Posts Tagged ‘Harrison Phillips’

Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 9-4 Stanford

December 6, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 6, 2017

I had a good time watching the Pac-12 football championship game. I just wish the outcome had been different…

• The Bad 

Stanford’s strongest defensive group is probably its secondary. Going into last week’s game, the Cardinal ranked fifth in the league in passing defense, allowing 220 yards per game and 15 touchdown receptions. As noted last week, Stanford has intercepted 16 passes, which ranked 10th in the nation.

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Fourth-quarter turnovers doom Irish in Stanford’s regular-season finale

November 28, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 28, 2017

Stanford scored three touchdowns in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to take control of a game against visiting Notre Dame on Saturday evening.

The Cardinal football team pounced on a pair of Fighting Irish turnovers to convert a 20-17 deficit at the start of the final period into a 38-20 lead with a little more than 10 minutes left in the contest. Stanford went on to win by that score.

The Irish opened scoring late in the first quarter on a short throw from quarterback Brandon Wimbush. His target was receiver Kevin Stepherson, who began the play in a cluster of three men split wide right of the formation. Stepherson worked his way inside on a shallow route, feinted a move to the outside that wrong-footed strong safety Justin Reid and inside linebacker Kevin Palma, and caught the pigskin around the 30-yard line as Reid dove in a futile attempt to knock the ball away. No other defender was remotely close, and Stepherson went the distance for an 83-yard touchdown without having to put the pedal to the metal.

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Determined Cardinal does just enough to prevail in a 23-20 road win over Utah

October 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 11, 2017

All-world runner Bryce Love found just enough space against a smothering Utah defense to secure a key 23-20 road win for the Stanford football team on Saturday evening in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal moved to 4-2 and 3-1 in the Pac-12 while handing Utah (4-1, 1-1) its first loss.

The Cardinal struck first on a seven-play, 71-yard opening possession highlighted by a 54-yard connection from starting quarterback Keller Chryst to sophomore tight end Kaden Smith. When the series stalled at the Utah 4-yard line, Jet Toner came on to make a 21-yard field goal.

After an exchange of punts, the hosts took advantage of great starting field position — the 50-yard line — to mount a five-play drive. Zack Moss (15 carries, 79 yards) scored from the 2-yard line to put the Utes ahead, 7-3.

After a sequence of punts and unsuccessful field goal attempts — Toner from 27 yards out for Stanford, Matt Gay from 50 for Utah — the Cardinal offense began to find a bit of a rhythm.

The Cardinal’s first series of the second period started with Love running twice, first for a gain of two yards and then for a two-yard loss. This was indicative of the challenge Love faced, as the Utes’ frequently stacked the box and swamped Stanford’s stellar junior tailback. But then backup passer K.J. Costello averted a punt by throwing to Trenton Irwin for 25 yards on third and 10.

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Third-string quarterback jump-starts Cardinal offense in an unexpected walloping of UCLA

October 2, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.woripress.com
Oct. 2, 2017

Author’s note: This post was delayed because I was significantly slowed down by a cold the previous week. More (and arguably more timely) stuff to come shortly! MEM

The Stanford football team’s first possessions against UCLA on Sept. 23 were hardly promising. On the first drive of the game, quarterback Keller Chryst helped the squad gain 35 yards and score a field goal. But on the offense’s next play from scrimmage, a five-yard bootleg, Chryst sustained a hard hit to the head; the starter left the game and did not return. Fifth-year senior Ryan Burns came in under center, after which Stanford gained 18 yards and punted.

Sophomore K.J. Costello then took over, but his initial drive was a three-and-out. The squad settled for a field goal on the second drive Costello led, even though it had begun at the UCLA 18-yard line after third-year strong safety Justin Reid intercepted Bruins passer Josh Rosen. Costello and Burns then combined on the Cardinal’s next drive, with the team trailing 13-6, but this too was a three-and-out.

Bruins fans, who haven’t seen their football squad beat Stanford since 2008, likely smelled blood in the water at this point. The scent surely intensified when, three plays into the UCLA possession, Rosen threw to Caleb Wilson for 31 yards, setting up goal to go from the Cardinal 10-yard line.

