Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reviewing yesterday's game

Wow, what a game. I don’t really have any coherent points, so let’s go with the old bullet/list form that’s so easy and fun and good.

Greatest Stanford Offense…Ever? It did shatter the 2001 team’s single-season record for points scored in a season with a game to go. It’s probably a tough thing to nail down—you’d want statistics that they didn’t even keep back then—but it’d be worthwhile (speaking of which, the next big thing in sports statistics should be gathering old data and/or applying new statistics to old situations, e.g. just how many blocks did Bill Russell have? How many sacks did Deacon Jones have? etc.)

Retire Number 7 Already There are two retired numbers in Stanford history: Ernie Nevers’s Number 1, and Jim Plunkett’s Number 16. It’s well past time to do a joint retiring for John Elway and Toby Gerhart and their number 7. It’s well past time; do it yesterday. But it’s worth noting how important Gerhart is: the great players have the will, the supreme athletic qualities, and all that. But what makes a great player great is his reality distortion field: the extent to which the opponents distort their normal/base way of doing things to account specifically for the great player’s presence. Gerhart’s is up there with the strongest of the great Stanford athletes I’ve seen, in the elite category with Chris Hernandez and the Lopez twins. So while the other running backs are talented, it’s tough to see them having the same reality distortion field as Gerhart does.

Luck bounces back Lost in all the love for Toby is that Luck went back to being flawless. 9.8 yards per attempt! That’s pretty insane. He was on target all night, and his few misses were all excusable. It’s Luck’s offense next year, if he can keep it.

The Stanford Defensive Line Chris Brown (@smartfootball which you should all be following) noted that sacks really screw up a two-minute drive. That’s undoubtedly true. And it was good to see the Stanford pass rush finally reach the quarterback. Part of that was probably due to the predictability of the Notre Dame offense—everyone knew it was going to be a pass, probably to Golden Tate (well, everyone except perhaps Ron Lynn, who remains suspect in my mind). That’s a big advantage to Stanford, particularly since both Keiser and Thomas are ends who prefer to rush the passer (and are comparatively mediocre against the run; the former because he’s often out of position, the latter because he weighs less than some of our linebackers).

But even earlier in the game, there were several hurries that could’ve been sacks, but the defensive line was unable to finish the play. That’s been a problem specific to the defensive line and generally to the defense: it would look a lot better if it could simply finish the plays when it was in a position to do so.

The Officials I don’t want to dwell on the reffing too much—a win’s a win—but it was pretty consistently terrible last night. From the heart attack it almost induced in me from misidentifying Jim Dray as Jemari Roberts, to the “two penalties” on Golden Tate’s TD reception that mysteriously was one, to the odd proliferation of holding calls to an offensive line that’s barely gotten any all year, to the arguable dead play it should’ve been on Tyler Gaffney’s fumble on his punt return (and, by the way, what a gaffe by Harbaugh, putting Gaffney back there when he hadn’t returned a punt all season), the officials consistently and suspiciously favored Notre Dame. Terrible, and in a game where the slightest margin made the difference, potentially inexcusable.

Check back all week as I'll review this season and preview the next.

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