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Stanford Rewatch Diary

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Yes, it’s painful but you have to fight through that in order to learn and grow

Stanford v Washington Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

My last 3 of these have all been over 4,000 words and split up by half. I get this game is much more of a bummer so will be trying to go into a less detail for this one.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #1- 15:00 1ST QUARTER

  • Tim Horn’s opening game kick went out of bounds. We should’ve known.
  • Worth remembering that the Husky defense moved Kyler Gordon to the slot for much of this game and had Elijah Molden play safety with Alex Cook getting moved out of the starting lineup. Sav’ell Smalls started in place of Ryan Bowman at OLB opposite ZTF.
  • Molden immediately misses a tackle on a 3rd down dump off pass that lets Austin Jones past the sticks.
  • And on another 3rd and long Jackson Sirmon gets placed in man coverage as the Cardinal went 5 wide. He actually was in position to make a play if his head got turned around in time. Instead it is lobbed over his hands on the slot fade and he awkwardly lunges and falls down to make it look extra embarrassing. It’s a gain of 26 and that’s where Stanford was going the whole time.
  • Stanford switches into grind it out mode in the red zone with 5 plays to get the final 21 yards necessary and punched in on 3rd and goal from the 2 by Austin Jones. Stanford 7, Washington 0.

OFFENSIVE DRIVE #1- 9:53 1ST QUARTER

  • With Bynum and Nacua both unavailable the Huskies let true freshmen Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan start alongside Ty Jones with Jones moving to the slot.
  • On 3rd and short I love the play call from Donovan as Devin Culp blocks the defensive end for about 1.5 seconds on play action then leaks into the flat which is wide open. Culp’s first career catch goes for a gain of 15.
  • They go back to Culp 2 plays later but it hits him in the chest for a drop (although the throw should’ve been about 2 feet further to the outside). Would’ve likely brought up a 3rd and 1 instead of a 3rd and 5 unless he made a man miss.
  • The offense self destructed with a 12 man in the huddle penalty somehow immediately followed by a delay of game to make it 3rd and 15. Morris against a 3-man rush with no one open decides to go for it and runs but gets absolutely walloped a few yards short of the 1st down and UW punts. Kyler Gordon could’ve caught it at the 1 but lost track of his feet and was actually standing in the end zone for a touchback.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #2- 6:39 1ST QUARTER

  • Both Smalls and ZTF were able to put pressure on Mills on 2nd down forcing a throw away. If I remember correctly, that was the biggest impact ZTF made all day as he finally came back down to earth after his impossible to sustain 7 sacks in 3 games start.
  • On 3rd and 6 the Huskies blitz and Ulofoshio can’t quite get there quick enough as Trent McDuffie was playing 10 yards off his guy and slightly inside. That allowed a quick out route by Connor Wedington right at the line with a perfect throw to beat him.
  • Stanford picks up 22 yards on 3 straight runs as there are clear running lanes everywhere.
  • Again the Huskies are caught with funky personnel. For some reason ZTF is a linebacker in a 4-3 alignment and drops into zone coverage. Stanford sneaks a guy behind him and the ball goes inches over his fingertips while jumping at full extension for a completion. It goes for an extra 15 yards after Molden’s tackle attempt spun the receiver around which put Asa Turner in the wrong spot to help once Molden got shaken loose. Stanford gains 38.
  • Austin Jones gets a toss left and ZTF is at the line of scrimmage waiting for him but gets juked out of his shoes to allow him to get all the way to the 1. On the next play Jones jumps over the pile and cross the end zone line. Touchdown. Stanford 14, Washington 0.

OFFENSIVE DRIVE #2- 2:05 1ST QUARTER

  • Washington goes with a zone read on 2nd and 4 and thanks to a good block by Rome Odunze on the outside easily picks up the 1st with Morris keeping the ball. Will be interested to see if we get more from Morris’ legs this year.
  • On the next play UW goes for a play action deep shot but Curne gets pushed back right into Morris and the rusher swats his arm which causes a lame duck that thankfully isn’t intercepted. Given that Morris was backpedaling as he let go because of the pressure it probably would’ve been badly underthrown even without the contact. Morris needed to holster this one and try to escape and scramble to his left to buy time.
  • A great route and throw to McMillan is an easy gain of 16 for his first career catch. Otton was also wide open on a seam route that might’ve gained even more.
  • The first time UW goes run, run to start off a set of downs and it only gains 3 yards creating a 3rd and 7. Washington on that play gets away with a hold by Victor Curne which allows Morris to scramble for the 1st. Stanford also got called for holding in the secondary so it would’ve only been offsetting penalties and a re-do if they’d called it against UW.
  • The Huskies for the first time all year go with an RPO and Morris’ throw on the slant to Odunze is high but he makes a crazy catch at full extension cradling the ball with one hand just enough to get his 2nd one on it to secure a 1st and Goal at the 8.
  • Pleasant runs up the middle for 2 on 1st down. Jones gets bodied throwing off the timing on an out route that ends up nowhere close. Then Stanford rushes 3 and there’s just no one open. It would’ve been really tough but as Morris was working his way towards the sideline Odunze got briefly free in the corner of the end zone and might’ve caught a jump ball or gotten fouled as the defender was face guarding. Instead he tries to scramble and is nowhere close.
  • Henry nails the chip shot field goal. Stanford 14, Washington 3.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #3- 11:59 2ND QUARTER

