Another week, another road game.
Or so it seems for the ever-road weary Stanford Cardinal. Another key Pac-10 game away from the Farm has Stanford fans trying to contain the butterflies in their stomachs.
With that, let’s get started. Here is what to look for come Saturday.
Win the first quarter
It’s no secret that Toby Gerhart is Stanford’s meal ticket. In the process the big boy has garnered some much-deserved Heisman hype.
The two games Stanford has lost are the only two games in which Gerhart has failed to rush for more than 100 yards. In the Oregon State game Stanford fell behind early and was forced to pass early and often.
With the big bruising-type back that Gerhart is, he needs a solid lead on the scoreboard and a steady diet of carries to wear down the defense. Given such an opportunity Gerhart usually never wastes it, and he can’t if Stanford wants to win on the road.
Jim Harbaugh is a smart guy; look for him to let Gerhart pound away early and often. If Stanford wins the first quarter it should let him run all game—that's why the first quarter is key.
Jacquizz Rodgers is a man among boys—no doubt about it. For Snyder and the defense the excuses have to stop against a less talented offense and a banged up Nic Grigsby. On the road in essentially what is a must-win game, if Stanford wants to stay competitive in the conference race, the excuses have to stop.
It is, essentially, a "put up or shut up" game; if Arizona has success on the ground you can bet that the rest of the Pac-10 will key on that the rest of the season.
That is the total number of third downs converted by Stanford last weekend on nine opportunities. I know he’s only been on campus two years but its time for Andrew Luck to mature into the stud quarterback we all know he can be.
The season’s half way over and Stanford is still looking for its first real road win (sorry Washington state). Luck can no longer be a quarterback who throws when the defense is on its heels and quaking in fear of Gerhart. He needs to become more of a focal point, and that starts with converting third downs.
Stanford needs to take care of business this weekend and that’d be a whole lot easier if Luck helped keep the offense on the field and the defense off.
Look for this to be the curse-breaker. Stanford 31, Arizona 14