Saturday, November 3, 2007

Football vs Washington 11/3/2007

Stanford 9 Washington 27
Who would have guessed at the beginning of the season that we'd be thinking about bowl eligibility? The program is definitely on the rise but as we saw today, it just isn't there yet. The game was definitely winnable but we struggled offensively. Even though the defense gave up a lot of yards, I felt that they kept us in the game with turnovers and their bend but do not break attacking philosophy. They were simply on the field for too long and couldn't deal with Washington's running game.

The student section wasn't as filled as in previous games. It was semi-disappointing seeing as how this was a pretty big game and San Jose State aside (which Albert just called a high school team), the best shot Vegas has given us at winning all year (we were only +3 underdogs). Midterms maybe? The Washington faithful had a decent sized contingent and even brought their band. It must be quite a drive down from Washington so kudos to those who did.

There aren't too many positives to be taken from this loss. Maybe Gatewood's emergence as a running back, our ability to break off long runs and kick returns or holding an offense that has torched several schools like Oregon and Arizona to only 29 points? On the whole, our offense looked terrible. Receivers weren't making catches. The QB was taking too many drive killing sacks and even kicking was disastrous. It looked like the refs screwed us out of a touchdown but momentum aside, I don't think it would have made a difference. The defense fought hard to contain Locker but missed a bunch of tackles and couldn't consistenly get enough pressure on him.

I don't know what the deal with the QB situation is and the diagnoses on Pritchard. He wasn't looking that great before he was taken off but to be fair, he has started most of our good offensive games pretty slow. The series before he came out, it looked like he got hit in the ankle region by a sprawling defensive lineman and it did seem that he was limping slightly upon returning to the sidelines after a trip to the locker room.

Playing Washington State in Pullman is going to be tough. We need to win out to be bowl eligible. I wouldn't bet on it but that's why they play the games. As a side note, I can't wait for basketball season. Just 2 more days to the first exhibition and 6 to Harvard in the opener. Finally, congrats to the women's field hockey team for beating Cal and clinching the NorPac Title. Hopefully they can win a berth into the NCAA Tournament by beating Lock Haven on Tuesday in the play-in game.
~ Zhihao

My takeaways from the UW game:
1) T.C. is not a Pac-10 caliber QB. He made some absolutely, incredibly, jaw-droppingly stupid decisions with the ball. I can understand some sacks, but I cannot understand taking a 15 yard sack when you're down 10 and in field goal range. He also got away with another play when we were near our goal line and he decided to throw the ball away. However, throwing the ball away meant some backwards, underhanded garbage that wasn't picked only because it somehow managed to hit Marecic(I think) in the back. Harbaugh says that Tavita could have come back in, but I have to doubt that because there is no reason for T.C. to play when Tavita is even borderline healthy.

2) The defense got blasted if you look at the yards, but despite that we were still competitive well into the game. I honestly believe we would have won with Tavita, because he steps up and gets rid of the ball, but this point is about the defense. I've gotta give props to Tyrone and staff because we were outcoached and outexecuted on that side of the ball. Unlike Arizona, they kept running the power/trap play up the middle and we kept getting dominated by it. They did not deviate from it very often, but when they did, the passes were quick and put into the space opened out by our zone blitzing. Our entire scheme is predicated on getting pressure on the QB and forcing bad decisions, but we could never get the pressure on Locker and couldn't force him into mistakes. I was surprised that we did not commit more to stopping the run and forcing Washington to pass, but at the same time it seemed like we were scared of Locker's running ability and did not want to bring too much pressure out of fear of him taking off and running. I would not be surprised to see the same game plan from Wash St., Notre Dame and Cal(the power run up the middle).

3) Unlike year's past, we can run the ball effectively this year. I've been impressed with the improvements in the O-line. There is a lot of potential for moving forward in the upcoming years, and I'll be very interested to see what changes are made to the offense for next year when we know the starter will be either Tavita or Forcier since both bring the running element that couldn't be planned for with T.C. at the beginning of this year. McGraw and Gatewood both ran really well today, although it was huge when Gatewood lost the fumble on the goal line. We never seemed to recover from that momentum given to us by the defense. We have to take better advantage of the stops they give us in the final 3 games of the year. He almost lost another at the goal line later in the game, so I'm sure the coaches will work with him on ball security before this weekend.

4) Becoming bowl eligible will require wins in the last 3 games. Quite frankly, we should only be needing 1 win because this game was very winnable as was the TCU game. Despite this, it is still possible for us to win out. (Disclaimer: Possible as long as T.C. is not quarterbacking the team. If he plays, we lose all 3) Washington State is hit or miss, Notre Dame is a bad team, and Cal is inconsistent. If we can keep Brink somewhat in check, not let Tandy run all over us, and keep the QB clean we should win. I'm pretty sure Mkristo Bruce graduated last year, and he dominated our line last year. Notre Dame is just bad, and there should be no way that we lose to them. That game should be a field day for our defense hopefully. Cal's fortunes seem to go as their QBs go. If we can get pressure on Longshore and not give Desean and Co. time to get down field we may have a chance. However, if I were Tedford, I would run Forsett and Best every play with a reverse or 4 thrown in to the receivers for good measure.

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