  • Kyler Gordon comes flying in on the ensuing kickoff but misses the tackle and it ends up past the 35.
  • After a Stanford 1st down they run a jet sweep and Kyler tries to cut inside a block to make the tackle for loss instead of holding the edge and gets shoved/held just enough to knock him over. That creates a running lane and Molden finally brings him down after 20 yards.
  • From there Stanford goes 5 yards, 5 yards, 8 yards, 9 yards, 1 yard, 3 yards, and 3 yards. The final 5 plays of the drive were all runs. That makes it a 78% success rate on plays in that drive. Not what you want. Peat punches it in on 3rd and goal from the 3. Stanford 21, Washington 3.

OFFENSIVE DRIVE #3- 6:54 2ND QUARTER

  • Almost a great play on 1st down by Morris as he evades pressure and fires a dart to Odunze on the sideline that would’ve been a gain of 15 but he can’t quite hold on while trying to keep his feet down.
  • We’re nearly 1/3rd of the way through the game and McGrew picks up the first run for 10+ yards on the night. It’s also just the 6th “true handoff” so far as they fake the jet sweep then pitch the opposite direction to McGrew and let him use his speed in the open field.
  • That changes quickly as the Huskies go run, run, run on the next set of downs with McGrew, Westover, and Pleasant all getting carries and they just barely pick up the combined 10 yards needed to keep the drive going.
  • The next play is the throw to McMillan that looked like it could’ve gone either way as McMillan was dropping the ball but it fell on his other hand as he slid out of bounds. I think this should’ve been kept with whatever the call on the field was and they called it incomplete so it stood. Would’ve been a gain of 16.
  • Instead they try a reverse to Odunze and it gets absolutely blown up as Morris would’ve had to make a block against a Stanford DE to give it any chance. Plus Curne was beaten getting back to his guy which meant Odunze had essentially 2 free rushers on him 8 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Punt.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #4- 3:09 2ND QUARTER

  • UW forces a 3rd and 3 but quickly get the ball out to RB Austin Jones who is immediately tackled by Ulofoshio but it’s still good for a 1st down.
  • It ends up being part of 4 straight throws by Stanford within a few yards of the line of scrimmage as they suddenly look like a Mike Leach air raid offense. Finally though it looked like a miscommunication as Keith Taylor played well off his man (maybe expecting Kyler Gordon to be in a zone to protect against the slant?). But instead it was a free release and Fehoko catches it at the 1st down marker with no Husky having been within 3 yards of him yet for an easy gain of 15.
  • Never mind on my earlier statement. There’s a QB hit for an incompletion by ZTF that forces a 3rd down and 4 just outside field goal range with 40 seconds left. McDuffie then has great coverage on Fehoko and the first stop on 3rd down of the night for UW brings up 4th down.
  • Molden had a shot at stopping the receiver just short on a rub route but can’t make the tackle quick enough and it’s barely another Stanford 1st down.
  • Once again the Huskies have trouble with the scramble as Smalls tries an inside rush and gets stonewalled creating a massive alley to Mills’ right. He easily dives forward to pick up 9 before encountering any Husky defender as the half winds down.
  • Stanford’s 42 yard field goal attempt crawls inside the right post and is good. We go to halftime with the score Stanford 24, Washington 3.
  • The Husky defense gave up a 66% success rate and 80% 3rd down conversion rate with 0 tackles for loss or turnovers. That’s how you give up 24 points in a half. Meanwhile the offense had a 42% success rate with 3 drops and 2 procedural penalties. That’s how you end up with 3 points in a half.

