Sports

Stanford ready to look ahead after a winning finish

 

Fifth-year seniors like Kyle Olugbode and Ricky Seale leave the Stanford football program with lasting memories. For freshmen like Christian McCaffrey and Harrison Phillips, this is only the beginning.

The Cardinal made its first trip to the Foster Farms Bowl a successful one, completing the year on a high note with a 45-21 victory over Maryland at Levi's Stadium on Tuesday night.

Stanford's growing legacy includes six consecutive bowl appearances, a school record it will seek to extend next year. It's an impressive list: Sun, Orange, Fiesta, two Roses and a Foster Farms.

Some of the 25 seniors listed on Stanford's depth chart may very well return for another go-around as most have a year of eligibility remaining. That list includes both quarterbacks Kevin Hogan and Evan Crower.

Palo Alto grad Keller Chryst, a freshman, and sophomore Ryan Burns also loom in the background as potential quarterbacks next year.

The Cardinal also may lose a junior or two to the NFL draft. The good news is that, except for one position on defense and one on offense, each position had a starter or back-up who will return.

The defense, one of the nation's best, will look a lot different next year without the likes of fifth-year seniors Henry Anderson, David Parry, Blake Lueders, A.J. Tarpley and Olugbode, who recorded his first career interception against the Terrapins.

Phillips, who had his career sack, will look to follow in Parry's path along with players like Jordan Watkins, Nate Lohn, Peter Kalambayi, Noor Davis and Terrence Alexander.

Seale scored his first career touchdown in his final game and while McCaffrey never reached the end zone against Maryland, he certainly helped put Stanford in position to score.

"I think Christian introduced himself to the nation tonight," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "He's special and he's only going to get better."

McCaffrey was Stanford's top rusher with 57 yards and showed some explosiveness on his punt returns, setting a bowl game record with 81 return yards.

It might have been a little disappointing to play its bowl game in December rather than January, though in the end the Cardinal showed itself to be a quality team that finished strong.

"I think that as a whole, we just know how good we are," Hogan said. "It stinks that sometimes people look at the record and judge a team based on that. I think we finished the season really strong and I'm so proud of everyone on this team."

Shaw, during his postgame press conference, mentioned the Cardinal was a play or two away from finishing 10-2, with games against USC, Notre Dame and Arizona each decided by three points.

He wasn't bemoaning what might have been, but rather suggested his team learned from mistakes, kept working hard and made the most of the season.

"I'll try to look back on the season and learn some lessons. Schematically there were some things we could have done better but I never lament," Shaw said. "I'm a big believer in looking forward. Learn from what's happened in the past. I've always believed that and these guys have cemented that. This team has such resilience. Even after a lot of self-inflicted wounds during the course of the year, our guys never put their heads down. Our guys always came back and fought and attacked at a high level."

The biggest key was the maturity of the offensive line over the course of the season. With four new starters, it took a while for the unit to jell.

"Business as usual," Cardinal offensive lineman Joshua Garnett said. "We prepared like Stanford prepares and we did what we had to do."

The good news is that all five starters are juniors and the three tight ends are all sophomores. The lone question mark is whether Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year Andrus Peat (6-7, 316) decides to declare for the draft or not.

"I think that the guys all around me have been playing lights out," Hogan said. "The offensive line has been stellar and I've been able to step up and have all of the time in the world. It's really just a total offensive effort."

Shaw said there was no magic formula that helped turn the season around over the past three games.

"We just played better," he said. "Kevin played the best football of his career. Our offensive line just jelled. Our pass protection early on was decent but, in the last half of the season it was really, really good and allowed our quarterback to step up in the pocket."

Hogan, named the Offensive Player of the Game, threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns, both to Devon Casjuste, and rushed for another 50 yards. Remound Wright rushed for three scores and Jordan Williamson connected on a 29-yard field goal. He was perfect on six PAT tries.

"We wanted to continue the momentum we had the last couple of weeks from our wins over Cal and UCLA," Stanford safety Jordan Richards said. "We wanted to send our seniors out the right way."

Wright, who rushed for 49 yards, tied a bowl record with his three rushing touchdowns. Austin Hooper caught five passes for 71 yards.

Stanford scored on its first possession, a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 7:02 off the clock. The Cardinal converted its lone third down of the drive on a six-yard pass from Hogan to Jordan Pratt.

Stanford set a bowl game record with six sacks, two from James Vaughters, who was named Defensive Player of the Game.

NOTES: Stanford improved to 42-12 overall under Shaw . . . Stanford allowed fewer than 30 points for 35th time in its past 36 games . . . Stanford recorded seven tackles for loss and has at least one tackle for loss in each of its past 59 contests . . . The Cardinal held Maryland below its season average in passing yards and total offense. Stanford held all of its opponents this season under their average in those two categories . . . Hogan's two TD passes ties Guy Benjamin for fifth place all-time in career passing touchdowns at Stanford (48) . . . Williamson passed John Hopkins for the most field goals attempted in a Stanford career (90) and his 77 consecutive extra points made is good for the longest streak in program history . . . Stanford outgained Maryland, 414-222. It was a balanced attack, as the Cardinal passed for 208 yards and rushed for 201, the latter marking the third-straight game Stanford has surpassed the 200-yard mark. Nine players carried the ball and 10 caught passes . . . The defense limited the Terrapins to 17 yards rushing and helped the team finish with 37:07 to 22:53 time of possession advantagen

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Paul
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 4, 2015 at 5:43 am

Stanford is losing starting QB Hogan and has one freshman and one soph at QB on the roster. Why did Stanford not (successfully) recruit the best high school QB in the nation: 6'2" Jake Browning of Folsom HS, a 3.58 GPA heading for the University of Washington?


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