By now, you’ve surely seen the game highlights, and if you haven’t, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell: Stanford dominated the second half. Even with the momentum against the Card and the Hokies looking good going into halftime, Harbaugh and his staff made excellent adjustments–particularly on the defensive side of the ball–and shut down Virginia Tech in the last 30 minutes of play. Here is the season finale of Quick Reads.
- Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck turned in a sterling game, throwing for 287 yards, 4 touchdowns, and completing 78% of his passing attempts.
- Tight end Coby Fleener was the biggest beneficiary of Luck’s brilliance. Fleener well outdid any other pass-catcher on the field by going for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns on 6 catches. Fellow tight end Zach Ertz caught Stanford’s other touchdown pass. That’s right: tight ends caught all of the Card’s passing touchdowns.
- Statistically, Hokie quarterback Tyrod Taylor‘s night (222 yards passing, 1 TD, 1, INT; 22 yards rushing) won’t set any new records. But watching him play is a joy, and he kept Virginia Tech in the game the entire first half. The play in which he eluded several Stanford defenders before jump-stopping just before the sideline and delivering a bullet to David Wilson in the endzone for a touchdown has to be one of the finest plays of the year in college football.
- Stanford nearly had two 100-yard rushers. Stepfan Taylor took 13 carries for 114 yards (his most efficient game of the season) and senior Jeremy Stewart, who didn’t see much action in 2010, picked up 99 yards on only 5 attempts.
- Nate Whitaker, you know what you did.
- The Stanford defense owned the second half. That’s due in large part to the play of sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov, who amassed 12 tackles and 3 sacks. When a team can prevent its opponent from scoring in the second half, as Stanford did to VT, a victory normally isn’t far away.
- ESPN has a job to do, but perhaps they can calm down on the “everyone who’s good at Stanford just has to leave” kick. If Harbaugh and Luck choose to leave after this season and conduct themselves with the class that this team has exhibited throughout the year, it will be difficult for even the most ardent of Cardinal fans to fault them for getting paid a lot of money to play/coach at a higher level. But honestly, ESPN: cool it. We don’t need lines like this, courtesy of Gene Wojciechowski:
But the chances of Harbaugh staying at Stanford are the same as Joe Pa dating Lady Gaga. The chances of Luck turning down that No. 1 pick — and the No. 1 guaranteed bonus money that comes with it — are the same as Cecil Newton conducting an ethics seminar.Stranger things have happened. But Harbaugh and Luck staying put won’t be one of them.
But at least Stanford will always have that trophy.
- The speculation at this point doesn’t mean much, but it appears that there is in fact a good chance that at least Luck will stay. Perhaps Wojciechowski would be wise to hedge his bets a bit next time.
- Worth mentioning again: this is the best season in Stanford football history.