Unbeaten Cardinal "Teev"ing with Confidence

Following a disastrous 2-9 season, armed with only three returning offensive starters and faced with a daunting 2003 schedule, the reign of Stanford's head coach Buddy Teevens was already being whispered about in the past tense before the start of his second season.

Stanford (0-0, 2-0) at #18 Washington (0-0, 2-1)
Saturday, September 27 - 12:35 PM (PDT) - No live TV
Husky Stadium - Seattle, WA
Series All-time: Washington leads, 38-32-4
Last Meeting: November 3, 2001 - Washington 42, Stanford 28
Line: Washington by 14

Most pundits figured that the Cardinal would likely drop three of their first four; interest would fade as soon as hoops season drew near, and any post-September Stanford football talk would revolve around Tyrone Willingham's return to The Farm on November 29 when Notre Dame comes to call.

Buddy Teevens
(Getty Images)
So here it is, nearing post-September - and Teevens' Cardinal have already equaled last year's win total, finding itself 2-0 after breezing past San Jose State and then coming up with a huge defensive stand late in Saturday's thrilling 18-14 win in Provo over BYU. It's only the fifth time in the last 30 years that Stanford has won its first two, and Teevens didn't discount the feat at his weekly presser. "Our guys worked very hard in the off season and our 2-0 record has affirmed their work ethic," notes Teevens. "Everybody has a role on this team, and they are proving to be a very unselfish group."

"We're still a work in progress," Teevens underscores with well-intentioned coach-speak. "But there's no question this team is committed to doing what it takes to become a winner. Our guys are excited to move on to league play this weekend - Washington has a great football team and is well deserving of its national ranking."

Keith Gilbertson
John Elway was just another Port Angeles eighth-grader when Stanford last won in Husky Stadium – a streak spanning 11 games and 28 years. Overall, Washington has won 15 of the last 16 meetings between the two schools. Last time the teams met in Seattle the Huskies survived a 42-28 shootout, but Husky coach Keith Gilbertson acknowledges that this Cardinal team has a different look than your typical Stanford perception. "They are more athletic defensively than they have been," said Gilby, "and they've got to be playing some pretty good run defense, too."

Next week, both teams will be in Los Angeles, where Washington tests UCLA and Stanford faces the Trojan juggernaut. Being that this is the PAC-10 opener for both, and as far as confidence goes, Gilbertson chimes, "Are we ready for conference play? I hope so. We have to be, because we weren't a year ago.

"We are going to go out there and try not to make that same mistake."

Confidence. No doubt, at around 4:00 PM on Saturday, the winner is going to be taking a Bowl full next week to Tinseltown.

TEAM STATS:  24.5 points, 328.5 yards (154.0 rush, 174.5 pass)
             8-10 in the red zone (.800, 5 TD, 3 FG, 5th PAC-10)

RUSHING:     Kenneth Tolon 38-172-1 TD (4.5), long 18 
             J.R. Lemon 20-103-2 TD (5.2), long 23
PASSING:     Trent Edwards 31-60-4 (.517), 303 yards, 2 TD 
RECEIVING:   Luke Powell 17-187-2 TD (11.0), long 30
             Alex Smith 4-5-0 TD (1.3), long 9
             Greg Camarillo 3-30-0 TD (10.0), long 13

QB Trent Edwards
(AP/Douglas C. Pizac)
Ground Stanford? How weird does that sound? But after senior QB Chris Lewis came out mis-firing early against San Jose State, out trotted RS-freshman Trent Edwards, and the 6-4, 210-pounder proceeded to lead Stanford to 31 straight points and an easy victory. Edwards then won his starting debut against BYU, becoming the first Cardinal QB to do so since Steve Stenstrom in 1991 – though he completed only 10 passes for a grand total of 25 yards. The Los Gatos native won't be an easy target, though – he threw two nice bootlegs at the Cougars, one for a 14-yard score.

WR Luke Powell
(AP/Mark J. Terrill)
Edwards' main man will be do-it-all wide receiver Luke Powell. The fifth-year senior has 100 career receptions for 1,850 yards, and three of his 13 career scores have gone for over 70 yards. His 17 receptions this season – a dozen coming in the season opener against San Jose State - represent half of Stanford's team total. Powell remains one of the country's premier punt-returners after an All-American 2001 season in which he averaged 16 yards per return. The tight-end tandem of Alex Smith and Columbia River's Brett Pierce have combined for six receptions, and true freshman Mark Bradford has a 31-yard reception – on a double-pass play from Powell.

