A 37-24 win over Hawaii (0-2, 0-0 Mountain West) has Stanford fans excited about the football team (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) for the rest of the year. While it’s too early to say anything conclusive about the Cardinal’s season prospects, the first game did reveal some things about the identity and makeup of the team.
Ben Yurosek will be Ashton Daniels’s number one target:
Coming into this season, senior Ben Yurosek was already regarded as one of the best tight ends nationally. The six-foot-four player caught 43 receptions for 658 yards in 2021 and followed that up with 49 receptions for 445 yards in 2022. Yet it seems like Yurosek is ready to outpace his previous production.
In the first half, he amassed seven receptions for 113 yards and finished the game with nine receptions for a career-high 138 yards. Despite these gaudy statistics, it’s clear that Yurosek wasn’t just the beneficiary of wide-open windows. The 242-pound tight end’s ability to contort his body and adjust to the football stood out several times during the game. In tandem with Stanford head coach Troy Taylor’s scheme, Yurosek could be a legitimate candidate for the Mackey Award this season.
Quarterback run will feature prominently in the offense:
Prior to the game, Taylor had said that the quarterback run would be featured prominently in the offense this season. It seems Taylor is a man of his word, as sophomore quarterback Ashton Daniels ran the ball 11 times for 42 yards. Many of these were also designed runs, where the quarterback’s first or second option was to carry the ball.
This adds a dimension to Stanford’s offense that it did not have in previous years, and is another feature that opposing defenses must account for. Taylor’s spread offense aims to stretch defenses horizontally and vertically. The quarterback run is just one way to create horizontal pressure while also eliminating defenders from a play. While at certain times, Taylor may hold back on these plays due to fear of injury, expect quarterback runs to be a staple of Stanford’s offense going forward this year.
The defensive line is the best unit on defense:
Although the secondary also played fantastically, the Stanford defensive line stood out from the jump. It was apparent from the first snap that Hawaii’s offensive line simply couldn’t fend off the Cardinal defensive line. Stanford’s defensive front forced Rainbow Warriors quarterback Brayden Schafer out of the pocket often, while also sacking and disrupting the quarterback’s throwing lanes numerous times.
Sophomore defensive end David Bailey had an impressive performance, tallying three sacks and four tackles for loss. Bailey looks to be Stanford’s best player on defense and is molding into a promising NFL prospect.
If the defensive line can continue to play at a high level against conference opponents, it’ll potentially allow Stanford to pull off some upsets that very few people foresaw during the preseason.
Next, Stanford will take on USC (1-0, 0-0 Pac-12) on Saturday, Sept. 9 — the last time the schools will play each other in the Pac-12. Kickoff is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. PT.