Posts Tagged ‘Trent Murphy’

Stanford hangs on: With a 27-20 nailbiter of a victory over Notre Dame, the Cardinal moves to 10-2 on the year

December 2, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 2, 2013

Stanford hung on to defeat Notre Dame Saturday night by a 27-20 margin. And considering the discrepancy in offensive yards — the host Cardinal won the day, 419 yards to 263 — the “hung on” is entirely applicable. 

The game seemed to fit a template that has become very familiar in 2013. The Cardinal defense combined for one sack and four other tackles-for-loss. For the 21st time in that many games, Stanford’s opponent was held under 30 points; for the sixth straight game, the opponent did not exceed 20 points. This was the fifth consecutive game, and the ninth time this season, in which the opposing squad rushed for fewer than 100 yards (Notre Dame had 64, on Saturday evening).

Tyler Gaffney was monstrously good; he rushed 33 times for 189 yards and a touchdown, marking his eight time exceeding the century mark this year. Ty Montgomery had three catches for 46 yards, all of which went for first downs, and four kickoff returns for 127 yards, with a long of 51. Jordan Williamson hit both of his field goals (from 27 and 28 yards) and all three extra points. A seemingly healthy Devon Cajuste grabbed three balls for 75 yards, including a lovely 16-yard end zone reception on the run in which he extended himself to catch a Kevin Hogan ball that was slightly long. 

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The Big Game beat rolls on and on: Stanford triumphs over cal, 63-13, in a record-setting Big Game rout

November 25, 2013

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

The 116th edition of Big Game got off to a brisk start. Stanford put the first points on the board exactly one minute in, courtesy of Lee Ward advancing the kickoff 30 yards, a pass interference flag and Ty Montgomery’s 31-yard touchdown run. Fewer than three minutes later, california (lowercase c intentional) had matched that score with Jared Goff’s touchdown toss to Maurice Harris.

cal, alas, is a team that does many, many things wrong. That proved true upon the ensuing possession. First, there was the kickoff — a 15-yard boot that was caught at midfield with no return. On the very next play, Kevin Hogan dropped back and found Montgomery, who went the distance for a 50-yard touchdown.

Here’s how the rest of the possessions in the first quarter went:

• cal: 3 plays, minus-1 yard, punt.

• Stanford: 7 plays, 51 yards, 12-yard Montgomery touchdown pass from Hogan.

• cal: 3 plays, 5 yards, punt.

• Stanford: 3 plays, minus-2 yards, punt.

• cal: 11 plays, 83 yards, 29-yard Vincenzo D’Amato field goal.

The home team ended the first quarter up by a 21-10 margin, and things only got more lopsided from there. D’Amato would hit a 47-yard kick in the second quarter for cal’s last points of the game. But in that same period, the Cardinal added another 21 points: a 72-yard touchdown on a short Hogan-to-Montgomery connection, a 45-yard TD that Hogan tossed to Michael Rector, and a 9-yard touchdown thanks to another Hogan hookup with Montgomery.

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Trojans break Cardinal streak: Stanford goes down, 20-17, in a heart-breaking defeat in Los Angeles

November 22, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 20, 2013

I can’t think of le mot juste to describe Stanford’s 20-17 upset loss at USC Saturday night.

Shocking? Yes, it was that. After all, the Trojans are the team that had lost at home, 10-7, to lowly Washington State on Sept. 7. That was a game in which USC gained just 193 yards.

Devastating? Yes, it was that, too. With the Cardinal falling to 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12 North, the team lost the primacy it had wrested from Oregon with the inspiring 26-20 victory on Nov. 7. Stanford still might advance to the conference championship game by beating california (lowercase c intentional), but that scenario now requires the Ducks to lose either to Arizona (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12 South) or Oregon State (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12 North). That is, at best, an uncertain prospect.

Expected? Oddly, this also fits. Stanford has played with fire time and again. The Cardinal dominated Oregon for roughly 50 minutes, but the final score showed just how effectively the Ducks managed to claw back into the game. In fact, with the exception of the 55-17 pasting of Washington State, virtually every win the Cardinal has had this year might have gone the other way had a handful of plays yielded different results.

Oregon State would have needed just a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie Stanford as the clock wound down. Before Kodi’s catch was made with nearly two-thirds of the contest vs. UCLA having already been played, the score was tied, 3-3. With 1:16 left to play, a review showed (to some folks, anyway) that a fourth-down Washington pass had fallen incomplete, thereby wiping out a play that would have extended their drive for a game-tying field goal. Despite ultimately losing by 14 points, Arizona State put a huge scare into the Cardinal by ripping off three straight fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Army is 3-7 so far this year, but the Cardinal could muster only a paltry 20-13 halftime lead in the game at West Point — and that required a 47-yard Jordan Williamson field goal as time expired in the second period.

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Who’s got it better than Oregon? Stanford does, after a thrilling 26-20 Thursday night victory over the Ducks!

November 8, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 8, 2013

That. Was. Amazing.

How else could Stanford football fans describe Thursday night’s 26-20 victory over the second-ranked Oregon Ducks? This was a season-defining game for both teams, who together clearly represent the top echelon of both the Pac-12 North Division and, indeed, the conference itself.

Going into the game, Cardinal faithful knew that their team could prevail over the mighty Ducks; for evidence, all they had to do was cast their minds back to last season, when Kevin Hogan led his squad to a 17-14 overtime upset in his first-ever road start. But Cardinal fans also knew that a win would require Stanford to play a nearly perfect game.

That’s not exactly what the home squad turned in Thursday night; instead, the Cardinal played phenomenal ball for 50 or so minutes before all three of the team’s units suffered very significant lapses. These let-downs turned what had been a thorough beat-down of the Ducks turn into quite the nail-biter, as we shall see.

Oregon received the opening kickoff and responded by doing what the Ducks have so often done for the past four-odd years — by moving the ball with relative ease. Still, their eight-play, 35-yard possession stalled at the Stanford 48-yard line with an incomplete throw by quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Ducks punted, pinning the Cardinal to their own 6-yard line.

Alas, the red-jerseyed offense went three and out, and Bralon Addison returned the punt 25 yards to the Stanford 28-yard line. Less than five minutes into the game, Oregon had moved into scoring position.

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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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