Archive for September, 2019

Inconsistent Stanford squanders a big lead but slips past Oregon State with a 31-28 win

September 30, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 30, 2019

Junior quarterback Davis Mills threw for three touchdowns and caught another as the Stanford football team survived Oregon State’s fourth-quarter rally to claim a 31-28 victory on a damp, cool Saturday evening in Corvallis.

Senior Jet Toner hit a 39-yard field goal with a second remaining to win in regulation after the Cardinal (2-3, 1-2 Pac-12) squandered a 21-point second-half lead and a two-touchdown advantage with 9:31 remaining in the fourth quarter. The kick spared Stanford some of the embarrassment of explaining away a late collapse by the defense, which let the Beavers (1-3, 0-1) score touchdowns on their final four drives.

Sophomore wideout Michael Wilson had three receptions for 87 yards and a score, while junior tight end Colby Parkinson (three catches, 44 yards) both caught and threw a touchdown for the Cardinal. His partner on those scoring plays was Mills (18 for 25 for a career-high 245 yards); he started in place of K.J. Costello, who injured his throwing hand against Oregon. Stanford also got another workmanlike effort from redshirt senior running back Cameron Scarlett (24 carries, 92 yards).

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Boat racing in Orange City: A crazy holdem hand at a cash table

September 27, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 27, 2019

I’ve written a pair of posts about my mid-September trip to Orlando (not to mention a few more about the game in which the University of Central Florida walloped my beloved Stanford football team). What I haven’t yet mentioned is my excursion to the Orange City Racing and Card Club, about 30 miles north of downtown Orlando.

What drew me here was cards, particularly the chance to play poker for money. After buying in for $220 in chips, I sat down at a $1–$2 cash table around 2:15 p.m. Aside from a pair of toilet runs and a visit or two to a nearby trash can, I stayed there for nearly the next four hours.

I was up by $69 when I returned to the cashier. This was both encouraging and disappointing: The former because I started off ice cold and seemingly couldn’t get a winning hand for an hour or so, the latter because I had roughly $350 arrayed in front of me around 5:30 p.m. before I started playing more loosely in hopes of hitting it big. (Obviously, I did not.)

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-3 Stanford

September 25, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 25, 2019

This week, I have no blisters or stories to share; there was just a visit to a sports bar to see yet another desultory Stanford loss.

• The Bad

We are yet again spoiled for choice in this category. On a macro level, the Cardinal’s pass defense was atrocious; the offense was held to 234 yards and six points while converting only five of 16 third downs; and the special teams unit returned only two punts for a paltry nine yards while being pinned inside their own 15-yard line all of five times.

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Punchless Cardinal falls at home to Oregon, 21-6

September 24, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 24, 2019

A fierce defensive effort came to nought Saturday evening as the Stanford football team fell at home to Oregon, 21-6, giving the Cardinal its first three-game losing winning streak under head coach David Shaw.

After surrendering back-to-back 45-point games, the Cardinal defense held the prolific Ducks offense to just three touchdowns while receiving virtually zero scoring or special-teams support. While Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert was magnificent, completing 19 of 24 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns, the Stanford defense recorded four sacks and seven tackles-for-loss in limiting the Ducks to 61 yards on 31 carries.

Stanford (1-3, 0-2 Pac-12) drove 61 yards on 12 plays on its opening drive but had to settle for a 32-yard Jet Toner field goal after gaining first down at the Ducks 17-yard line.

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Cardinal considerations: Can Stanford recover from its two-game losing streak?

September 21, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 21, 2019

Since David Shaw was became Stanford’s head football coach prior to the 2011 season, the Cardinal has had a swell run. Over Shaw’s eight-plus seasons, the team has extended its bowl streak to a school-best 10 years, which currently leads the conference. Shaw boasts an 83-28 record, which translates to a winning percentage of 74.8. The former Cardinal wide receiver has been named the Pac-12 coach of the year four times, more than any other over the 44-year history of the award.