Junior running back Kenneth Tolon needs 132 yards to break 1,000 in his career – not bad considering he's been in the shadow of Kerry Carter. Tolon tallied 141 yards and one TD on a career-high 32 carries against BYU, and the Cardinal hope is that he can see it as often here in offensive coordinator David Kelly's one-back set. A high school All-American out of Georgia, sophomore J.R. Lemon is Stanford's short-yardage back at 225 pounds. Lemon posted career highs with 103 rushing yards and two scores against SJSU.

RB J.R. Lemon
(AP/Dino Vournas)
With the early departure of Kwame Harris to the NFL, it's a young offensive line, to be sure. Senior left tackle Kirk Chambers is bidding to become that rare player that starts in every game of a four-year career. But after that, the experience wanes quickly. Senior right tackle Mike Sullivan made his first career start against San Jose, but his injury forced RS-freshman Jon Cochran to spell him in Provo. Sophomore Center Brian Head is a former guard, and guards Ismail Simpson, David Beall and Jeff Edwards are all redshirt-freshmen, meaning Stanford could be starting three first-years on the front wall.

GAME OUTLOOK: Washington bothered Idaho's Michael Harrington in his first big-stadium start, and they figure to try and do the same to Edwards in his first conference start. It looks as if Teevens might be spoon-feeding the freshman, so look for plenty of Tolon and - like the Huskies do with Reggie Williams - getting the ball out to Powell as often as they can. The Cardinal will have to improve on last week's 2-for-16 showing on third downs.

TEAM STATS:     12.0 points, 287.5 yards (2.0 rush, 285.5 pass)
                1-3 in the red zone (.333, 1 TD, 0 FG, 1st PAC-10) 

TACKLES/TFL:    Trevor Hooper 13/2.0 
                Kevin Schimmelmann 11/2.0    
                Leigh Torrence 10/0.0

PASSES DEF/INT: Leigh Torrence 5/0
                Oshiomogho Atogwe 4/2 
                Stanley Wilson 3/1 

SACKS:          Jon Alston 2.0
                Jared Newberry 1.0
                Amon Gordon 1.0

Though the Cardinal welcomed back eight starters from a year ago, it is nevertheless one of youngest units in the PAC-10. Only two seniors grace co-defensive coordinators A.J. Christoff and Tom Williams' 22-man two-deep chart, and only one starts. But this speed-filled unit was expected to provide the early fireworks while a new offense was being broken in, and so far they've come through with flying colors – red and white, to be exact. Registering five sacks and five turnovers against BYU, it's apparent this defense likes to fly around.

S Oshiomogho Atogwe
(AP/Paul Sakuma)
Senior rush end Louis Hobson and the much-traveled defensive tackle Amon Gordon anchor the Cardinal front four. Gordon, the former Mariner High standout who zipped off to San Diego along with Teyo Johnson for their senior seasons, has six career sacks and is playing his third position in three seasons. Hobson, a two-year starter, seeks a breakout season as the end-crasher. Sophomore nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo had an impressive 23 tackles and three sacks as a reserve a year ago, and junior Will Svitek played both ways (DE and TE) in 2002, the first Cardinal to do so since Scott Frost nine years ago.

Stanford returns their top six linebackers from 2002, plus they have budding new stars in sophomore OLBs Kevin Schimmelmann and Michael Craven. Both Craven and junior Jared Newberry have fumble recoveries this season, while Schimmelmann and Newberry lead the way with 20 tackles between them. Sophomore reserve Jon Alston leads the Cardinal with two sacks – both coming in game-saving fashion during the final series at BYU. The middle is manned by two-year starter David Bergeron, who moved from the outside during the spring.

DB Stanley Wilson
(AP/Neal Hamberg)
Stanford recorded 28 pass breakups in all of 2002 – and has already wracked up 14 in the first two games of 2003. RS-freshman strong safety Trevor Hooper burst on the scene in Provo, recording 13 tackles to take over the team lead, while free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe picked off two passes against the Cougars. Junior corner Leigh Torrence has five pass breakups, and Stanley Wilson owns the other Cardinal interception.

GAME OUTLOOK: Now here's a double-take for you – Stanford's immovable object vs. Washington's unstoppable force. Stanford has allowed a total of FOUR yards rushing in two games – by far, tops in the nation. Granted, they were against teams that won't conjure up memories of the Four Horsemen. Meanwhile, Washington has rushed for 426 yards in its past two games – granted, they were against teams that won't conjure up memories of the 1991 Husky defense. So we'll get to see which entendre is the true aberration. The Cardinal played a lot of man defense against BYU – will they do the same against a much more seasoned Cody Pickett?

