Throughout this season, Stanford Football(3-2, 2-1 Pac-12) needed to convert on third downs. After junior running back Bryce Love’s performance in this weekend’s 34-24 win against Arizona State (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12), it seems like the Cardinal offense has fulfilled this need.
With a school-record-setting 301 yards, in part through touchdown runs of 61, 43 and 59 yards, Love brought his total rushing yardage for the season to 1,088. But that’s not all Love brought to the team. If you give him a 4-yard run he’ll make it an 11-yard run, something head coach David Shaw spoke about after the game.
“That’s the hidden yardage that great backs give you,” Shaw said of Love. “Once again, for not being the biggest guy he runs physical. He runs tough. He breaks tackles. He gets through people. If he gets in clear he’s gone.”
Shaw added that he had never seen anyone who gets hit and still gets back up to full-speed, something that has helped Love throughout this season.
Love, of course, said that “it’s more so just a testament to my teammates” instead of his individual playing, but that “one of the big things I try to work on, is try to be physical between tackles and make sure that every run I have is efficient.”
Speaking of the teammates, the Cardinal offensive line did play much better this game than in the past, which allowed sophomore quarterback K.J. Costello, who started his first game, more time in the pocket. Shaw remained cagey on his quarterback decision for next week, but he might try to play senior Keller Chryst again to see how he does when he isn’t getting sacked every two minutes.
The Stanford secondary also stepped up to the plate, with Shaw saying, “our guys in the secondary played really well. I give a lot of credit to Alameen Murphy who had to hold by himself outside until we got Alijah back. But our guys defensively played really, really well.”
In addition to Murphy’s great playing, Stanford also saw great plays by junior safety Justin Reid, who ended the game with two interceptions that helped keep Stanford’s momentum.
Shaw continued his praise of the defense by complementing the defensive line.
“[We] played probably one of our best games of the year up front,” Shaw said. The defensive line put a lot of pressure on Manny Wilkins, who is a threat in the air and ground, sacking him three times.
Many fans would be lying if they weren’t worried about Stanford’s defense this year, and the game against the Sun Devils helped alleviate those fears.
“We’ve got to continue to get other backs involved,” Shaw said for starters. “We can’t put the entire load on Bryce. Although, he’s doing a heck of a job. Cameron Scarlett is an able-bodied back, has done a totally good job when he has an opportunity.”
Fair advice given how easily we could just give Love the ball every play and seemingly score about half of the time, but Shaw also thinks can get more out of our receiving corps.
“These guys are blocking really, really well. Working hard,” Shaw said of his receiving group.
With any luck, this will keep future teams from stacking the box in an effort to stop Love.
Stanford plays on the road again at Utah this Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and will be looking to keep its winning streak alive, having won consecutive games for the first time this season.