Pile Of Dust And A Lot Of Blood
Stanford beat UCLA, 24-10, in a nominal upset on Saturday afternoon.
Stanford put on a clinic for run blocking and team defense. Last week, Utah outplayed Stanford. Its performance tonight was exemplary of how Stanford has won football games under Jim Harbaugh and now David Shaw.
“(The players) wanted to turn the page and move on, and the advice that I gave them earlier was bring last week with you,” Shaw told reporters after the game. “Bring it with you.”
They did, and some special sauce, too.
Stanford now is a household football name, and with that comes an influx of strong and explosive recruits. When Stanford gets its run game going, those young, talented athletes shine.
This week it was Kodi Whitfield. His circus catch could not have come in a better game. Whitfield nabbed a 30-yard touchdown reception with one hand while being knocked over. Hogan rebounded from his lackluster performance last week, showing endless trust for Whitfield and Devon Cajuste by airing deep balls their way.
Stanford’s resounding win against UCLA rights the course of their season. With the SEC powers tumbling to the likes of Mizzou — really? — Stanford can work its way back up the rankings. I doubt they are thinking about that, though. This team seems to have refocused on a week-to-week mentality.
Four Quarters Of Defense
Stanford held UCLA, a team that averaged 46 points per game, to 10. UCLA had scored 71 unanswered points in third quarters this season. Stanford upended that streak by allowing only three points and scoring 14 of its own. Shayne Skov — who has been consistent all year— played some of his best football. In three instances, he stuffed running backs with an open field, unassisted tackle. The pass rush looked excellent through the final few plays, batting Brett Hundley’s last throw. A.J. Tarpley closed the game with a sack.
“The key is us all hunting together,” Tarpley said after the game.
If Stanford can continue with defensive performances like that, its collision course with Oregon will be must-watch TV.
The pass rush forced Hundley to hurry through his progressions. The result was Jordan Richards playing the role of UCLA receiver, hauling in two interceptions. Richards would've returned one for a touchdown if not for James Vaughters’ unneeded block in the back. When Richards combines with Ed Reynolds, they are like Batman and Robin.
Averaging only 4.9 yards per attempt, Hundley’s body language spoke volumes. He constantly threw up his arms on failed third-down attempts. While Stanford has hemorrhaged yards to quarterbacks like Keith Price and Taylor Kelly, the Cardinal seemed to turn a corner against Hundley.
Tyler Gaffney’s Big Day
Did anyone else have flashbacks of Stepfan Taylor? Gaffney carried the ball 36 times, and like the defense, he played all four quarters, ending the game with a touchdown on his 36th carry. Anthony Wilkerson had a fumble and negative yardage, so when Gaffney told Shaw he was not tired, Shaw told him was not leaving the game. His 171 yards signaled Stanford’s (re)commitment to the run game.
The game was a “pile of dust and a lot of blood,” Gaffney told reporters in an interview that aired on ESPN.
Much of the credit is due to the offensive line, particularly Andrus Peat, who made Anthony Barr disappear in the second half. The Tunnel Workers Union rules the trenches.
Devon Cajuste went down with a knee injury and was carted off the field.
“It wasn't as bad as originally thought,” Shaw said to reporters after the game. “…It was good to see him at the end. Took the ice off, didn't have the knee brace on and walked back into the locker room with a smile on his face.”
Jordan Williamson did not kick this game. His replacement Conrad Ukropina was 1-for-2, connecting from 30 yards. Williamson should travel with the team to Oregon State. Defensive end Henry Anderson has been out for five weeks with a knee injury and does not seem ready to return any time soon.