23.Sep.2015 Blogging with the Enemy (Stanford)
Here‘s my writeup for their site.
When they send answers over tonight I will update this post.
Update with Hank’s answers:
- What do Stanford fans think of their new DC? Has their D regressed since the last guy left for Vandy?
Derek Mason has actually been gone for two years now, so this past off-season was the first in several years without any changes in the coaching staff. Lance Anderson’s second year as a defensive coordinator has been successful so far. Last year’s defense was arguably the best unit in school history, and even though only two starters returned from that group (linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback Ronnie Harris), they’ve continued to play at a high level. It will be interesting to watch the group come together, because even though they’re inexperienced, there’s lots of talent, probably more than we’ve ever seen on a Stanford roster.
- Has Stanford faced more 3 or 4 man D lines; any significant difference in the results vs the two? How are they likely to respond if the Beavs switch up their front from 3 to 4 and back again?
I really don’t know which scheme they’ve seen more often or which scheme might give them more trouble. The offensive line is fairly experienced, having lost only left tackle Andrus Peat from last year’s group. The left side of the line features two players with Sunday football in their futures, tackle Kyle Murphy and guard Josh Garnett, but last week’s game against USC was the first time the unit was able to put together a consistent effort. Their struggles have had more to do with execution than the opponent’s scheme, in my opinion, as they’ve had issues with penalties, some of which seem to be technique related. Josh Garnett, for example, has shown a tendency to chop block. It will be interesting to see if last week’s performance was an aberration or the beginning of something special. I’m looking forward to finding out.
- When the Beavs go uptempo, will that effect Stanford at all? Is Stanford better defending the run or pass?
You know how it is in the Pac-12 these days — everyone goes up tempo. Oregon’s hyperdrive offense was problematic for the Cardinal once upon a time, but once they figured out how to deal with that — both schematically and mentally — all the other fast-paced offenses weren’t quite as scary anymore. The Trojans pushed the pace last weekend and gave Stanford some trouble on the game’s opening drive, but that was more because they got caught in a nickel package and couldn’t sub out of it. The other part of your question is kind of tough to answer right now. The defensive line is terribly thin, having lost a starter and a backup, and starting outside linebacker Kevin Anderson will also miss the game. The defensive backs, meanwhile, are incredibly talented — perhaps the most talented group in school history — but incredibly young. Seven of the eleven defensive backs on the two-deep are freshmen or sophomores, and at least one true freshman, Quentin Meeks, gets considerable playing time. For the past two years the defense has had trouble creating turnovers, and this year they’ve added an inability to sack the quarterback. I still like this defense, though, and I can’t wait to see what they grow into over the course of the season.
- What practice schedule has Stanford followed to deal with the quick turnaround for a Friday game on the road? Will the short week plus travel factor into the outcome, in your opinion?
David Shaw has talked about the need to compress his normal week into a much shorter time frame. Remember, in the Pac-12’s infinite wisdom, they had a road night game heading into this week’s Friday night game, and there’s added concern because they were involved in such a physical matchup on Saturday night. Shaw has said that they’ll be leaning heavily on their senior leadership to keep the team focused, especially considering the emotions of last week’s win and the perceived weaknesses of this week’s opponent. It’s definitely going to be a challenge.
- What do Stanford fans think of OSU now with Riley gone, and the Gary Andersen hire, in general?
Stanford fans are scared of this game, which is a classic trap game. I know that you and your readers weren’t among Mike Riley’s biggest fans, but I think Stanford fans appreciated him for what he was. If there’s a question about Andersen, it has to do with his departure from Wisconsin. He left a team with enormous fan support and consistent on-field success to come out west to Oregon State? I understand that he’s from Utah, so maybe he just wasn’t comfortable in the Midwest, but it’s still pretty surprising. It got even more surprising when word leaked that he made the move because Wisconsin’s admissions standards were too strict for him, which seems a bit like complaining that McDonald’s serves too much healthy food. Anyway, I hope it works out for him.
- The Beavers played a team, Michigan, who many think are similar to Stanford. Would you agree the teams are similar, and do you think having played a physical opponent factors into the game at all?
The Stanford-Michigan comparison is a natural one because of Jim Harbaugh’s history at Stanford, but it will take another couple recruiting cycles before the Wolverines start looking like a Harbaugh team. The DNA is there, though. Both teams will feature pro-style offenses that run the ball first and rely heavily on tight ends, and since the Michigan coaching staff is sprinkled with guys who coached under Harbaugh in Palo Alto, I’m sure schemes will begin to look familiar on both sides of the ball. Oregon State’s experience with Michigan, however, should help. One advantage that Stanford enjoys is that their style of play has become unique in today’s college football world. There aren’t too many teams that use fullbacks and tight ends like they do, so OSU’s additional exposure can only help them. Ironically, though, that game could end up helping Stanford more than Oregon State. The offensive coaches and players have talked about how they gain almost nothing studying film of opposing Pac-12 defenses because all they see is a teams defending spread offenses week after week. They have no idea how a given defense will approach their pro-style offense until the game actually begins, so they end up doing more guess work than prep work. For this week, at least, they should have something to look at.
- For Stanford to win, what has to happen? What is your prediction?
For Stanford to win, the quarterback play has to be solid. The problem, of course, is that we won’t know until 7:30 on Friday night whether that quarterback will be Kevin Hogan or someone else. Hogan suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of the USC game. He played through the pain in heroic fashion, but he left the Coliseum on crutches and in a walking boot and has done nothing but walk-throughs and virtual reality training during practice this week. Shaw is typically tight-lipped about player injuries, but he seems to be being honest when he says that he won’t know Hogan’s status until Friday. If Hogan can’t play, some combination of Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns will be thrown into the fire. Neither has thrown a single meaningful pass, and neither has claimed the backup job outright; the two of them have been bound with an OR on the first three depth charts of the season. Burns looks like a quarterback — 6’5” with mobility and a rocket arm — but even after three years in the program he hasn’t done much to impress anyone. As recently as last season he was having trouble with even the most basic part of a quarterback’s job. He couldn’t handle snaps from under center. Redshirt freshman Keller Chryst, on the other hand, is the heir apparent. Raised in a football family (his father Paul is the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and Uncle Geep is head coach at Wisconsin), Chryst has a knowledge of the game as well as the physical tools to be Stanford’s next great quarterback. While it would be nice to get an extended look at him this Friday night, it’s important to remember that all his football thus far has been played on Friday nights. I think the Cardinal can still win with these two guys, but I’d obviously be much more comfortable if Hogan’s able to go.