Thursday, October 3, 2013
Planning for success: Stanford
By Kyle Bonagura Special to ESPN.com
When Josh Nunes' lob for Levine Toilolo was intercepted on fourth-and-4 late in Stanford's 17-13 loss to Washington a year ago, receiver Ty Montgomery could only shake his head.
"Disappointment and frustration," was how he described it.
Heading into a rematch against the improved Huskies, Montgomery wasn't thrilled to relive that day at CenturyLink Field.
"I remember how I felt and I don't want to feel that way again," he said.
That doesn't mean revenge is on his mind, either. In fact, the team is on strict orders not to let that become a focus.
"Coach [David] Shaw doesn't want us to think about the word revenge," Montgomery said. "What happened last year happened last year. All we're trying to do is be 1-0 this weekend. That's our focus."
But considering how different each team is this year, it hasn't been hard for the Cardinal to buy in.
No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) enters Saturday's game at Stanford Stadium, which will be televised on ESPN at 10:30 p.m. ET, with some gaudy stats on both sides of the ball. The Huskies rank No. 4 in the country in scoring defense (10.8), No. 5 in total offense (574.0) and running back Bishop Sankey is the country's leading rusher at 151.8 yards per game.
No. 5 Stanford (4-0, 2-0) knows first-hand the kind of game-changer Sankey can be. He ran for 144 yards on 20 carries a year ago and his 61-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 to close the third quarter changed the course of the game. He's coming off a school-record 40 carries for 161 yards in last week's 31-13 win against Arizona.
While the personnel is similar to a year ago for Washington, the big change on offense has been in regards to tempo. The Huskies have averaged 84.3 plays per game compared to just 64.5 for Stanford.
Having played against several teams -- Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State -- that have employed a similar tempo over the past few years, some of the shock-and-awe factor is gone.
"Tempo wise, yeah you get used to making calls and not huddling and communicating quickly," Shaw said. "That part, the operational part does carry over, but they're such different offenses that it's hard to say we just take one game plan and go from one team to the other."
If Washington's moving faster, then Stanford has stretched things out. The one-time tight end capital of college football has been shut down, replaced by more downfield passes to players like Montgomery, Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector.
"[Kevin] Hogan is throwing the deep ball really well right now," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "When guys are open, he's hitting them. That's the other piece to the puzzle."
Hogan saw just one play a year ago against Washington -- a 5-yard run -- and has rattled off a 9-0 record since being named the starter.