October 16, 2011

Quick Reads: Stanford-Washington State

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By Willys DeVoll
Martin Stadium

tanford played the sort of game that’s becoming the team’s modus operandi on Saturday by overcoming a sluggish 1st half to take care of Washington State and notch a 44-14 victory. With the regular season now half complete, Stanford is undefeated and the top team in the conference. Here are your Week 7 Quick Reads:

  • Stanford didn’t improve on its tendency to stumble out of the gate. The Card’s second play was an Andrew Luck interception; Stanford barely scored in the 1st quarter, and would have put up a 0 for the quarter if not for a Jordan Williamson field goal with under 2 minutes left in the period. At the half, Washington State had all the momentum, an invigorated home crowd and only a 3-point deficit to make up in the game’s final 30 minutes.
  • The second half, however, was entirely different. Stanford had 5 offensive drives in the second half, and 4 ended with Andrew Luck touchdown passes (the last ended in a punt). By game’s end, Stanford had accumulated 475 total yards–336 of which came in the passing game–while keeping Washington State to 257 yards on the afternoon.
  • Requisite Andrew Luck Statline Update: 336 yards passing, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception, 23-36 passing (64%)
  • Luck was, as usual, brilliant.
  • The Stanford defense kept star wide receiver Marquess Wilson to a respectable but unexceptional performance. Wilson caught 5 balls for 50 yards, which becomes his worst performance of the season. Before Saturday, he had never gained fewer than 88 yards in a 2011 game.
  • Stanford continued to struggle on special teams, and specifically in the return game. Between Ty Montgomery’s kickoff return fumble and some questionable punt return plays, Stanford could be leaving the door open for better teams to exploit weaknesses in securing the ball when Stanford’s special teams are on the field.
  • Montgomery more than made up for his early-game blunder by returning a kickoff–the final play of the game–96 yards for a touchdown. While it looks as though Montgomery, a true freshman, will primarily serve return duties this season, it’s hard to resist imagining how he’ll eventually burn Pac-12 secondaries as a starting wideout for the Card.
  • Fellow pass-catcher Chris Owusu suffered what appeared to be a head injury in the 1st quarter. Owusu stayed down on the field for several minutes and did not return to the game after walking off the field with the Stanford training staff. The hit and resulting injury were eerily reminiscent of the play on which he suffered a concussion in Eugene last fall.
  • Jeff Tuel came back from several weeks of injury to make the start at quarterback for the Cougars. But Washington State produced no significant running game and netted 48 yards on the ground over the course of the game. Considering that 15 of the 48 came on a run by back-up quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, the run effort looks even worse.
  • By catching 2 touchdowns, tight end Levine Toilolo tripled his career touchdown count. Stanford tight ends might have been the story of the day in Pullman, where the tight end corps caught 11 of Luck’s 23 completions and 3 of his 4 touchdown passes. Only 1 wide receiver, Griff Whalen, caught a pass.
  • Whalen, though, continues to be an enormous asset to the Cardinal offense. Whalen tied WSU’s Isiah Barton for a game-high 7 catches, and Whalen averaged 10.9 yards per reception by picking up 76 yards.
  • With the 30-point win, Stanford remains perfect against the spread this season. Do with that information what you will.
  • Stanford blew the game open by scoring 4 touchdowns in between Washington State’s only 2 scores. Before that run began for the Card, the score was still 10-7.
  • Despite the visit from national darling Andrew Luck and the nationally elite Stanford Cardinal, Martin Stadium still drew only 30,000 spectators for the game. To its credit, the venue only holds around 36,000 people at full capacity.
  • Stepfan Taylor turned in another 100-yard game, and picked up exactly 100 yards on the ground on 17 carries.
  • Sophomore Anthony Wilkerson re-emerged as an option in the running game. Wilkerson took 6 carries, second only to Taylor for the team high, for 25 yards. He might just be working his way back into the running back stable as a consistent back-up for Taylor after weeks of virtual irrelevance.
  • The final score is no victory for the Cougars, but a little more depth, consistency and risk avoidance could have substantially changed the game. Washington State is certainly on the track toward becoming one of the best teams in the Pac-12 when it regains a full scholarship package next season and continues to develop its young players. Although it likely won’t compete with Oregon and Stanford for a spot in Pasadena any time soon, the program has made substantial strides and will likely win more games this year than it did in the best 3 seasons combined.
  • Thanks to everyone who tweeted @DailyAxe during the game. If you haven’t tried it, spending gameday on Twitter is worth a try.
  • Stanford returns home for its most challenging opponent thus far this year, Washington, in Stanford Stadium next week. Stay tuned for more coverage of Stanford-Washington State and complete coverage of the showdown with the Huskies.
(Headline image courtesy of Wikipedia)

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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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