Friday, September 21, 2012

Stanford – Rose Bowl Bound?

The Stanford Cardinals weekend 21-14 NCAAF score triumph against the USC Trojans catapulted them up the AP Top 25 rankings from No. 21 to No. 9 – that in itself is an achievement but it also could have served as something of a blueprint as to why the Cardinal have a real shot at winning the Pac-12 for the first time since 1999.

That blueprint has four dynamic components:

Firstly a dominant front seven is needed and the group that they have this year is certainly dominant - this group shut down a Trojans rushing attack manned by two of the best running backs in college football in Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, as USC managed to tally a meagre 26 yards on the ground in 28 carries. This group was just as good at getting after the passer, as the Cardinal posted five sacks against a USC club that had allowed only eight sacks during the entire 2011 season.

Having taken away the running game from the Trojans they had to switch to a vertical passing game and targeted junior cornerback Terrence Brown. Brown was one of the primary targets of the USC passing game, as the Trojans directed seven passes his way, five of which were of the vertical variety (meaning they were thrown 11 or more yards downfield). Brown was called for two pass interference penalties totalling 29 yards, but he allowed zero completions on the other five passes targeted his way and even managed to snag an interception on one of the throws.

It wasn’t all about the defence for Stanford though and their run game and more correctly their run blocking was superb right across the offensive unit and that includes the tight-ends and wide receivers. More of this will leave them with a very good and solid base offence for the rest of the season.

Lastly and certainly not least they have a good quarterback in Josh Nunes, his numbers don’t look explosive he went 15-for-32 for 215 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions but What those numbers don't show is that Nunes did exactly what this offence needed him to do, which is make some big plays while not making the big mistakes.

Stanford have a tough schedule of live NCAAF matches coming up but if they emerge unscathed from that a very favourable late October/early November schedule could set the them up for a potential Pac-12 North-clinching contest against the Oregon Ducks on Nov. 17 and put the Rose Bowl in their sights.

No comments:

Post a Comment