Sam Barbee: In my local newspaper picks, I chose Stanford. I thought the Cardinal's physicality and brutality up front would be too much for Arizona State to handle. Well, I was wrong. The Sun Devils have come back from their humiliating defeat to UCLA and won all of their games since. That's really impressive. A lot of people left them for dead after that, but we've seen UCLA go backwards and Arizona State go forward. Arizona State is now a contender in the South.
As for Stanford, that's puzzling. At times, they look like world beaters. Other times, they look like a mediocre football team. It's weird. In Seattle, the Cardinal were a wonderful team. In Tempe, they were decent, average, merely ok. It's a really good win for Arizona State, because they hadn't beaten Stanford in I don't know how long. For Stanford, it's a frustrating loss. That's all I can make of it. But I don't think either team has really found its identity yet. With half the conference schedule done, I guess we'll learn a lot about both teams in the coming weeks.
Mark Schipper: That Stanford offense is awfully bad. The Cardinal had been so dominant recently against Arizona State that I thought they would go down there and grit one out. It wasn’t even close.
There has been no progress offensively. Kevin Hogan might need to be benched. I don’t know who is behind him. He was 19-39 Saturday, which is putrid, but it somehow gets worse when you see his average completion went for less than six yards! So he hit on 19 throws, missed on 20, and the ball was rarely going more than a few paces beyond the line of scrimmage. He is throwing like a Division II triple-option quarterback.
The Cardinal also ran 22 times for 3.5 yards per carry. Don’t know what’s going on there, but it’s not good. Stanford, with the offensive dead in the water, can probably be safely counted out in the North.
On the other side, Sparky is just a game program under Todd Graham. They battle hard and don’t make any excuses. They bounce right back from defeat. Mike Bercovici has just enough upperclassman swagger and arm strength to keep the team pulsing. Their much better starting quarterback should be back soon. The Devils are a definite contender even after UCLA carpet bombed their village.
Stanford's difficulties on offensive are noteworthy, but I think the biggest story coming out of this game is how much the Arizona State defense "grew up." It was common knowledge that Stanford has struggled to score, but when a team like Colorado puts up 500 yards on a defense--you'd think Stanford could find some success moving the ball on said defense. Wrong. Arizona State's defensive game plan switching to a heavy 4-3 defensive front was a great move by Graham, Patterson, and the rest of the defensive staff. Getting rid of the hybrid "DevilBacker" position against this type of offense and installing a base 4-3 defense is going to pay off huge against teams like Utah, Notre Dame, and Oregon State.
I wrote about Stanford heading into their game against Notre Dame, and I think a lot of what I wrote than was further exposed Saturday night. They do not have a running back that has the ability to be a workhorse like Gerhart, Gaffney, or Taylor were in the past, and that is hindering their ability to move the ball. On top of that, this offensive line seems to lack the mean streak that we've seen in the past from Stanford. In last night's contest, ASU's offensive line actually got to the second level much better than Stanford's O-Line did. The Cardinal still have Oregon, Utah, and UCLA on their schedule, and as long as Kevin Hogan continues to have a lackluster senior year, the Cardinal may have their worst season of the last five years.
First off, kudos to the Arizona State offense for putting up more than 20 points on the Stanford defense, as well as doing it without a turnover. The Stanford offense may have its troubles, but the defense remains stout. The ASU defense took advantage of a mediocre Stanford offense and stopped them early and often. I agree with Josh in the 4-3 being a big reason for this. Using size to match Stanford's size and beating them at their own game has to be satisfying for the Sun Devils. On to the Cardinal, who looked awful. I saw Kevin Hogan get hammered by a blitz coming from where he could see it, Patrick Skov
whiffed on the block, and Hogan got earholed. Not a pleasant sight for an offensive front that has put quite a few guys into the NFL over the past few years. It may be a year for some schadenfurd.