The Stanford offense has played 12 quarters so far this season. They looked less than impressive for the first 6 quarters. The next six quarters, however the Cardinal offense has looked very impressive. The difference is practically night and day. Two big reasons for this turnaround have been Kevin Hogan and Christian McCaffrey.
Hogan and McCaffrey, like most of the offense did not look impressive on the road against Northwestern, but both have improved significantly since then. Hogan threw 35 passes against the Wildcats completing 20 of them for a mere 155 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Compare this performance to the USC game in which Hogan threw the ball 23 times, completing 18 of those attempts for 279 yards, 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions and another 28 rushing. Oh, and he gained those 307 yards it on a bum ankle.
Christian McCaffrey rushed for a deceptively high average yards per rush gaining 66 yards on 12 carries. One of those carries was for 27 yards, removing that outlier leaves McCaffrey with a rather pedestrian day. His rushing stats were even worse against UCF, but Shaw was able to work him into the passing attack with four receptions for 59 yards.
Against the Trojans, however, McCaffrey came to play. Picking up 115 yards on the ground and another 37 in the air McCaffrey accounted for approximately one third of Stanford's total yards against USC. Keep in mind Shaw and Hogan spread the ball around as eight players had a reception other than Christian McCaffrey and four players other than McCaffrey rushed the ball.
With this type of production opposing defenses will have to make adjustments to contain the combination of Hogan and McCaffrey. It is also the reason carefully handling Hogan's injury is critical. The Stanford offense will be left with a massive gap to fill if Hogan does not play. Perhaps it would be better to have Hogan rest for one game rather than risk losing Hogan for a significant stretch.
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