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In a loss that was pretty much expected because of a prevalent defense from Notre Dame, the Stanford Cardinal went home with its tail between its legs for Week 6. Even after the 21-point loss, the Bad News Bears didn’t stop, as it faced another week without Bryce Love, who aggravated the same ankle against TCU in 2017.

Despite a narrow loss to Washington State in Week 5, Utah went into California as the Pac-12’s top-ranked defense in nearly every category (allow 264.8 yards/game, allowed 724 total pass yards, allowed 263 offensive plays).

In Pullman, Utah held Cougar runners to 13 attempts for zero yards, factoring in 335 total rush yards allowed this season. Furthermore, first downs by the run are also hard to come by – over its last two games, Utah has a ratio of 25:8 in pass-to-run first downs, allowed. Of course, all credit’s due to Utah’s mastering of the 4-2-5 defense.

Based on individual moving parts, Utah LB Chase Hansen wouldn’t make Stanford’s situation any more manageable. Hansen’s an all-around football player, who has made the switch from quarterback to secondary to linebacker. Certainly, those changes haven’t done any harm in Sack Lake City, seeing as Hansen has compiled 27 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception in three games.

In its nature, this was a trap game for Stanford. While Stanford should have had the upper hand as the home team, its sloppy performance against Notre Dame was alarming. As a result of the loss in Week 5, the Cardinal plummeted seven spots to No. 14. Over the last five meetings against Utah, the game’s been decided by only one possession, but that changed in Week 6 of the 2018 college football season.

RB Bryce Love

Stats vs. Utah: N/A

Player notes: DNP

Game Day Grade: N/A

Draft stock: Early second

Week 7 preview: Bye

TE Kaden Smith

Stats vs. Utah: 8 receptions, 120 yards

Player notes: The second-half was truly Smith’s best performance through five games, especially against a super tough and durable Utes defense. Smith hauled in three receptions for 20-plus yards each – all were good enough for first downs, which have haunted Stanford all season. It’s hard not to love Smith’s physicality, but he did have trouble escaping coverage in the first half.

Game Day Grade: B-

Draft stock: Early sixth

Week 7 preview: Bye

OG Nate Herbig

Player notes: Herbig lost a lot of his footing when Hansen ran in his direction, but on other occasions, Herbig again proved he’s the anchor of the offensive line. He’s well-disciplined and is very athletic and elusive for his size.

Though it’s Herbig’s role to protect Costello, Shaw should consider permanently moving Herbig to the outside, where most of the pressure originates. If there’s one thing Herbig needs to work on for himself and NFL scouts, it’s blocking on his outside shoulder, which is Herbig’s Achilles heel.

Game Day Grade: B-

Draft stock: Late third

Week 7 preview: Bye

MLB Bobby Okereke

Stats vs. Utah: 12 tackles, tackle-for-loss

Player notes: Zack Moss tried to avoid Okereke at all costs and that paid dividends, leaving Okereke to defend against the pass or a quarterback run. Okereke did struggle to make an impact against a Utah frontline that allowed Moss to run for over 150 yards. At the end of the day, Okereke diagnosed plays well and excelled at playing as an almost-rover linebacker.

Game Day Grade: B

Draft stock: Late fourth

Week 7 preview: Bye

CB Alijah Holder

Stats vs. Utah: 3 tackles

Player notes: Still, Holder’s tackling requires a lot of improvement. He’s solid in coverage, which explains why quarterbacks don’t throw in his direction. Against Utah, however, Holder showed some inconsistencies in short-yardage plays and run defense.

As a whole unit, the Stanford secondary made one of the lightest-performing receiving corps look like College Football Playoff contenders.

Game Day Grade: D+

Draft stock: Mid-fifth

Week 7 preview: Bye

Game Day stats provided by Go Stanford

Sports Al Dente 2019

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