Through two games, Stanford has been outscored 28-7 in the third quarter. In both games, the slow start proved decisive in the defeat, despite stronger fourth quarter efforts.
“So [we’re] looking at a few things to adjust there, none of which I will talk with you about, but just letting you know that we’ve noticed that,” head coach David Shaw ’95 said.
While Shaw was coy, sophomore cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly did mention that he had been in conversations with fifth-year free safety Malik Antoine and fifth-year inside linebacker Curtis Robinson about why the defense is not coming out as fast, and themes like starting the half fresh came up. On offense, senior quarterback Davis Mills spoke about sports performance discussions to come out fast.
Still, the team’s struggles have not been isolated to the third quarter, especially for the defense. Stanford is at or near the bottom of the conference in total defense, rushing defense, passing efficiency against and third down conversion rate against.
Washington State also presents its own challenges. The team is led by first-year head coach Nick Rolovich, who will be coming back to his native Bay Area, where he played two seasons at City College and was the quarterbacks coach from 2006-07. Rolovich played quarterback at Hawaii for two seasons and made two stops there as a coach before his hiring at Washington State.
Quarterback Jayden de Laura is ranked second in the conference by PFF and won Freshman of the Week honors against Oregon State. While Rolovich’s shoot and run offense is different from previous head coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, both involve a lot of playmakers with the ball. Still, Stanford is ready for the challenge.
“It’s exciting what we have coming,” Kelly said. “I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m excited.”
Senior wide receiver Osiris St. Brown was unable to practice last week and, coming off an injury, he was held out of the game against Colorado.
“Osiris is a great player, and he’s a leader on this team and in this receiver corps,” senior wide receiver Connor Wedington said. “He really brings that fire that we need him to break, so we’re excited to get him back.”
Kelly, who had to miss Week 1 to ensure he would be healthy for the rest of the season, made his debut last week and solidified his spot at the one cornerback position.
Sophomore right guard Branson Bragg will play, but may not start, in which case sophomore Jake Hornibrook would step in. Backing up senior Drew Dalman at center, sophomore Drake Nugent will miss this week and freshman Drake Metcalf “may or may not be ready.” Bragg, who was a center in high school, would be called on next. Freshman tackle Myles Hinton has seen action in power formations and is another option behind senior right tackle Foster Sarell and sophomore left tackle Walter Rouse.
Junior outside linebacker Tobe Umerah and junior inside linebacker Ricky Miezan will be out for the year.
With Santa Clara County returning to the “purple” tier, Stanford had to make a few adjustments to its training, but outside of practice, few of the team’s activities were in person.
On Saturday, Stanford will face Ayden Hector, a walk-on at Washington State who enrolled in late October. Hector is coming off a Pac-12 Freshman of the Week in which he had two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.