Looking back, looking forward: 2H Duke blog

Stepfan Taylor, the "beast"

We're trying a new format here, using a liveblog of last game as a preview of today's game. Here, we're looking at the second half against Duke and projecting what it means for Stanford's matchup today with Arizona – and beyond.

DURHAM, N.C. –

Second half:

  • In the Duke gameday San Francisco Chronicle, Luck says the quarterback he tries to emulate is Ben Roethlisberger. Our quarterback is probably a better person than the other guy, I'd hope, but it's a good comparison. Both of those guys are "specimens", to quote Husak, and because of their passing prowess, they're underrated for their physical abilities. (Not to get all Rush Limbaugh or bring back the Toby argument, but could it be because they're fairer-skinned?)
  • "You've got mail," chirps a reporter's computer. Sometimes life hits you over the head. AOL is so 1997, I was busy trying to get my seventh-grade girl friend to hold my hand and stop daydreaming about the Backstreet Boys then, and, yup, that's why print media is dead. (Be warned, as the game grows increasingly uncompetitive, I start noticing these off-field goings-on a lot more.)
  • Relatedly, this Twitter thing kills me. Talk about the emperor has no clothes. All the reporters have had it hammered into their head how important it is to stay ahead of the curve technologically, and so everyone uses it because everyone else does. Still, I know hardly anyone who uses actually the thing unless they're actively promoting a brand, and neither do any of my friends, a lot of young, technologically plugged-in Stanford grads among them. Still, the two reporters to my right and the two reporters to my left are all "tweeting" away. And, no I can't say that with a straight face.
    How does this add value? Twitter's success is not a paradigm shift, a product of ground-up demand like Facebook or YouTube, it's a top-down advertising mechanism, the same thing as a full-page print ad that just so happens to use pixels instead of ink. Ugh. It doesn't expand the consumer base, as YouTube has for music (monetizing it is another question, but still) or Groupon has for deals and related restaurants and services, it's just the same entities stretching themselves further and away from their core business, and fighting harder for slices of the same pie.
  • Trivia answer: The flea flicker came against UCLA last year. Yours truly was a bit too excited to know the answer in the postgame presser. Oops.
  • As the third quarter carries on, the defense yields two long drives before pulling out stops, then forces two three-and-outs. We're getting off the field every way possible. Renfree has a good completion percentage, but it's a lot of garbage – he only has 125 yards, four sacks and a bunch of dumpoffs. DL Terrence Stephens and Anthony Hayes are coming up big as the game stretches on and we rotate deeper down the Stanford depth chart. Depth is important nowhere more so than the DL.
  • Did I mention Stepfan Taylor is a beast? We talked about a running-back-by-committee situation preseason, but let's get real, he's the No. 1 starter and there's not a No. 1A, nor should there be right now.
  • More takeaways, which I know have been run into the ground, but I would be remiss not to mention, seeing them vividly here in Norcarlina with my eyes. First, the O line has issues, and how well they can turn it around will make the difference between a good offense and a national title-worthy one. Second, your worst fears are true: Stanford has no No. 2 receiver right now. Griff Whalen would come in second among our receivers with ten yards, on a day Andrew Luck threw for nearly 300 and four touchdowns. Doesn't say much for Jamal Rashad Patterson's class, and we've had enough time that it's no longer a fluke, sorry.
  • Expectations for this team are unfair. My '08 buddy Chase would text me postgame asking what was wrong, especially in the first half. We "won" the first half by ten, putting us on perfect pace to win by 20, which, of course, was exactly the line. We ended up winning by a whole bunch more too. How is this underperformance?
  • Good coaching is in large part about adjustments. Stanford adjusted at the half, as the defense became a lot less susceptible to the dinky-dunk stuff. (The OL also did a better job of keeping No. 12's jersey clean in the second half.) Our D coordinators especially aren't big names, but I feel a lot better about the unit after today. That Duke's Sean Renfree really struggled doesn't hurt matters either.
  • New Mexico State beat Minnesota. USC only beat Minnesota by two. Uh oh, USC.
  • Stanford is playing more of a Scott Shafer-style, less conservative, go for broke. The D is making it pay off by getting "home" to the opposing quarterback. The DL doesn't seem to be an issue whatsoever. And as the clock keeps ticking, we're still hitting hard.
