Posts Tagged ‘Keller Chryst’

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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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 6-2 Stanford

November 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 3, 2017

In the runup to Stanford’s Thursday-night game against Oregon State, my Twitter feed was seemingly full of articles profiling Bryce Love and praising the Cardinal offensive line. Moreover, veteran San Jose Mercury News college sports writer Jon Wilner wrote, in assessing the Beavers shortly before the game:

If Bryce Love doesn’t play, or is limited, and if Stanford’s passing game sputters, and if the defense is wobbly, and if the sense of urgency is lacking … the Cardinal will only win by three touchdowns.

In other words, the universe was seemingly setting Stanford up for a major jinx in its road tilt against the worst team in the conference.

Interestingly, I viewed this contest in the same establishment near the New York-New Jersey line where, almost exactly two years previously, I’d watched Stanford stage a nationally televised come-from-behind weeknight win in the Pacific Northwest — the Cardinal’s harrowing 30-28 victory at Washington State on Friday, Oct. 31.

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Stanford squeaks past Oregon State, 15-14, in low-wattage Thursday night game

October 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 31, 2017

The Stanford football squad overcame plentiful mistakes by its offense, defense and coaching staff to secure a 15-14 victory in a nationally televised game at Oregon State on Oct. 26.

Stanford, now 6-2 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-12, likely would have lost if not for a last-minute touchdown drive. With superstar tailback Bryce Love sidelined after tweaking his ankle against Oregon, the No. 20–ranked Cardinal managed just 81 rushing yards and converted only five of 16 third downs against a 1-7 Beavers team that respectively ranks 12th and 11th in the league in those categories.

The first quarter was scoreless thanks to a sequence of punts and a missed 34-yard field goal attempt by Stanford sophomore kicker Jet Toner. The Cardinal offense began to find a rhythm late in the period as quarterback Keller Chryst completed five passes, including a 25-yarder to junior wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Toner capped the drive with a 40-yard kick to give the Cardinal a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Read the rest of this entry »

Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 5-2 Stanford

October 19, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 19, 2017

Saturday was a sports-watching day. First I went to Devine’s to watch the Yankees lose 2-1 to Houston for the second straight game in the American League Championship Series. After going home to change into Cardinal colors, I walked over to one of downtown Durham’s pinball spots to play a few games before strolling on over to my favored Stanford sports-watching spot in Durham, Tobacco Road. The evening contest’s result was much happier than the afternoon’s, fortunately.

• The Bad 

Previously on Bad-Ugly-Good, I criticized the Cardinal for poor third-down conversion rates on both sides of the ball. In last weekend’s 49-7 demolition of the Ducks, I’m happy to report, these figures were much improved. The Ducks converted 4 of 11 third downs, while the Cardinal offense was successful on a rather healthy seven of 12 tries.

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Stanford pounds Ducks, 49-7

October 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 17, 2017

Bryce Love ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns in limited action and Keller Chryst threw for 181 yards and three scores as Stanford cruised to a 49-7 homecoming win over Oregon on Saturday evening.

The Cardinal moved to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12 while dropping the Ducks to 4-3 (1-3). The outcome, combined with upset losses by No. 5 Washington and No. 8 Washington State, left Stanford at the top of the Pac-12 North standings.

Offensively, Stanford performed like a reincarnation of its 2015 edition. The unit converted seven of 12 third downs, cracked the 500-yard mark, averaged 6.0 yards per carry and controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes. The defense was in throwback mode as well, gathering a pair of interceptions and holding Oregon to four of 11 third-down conversions.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-2 Stanford

October 13, 2017

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

There was no real excitement concerning my game-watching circumstances on Saturday evening. I played some pinball and then walked over to my usual spot, where the “drama” consisted of trying to find the Stanford-Utah football broadcast because it had been shunted from Fox Sports 1 to Fox Business News due to the Kansas State–Texas game running long.

One other “point of interest” — this was the first Pac-12 meeting between the Stanford and Utah football teams that I’d seen on television. (Or indeed, in any live or semi-live form.)

• The Bad 

Last week’s The Bad took Stanford to task for its third-down conversion rates, both on offense and defense. I’m happy to report that the defense — despite playing a rather nerve-wracking bend-and-almost-break style at Utah on Saturday evening — stepped up, allowing the Utes to renew the downs just six times in 14 chances. The offense, alas, was simply woeful, as they refreshed the downs on only four of 13 opportunities.

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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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Trojans stomp Stanford football, 42-24

September 12, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 12, 2017

The sixth-ranked University of Southern California football team imposed its will against visiting Stanford on Saturday night, scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions en route to a 42-24 victory.

The Trojans moved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the Pac-12 by rushing 48 times for 307 yards. Sam Darnold showed why he might join several earlier Trojans quarterbacks as Heisman Trophy winners: The sophomore completed his first 10 pass attempts and finished the evening 21 for 26 with 316 yards and four touchdowns.

The maroon and gold squad was forced to punt just once by the Stanford defense, which recorded only one tackle-for-loss, a single pass breakup and no quarterback hurries. The Trojans, by contrast, were credited with 10 breakups, five tackles behind the line of scrimmage (including two sacks) and a hurry.

Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst, playing by far the most challenging opponent of his college career, completed 15 of 28 throws for 172 yards and two scores. But while the Cardinal offense finished with a respectable average of 6.5 yards per rush, the team only ran the ball 26 times, and the Trojans were able to stifle most carries between the tackles.

The most telling numbers of all were the third-down conversion rates. No. 14 Stanford, now 1-1 overall and 0-1 in league, was successful six times in 12 tries, while the hosts missed twice in a dozen opportunities.

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Cardinal drops highlights aplenty in 62-7 season debut vs. Rice

August 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 31, 2017

Stanford cruised to victory down under Sunday as it opened the 2017 campaign with a 62-7 win over Rice in Sydney, Australia.

The field seemed to be tilted in the direction of the Cardinal from the start of the contest. The white-clad squad outgained the Owls 656 yards to 241, scored touchdowns on its first four drives, and failed to produce points just three times in 13 possessions — one of which came at the very end of the game.

The contest’s opening play seemed to forecast the beatdown to come. Head coach David Shaw and offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren decided that the first play from scrimmage should be a handoff to Bryce Love, the junior who started two games last year in place of all-world athlete Christian McCaffrey, now employed in the NFL. The tailback burst through a hole cleared by sophomore guard Nate Herbig, zipped out of the arms of two would-be tacklers and hit the open field at full speed. A dive by Owl cornerback V.J. Banks enabled fellow cornerback Justin Bickham to force Love out of bounds at the 13-yard line following an electrifying 62-yard run.

Two plays later, senior quarterback Keller Chryst tossed a nicely placed ball to freshman Colby Parkinson for a 13-yard touchdown. The 6-foot-7 tight end, who had lined up out wide, exploited his six-inch height advantage over Bickham in making his first collegiate reception.

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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 Stanford football at the close of the regular season

November 30, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 30, 2016

Stanford’s season finale against Rice was only the second game of 2016, following the team’s 52-27 win at Oregon that largely coincided with my Scrabble tournament, which I didn’t get to watch on television as it took place. Because the game was carried on the Pac-12 Network, and because many TV carriers don’t have the channel, it can be hard to find places that show Pac-12 programming.

Dish does carry the Pac-12 Network nationally — but which bars are Dish subscribers? Ultimately, because I wasn’t in my home territory of Durham, I didn’t find one.

• The Bad 

Although Stanford concluded the regular season on a five-game gave winning streak, which pushed its record to 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-12, the team had another less savory string going on in November: Three straight games in which the team was penalized either seven or eight times.

