Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Burns’

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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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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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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Buffaloes snatch a 10-5 win on the Farm from an inept, self-defeating Stanford offense

October 23, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 23, 2016

A punchless Stanford football team went down to defeat Saturday, dropping a 10-5 home decision to a resurgent Colorado.

It was only the Buffaloes’ third win in 21 games that the program has played in the state of California. Colorado moved to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12, while the host Cardinal dropped to 4-3 and 2-3.

The Cardinal offense mounted 12 drives on Saturday afternoon, and most of them resulted in a display of futility. The team turned the ball over four times and punted five times, including a trio of three-and-outs. Only five Stanford possessions spanned five or more plays; only three advanced more than 28 yards.

Stanford has now scored four offensive touchdowns in its past five games. Of those, only two — second-half scores against UCLA and Notre Dame — had a material impact on the outcome of the contest.

Quarterback Ryan Burns turned in what I would deem a Burnsian performance, only more so: He made some nifty plays, mainly short- and mid-range throws that he zipped to Trenton Irwin, who finished with seven catches for 88 yards. But these were offset by missed opportunities and adverse plays.

Burns completed 16 of 29 passes for 170 yards (5.9 yards per attempt) with no touchdowns and three interceptions, two of which took place in the final period. He also was involved in two fumbles — one in the second quarter, which Stanford tackle Casey Tucker got back, and another in the fourth quarter, which Colorado linebacker Kenneth Olugbode recovered following a muffed center-QB exchange.

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

October 21, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 21, 2016

After Stanford got embarrassed in Seattle in front of a national audience on a late-September Friday night, I took a lengthy walk around the Durham Bulls baseball stadium.

This past Saturday, prior to the Stanford football team’s encounter with Notre Dame, I took an even longer walk, wandering about a residential part of Cary, N.C. As this screen capture from my smartphone’s Fitbit app shows, I covered 3.7 miles in a shade less than an hour.

Oct. 15, 2016, walk.

As you know, Stanford came away with a thrilling 17-10 road win on Saturday. So maybe I need to take a hike before every Cardinal football team for the rest of this season…?

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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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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 3-2 Stanford

October 14, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 14, 2016

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with an acquaintance who was munching on some roughage — I believe it may have been celery. When a bit of food went down the wrong way, she started coughing and excused herself to walk around the corner to the water fountain. As the coughing persisted, a clerk came to me and asked if my acquaintance was OK. I said I thought she would be.

But as my acquaintance continued to cough, the clerk walked over to aid her. I also became alarmed and followed the clerk over. At my acquaintance’s insistence, the clerk thumped her on the back, thus restoring some natural order to her windpipe.

It was a minor incident, but afterward I found my nerves on edge and my eyes somewhat teary. Death had not made an impact on my life that day, but it had come far too close for comfort.

My acquaintance and I talked a bit about how it’s important to savor every moment, especially the good times, because you never know when your life is going to change permanently. And after the Stanford football team sustained its second ugly defeat in a row, I’ve tried to keep that lesson in mind. Don’t take the good times for granted, friends, because you’ll need them to buoy your faith during the bad times.

With that in mind, here’s my second edition of B-U-G — that’s bad, ugly and good — for Stanford football.

• The Bad

Last week, when the Cardinal fell to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play following the 44-6 defeat at Washington, I categorized the North Division title chase as The Ugly. This week, now that the Cardinal has fallen to 3-2 and 2-2 following a rout at home by Washington State, the division standings have been downgraded.

I struggled after the UW loss to find a scenario in which Stanford might advance to the Pac-12 championship game — a situation that necessitated the Huskies sustaining at least two conference losses. Now that both Washington schools own wins over the Cardinal, the Cardinal can kiss its chances of repeating as conference champions goodbye. And unless the Cardinal pulls itself together and runs off seven straight wins, which is possible but certainly not likely given how badly the squad has played in the past two contests, the team’s chances of getting a berth in a prestigious bowl are probably shot.

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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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Slaughter in Seattle: Washington overwhelms a hapless Stanford squad, 44-6, in front of ESPN’s Friday night lights

October 5, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 5, 2016

What is it about weeknight games in Seattle?

