October 9, 2010

Quick Reads: USC-Stanford (2010)

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By The Daily Axe Staff
2008-1115-006-USC-Stanford-PAN Low
Fourth quarter of a college football game betw...
Stanford Stadium (Image via Wikipedia)

Here are the first thoughts on the nail-biter that went down tonight on the Farm. As always, you can expect a Weekend Reflections article in the coming 48 hours, and we will also be introducing a new set of post-game analysis content, including a detailed report card for USC and Stanford. Until then, check out The Daily Axe’s Quick Reads:

  • Andrew Luck continues to be incredibly efficient in the clutch. With under 2 minutes to go, he effortlessly led the Card down the field, into kicking range, and let placekicker Nate Whitaker win the game. Luck was solid for the entire game, though. His line: 20-24 passing for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. That sounds a lot like what we predicted he would do. Plus, there’s this gem of a defensive play, courtesy of a future NFL franchise quarterback.
  • USC quarterback Matt Barkley actually posted a statistically better night. Barkley went 28-45 for 390 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • Nate Whitaker owes Andrew Luck dinner. Had the redshirt sophomore quarterback not brought the Cardinal down the field to set up the game-winning field goal, the Trojans would have won by 1 point, thanks to Whitaker’s missed extra point late in the 4th quarter. Needless to say, Nate would not have been particularly popular around the Farm for a while had that been the case.
  • Injuries are starting to pile up for Stanford. Shayne Skov appeared to re-injure his knee (he did return to the game), Chris Owusu had some kind of hand injury in the 4th quarter, and Ryan Whalen clearly is not at full health. Running backs Tyler Gaffney and Jeremy Stewart also seem to still be hurt.
  • This was, in many ways, a battle of pedestrian secondaries. Both teams left countless receivers wide open.
  • Stepfan Taylor is growing into the team’s premier halfback. Taylor again topped 100 yards (that’s three weeks in a row, folks) by rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.
  • True freshman running back Anthony Wilkerson also looked good. He only had 3 carries, but made the most of them in picking up 15 yards and a touchdown.
  • Why isn’t Own Marecic getting carries in 3rd and short situations? He got nearly all of them up until the Notre Dame game, but we’ve rarely seen him carry the ball the last two weeks. Perhaps there is a lurking injury that we don’t know about. Otherwise, it’s hard to explain why Jim Harbaugh would call a halfback sweep on 3rd and 1 (on the Card’s first drive of the game) rather than giving the ball to Marecic to pound up the gut.
  • There were more people in attendance than seats in Stanford Stadium. They definitely got their money’s worth.
  • Stanford cannot fumble 3 times in a game. It worked tonight, but let’s face it: USC is not a great team. Turning the ball over against better competition (read: Arizona and Oregon State) would be detrimental.
  • Students rushing the field would have been an insult to the quality of Stanford’s team had the ending of the game not been so emotional. Considering the last-second field goal and the fact that things were looking awfully bleak for Stanford, the field-rushing is completely justified.

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The Daily Axe Staff
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