It wasn’t pretty, but Stanford reminded everyone on Saturday why its defense was so highly thought of coming into the season.
The Cardinal held UCLA’s powerful offense to just 231 total yards and one touchdown and beat the No. 9 Bruins, 24-10, in Palo Alto.
This game was quintessential Stanford football. The Cardinal pounded it 50 times on the ground, held the ball for over 37 minutes and had efficient production in the passing game.
Suffice it to say that whatever defensive breakdowns Stanford showed last week in its upset loss to Utah were fixed against UCLA. The Bruins had just 83 rushing yards and their star quarterback, Brett Hundley, went 24 of 39 for 191 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. UCLA was averaging 547 yards and 46 points per game coming in.
While Stanford still looked lethargic on offense, quarterback Kevin Hogan did rebound from a rough outing against Utah, completing 18 of 25 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown (and one pick), while tailback Tyler Gaffney rushed for a career-high 177 yards on 36 carries. Fifteen of his carries came in the fourth quarter, as the Cardinal wore down UCLA’s defense.
UCLA should keep its head up, though. The Bruins played three freshmen on the offensive line at times and several freshman on defense and still were within a score of the much healthier, more experienced Cardinal for most of the game. This kind of games will pay dividends down the road.
As for the Cardinal, they still have a long way to go on offense to be considered a truly elite team, but they showed on Saturday that their defense is good enough to keep them in every game…and win most of them.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah