Every Down Review - ROSE BOWL (first half)


All Stanford running plays are Taylor unless otherwise noted. Same with Wisconsin and Ball.

ESPN Play-by-Play

Link to the second half

First half

Stanford @ SU 20…Power for 4…Power for 3…Danser gets beat, Hogan scrambles for 4 and the first down…Ertz quick out for 9, very soft coverage…OZ outside cut for 10, breaks a tackle…Wildcat, reverse, Patterson single-covered post for 34, fantastic catch…Power fake to Taylor (Wilkes pulls right), Young to the outside for 16 (Schwartzstein pulls left), TOUCHDOWN STANFORD. 7 plays 80 yards. 7-0 Stanford.

Looking at Wisconsin’s last game (the Nebraska beatdown), it didn’t seem like they ever gap stunted, and they hardly ever rushed more than four. They did both on the third play of the drive. Ha.

Wisconsin didn’t totally mess up on the Power fake, but the FS hesitated long enough for Stanford to get Schwartzstein and Young on the backside against just one defender. The OL moved like 300-pound ballet dancers.

Wisconsin @ UW 13…Gordon PA OZ, Richards was rolling down and had a full head of steam and crushed Gordon in the backfield, penalty Wisconsin (grounding)…Iso for 24, good call against a 5-2 look, Reynolds ran to the wrong gap and took himself out of the play, he still has to work on reading the play before reacting…OZ cutback for 1, Thomas takes Ball down from behind…Phillips scrambles for no gain, Tarpley reads Gordon’s fake jet sweep brilliantly, David Parry executes a surprisingly fleet-footed spin move to make the tackle…Incomplete vertical to Abbrederis, Phillips wanted the out route, good coverage by Carter...Punt. 5 plays 15 yards. 7-0 Stanford.

I try to keep these blurbs short and readable, but there’s just so much good stuff going on, and some bad stuff as well.

First play – Chase Thomas crushed the TE backwards right in front of Gordon and forced him into Richards’ arms. Like, he pushed the guy back by two yards or something.

On third and long, Wisconsin called a hitch and comeback routes to the right, but no combination – all of which were short of the first down marker. Doesn’t show much confidence in the WRs. Just catch the ball and hope for the best, I guess.

Stanford @ SU 21…Rollout right, deep out by Terrell for 19…Direct snap to Taylor, Power for 9…Trap for 5, good pull by Danser…Max power set, PA corner-skinny post to Ertz for 43 (whoa, nice catch), Hogan gets wrecked on that play…Power for 3, Taylor battles through, TOUCHDOWN STANFORD. 5 plays 79 yards. 14-0 Stanford.

On the direct snap to Taylor – Stanford blocked Power differently than usual, Wisconsin-style – the TE does not go to the second level, but blocks the DE, and the FB goes for the linebackers. Nice changeup, and I think that that blocking works a little better with the timing of the direct snap. Not to say that Stanford has never done this before – certainly this scheme is more versatile and easier to run counters to (and a necessity in spread sets without a FB). I just wanted to note this because Wisconsin is the most well-known example of this blocking.

Wisconsin @ UW 25…Power for 4…OZ for 4…Power for 7, Tarpley charged and the pulling guard effectively trap blocked him…Penalty Stanford, PF – hands to the face (Thomas)…Power for 3…OZ for no gain, Gardner and Mauro both got into the backfield…Phillips scrambles for 8 and the first, LBs in coverage hesitated too long, they should have charged at him and taken his head off or something as soon as he crossed the LOS…Weakside OZ for 6, Stanford needs four guys to take down Ball…Power for 2…Penalty Stanford, offside (Murphy)…Gordon jet sweep for 9…White Iso for 4, Skov blitzed and nearly took him down in the backfield…End of the first quarter…Power for a TD, but penalty Wisconsin, holding (not the only one on the play)…OZ cutback for 5…Iso for 3…TE stick route for 9, poor tackling in the secondary, especially by Reynolds (sticks are supposed to go for 5)…White dive for no gain, Gardner weaves through the OL and gets him from behind. TURNOVER ON DOWNS. 14 plays 74 yards and OMG 8:17 of game clock. 14-0 Stanford.

Montee Ball always seems to tack on an extra yard or two that you never expected him to get.

On the Gordon jet sweep, Richards needed to be the contain player on the outside. Tarpley was right in front of him to cover the cutback, but Richards almost ran into him. Richards recovered well to save an extra 5 yards and possibly a touchdown, but his miscue cost Stanford 3-5 yards.

Stanford @ SU 1…FB dive formation (the one that’s cone-shaped), Hewitt for no gain, almost a safety (that formation seems to work best when Hewitt jumps over the line instead of running)…Power for 5, Taylor squeezes through a tiny hole…Penalty Stanford, false start (Wilkes)…Power for 1…Punt. 3 plays 3 yards. 14-0 Stanford.

Now, I know that you want to run the ball when backed up near your own end zone, but Wisconsin’s safeties are really cheating down quite hard.

Great run fits by the Badgers front seven. Most disciplined front seven play I’ve seen from a Stanford opponent in a while.

Zychlinski reset his feet after taking the snap and then launched a three-step punt that was nearly blocked in the end zone. Now, Zychlinski is one of the best punters in the country, and I don’t mean to fix what ain’t broke (I have praised him effusively in previous reviews), but that’s playing with fire right there.

