Josh Nunes and the Stanford Cardinal offense continues to get stuck in the mud as they escape with a narrow victory over the Washington State Cougars. Scott Allen of Rule of Tree and Hank Waddles of Go Mighty Card explain.
What were the biggest factors as to why Stanford struggled against Washington State?
Scott Allen, Rule Of Tree: I've been hesitant to criticize Josh Nunes too much this season because Stanford has either won or been in a position to win every game, but he was the single biggest reason that the Cardinal struggled to put away Washington State. His line (7-of-15, 136 yards, one touchdown) is ugly. It's even uglier if you take out the 70-yard touchdown pass to Jamal-Rashad Patterson, who the Cougars failed to cover on one play. Oregon will beat Stanford by 60 if the Cardinal gets that sort of production at the QB position against the Ducks. Another factor that contributed to Stanford's struggles Saturday was poor offensive line play. As David Shaw noted in his post-game press conference, there were Cougars waiting in the backfield for Stepfan Taylor as soon as he touched the ball on several occasions. While the defense held Washington State to minus-16 yards rushing, it allowed Jeff Tuel to pass for 401 yards.
Hank Waddles, Go Mighty Card: This will sound like I'm making excuses for the Cardinal's lackluster performance against Washington State, but hear me out. Stanford was coming off back-to-back emotional games (the South Bend Robbery and Big Game) and playing one of the two worst teams in the conference, so it's understandable that they might've been less than focused. Understandable, but not acceptable. Unlike many in Cardinal Nation, I've resisted the urge to compare this coaching staff to the last, but this is a team that tends to play to the level of its competition, something we never saw under Jim Harbaugh. Most concerning is that fact that the coaching staff even seems to coach down to the level of competition, playing it safer against subpar teams. We need to see an end to that this Saturday against Colorado. Stanford is a team in desperate need of a comfortable win.