Four years ago, an unbeaten Stanford football team traveled to Seattle for a nationally televised Thursday night game against the University of Washington and turned in a dreadful performance, losing 17-3.

Like that 2012 team, the 2016 Stanford Cardinal was 3-0 going into its contest with the Huskies. In both cases, those records included a stirring home win against USC. Like that 2012 team, the 2016 Cardinal was coming off a prestigious postseason appearance the year before: The Fiesta Bowl in the former case, the Rose Bowl in this case. And like that team, the 2016 Cardinal was trying to replace a record-setting quarterback. In 2012, the departed signal-caller was Andrew Luck, who was succeeded first by Josh Nunes and eventually by Kevin Hogan; this year, Hogan is gone, with neither Ryan Burns nor Keller Chryst having asserted a firm claim to the position.

Oh, one more thing…

Like that 2012 team, the 2016 Stanford turned in a dreadful performance — only this was much much worse than what ESPN viewers saw four years ago. On Friday night, Washington (5-0, 2-0 in the Pac-12) systematically dismantled Stanford, 44-6, with the Huskies dominating virtually every aspect of play.

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Stanford moves to 3-0 with two unlikely last-minute touchdowns against the Bruins

September 28, 2016

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

Late on Saturday night, matters were looking dire for the No. 7 Stanford football team.

The squad, playing in its first road game of the season, was trailing UCLA 13-9 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, having mustered just a trio of Conrad Ukropina field goals in more than three and a half quarters of play. After Ryan Burns scrambled for two yards on third down with three yards to go, head coach David Shaw and offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren had to decide whether or not to go for it on fourth and 1 at the team’s own 39-yard line.

The seconds ticked away; then the Cardinal used its first timeout, with 4:51 remaining in the game. Then Stanford punted, and fans of the team had to hope against hope that the Cardinal defense could stand fast against Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen and his potent attack.

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So USC came to town last Saturday night…

September 24, 2016

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

Given USC’s haughty college football legacy and Stanford’s modest one, Cardinal football fans have found themselves both surprised and gratified to be looking down on the Trojans in recent seasons. Last September, the Cardinal went to Los Angeles and upset the Trojans, 41-31. In December, the teams met again in the Pac-12 championship game, and after a tense third quarter, the Cardinal exploded to claim a 41-22 victory.

But as the disclaimers on the financial-management firm advertisements and prospectuses invariably state, past performance is no guarantee of future results. So when USC came to the Bay Area last Saturday for a game at Stanford Stadium, I was by no means confident in the outcome.

That held true early in the first quarter, when the Cardinal went three and out and Justin Davis opened USC’s initial possession by rushing for 30 yards on the first four plays. But immediately afterward, the Stanford defense asserted itself, holding Davis to a one-yard reception, stopping rusher Ronald Jones II behind the line of scrimmage and then tackling Jones short of the first-down marker on third and 20, which had been set up in part by a USC false start on second and 9.

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Stanford summary: Cardinal beat Kansas State, 26-13, in the 2016 season opener

September 17, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 17, 2016

I enjoyed watching Stanford football’s season opener against Kansas State 15 days ago, on Sept. 2, but I got sidetracked by mumblety-stuff and so haven’t gotten around to blogging about the game until now, minutes until USC and Stanford kick off on the Farm in a nationally televised primetime Pac-12 conference game. So, a few hasty thoughts…

• Christian McCaffrey looked, well, like the Christian McCaffrey whom Stanford fans were pleased — and spoiled — to see game in and game out over the course of a record-setting 2015 season. Final line: 126 yards on 22 carries (average: 5.7 ypc), 40 yards on seven catches, 44 yards on two punt returns and a kickoff return, amounting to 210 total all-purpose yards. McCaffrey’s 35-yard run gave the Cardinal a 17-0 lead nearly halfway through the second quarter, and his 41-yard run with just over two minutes remaining in the game provided the final points in the Cardinal’s 26-13 victory after the offense started the second half by losing generated a lost fumble and punting four straight times punts in the second half.

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