1. The O-line really tied the room together
The offensive line has been a subject of close examination thus far, and how the line develops in a tough road environment is a critical question this Saturday. It's this simple for Stanford's front five: they have to play well at Husky Stadium. It's their first exposure to the wilds of Pac-12 play, and they need to play smarter and faster than they did against USC. That means better communication with protections and - most importantly - not throwing away yards with preventable penalties. Taking a hold to prevent your QB from getting killed is a forgivable offense. Clipping a guy who's not even in the play is another. I'm confident in this line's ability to get better on a week-to-week basis, but they certainly need to make a leap in Seattle.
2. Pass to win?
Excuse me, am I in the right place? It says here on the card that this is Stanford, but you seem to be throwing the ball kind of a lot.
As we've talked about over the last few weeks, the Cardinal has essentially become an air-first attack so far this season, and we're all kind of waiting to see if that's going to persist. (And yes, while the Cardinal has statistically run the ball more, it's become much more reliant on moving the ball via the passing game.) Personally, I agree with the choice to throw more - I believe the Cardinal's best personnel is 3-wide sets - but let's see if Mike Bloomgren wants to put it on the ground more frequently on Saturday.
3. Sustainable defensive dominance?
Right now, Stanford is allowing 4.3 points per game. That's bad for an NHL goalie. But that's the best in the nation in college football so far.
So now they get a test against Chris Petersen's offense, and while the Huskies' have been hit or miss with their offense so far this season, the questions for Stanford's defense are still relevant. Can they keep this level of dominance up? Will a weakness finally be exposed? The Cardinal defensive backs struggled with USC"s 3-wide bunch formations and gave up a touchdown when the Trojans were in hurry-up mode on their first drive of the game, but the Cardinal clamped down after that.
I'm curious to see just how good Stanford's pass rush is in particular, because it's hard to get a read on how good the pass rush is or could be after watching the quick-hit passing game of USC and run-first system of Army.