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 14 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 14.
The last one of the season, the last jersey to purchase in 2018, the final chapter for the this column. It seems ironically fitting, following a season with so much emphasis on the Stanford Cardinal offense that has changed and morphed, that the defense should receive the final jersey purchase.
Winner - Paulson Adebo
Stat Line - three tackles, two interceptions
Stanford seemed to be in cruise control for most of this game, averaging only 2.6 yards per carry, settling for field goals to finish drives and coasting to a 23-13 game that ended closer than it ever felt, thanks to a touchdown from the California Golden Bears in the final 10 seconds.
Outside of a 46-yard score from Cameron Scarlett and a 31-yard pass to JJ Arcega-Whiteside, the Cardinal went through the motions of a victory against a lesser opponent after the PAC-12 title game had already been played.
Despite the coast over the Cal, Adebo showed up, snagging two picks which resulted in seven points for the Cardinal. The game capped an impressive personal performance from Adebo, standing out from a frustratingly inconsistent Cardinal defense.
Adebo closed his first season as a starter totaling 60 tackles, five turnovers and 17 passes defended. Amongst a secondary group that Alijah Holder was predicted to lead, Adebo was just one young player who emerged on the backend. Of the three sophomores that started the season on the depth-chart, Adebo was the lone starter, outpacing his elders in 2018. He had an immense impact on Stanford’s Cal outing and won the game for the Cardinal with his performance in overtime versus the Oregon Ducks.
In the reversal of script for Stanford’s offense, their deteriorating defense and a new reliance on proficient quarterback play, the secondary may be the one carryover from the Cardinal’s old regime.
Adebo has garnered criticism this season, and there is no doubt that Holder lining up across from him is exceptionally helpful. But next season, Malik Antoine and Obi Eboh will be with Adebo, composing the likely core in 2019. Each (particularly Adebo and Antoine) took steps forward this season in a big way with both opportunities on the field and the way they took advantage of them.
The Cal game and a secondary allowing only 197 passing yards on its own, is solid but not a reason to embark on a hopeful rant. But the Cardinal have started to conform to everyone else’s already adopted football style. A faster-paced offense, emphasis on quarterback proficiency and not only placing running but also defense as a side rather than the meal.
The secondary accounted for 11 turnovers and four of the top ten tacklers on the team. They also racked up 36 passes defended as a group, one of the only levels on the defense with numbers worth noting.
In this brave new world of Stanford football, the secondary can be the sneaky edge that gives the Cardinal extra, and significant red zone stops. The back end might be next season’s saving grace for the Cardinal defense, and Adebo will be a key factor.