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Stanford Cardinal Game Day Grades – Week 2

Last year, QB Keller Chryst would make the start for the Stanford Cardinal against Southern Cal in Week 2. Despite a 128.7 QBR at the game’s conclusion, Chryst ended up with a loss that, albeit, the Cardinal wanted to scrub from their memory. Sam Darnold, on the other hand, had a mildly successful start with four touchdowns of which two each were distributed to now-departed Trojans WRs Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell.

2017 Stats – Stanford vs. Southern Cal

Southern Cal defense: season-low in rush attempts (26) allowed

Stanford RB Bryce Love: 160 yards, touchdown

Stanford defense: season-high in rush yards (307), pass touchdowns (4) allowed

Southern Cal QB Darnold: 316 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions

Southern Cal RBs Carr, Jones: 235 yards, 2 touchdowns

After losing twice to Southern Cal in 2017, Stanford’s ready to rebound at home and that’s very possible, given that the Trojans are without some key players. Along with Darnold (Jets), Burnett (Jets) and Mitchell (Rams), Ronald Jones (Buccaneers) all went to the 2018 NFL Draft. But there are individual match-ups to keep an eye on. Bryce Love will have to endure Cameron Smith, who had only three tackles against UNLV, a team that recorded 308 rushing yards.

Week 1 Results – Stanford, Southern Cal

31 Stanford – San Diego State 10

Though it was only Week 1, Stanford had a surprisingly slow start, headlined by a healthy, yet unproductive, Bryce Love. Love’s teammate, WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside stole the spotlight with a career day – both on a personal level and in school history. On the defensive side, Stanford didn’t slack per expectations. Sean Barton, Paulson Adebo, and Co. sacked SDSU QB Christian Chapman five times, while further confining the Aztecs on third down conversions, 4-for-13.

43 Southern Cal – UNLV 21

In their Week 1 match-up against UNLV of the Mountain West, Southern Cal was outrushed USC RB Aca’Cedric Ware‘s 100-yard/one-touchdown performance. And, of course, the Mater Dei connection between USC QB J.T. Daniels and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown didn’t harm the Trojans in the passing game, as St. Brown caught seven balls for 98 yards and a score.

RB Bryce Love

Stats vs. Southern Cal: 22 carries, 136 yards, touchdown

Player notes: As one should’ve expected, Bryce Love performed where it mattered at home against their main Pac-12 South rival, Southern Cal. Although rushing through the interior defensive line is still something to be fine-tuned, Love managed to gain a majority of his yards on the outside, thanks to some additional run blocks from Stanford’s arsenal of tight ends.

It’s not news that Love made Trojans like Iman Marshall miss or provided some protection for K.J. Costello‘s pass game. All the while, Love recorded his first end zone trip against Southern Cal, who surrendered 308 rush yards to UNLV in Week 1.

For Stanford and Love, next week should be practice as they play a non-conference cupcake game against UC-Davis. Nonetheless, it has its urgencies, since Stanford visits Notre Dame in Week 4.

Grade: A

Draft stock: Early first

TE Kaden Smith

Stats vs. Southern Cal: 4 receptions, 77 yards

Player notes: In Week 1, Kaden Smith was rather quiet and not involved in offensive snaps as much as Colby Parkinson and Conner Wedington. With Wedington out in Week 2, Smith took on Wedington’s load and Smith didn’t disappoint David Shaw.

Smith hauled in a third-down ball that eventually led to a scoring drive, putting Stanford up 7-0 early on in the first quarter. Throughout the game, Smith bunched up with Parkinson to give Love running lanes, but his most important contribution was on third-and-23 in the third quarter.

Grade: B+

Draft stock: Late fourth/early fifth

OG Nate Herbig

Player notes: One thing that plagued Stanford from doing more damage on the scoreboard was offensive penalties. Nate Herbig seemed to be the only offensive lineman that didn’t commit a single one – everyone else, like A.T. Hall and Walker Little, couldn’t keep their discipline in check.

Much like last week against San Diego State, Herbig gave Costello a lot of pass protection, despite Jesse Burkett‘s absence yet again. Herbig was slightly weak against forcing the inside shoulder and capitalizing on leverage. His night was mostly filled with the responsibility of shutting down the gaps to keep Cameron Smith away from Love and, for the most part, Herbig did just that.

Grade: A

Draft stock: Early third

LB Bobby Okereke

Stats vs. Southern Cal: 8 tackles, fumble recovered

Player notes: Many people scoffed at Stanford’s defense over the offseason, but those are the same people that ignored the talents of Joey Alfieri, Paulson Adebo and Bobby Okereke. As in Week 1, Okereke was scheduled to contain the opposing team’s top rusher and in Southern Cal’s case, that was Aca’Cedrick Ware, who compiled 100 yards in Week 1 himself.

At the end of the day, Okereke proved his versatility in his second consecutive game and exploited the youth of QBs J.T. Daniels and Matt Fink. With cornerbacks Malik Antoine and Alijah Holder back in the secondary, that helped Okereke conserve his own energy, which earned him five solo tackles leading into a Week 3 match-up against UC-Davis.

Grade: B+

Draft stock: Early fourth

CB Alijah Holder

Stats vs. Southern Cal: 4 tackles

Player notes: There are two reasons the Stanford Cardinal were able to hold Southern Cal to only three points – cornerbacks Malik Antoine and Alijah Holder. Together, they locked down the two biggest aerial threats, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns, to nine receptions and 123 yards.

It’s a satisfying 17-3 victory for Holder, who’s fresh off a leg injury and, therefore, had to miss Week 1. After accounting for his shutdown performance in Week 2, Holder completes one of the most underrated secondary packages in the FBS. Along with Adebo and Antoine, it’s really a three-way Bash Brothers affair – something that Stanford will need when they play Notre Dame and Washington.

Grade: B

Draft stock: Late fifth

Sports Al Dente 2019

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