Posts Tagged ‘Devon Cajuste’

Five victories and still going strong: Stanford keeps rivalry streak intact with 38-17 triumph over Cal in the 117th Big Game

November 24, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 24, 2014

Big Game’s luster has dwindled somewhat in recent years. Stanford walloped Cal in their 2013 meeting, 63-13; the 50-point thrashing was the largest point differential in Big Game history. It was the Cardinal’s fourth consecutive Big Game triumph; only one of those contests, Stanford’s 31-28 win in 2011, was closer than 18 points. In each of those four years, the Cardinal went on to enjoy 11 or 12 total victories.

If the 2014 matchup wasn’t quite as glamorous as it has been in past year, there were circumstances that added an element of intrigue to Saturday’s contest. The teams entered the 117th Big Game on much more even footing than of late; both sported 5-5 overall records.

But in most other ways, the teams were mirror images of one another. A 5-5 win-loss tally represented a come-up for Cal, which won only a single game in 2013; for Stanford, which finished last year 11-3 with a Rose Bowl berth, that record was a definite let-down. Cal has a prolific offense and a terrible defense; going into Saturday, Stanford’s scoring defense was ranked seventh nationally (16.5 points per game), but its offense was relatively anemic.

On Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, Stanford took a 17-point lead into the locker room at halftime — yet the game could easily have gone differently.

The visitors in white jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a short Remound Wright touchdown run and Jordan Williamson’s 24-yard field goal. But on its second possession, Cal drove the length of the field and seemed poised to score.

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Stanford setback: Golden domers crush Cardinal hopes in the Indiana rain

October 7, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 7, 2014

It’s hard to lose in more agonizing fashion than the Stanford football team did on Saturday.

The Cardinal traveled to South Bend, Ind., with a great deal at stake. If Stanford’s team was to make the inaugural college football playoffs, it would essentially need to win out its schedule. The squad also had a chance to avenge the 20-13 overtime loss that it suffered in its last trip to Notre Dame, in 2012 — a controversial affair in which Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor appeared to score what would have been the game-tying touchdown on a play that was whistled dead by the officials.

Stanford’s 2014 edition has had a bifurcated identity. The defense is the Cardinal’s Dr. Jekyll: Entering the weekend, it led the nation in scoring defense (6.5 points per game), total defense (198 yards per game) and passing defense (74 ypg). The team had permitted just four plays of 20 yards or longer this season, second fewest in the land.

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Stanford emerges — scared, scarred but victorious — with a 20-12 win at Oregon State

October 28, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 28, 2013

After Stanford’s 24-10 win over UCLA on Oct. 19, perhaps your reaction was something like, “Yay! That was fun!”

If so, then your response to Saturday night’s 20-12 victory against Oregon State was likely closer to, “Yikes! That was scary!”

The Cardinal defense stifled the Beavers, holding a team that came in averaging 28 points and 397 yards a game to two field goals and a touchdown and 288 yards. This was very much comparable to what happened in Stanford Stadium against the Bruins.

What was different? Unlike the Kevin Hogan who led the attack on homecoming day, the Cardinal quarterback who showed up in Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore., was mostly awful. Hogan tied his season low for throwing attempts (18, the same number he had vs. Army) and set career lows for completions and passing yards as a starter — eight and 88, respective.

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The alumni return, and so does dominance: Against UCLA, Stanford football notches an inspiring homecoming victory

October 25, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 25, 2013

Now that’s more like it!

That’s the thought that went through my mind, and likely the minds of Stanford football fans everywhere, as the Cardinal wrapped up a 24-10 win over UCLA last Saturday.

In every way, the game was superior to Stanford’s loss at Utah the previous week. The dangerous Brett Hundley and his Bruins offense had been averaging nearly 46 points and 547 yards per game. But last weekend, the dominating Stanford defense returned, holding the visiting squad to just 266 yards.

Saturday, which was Stanford’s homecoming, also saw the return of ground-and-pound Cardinal offense. Coach David Shaw’s squad ran 50 times and threw 25 times. When the afternoon was over — remember afternoon football, Cardinal fans? — the home team had a time-of-possession edge of about 14 and a half minutes over UCLA.

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David Shaw: A defense of the Stanford coach who should not need defending

October 17, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 10, 2013

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I’m inclined to cut Shaw some slack. Fans, in my view, have been overly critical of the Cardinal coach, despite the fact that he’s just one of two coaches to lead Stanford to the promised land — the Rose Bowl, that is — in 41 years. He is also, mind you, the only Stanford coach to win a Rose Bowl since John Ralston did it on Jan. 1, 1972.

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Yet despite his accomplishments, a lot of fans seem to hold him to account for two questionable decisions involving quarterback. One was opting for conservative play-calling at the end of the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, rather than trusting all-world passer Andrew Luck to lead the offense to a game-winning touchdown.

Shaw’s other mistake, in fans’ eyes, was waiting until the ninth game of the 2012 season to start Hogan under center in lieu of senior Josh Nunes. The move came after Stanford had sustained its only two losses of the year, at Washington and at Notre Dame, games in which the Cardinal offense collectively generated a measly 385 yards and a pathetic 12 points.

Fans feel that the Cardinal might have been undefeated and in position to contend for the national championship if Hogan had been installed as the starter sooner. That’s certainly a tantalizing scenario to envision.

