The Stanford student body is back in school, and witnessed the Cardinal teaching a lesson to Arizona on Saturday night with a 55-17 drubbing of the Wildcats.
Stanford just dominated on both sides of the ball. The Cardinal racked up 570 yards of offense, and held the vaunted Wildcats offense in check for most of the evening.
Senior QB Kevin Hogan ran the offense to perfection, and Christian McCaffrey is fast building a reputation as one of the most exciting athletes in College Football.
Here is a complete analysis and report card on Stanford's performance:
Senior QB Kevin Hogan has rebounded from a shaky week one, to being one of the most confident QB's in the College Football. Hogan was masterful last night under center, and almost pitched a perfect performance 17-19 passing and 217 yards. Many in college football circles will argue that Hogan has become a better QB after his tough ankle injury suffered against USC because it is limiting his mobility and keeping him in the pocket. Hogan is brimming with confidence and the rest of the offense feeds off that confidence.
The 2nd bright spot at the QB position was the play of back-up QB Keller Chryst. The young QB looked sharp in his drives, completed his first TD pass, and delivered one of the highlights of the night with a pancake block. The future looks bright at the QB position for the Cardinal.
Running Backs: A+
The Cardinal are developing a three headed monster at the RB position with Christian McCaffrey, Barry J Sanders, and Bryce Love as Stanford racked up 314 yards against Arizona on Saturday night. These three tailbacks are just dominating their opponents every week, and the Wildcats had no answer on how to stop the Cardinal rush attack. Christian McCaffrey had another monster game with 156 yards and finally got his 1st rushing TD. McCaffrey now leads the nation in 1,136 of total offense. Barry J Sanders is fast becoming the home run threat for the Cardinal with another huge 65 yard run for a TD, and Bryce Love just seems to keep making the big play when its needed. The Cardinal RBs were phenomenal again, and just seem to be getting better every week.
Wide Receivers: A-
The Cardinal WRs had a solid game led by Michael Rector and Devon Cajuste. The WRs made several big plays on Saturday night, and have steadily improved their route running since week 1. Francis Owusu made a few big catches as well, and has been crucial to the success of Kevin Hogan. The only drawback is that the Cardinal WRs need to work on their downfield blocking a bit after a few misses that could have sprung the RBs for bigger gains.
Tight Ends: B
The Wildcats made sure that they were not going to be beat downfield by Stanford's TEs on Saturday night, but they were not expecting that the TEs were going to be dominant blockers along the line. QB Kevin Hogan targeted his TEs, but due to the fact they were mostly double covered at all times, became a better blocking option for the Cardinal offense. The Cardinal TEs only caught one pass (Taboada) for 13 yards, but their biggest form of production was sealing the outside for the rush attack.
Offensive Line: A-
The Cardinal offensive line was dominant on Saturday night, and is one of the biggest reasons for the success of Stanford's offense. Kyle Murphy and Joshua Garnett, who have been branded the nickname "The Smash Brothers" due to their physical play and ability to dominate a game, lead the offensive line. The only item that held back a higher grade was the play of Tackle Casey Tucker who was burned a few times by the Wildcats pass rush. Tucker is a solid Tackle that just needs to move his feet more and not allow the defender to get around him.
Defensive Line: A-
The Cardinal Defensive Line had another solid game led by Brennan Scarlett and Azziz Shittu. Scarlett just keeps making the big plays every week, and has a nose to make the big tackle when needed. Shittu controls the line of scrimmage, and is a nightmare for any offensive line due to his quickness and agility. The pass rush was the only thing holding back the Cardinal from a higher score as they allowed the Arizona QBs to get out in space, and get a few big gains from what should have been losses.
Cardinal LB Blake Martinez is fast becoming a household name with his tenacity and ability to control the game on the defensive end. Martinez is a Tucson, AZ native and wanted to prove that the Wildcats made a huge mistake in not offering him a scholarship, and will end his career undefeated against his hometown team. The linebackers would have had a higher score, except for the few times they lost contain of the Wildcats QBs, and allowed a few big plays downfield.
The only piece of the pie that did not have the best game was the defensive secondary for the Cardinal. The corners were lost in space a few times, and were burned on simple routes that should have been stopped. Arizona QB Jerrard Randall really does not have the best touch on the ball, and was bailed out by the lack of attention in the Cardinal secondary. The lone bright spot was the play of Ronnie Harris, who is fast becoming a bright prospect for the next level.
Special Teams: B
Christian McCaffrey had a huge run-back on a Kickoff return, but that was pretty much it for the highlights on Special Teams. Arizona kicked off away from the Cardinal return men for the most of the night, and the Rugby style punts allowed for zero chance at returns. McCaffrey is exciting on returns, but sometimes his running backwards loses yardage more than makes any gains. On Special Teams, its always about going north and south.
Stanford Head Coach out maneuvered and outcoached his opposition in every way on Saturday night. Shaw produced a balanced offensive attack, and has already figured out how his team will best produce on the field. Coach Shaw always keeps his athletes fresh, and gets reps for everyone. Stanford looks poised for another run at the PAC 12 North title due in large part to the tutelage and confidence provided by Head Coach David Shaw.