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Colorado at Stanford: Keys To A Cardinal Victory

NCAA Football: Stanford at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Its reunion weekend on the Farm, and the Cardinal are looking to send their alumni base home with a victory over the upstart Colorado Buffaloes.

Stanford comes into the contest hot off the heels of their road victory over rival Notre Dame, and will look to continue their hot defensive play this week against a Colorado team that has developed into the cream of the PAC-12 South crop.

The Stanford football program has been riddled with several serious injuries to key personnel over the last few weeks, and will be missing a few athletes again this week as well, however there is a brighter horizon as two “first teamers” could be making their return.

The Offense for the Cardinal look to be down a starter this week as OL David Bright will more than likely be out; and FB Daniel Marx will miss another game due to injury.

However the bright spot is that star RB Christian McCaffrey and starting CB Alijah Holder have been upgraded to questionable, and may see playing time this weekend.

Here are a few keys to victory for the Cardinal this weekend:

The Offensive Line needs to find their identity:

For the last decade, Stanford has funneled talented Offensive Linemen to the NFL on an annual basis. The phrase “Intellectual Brutality” began with the play of the Offensive Line. The 2016 edition of the Stanford Offensive Line has been “offensive” to watch for many Cardinal fans. There have been too many missed blocks, missed assignments, and just poor play that fans have not been able to witness the true talent of the Cardinal skill position players because there has been no time for the QBs or RBs to make any plays. It’s time for this group to show some “teeth” and bite back at the competition. If the Cardinal want to be successful, they will need to block at the point of attack, and give the Cardinal QBs, RBs, and WRs time to make plays on the field. If Colorado only rushes 4 men, and gets to the QB – it’s going to be a long day on the field for the Cardinal.

Do not give up the big play to Colorado:

The Buffs have made a living on the big play this season as 5 WRs have made a huge, game changing play of over 60 yards; and their top RB, Phillip Lindsay, took one to the house on a 70-yard scamper. The Buffs want to put up a lot of points on the board, and in their 5 victories, they have scored over 40 points in each contest. The Cardinal will need big time play from their secondary, and for the LBs to wrap up at the point of attack for a chance at victory this weekend.

Ryan Burns needs to make better decisions:

QB Ryan Burns has had an up-and-down season to say the least in his first season under center for the Cardinal. Burns has looked like the clear heir apparent on some occasions, and other times he has looked like the back-up QB from the 1991 classic college football movie “Necessary Roughness”. Burns has tended to stare down his receivers and sit in the pocket way too long that has created turnovers and stalled the Cardinal offense. Granted, the Cardinal Offensive Line has been atrocious at times, but the better QBs rise above these issues and make plays. Burns has had to develop into a pocket passer, and honestly, it does not suit his game. Burns needs to get out in space, and not always go for the main target; he has to realize that it’s ok to check down.

Get healthy Cardinal!

To say that the Stanford Cardinal have been hit by the “injury bug” is an understatement. The Cardinal have been down multiple starters in almost every game, and it has shown on the scoreboard. Health is the key for any future success with the Cardinal; because they will need to have full hands available during the 2nd half of the season to make a run at a solid post-season game.