I was at the game and saw the whole turkey unfold. These are my observations, for what it’s worth.
The Defense: The word undisciplined comes to mind, despite flashes of brilliance. We have talent. You can see it. I mean NFL quality talent with Price and Carter and Verner, three layers deep. Price absolutely destroyed his blocker at times. Carter and Bosworth, not sure which one, made some huge hits. Verner came oh so close to a big interception.
BUT, the penalties, egads, and the missed assignments, the loss of containment, the sloppy tackling and the failure to ever make an adjustment to Stanford’s simple unbalanced line (I think designed to foil Price) were maddening. (Was that huge unbalanced line a throwback to single wing power football?) And how do you lose on a fricking flea flicker? Unbelievable. And how much time did Luck have to throw the ball? Yikes. I think back to the drawing boards fellahs. Who do I blame for these problems? While the kids must execute, it’s the coaches who are responsible for teaching the fundamentals, the containment, the assignments. The coaches, people.
The offense: I watched the line play with my binoculars the whole game. Our line was awesome. Our running backs were awesome. Franklin and Thigpen, especially. Question: Why was Thigpen saved for the late 4th quarter? He is amazing. Speed kills. He has it, plenty of it. IMO, Stanford NEVER STOPPED OUR RUNNING GAME. WE STOPPED IT, THAT IS, THE COACHES. I MEAN IT.
This is why we keep getting field goals. This is why Craft was killed in crunch time. Yes, I know the clock is running, but Thigpen was making huge yardage. A toss to him and a run out of bounds is as good as a pass play, especially when Stanford is blitzing Craft like crazy. I am so tired of getting down inside the twenty and then WE STOP RUNNING AND THROW WEAK ASS PASSES ON A SHORT, CROWDED FIELD AND WE HAVE TO SETTLE FOR A FIELD GOAL.
As bad as we played, Stanford won because they score touchdowns not field goals when they get in the red zone. How? They run the damn ball. That’s how. We run the ball great between the twenties and then we stop and play “finesse” football after our line has blown the defense off the ball for fifty yards. I am tired of weak ass, finesse football in the red zone. We scored only because Franklin, in a run, bumped it to the outside on short yardage. He and our other running backs can do that all day IF WE RUN THE BALL IN FOUR DOWN TERRITORY. Am I missing something?
We can win with our cheap, short passing game if we would just run the damn ball in the red zone. At least make the other team stop our run before we stop it ourselves, please, people!
As for our passing game, I am not an expert, but OMG I think on 90% of our plays Stanford was playing one wideout one on one. I mean ALL DAY. AND WE NEVER TOOK ADVANTAGE to go downfield or into the end zone. We never took advantage of our bigger, taller wide outs to go downfield. Never that I can remember. Well, maybe once. I understand that Craft seems incapable of going to a second receiver, but he rarely even looked to these one on ones as his first choice from what I could see. And the one on one mismatch was there almost every play.
I don’t blame Craft. He played an excellent game overall considering his well-recognized limitations. But the coaches put the whole game on him in the end, and Stanford knew it, and they got to him when it counted, finally. Maybe when Prince comes back he can take advantage. I sure hope so.
To our credit, the defense finally sucked it up, but too late. Stanford was set to get 5 to 600 yards entering the 4th quarter, and our D shut them down, and they barely made another 25. To our credit, our offense, which was finally opened up late again, nearly pulled it out.
But a weak-assed finesse offense in the red zone and undisciplined defenses are difficult problems to overcome, especially against a good team like Stanford. Stanford played as a team. They executed as a team. They play power, power, power in the red zone, not between the twenties (remember their one other long pass that set them up?), but in the red zone. I’m not sure they are more talented than we are, really. But they’re coaches out-coached our coaches, pure and simple. It was no contest. In short, gulp, I think our coaches are making the game too complicated. (Remember that trick “wildcat” play we called that screwed up an initial drive early in the game? Yikes.)
MORAL: RICKY AND CHOW AND CHUCK HAVE SOME ‘SPLAININ TO DO. Our players almost pulled out a game they played badly in, but their overall bad playing, IMO, is the coaches’ fault. We need to play more power football in the red zone and more fundamental ball on defense. It’s the coaching, stupid. Will they man up to it?
PS. YES. The officiating was horrible, but I can’t say that’s why we lost the game. The flea flicker was really the dagger. No excuse for that crap to beat us. Other than that, we actually played them pretty even, despite our many problems. This ship can be righted, if the coaches just make these adjustments. Pleaaassseeee! We can still have a great season, people. DO NOT GIVE UP OR THROW IN THE TOWEL. WE LOST TO A VERY GOOD TEAM ON THE ROAD. IT HAPPENS.
Beat Cal and Oregon, yes, finesse, spread Oregon and we will be fine. Stanford will lose at least one road game in the Pac 10. Count on it.