Stanford football (1-2, 0-2 Pac-12) will have to wait another week to break their nine game FBS losing-skid. A combination of turnovers, sacks and home brewing was too much for the Cardinal to overcome, as the Washington Huskies (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) rolled to a dominant victory in Seattle.
The Huskies got off to a quick start, scoring a touchdown in six short plays on their opening drive. Running back Will Nixon tallied the score for Washington, punching it in from three yards out, which gave the Huskies an early 7-0 lead.
At first, Stanford looked like they responded well to the score, as junior running back Casey Filkins began accumulating first downs through the ground. Filkins’ play allowed the Cardinal to eventually make their way to the red zone.
“I think when it’s all set and done, we’ll probably have one of the better running back duos in America,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw after the game. “Both guys have shown talent, and now we just got to get them better, get them more experienced and get them more opportunities.”
However, the drive ended with a turnover, as junior quarterback Tanner McKee threw a ball that ricocheted off Filkins and into the hands of a Washington cornerback. The Huskies were able to convert this turnover into a field goal and extend their lead to 10-0.
After a couple scoreless possessions by both teams, Stanford got the ball back and looked to cut into the early deficit. However, the Washington defensive front was able to jar the ball out of McKee’s hands on a drop back, which gave the Husky offense a short field.
“Offensively we have to stop turning the ball over,” Shaw told the media after the game. “I think we’ve proven it now: if we don’t turn the ball over and don’t have any catastrophic mistakes, we can march down the field, be effective and score points.”
The Huskies scored within two plays off the turnover, as running back Wayne Taulapapa ran 34 yards to make it a three possession game.
The Cardinal finally got on the board on the next drive, as McKee was able to find fifth-year receiver Michael Wilson for a couple big plays, including a 23 yard touchdown completion. While Stanford played porous in the first half, allowing six sacks and a 2-0 turnover deficit, the game was not out of reach.
However, that glimmer of hope would not last long. Washington received the kickoff in the second half and kicked a field goal on the opening drive to make it 20-7. After a three-and-out by the Cardinal offense, the Huskies reached the end zone again, as Washington QB Michael Penix Jr connected with Rome Odunze on a 30-yard slot fade.
With their opportunity to win the game fading, on the next possession, Stanford went for it on 4th & 1 at their own 38-yard line. However, McKee’s QB sneak ended up failing and Washington got possession once more. This effectively put the game away, as Washington kicked another field goal to make it a four possession ball game.
Stanford was able to get a couple touchdown catches from sophomore receiver John Humphreys and Wilson in the fourth quarter, but by that time it was a little too late. The Huskies won the game 40-22, and look to be one of the early favorites to win the Pac-12.
The injury bug bit Stanford last season, and it doesn’t seem to be going away this year. Senior left tackle Walter Rouse left the game with an injury, and the severity of it hasn’t been determined. The injury to Rouse came on top of the retirement of Branson Bragg and the injury to right tackle Myles Hinton. When asked if there was a timetable on Hinton’s injury, Shaw responded “no.”
The injuries have significantly deteriorated the offensive line’s quality and depth thus far this season.
The road will not get any easier for Stanford, as they take on the Oregon Ducks in Eugene, Ore. next week. The Cardinal played spoiler to Oregon last season, defeating the Ducks 31-24 in Palo Alto, Calif. Can they do the same next Saturday?