This was a weak opponent, riddled with injury and players trying to recover and get back to playing speed. Stanford is not the class of the PAC-12 again just because they beat up on a rough Arizona team. However, there are some encouraging things to take away from the game.
Finally, finally, finally Christian McCaffrey seemed to be a focal point in the offensive scheme, to which they stuck with for the entirety of the game. McCaffrey ended with 169 yards and three touchdowns - the first time he has scored a touchdown on the road. The line helped get him lanes and he looked healthy for the first time in weeks as he displayed the burst and power we are used to seeing from him. The offensive line’s play was also evident in how well Bryce Love ran, as he had 78 yards on 12 carries. McCaffrey averaged 7.3 yards a carry while Love had 6.5 as the two combined for 247 yards on the ground.
On the defensive side, the Cardinal only let up 286 total yards. They kept from getting trampled in the running game, only letting up 170 yards and where able to force three turnovers. Maybe the most impressive stat was the five sacks the team recorded. Solomon Thomas had 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, providing the dominant game that Stanford desperately needed from him. The defense also recorded eight total tackles for loss, the biggest difference in this one was how much time Stanford was spending in Arizona’s backfield.
Despite the good, some of the same bad was still evident. Keller Chryst made his first start and did throw two touchdowns, but also only managed 104 yards and also threw a pick. While Stanford may only need a game manager, a 3.5 yards per attempt average will not cut it. The longest pass of the night was only 18 yards. Stanford does not threaten a defense deep at all and makes scheming for their offense incredibly easy as they are still very one dimensional. The offensive line also did let Chryst get sacked four times, while they looked better the quarterback still faced pressure against a sub par pass rush.
All in all, this was a win over a bad team because despite the flaws, Stanford still has NFL talent in several positions. Do not get too hyped over this one, but enjoy watching McCaffrey finally get loose on a defense. Who dislikes that?
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