After a slow start, Stanford eventually went on to win 44-14. Washington State kept the game fairly close in the first half. Stanford ultimately manage to hold down quarterback Jeff Tuel and their spread offense.
- **First Half Mistakes **– Stanford’s first couple of drives were rather ugly. On the first play of the game, running back Stepfan Taylor was tackled for a loss. On the second play quarterback Andrew Luck threw an interception. On their next drive, Luck and Owusu fail to convert a third down. In addition, Owusu got smashed on the play and had to sit out for the rest of the game. And just as the offense seemed to be getting back on its feet, Taylor had a fumble which eventually led to a Washington State touchdown. Even with all the mistakes, however, the Cardinal had a 10-7 lead at the half.
2**. Defensive Tackling **– The ability to tackle people is, strangely, underrated in many cases. In this game, Washington State tried to create favorable match ups against the Stanford secondary with four and five receiver sets. The defensive backs did a good job of keeping their receiver in front of them and limiting the receiver’s yards after catch. As a result, Tuel had only 145 yards passing and a poor 4.8 yards per attempt. Stanford’s front seven had another spectacular day getting after the passer, recording several sacks and forcing Washington State into many uncomfortable situations. Washington State was not able to run their underneath routes because they constantly found themselves trying to convert third and longs. Stanford only allowed 257 yards and 14 points to an offense which has been pretty successful this year.
Turning Point – Washington State was coming up with some stops. But as they were driving, Johnson Bademosi came up with a big forced fumble. Michael Thomas then ran the fumble down to the twenty. From there, fifth year running back Jeremy Stewart ran the ball in for a touchdown. A field goal lead is not a comfortable one, even with a team as talented as Stanford’s. The defense picked up the slack when the offense was struggling to drive the ball down the field.
**The Tight End Attack – **The offense turned around in the second half when Luck started looking to his tight ends. Nearly 200 of Luck’s yards came off passes to tight ends. Colby Fleener led the way with 128 yards, including a 66 yard catch and a touchdown. Luck also managed to connect with Levine Toilolo for a pair of touchdown catches. And rounding out the list, Zach Ertz made several key catches to set up some big plays. When you have three guys over 6’6″ who can all run, block, and catch the ball, other teams are probably going to have a hard time stopping you.
Luck’s Resilience – Even when Luck seems to make a mistake, he always manages to bounce back. Luck was a little off with his throws to start but he just kept with it. Instead of hanging his head down, he kept making the throws he knew he should be making. Though his stat line may have started with one interception, it ended with four touchdowns. Also credit Coach Shaw for utilizing the running game and play action passes to help get Luck back in a rhythm.
Stanford is now 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the Pac-12. The Cardinal will host the Washington Huskies(5-1) next week in a battle of the Pac-12 North leaders.