Normally, Stanford’s offense is slow and methodical, pounding away for four or five yards at a time. Explosive is not typically a word associated with the Cardinal’s offense.
In Stanford’s 38-14 victory over No. 11 ASU in the Pac-12 title game, explosive was the only word suitable to describe the Cardinal’s offense as it put up 517 total yards on a Sun Devil defense that ranked third in the Pac-12 coming into the game in total defense.
The Cardinal would take an early 7-0 lead on a 69-yard scamper by senior running back Tyler Gaffney, who would finish with 133 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. Gaffney was also named the game’s MVP.
ASU would strike back six plays later on a 51-yard run by sophomore running back D.J. Foster but Gaffney would score again on Stanford’s next series to make it 14-7.
“I think it was very important to take a lead early because Arizona State is phenomenal with a lead,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “We’re at our best when we play with the lead.”
Gaffney wasn’t surprised by the offense’s ability to generate explosive plays.
“They’re a stout defense but we practiced making big plays, we do it all week, all season,” Gaffney said. “It’s about execution and we went down there and we were successful.”
While Gaffney was named the game’s MVP, junior quarterback Kevin Hogan was a close runner-up.
Hogan, who passed for only 151 yards in his first game against ASU in late September, finished 12 of 18 passing for 277 yards and a touchdown.
“He could have very well been MVP of this game also,” Shaw said. “Kevin’s got ice water in his veins. He’s got a short memory like all quarterbacks and pitcher’s need to have. He played a heck of a game tonight and he’s only going to get better.”
Hogan would connect on long throws of 35 and 34 yards that set up Stanford scores, but his biggest connection came in the fourth quarter. On third down and six, Hogan would find junior wide receiver Devon Cajuste down the seam for 78 yards. That would set up Stanford’s final touchdown, a 24 yard strike from Hogan to junior wide receiver Ty Montogomery to extend the Cardinal lead to 38-14.
While Stanford’s offense was explosive, their defense was dominating.
The Cardinal defense surrendered only 311 yards and stopped ASU on fourth down three times at the end of the third quarter and middle of the fourth quarter.
“When we come out and we execute and we don’t make mistakes, we’re going to win football games,” said redshirt senior linebacker Shayne Skov who finished with a game-high nine tackles. “We’re going to come after you offensively, defensively and attack the line of scrimmage. It’s what we do and we were successful today.”
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