Weekly Musings – Stanford Edition

2-0. Bring on the Eagles. Beating the insanely radicalized Stanford Cardinal is just supposed to happen. But when playing 60 on 85, plus when playing with PAC12 refs at Stanford, well, the win is meaningful. And I’ll say this too: this is not the Stanford of the last 100 years; it is the Stanford of the last 5 years. They’re good. And we won again.

Let’s go around the country quickly then talk USC …

What can you see about SEC football (and Florida State, and Clemson) this last weekend where the intensity was unmatched and thrill of competition was blaring from the SEC’s loudspeakers ??? I am, of course, referring to Alabama’s game against Florida Atlantic, Auburn’s game against San Jose State, Texas A&M’s game against Lamar (I assume that’s a guy, not a college), Florida State’s game against Citadel, Clemson’s game against South Carolina State, and LSU’s game against Sam Houston. This is top 10 action that fans deserve! This is what college football fans pay to see. This is how teams show their real mettle. First of all, I say kudos to ESPN for calling out these pathetic schools for their pathetic scheduling. Herbstreit’s lambasting on Gameday was outstanding. Secondly, this is the kind of thing that can be fixed immediately – set a rule that no team that plays FCS teams (the old 1AA) will be eligible to play in the late-year playoff. Period. Even Alabama might find a respectable team to play, like Arkansas State, or Lousiana-Lafayette.

Does anyone know – has Texas been on sanctions the last four years????? Dear Lord!

Bo is a goner at Nebraska. Tied to McNeese State at home with 20 seconds to go??? Disgusting. I don’t care how they won; when you’re fans are having to celebrate like it was a conference championship win a victory over MCNEESE STATE at HOME, the expectations have dropped too low.

Did Washington really give up 31 points to EASTERN WASHINGTON in the FIRST HALF?

It is actually pathetic to see all those coaching candidates the fake Trojans wanted to get struggle in such an ugly, ugly way.

The Ohio State loss is stunning to me only in that their annual act of being exposed happened so early this year. I generally expect it to come later in the year, and certainly in their bowl game.

It’s true UCLA looks an awful lot like, well, UCLA. Good athletes who aren’t great and a poor ability to take over a game. Will be interesting to see how they improve throughout the year. They look to me to have been horrifically overrated coming into this year.

Oregon did what Oregon does. They may have gotten behind and let Michigan State play with them for a while, but by the fourth quarter it was clear Michigan State didn’t belong on the field with Oregon.

Speaking of which, the teams in the 8-man football of Division 6’s Academy League small schools high school football could probably compete in the Big-10 this year. The Nebraska miracle play did keep a total disaster week for the Big-10 from being fatally disastrous, but Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State all losing and losing the way they did absolutely put the nail in the coffin for any Big-10 school being in the final four as I see it. And it’s only September 7th.

**********
I have a lot of comments below mostly typed real-time during the game, but let me say this: I flat-out said USC would need 35 points to win. I flat-out said we couldn’t let Stanford run time of possession, run the game strategy, and control the clock and the ball, if we were going to win. They did everything they had to do in that regard, and yet USC won. We scored 1/3rd of what I thought we would need, and they had all the time of possession they could have dreamed for and then some. And we won. But their redzone execution was atrocious, and we made the plays we needed to make to win this game.

I have gone back and forth on that decision to kick the FG that proved to be the game-winner, and I am anxious to ask Sark on Monday if he thinks he would do the same thing ten out of ten times. Compelling arguments exist to punt; compelling arguments frankly exist to just go for a first down; and certainly compelling arguments exist to kick the FG. I am too versed in congitive biases to NOT believe I MIGHT have my opinion based on the fact that we made the kick and won, but I do believe that overtime on the road is awful – just awful. And Sark made the call he made. Boom. We won.

Stanford held us to nearly half of the plays we ran last week. They had a huge time of possession advantage that actually was diminished by our fourth quarter improvement. At the end of the day that fumble after we tied it 10-10 and they got the huge field position behind the insane refereeing was the start of something magical. Our 3rd and 4 big time conversion to NA was purely magical. And what can you say about Heidari’s kick? I am just not sure how many times I will watch this fourth quarter in the next month.

A few musings …

The much-heralded discipline of the Stanford Cardinal was sorely lacking on their first drive of the game after executing well down the field (into scoring position) and having multiple penalties and horrific play calls result in a stupid (failed) attempt at a 50-yard field goal.

3rd down conversions for the Trojans against Fresno State: XXXXX; third down conversions tonight before the fourth quarter: xxxxxx; third down conversions end of the game: xxxxxxx

At one point USC was 0-for-6 on third downs in the second half before turning it on.

Chris Hawkins #4 causing me to forgive Josh Shaw quicker … Some truly bad tackles and bad penalties on Stanford’s second drive. But he played better after that.

Five late hits by Stanford on USC’s second offensive possession uncalled. Five.

Back to back plays of intentional grounding and a sack when we were driving late first half ruined the possession and for first time showed tremendous vulnerability with our offensive line

Overall SC’s tackling was often really suspect, especially at the second level. Poor linebacker play and a secondary that is not showing me what I want to see. Tavai in particular seemed to struggle today but then what happened??? He made the play that won the game for us …

With five minutes left in the third quarter, Over 6 yards per play for Stanford; 3 yards per play for USC.

With six trips to the redzone for the Stanford Cardinal and a grand total of ten points, the USC offense had to reward our defense in the fourth quarter.

Stanford’s heralded offensive line and running game not being able to get 1 yard on 4th down is a bad sign for their prospects this season.

Stanford fumbling after the MORONIC call that USC “celebrated” after the field goal AND the MORONIC personal foul call on Sark and the ABSURD ejection of Hayes Pullard was purely a result of the fact that there is, in fact, a God. Sorry, Stanford.

I love Pat Haden. Love him.

This QB at Stanford is fine – he just isn’t anything special and he’s prone to mistakes. He’s not the worst I’ve seen but he’s really mediocre for a guy who supposedly would lead a championship contending team this season

I write every year about my commitment to the run game and desire to see establish a powerful running attack, from which we can develop pretty much anything we want offensively. I know some feel that Sark was too stubborn in sticking to the run here but I but I’m not so sure. Our offensive line did a fine job, and besides that possession I aluded to above didn’t expose Kessler to too much pressure throughout the day. But where they shined was opening the holes that Buck Allen needed to have a pretty explosive day. Nearly 7 yards per carry and over 150 yards total running is unbelievable. 133 last week for Buck. I think a 1,500 yard season is entirely possible for Buck, which is truly incredible to think about.

Top five plays of the week:
(5) Buck Allen’s 50-yard run on the 90+ yard drive to get us the game-tying field goal
(4) The 3rd and four conversion to Nelson Agholar for 29-yards
(3) That 4th and 1 stop which actually really was the whole story of the game
(2) J.R. Tavai’s smacking of Hogan upside his head to seal the game
(1) Heidari’s game-winning 53-yard kick

I am proud of the team and proud of our AD who is a Trojan’s Trojan and proud of our ability to get this win despite the hurdles we will have to overcome. We need to take it week by week, not take Boston College for granted across the country, play for each other, and fight on – always.