October 2, 2011

Quick Reads: Stanford-UCLA

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By Willys DeVoll
Stanford-UCLA Quick Reads

Stanford compiled a 45-19 win in a rare Stanford Stadium sell-out (the fifth since the venue assumed its current form) and took care of UCLA to improve to 2-0 in conference play. Saturday night was not the first home game of the year or a premier contest between rivals, but it had the feel of a home opener and was the first on-campus game that the majority of Stanford students have been on the Farm to attend. Here are your Stanford-UCLA Quick Reads:

  • Move along; nothing to see here. The 26-point victory with which Stanford advances to Week 6 of the season was not a stellar performance, but UCLA never seriously threatened to win. While it would be reasonable to peg Saturday night as a “survive and advance” game that requires persistence and efficiency rather than virtuosity and excellence, Stanford did not look like one of the top 5 teams in the country, especially considering the competition.
  • After all, Texas–a team that has improved since a mediocre 2010 season but will almost certainly not challenge for a spot in the national championship game this year and hasn’t yet proven it belongs on Stanford’s playing level–beat UCLA by 29 in Pasadena on September 17.
  • The biggest weakness for the Card came on defense, which struggled for extended stretches. UCLA opened the game with a 79-yard drive that Stanford ended with a goal-line stand on 4th down. The Bruins averaged just under 5 yards per carry and converted nearly half of its 3rd down conversion attempts. Junior running back Johnathan Franklin needed only 12 carries to gain his 96 yards on the night.
  • Bruin quarterback Richard Brehaut became increasingly hesitant and inaccurate as the game progressed, but performed honorably, if not outstandingly. He finished with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions while completing 55% of his passing attempts for 202 yards and 18 rushing yards.
  • Speaking of quarterbacks, Andrew Luck was a portrait of efficiency. Luck’s incompletions (4) barely outnumbered his touchdown passes (3) on a night where 85% of the balls that left his hand ended up with a Stanford receiver and not one was caught by a Bruin. But Luck’s most impressive moment came in the receiving game:

  • For more from the Amazing Catches Department, see Coby Fleener’s touchdown grab. The senior STS major and David Foster Wallace look-alike caught 2 touchdowns in the game’s first 31 minutes.
  • Stanford used the Wildcat formation several times throughout the game and went no-huddle on several occasions. In the Wildcat, Tyler Gaffney received snaps; Luck called plays at the line when the offense did not huddle.
  • A lingering concern for Stanford will likely be the team’s inability to pull away from teams early in games. UCLA trailed by 10 at halftime and by 12 with just over 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Stanford still has not trailed this season, but more talented opponents (i.e. USC, Oregon, etc.) could take advantage of the Card’s slow starts.
  • Freshman receiver Ty Montgomery didn’t record a catch, but made the most of his time of the field by returning a kickoff for 38 yards at the beginning of the second half. Montgomery also forced and recovered a UCLA fumble on a Stanford punt roughly 10 game minutes after his return.
  • 2 of UCLA’s 3 touchdowns were caught by junior tight end Joseph Fauria, who only made 3 catches on the night.
  • Defensive MVP honors go to UCLA linebacker Patrick Larimore, who made 11 tackles. No other player recorded more than 9, and no Stanford player had more than 7.
  • The game included only one sack, which came courtesy of Chase Thomas in the opening minutes of the 2nd quarter. On the play, Thomas also forced a fumble that Stanford’s Blake Lueders recovered.
  • UCLA could have made this something of a game with a few more quality plays (like punching the ball in from the 1 in the opening drive). Despite the missed opportunities for the Bruins, aspects of the night will be encouraging to a team that has struggled for years to leave the bottom tier of Pac-12 football squads.
  • The sell-out suggested it, but the in-game atmosphere confirmed that Stanford’s football success is finally paying off in a vastly improved stadium experience. Although the stadium was not full until after kickoff and emptied well before the final whistle, the program is making significant strides in creating a gameday atmosphere commensurate with the nationally elite team on the field.
  • The much-advertised Stanford Stadium WiFi was a bust. 3G was jammed and WiFi worked poorly and infrequently, making live tweeting from the game on the @DailyAxe account impossible. Hopefully there will be a solution (a press credential would be lovely, if you Stanford brass read this) in time for the Colorado game next week.
  • More thoughts are forthcoming in this week’s Weekend Reflections.

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About the Author

Willys DeVoll
Willys DeVoll is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Axe. He writes about Stanford sports for and writes fiction, reviews and commentary elsewhere.


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