Stanford's rush defense proves to be as good as advertised
Stanford is who Chip Kelly thought they were.
The Cardinal came into the game as the nation’s top rush defense and were billed as the toughest test the Ducks would face on the year. But the Ducks’ prolific rush offense also ranks among the nation’s best and the strength-against-strength matchup was the subject of much hype by the national media.
“They did an awesome job just getting in our backfield,” redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota said. “And disrupting a lot of things, credit to them. We’re just going to come back, look at it and get better from it.”
In the end, while the Ducks nearly quadrupled the Cardinal’s season average of rush yards given up — Marcus Mariota’s 77-yard scamper in the first quarter was, on its own, more yards than Stanford averages against the run — the Cardinal were able to limit the damage and keep the Ducks out of the endzone on all but two possessions.
“It’s a good front and they pushed the pocket,” Kelly said. “I don’t think Marcus was rattled from any stretch of the imagination but when any quarterback doesn’t get an opportunity to set their feet it becomes a difficult deal for them.”
Oregon still ran for 198 yards but was too often stopped in short in critical situations. The Ducks were just 4-of-17 on third down and went three-and-out on their only possession of overtime.
When the Ducks opted to go for it on fourth down, including one conversion attempt that was well within field goal range they were twice stopped.
“When we’re inside the twenty we’re probably going to kick it,” Chip Kelly said. “When the ball is between the 33 and out that becomes a range thing, and that’s just from our work in practice during the week — and that’s just from our work and practice during the week. And it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t get the fourth down then you should have kicked it and if you kick it and miss it then you should have gone for it on fourth down. You don’t sleep much after these games.”
The Ducks were shut down in the overtime, going three-and-out with just one play for positive yardage. Mariota was forced out of bounds after a short loss with no open receiver to throw to. After a short three-yard run from Mariota on second down, the freshman quarterback couldn’t hit Josh Huff on third, forcing Alejandro Maldonado to come on for a pressure kick.