OFFENSIVE DRIVE #4- 15:00 3RD QUARTER

  • McGrew gets a toss play to the outside and gains 10. Good. McGrew runs inside and gets tackled for a loss of 2. Bad.
  • On a 2nd and 6 from midfield Ty Jones makes what was possibly the highlight play of the season as Morris fires a deep ball to him on the left sideline. The throw is a little deep but Jones uses his 6’4 frame to extend and makes a one handed catch while falling down inside the 5. Almost identical to what Utah did in the 1st quarter the previous week only a higher degree of difficulty and further downfield.
  • McGrew gets a toss play to the outside and beats the corner to the pylon from 6 yards out. Good. Touchdown Washington. Stanford 24, Washington- 10.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #5- 12:20 3RD QUARTER

  • Stanford with a big gain on a broken play as Davis Mills has 5 seconds dancing from one side to the other in the pocket before a man comes loose down field for 20+ yards.
  • Ulofoshio comes on the blitz and destroys Mills but it’s just after he releases the ball on a deep shot along the left sideline. Keith Taylor never gets a jam on the receiver and he’s a step behind but potentially still in position to make the play. Taylor does in fact knock the ball out as they slide out of bounds but the ref determined he held on long enough for it to be a catch. It’s definitely overturned in the NFL. Another miraculous gain of 33 on 3rd and 8.
  • Stanford goes with their jumbo set and run play action out of it. Asa Turner had coverage responsibility and took one step to the inside which is all that was needed for him to get beaten back to the far corner. A perfect touch pass easily gets to the tight end just in front of the back left pylon. Touchdown. Stanford 31, Washington 10.

OFFENSIVE DRIVE #5- 9:01 3RD QUARTER

  • Cade Otton’s first target and catch comes with 8:15 left in the 3rd quarter as the safety valve at the line of scrimmage along the sideline. On the broadcast Helfrich pointed out multiple times he was open downfield in the 1st half but Morris just wasn’t able to get him the ball/chose to go elsewhere.
  • On 3rd down Morris goes back to a deep shot for Ty Jones on the slot fade. It’s dropped in perfectly as Jones had a step on his man and he falls down for a gain of 36. That’s 2 for 2 on true deep shots in this game for Morris with both going to Jones. I didn’t remember this but McMillan got hurt on the first drive of the half and never returned which meant UW was down it’s #1, #2, and #5 receivers coming into the season at that point with Jordan Chin having to play in 3-WR sets while trying to erase a 21 point deficit.
  • Odunze had one of the more impressive runs for no gain you’ll see as he received what looked like a tunnel screen except it was on a handoff and got strung out to the opposite sideline while breaking a few tackles. He follows it up on 3rd down finding an open spot in the zone a yard short of the line, getting whacked, staying on his feet, and diving forward for the 1st down into field goal range.
  • 3 straight runs once again only picks up exactly enough for the 1st down. Cam Davis then gets a toss and gains 6. Washington at this point is unofficially averaging 7 yards per carry on toss plays and 2 yards per carry on all other handoffs at this point (that’s what it seemed like).
  • Davis can’t quite get into the end zone on the next carry but with the ball at the 1, Dylan Morris goes hurry up QB sneak and is able to just barely score the touchdown. Unfortunately Stanford gets their 3rd blocked kick in 2 weeks and the extra point is no good. Stanford 31, Washington 16.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #5- 2:27 3RD QUARTER

  • Washington seemingly gets a stop on 3rd and 7 as a great tackle by McDuffie pretty definitively brings down a slant route a yard short of the marker. But the refs call it a 1st down and never review it much to the puzzlement of the broadcast booth, me, and everyone else in purple and gold.
  • Stanford gets into another 3rd down and Kyler Gordon undercuts a route and dives for an interception but can’t quite hold on. So ultimately the bad spot costs UW about 70 seconds and 4 yards. Given how the rest of the game went it’s tough to say that call would’ve changed anything meaningfully if it had been made correctly.

OFFENSIVE DRIVE #6- 0:14 3RD QUARTER

  • McDuffie once again catches the punt inside the 10 yard line and is immediately tackled so the offense starts at its own 8.
  • McGrew goes up the middle twice for 10 yards which isn’t something that worked very often the rest of the night.
  • Morris goes play action to Rome Odunze on a deep crosser and he catches it then drags the defender an extra 8-9 yards for a gain of 25. It wasn’t quite Puka against Arizona his freshman year but the closest thing we’ve seen to it since then. This rewatch has helped me get back to being super fired up about Rome’s potential this season.
  • After a run for a loss by Pleasant, Morris is tripped up and seemingly sacked but somehow sidearm tosses the ball to Pleasant just before he hits the ground. Kamari almost drops it after (very reasonably) not expecting the ball but quickly adjusts and darts forward for a 1st down. This is how a white QB earns the “gritty” label.
  • Another 1st down run that goes nowhere to Pleasant sets up Otton finally getting involved meaningfully. Both Stanford linebackers bite badly on the play action fake and Otton catches the ball 18 yards downfield with no Stanford defender within 5 yards of him. That allows him to pick up another 20 yards before getting shoved out of bounds inside the 5 by the Stanford safety.
  • Washington again goes jumbo at the 3-yard line and Kamari Pleasant only picks up 1 of them running straight up the middle. They sub in McGrew and he’s able to twist and turn while in a defender’s clutches to just eke out a touchdown. Jimmy Lake opts to kick the extra point rather than going for 2 now. With 11 minutes left the analytics say to probably attempt it now so you don’t come up a point short later but it’s close and didn’t end up mattering. Stanford 31, Washington 23.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #6- 11:03 4TH QUARTER