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Cardinal easily overwhelms Rice, 41-17, in post-Thanksgiving workout

November 28, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 28, 2016

The Stanford football team outran and outmuscled Rice on Saturday, outrushing the visiting Owls by more than 200 yards in a 41-17 victory to complete its 2016 regular season schedule.

The 9-3 Cardinal used the same formula that had served it so well throughout the squad’s five-game winning streak: A lot of Christian McCaffrey, now fully healthy, nicely complemented by unremarkable but largely reliable and mistake-free quarterback play from Keller Chryst, a strong performance from an increasingly confident offensive line, contributions from the rest of the offensive and special-teams units, and a suffocating effort by the defense.

The fact that Stanford was playing another team with an at-best mediocre offense (see also: Arizona and Oregon State) and a lousy defense (see also: Arizona, Oregon State, Oregon and Cal) played a pretty important part, too.

The Cardinal banked 20 points in the first half, scoring on four of six possessions, including a one-play, nine-second possession that closed out the second quarter. The Owls, meanwhile, didn’t cross midfield until the second quarter and scored only a field goal before intermission, and that on their final drive of the half. What’s more, Stanford’s defense engineered four three-and-outs by the visiting offense.

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Giving them the Axe is better than giving the Axe away: Stanford runs past Cal, 45-31, in the 119th Big Game

November 22, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 22, 2016

The Stanford football team ran over Cal on a rainy Saturday in Berkeley, racking up 357 rushing yards and rolling to a seventh straight victory over their long-standing Bay Area rivals.

It was a credit to Cal’s prolific passing offense, and a discredit to Stanford’s normally staunch defense, that the ultimate outcome of the 119th Big Game was in doubt well into the second half. But it was a credit to Stanford’s once-anemic offense that the outcome was all but assured by the midway point of the final quarter.

Stanford opened the game with another anemic starting drive, gaining four yards on six plays. The Golden Bears, by contrast, would need just one play to take a 7-0 lead. Davis Webb threw a short slant pass that Chad Hansen, the Pac-12 conference’s leading receiver, was able to take 70 yards to the end zone.

A dead-ball personal foul following the touchdown and a short kickoff set Stanford up at the Cal 45-yard line. But the visitors would knot the score in only two plays and 28 seconds.

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Cardinal cruises at Oregon, 52-27

November 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 15, 2016

Should you happen to flip through the recent records of what is now the Pac-12 Conference, you’ll notice something interesting:

Although the league had 10 teams from 1978 through 2011, and now contains an even dozen universities in the American West, ownership of the football title has been somewhat streaky. The University of Spoiled — sorry, the University of Southern California — had a six-year run atop the conference spanning 2003 through 2008. Since then, however, the championship has belonged to one of two teams: either Stanford University or the University of Oregon.

The Ducks won the Pac-12 three years running, from 2009 through 2011, before yielding to the Cardinal the next two years. Oregon reclaimed its crown in 2014 but was shouldered aside by Stanford last year. Over this period, encounters between Stanford and Oregon were generally expected to have important implications for the state of conference — and in some years, for all of college football.

It became evident in early October that another team would be this year’s league champion. Stanford’s chances of winning the Northern Division were severely damaged by the blowout loss to Washington and essentially eliminated in the following week’s nearly-as-ugly blowout loss to Washington State. By that point, the Ducks were mired in what eventually became a five-game conference losing streak.

And so it was that on Saturday in Eugene, the 6-3 Cardinal was hosted by a 3-6 Ducks team that had managed to win but a single conference game. A clash of the titans this was not.

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Stanford trims Beavers, 26-15, on the strength of a fabulous rushing performance

November 10, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 10, 2016

Stanford’s feature backs ran wild over Oregon State in a 26-15 home win Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinal’s new first-string quarterback, Keller Chryst, has led the team to wins in both of his starts. But the squad still has plenty of rough edges, and Chryst’s effort as a passer left some things to be desired. The Cardinal converted just four of 15 third downs and Chryst completed 10 of 17 throws for just 60 yards. Those kinds of performances are unlikely to cut it against Stanford’s last two Pac-12 opponents, Oregon and Cal, both of which are about as porous as OSU on defense but more more potent on offense.

