STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford offered a controlled and efficient opening to the 2013 football season, coolly picking up a 34-13 victory over San Jose State before a “new” Stanford Stadium record crowd of 50,424 on Saturday night.
The No. 5 Cardinal did nothing to disappoint the pollsters or its fans, but it also failed to dominate a San Jose State team coming off an 11-2 season. Instead, Stanford stealthily locked the Spartans into a sleeper hold, even if it was not fast enough to prevent the Spartans’ from keeping the faith until late in the game.
Not until safety Ed Reynolds intercepted a throwaway from San Jose State quarterback David Fales under heavy duress early in the fourth quarter – and the Cardinal followed with a 52-yard touchdown drive for the clinching score -- was victory assured.
Erstwhile minor-league outfielder Tyler Gaffney returned to college football by rushing for 104 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns, including the clincher on a two-yarder with 11:08 left in the game.
The emergence of a healthy, confident, and aggressive Ty Montgomery at receiver was another storyline, as was the continued dominance of the Cardinal defensive line. Stanford recorded four sacks, with Trent Murphy producing two.
The Cardinal built a 17-3 lead with points on its first three possessions, including touchdowns on its first two. San Jose State (1-1) closed to within 27-13 in the third quarter, before Reynolds put it away by grabbing the ball just before it sailed out of bounds.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, starting his first opener, improved his record as a starter to 6-0. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 207 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Four of his throws went to Montgomery, who gained 81 yards.
Fales completed 29 of 43 for 216 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, but constantly was under pressure.
Gaffney’s performance offered one answer to a pre-season question: How will the running back rotation develop?
Shaw had promised the use of several backs, and that indeed was true (five had at least one carry). But it was Gaffney who played almost exclusively in the first quarter and had the most sustained success. He had a 16-yard scoring run early in the second quarter before giving way to Anthony Wilkerson until halftime.A strong fourth quarter brought Wilkerson 65 yards on nine carries.
The Stanford passing game is also in flux. But Devon Cajuste made a strong opening statement by snatching a Hogan pass for a 40-yard play to open the scoring. Cajuste crossed behind tight end Luke Kaumatule on side-by-side downfield patterns and came out in open space. Hogan's throw down the middle hit Cajuste in stride and the receiver caught it on his hip and finished the play easily. Cajuste finished with three catches for 62 yards.
Montgomery battled injuries and his own apparent lack of confidence last season, but bounced back by bouncing off a San Jose State defender for a memorable third-quarter score -- his first touchdown since catching an early bomb from Andrew Luck in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.
This time, Hogan rolled left behind a moving pocket, and found Montgomery on sideline.
Montgomery lowered his head for a collision and powered past San Jose State cornerback Jimmy Pruitt, whose helmet flew into the air as Montgomery completed a 17-yard scoring play for a 27-6 lead.
All in all, Stanford's performance did nothing to dissuade its high expectations.
-- #GoStanford --