Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Basta Breakdown: Cardinal End Poor Season on High Note, Thrash Terps 45-21

By: Ben Leonard

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben___Leonard

Stanford came into Tuesday’s Foster Farms Bowl as heavy favorites against the Maryland Terrapins. They left nothing to be desired after a dominant 45-21 win over the Terps, controlling both sides of the ball. The Cardinal held 35-7 lead early in the third quarter, and took their foot off the gas after that. They did so without Ty Montgomery, who was out with a shoulder injury. A senior, Montgomery did not have a chance to end his career on a high note. Although Montgomery did not have a chance to do so, the Cardinal did not squander their opportunity to bring momentum into 2015 after a disappointing 8-5 season.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan had a nearly flawless game, completing fourteen passes of twenty passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. The chilly conditions at Levi’s Stadium didn’t fluster Hogan, who had no trouble throwing the ball to all sides of the field. His continued stretch of efficiency could make him jump to the NFL after this season, opening the door for redshirt freshman Keller Chryst to take over. Chryst appeared to be picking Hogan’s mind in the waning stages of the game, looking for nuggets of wisdom from the senior signal-caller.

Hogan (8) mentors Chryst (10) on the sideline in Tuesday's bowl game. (Image: Own)

Hogan appeared calm, cool, and collected in the pocket, with Maryland’s defensive front providing little resistance. He worked the intermediate passing game very well, completing seven passes of more than ten yards. He connected twice with receiver Devon Cajuste for scores, who took advantage of an undersized Terps’ secondary. Hogan spread the ball very well, with ten different receivers catching passes. He seemed to go through his progressions very slowly, a product of Montgomery’s absence. Hogan looked to his tight ends frequently, completing seven passes for 102 yards, including seventy-one to freshman phenom Austin Hooper. Hogan’s efforts earned him the Foster Farms Bowl offensive MVP award.

Hogan’s only miscue came on a fumbled handoff early in the third, when he inexplicably dropped the ball before handing it off to his back. It did not hurt the Cardinal in the end, as Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown immediately threw an interception to safety Kyle Olugbode. Brown overthrew his receiver by several feet, giving Olugbode an easy play on the ball. Stanford would respond with a quick touchdown drive, capped by Cajuste’s second touchdown catch. Cajuste finished with four catches for forty-seven yards, and will announce whether he will stay for another season at Stanford, or leave for the NFL on Wednesday.

David Shaw finally let Christian McCaffery do his thing, something Stanford fans have been calling for all season long. McCaffery’s speed and agility is well-suited for outside runs, and Maryland’s poor secondary allowed Stanford to utilize McCaffery to exploit this weakness. Stanford’s offense more closely resembled Oregon’s spread offense on Tuesday night to take advantage of this deficiency. They utilized intermediated passes and runs outside the tackles to avoid Maryland’s relatively stronger defensive front.


He rushed for fifty-seven yards on just seven carries, and returned four punts for eighty-one yards. His electric play-making ability figures to play a larger role in 2015, although his style does not necessarily fit Stanford’s philosophy of physical running.

In spite of a poor second drive, the Cardinal defense was dominant, holding Maryland to just seventeen rushing yards. They controlled the line of scrimmage all game long, only letting up with the score well out of hand in the second half. Dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown was kept in check, throwing for just 205 yards on twenty seven attempts. A big twenty-six yard catch by receiver Stefon Diggs led Maryland to their only score in the first half, facilitating the drive. Outside of that drive, the Terps gathered just 178 total yards. Foster Farms Bowl Defensive MVP James Vaughters led the charge for the Cardinal, sacking Brown twice and forcing a fumble. Tuesday’s game was the last for Vaughters at Stanford, who will enter the NFL Draft after graduating.

Although Stanford won just eight games in 2014, they were one play away from beating both Notre Dame and USC. They did not have quite as awful of a year as it has been made out to be, and have a bright future with McCaffery leading the charge. Whether or not Hogan leaves, the Cardinal are poised for a more successful 2015 campaign. Their school bowl record forty-five point outburst gives the offense confidence for next year, with Montgomery and Peat being the only players likely to leave. That is not the case on defense, with A.J. Tarpley, Vaughters, and Henry Anderson all graduating, to name a few. The Cardinal may be disappointed with 2014, but the Foster Farms Bowl was something to “cluck” about.

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