Stanford looked sharp in the first half on defense keeping the 28th best scoring offense in the nation to just 7 points. Even more impressive the most prolific passing offense in the nation was held to just 156 yards passing in the first half - well below their average. The Cardinal defense grounded the air raid offense largely by putting quarterback Connor Halliday on the ground several times and tackling well in open space. At half time, Washington State had more 4th down conversions than 3rd down conversions.
The Stanford offense really tried to shake things up. For starters, rather than switching running backs after every snap Barry Sanders took the bulk of the carries in the first half. Sanders had 5 carries for 67 yards in the first half. Barry Sanders had 20 more yards on just 5 carries in the first half than the entire Stanford offense last week against Notre Dame. Stanford also tried a number of different things to attempt to establish an additional threat to pair with Ty Montgomery.
More Problems in the Red Zone
But oh my how the Red Zone problems came roaring back. A fumble, a missed field goal a number of poor play calls (seriously, keep trying that fade route) plagued the Cardinal offense in the red zone. Stanford left 10 points on the board in the first half. When Washington State scored a field early in the third quarter it was a one score game despite Stanford dominating Washington State in just about every statistical category.
The Second Half
The third quarter was typical Stanford football. The Cardinal scored a touchdown, the Cougars scored a field but other than those score, not much else happened. The Stanford defense understandably looked exhausted by the end of the 3rd quarter, but were nursing a 14 point lead. Shaw finally let Kevin Hogan attempt some rollout passes to great effect, and Washington State even ran the ball successfully a few times this quarter. After the last couple of games, Stanford fans should consider taking a break from the game during the 3rd quarter because nothing much of note seems to happen for the Cardinal in this period.
Connor Halliday capped a 16 play drive at the start of the 4th quarter with an amazing touchdown pass on 4th and goal to pull the Cougars within 7 with 13:02 left in the game. Unfortunately for the Cougars they fell apart shortly after that and Stanford went on to score another 10 points for a 34-17 victory.
What We Learned Tonight
- Remound Wright had 14 carries for 98 yards tonight but Barry Sanders looked far more impressive averaging almost 10 yards per carry from his 7 touches. Stanford needs more Barry Sanders.
- Stanford's woes in the red zone continued but Coach Shaw showed glimmers of hope by making adjustments.
- Kevin Hogan should pass on the run more often.
- Stanford has plenty of very talented Tight Ends
- Connor Halliday is a very, very tough football player
The PAC 12 is wide open right now, but Stanford has enough to compete for the PAC 12 championship even with their offensive woes and a brutal schedule. Keep in mind Cal basically runs the exact same offense as Washington State (only with better results) and Oregon tends to fold like a cheap accordion against even an average pass rush. UCLA has also looked very beatable all season long. While Stanford still has about 4 ranked opponents most of whom are on the road, they are all winnable games for Stanford.
It is now half way through the regular season and Stanford still controls their own destiny in the Pac 12.