November 5, 2011

Quick Reads: Stanford-Oregon State

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By Willys DeVoll
Reser Stadium

his story is awfully familiar: Stanford shook off a poor opening half to finish strong and extend the longest active winning streak in college football. Even with the 38-13 win over Oregon State in Corvallis, not everything came up roses for the Card, which increasingly seem to be facing stiffer challenges to winning out and earning a berth in the Rose Bowl or the national championship game. Here are your Week 10 Quick Reads:

  • Beaver defensive back Jordan Poyer’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu will in all likelihood end Owusu’s season and perhaps his playing career. As the ESPN/ABC television broadcast made painfully clear, the hit was the 3rd that Owusu has taken in game action this season, and the senior received a similar blow during last year’s Oregon game in Eugene. It’s hard to imagine seeing Owusu come back this year given the risk to his long-term health–on and, more importantly, off the field–that playing would present.
  • Above all, send your thoughts and prayers to the Owusu family. Stanford Football reported earlier that Owusu has a concussion but has full range of motion. That’s great news.
  • The Stanford injuries keep piling up. Tight end Levine Toilolo also left the game in the 1st quarter, leaving Coby Fleener as the only remaining player from the 3-headed tight end corps that garnered national media attention in the opening and middle of the season. CBS’s Kyle Bonagura aptly pointed out during the game that injuries to Shayne Skov, Zach Ertz, Toilolo, Owusu, Cameron Fleming, Jordan Williamson, Delano Howell and Wayne Lyons–all starters or major rotation contributors–do not suggest that Stanford has a particularly good chance to win the BCS title.
  • The bright side, of course, is that some of those players should return. From the above list, at least Ertz, Toilolo, Howell, Fleming and Williamson are expected to or feasibly could return for regular season action. Howell would be the most helpful return, as he could plug right back into the Stanford secondary and contribute to the pass and run defense.
  • Andrew Luck was sloppy, especially in the 1st half. But while his final stat line–i.e. the only thing that many Heisman voters will see from this week’s Stanford game–was not at all exceptional (20-30, 206 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) it shouldn’t hurt his stock for the award.
  • Without Owusu, Toilolo, and Ertz, Griff Whalen once again played a good afternoon of football. The senior wide receiver caught 6 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown and looks more and more like Luck’s go-to target.
  • The best news for the Card was the defense’s ability to completely negate the Oregon State running game. The Beavers finished with a grand total of 33 yards on the ground in just 17 carries. Starting Beaver running back Malcolm Agnew, who has already recorded two 100-yard rushing games in his freshman season, picked up only 15 yards on the day.
  • OSU freshman quarterback and California native Sean Mannion was effective, but his 252 passing yards and 60% completion rate falls in the bottom half of his 2011 season performances. Is it troubling that Mannion, an underclassman surrounded by rather unimpressive skill position players, looked pretty good? A bit, especially when one considers that Stanford had little reason to load up against the run. But Oregon State knew it needed to throw to stay in the game, and Stanford turned up the defensive pressure in the second half before pulling away from the home team.
  • This was, frankly, a very strange game. Players dropped left and right, penalties abounded and the whole shindig began right in the middle of lunchtime on the West Coast. It was a classic “survive and advance” game for Stanford, which remains undefeated and will move up at least to #3 in the polls after either LSU or Alabama falls. The question now becomes whether Stanford is indeed surviving given the costly injuries to starters that grow in number each week. A great team is a healthy team, and Stanford needs to rest up and get crucial performers back on the field if it wants to beat Oregon next week in Stanford Stadium.
  • For more on that game, including our weekly game preview, check back at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and RSS feed.

(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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