Beyda: For better or worse, Stanford rides and dies with Hogan

Oct. 1, 2014, 10:22 p.m.

Kevin Hogan isn’t perfect; Saturday’s close Stanford win at Washington reminded us of that in several ways. But that afternoon at Husky Stadium also showed us something else.

David Shaw sure does have faith in his senior quarterback.

That wasn’t the narrative after last year’s Rose Bowl, when Shaw drew fans’ ire for getting away from the passing game late in the loss to Michigan State. (If you go back and look at that game’s box score, you’ll see that Hogan was actually still involved throughout the fourth quarter — even after a pick and two fumbles.) On Saturday, though, there was no doubt that Shaw stuck with his guy all the way up to the final whistle, which is what won Stanford the game.

It didn’t matter that Hogan threw an all-too-predictable interception by staring down Ty Montgomery in the third quarter. On Stanford’s next drive, when the Cardinal were backed up to their own 13-yard line with the score tied at 13-13 (ominous numbers, right?), Shaw dialed up a Barry J. Sanders run and then two consecutive Hogan passes. Both fell incomplete, but the point is that Shaw trusted Hogan to rebound from his bad decision despite the looming risk of a pick-six.

The pattern repeated itself in the fourth quarter, after Hogan fumbled away three likely points on a third-down scramble from the Washington 16-yard line. Stanford’s next three offensive plays were Hogan runs, and though they weren’t all designed to stay in the quarterback’s hands, Shaw certainly could’ve handed the ball off to a tailback if his confidence in Hogan had wavered. And just three snaps later, Shaw called a bootleg that resulted in Hogan’s game-winning rushing touchdown.

Don’t think that the Cardinal’s other offensive players are given the same lengthy leash. Fellow senior Remound Wright, who has begun to emerge as the Cardinal’s most effective power back this year, had 10 first-half carries, but his second quarter ended on an ugly note when he gave up a scoop-and-score and took a costly chop-block penalty (his second of the season) within a span of less than a minute of game time.

Out of the tunnel, Wright’s role had diminished significantly. He didn’t have a single third-quarter touch, and of his four fourth-quarter carries, only one came before Stanford was trying to run out the clock.

With regards to Hogan, I think David Shaw is looking forward. Stanford can’t hope to win the Pac-12 title or reach the College Football Playoff unless it involves its bevy of talented receivers and tight ends in the passing game. Stanford can’t make use of those weapons unless Hogan builds the confidence he needs to cut down on his mistakes: the inaccurate throws and turnovers that haven’t completely gone away over the last two seasons. And Hogan can’t do that unless his coach goes all-in, even when Hogan has his hiccups.

I’ve been as critical — pessimistic, even — as anybody about Hogan this year, and in hindsight, that wasn’t entirely warranted.

In truth, there are two Kevin Hogans: a good one, and a bad one. The good Kevin Hogan consistently checks Stanford into the right play, delivers the ball to his receivers with a surprising completion percentage (he’s exactly 71-for-100 this season), gets out of trouble and keeps defenses guessing with his feet. The bad Kevin Hogan throws high and late, locks into one receiver and struggles with ball security.

The good Kevin Hogan has taken Stanford to two Rose Bowls, but the bad Kevin Hogan has still lingered for those five crucial plays a game that Shaw likes to talk about. Five bad plays might not cut it this year; without a workhorse running back or an experienced offensive line, the Cardinal offense needs a new anchor, and who could it be other than Hogan?

So there will be growing pains, like the ones we saw against USC and Washington. Still, wouldn’t you rather that Hogan worked out the kinks now? He’ll never be as perfect as Andrew Luck was, but Stanford will only go as far as Hogan takes it this season. It’s imperative that he’s given opportunities to redeem himself like the ones he received at Washington, and if one person understands that, it’s David Shaw.

 Joseph  Beyda and David Shaw have the confidence that Hogan can carry the Card to victory, yet the jury is still out on whether Hogan has the confidence in himself. Email Joseph some words of encouragement for the quarterback and he’ll be sure to pass them on to Hogan  at jbeyda ‘at’ 

Joseph Beyda is the editor in chief of The Stanford Daily. Previously he has worked as the executive editor, webmaster, football editor, a sports desk editor, the paper's summer managing editor and a beat reporter for football, baseball and women's soccer. He co-authored The Daily's recent football book, "Rags to Roses," and covered the soccer team's national title run for the New York Times. Joseph is a senior from Cupertino, Calif. majoring in Electrical Engineering. To contact him, please email jbeyda "at"

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