But it is ultimately, I feel, a chimerical one. Shaw has been coaching football since 1995. He played for Walsh at Stanford and since then has worked for Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and Jim Harbaugh. The first three of those men have all won Super Bowls, while the last one has coached his way to two mid-major college national titles and a Super Bowl berth.

Shaw is hardly perfect, and like any other football coach, he is a perfectly valid target for criticism. But he’s also forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know, and I believe him when he says that Hogan simply was not ready to play full time until November.

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Crashing back to Earth: Revisiting reality after the 27-21 defeat at Utah

October 15, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 15, 2013

There’s no way around it. The Stanford football team’s 27-21 loss on Saturday evening to Utah was thoroughly disappointing.

The hosts outhustled and outcoached the Cardinal on virtually every level, and it showed. Name a category and the Utes owned it. They led in total yards (410-389), rushing yards (176-143), time of possession (32:54–27:06), penalties (Utah was flagged four times for 30 yards; Stanford, 6-33), turnovers (Stanford lost two fumbles, killing both of the Cardinal’s third-quarter possessions; Utah quarterback Travis Wilson was picked once) and fourth-down conversions (1-1, compared to 0-1 for Stanford).

The good news was that, despite lackluster play in the second and third quarters, fifth-ranked Stanford had a chance to win in the final minute. The bad news, of course, was that coach David Shaw’s squad could not pull it out despite being more heralded and more talented than Utah.

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Cardinal clobbers Cougars: Stanford rolls, 55-17, in Seattle

October 1, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 1, 2013

Football can be a funny sport. Saturday night’s Stanford game against Washington State in rainy Seattle provided another example of that.

Paradoxically, I was reassured that everything was going to be OK by the Stanford football possession that ended with quarterback Kevin Hogan’s worst pass, an underthrown ball intercepted by WSU defender Deone Bucannon in the end zone.

Up until the pick, the drive had borne all the hallmarks of classic Cardinal offense. Stanford traveled 74 yards over the course of 17 plays. The protracted possession ate up more than half of the second quarter — 7:57, to be precise.

Talk about balance: The Cardinal rushed nine times and threw eight times on the series. (A pass interference penalty on tight end Luke Kaumatule erased another aerial play.) Talk about power: Three of the Cardinal rushes, all by Tyler Gaffney, went for five yards or longer. Talk about versatility: After the flag on Kaumatule, Hogan threw three straight completions — to Ty Montgomery for 14 yards, to Devon Cajuste for 16 and to Sanders for another 16. (Montgomery and Cajuste caught balls for nine and 10 yards respectively earlier in the drive.)

The Cougars defense held Gaffney (and Anthony Wilkerson, who got one carry) to three yards or fewer on six occasions, and Hogan had three incomplete passes, which included the Bucannon intersection plus what I recall as being an overthrown deep ball to an open Michael Rector. But the overweening impression that I took away from the drive was that the Cardinal offense was going to be very, very difficult to stop.

That conclusion was justified in the second half. Stanford led just 17-3 at intermission. But Cardinal fans who expected the Farm boys’ size and strength to overwhelm the Cougars after the break found their expectations amply rewarded.

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A few answers are revealed, but many mysteries abound after Stanford’s 34-20 win against Army

September 16, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 16, 2013

Over the past four years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see my beloved Stanford football team play in person an average of once a season, despite living on the opposite side of the country from my alma mater. (I’m separated by a distance of 2,800 miles and 44 hours of drive time, according to my smartphone map program.)

I got my latest opportunity to cheer on my favorite team from the stands this past weekend when the Cardinal visited the U.S. Military Academy in upstate New York. West Point isn’t far from where I grew up, and I was lucky enough to be treated to a pair of tickets by a sibling.

So I was there in Michie Stadium when the team kicked off its second game of the 2013 season. After four quarters, fifth-ranked Stanford had earned a 34-20 victory over Army. But I found myself coming away with plenty of questions — some of them easily answered, some of them unanswerable at the moment.

Here’s a look at what I saw and what I wondered about after the Cardinal moved to 2-0 on the young year.

• Question: How good will Tyler Gaffney be this year?

Answer: Very. T-Gaff left no doubt that he is primed for a terrific season after posting his second straight game with more than 100 rushing yards. In fact, Gaffney — who took a break from football in 2012 to play minor league baseball — improved on his performance against San Jose State in the opener.

He rushed 20 times in each of the first two games, racking up 104 yards (5.2 yards per carry; long of 16) and two touchdowns against the Spartans and 132 yards (6.6 ypc; long of 25) and one score vs. Army. No. 25 went for two catches and 20 yards in the first game of 2013 and accounted for a single 23-yard touchdown reception in the second game.

Many folks thought that the Stanford ground game would miss a beat after the graduation of Stepfan Taylor. But all indications are that those folks thought wrong.

• Question: Why has David Shaw been talking about running-back-by-committee when Gaffney has been so spectacular in the early going?

Answer: Unclear. Maybe Gaffney played below his current level during preseason camp. Maybe his chief rival, Anthony Wilkerson, flashed far more potential during summer practice than he’s shown in the first two contests. Maybe Stanford’s coach wanted to make it harder for opposing coaches to prepare for the Cardinal. Read the rest of this entry »

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