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Army Victory Recap: Defense, Devon Cajuste lead the way in shutout win

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After a slow start, the Cardinal clobbered the US Military Academy on Saturday

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
MVP

The real answer here is the Stanford defense, but because I have an entire section dedicated to the defense forthcoming, I'll award this title to Devon Cajuste.

Cajuste had four catches on Saturday, and three of those for touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound New York native simply balled against the Black Knights, and Cajuste's two long touchdowns came from the slot, where he's a colossal mismatch against any nickelback.

I was pleased to see Cajuste have a big game early in the season, reestablishing himself as a threat to be reckoned with across from Ty Montgomery. The more plays Cajuste makes, the more plays Ty will be able to make. Teams can't key in on both players at once, and if they do, they risk getting gashed by Michael Rector or Austin Hooper, who always appears to be open. Altogether, this group of receivers may be the best in the Pac-12.

QB Report

Kevin Hogan was pretty darn good on Saturday, going 20 of 28 through the air for 216 yards and 4 touchdowns. Hogan had one throw that absolutely should have been intercepted, but he was good nonetheless.

While he hasn't played a road game and his 7-1 touchdown to interception ratio will surely change as the season goes along, so far we've seen more Good Kevin Hogan than Bad Kevin Hogan. That's a very good thing. He's still much better when there's a play action threat - like on his final TD of the day to Ty Montgomery - but his touch does appear to have improved slightly, and having Austin Hooper gobbling up targets in the middle of the field has helped Hogan as well.

However, the one part of Hogan's game I'm still concerned with is that he did seem to walk into the two sacks he took on Saturday. If Stanford is going to pass more this season - and it appears they will - Hogan can't have happy feet.

Feeling Defensive

What's not to like? A shutout where nobody gets hurt is about as good as it gets for a defense. I was pleasantly surprised with James Vaughters, who played well on the strong side on Saturday. If Vaughters can become a rock-solid run defender, that's be a big gain for the Cardinal, who would have three awesome run-stuffers right along the front in David Parry, Henry Anderson and Vaughters. I'm also inevitably drawn to Peter Kalambayi, who finds his way around the ball a lot. He's still a bit raw as a pass rusher - he's not quite aggressive enough with his hands - but I'm bullish on his future.

The pass defense was outstanding, too! They held Army to just 9 total yards through the air! I do honestly wonder if any team in college football will throw for fewer yards than that in a single game this season. Take that number into consideration when we talk about Stanford's pass defense as a whole as the season goes along.

(I want to say that rewatching Army's offense was brutal. These are the things I do for you, America.)

Hungry for More

I want more Barry Sanders. I need more Barry Sanders. Every fiber of my being is dying for Barry Freaking Sanders.

I think he's Stanford's best running back because of two things. First, his ability to turn sideways, pick his way through holes and fall forward for extra yards is unmatched by anyone on the roster. Second, Sanders has a remarkable ability to scale his speed up and down during a run - he cleanly shifts gears, while Kelsey Young barrels straight ahead regardless of the situation.

Sanders carried the ball 9 times (a career high) for 92 yards (also a career high), which included a massive 44-yard burst down the right sideline on a power run play. Another thing I like about Sanders is his knack for not making negative plays - he hasn't been tackled for a loss this season. (His only negative play this year was covering a ground ball of a screen pass from Kevin Hogan.)

I'm all in on Sanders. Let this man eat.

(Also, I liked what Patrick Skov did on Saturday. He runs heavy and he's a good blocker on passing downs. I wouldn't mind seeing him get a few more base reps as the fullback, and a few limited touches at tailback.)

Yes, I'm Judging You

I'm still holding out hope for the offensive line - I think they're getting better in each game, and they didn't struggle holding off Army's pass rush. They also looked better in the run game this week, but that may have been because of Army's small defensive line.

However, I am disappointed in the o-line's ability to match up with linebackers. They consistently miss assignments that allow LBs to shoot untrammeled into the backfield and make tackles for loss. This happens to the Stanford o-line lot on zone run plays, and it's a basic communication problem. These guys have to clean this up in order to preserve the diversity of Stanford's run game. The Cardinal don't run zone blocking schemes a whole lot, but it's nice to have the ability to run inside and outside zone as well as power, traps and counters. Options will benefit the Cardinal's run game.