1. What really impressed you the most about Stanford's performance against San Jose State?
Stanford's commitment to increasing explosiveness on the offensive end was noteworthy. In last year's anemic start versus the Spartans, the Cardinal only averaged 4.8 yards per passing attempt. That number increased to 7.6 yards per attempt after Kevin Hogan found both Devon Cajuste and Ty Montgomery for multiple big plays downfield. There is still room for improvement as far as deep ball execution goes, but Stanford's willingness to attack downfield, coupled with the sizzle we saw out of their primary wide receivers, adds a new dimension to this football team.
2. What really disappointed you the most about Stanford's performance against San Jose State?
There was nothing egregiously disappointing about Stanford's performance. This team is worlds ahead of where it was offensively at this time last year, and the defense even held David Fales and co. to fewer yards (251) than they did in 2012 (288). The final score (34-13) was almost in line with my 31-13 pregame prediction: San Jose State is very good, but they were too small to have a shot unless Stanford didn't execute. The Cardinal never punted and finished 12-for-15 on third down, so execution wasn't an issue. If anything, a couple of Hogan's deep balls can be better placed.
3. What really surprised you the most about Stanford's performance against San Jose State?
Cajuste's performance was the most surprising. He played quite a bit last year, but was used almost exclusively as a blocker on the perimeter. At 230 pounds, he's extremely strong in that aspect as a receiver. Cajuste made a trio of big catches Saturday, including a 40-yard touchdown on playaction to open the scoring. Believe it or not, that was the first touchdown catch by a wide receiver on Stanford's current roster since the Fiesta Bowl, 613 days prior.
4. Which players really took a step forward and showcased what they were capable of?
Once San Jose State accounted for Cajuste's early fireworks and shifted coverage to that side of the field, Ty Montgomery blew up. His nightmare 2012 season was marred by drops and a knee injury. He's regained his explosiveness now, and this was apparent in a pair of highlight-reel catch and runs. Montgomery even managed to tightrope the sideline while knocking a would-be tackler's helmet off. That's impressive physicality from a guy who is also the fastest on Stanford's team.
Don't forget Tyler Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson, and left tackle Andrus Peat, either. Gaffney looks like he has what it takes to be a Division 1 featured back, while Wilkerson barrels through holes faster than any Stanford running back in recent memory. Peat's debut as the starter on the left side was dominant.
5. Is Stanford still a firm #2 behind Oregon or would you put them side-by-side?
I must have missed the memo, but when did Oregon surpass Stanford? The last time the two teams faced, the Cardinal beat the Ducks at Autzen Stadium despite losing the turnover battle. The Ducks must prove they can handle the burly Stanford defense before they reclaim the Pac-12's top spot. So right now, I think it's only fair to put the Cardinal ahead of the Quack Attack.