Thursday, November 01, 2007

Stanford Preview

It's time to devote a day to talking about our upcoming opponent Stanford.

Stanford is coming off a 23-6 loss at Oregon State last week while the Huskies were beaten at home by Arizona, 48-41, to run their current losing streak to six ... Stanford has won the last two meetings with Washington, including a 20-3 victory last year in Seattle, which was the Cardinal's only win of the 2006 campaign ... A Stanford victory would give the Cardinal three straight wins in the series, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since Stanford won 10 straight from 1967-76. The series, which dates back to 1893, is led by the Huskies, 39-34-3.

We all know that Jim Harbaugh and his staff have done a marvelous job down on the farm this season, so marvelous that Jim's name is now being tossed around by Michigan as a replacement for Lloyd Carr. For Stanford the goal is simple, make sure you keep Harbaugh as your head coach because a lot of schools are going to come calling over the next couple of years.

Harbaugh of course is not an instant genius after doing an apprenticeship at University of San Diego before getting his first big time gig at Stanford. He spent a lot of time in the NFL, and the one thing he brings to a team is a lot of enthusiasm, and excitement. Stanford by the way is fueled on those two things this year, on paper they don't have a lot of talent left after a wave of injuries descended on the team almost from the get go.

Clover Park's Tavita Pritchard is the young QB leading this team. Tavita is the nephew of ex Cougar great Jack Thompson. Tavita could have been a Cougar, or a Husky but neither team recruited him. I did read a story this week that said he has hated the Huskies his entire life, and his father wouldn't allow anything Purple and Gold in the house while he was growing up. That being said I hope he spends a lot of Saturday on his back, and wakes up with Purple and Gold bruises on Sunday morning.

Sophomore WR Richard Sherman is attempting to become the first player to lead the Cardinal in receptions in back-to-back seasons since Brad Muster led the team three straight years from 1984-86 ... Sherman is also attempting to become the first wide receiver to lead the team in receptions in consecutive seasons since Andre Tyler in 1979-80 ...The second-year Cardinal from Compton, Calif., was Stanford's top receiver a year ago as a true freshman with 34 catches for 581 yards, three touchdowns and a 17.1 average ... He currently leads the team in all receiving categories: 36 receptions, 635 yards, 17.6 average and four touchdowns ... His career yards per catch average of 17.4 is currently sixth in the Cardinal record book ... Sherman's per game average of 79.3 receiving yards per game currently ranks second in the Pac-10 ... If he continues on that pace over the final four games of the season, Sherman could challenge to become only the fifth receiver in Stanford history to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in a season (the last one was Troy Walters in 1999) ... In his brief career on The Farm, Sherman already has 70 receptions for 1,216 yards and seven touchdowns.

Stanford's offensive numbers in 2007 are a significant improvement over last year's in every category ... A year ago, the Cardinal averaged 65 yards on the ground, 167 through the air, 232 yards in total offense and 10.6 points per game ... Fast forward to 2007 and those same numbers read: 101 rushing yards per game, 224 passing, 325 yards in total offense and 20.9 points scored per game ... A year ago, Stanford scored more than 20 points in just one of 12 games ... So far in 2007, the Cardinal has scored more than 20 points in five games, including three over 30 points ... In game two vs. San Jose State, the Cardinal offense accounted for 506 yards, the most on The Farm since the 2002 season (563 yards vs. SJS) ... Stanford also rushed for 276 yards against the Spartans, equaling the most for a Cardinal offense since the 2001 season ... In the season opener vs. UCLA, Stanford threw for 346 yards, the most since Nov. 26, 2005 when Stanford passed for 347 yards vs. Notre Dame in the final game of the "old" Stanford Stadium ... The Cardinal's 37 points scored vs. San Jose State in game two was the most by a Cardinal offense in the last 20 games - dating back to Oct. 22, 2005 (45 points vs. ASU).

Stanford has almost doubled the number of sacks it had all of last year - and there is still four more games to play in the regular season ... A year ago, the Cardinal had 14 total sacks and averaged a Pac-10 low 1.3 per game ... In 2007, the Cardinal is No. 2 in the conference and No,. 8 in the nation with 28 sacks and a per game average of 3.38 ... Stanford has also seen a similar increase in tackles for loss over a year ago ... The Cardinal recorded 4.2 tackles for loss per game in 2006; that number has increased to 8.0 in 2007 ... Stanford is third in the Pac-10 and 14th nationally in tackles for loss ... In defeating No. 1 ranked USC, the Cardinal defense accounted for four sacks (-29 yards), six tackles for loss (-34 yards), four interceptions, caused five turnovers, while recording two pass breakups, a forced fumble and fumble recovery ... Stanford also held the Trojans, 10th in the nation averaging 237 yards rushing per game, to just 95 net yards on the ground ... A week later against TCU, the Cardinal defense was credited with eight tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two pass break ups and four quarterback hurries ... In Stanford's 21-20 win at Arizona, Stanford recorded three sacks, eight tackles for loss, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception and two fourth down stops that were key to the Cardinal's win ... Stanford was effective again behind the line of scrimmage in its Oct. 27 game at Oregon State as the Cardinal registered six sacks and nine tackles for loss.

In his two seasons as one of the Cardinal's starting linebackers, sophomore Clinton Synder has made his presence known throughout the Pacific-10 Conference ... A year ago, he was 10th in the Pac-10 in tackles per game (6.9); this year, he is among the conference leaders in tackles (7.9), sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles ... He began this season battling injuries and saw his play limited in the first two games ... But, over the course of the last six games, he has averaged 10 tackles per game and been one of the team's most active and effective players on defense ... In the past two years, he has started 18, recorded nine of more tackles in 10 of those contests.

