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Stanford's Well-Rounded Players

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Stanford's success over the last five years has been due to balance and versatility. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
Stanford's success over the last five years has been due to balance and versatility. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

A well-kept man who reeked of palm-aid sat at the bar.

“That’s the best play in football,” he said. He was commenting on a screen play to Pierre Thomas. “It works every time.”

Though I didn’t know him, I felt compelled to explain why it worked so well “every time” and why often the play often goes unnoticed if it's ineffective. Some viewers do not know that balls thrown at the feet of the linemen are typically failed screen plays. Quarterbacks only throw the ball if they expect the play to be a success.

But an effective screen play requires a commitment to the downfield passing game, just like play-action-pass requires a commitment to the running game. So while our sleek friend wonders why offenses do not run screen passes every play, he is missing the point. Good football teams — like good football players — are well rounded.

The Stanford Cardinal football team is balanced. It has thrown for 1,776 yards and rushed for 2,055. The defense has been solid, leading the Pac-12 conference in rushing yards allowed per game. The passing defense is a maligned ninth in the conference, though that stat is largely inflated by the Cardinal facing more pass attempts than any other team. Stanford can’t help facing imbalanced teams.

Stanford football players are well rounded as well and in sneaky ways. Many Cardinal players possess an unexpected quality that makes the rest of their game even better.