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Four-Down Territory: Stanford at Army

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Stanford will rely on the legs of Tyler Gaffney again in the rushing battle against Army. While this year might be a blowout, the series is tied at 5. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.
Stanford will rely on the legs of Tyler Gaffney again in the rushing battle against Army. While this year might be a blowout, the series is tied at 5. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

First Down

Army is the weakest opponent Stanford will face this year. Even Cal and Washington State have surprised by notching solid victories. The Black Knights (1-1) will face the No. 5 Cardinal (1-0) after Stanford's solid performance at home against San Jose State. They played good defense against a great pro-prospect quarterback in David Fales and produced offense in a workman-like fashion. Stanford should put everything together Saturday in what should be the final "warm-up game."

Army's rushing attack will get the linebacker’s pads popping, as the Black Knights have already rushed 106 times for the nation's ninth-highest total (658 yards). This will be another chance for Stanford to get some swagger going into the season. Ed Reynolds and Tyler Gaffney will continue to impress on their respective sides of the ball. If the Ball State Cardinals racked up 40 points on this Army team last week, the greatest Cardinal in the land should get on the board easily.

Second Down

Will we see a higher volume of passing from Hogan? Or rushes for that matter? Hogan completed only 17 passes and ran three times against San Jose State. That’s about the number of completions he averaged last year, but he’s fallen from 9.1 carries per game.

Stanford loves to establish the play-action game with 30 to 35 carries, but it appears that they want their running back core to be running, not their stud quarterback (makes sense). Though if Army is running the ball every play, and Stanford is shooting for that kind of production in the run game, time will fly (like we're having fun), and Hogan may have yet another quiet game passing, making it hard to measure his progress. At some point the coaching staff should push him, show the nation what he can do, but that’s not really David Shaw’s style.

Third Down

Most teams in college football see the triple-option once in a blue moon, and in the Pac-12, never. Sure, there’s a play here and there, but not like Army’s Black Knights, who run it on every down. Good thing the Cardinal motto is "party in the backfield." Stanford won’t pad their sacks, but they will get a lot of opportunities for fumbles and tackles for loss. A.J. Tarpley, Trent Murphey and Shayne Skov are disciplined and well-suited to blow up the triple-option. Expect the front seven to hound for the ball and deny these Knights rushing yardage.

Fourth Down

I'm disappointed to see many of my sleeper wide receivers haven't gotten many looks. With only 17 completions, Ty Montgomery leads the team with four catches. Nine Cardinal have caught a pass. Will this be more or less the norm? Distribution? Or will Hogan start to lean on emerging players like Devon Cajuste?

Prediction

Stanford 38, Army 0