Why Stanford Will Win

Stanford will win by keeping the home crowd in the game and feasting on Husky offensive mistakes much like Arizona did last weekend. The Cardinal may be depleted and banged up but they have a tougher defense then the Arizona Wildcats and if they can use it to their advantage and hold Washington to under 21 points they have a very good chance of winning.

On offense the Cardinals have some very good receivers, and Tavita Pritchard keeps improving in his role as starting QB each week. The kid has proven himself a winner after leading his team to an upset of USC that has to be ranked as one of the most stunning upsets in college football history.

The Washington defense is the worst in the conference right now and while Stanford's offense is improved they are no exactly a point producing machine yet. If Stanford can simply play error free ball and keep it close they should be able to close things out in the latter stages if the game.

Why Washington Will Win

Stanford has big time troubles with mobile QB's, and Jake just may be at his best this week with a lot to prove down on the farm. Washington has the ability to put up 40 or more points on the Cardinal this weekend, and Stanford has proven up to this point that they can't score that many points so in a track meet you have to go with Washington this week.

Defensively the Huskies are reeling this week, but we all have the feeling that the coaches and players are going to rally together this week and push things in the right direction. I can't put u finger on it, but I think it all comes down to the fact that this team will not give up no matter what happened last week against Arizona in the fourth quarter.

What Do I Think?

I have to go with the Huskies in this one. I like how the team has circled the wagons this week, and I am pretty sure the team is ready for a breakout game on the road against the Cardinal. Let's face it, Stanford while playing their hearts out each week isn't a very good football team. Washington's offense continues to improve each week, and Locker should run wild against these guys.

Defensively I have have a hard time thinking that our team is dead, and won't start rebounding. I think the coaches have taken the right approach this week under heavy fire and are not conceding anything. this of course is just a feeling, but the Huskies are due to play their first complete game on both sides of the ball on Saturday.

I am going with a 42-24 Washington victory, and another near 500 yard day for Jake Locker. I was close on my prediction last week, at least from an offensive perspective, hopefully the defensive part of the prediction will be here this week.


prrbrr said...

johnb, thanks for your candid answers below.
I like the Dawgs at 45-21 as this is the week it finally comes together. I love the way the team has circled the wagons against us half brains. JL is making quantum leaps week to week and I think the D will have something to prove, as will the team after last years true debacle.
Its interesting to watch your and Nathans posts as the week wears on, as you both came gravitating back to supporting the team positively. I haven't quite reached that forgiveness level yet after the last 3 games. Maybe this week.
And yes, I agree lets play the season out b4 we start talking changes. I want us to go 5-0 which is very posssible with JL at the helm. GO DAWGS

t9odawg said...

This halfbrain likes Dawgs chances, too.

I wonder if Ty's comment earlier in the week about playing aggressive on offense extends to the D. We'll find out Saturday afternoon. I hope the whole team "plays to win" instead of the passive crap we've been watching

Special teams have improved to "spotty" IMHO. Last week they had some good KO stops then when we go up by 15 they give up a 50 yard return. 30 less yards for AZ to make a mistake because that's what Baer's D philosphy is...hope the other guy screws up so you can get the ball back

John Berkowitz said...

I noticed Jim Moore was calling us half brains today too in the PI.

He wrote a sympathetic article on Baer that has some merit. Talent, and depth does have a lot to do with the defenses current problems.

John Berkowitz said...

Spotty is so much better than absolutely terrible.

I would actually say they are on the plus side of spotty, maybe lightly freckled.

t9odawg said...

Agree, slightly better than spotty.

Let me ask this.

Why is firing Baer any different than being fired from a regular job? In my work life if you didn't perform you got fired causing anxiety for the family, etc.

I've never been fired but I have been laid off with the expectation I'll never be back which is semantics I suppose. I lucked out because I wound up with a job that paid me more than twice as much money and no union dues.

I don't buy into the pity arguement

John Berkowitz said...

"Why is firing Baer any different than being fired from a regular job?"

It isn't any different, if the guy gets fired for lack of success and performance it is all on him.

The question we all ask is if the success and performance can be altered next season with an infusion of new, and more experienced talent.

You can really build a case for that one.

t9odawg said...

Historically, Baer's record speaks for itself. An infusion of talent/players means he might be good in one area because they are so bad in the other area that the other teams uses what works. Right now he is bad in both

John Berkowitz said...

I lean toward at least a new DC next year at this point, everybody does. We will see what happens over the last five games.

t9odawg said...

I'm still optimistic for the next five games although Cal and OSU pose the biggest obstacles IMHO. Baer needs to pursue other ???? any place but Husky Stadium

dadcojohn said...

John, I have now moved from fire baer now to the wait till the end of the season camp. do feel they could win the last 5. I am not betting on that but if the d finds its way at all we got a shot.

I still think that TW could turn this around and next year he should come back but on Dawgman there sure was a great article on Jim Mora Jr as he coaches the Seahawks. Pretty inspiring.

hairofthedawg said...

I saw that too dadco. The smiles are what got me. I think the emotion and alcohol got me into the "fire Baer now" camp and upon sober evaluation, what Moore and John say makes sense, although they both have different motives and ends in mind.

He doesn't have the talent to work with. I just don't want the team to get stuck in the passive-type defense that they may "now" need to play to survive.

This quarter-brain likes the Dawgs' chances as well, but I have all year.