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

September 13, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 13, 2017

I saw most of the Cardinal football team’s demoralizing defeat at the hands of USC Saturday night. I rendezvoused with my fellow Stanford alum Jim at Tobacco Road, a downtown Durham sports bar that I particularly favor, right around kickoff.

But we decided to leave shortly after my arrival: The joint was packed, and none of the TVs seemed to be tuned to the game we wanted to see. We hiked over to Bull McCabe’s, where I’d watched Stanford’s 42-16 home loss to Washington State last October. We sat down in front of a television just in time to see Stanford wrap up its first possession, which yielded a meager 36 yards and concluded with a punt.

The game was exciting — but only for a time.

• The Bad 

Look, when your defense surrenders 623 yards to the opposing team and allows them to convert 10 of 12 third downs, there’s absolutely no question about it — they’re going to be labeled The Bad. Yes, I know USC was ranked No. 6 in the nation and is full of talented players, and I know Alijah Holder and Justin Reid each intercepted highly touted Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold.

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Stanford tops UNC, 25-23, in Sun Bowl nail-biter

December 31, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 31, 2016

Stanford football closed out its 2016 season with a down-to-the-wire 25-23 victory over the University of North Carolina in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Fittingly, the game played out like a revue of some of Stanford’s 2016 highlights and lowlights. Among the latter, the opening-series three-and-out struck a familiar chord, and the team’s inability to score a touchdown in five red-zone trips called to mind the Cardinal’s offensive futility for much of September and October.

The highlights included a few dynamic, if isolated, moments from the passing game as well as the elusive quickness that backup running back Bryce Love had flashed a few times throughout the season and the surprising toughness that he demonstrated when he got the start for an injured Christian McCaffrey in Stanford’s 17-10 win at Notre Dame.

In the end, the Stanford squad won the exact same way it had in the opening weeks of the season: Thanks to the contributions of a salty defense that stepped up when the offense faltered.

Speaking of McCaffrey, he was absent from this game, too, having declared his intention to enter the NFL draft after the Rice game and subsequently opted out of playing in the Sun Bowl. He had to feel good about that decision after not one but two Cardinal players sustained injuries that at least one former athlete blamed on the stadium’s artificial turf.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-3 Stanford

October 24, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 24, 2016

I should have taken my own suggestion.

On Saturday, I contemplated going on a long walk prior to Stanford’s kickoff against Colorado. Instead, I took the lazy route and lounged about my house before walking one mile so I could take care of an errand right before kickoff. Later, as the second half was getting under way, I walked about three-quarters of a mile from a residential area where I parked my car to an establishment in Durham’s Brightleaf district.

So I did not embark upon anything close to a 58-minute, 3.7-mile walk — and perhaps as a consequence, my superstitious self tells my supposedly rational brain, the Stanford football team turned in a thoroughly inept 10-5 loss to Colorado. Blecch.

• The Bad

This offense, man. As I wrote yesterday, the five-point output — two of which, of course, were generated by a safety — was Stanford’s lowest scoring total in any game since Sept. 29, 2007, when No. 23 Arizona State pounded the Cardinal, 41-3.

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Escape from South Bend: Stanford does just enough to snatch a 17-10 road victory over Notre Dame

October 20, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 20, 2016

Going into Stanford’s home game against Washington State, I had a sense of foreboding. A similarly dire feeling once again took hold of me ahead of the Stanford football team’s visit to Notre Dame.

True, the Fighting Irish had an unimpressive 2-4 record, having face-planted their way to a 10-3 loss at North Carolina State in their previous outing. But that game had taken place in a Raleigh that was waterlogged thanks to the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew; otherwise, the Irish had scored at least 28 points in all of its games. Since the Cardinal defense had allowed 86 points in the past two games, Notre Dame seemed to have an excellent chance of racking up touchdown after touchdown.

By contrast, 3-2 Stanford hadn’t scored more than 27 points this season and was averaging just 19.4 points a game. Would the Irish defense, which had surrendered 33 or more points in four of its games, be the cure for the Cardinal offense?

I had trouble being optimistic, especially when I arrived at a Stanford alumni watch party and saw on the television that the Cardinal’s all-world back, Christian McCaffrey, was not wearing football gear.

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