Few purchases rival that of a jersey bought in the light of a beautiful sport’s moment. Allowing the crazed excitement of an incredible play or an unforgettable instant to dictate the acquisition of a players jersey is all part of this thing we call being a sports fan. In the spirit of such a moment, this is the jersey from week eight I would buy in the heat of the moment.
The jersey belonging to the player who raised me to my feet the most, elevated my blood pressure consistently and gave me no choice but to invest in his numbers. This is the winner of the Compulsive Purchase Award- week eight.
Have you ever played a pickup basketball game at the YMCA, or the local park, or anywhere a hoop and some space reside? If you have, or just watched a pickup game, or heard of one, you know there are a couple of staples to the activity.
First, there is always a confidence man: someone who shoots and shoots and shoots some more, no matter how many misses. There is the AAU guy: the one who probably should not be playing with the rest of you. A few semi-pros: the collection that are good basketball players who started four years and high school. They understand the game and will be neither crazy amazing or woefully bad, just average. The sad one: the guy who struggles to dribble, with passes bouncing off his hands and shots missing the backboard.
And of finally, the grit guy: the man who maybe isn’t the best player on the court, but does absolutely everything. He dives for loose balls, giving 100 percent effort, even when everyone is down to 60. He makes his team better because he brings the other four guys together, the thing that connects all the moving pieces.
Why am I talking about pickup basketball? Because it was the best way to describe Cameron Scarlett on Thursday, a running back who was the most important player, despite sitting behind the great Bryce Love.
Winner - Cameron Scarlett
Stat Line - 54 yards rushing, 19 yards receiving, one touchdown
They are not sexy numbers, but Scarlett’s contribution was crucial for the Stanford Cardinal to find their offense in the second half against a solid Arizona State Sun Devils defense.
Scarlett averaged six yards on his nine carries, while Trevor Speights and Love posted a mere 1.8 yards to go with their 30 carries. The defense knew what Stanford was going to do when Speights and Love entered the game, flooding the backfield time and again when K. J. Costello handed them the rock.
It was not their fault, the offensive line is far from good enough to block a well-informed opponent. Like it or not, the Cardinal show their hand with Love in the backfield.
Scarlett offered a much needed alternative in the running attack and with it, a chance for this offense to find a rhythm. He gave the Cardinal some balance that gained yards, giving the Sun Devils a reason to bite on play action. Similar to the grit guy in pickup, he did everything the Cardinal needed him to, for the offense to pull together a winning effort.
It was an essential wrinkle for a Stanford offense that struggled mightily in the first half and looked sluggish outside of a 14-point third quarter.
Leaving Arizona, it seems the most that can be asked of the Stanford Cardinal are two good quarters of football, after incredibly slow starts against Oregon and Utah, paired with an ice-cold finish versus Notre Dame. The defense was bailed out by three turnovers from a team that recorded two (the lowest mark in the country) headed into the game.
This was not a win that restored confidence or made the ship appear repaired, but it was a win. It also showed why Scarlett needs to see more snaps in the coming weeks.