Ty Montgomery. Surprise, surprise.
It wasn't like watching a football player out there on Saturday, it was like watching a jungle cat hunt. His effortless speed and power make me feel like I'm watching the video where a tiger attacks an elephant.
Montgomery was good for 159 total yards and two touchdowns, including a punt return for a touchdown on his first touch of the game. After that, the Aggies kept punting away from Montgomery, giving the Cardinal the added effect of good field position. His bolt of lightning of a return did make me wonder why had he never returned punts before this season, though.
Quite simply, Montgomery looks like he isn't going to miss a beat from his dominant season last year. The only question was his health, and he was clearly feeling well enough to play in this game. If he keeps this up - especially next week - expect to find him in early Heisman chatter.
One other interesting wrinkle was seeing Montgomery lined up as the Wildcat quarterback on the first series. Will he run the Wildcat a lot this season? Personally, I'd prefer not to see him run between the tackles. But I'm also not opposed to letting your best player touch the ball a lot. Perhaps David Shaw is building in a package where Montgomery can keep it or let Christian McCaffrey run a jet sweep.
Kevin Hogan was very Kevin Hogan-y. He threw a couple of very nice passes - including a beautiful touchdown bomb to Michael Rector, but he did make a dreadful throw on his lone interception of the day. By my count, the Cardinal threw the ball 16 times and ran it 15 times when Hogan was in, suggesting that there will be far more offensive balance this year than last season. Hogan did look a little sharper with his touch passes, including a dart to Eric Cotton in the middle of the field for a first down, and a nice flick to Francis Owusu, who ran for 16 yards and a first down. If Hogan just lets his playmakers do the hard work - like he did for most of Saturday - the Cardinal should be fine all season long.
The defense was pretty good on Saturday. UC Davis didn't score and didn't cross the 50 until the last play of the game.
Kevin Anderson was quite good both against the run and in pass coverage. Wayne Lyons looks rejuvenated, with a couple of nice pass breakups, including a deflection that led to a Stanford interception. Henry Anderson was dominant against the run. David Parry looks fully healthy and absolutely nasty up front. I had zero complaints with the effort and quality of the defense.
However, they're going to be seriously challenged vs USC, which ran 105 (!) plays against Fresno State on Saturday. Steve Sarkisian's hurry-up offense at Washington last season gave the Cardinal D fits, so let's hope Lance Anderson has a good gameplan laid out.
Hungry for More
I'll take all the Christian McCaffrey you can give me, please. The freshman provided a few extra amps to the Cardinal on Saturday, including a 52-yard touchdown catch and a 44-yard punt return. His role is sure to grow as the season goes along, and he presents a big matchup problem for opposing defenses. There's may be only one or two linebackers in the conference who can cover him.
I'm also extremely enthusiastic about this group of tight ends after Austin Hooper made a phenomenal touchdown catch in the back of the end zone and Eric Cotton picked up a 15 yard catch on the first drive of the game. I'd also like to see Barry Sanders touch the ball quite a bit against USC - his last four touches of the game went for 9, 6, 5, and 17 yards. I'm also eager to see Devon Cajuste, who was suspended for game one. The Card will need him against USC.
It was hard to get a read on the run game and the offensive line on Saturday, especially given the quality of the opponent. Neither group was a dominant force, but they each had a few flashes of excellence and a few weak moments. I did notice that new right guard Johnny Caspers was moving people in the run game, though. I'm not concerned with either group, and I'm fully okay with that feeling at the moment, but they've got to perform well vs USC. The best way to keep the Trojans' offense off the field is to keep your offense on it.