Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
The progression of Arizona State junior quarterback Taylor Kelly powered the Sun Devils to an average of 43.3 points per game. His dual-threat ability fuels offensive coordinator Mike Norvell's version of the spread, as David Shaw outlined.
"Whether he's running it, or he's biding time in the pocket to throw it, the kid plays with such energy and fire and fight," Shaw said. "When you're trying to defend him, you have to try to keep him in the pocket. But everyone tries to keep him in the pocket, but he won't stay in the pocket. He'll make people miss."
Stanford's containment of spread offenses is among the Pac-12's more wondrous developments of recent years. Putting coordinator Derek Mason's scheme into practice are disciplined athletes who adhere to their assignments, but have the ability to react on the fly.
No one Cardinal defender is any more indicative of this style than linebacker Shayne Skov. The team's leading tackler does a little of everything: stop the run, blitz, drop back into pass coverage. Of Skov's many talents, none may be more vital to Stanford's success than his ability to snuff out dual-threat and zone-read quarterbacks.
Against UCLA's Brett Hundley and Oregon's Marcus Mariota as well as against Kelly, Skov's ability to read and react limited their playmaking ability.