Archive for November, 2019

Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-7 Stanford

November 28, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 28, 2019

I attended the joint Stanford-Cal Big Game viewing party for the fifth year in a row. Suffice to say that the result was not to my liking.

“I can’t believe we have the Axe!” one Cal backer exclaimed joyfully upon the conclusion of the Cardinal’s nine-year victory streak over the Bears.

I had to wait rather a while to pay my bill, which didn’t put me in a good mood.

• The Bad

I was struck after the end of Big Game by the similarities between Stanford’s second half at Washington State and its second half vs. the Bears. Junior quarterback Davis Mills threw two picks in both cases, once per game near the opposing goal line. The Cardinal’s opponents had a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in both cases. And the opposing defense turned the Farm team away on fourth downs with less than two minutes to play in both contests.

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Cal uses two fourth-quarter touchdowns to snap Stanford’s Big Game streak, 24-20

November 27, 2019

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

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers ran for a 16-yard touchdown with 79 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to lead the Bears to a 24-20 win, the team’s first victory over Stanford since 2009.

The outcome of the 122nd Big Game clinched bowl eligibility for the Bears (6-5 overall, 3-5 in the Pac-12) while ensuring that the Cardinal (4-7, 3-6) will have its first losing season since 2008.

Garbers, participating in only his second game since sustaining an injury in late September, finished with 285 yards on 20 of 30 passing. The redshirt sophomore threw one touchdown and one interception; he was also the game’s leading rusher with 72 yards on 13 carries.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-6 Stanford

November 22, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 22, 2019

I watched the Stanford–Washington State game at the one Durham venue that I know for sure has Spectrum cable, which carries the Pac-12 Networks. The outcome, sadly, did not go as I’d hoped.

• The Bad

I went through these numbers the other day: Washington State scored on nine of its first 10 possessions, held the ball for nearly 34 minutes and accumulated 624 yards on offense, including 520 through the air.

But as tempted as I am to ding the Cardinal defense — especially the Cardinal pass defense — I’m going to hold off. Stanford has been thin at inside linebacker all year, and the secondary came down with the injury bug at perhaps the worst possible time. Junior cornerback Paulson Adebo and senior free safety Malik Antoine, each of whom had made 20 consecutive starts, didn’t play at all against Wazzu. That’s not exactly an excuse for allowing 520 passing yards, but maybe I’m feeling generous today.

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Cougars surge past Stanford, 49-22

November 18, 2019

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

Washington State scored 24 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes in a 49-22 victory over the Stanford football team Saturday afternoon.

Both starting quarterbacks recorded more 500 passing yards during the contest, which gave WSU head coach Mike Leach a four-game winning streak over Stanford. But the host Cougars (5-5 overall, 2-5 Pac-12) scored on nine of their first 11 possessions, while the Cardinal (4-6, 3-5) managed just three touchdowns over the same number of offensive drives.

WSU dominated Stanford in three key areas:

• The Cougars mounted a respectable ground game, generating 104 yards on 21 rushes. Stanford was held to six rushing yards on 10 tries, the Cardinal’s worst output in that category since the 2007 squad finished with minus-8 yards on 25 carries in a 23-6 road loss at Oregon State. (Quarterback Tavita Pritchard, now Stanford’s QB coach and offensive coordinator, was sacked nine times for minus-38 in that outing.)

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-5 Stanford

November 13, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 13, 2019

The Pac-12 Networks, a production and broadcast organization wholly owned by the collegiate sports league whose name it bears, has famously limited availability. The conference’s system of regional channels for the Bay Area, Southern California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and the mountain states (read: Colorado and Utah), plus a “main” conference channel, has never signed a distribution deal with DirecTV.

The Pac-12 Networks have only 19 million subscribers. That’s fewer than Fox’s Spanish-language sports channel and other TV powerhouses such as Great American Country, Justice Central, MaxPrime, Ovation Network and the Smithsonian Channel, according to SBNation.

When your team is mediocre, its games tend to be relegated to the Pac-12 Networks, which makes it very hard to watch said games. For Stanford’s demoralizing loss at Colorado, I met a buddy at a venue that doesn’t subscribe to the channel; we wound up listening to the KZSU radio feed through my phone on my pal’s Bluetooth earbuds. (We each used one of his buds — my phone is evidently incapable of connecting simultaneously to multiple Bluetooth devices.)

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Colorado squeaks past Stanford, 16-13

November 12, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 12, 2019

Stanford dropped a 16-13 decision at Colorado on Saturday when a dismal offensive outing by the Cardinal was supplemented by crucial second-half breakdowns on defense and special teams.

Redshirt freshman Evan Price won the game on Colorado’s homecoming weekend by hitting a 37-yard kick as time expired, his third field goal of the game. Stanford (4-5 overall, 3-4 in league) had taken a 13-10 lead 55 seconds into the fourth quarter thanks to a 79-yard touchdown throw from K.J. Costello to Simi Fehoko, but the Buffalo (4-6, 2-5) came back by mounting two methodical field-goal drives that ate up an astonishing 12 minutes and 31 seconds of the final period.

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Short takes: ‘Oblivion,’ ‘Redline’ and ‘Lifeforce’

November 9, 2019

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

One could be forgiven for having forgotten Tom Cruise’s 2013 action vehicle, Oblivion, which sank into — well, you know — seemingly within days of its release. This was somewhat unjust, as the movie turns out to be a pretty zippy science fiction actioner.

Cruise stars as Jack Harper, technician for — tower? sector? something, anyway — No. 49 on post-apocalyptic Earth in 2077. As he explains in the opening narration, humanity has survived an invasion by a mysterious alien race, but only barely. Earth is in shambles, in part because the aliens smashed the moon, causing immense earthquakes and tidal waves, and in part because humans used nuclear weapons, converting vast swathes of the planet into radioactive wastelands.

What’s left of the population has decamped to the Saturnian moon of Titan as massive hovering machines rehabilitate the home planet. Harper and his communications officer/controller, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough, also of Birdman and the Nicholas Cage vehicle Mandy), who have had their memories wiped, help guard massive installations that convert seawater to energy. These facilities and the hovering armed drones that patrol the area are occasionally pestered by scavengers, menacing remnants of the alien force who tend to stick to the shadows.

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Short takes: ‘The Heavens,’ ‘The Psychology of Time Travel’ and ‘The Outpost’

November 5, 2019

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

Sandra Newman’s The Heavens is classified by the digital media service from which I borrowed it in audiobook form as horror. That’s not particularly accurate; although this 2019 novel has some touches of horror, it also incorporates elements of romance, historical dramas and science fiction.

The variability is fitting, because the main character, Kate, lives multiple lives. In what the people around her very sensibly call reality, Kate is a sweet but feckless twentysomething American artist with Iranian roots. In her dreams, however, she is Emilia, a married young musician of Jewish and Italian extraction with ties to the royal court of a strange preindustrial land called Albion. But she — “she” being both Kate and Emilia — also has dreadful visions of a post-apocalyptic city where nothing stirs but the air. Gradually, the two-faced protagonist comes to feel that her actions may play a role in preventing this augury from occurring.

This is no easy burden to assume, not least because Kate and Emilia don’t know just which actions might stave off disaster. With Albion’s capital stricken by plague, Emilia embarks upon a peripatetic excursion across the land, where she encounters her disaffected former patron, an obscure but aspiring poet and a handsome young lord.

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