It looks as though the heart breaking loss to Utah will not cost the Stanford Cardinal a chance to become a national champion. The Cardinal are ranked number five in the newest BCS rankings and can help make their case to be in the BCS title game if they can beat the second rated Oregon Ducks. Although the Cardinal defense has been playing lights out football, they can’t expect to completely stop the vaunted Ducks offense. David Shaw must find a way to open up the Cardinal playbook in order to put up more points.
Let’s face it, Kevin Hogan will never be a gun slinger but that does not mean the Cardinal offense is incapable of getting some big plays. Hogan is blessed with two game breaking wide receivers in Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste. We have all seen how explosive Montgomery is in the return game but he can also be just as dangerous as a wide receiver. The Cardinal must find a way to get the ball into Montgomery’s hands on designed screens so he can break a tackle or two on his way to a long run.
6’4 junior wide receiver Devon Cajuste might not have the same explosiveness as his counterpart Montgomery but he is just as important in the passing game. Out of nowhere, Cajuste has put up big numbers this season for the Cardinal offense. It seems like Cajuste has taken some of the targets that usually would have went to a capable tight end. Hogan must use Cajuste as his safety blanket when he gets rattled in the game. Although Cajuste went down with a knee injury against UCLA, he should be able to play against the Ducks on November 7th.
Even though Kevin Hogan needs to step up his game, the Cardinal running game is still going to be the focal point of the offense. Senior running back Tyler Gaffney has surpassed everyone’s wildest expectations this season by seemingly getting 100 yards a game with his eyes closed. Gaffney has looked like a reincarnation of Toby Gerhart this season as he has trucked defenders all season long. As well as Gaffney has been playing the Cardinal must find another running back to help change the pace. I believe that player is the (redshirt) freshman sensation Barry J. Sanders. Sanders has the ability to take the rock to the house every time he touches the ball but he has yet to see significant playing time.
If Stanford wants to win a national championship they must find a way to get more out of their offense. Thankfully, the Cardinal have until November 7th to figure out a way to generate more points.