By the numbers: Stanford vs. Kansas State

Sept. 5, 2016, 3:21 p.m.

No. 8 Stanford (1-0) pulled out a 26-13 win over Kansas State (0-1) on Friday night. The game featured a strong defensive performance from the Cardinal, as well as a solid beginning for the second iteration of Christian McCaffrey’s Heisman campaign.

While Stanford certainly didn’t play its best football, it walked out of Week 1 with a win, something that plenty of the other Top 25 teams, as well as Stanford itself a year ago, could not say. Here are some key statistics from the Cardinal’s victory:

3: Punts from Jake Bailey that were downed inside the Kansas State 10-yard line

Playing a team known for doing everything right on special teams, Stanford stepped up to match, and even outplay, its opponent. Bailey, a sophomore, was particularly excellent, as he neutralized the Wildcats’ dangerous return attack with his three terrific punts inside the 10 and three touchbacks on kickoffs. As a team that loves to play the field position game, Stanford benefitted greatly from Bailey’s spectacular performance and even turned one of Bailey’s punts into a safety.

8: Sacks recorded by the Stanford defense

The Cardinal defensive line had high expectations going into the contest, and they certainly did not disappoint. While Solomon Thomas and Harrison Phillips were stellar up front, it was the more unexpected names, like fifth-year senior Jordan Watkins, who had the sack resulting in a safety, that made the difference. Meanwhile, the linebackers were able to continuously stay fresh because of how often they rotated through. In that vein, after the game, head coach David Shaw specifically pointed to the final defensive play, a sack by Peter Kalambayi, as being a result of having enough depth to keep his legs fresh. The 8 sacks are Stanford’s highest single-game output in that category since posting 10 against Washington State in 2012.

10: Number of consecutive passes completed by Ryan Burns to start the game

For all the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position this offseason, Stanford fans certainly felt the Burns for at least the first half against Kansas State. The senior looked confident at the helm of the offense, hitting his receivers on a number of third downs, scrambling when necessary and most notably connecting with Michael Rector on a beautiful touchdown pass. Burns certainly wasn’t perfect; in the third quarter, he flubbed a handoff that resulted in a fumble, and his throws suffered as the game progressed. But he provided the Cardinal with an early spark that would ultimately be enough to get the job done.

14: Receiving yards for Kansas State’s Byron Pringle

Pringle, a sophomore community college transfer, was highly praised in the offseason and is expected to be a huge threat in the Wildcats’ offense this year. But against Stanford, he was not much of a factor, catching just one pass for 14 yards. While they benefitted from some controversial no-calls, the Cardinal secondary demonstrated that they could function as a shutdown unit, and much credit goes to Alijah Holder and Quenton Meeks in particular for how they defended Pringle and the Kansas State passing attack.

18: Total yards gained by the Stanford offense in the third quarter

As stated above, it wasn’t all perfect for the Stanford offense, and the Cardinal’s abysmal third quarter demonstrates that. With just 18 total yards and one turnover, it seemed as if the Wildcats had made all the adjustments necessary to keep Stanford contained. Although that wouldn’t ultimately be the case, it signified a big momentum change in the game and also demonstrated that the offensive line, with three new starters this year, still has a bit to figure out. The question going forward will be how that line can stay fresh and function well over the course of four quarters, as opposed to just showing spurts of greatness.

35, 40, 41: The yardages of Stanford’s three touchdowns

The way that Bill Snyder stays in games is by limiting big plays with his defense, and Kansas State’s failure to do so allowed the Cardinal to win this game. From the Rector touchdown to two breakout runs from Christian McCaffrey, these three plays accounted for a large part of Stanford’s total offense. And while that points more to offensive inconsistency than anything else, the Cardinal won with the big play on Friday.


Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandips ‘at’

Sandip Srinivas '18 is the Football Editor, a sports desk editor and a beat writer for men's basketball and football at The Stanford Daily. Sandip is a sophomore from Belmont, California that roots for the San Francisco Giants during even years and roots for Steph Curry year-round. He is majoring in Symbolic Systems and can be contacted via email at sandips 'at'

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