is a notoriously slow builder and has a career record below .500. He didn't finish with a winning record till his fourth year at Pitt, so it should be several years before he can rebuild the Cardinal to a significant threat in the Pac-10. With no UW on their schedule and the match up against Arizona coming on the road, it would not be a surprise for them to go winless the rest of the season. The Cougs just need to put this old mule out of its misery and get back on track for a bowl game.

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