Quick Hitters: Stanford 20, San Jose State 17

Ed Reynolds had the game-icing pick

Christmas came a day early this year, as Stanford kicked off its college football season on an August Friday. Alas, the Grinch nearly stole the show, but Stanford hung on to down San Jose State 20-17 before the home partisans. Here are our quick takes.

1. A win's a win

Not to tempt the woofing gods but I had this initial point prewritten before The Opening kick. I'm sure us fans will have something(s) to complain about, but Stanford football has been ridiculously good under Harbaugh/Shaw at winning the games it is supposed to. In fact, I think it's the most underrated part of the coaching staff's success these past few seasons: not playing down to the opponent's level and avoiding the big upset. (The last two years, our only losses have come to Oregon and Oklahoma State. No shame in those. In fact, if we've played 20 games with a 90 percent chance of victory over that stretch, you would expect two losses by now, so here's to continuing to defy gravity.)

It's not one of those things you tend not to think about as a fan until it's too late, but somewhere soon enough, a big fish is going to go down. Thank goodness it wasn't us last night.

2. The quarterbacking

If Josh Nunes isn't the answer at quarterback – and the initial returns weren't pretty – what does that say about the judgment of the coaching staff? With third-party spectators generally agreeing that Brett Nottingham is the better quarterback, you have to wonder if they're playing it too cute by half and thinking they know something the rest of us don't. I'm no football coach, but I've found in my life that sometimes I'm not as brilliant as I thought and the obvious answer was the best choice all along.

More important question moving forward: if Josh Nunes isn't the answer at quarterback and the staff stubbornly continues to stick with him, what does that say about their judgment?

Of course, playing into a defense's hands is the fact that our longest pass of the night went for all of 14 yards. We don't know how much of it is playcalling versus checkdowns, but whoever's at fault, that has to change.

If a guy doesn't have Andrew Luck-esque presence/accuracy and the team is going to finish 2-of-13 on the night on third downs, it's going to be hard sledding scoring too many touchdowns when passes are going for four yards a pop. Doesn't leave too much margin for error – one misfire and it's punting time. So, especially when Plan A isn't working, what's to lose by taking a shot or five deep? Perhaps it's counterintuitive, but I think it a quarterback might find it easier to launch one or two bombs for a touchdown than instead of stringing together a 12-play drive.

3. Ending with the positives

We are who we thought we were. Good for Jordan Williamson, the front seven and Stepfan Taylor. They all needed to show up last night and did.

The good thing about first-time starters is that they get better. So there's reason to hope for rapid improvement in the defensive backfield, the offensive line and the quarterback position. We'll need it.


Onward to Duke. Prediction? We smoke these guys. And here's to Syracuse taking USC to triple overtime in the Carrier dome.

Here are other takes from across the country.


Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!

TheBootleg.com Recommended Stories