STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford football fans have been a flexible group during the program’s incredible run through four consecutive BCS game appearances. From averaging more than 40 points per game under Andrew Luck in 2010 and 2011 to the defense allowing less than 19 points per game in 2012 and 2013, Cardinal fans have witnessed diverse tactics from a coaching staff possessing a knack for positioning its student-athletes to succeed. During Saturday’s Fall Open House and open practice, fans found the best of both worlds in the 2014 edition of Stanford football.
On a usual sunny and beautiful day at the Dan Elliott Practice Fields, David Shaw’s Cardinal played a live scrimmage for the fan base prior to fan activities at Stanford Stadium. Stanford’s top two defensive units dominated play, but the first-team offense demonstrated big-play ability, while serving notice in particular at one position group.
The wide receiving corps enters the season with understandable praise from media members with returning all-purpose All-American Ty Montgomery being joined by a long-ball tandem in Devon Cajuste (22.9 yards/catch) and Michael Rector (30.8 yards/catch). Three more provide impressive depth in speedy sophomore Francis Owusu, the lone Stanford freshman to appear in a game last year, former professional baseball player Jordan Pratt (energy and design engineering major) and former walk-on Jeff Trojan (human biology). The group is so deep that Kodi Whitfield, a product design major and the team’s third-leading receiver in 2013, was moved to safety.
On Saturday, the group was largely limited in repetitions for reasons ranging from final exams (Owusu) to precautionary measures (Montgomery). In few chances, Rector pulled down a 48-yard pass from quarterback Kevin Hogan while Cajuste put his 6-foot-4, 229-pound frame on display with two catches, including a 23-yard touchdown from Hogan.
Fans reaped the benefit, however, as other players took advantage of opportunities – perhaps none more than 6-foot-4 senior Rollins Stallworth. A 2013 Pac-12 All-Academic selection, Stallworth put forth a display with three impressive receptions requiring different skills. His first came on a seven-yard out pattern as he corralled a pass to the outside shoulder while being draped in perfect coverage from Ra’Chard Pippens. His second went for 22 yards over the middle as he pulled down a high pass and kept it high against coverage from Whitfield. His third, and potentially best, came on third down when he reached behind for a grab against good coverage, this time from Ronnie Harris.
The defense carried the day with four interceptions and two recovered fumbles coming in stifling capacity.
All told, 21 of Stanford’s 30 run plays went for three yards or less with eight tackles for a loss (four sacks) and only four rushes of seven or more yards (Ricky Seale had two rushes of eight yards and Christian McCaffrey one eight-yard rush and one seven-yard rush).
Freshman Terrence Alexander had the first interception, corralling a tipped pass and returning it 40 yards for a touchdown against the third-team offense. Pippens got an interception of his own and fifth-year senior A.J. Tarpley calmly baited another pass before stepping in front and returning it for a touchdown. The final interception was from freshman Brandon Simmons on the final snap of the day.
Following the scrimmage, all student-athletes joined the community for the annual Fall Sports Open House at Stanford Stadium. Members of the women’s volleyball, field hockey and both men’s and women’s soccer players were on hand to sign autographs and run drills and contests with young fans.