Stanford beat USC 27-10 Saturday, marking Stanford’s third straight win over USC by at least 10 points. There are a lot of reasons that Stanford not only had a significant edge in this game, but why Stanford should have confidence going on this tough road schedule over the next few weeks.
We already know this, we knew it coming into this season, we knew it last season, Christian McCaffrey is amazing. He showed great patience in the run game, waiting for the blocks to play out and the hole in the line to open up. He was durable and showed why he is an every down back by smashing again and again into the defense from two yards out to gt his second touchdown on the day. 260 total yards speaks for itself.
He also showed how much more versatile he is than last year, which seems impossible, because of how much he has worked on his route running. He showed he can run every route in the tree which is a huge asset, especially when Bryce Love is the tail back with McCaffrey out wide pulling safeties out of the box.
As Stanford heads to UCLA this weekend another huge factor from this game was how well the Secondary played. Not only were there no big penalties but they also showed great improvement in single man coverage. Alijah Holder played a lot better this game in his man coverage and timing up hits to force incompletions. The most impressive feat, however, was holding JuJu Smith-Schuster in check while keeping the other receivers for USC from burning them. A perfect example is when USC went up against Alabama they went all out on covering Calvin Ridley and Stewart tore them up. Their set of defensive backs might be the best in the country. While Tyler Petite and Steven Mitchell both had some nice moments in the game, the Cardinal secondary never lost control.
Another encouraging take away was some very creative play calling from David Shaw and company. The end around to Michael Rector was a great play call to get him away From Adoree Jackson and get their dynamic receiver the ball. They also are managing McCaffrey’s touches, really making sure they are keeping him fresh for the long haul of the season.
In two games we have seen Stanford win by double digit points. They haven’t blown either of those teams out like an Ohio State or Alabama. They had some moments when they were close, but in both games Stanford never lost control of the game. It was is always their game pace, going on their terms, forcing the other team to play their way. If they can continue this style of play they will be one of the harder teams to beat.
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