Wisconsin @ SU 49…Gordon jet sweep for 15, gotta keep the defense honest mm?...Joel Stave takes the snap, max protection, two switch route verticals, Abbrederis nearly goes for 6 but Browning just knocks the ball away…Gordon jet sweep for 1, Lancaster was ready and in great position…Post to Abbrederis for 22, THE BALL BOUNCED OFF HENRY ANDERSON’S HELMET WHAT WAS THAT THE IMMACULATE RECEPTION’S ONLY SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN ONCE whoa nice catch…Power for 11, Ball hits the crease and Richards takes a poor angle, TOUCHDOWN WISCONSIN. 5 plays 49 yards. 14-7 Stanford.

Stanford’s spread across the OL watching the cutbacks and counters and above all the jet sweep, and Ball made them pay up the middle. I’m criticizing Richards a lot here, but he wouldn’t have had to be in position to make critical tackles in the first place if Wisconsin hadn’t been winning at the line of scrimmage. They are throwing blockers at the second level by now and that 8-minute drive (and ensuing three-and-out) really seems to have taken the wind out of Stanford’s defense.

Stanford @ SU 23…Wilkerson Power cutback for 19, the LBs attacked and took themselves out of the play…Wilkerson counter for 8, shows good patience…Montgomery slant for 14, good throw…Empty backfield, Wisconsin blitzed five (!) and Hogan had to throw it away...Bubble screen, Montgomery cut inside for 6…TO Stanford…Quick corner to an open Ertz, thrown high…47 yd FG. 7 plays 47 yards. 17-7 Stanford.

I don’t think Stanford respects Wisconsin’s pass rush, especially give their typical insistence on only bringing four. Stanford doesn’t go empty backfield very often, but they’ve done it several times at the Rose Bowl.

Williamson played great – 2 for 2 on FGs, lovely work on kickoffs.

Wisconsin @ UW 15...Power for no gain, immediate penetration into the backfield…Doe jet sweep, loss of 1, fantastic read and react (and patient tackle) by Richards…Screen to Ball for 7, Skov sheds a block and tackles Ball by the legs to save the first…Punt. 3 plays 6 yards. 17-7 Stanford.

Stanford @ SU 33…Max-protect set, Toilolo vertical, penalty Wisconsin, PI…Screen pass to Wilkerson, horrendous blocking by the WRs, loss of 1…Out to Montgomery, thrown high…Wisconsin goes to their psycho front (ends stay put, LBs move around constantly) and confuses Stanford into a bad pass protection call (Stanford was not expecting a safety blitz), Hogan does well to avoid getting taken down and scrambles for 8 but is short of the first…Punt. 3 plays 22 yards. 17-7 Stanford.

On the out to Montgomery, Stanford made a poor call to have the OL do a full slide away from Wisconsin’s edge rusher, and Taylor had to stay in protection – he could have gotten 6-8 yards if he’d been able to release. Hindsight is 20/20, and bad calls happen, like during the last play of the drive, but it’s not like Wisconsin stunts in general, so man protect against four probably could have gotten the job done without committing Taylor to protection.

Wisconsin @ UW 15…Power for 5…Iso for 9…Out to Abbrederis for 11, Thomas tipped it but I guess Wisconsin is getting a lot of lucky bounces, literally…Phillips patiently escapes the pocket and scrambles for 38, Abbrederis blocked the shit out of Reynolds and took Carter with him…White OZ? (missed snap) for no gain…TO Wisconsin…White to the flat for 6…Arneson up the middle for 9, Wisconsin sent trips up the middle, clearing the flat for a swing pass (they did that against Nebraska, too), but Phillips saw an opening, a very very very small opening RIGHT THROUGH TARPLEY’S ARMS WHAT A HORRIBLE DECISION…TO Wisconsin…Power for 2…Power for 1…TO Wisconsin…Rollout, hitch for 4, great throw in a tight opening, looked like the coverage had a miscommunication, anyway TOUCHDOWN WISCONSIN. 10 plays 85 yards. 17-14 Stanford.

On Phillips’ long scramble, he had two guys open who could probably go for 10 yards, including one right in front of him, but he trusted his legs enough to make the play. His destroyed, reconstructed, miracle of modern medicine legs. Gamer.

Derek Mason has typically dispatched a LB on a spy technique (dropping back a couple yards instead of blitzing) to stop scrambles, but it doesn’t look like he respects Phillips’ speed. Well, now he has to.

Stanford @ SU 25…Power for 4, to hell with taking knees.

Another link to the second half

Wisconsin is a better team than I thought they were, and Phillips in particular has made a massive difference. Not very many drives, so I haven’t seen many adjustments from either side yet.

The first half has shown a lot of what we’ve seen in Stanford’s season: a quality running game (against an underrated defense), excellently scripted first drives, conservatism when the script runs out (not that the offensive playcalling has been bad – Wisconsin has held the ball so long that there isn’t much sample size at this point), magic and some iffy throws by Hogan, and on defense good tackling, big plays from the front seven, getting beat inside when the front seven spreads out, a tendency to play very soft zone coverage and die slowly, poor angles by the defensive backs, and in general a lead that never feels safe but always ends up being safe.

The conservative gameplan, especially on defense, plays into Wisconsin’s hands to a certain extent (they’re better equipped to take advantage of the small gains Stanford gives them), but it’s preferable to what Wisconsin did to Nebraska.

TV announcers (from the replay): "The Band is off double-secret probation."

Might have seemed different on the TV, but from the stadium I thought that the Band screwed up the national anthem. (I heard complaints about how the Rose Bowl staff changed the mike system?) But the trumpet solo was excellent as usual, especially on such a huge stage. And for once you could actually hear what the Band PA was saying, so that the pregame show actually made sense (I didn’t catch the halftime show, unfortunately). Can we please jack up the PA volume in Stanford Stadium?

Stanford’s fans controlled both end zones, but Wisconsin was still louder than us, for the most part.

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