Running game looks to get back on track

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
5:00
PM ET
The Moose never really got loose. That doesn't make the Moose happy -- or the other four guys (sometimes five or six , depending on the play) who line up beside him when Stanford's offense takes the field.

Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin -- regarded as one of the top two left tackles in college football -- said he and the rest of the offensive line are taking their performance last week against Oregon personally.

"That loss hurt," Martin said. "Looking back, it's been a while since we lost. This one hurt. But we're over it and we're moving forward and looking forward to playing Cal this week."

There were a myriad of things that went wrong for the offensive line last week against the Ducks -- missed assignments, mental mistakes and leaky pass protection that led to three sacks.

"It's a tough loss," Martin said. "You have to give credit to Oregon, and their front seven played a tremendous game. They played more physical than us and they outplayed us. We did a couple of things right and a couple of things to build off of. But give them credit, because they are a quality opponent."

Aside from quarterback Andrew Luck, no one relies on the offensive line more than running back Stepfan Taylor, who carried 23 times for 99 yards against the Ducks. But as a team, the Cardinal only managed 129 yards on the ground -- a season low. They also managed just 3.6 yards per carry as a team -- also a season low. A lot of that has to do with the Cardinal falling behind in the second half and abandoning the running game.

Heading into last week's game, Stanford averaged 49.9 rushing yards in the third quarter and 58.1 in the fourth quarter. But against the Ducks, the Cardinal rushed for just 18 yards in the entire second half.

"I think the offensive line held up the same as they have all season," Taylor said. "Everybody made mistakes on offense. You can't discount Oregon. They just flat out beat us and capitalized on the mistakes that we made."

Cal presents some challenges with a big and athletic defensive front. They rank 29th nationally against the run, yielding 120.3 yards per game on average and lead the conference in total defense, allowing 319.1 total yards per game.

"I expect (the offensive line) to come out ready to play, just like everybody else on the team," Taylor said. "Oregon is in the past. We're just focused on Cal's defensive line. They are athletic and strong and we're looking forward to getting back out and playing again.

"I'm just looking to get what I can get. The offensive line will do their thing and I'm hoping for an overall big game."

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