Stanford survives Washington, looks for return to form against Utah

Stephen Lam

David Lombardi of the Bootleg drops by to provide his insight onto the Cardinal.

1. Man, that was a scare wasn't it? What did Washington do to stymie Stanford? How were they able to score on the Cardinal and hinder their offense?

First off, even on a bad thumb, Keith Price (33-40, 350 yards, 2 TD) was fantastic throwing to a trio of excellent wide receivers. It's going to be difficult for Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley to match his performance when they play Stanford this season. Along with Bishop Sankey (a future NFL back, judging by the way he bounces off first contact), Price spearheaded a balanced offense that churned out yardage against a good defense down the stretch. Stanford, which shut Washington down for the game's first five possessions, was able to do just enough to maintain the lead for the entire game, but they weren't able to consistently pressure Price without blitzing linebackers, and the senior made them pay for that.

On the other side, the Huskies' Pac-12-leading defense stymied Kevin Hogan (12-20, 105 yards, 1 INT) by anticipating passing downs and dropping seven men into coverage. Stanford retreated into a conservative shell late as a result of their quarterback's accuracy struggles: They attempted only one pass in the fourth quarter. This subpar effort strained the Cardinal defense immensely, though they did ultimately dig in to hold on for the win in crunch time.

2. Ty Montgomery exploded and ensured a victory. What other players stepped up for Stanford to ensure another 5-0 start?

Washington outgained Stanford by 205 yards, but Montgomery's 204 kick return yards essentially evened out the yardage battle in the box score. He gave the Cardinal the lead with a 99-yard return off the bat and made sure that momentum would stay on the Stanford sideline when he caught a later bomb for a touchdown and took yet another kick back 64 yards. Montgomery provided the necessary Cardinal cushion while linebacker Shayne Skov held the fort on defense. His spectacular 15-tackle performance opened the gates of quarterback pressure, which ultimately hindered Price just enough for a Stanford victory.

3. The Cardinal are having their fill of it on the recruiting trail. What type of players do you think this team needs to recruit to avoid these close matchups and turn more wins into blowouts?

It'll be impossible to completely avoid close match-ups with a team as balanced as Washington. The Huskies are top-15 good this year, and Stanford did well to survive despite playing a rather sloppy game on both sides of the football. The defensive line is certainly a recruiting focal point in games like these, since teams like to be able to generate pressure without blitzing linebackers. That makes Texas standout DE Solomon Thomas, the most highly touted player left on the Cardinal board, a top priority moving forward. Of course, David Shaw's program must constantly think about reloading at all positions. They've already amassed a handful of linebacker (please see Joey Alfieri's tape) and secondary commitments, and they're simultaneously working on enhancing their speed on the offensive end.

4. Is Washington just a bad matchup for Stanford, or would you consider them an elite team on the scale of the Cardinal and the Ducks?

The Huskies' special teams struggles prevent them from being mentioned in the same breath as Oregon and Stanford, but Steve Sarkisian's team is very good. The defense is at the top of Pac-12 rankings right now, and it'll be interesting to see how it holds up against the Quack Attack. Since Price and the rest of the offense is healthy, I expect Washington to give Oregon a solid contest. If they can figure out the third phase, the Huskies will have a chance to win. They did look really bad in that special teams facet Saturday, though: Montgomery torched them.

5. A tough road trip awaits in Salt Lake City. What are you looking for Stanford to do against Utah?


I'm looking for a bounce-back performance from Hogan. If he can do that, Stanford will control third down in this game. Utah is 3-for-27 on third down over the course of their past two contests. If the Cardinal get ahead behind a solid passing attack, the Utes will be forced to convert from behind against the vaunted Cardinal defense, and that will not end well for them.

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