If you are a fan of the Washington Huskies, you are a jubilant bunch with an eye towards the future as your favorite school jumped back into the national spotlight with a thorough beating of the Stanford Cardinal.
If you are a fan of the Cardinal, it was probably one of the hardest three hours of football to watch in the past decade as your beloved Stanford was chewed up and spit out in the Pacific Northwest.
Since this a report card and analysis for the Cardinal, be forewarned that these grades would grant a quick exit from the prestigious university quick, fast, and in a hurry.
QB Ryan Burns was downright awful on Friday night under the bright lights of Husky stadium, but not a total failure. The play of the offensive line made Burns have to make quick decisions, and Burns was thrashed around the pocket from the opening whistle. Teams are quickly figuring out that the young QB tends to stare down his receivers all the time, and makes poor decisions when under duress. QB Keller Chryst did not play bad in limited garbage time, and seemed to be moving the offense on his drive in the first half until the miscommunication with his center caused a turnover on downs or this may have been a better grade.
The hopes for the Heisman for Christian McCaffrey may have been dashed due to the poor play upfront and caused the Junior RB to only gain 49 yards on 12 carries. McCaffrey could not seem to break out at all, and when the Cardinal got behind, the game plan changed and McCaffrey was no longer the focal point. McCaffrey will be only as successful as the teammates that allow him to use his talents.
The WRs were the lone bright spot for the Cardinal on Friday night. When they were finally able to make plays, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Trenton Irwin made some solid grabs on throws that were not exactly made to perfection. The Cardinal were forced to become a team on offense that they are not accustomed to at this point, and they relied upon a passing game that has been relatively silent to start the season. Folks have to remember, it takes two parts for a successful passing attack – a decent pass and catching the ball. Catching the ball was not the issue.
Offensive Line/TE: F
If there were a lower grade than “F”, it would belong to the Offensive Line. To say they were horrid is an unjust description of the word horrid. They were terrible, and could not block anyone on Friday night. There are vines out right now showing how bad Tackles Casey Tucker and AT Hall played; one vine from Brian M. Floyd that will live on in infamy and will follow Tucker for the rest of his playing days. https://vine.co/v/5rYTg1L9mha.
The Cardinal will have to quickly decide that if this group is not working, then the pieces will need to be moved around or Christian McCaffrey and the rest of the skill players will be non-existent.
Defensive Line: D-
The Defensive Line for the Cardinal had been the strength of the team in the first few weeks, and then in Seattle had zero impact on the game. Solomon Thomas and Harrison Phillips were handled via a simple zone-blocking scheme, and there was zero pass rush on the Huskies throughout the game. Not only that there was no rush, the Huskies ran the ball with tremendous efficiency. For the Cardinal to be successful, this unit has to be on their game – on Friday, they were non-existent.
Too many times where the Cardinal were caught off guard with the Huskies rush attack, and the LBs were easily blocked occurred on Friday night. The LBs for the Cardinal are truly a work in progress, but there is no reason to allow a team 214 yards on the ground. The LB corps needs to step up their game quickly as the opposing teams on the horizon all have high-powered offenses.
The Cardinal Secondary was a wounded animal, and they were exposed on Friday night. Two starters were out, and the back-ups were absolutely torched in the game. The Secondary for the Cardinal, when healthy, is the strength of the defense; but the injury bug exposed a weakness on the Cardinal Defense, and will hopefully get their top two starters back before playing the air raid offense next weekend.
Special Teams: D
The special teams were terrible on Friday night with a muffed punt return opportunity and a sub-par punting game. Communication on the punt return team was at an all-time ugly when Safety Ben Edwards touched a punt that he had no business being around the ball. Christian McCaffrey did get a solid return of 57 yards, and Punter Jake Bailey did hit one punt 54 yards, but the rest of the night will make Stanford Special Teams Coach Pete Alamar cringe.
We all come to expect a lot from Head Coach David Shaw, and he expects a lot from his team. In occasions where the game seems to be going a different way, it’s ok to go with the flow and make changes. Coach Shaw did not do that in this game. He allowed for the Huskies to run away with it, and really did not make any drastic changes. Was this his point, or was it the fact that the Cardinal were just outplayed in every facet of the game, including coaching.
This is a harsh grade, but many fans will agree that Stanford failed in almost every facet of the game on Friday night. They were out-muscled, out-hustled, and were just downright thoroughly drubbed by the Washington Huskies. Was it because the Cardinal played on a short week, and down several key players due to injury? Perhaps. Was it the fact that they were exposed in several areas that need work immediately? Most definitely. The Cardinal will need to regroup quickly, and decide is this just a hiccup in the road, or will this game define their season.