Half of Shaw’s 28 defeats have occurred as part of consecutive losses. Never to this point has a Shaw-coached team sustained more than two losses in a row. I’ve assembled the following table of the seven losing streaks, which you’ll probably have to click on to read:

Stanford football losing streaks under David Shaw, 2014 onward

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Florida flipping: My pinball excursion to Orlando* (*by which I mean Oviedo)

September 19, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 19, 2019

I went to Orlando to do one thing: Watch Stanford football. But in booking my trip, I gave myself a few days on either side of the actual football game against UCF. I looked online for a few other activities to fill the time.

A quick search of a handy app named Pinball Map revealed that the Orlando area has three locations with large numbers of pinball machines. For reasons that escape me, they’re all in a town called Oviedo, which is five miles north of the University of Central Florida and about 15 miles northeast of central Orlando.

The first pinball venue that I stopped at was District Eat and Play, which is located in Oviedo Mall. When I visited on Thursday evening, the facility was so dark that I at first believed it was entirely abandoned. This is one of the old-style enclosed malls that were popular in the latter half of the 20th century, as opposed to the street-style shopping districts that have supplanted them. (Incidentally, I suspect this trend might be cyclical, but it could be decades before a possible shift back to indoor malls, so I may not live to know the truth.)

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Botanical beauty in Central Florida: Images from my stroll through the Leu Gardens

September 18, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 18, 2019

My major cultural activity while staying in Orlando for Stanford’s ill-starred football game at UCF was visiting the beautiful Harry P. Leu Gardens. I headed west from the main gate and walked to the Lake Rowena overlook — where a woman inspecting the informational placards was surprised to learn that alligators might be about — before cruising through the northwestern sections of the property.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-2 Stanford

September 17, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 17, 2019

Saturday was the first time I caught a Stanford football game in person since the Cardinal traveled to Boulder in 2015. It was the team’s first trip to the East Coast since their 2013 visit to West Point.

For a hot minute, it seemed as though the contest in Orlando might be staged in the fringes of the tropical storm that subsequently evolved into Humberto. The system’s track shifted to the east; still, for a short time Saturday morning it rained fiercely, and a strong threat of precipitation was forecast for the late afternoon as recently as a few hours before kickoff.

I’d brought just one pair of shoes on my trip to Florida, and I didn’t want them to get deluged during my spectating. I purchased some Teva boat shoes the day before the game and donned them after parking on campus. Five minutes into my trek to the stadium, I had a blister on the back of my left foot. I tried adjusting the straps, to no effect. I walked barefoot for a short distance, but the campus grass felt coarse and unpleasant beneath my feet.

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UCF embarrasses hapless Cardinal football squad in a 45-27 thrashing

September 15, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 15, 2019

Freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel went 22 for 30 with 347 yards, four touchdowns and no picks to lead UCF to a 45-27 rout of Stanford in Orlando on Saturday.

A week after USC went down by two touchdowns early before going on to win by 25, Central Florida scored three touchdowns in the game’s first nine minutes and was never in any serious danger. The Knights only had seven points in the second half, but that touchdown slammed the door on what were Stanford’s already slim comeback chances.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-1 Stanford

September 10, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 10, 2019

I returned to Tobacco Road on Saturday evening to view the Stanford football team’s debacle at USC. Suffice to say that the results were quite different from the previous week’s.

• The Bad

As you might imagine after a 25-point loss, there are plenty of candidates for this week’s The Bad. For instance, the Stanford secondary, which allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. For another instance, the Stanford defensive front, which allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. And for a third instance, the Stanford defensive coaches, who allowed a freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start to roll up 377 yards and three touchdowns on 28 of 33 passing. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

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Trojans come back from a two-touchdown deficit to stomp Stanford, 45-20

September 9, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 9, 2019

USC scored five unanswered touchdowns in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to humiliate Stanford in the Pac-12 conference debut for both teams Saturday night.

The Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) took a 17-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter before suffering an epic collapse. Stanford’s backup signal caller, junior Davis Mills, turned in an adequate performance with 237 yards, a score and a pick while competing 22 of 36 throws. His favorite targets were a pair of juniors, tight end Colby Parkinson (seven catches, 89 yards) and wideout Conor Wedington (five catches for 67 yards). Redshirt senior Cameron Scarlett gained 82 yards on 17 rushes.

But USC’s freshman quarterback was the undisputed star of the game. Kedon Slovis was magnificent in his first collegiate start, racking up 377 yards, three touchdowns and no picks on 28 of 33 passing. Vavae Malepeai led the way for the Trojans on the ground with 42 yards and two scores, while Stephen Carr had 33 yards and a touchdown.

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Garbage, person: In which I step outside and have an awkward conversation

September 5, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 5, 2019

As I write this on Thursday, Sept. 5, Hurricane Dorian seems to have largely spared the Triangle. It only started raining hard around 4:15 p.m., and there have been no winds to speak of. (The rain settled down after an hour or so and is no longer coming down in buckets.) As far as I could tell, Durham didn’t get any precipitation until around 2 or 2:30 this afternoon.

However, as you can imagine, the storm has been on everyone’s minds. A lot of area residents monitored its approach toward us as the system churned north past Florida and Georgia on Wednesday.

I starting running an errand late Thursday morning and returned home around 1 p.m. After puttering in the house for a bit, I got a notification from my phone’s weather app that rain was going to start about 20 minutes after the hour.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-0 Stanford

September 3, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 3, 2019

I watched the season opener at Tobacco Road with my local Stanford sports buddy. The joint was hopping — a bunch of interesting college football games started at 3:30, about half an hour before the Cardinal kicked off against Northwestern, and the restaurant was doing a booming pregame business with Durham Bulls fans dining before a 6:30 first pitch on the final weekend of regular season play in the International League.

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Stanford football offers mixed indications in 17-7 season-opening win

September 2, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 2, 2019

Stanford opened the 2019 college football season with a 17-7 victory over Northwestern that was not nearly as comfortable as the final score might suggest.

The Wildcats, who won the Big 10 West and beat Utah in a bowl game to finish 2018 with a 9-5 record, had the ball with the potential to tie or take the lead with 30 seconds to play when the Cardinal defense asserted its will. Redshirt senior outside linebacker Casey Toohill chased down quarterback Hunter Johnson and stripped the ball from behind. The pigskin bounded into the end zone and squirted out of the arms of a few players before being recovered by senior outside linebacker Jordan Fox for the game-sealing touchdown.

Stanford may ultimately consider this contest with a dismal air, despite being 1-0 on the young season. Quarterback K.J. Costello retired to the locker room near the end of the first half after junior defensive end Earnest Brown IV knocked off the Cardinal senior’s helmet as he was sliding to the turf at the end of an otherwise meaningless four-yard scramble. And late in the third quarter, junior tackle Walker Little left the field after apparently twisting one of his legs. If either player loses significant time in 2019, then the squad’s prospects will dim considerably.

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Short takes: John Darnielle’s ‘Universal Harvester’ and Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘2312’

September 1, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 31, 2019

The Mountain Goats released their debut record, Sweden, in 1995, and have gone on to make 15 more albums. One of its members is a Durham resident, John Darnielle, who is described in part in his publisher’s biography as “the writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band.” His first novel, Wolf in White Van, debuted to critical praise in 2015.

Darnielle’s second book, the horror novel Universal Harvester, came out two years later. Genre fans should be aware that this is horror is literary, not lurid; the volume is far more reminiscent of the painting “American Gothic” than, say, a slasher film or the science fiction/horror movies of which I’m fond.

That 1930 work by Grant Wood may well have served as inspiration for the novel, which takes place almost entirely in small Iowa communities. Universal Harvester’s characters are as repressed as the Iowa couple — in reality, a dentist and the artist’s sister; in Wood’s depiction, a farmer and his daughter — that peers out of the canvas.

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