I'm starting to think I'm a jinx. In 2015, I attended Stanford's two losses against Northwestern and Oregon, and so far this year, I've wasted money on a ticket twice. Am I to blame for the loss? Or is it Keller Chryst?
After last week's USC game, I assumed that the Trojans were a legit team, and the Cardinal would still be relevant in the PAC-12 North. However, the Trojans are not as good as we all thought, and neither is Stanford.
Texas arrived in LA Saturday for a highly anticipated but lopsided matchup between two legendary programs. Many expected USC to run away with a victory, but the Longhorns shut down Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr while limiting the Trojans to 17 points in regulation and taking the game into double overtime, and to make matters worse, Texas doesn't have a great defense this year; Maryland scored 51 against them. Need I say more?
Meanwhile, Stanford's defense can only dream about stopping any sort of running attack. The defensive line gets pushed back three or four yards before even making contact with the runner, and the linebackers seemed to have forgotten how to tackle.
Take a look at this clip:
As said above, the defensive lineman are nowhere to be seen, and the linebackers infiltrate the backfield, but somehow, this play turns into a first down.
Oh look, the same thing happens here:
However, the defense did their part, allowing only 20 points. This loss is not their fault.
The loss lies mostly on Keller Chryst's hands. He threw for only 72 yards and threw two crucial interceptions that cost Stanford, which resulted in a 4.9 quarterback rating. This week, he might have had the worst performance by any FBS quarterback, against a less than subpar Aztec secondary.
Chryst stared down his receivers, held on to the ball too long, missed open guys, and threw into coverage. He made all four mistakes on this play:
This interception alone cost Stanford the game.
It's 3rd and 12, deep in Stanford territory, with little time left before half, so the likelihood of scoring is slim. All Stanford needs to do is not make a turnover and head into halftime leading 7-3. Instead, Chryst never takes his eyes of Trenton Irwin and throws to him despite being covered by three or four Aztec players.
Meanwhile, Connor Weddington is wide open at the top of the screen. Dump it off to him, and see if he can make it to a first down. If he doesn't make it, no biggie. Just punt, and Stanford leads at half. However, this didn't happen, and the Aztecs scored quickly and entered halftime with a 10-7 lead.
Furthermore, Keller Chryst had a chance to redeem himself not once but twice, and I wouldn't have even remembered his costly interception.
Driving in the fourth quarter, Stanford was up 17-13 with a chance to take a comfortable lead but faced third down around midfield. Chryst dropped back and saw Colby Parkinson wide open in the middle yet failed to complete an easy pass. The ball probably landed two yards short of Parkinson, and his tight end never had a chance at catching it. If Chryst makes the pass, Stanford would've entered field goal territory with a new set of downs.
Lastly, Chryst's final mistake came with the game on the line:
To me, it looks like this ball is thrown up for grabs, but this is more Shaw's fault than Chryst's. Yes, it was poorly thrown, but there was no need to send everyone deep with a minute and two timeouts left. Rather than a Hail Mary, throw curls or outs towards the sideline.
Shaw made a poor decision to end the game, but this one should be clear; consider other options. What does Stanford have to lose? They're currently 1-2, and the offense couldn't possibly get worse. Let's see if Costello can change up the pace. Hogan replaced Nunes and led Stanford to the Rose Bowl. Maybe, Costello can do the same.
Perhaps, Chryst isn't the problem. Perhaps, it's me. I didn't make the trip to Australia, and Stanford didn't seem to have any issues. Next week, I'll be up at the Farm for the UCLA game, and if Stanford loses, I promise not to go to anymore games for the rest of the season.