The Cardinal was the last team in college football to kick off. And it most certainly felt even longer.
But now the 2013 season is underway, and Stanford took care of business against a solid San Jose State team. Now, the attention turns to the Army Black Knights, but let's first hand out some awards for the Card's 34-13 win.
Without further ado, here are this week's superlatives:
Most impressive: Ty Montgomery. After an entire year of battling injuries and hearing that Kevin Hogan needs help out wide, Montgomery took it upon himself to carry the load on Saturday. He hauled in four catches for 81 yards, including a touchdown catch where he smashed into a defender and knocked the Spartan's helmet off. Montgomery looked fast, physical, and strong, and I think he stole the show.
Biggest surprise: Tyler Gaffney. After a year away from football, it was unclear how Gaffney would look in his return to the backfield, but he silenced all doubts on Saturday. 20 carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns will do that. I was surprised how many carries Gaffney got relative to the other backs - his 20 were as many as everyone else's combined. Time will tell if that split keeps up, but if Gaffney keeps running like this, he should easily eclipse 1,000 yards this season.
Most consistent: Kevin Hogan and the Defense. While each one had a few moments of brilliance and a few moments of weakness, the QB and the D did pretty much everything they were expected to do on Saturday. Hogan completed 17 of his 27 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, was (mostly) efficient with the football and didn't turn it over. That's good enough for me. On D, Shayne Skov looked aggressive and fast, and the team allowed only 251 total yards. The Spartans mustered just 35 yards on the ground and they stalled twice in the red zone. Again, that's good enough for me.
Most pleasantly surprising: The Tight Ends. I'm grouping Devon Cajuste with this squad because his one touchdown came from an in-line spot as a tight end. Cajuste looks like a guy who will the role of Coby Fleener in the 2013 offense - a big, physical WR/TE who can play in-line and split out wide - and he looked a lot like Fleener on that 40-yard touchdown catch Saturday. Other than that Luke Kaumatule and Charlie Hopkins both snagged one pass apiece, so it's good to know that Hogan trusts that he can dump a pass to them occasionally.
Most frustrating performance: Alex Carter. The sophomore corner improved in every single game last year and is now expected to be the shut-down guy in the defensive backfield this season, but he had a few issues going against Noel Grisgby (10 receptions, 106 yards, 1 touchdown on Saturday). Carter never got his head around on one reception on the sideline and was far too late breaking to the ball on Grisgby's touchdown catch. Obviously, there's no need to overreact about Carter's season - it's just a few bad plays, after all - but there's room to improve before the Pac-12 conference season gets underway.
Uh, where'd you go? Award: Kelsey Young. The explosive RB/WR only touched the ball once on Saturday. Why? I have to imagine he must be recovering from a lingering training camp injury - because otherwise there's simply no excuse for not getting him the ball five or more times a game.
Beast Mode award: Ed Reynolds. The more I watch Ed Reynolds play football, the more I think he's going to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. He tackled well, played good coverage, and once again snagged an interception. The two-play sequence where he flew downfield to stop a Spartan runner for a three-yard gain and then grabbed a pick on a prayer of a pass from Fales earns him this week's award for the most beastly performance.
Tweets of the weekend:
@RuleofTree I feel bad that Lane Kiffin, Head Coach is a thing with an expiration date.— Darius Tahir (@dariustahir) September 8, 2013
#KeepLaneKiffin. For the entire Pac-12's sake, we need Lane Kiffin in Los Angeles.
I absolutely hate seeing questionable calls have giant impacts at the end of a close game. It's part of the game but it come on man!— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) September 8, 2013
Hmm. You don't say.