It was an old fashioned brand of football that earned this victory for #24 Stanford (5-2 / 3-1 PAC 12) over ASU (3-4 / 1-3 PAC 12) in ‘Devil Country’ Thursday evening, tough defense and just enough offense.
Cardinal junior quarterback K.J. Costello (22 for 29 passing / 231 yards / 1 TD / 93.9 QBR / 4 carries / 18 rushing yards / 4.5 YPC) showed tremendous heart in this one, battling through a significant injury to his throwing hand suffered early in the contest when a Devils defender accidentally cleated him in a melee. I found the fact that Costello hung in the game admirable, and afterwards it looked as if his teammates felt the same way by how they rallied around him in humble but well deserved celebration.
Stanford All-World senior running back Bryce “Dr.” Love (11 carries / 21 yards / 2 receptions / 10 yards receiving) has not been healthy all year, that is no secret, and he was noticeably limping once again before the ball was ever even kicked off against ASU. ‘The Doctor’ was wide-eyed on the sideline for most of the 2nd half however, as his love for his teammates had him wanting to play, but Coach Shaw’s love for him kept him out the game as he is clearly injured.
In Dr. Love’s absence, senior Cameron Scarlett (9 carries / 54 yards / 1 TD / 6.0 YPC / 1 reception / 19 receiving yards) made the most out of his increased playing time, and is a viable option for Stanford until Bryce can get right. Scarlett is a bit bigger back at 6’2” 220 lbs, and while he lacks some of the quickness ‘The Doc’ possesses, so does every other human being on the planet.
Amongst the talented Cardinal receiving corps, seniors J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (7 receptions / 91 yards / 1 TD / 13.0 YPR) and Trenton Irwin (7 receptions / 79 yards / 11.3 YPR) won their individual matchups all night, and on occasion beat a second defender as well. All things considered though, Stanford had a few of their biggest plays taken away by penalties, which obviously needs to get cleaned up quick, fast, and in a hurry.
Defensively for The Card, it was a much more impressive outing. Senior linebackers Bobby Okereke (8 tackles / 1 forced fumble / 1 QBH / 1 PD), Casey Toohill (4 tackles / 2 TFL / 1 sack / 1 QBH), Mustafa Branch (6 tackles / 1 PD), and Sean Barton (4 tackles / 1 INT / 1 PD) were warriors for their side throughout. Equally, junior D-end Jovan Swann (3 tackles / 2 sacks / 2 TFL / 1 QBH) is starting to look like a play-maker week in and week out for Stanford.
In the secondary, senior Frank Buncom (6 tackles / 2 PD) and super sophomore Paulson Adebo (3 tackles / 3 PD / 1 INT) were again leaders on the back end for the Cardinal. Together they helped keep one of the best wide receivers in the country, ASU junior N’Keal Harry (8 receptions / 91 yards / 11.4 YPR), out of the endzone.
That being said, the Cardinal will first need to get their offense healthy, and then to find some rhythm if they hope to have success against the difficult second half of their schedule. On that level, #24 Stanford (5-2) hosts #14 Washington State (6-1) on The Farm this weekend, a team coming off one of the biggest victories (34-20 vs. #12 Oregon with ESPN College GameDay on campus in Pullman) in school history.
Win or lose, it will be a wild ride y’all. Roll Red.