  • Shayne Skov will be fine postgame, but he's down now, before walking off on his own power. He's one of the guys who is irreplaceable, and thus I mutter, "there goes the season." Delano Howell is another, and he gets dinged up late too with a cramp. My cardiologist thanks you both.
  • A.J. Tarpley gets a lot of play today. Arrow up for him.
  • A sneaky good thing about our defense this year: we're missing to the outside. Every defense misses tackles; it's inevitable. In the dark ages, though, we'd miss such that no one could recover for the next 20 yards. Now, when we miss, we're usually missing outside, so that the carrier is funneled back to the cavalry anyway. Three yards instead of 20, big difference.
  • Attendance is 24,785. I remember those days. Looks more populated than the old lady normally would, though. Maybe Duke counts less creatively than our SID does.
  • Now a Dukie is cramping up as Stepfan Taylor gets to the corner. The temperature is not that bad, it's not that humid, and we should be used to this weather from the Bay Area summer. I think it's more of a week-two getting into football shape issue than anything. Thankfully, there's no one hard until Week 9.
  • He was a two-sport athlete after all. Andrew Luck bounce-passes it to himself and recovers to run out of bounds for a loss. The stats will say it's a fumble, I say it's just one more thing for an opponent to think about. Nonetheless, Luck scrambles on a third down for the first by inches. Dude is more durable than we realize, and he'll mention that postgame.
  • Duke got greedy and tried to pick-six it again. Result is a 60-yard touchdown. Luck's pretty good when you give him a pocket after all. It's shades of VT again, as our tight ends always seem to be open on deep seam routes down the middle. Guess that's what happens when you bring your safeties up. Thanks, Stepfan and David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin.
  • Biggest remaining questions, in my opinion, are our health and the newbies on the offensive line. Everything else looks pretty darn solid. Not a bad place to be two weeks in.
  • Devon Carrington recovers a fumble Chase Thomas forced. That's the first notable play at Stanford for Carrington, a guy who entered with sky-high hype. The sophomore had been quiet, so maybe this is a harbinger of things to come. Chase Thomas, meanwhile, is easily the defensive MVP. There's more to this D than Howell and Skov, folks.
  • Luck has all day now, despite the fact that we continue to substitute liberally. A good sign.
  • The musical onslaught continues, as DJ Duke has apparently switched to NOW 54 out there.
  • Okay, Cameron Flemming pulls around as Stanford runs it in for a window-dressing touchdown. It's 2009 all over again, as power is back. It's 2010 all over again, as Jordan Williamson yanks the extra point wide left. It's January, 2011 all over again, as after a closer first half, the dam just broke open, ala the Orange Bowl. It's 1986 all over again, as who has named their kid Cameron since Ferrie Bueller?
  • Sorry, but our kickoffs stink right now. Remember that ranting over the summer on the Cal board about how we were using ‘roids? Should have given the kickers a double serving.
  • In are Wayne Lyons, Devon Carrington, Jordan Richards and James Vaughters. Say hello to your 2013 starting defense. A.J. Tarpley is in again too, but it's Shayne Skov with the sack.
  • And we bust out a shovel pass. Jon Wilner asks why we're showing it or the flea flicker. Having thought about it, now I say if we're showing that stuff, who knows how much more we have up our sleeves.
  • This is taboo to say, but as Luck stays out in the early fourth quarter to throw for a fourth-down touchdown, I don't think we would have seen that if not for the Heisman race. I'm sure Coach Shaw would say he wanted to set a tone, or build confidence, or would always go for it there (which is completely the right call, by the way) or whatever, but I still don't think we pass for No. 4 if Luck isn't in the thick of it. Frankly I think it's the right call though. An extra TD here or there could make the difference, and how much is that worth in recruiting hype or benefit of the doubt when it comes to making the BCS or national title game? Plus, it's easier to punch one in against Duke than USC. It's the world we live in.
  • Our kickoffs may stink, but our kickoff coverage has been awesome. The depth and the athleticism of the underclassmen is showing off.
  • Stanford leads 407-217 in yards after the third quarter and by a similar margin on the scoreboard. This liveblog is over, and postgame quotes are a-comin'.


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