Stanford Easily Rolls Underrated Spartans 34-13, Proves They Are A National Title Contender

Tyler Gaffney with his 16 yard touchdown run, his first of 2 last Saturday night

Tyler Gaffney with his 16 yard touchdown run, his first of 2 last Saturday night

Stanford allowed on average 17.2 points per game in 2012. They seemed as though they didn’t skip a beat on Saturday.

The Cardinal rushed their way to a dominant 34-13 win to kick off their 2013 season, a season where preseason expectations couldn’t be higher for Stanford. A defense lead by 5th year seniors Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy had San Jose St. Quarterback David Fales under pressure all night long. The Stanford defense sacked Fales 4 times throughout the game, a high number considering Fales is projected to be a NFL QB prospect. The Spartans relied on their QB to try and upset the Cardinal, attempting 43 passes and completing 29 of them for 216 yards and 1 touchdown.

Other than that, everything went Stanford’s way. Ed Reynolds, after being cheated out of 2 NCAA records last season, recorded his first pick of this season, continuing the Cardinal’s streak of 25 straight games with at least one turnover. And the rushing defense also showed that not only are they as elite as last year, but they may even be a sept up from the 2012 season. Stanford averaged allowing only 97 rush yards a game last year, good for 5th in the country. On Saturday, the Cardinal only gave up 35 total rushing yards to the Spartans. Remember, this team won 11 games last year and finished ranked in the top 25.

Defense wasn’t the only bright spot for Stanford this week. Kevin Hogan remained undefeated as a starter in his career, moving to 7-0 with 17 completions in 27 attempts for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hogan was expected to be good, but the bright spot on offense came from senior running back Tyler Gaffney, who was playing in his first game since returning from Minor League Baseball.

Gaffney had 20 carries for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns as he emerged as an early leader to take the majority of the snaps in this running back by committee philosophy. Anthony Wilkerson was second highest in rushing yards with 9 carries and 65 yards. Wilkerson had the longest rushing play of the game with a 27 yard run towards the end of the game.

So in a game where everything seemed to go their way, what does Stanford have to work on in order to keep improving for a schedule where it seems every opponent gets tougher as the season goes on? Stanford was decent against a good quarterback, but definitely could improve their secondary and be tougher against the pass. Allowing only 216 yards on 43 attempts isn’t bad, but a completion percentage of 67% is hopefully a number that will be lowered as the season goes on.

David Shaw after the game stated that “Not a lot of teams look like us…and we’re just fine with that.” Stanford will continue their unique, one-of-a-kind, smash-mouth football when they head to the east coast next weekend for a bright and early, 9am matchup with Army on the CBS Sports Network.

With their late, 8pm start this past weekend to begin their 2013 season after a first week bye, the Cardinal were officially the last FBS team to begin their 2013 campaign. Hopefully, they’ll be the last team to finish their season as well.

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