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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Stanford 34, Washington St. 17: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Barry Sanders


The battle on Friday night between the 25th ranked Stanford Cardinal and the Washington State Cougars was a test of wills; in the end, the Cardinal had the stronger resolve as they toppled the Cougars 34-17.

The Washington State Cougars came to Palo Alto, CA with their “Air Raid” offense led by Senior Connor Halliday.  Last weekend, Halliday threw for an NCAA record 734 yards.  This weekend was a different story as the Cougars were outgained by the Cardinal 477 to 266 yards from scrimmage on Friday night, and were held to season low totals in passing and rushing.  The Cougars were stymied by the vaunted Cardinal defense, and just never seemed to get into a rhythm throughout the game. 

Stanford came into the contest suffering a heartbreaking loss last weekend to Notre Dame, and looked to prove that last week was history.  The Cardinal came out strong on both sides of the ball on Friday night and proved that they are still hungry for a possible PAC 12 title.

Here was the Good, Bad, and Ugly from the game:



Zach Hoffpauir – Stanford’s multi-sport star had his best game of the year as he led the Cardinal with 15 tackles, and was dominant in the disrupting the Cougars passing game. The Junior Strong Safety seemed to be in on every play, and was key to the Cardinal success on the Defensive side of the ball. 

David Parry – The Senior Nose Tackle for Stanford was a stalwart along the defensive front registering a sack and 4 hurries on Cougars Quarterback Connor Halliday.  Parry was shedding the Cougars blockers with ease, and was a force to be reckoned with along the line.  Parry is fast making a name for himself as a top prospect for the next level with his constant motor, and his ability to make the big play.

Stanford Running Backs – This week was a completely different story for the Cardinal rushing attack as the three headed monster of Remound Wright, Barry Sanders, and Christian McCaffrey put in a tremendous performance as they rushed for a combined 195 yards from scrimmage.  After the game, Stanford Coach Shaw praised the work of his runners not only with their yardage totals, but their blocking and protection of Quarterback Kevin Hogan as that had been a main concern for the Cardinal early in the season.  If Stanford is able to get their running game off the ground, they will be very successful for the rest of the season.

Cougars Defensive Front Seven – Washington State was embarrassed last weekend at home against Cal as they gave up 70 points and 589 yards of offense.  This week, the Cougars made a concerted effort to try and attack Stanford Quarterback Kevin Hogan, and were able to put in a much better showing in comparison to last week.  The Cougars played physical up front, and pressured the Cardinal the entire game.  The Cougars will need to keep this style of play if they are to have any chance the rest of this season.



Stanford Red Zone Struggles – This is becoming a broken record as Stanford again had struggles in the Red Zone.  Again, Stanford had multiple opportunities to put points on the board against the Cougars and came up empty.  On the first drive of the game, they drove to the 3-yard line, and were unable to cross the goal line.  Another drive, Senior Patrick Skov tried to reach the ball across the plain and fumbled the ball at the goal line.  A third and most frustrating Red Zone possession was at the end of the half, the Cardinal had two holding penalties, and another wide right field goal attempt that left the Cardinal with zero points.  The statistics show that a team should score at least 3 points on every red zone trip, and score a touchdown 2 out of every 3 times in the zone.  The Cardinal are well below the average, and will need to shore this up for future games. 

Penalties – Stanford and Washington State committed several egregious penalties that just destroyed attempts at moving the ball and creating any sense of rhythm.  Stanford had several drives halted due to holding penalties, and even lost points off the board due to several brain freeze penalties.  Washington State also had several penalties that just backed the team out from scoring position, and were never able to recover.  After the game, Stanford Head Coach David Shaw pointed out that penalties are something that can be fixed, and will be addressed by the team prior to next weeks contest against Arizona State.



Washington State Special Teams – After last week’s Special Teams debacle by the Cougars, Head Coach Mike Leach dismissed his Special Teams Coordinator, and placed assistant Eric Mele in charge.  This week was not any better as the Cougars play on special teams was just as dreadful.  There were several penalties, punts were not covered well, two kickoffs went extremely short, and Stanford playmaker Ty Montgomery was just one step away from breaking for a touchdown on two separate returns.  The only bright spot was Cougars Place Kicker Quentin Breshears made a 46-yard field goal that was not even defended by the Stanford Defense.  The Cougars are well aware that their Special Teams play is putting them in a hole, and there is no light at the end of this tunnel. 


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