The Cardinal pulled a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde Saturday v. Arizona State. Going up 29-0 at the half there appeared nothing Stanford could not do: run, pass, return kicks, kick covereage, run defense, pass defense. You name it.
Now, to be fair, ASU made some mental errors, like dropped passes, that really hurt. And Stanford pulled out some new formations and some tricky plays that really put ASU on their heels. Thus played out a most impressive first half for the Cardinal.
The fourth quarter was a total mystery to me. Coach David Shaw's post-game reaction was as lame as the team's performance that fifteen minutes. It was truly painful watching Arizona State finally get it together and start putting together some big plays and post 21 points sandwiched around two Stanford three-and-outs. For those series, Shaw put in reserve QB Evan Crower -- who many say has a great arm and just as great a future ahead at Stanford -- and promptly shelved his game plan. He had Crower hand off up the middle on six consecutive snaps. Because the Cardinal lined up in their packed muscle formation, everyone knew it was coming. Including the Sun Devils. To no one's surprise, ASU stuffed them.
Now about Shaw's reaction. He was clearly defensive when the question came up from a very timid radio post game interviewer. Blaming his players, Shaw said his charges didn't execute as expected in the fourth quarter. Oh, please. You have to have something to work with first, reference: the play calls. On defense he had a point. They just didn't get it done in the fourth. But because Shaw packed up the offense, the defense found themselves on the field all the time, and fatigue had to be a factor. But you have to give ASU some credit. To quote a response to Joe Paterno's carping some fifty years ago, "Hey, c'mon Joe, the other team has some good players, too!" (My Dad knew a fellow assistant coach of Paterno's. A good story.)
All in all, Shaw's poor decisions let his team down. Reminds me of another coach who really had a way with bad decisions. He was fired from Bowling Green State University for it and subsequently served some years as an assistant to Bo Schembechler at Michigan. There he learned from the master and, older, wiser and better, went on to great success at West Virginia.
Don Nehlen football. We don't need that at Stanford.
Utah v. BYU
What is it with referees and the god schools (BYU and Notre Dame)? I saw some incredibly bad calls by the refs, all in the fourth quarter, that handed BYU numerous opportunities to pull out the game vs. Utah. They even overturned a pass interference penalty against the Cougars. When have you ever seen that one? Replays showed the refs were clearly wrong in their replay assessment.
ESPN Talking Head
Former U-Dub QB Brock Huard is now a color commentator on ESPN. He's gotta be one of the best I've seen. This guy has it all. He's smart and knowledgeable, and also has the voice and the looks for TV. I remember sitting a few rows behind him when he was still a blemish-faced high school recruit out of Puyallup attending a UW game while his older brother, Damon, was at the helm for the Dawgies. Brock eventually QB'd the Huskies and went on to the NFL with the Seahawks and Colts.
- I've never gotten fully comfortable with those one color uniforms. Particularly red ones. I still think they look like pajamas.
- From the "Are You Stoned or Something" files: Why is Notre Dame called the Irish? It's French. Yeah, I get the Irish Catholic thing. But it's namesake is the home of Quasimodo for crying out loud.