An Aw-foul Finish!
Man, that one hurt. Haven't seen that many freakin' flags since the opening
ceremonies in Beijing last summer! Due in no small part to a series of
infractions, real or imagined, we gave that one away, friends. Say what you
will, but in the end, a QB who really wasn't very good made a great play when
the chips were down. Good for him, bad for us.
We may have given away the 2005 UCLA game after building a 21-point lead and
eventually losing in OT, but in trying to come up with a comparable infliction
of emotional pain, I am reminded of another time we should have beaten the
Bruins and managed somehow not to. Personally, I haven't felt this sick to
my stomach after a UCLA game since Bruin kicker Brad Daluiso booted a
back-breaker with 0:01 left to edge Stanford back in 1990. (Stanford had taken
the lead with a John Hopkins field goal with 1:14 left). Long-time Cardinal fans
will recall that Stanford's Frank Busalacci blocked a PAT that if successful
would have tied the game at 28-28, but the ball popped miraculously, freakishly
into the hands of QB/holder Tommy Maddox who said "Thank you, Lord"
and threw for a two-point conversion that ultimately made the difference in a
It may be a couple of weeks until Halloween, but this one should and will
"haunt" us for years to come. Floundering from a flurry of personal
fouls , the Cardinal allowed one of the most imminently beatable UCLA
teams in decades to steal a win in the final seconds. Last year we beat Southern
Cal in a last-minute upset, this year we gifted one back to SoCal. In tribute to
the great Wang Chung, one could say the Cardinal, in the span of just over a
year, has "lived and died in L.A"
Some of the many reasons we are bitter:
- The post-game state of mind of my own father aka "The
Conscience", who basically summed up his feelings thusly. "It was
one of the most devastating losses in recent memory". Personally, other
than having been subjected to a brutal Bruin broadcasting team on FSN-West,
I didn't view this defeat as quite so devastating (after steaming for the
past few hours), but is sure hurt....and left me shaking my head.
- Stanford should have won this game...and didn't. Too many penalties,
perhaps too much conservatism, and without a doubt a debilitating offensive
imbalance. Despite a less-than-stellar third-down defense today, it remains
quite clear that our defense is not what is keeping us from winning
ballgames. A consistent, balanced attack would help us win more of these
game. And for the record, play-calling is not the problem. It isn't
that we are unwilling to pass, we just don't seem to be able to.
- In his pre-game analysis on gostanford.com, our pal Todd Husak wrote
"Stanford needs to grind out the game on the ground and should limit
the passing play calls." He was right, but we think the staff must have
read that and taken it just a bit too literally.
- The three turnovers were costly, but at least we did force a few today. On
the other hand, there is really no excuse for the rash of morale-killing,
drive-extending penalties (10-103), including at least four on the final
drive of the half that led to a Bruin field goal.
- 5-13 for 51 net passing yards? 3.9 yards per pass play? Just three first
downs by the pass vs. 13 for a far-below-average Bru-Crew? More than twice
as many yards in penalties as we generated through the air. That has
to be a record! Three completions to wide receivers, all to sure-handed #8
Ryan Whalen. And guys were dropping from their secondary like flies!.
People, enduring that level of non-contribution by the QB-led passing game
is the equivalent to asking Toby to carry a 50-pound sack of cement while
trying to run the football and he still played like the supreme stud
football player he is.
- Lanky and large 6'5" Bruin wide receiver Nelson Rosario, whom we
wanted very badly to be a Stanford Cardinal, came up with a couple of huge,
drive-extending third-down grabs for the Baby Blues.
- If Tavita was affected by the concussion suffered last week, then I guess
we have to wonder why he played. If he was unaffected, then we have to
wonder why we couldn't generate any offense through the air (actually, we
are not wondering, we know). Really like the way Loukas runs the ball
(Duh!), but somebody on this team has to complete some passes. Meanwhile, I
think we have beaten The Luck Drum™ enough to know that everyone already
knows our take on that whole situation. There were some very routine plays
out there this afternoon that one has to believe a five-star freshman would
be able to execute. (Note: That is by no means a personal attack on the
quarterback as a human being! We like him, want him to have success, and may
well vote for him to become President of the United States some day!)
- We managed just two field goals in the second half against a UCLA team of that
- Sorry, but even though I am by no means a Bruin-hater, I admit I just
plain don't like "Neu-weasel" and do not wish him well. I may even
attend the UCLA-USC game just to watch the cross-town carnage and delight in
Slick Rick's misfortune. I know, I shouldn't be so mean, but it has been a
very rough week at The Bootleg.
