When I played football in high school, there was an unwritten rule that if the quarterback threw for over 300 yards or the running back ran for over 100 yards than the quarterback/running back would feed the linemen on Monday pans of bars or burritos. Just make sure you feed the big guys to put emphasis on the need for them in the trenches to make the rest of the offense work.
This week the offensive line for Stanford needs to buy McCaffrey’s lunch, as he ran for 199 yards and did not get a lot of help from the line. I will talk about the rest of the game, but this needs to come first because we as fans and viewers of this team cannot miss it. McCaffrey is being wasted, he is absolutely ridiculous as a football player, but also as an athlete. He jumped over two guys in one jump! And they were not even next to each other! He does things that a super hero does in a comic book. But he has a porous offensive line and struggling quarterback. Yes, one can point to plays like the 51 yard dash were there was decent blocking, but for at least half his carries the first man he makes miss is in the backfield. If he had a better performing offensive line and quarterback production, a healthy McCaffrey might have the Cardinal playoff bound, particularly with this defense.
Speaking of the defense, fumbling to start the game is not exactly great and sadly not all that surprising, but the defense set the tone by playing physical up front and forcing the Beavers away from the run and into the teeth of their secondary. The Beavers could not capitalize on the opening fumble and had problems all game long. The Beavers are a run first team and when forced into throwing, the result was two interceptions from a linebacker unit we have not heard much from this season. The Stanford defense did allow some chunk plays but for the most the Cardinal part did a good job bending, but not breaking. Solomon Thomas looked good, the linebackers had some turnovers and my defensive player of the game was safety Justin Reid who came up and made a lot of tackles at the line of scrimmage.
This was a great defensive game for Stanford in which they matched up well and asserted dominance on the line with more guys and more strength. On the outside, the corners and safeties for Stanford could match the speed of Oregon State’s receivers by messing with their timing on the line of scrimmage. Great defensive games back to back as the defense regains health.
On offense there are still plenty of problems, so let us cover the good first. When talking with the Building The Dam website, one of the players I highlighted was Bryce Love. Stanford did a great job getting him involved in the offense and he once again showed that he is a really talented back with lots of speed. I would not be surprised if in the weeks to come Love is lined up in the backfield and McCaffrey in the slot. The running game overall was mediocre, lots of times backs would get hit very early but both are slippery enough to mask those problems.
However, the bigger problem was that it seemed as if Keller Chryst had never taken a snap before. He also struggled greatly through the air and ended with more yards on the ground. The offensive line shares some blame there as well, as they let pressure right up the middle time and again and rarely let Chryst step up in the pocket.
Yet again Stanford won against a lesser opponent because they have two backs, at least one corner and at least one player from the front seven headed to the NFL. Shaky wins for the Cardinal but wins nonetheless.