The Cardinal began the game on an ignominious note, as Chryst and center Jesse Burkett lost the ball on the third snap of the game. Oregon State recovered at the Cardinal 33-line but came away without points when Garrett Owens missed a 26-yard kick.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 5-3 Stanford

November 4, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 4, 2016

Well, it sure felt nice to get a win, didn’t it?

Especially in Pac-12 conference play…

• The Bad

For the last two weeks running, I’ve labeled Stanford’s offensive line The Ugly because the unit’s middling-to-above-average success at opening holes for the ball carriers has been counterbalanced by its difficulties protecting the quarterback. Notre Dame, which is 108th out of 128 Division I-A teams with 11 sacks in eight games, got to Stanford’s passer three times. Colorado had an equal number of sacks in the Cardinal’s worst offensive outing of possibly the last decade.

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Cardinal routs wounded Wildcats with a 34-10 desert victory

November 2, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 2, 2016

A week after the Stanford football team suffered an ignominious 10-5 homecoming defeat at the hands of a rising Colorado program, the Cardinal got just what the doctor ordered: A date with Arizona.

The Wildcats have been decimated by injuries; they came in sporting a woeful 2-5 record, highlighted (if that’s the word) by victories over Grambling State and Hawaii. In the end, they provided minimal resistance to a distressed Stanford squad, which bumped its record up to 5-3 (3-3 in Pac-12 play) by notching a 34-10 road win.

Head coach David Shaw and his staff elected to start junior Keller Chryst at quarterback instead of senior Ryan Burns — understandable given the incumbent’s record of five touchdowns vs. seven interceptions and four lost fumbles. Whether because of that change or the dismal quality of the Wildcats defense, which entered the game allowing an average of 33 points and 475 yards over its first seven games, the Cardinal was able to roll to a 34-10 win.

The W was great, and it felt awfully novel after the Cardinal had dropped three straight conference games to Washington, Washington State and Colorado. But two things felt even more significant than that.

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WSU slices and dices foundering Stanford, 42-16

October 11, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 11, 2016

There were a number of encouraging omens for the Stanford football team entering Saturday night’s home contest against Washington State, despite the fact that the Cardinal was coming off of a crushing 44-6 road loss to the University of Washington.

Item: Stanford was tied with Alabama, Boise State, Clemson and Louisiana State for having the fewest home losses since 2010 — four apiece. The team hadn’t dropped an October contest at Stanford Stadium since 2007.

Item: Under head coach David Shaw, Stanford had a perfect 5-0 record against Washington State.

Item: Stanford had beaten WSU eight straight times, going back to 2008.

Item: Under Shaw, the Cardinal had won 13 times and lost just once in games following a loss.

Item: On Saturday Stanford broke out its all-black uniforms, which debuted in 2010, for only the eighth time in history. The team was undefeated when wearing these dark-hued duds, including a 41-22 win over USC in the 2015 Pac-12 championship game.

However, as San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Tom Fitzgerald aptly observed before Saturday’s game, “past performance is no guarantee of future success.”

About 15 minutes after Fitzgerald’s tweet, I posted a tweet of my own that reflected my baseless yet increasing anxiety about the upcoming game:

Actually, my foreboding wasn’t entirely baseless. The Cardinal had been beaten, and beaten very badly, by the Washington Huskies in their previous game. In that contest, UW had played the kind of physical football that used to be a Stanford trademark. By contrast, Washington State had soundly defeated Oregon last week. The Cougars owned a two-game winning streak over the Ducks, which is something that even Stanford, the reigning conference champions, could not claim. And the Cardinal had injuries that would hold out several significant players.

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