Some of the good things we already knew:
- Our rumblin' stumblin' #7 Toby Gerhart is without question one of the most
talented, most reliable players ever to wear the Cardinal & White. What
could he have done today had there been any semblance of a threat to move
the ball through the air? With 138 yards on Saturday, he needs to 221 more
to get to 1,000 and needs to average just over 55 yards per game to break
1,000 and just about 75 yards per game to surpass Tommy Vardell's 1991
single-season rushing record of 1,084. Barring injury, knock on wood, done
deal. In fact, we would not be surprised to see Gerhart threaten Jon Volpe's
single-game record of 220, set in 1988 against UW, with career performance
against reeling WSU in two weeks. If I were SI's First Team Mid-Season
All-American center Alex Fletcher, I would gather up my name-taking OL
buddies and put that "221" goal on paper. 221 yards by Toby would
set a new single-season record, crack the 1,000-yard barrier for the first
time in 17 years, and definitively usher in the dawn of a new era on The
Farm: Mash Mouth Football™.
- QB #15 Alex Loukas made some more terrific plays running the ball. We
really down know how well he throws yet. May be time to find out.
- Silky smooth freshman KR #81 Chris Owusu is faster than he looks and he
will likely break a lot of big returns during his career. Still love
freshman #26 Delano Howell too, though!
- We have a good football team, they just don't have all the puzzle pieces
Some of the observations on the brighter side:
- There is far too much football left to start calling this a disaster. It
was a loss. A tough loss. The path just got steeper, but is still a clear
- Our man #20 Clinton Snyder finally got off "the Snyd" and was
once again a menacing force. I will have to see a different angle to
understand what it was he did on the final series. Looked like he pushed the
intended receiver, but hey, we had a second personal foul on the play
- Ok, so maybe #44 Pat Maynor plays a little "dirty". Doubt anyone
is going to complain about the personal foul called after Craft's
shovel-pass TD in the third quarter. As long as there is not malicious
intent to injure, we like a little dose of dirty in our backers!
- Heretofore virtually unknown to any but the most attentive among Booties,
redshirt freshman defensive end #94 Thomas Keiser is rapidly becoming one of
our most valuable players on either side of the ball.
- We looked stronger and tougher than UCLA - across the board. Starting to
- Our kickers are doing a very fine job this season.
- We seemed to avoid major injuries.
- Arizona just hung 28 on Cal in the third quarter! Arizona 42, Cal
27 with three minutes left in Q3. UofA running back Antolin already has 150
yards on 18 carries with three TDs!
- We get to rest up with a bye week and should be ready to steamroll the
Some of the big questions from this game:
- Should Harbaugh have gone for it on fourth & one at the 11 instead of
kicking the final field goal? Pretty high percentage roll of the dice given
the fact the UCLA had known Toby was getting the ball almost every time and
they were rarely able to stop him. You can argue that he should have gone
for it since we would have still had the lead, but maybe it was a lot easier
to ask the Cardinal defense to hold the Bruins out of the endzone than it
would have been to risk having UCLA get in the FG range of their lights-out
kicker Kai Forbath. No, in my opinion he should have had more options than
to stay on the ground on third and six or seven, but was handicapped by
Coach's apparent unwillingness to trust either of our quarterbacks to pick
up the first down through the air. Seriously, how many folks stay on the
ground on third and seven? It was primarily our inadequate passing game that
cost us in crunch time!
- Sure, we mixed it up nicely at time, but I am struggling to recall a
single pass we completed from the pocket. 18 yards passing in the first
- Did Defensive Co-Coordinator Ron Lynn get a bit too conservative on the
final drive? Hard to say. Without the penalties, we probably win. So, no. It
should have worked.
- Are we now a "longshot" to become bowl eligible? Hell no.
If I am a member of this team, I am now seriously pissed and want a piece of
the remaining non-Trojan schedule. No offensive line is going to come off a
249-yard rushing performance without considerable continuing confidence that
they can work people over.
This team deserves better. We deserved this game. But now we have to move on.
This just means the Cardinal will have to raise its solid level of play to
outstanding in order to get to a bowl game. If we had won this game, beaten WSU,
and lost the final three, it would have been an acceptable, but pretty
"cheap" way to get to the postseason. Now we'll get to do it the old
fashioned way, we'll have to earn it.
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