PLACEKICKING:  Michael Sgroi 3-5 FG (long 38), 4-5 XP
PUNTING:       Eric Johnson 14-42.7 (long 60), .286 inside the 20
KICK RETURNS:  Kenneth Tolon 2-31.0 (long 45), 0 TD
               Nick Sebes 1-52.0 (long 52), 0 TD
PUNT RETURNS:  Luke Powell 11-10.6 (long 68), 0 TD

As usual, Stanford has been excelling at the discipline. They average a nation-leading 38.0 yards per kickoff return, though granted it is on three kicks. Junior Nick Sebes has a 52-yard return in the books, and Powell returned a punt 68 yards in Provo to spark the Cardinal's comeback effort.

P Eric Johnson
(AP/Paul Sakuma)
Sophomore place-kicker Michael Sgroi has been a non-descript 12-20 on field goals in his two-year Cardinal career, including 4-for-8 outside of 40 yards. Senior punter Eric Johnson is off to a great start with a 42.7-yard average. He has ten 50-plus yard punts as a three-year starter, with a career-best effort of 64 yards. Stanford has yet to block a kick this season, and have had one field-goal try smothered.

GAME OUTLOOK: Not only does Stanford lead the NCAA in kick return average - they also lead the PAC-10 in kick return coverage. Meanwhile, Washington ranks dead last in the conference – there's a paper difference of 22 yards per kickoff between them. That's a chunk of field position Washington will have to buck up on.

How do we match-up against the STANFORD Cardinal ?
Category STANFORD Cardinal UW HuskiesNational LeaderPac-10 Leader
154 59 4 144.33 71 5 AFA 338 ORE 180.75
174.5 86 8 273.67 27 3 TEXTECH 439.33 OSU 306.75
328.5 86 8 418 42 4 AKRON 536 OSU 487.25
24.5 72 7 30.67 37 3 TEXAS 47.33 USC 39.67
2 1 1 115.67 38 8 STAN 2 STAN 2
Pass Eff.
88.08 5 1 95.04 15 2 SDSU 70.36 STAN 88.08
287.5 21 2 278.33 17 1 NEB 208 UW 278.33
12 9 1 18.33 42 6 FSU 7.5 STAN 12
40 18 4 36.53 46 7 USC 48.31 USC 48.31
10.64 45 5 6.7 94 8 ARMY 24.8 CAL 16.33
38 1 1 16.57 105 10 STAN 38 STAN 38
1 24 3 0 57 6 NAVY 2.33 USC 2
285.5 106 10 162.67 19 1 TEXAS 91.67 UW 162.67
Source: NCAA.org

KIBBLES AND BITS: Danger, Will Robinson! Stanford has won three of its last four conference openers, with two of those coming on the road. Their next four games are all against current Top-25 teams (Washington, USC, Washington State and Oregon) . . . The game also marks the return of three former Husky assistants now on the Stanford staff – Wayne Moses, Steve Morton and Tom Williams . . . Two of BYU's four sacks of Trent Edwards last Saturday came courtesy of former Husky Levi Madarieta . . . 47 of Stanford's 94-man roster are either true or redshirt freshmen. And in a bit of a geographical oddity, the Cardinal roster boasts 11 players from the state of Georgia . . . Seventeen different Huskies have at least one pass reception so far this year – and most likely will count two more before the season is out . . . Stanford is the only PAC-10 team that hasn't attempted a fourth down conversion . . . Surprisingly, lowly Arizona leads the PAC-10 in red zone percentage (5-for-5). Of course, their new non-flex defense has allowed 16 scores in 17 red zone entries . . . It's not often you see a place-kicker with a better field-goal percentage than extra points. But WSU's Drew Dunning is 13-14 on three-pointers and only 8-10 on PATs . . . Since when is getting NO votes in the ESPN/USA TODAY TOP-25 poll newsworthy? A quick glance at the very bottom of this weeks' "Others Receiving Votes" list heralds "Notre Dame, 0". Call me nit-picky, but isn't that a little like keeping Ted Williams on baseballs' "injured reserve" list, since he's being cryogenically preserved? . . . Luke Powell's 31-yard completion on a double-lateral wasn't the only Cardinal trick play last Saturday – Stanford also called a tackle-eligible, but the pass intended for Provo native Kirk Chambers sailed out of bounds. Said Chambers after, "If I didn't have 20 pounds of pads on, I might have had a chance to catch it" . . .

Dawgman.com Top Stories