If times weren’t desperate for Stanford football (1-3, 0-3 Pac-12) a week ago, they certainly are now. The Cardinal possess a ten-game FBS losing skid, which is the longest active streak in Division I football. Head coach David Shaw’s calm and collected approach isn’t rubbing off on a fanbase that has seen the precipitous collapse of their once strong program.
The Cardinal, who just came off a two-game road stretch, will now have a chance to right the ship, as they return home to face the Oregon State Beavers (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12) on Oct. 8. Both teams are looking for their first conference win this season.
“We need to find a way to build momentum. Football is such a game of momentum,” said fifth-year inside linebacker Ricky Miezan. “Right now, at the moment, on both sides of the ball we’re not building that momentum. We’re not playing complementary football.”
While the Beavers are a tier down from the top of the conference, they certainly won’t be an easy win for the Cardinal. The Beavers are ranked 45th in the FBS in rushing yards per game and were 17th in that metric last season. Oregon State’s strength plays right into Stanford’s weakness, which is rush defense. The Cardinal gave up 351 yards rushing to Oregon last weekend and are looking to tighten that area over time.
“It’s a lot of zone scheme, a lot of stretch and downhill runs,” Miezan said of Oregon State’s rushing attack. “As a linebacker your bread and butter is being able to mirror the angle of the running back and get off blocks. And that’s what we’re gonna have to do this week.”
However, the bad news is that Stanford will be down a key contributor on defense. Senior cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly will be out for the game with an unspecified injury.
“Hopefully he’ll be back next week,” Shaw said about Kelly. “But we’ll see. Like all injuries, we’ll take it slow and do what’s best for our student-athlete.”
Junior right tackle Myles Hinton and senior offensive lineman Barrett Miller are both questionable, both nursing injuries from earlier in the season.
In addition to a myriad of other factors, part of Stanford’s struggles comes from their turnover differential. The Cardinal possess the worst turnover differential in the country at -10, and Shaw is certainly emphasizing the importance of making up that deficit to the team.
“[We] got to continue to rake at the ball and try to rip the ball out,” Shaw said after last weekend’s 45-27 loss at Oregon. “We’ve had the ball knocked out of our hands multiple times, including again this game, and we have to return the favor.”
Despite the season not meeting the team’s expectations so far, several members of the team still remain confident in the talent and play the team can display.
“No one has seen our best in any of the games,” said senior left tackle Walter Rouse. “We have some of the best talent in the Pac-12 and the nation, but we’re just not putting it out there. Once we can do that and once we can show people what Stanford football is all about, we can turn some heads.”
With students finally on campus, the Cardinal now have a better home crowd that can propel them to victory. Will they take advantage?
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on ESPN.