November 27, 2011

Quick Reads: Stanford-Notre Dame

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By Willys DeVoll
Michael Floyd


tanford likely solidified its place in a BCS bowl, knocked off a quasi-rival and gave Andrew Luck his final Heisman Trophy show-off platform in a fairly straight-forward victory over Notre Dame. The 28-14 Cardinal win ends the team’s regular season, albeit without assurance of what the postseason will bring. Here are your Week 13 Quick Reads:

  • Stanford needed to win to stay in consideration for a BCS bowl berth, which it will likely receive a little over a week from now. Check. But with the national title game match-up virtually set–and set without Stanford–the Card needed to let Luck prove to Heisman voters throughout the country that he’s worthy of the most prestigious individual sporting award in America. Whether he did so or not remains unclear, but Luck did finish with an impressively efficient night, if not a spectacular one. The redshirt junior completed 20 of his 30 passes for 233 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. He looked a bit shaky early on but relied on the reunited tight end trio and freshman wide receiver Ty Montgomery to right the ship and secure a Stanford win.
  • It was, after all, tight end Coby Fleener that led all players with 96 receiving yards. Fleener caught 4 passes and 2 touchdowns, the first of which required he drag a Notre Dame defensive back the final 10 yards to the end zone. Fellow tight end Levine Toilolo used his tremendous height to pull down the game’s 1st touchdown roughly 6 minutes into play.
  • Regardless of what happens with the Heisman, Luck accomplished quite a feat against the Irish. Over the course of his 4-touchdown evening, Luck tied and passed John Elway for the school record for career passing touchdowns. Until the bowl game this January–when Luck will almost surely toss at least 1 more TD–the school mark stands at 80 touchdowns.
  • The aforementioned Montgomery, who was in high school 6 months ago, played the game of his young career. In addition to catching his 1st touchdown pass, Montgomery wracked up a total of 6 receptions for 77 yards. The touchdown was actually the 3rd of Montgomery’s season–he enjoyed one on special teams in October and rushed for another last week during Big Game–and the 77 yards doesn’t top the 87 he amassed at USC. But the total effort was the best and most consistent he’s put forth thus far and Luck looks increasingly confident throwing to him.
  • After the Stanford pass rush knocked ND quarterback Tommy Rees down nearly every time he threw, head coach Brian Kelly decided to throw youngster Andrew Hendrix into the fire. The sophomore from Ohio took over the anemic Irish offense and threw for 192 yards while running for another 20. Between the passing and the running, Hendrix accounted for both of Notre Dame’s touchdowns. He was far from perfect–only 46% of his passes were complete and more than a handful of his throws floated and wobbled in the air–but Hendrix could take over Rees’s job in the near future.
  • The quarterback trouble was about the only thing that kept wideout Michael Floyd in check. Floyd still finished with 92 yards and 1 touchdown on 8 receptions for Notre Dame, but one can only imagine how productive he would be if paired with a quarterback like Luck. Floyd looked like the most athletic player on the field for the majority of the night.
  • Notre Dame also enjoyed productive receiving nights from tight end and blue-chip pro prospect Tyler Eifert (4 receptions, 79 yards) and wide receiver Theo Riddick (2 receptions, 67 yards).
  • The officiating in Stanford Stadium was, to put it kindly, bizarre. Stanford accumulated 11 penalties for 113 yards, including multiple phantom pass interference calls and a highly questionable personal foul. Notre Dame drew 10 flags, many of which came on false starts.
  • Stanford dominated the run game, while Notre Dame struggled to move the ball at all on the ground. Stepfan Taylor once again did the majority of the Card’s work on the ground, where he recorded 118 yards on 20 carries. Cierre Wood, the Irish’s feature back, only picked up 41 yards on 12 carries.
  • Stanford beat Notre Dame by the sniff test and by just about every statistical metric available. Although a sloppy 2nd half by the Card let Notre Dame keep the game relatively close, Stanford was the clear victor.
  • Foster Field continues to be a wet and slippery mess. Cardinal head coach David Shaw has spoken about investigating solutions for the field between now and September, but boosters are unlikely to approve a synthetic turf surface. Whatever the department decides upon, let’s hope that the grass changes and we can all be spared another November of players falling down without being hit.
  • Stanford wore its Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the game.
  • Notre Dame has a guy named John Goodman. Unfortunately, he is neither obese nor an actor.
  • The Stanford bowl picture in a nutshell: Stanford needs to finish in the BCS top 4 to be guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl; it will be eligible for a BCS bowl berth at-large otherwise. Stanford will likely find itself in the Fiesta or Sugar Bowl, depending upon how teams around the country do next week, how the computers shake everything out and how bowl organizers view Stanford relative to other potential at-large teams like Michigan.

(Headline image courtesy of Daylife)

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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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