In what was forecast as “The year of Love”, the Stanford D has shown their opponents none thus far in ’18, giving up an average of only 7.67 points per game in their first three contests. Worth noting, that defensive average would be an even stingier 5.33 points per, if UC Davis had not completed a somewhat meaningless Hail Mary that pinballed off several players as time expired. It is what it is, I’m just sayin’.
In terms of the defensive stat lines, they are not as gaudy as they usually would be in a win such as this, but even that fact is a testament to the overall Cardinal performance. The Aggies (2-1), who came in to the game ranked #21 in the FCS, simply could not manage to sustain drives against the #7 Cardinal (3-0). Likewise, after two early turnovers the Stanford offense possessed the ball efficiently and controlled the clock, without the help of All-World running back Bryce Love who did not suit up.
“Dr. Love” appeared to be fine though , both encouraging his teammates wholeheartedly from the sideline, and then keeping it light with them once it became appropriate. In any case, giving “The Doctor” some well deserved rest before a big trip to Autzen cannot be a bad thing.
The highly touted Cardinal secondary again shutdown the opposing passing attack. So much so, that both teams switched to back-up players for what was nearly the entire 4th quarter, in order to allow younger players game experience. Again, it was 30-3 until that last crazy play.
In the defensive backfield seniors Alijah Holder (7 tackles / 4 PD) and Alameen Murphy (7 tackles / 1 INT / 1 PD), along with super sophomore Paulson Adebo (4 tackles / 4 PD / 1 TFL), took away the Davis passing lanes with their collective blanket coverage. On the few plays that it was necessary, they were equally effective in helping stop the run.
Stanford senior linebackers Joey Alfieri (4 tackles / 1 QBH / 1 PD), Casey Toohill (4 tackles / 2 PD / 1 QBH), and Mustafa Branch (6 tackles / 2 PD) took care of that for the most part, while up front senior defensive end Dylan Jackson (6 tackles / 1 QBH) and junior defensive tackle Michael Williams (4 tackles / 1 TFL / 1 QBH) both owned the trenches for The Card.
Offensively, junior quarterback K.J. Costello (17 for 30 passing / 214 yards / 2 TD’s / 2 INT) got off to a slow start with two 1st half interceptions, but showed veteran composure in rebounding as the game progressed. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that truly matters on the football field, and Stanford lived that lesson on Saturday.
Cardinal senior wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (3 receptions / 36 yards / 2 TD’s / 12.0 YPR) remained ‘Red Hot’, catching two more touchdowns in front of the Stanford faithful. That gives him 5 TD’s in 3 games so far in 2018, and though he is a wideout, NFL scouts are officially salivating over his ‘Antonio Gates-like’ skillset. Along with a competitive basketball background like Gates, Arcega-Whiteside has tremendous hands, a large frame that he uses well, and furthermore possesses the innate ability to come up with tough catches in heavy traffic.
In the absence of “Dr. Love”, junior tailback Trevor Speights (11 carries / 87 yards / 7.9 YPC / 101 all-purpose yards) saw most of the work for Stanford, and was a reliable resource. Senior RB Cameron Scarlett (9 carries / 30 yards / 1 TD / 3.3 YPC) also provided a quality presence in the backfield for the Cardinal.
As I previously referenced, #7 Stanford (3-0) travels north to play on the road at #20 Oregon (3-0) this Saturday, in a PAC-12 game that is sure to have post-season implications. Believe me fine folks, if you are a football fan, you will not want to miss it.
Win or lose, Roll Red.