Tanner Price "Stanford scored how many points?"
It was a tough Saturday evening on the west coast for the Deacs. It might've been even more difficult for the Deacon fans staying up until early Sunday morning on the east coast. Led by Heisman candidate Andrew Luck, Stanford (3-0), the 16th ranked team in the nation, easily handled Wake Forest (2-1). After watching the game and having several days to reflect upon it, I came up with the grades of the game. I don't claim to be an expert. These grades are simply my opinions based on my observations of the games as well as the box score. I would love to hear everyone's input on the grades. With that said, it's time to open the report card...
Tanner Price didn't do anything spectacular on Saturday night, but he didn't do anything terrible either. He was hurried to throw the ball many times throughout the game, yet still only threw one interception. It could certainly be argued that the interception wasn't even his fault. Price also continued to show his versatility by rushing for 65 yards, including one for a score. I was impressed that he wasn't rattled in his first career start on the road against a top 25 team in the nation.
Running Backs: C
Much like Tanner Price, the running backs didn't do anything spectacular, but given the nature of the game they didn't get many opportunities to do so. Brandon Pendergrass averaged 6.8 yards per carry and Josh Adams averaged 4. Josh Harris only averaged averaged 2.5 yards per carry, but he did have one long rush of 15 yards. The backs will continue to be tested this week against Florida State, who has an impressive front 7.
Wide Receivers: B-
The wide receivers only accounted for 76 receiving yards, but like the running backs they didn't get many opportunities. They did however perform well when they ran the ball. Michael Campanaro rushed for 41 yards, including one 22 yard run for a touchdown. In addition to his 47 receiving yards, Chris Givens had 25 rushing yards, including one 22 yard run for a touchdown.
Offensive Line: D+
The offensive line needed to do a better job protecting Tanner Price. They allowed him to be sacked 5 times. It's very difficult to win games when your quarterback is sacked 5 times. It causes what would be manageable third downs to turn into third and longs. Sacks change the entire offensive strategy, which is partially why Adams, Pendergrass and Adams combined for only 15 carries. I agree that they were physically over-matched by Stanford, but they need to do a better job against Florida State in order for the Deacs to have a chance.
Defensive Line: F
I don't want to give F's, but to be honest, I couldn't give them anything else. They recorded zero sacks. The equipment manager didn't even need to wash Andrew Luck's jersey. They allowed Andrew Luck to stand in the pocket and make throws with surgical precision. They also allowed 8 yards per rushing attempt. I realize that the entire blame doesn't fall on the defensive line, but a defense relies on its line to create pressure in order for the playmakers behind them to make plays. The line couldn't get to the quarterback, and thus our secondary could not make the plays that they made against Duke.
The linebackers were just a tad slow in every aspect of the game. They were slow to help in run support, and they had difficulty when they were matched against tight ends. The defensive line didn't do them any favors, but Andrew Luck's 52 yard run was absolutely atrocious defense.
Last week the only thing saving them from an F was the fact that they had 3 interceptions. This week they forced 0 turnovers. Andrew Luck went 17/23 for 207 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was flawless against this defense. any secondary will look bad when the quarterback isn't pressured, but it was still a very poor performance by the secondary. They have the physical tools, but they are still young. I look for them to improve as the season goes on, but they just didn't have it this week. They will be challenged again this week as they go against Christian Ponder, who is arguably the best quarterback in the ACC.
Kickoff/Punt Coverage: D
Stanford returned only one punt, but it was returned for 22 yards. That can't happen. You can't allow a team as talented as Stanford to get improved field position. An offensive that talented can score even if they have bad field position. You can't do them any favors and allow them to get improved field position. The kickoff coverage could have also used work. They allowed one return of 60 yards. If you allow any team to start on their opponent's 40, they are almost guaranteed a field goal, and have a very good chance at getting a touchdown. That has to improve throughout the season.
This was one positive that we can take from last week's game. I was very impressed with Jimmy Newman. He went 3 for 3 on extra points and made an impressive 48 yard field goal to end the first half. He has a very impressive leg and will hopefully be a valuable asset in the future. If we fail to convert on third downs in the red zone this season, we know that Newman will be able to keep us in the game with his kicking.