When all was said and done late Saturday night (or, in most time zones, early Sunday morning), Stanford's new field general had tallied a win in his first start. Keller Chryst finished off Arizona with a 14-of-30 passing performance for 104 yards in the 34-10 victory. However, add in two touchdowns and one errant interception, and Chryst's night doesn't look too shabby.
I wasn't able to stay awake past the midway point of the second quarter (I'm located in Austin, Texas) but in my skimming of various recaps and listening to David Shaw's post-game presser, all reports indicate that Chryst looked better than Ryan Burns had in his last three or four games. This provides a nice boost in my confidence.
I also asked some fellow writers to supply an informal scouting report on the new kid at QB. What they said is below.
TonyFernandesSports: "In talking with other scouts; we called it this: Chryst with a 'mixed-bag performance' as he looked wide-eyed on several pass plays, yet showed off an impressive arm in the pocket. He tended to stare down his targets, but also hit a few tight targets to Trenton Irwin. He's not afraid of the pocket, but needs to be more cognizant of the internal clock, and get the ball out quicker."
Jack Blanchat: "Chryst was far from great - he made plenty of mistakes and took some ugly sacks - but personally, I thought he is a better fit for a flawed offense right now. Burns tries to play like a more efficient, low-variance QB, dutifully checking down, not trying not to force the ball downfield, and playing like he wants to avoid the catastrophic mistake first and foremost. Chryst just guns it around the field. When you're an offense desperately in need of big plays, you need a QB who occasionally isn't afraid to take shots. Sometimes that deep ball into double coverage winds up being a touchdown. The question going forward is can he harness his good instincts effectively and not let his bad instincts creep up too frequently. In short, Chryst should embrace his inner Brett Favre."
Matt Vassar: Keller Chryst only threw for 3.5 yards/attempt in the game against Arizona. The rushing game ran for 5.6 yards/attempt. Let that sink in. We ran the ball for more yards per attempt than when we threw it. Check out the most recent episode of Cardinal CounTree to hear more about Chryst's first start:
It is important to note that Chryst was doing all of this against an Arizona defense ranked 108th in the nation (in total defense) still seeking a conference win.
However, compared to the competition Ryan Burns was seeing across the line from him (all six opponents were ranked in the top 60 prior to this weekend), the road should become much straighter and flatter from this point forward.
Chryst was also helped by the fact that it was the first game in which both Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love were both 100% healthy and playing for the first time this season. McCaffrey actually began to show flashes of last season's Heisman runner-up form for the first time since the USC game.
All things considered, in becoming the latest Stanford quarterback with a successful signal-calling debut (joining Tavita Pritchard, Andrew Luck, Josh Nunes, Kevin Hogan and Ryan Burns), Chryst has a lot of room to improve. To that end, with Oregon State coming to town at the end of this week, he'll get another chance.