A couple of issues are likely at the forefront of the minds of Stanford football fans today, after the Cardinal's 17-13 upset loss to Washington...
A couple of issues are likely at the forefront of the minds of Stanford football fans today, after the Cardinal’s 17-13 upset loss to Washington on Thursday night.
First, is there a big future for Stanford with Josh Nunes at quarterback? Nunes was 18 for 37 for 170 yards and didn’t get the Cardinal offense into the end zone, leading head coach David Shaw to say, “It wasn’t his best effort.”
“I let a few guys down,” said Nunes, who was victimized by a couple of Stanford drops, including a potential touchdown to Ty Montgomery.
Second, did the Cardinal put too much pressure on Nunes by veering away from the run in the first half? At one stretch of 11 first-quarter plays, Nunes retreated to throw eight times and Stepfan Taylor, who rambled for 153 yards rushing against USC 12 days earlier, carried only twice.
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“I’m not sure,” Taylor said when asked about the approach. “Maybe we were trying to get our offense more balanced — open it up. They were packing the box.”
Stanford was just 5 of 18 on third-down conversions, and Shaw said, “When we get to third, we gotta convert.”
But it was a fourth-down play that the Cardinal might like to have back.
Stanford was at the UW 34 with slightly less than two minutes left, fourth and four, down 17-13 with two timeouts left. Nunes tried a low-percentage fade route down the right sideline for big tight end Levine Toilolo, but overthrew it and it was picked by the UW’s Desmond Trufant.
“We go to a guy who’s 6-8 against a guy who’s 6 feet,” said Shaw. “We miscalculated the throw.”
Even after that, Washington faced third-and-four at its 14 after the final Stanford timeouts, so the Cardinal still had a chance with 1:39 remaining. But defensive end Ben Gardner, trying to time the snap, jumped offside, and that ended it.
Even with the offensive woes, the ending seemed unlikely when Stanford led 13-3 after Trent Murphy’s 40-yard interception return late in the third quarter.
“It was 13-3, but we still hadn’t played well,” Shaw said. “We still had no momentum.”
to injury list
Washington has taken a policy of limiting the information it gives on injuries. So it was not officially known until kickoff that junior nose tackle Lawrence Lagafuaina was out with an apparent leg injury, apparently suffered recently in practice.
Lagafuaina had figured to have a big role against Stanford as the Huskies opened the game with their “jumbo package” defense featuring some bigger players up the middle. Getting starts were Semisi Tokolahi at tackle and Thomas Tutogi at linebacker, players the Huskies consider good fits against power running teams.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who met with media at halftime, wasn’t optimistic in the short-term on the league reaching agreement with satellite provider DirecTV to carry the Pac-12 Networks.
“I don’t see any evidence it’s going to happen anytime soon, unfortunately,” he said, while characterizing the impasse as common to sports networks and providers.
“In the long term, I’m optimistic because I know we have great content and I know how passionate our fans are,” he said.
Scott repeated that the league would discuss at its October meeting the possibility of a uniform policy for reporting football injuries, but he said he didn’t expect anything to result that would affect the 2012 season.
Huskies shake up
The Huskies also opened with a different-looking offensive line, an alignment it settled on during the bye week. It featured James Atoe at right tackle (he had been playing guard) with true freshman Shane Brostek getting his first start at right guard.
The moves were forced after an injury to guard Colin Tanigawa, who, it was revealed this week, will miss the rest of the season, apparently with a knee injury.
The other starters were as expected — Micah Hatchie at left tackle, Dexter Charles at left guard and Drew Schaefer at center.
Brostek was one of the jewels of UW’s Class of 2012 and is the son of former Husky Bern Brostek, who started at center for the Huskies from 1986-89 before playing eight seasons in the NFL.
Recruits in the house
As is common for home games, the Huskies hosted about a half-dozen high-school seniors on official recruiting visits. Among those expected to visit, according to various reports, were cornerback Chris Hawkins of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., who has made a commitment to USC, and WR/DB Jermaine Kelly of Salesian High in Los Angeles.
Also expected to visit were center Dane Crane and linebacker Connor O’Brien of Santa Margarita, Calif. They are among 18 players who have committed to UW for the Class of 2013.
• As expected, Travis Coons handled the initial punt for UW in place of Korey Durkee, a true freshman who had struggled with consistency in Washington’s first three games.