  • Not a good time for special teams issues to rear their ugly head again. Horn’s kickoff gets into the end zone but Stanford still takes it out and finds a seam. Cook and McDuffie seem to have angles but can’t quite get there in time. Cam Williams dives for the returner’s legs but just makes him slightly stumble and he almost gets to midfield.
  • Trent McDuffie makes a potentially game winning play as he run blitzes off the right edge. The run goes to the left and McDuffie takes a hard shove from a Stanford tight end responsible for the backside and that should seemingly be that. But ZTF beats the left tackle and forces Austin Jones to take a jump cut backwards. That gives McDuffie time to get back in the play and he punches the ball out from behind. It fortuitously bounces straight to Ulofoshio who is able to pick it up and run the other direction. Davis Mills comes out of nowhere just when it looked like Eddy was home free and makes the tackle at the 10.

OFFENSIVE DRIVE #7- 10:05 4TH QUARTER

  • I’ll be honest. I really thought this was a team of destiny in the moment and had fully bought into the idea of a comeback.
  • Absolute cruelty. Ty Jones is open in the corner of the end zone on the first play and Morris throws to him for the touchdown. The announcers go on for 7 seconds treating it as good and the yellow flag graphic never comes on the screen. They immediately cut away from the Ty Jones TOUCHDOWN graphic to show the ref calling a hold on Ale. On replay it’s probably the right call but it was borderline and didn’t affect the play. If I could change one on-field thing from last season (obviously off field I would’ve just not had practically the entire team get COVID) it would be seeing what happens if that ref doesn’t throw the flag and we’re either tied or down 2 with 10 minutes left. This was the first called penalty of the 2nd half so it’s not like they were calling ticky tack stuff the rest of the game.
  • Yet another hold on the offensive line officially destroys the drive but the other 3 plays only gained a combined 4 yards. Henry is still able to make the field goal from 45 yards out though. Stanford 31, Washington 26.

DEFENSIVE DRIVE #7- 7:55 4TH QUARTER

  • The refs feel bad and call Stanford’s first penalty of the 2nd half on the kickoff return which costs them 20 yards.
  • Everything looks so good as Washington stops 2 runs for no gain when the defensive line finally wins battles at the point of attack. Then on 3rd and 10 Kyler Gordon gets beat by Simi Fehoko and gives up a gain of 15 just before the rush gets to Davis Mills.
  • Another play where Smalls doesn’t keep contain as Stanford runs a draw to his side and there’s a massive hold after Smalls tries to cut inside. The runner gains 15 before Sirmon can catch up.
  • Yet again 2 runs and -1 yards forcing a 3rd and 11 with 2.5 minutes left. A stop here still gives the Huskies a decent shot. Mills throws it into 1v1 coverage with Fehoko against McDuffie and he pulls off a Ty Jones-lite catch reaching out with 1 hand and then bouncing it into his chest to secure it. They end up calling an iffy pass interference on McDuffie so even without the highlight reel catch it still would’ve been a conversion (Stanford is now 10/12 on 3rd down).
  • With another 1st down winning the game Stanford runs it on 3rd and 4 and it’s called a 1st down. The replays though show once again he clearly was short. It gets overturned and it’s 4th and 6 inches for the ball game with 36 seconds left. For a split second it looks like there’s a shot to stop him but Tuli gets pancaked which creates an opening for Jones to pick up 2 yards and that’s that.

*****

A disappointing game obviously and if you made it all the way through, thanks for reading. I actually feel a little better about this game watching it again. Ultimately it came down to Stanford winning along both lines of scrimmage. The Husky defensive front rarely got pressure on Mills and made first contact on a runner behind the line of scrimmage on fewer than 10% of attempts. On the other side Washington averaged 2.2 yards per carry on runs up the middle. That without a friendly whistle to help close the gap and a few highlight grabs on 3rd down by the opponent was enough to get the job done for Stanford.

Remember when I said I wanted to keep this one shorter? 3,700 words. Technically mission accomplished but also whoops.