A matchup that’s been circled on Stanford fans’ calendars for over a year now looms even larger as it approaches. This time, Stanford’s matchup against Washington will be a battle between two top-ranked teams as Stanford enters at No. 5 and Washington at No. 15.
During training camp, Stanford football head coach David Shaw repeatedly emphasized how pleased he was with his team’s overall depth. Now, facing a Saturday night showdown at CenturyLink Field against Washington State without heralded seniors Ed Reynolds (suspended for the first half) and David Yankey, the Cardinal will certainly be putting this depth to the test.
When we first heard it, we thought it was just about Kevin Hogan: a unique phrase, for unique circumstances. How often does a redshirt freshman unseat a senior quarterback on a top-15 team, nine games into the season, much less? One week he was a third-stringer, still an afterthought following the preseason competition to replace Andrew Luck; the next week he was tasked with leading Stanford to the Rose Bowl berth Luck never attained. From the outside looking in, at least, there was something uncanny about Hogan’s ascension.
After Stanford’s second day of practices in preparation for San Jose State, head coach David Shaw passed on the first notable injury news of the season: fifth-year senior fullback Ryan Hewitt was held out of practice on Tuesday and might miss Saturday’s season opener.
For Stanford football, it all starts with the offensive line. And for the offensive line, it all starts with power.
Payback time. After being bested by the Cardinal offense in a short-yardage competition Saturday, the Stanford defense fought back with a fury on Tuesday during a third-down blitz session.
There was a point in mid-October when Stanford’s goal of claiming the Pac-12 crown seemed a world away. The Cardinal was coming off a tough overtime loss to Notre Dame, a result that was decided by one of the more controversial calls in college football this season. The Fighting Irish had handed the Cardinal its second loss of the year and the once vivid memory of its upset over USC back in late September was fading fast in the rearview mirror. With a host of ranked opponents still left on the grueling backend of its schedule, the outlook on Stanford’s postseason fate at the midpoint of the season was far less sunny than Pasadena.