Sunday, September 18, 2011
Stanford: What we learned
By Kevin Gemmell
This team can win on the road: It's done it in consecutive weeks, across the country, in inclement weather and against, well, one decent team. As Stanford coach David Shaw said following last night’s 37-10 victory over Arizona, “Don’t let the scores fool you, they are a very good team.” I wouldn’t go as far as to say very good, but Arizona is good enough that the Cardinal proved a point to themselves and a lot of naysayers.
The secondary can be good: I will use the word “very” when describing Nick Foles -- as in he’s a very good quarterback. But the Cardinal secondary, which had been hit-and-miss, or just plain missing hits through the first two weeks, stepped up and played a very solid game. It only got beat on a couple of one-on-one plays, and there were a few holes in the coverage -- which is to be expected when playing against a spread team. But Stanford tackled much better than it had in previous weeks. And, more importantly it held its coverage for an extra second, which allowed the front seven to generate five sacks.
This team can deal with some adversity: First it was tight end Coby Fleener, who was lost for the game after suffering a big hit in the first quarter. He was showing concussion-like symptoms so he was kept out. Then it was linebacker Shayne Skov, who suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the second quarter. His status isn’t known, but he was carted off the sideline -- never a good sign. But the Cardinal showed their depth at tight end with Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo both nabbing touchdowns. And the defense buckled down to blank Arizona in the second half. If Skov’s injury is serious, there will be more adversity to come.
The O-line keeps getting better: It was fantastic in the run game. It exploded off the ball, held blocks and kept its feet moving. The end result was 242 yards on the ground and an impressive average of 6.2 yards per carry collectively for the running backs. Pass protection was better than last week, though quarterback Andrew Luck still took a couple of shots. But he wasn’t sacked. And whenever that happens, it’s a good day for the boys up front.
Jordan Williamson’sgot game: Nice game for the kicker. Three field goals -- 20, 45 (career long) and 33 yards -- plus two touchbacks and two more that were run out of the end zone. From Week 1 to Week 3, he has showed splendid improvement.