I know my grandpa is looking down from heaven smiling. Despite an inexperienced freshman quarterback, a new offensive coordinator and a hated head coach, his USC Trojans crushed a Stanford team with the better coach and the more experienced, highly-regarded quarterback.
Kedon Slovis was a three-star quarterback out of high school and the 26th ranked quarterback overall. He picked the Stanford secondary apart for 377 yards and found the end zone three times through the air.
In classic USC fashion, my friends who go to school there have already called me to not only brag about the game but to brag about how Slovis will save their season and give them a shot at the title. To them I say this, check the stats; Stanford is bad, too.
The Stanford defense only forced five incompletions, which is an indication of our weak secondary. At times, they were no where to be seen, and even our superstar Paulson Adebo made his share of mistakes by being too aggressive at times. However, you could also point fingers at the Stanford defensive line, who only sacked the quarterback once and recorded no quarterback hurries. The secondary can only defend the Trojans receivers for so long.
Then my friends will brag about their defense and how they held the Stanford offense to zero points in the second half. Well, USC fans should realize how depleted the Stanford offense was last week. Stanford was missing arguably their two best players on offense, KJ Costello and Walker Little. Stanford had to start a true freshman at left tackle, which is a recipe for disaster. After only scoring 10 points last week, Stanford’s offense put up 20 (yes, with good field position early).
Who is to blame on Stanford? Injuries happen. Can’t do much about that, but you can point fingers at coaching and how you adjust after injuries. David Shaw was out-coached. He had no answer for USC’s new air raid offense. But he was out-coached mainly because he lacked the player personnel to play the physical, time-controlling style that made Stanford not long ago. The Cardinal program doesn’t have that “next man up” mentality that they used to have. Their replacements are young and didn’t seem ready for action at all.
The issue isn’t player development. It’s recruiting. Stanford, according to 247 Sports, only has 78 scholarship players, despite 85 being the max number allowed. Some of those scholarship players are former walk-ons too, so the number is deceiving. The 2017 recruiting class only had 14 players. Yes, it was a star-studded class, but in football, depth makes a bigger difference. Remember when USC only had 75 scholarships available after being penalized by the NCAA? They struggled for years despite having high-regarded recruits on their team.
If Stanford wants to return to dominance anytime soon, they’ll need to start by getting larger recruiting classes. Now with many injuries already, Stanford is being forced to start young, inexperienced players. Will they even be able to field an offensive line? Get ready for a long season.