Notebook: Washington – Stanford University Athletics

WHEN DAVID SHAW approached the Wake Forest coaches to inquire about the Demon Deacons’ successful ‘slow mesh’ attack, he received a cryptic response.

We can’t tell you our secrets, they said, but we can give you some advice: Watch a movie.

Shaw did, and in Stanford’s Pac-12 opener against USC, the Cardinal unveiled his version of the slow mesh, the pass option system that asks the quarterback to do some readings. defense post-snap during the throw-in move. stopped. Rather than making a quick decision while holding the ball against the ball carrier’s chest, the quarterback allows the game to unfold more slowly before deciding to run or pass.

Four turnovers, including two in the shadow of the goal line, prevented a more representative performance from Stanford’s offense in a 41-28 loss to the Trojans. But Stanford has rushed for 221 yards, the most in its last 35 games, since scoring 244 against Oregon State on Nov. 10, 2018.

Stanford also had 33 first downs, the most in more than two decades.

“That style of RPO really puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” Shaw, director of football Bradford M. Freeman of Stanford, said. “They have to make a decision, and we’re buying time for the quarterback to make his decision.

“We have a quarterback (Tanner McKee) who can see everyone, and he’s a great decision maker. He has a quick release so he can pull it, and without much winding up, he can still throw the ball downfield.

“I’m excited about it. More importantly, our quarterback has a good sense for it. I think we did well and we can do even better.”

Tanner McKee runs the “slow mesh”. Photo by John P. Lozano/

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AN EARLY GOODBYE week has put Stanford (1-1 overall, 0-1 Pac-12) in a position where it must play the remaining 10 games without a break. That streak begins at No. 18 Washington (3-0) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with games to follow at Oregon, at home against Oregon State and at Notre Dame over the next four weeks.

“We’re hungry,” the fifth-year catcher said Michael Wilson. “It’s a critical game for our program, for ourselves. The guys know what’s at stake with this ‘W.’ If we can go to Washington, in a hostile environment, against a ranked opponent, and come out with a win, that’s not only going to give us confidence, it’s going to put us in the right direction and help build momentum.”


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THE CARDINAL WILL to be without a first rusher E.J. Smith (206 yards on 30 carries) due to injury. Casey Filkinwho rushed for 77 yards on 16 carries against USC and had three catches for 28 yards, will start at running back.

Shaw said he hopes Smith will be ready for Oregon on Oct. 1.

STANFORD, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Casey Filkins during a match between University of Southern California and Stanford Football at Stanford Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Stanford, California.

Casey Filkin. Photo by Dave Bernal/

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TWO DAYS AFTER the USC game, senior Branson–Bragg announced his retirement. Bragg, a two-year starter primarily at right offensive guard, was expected to start at right guard this season. Levi Rogers stepped in at right guard.

Bragg sent this explanatory message to Stanford fans on social media:

“I am heartbroken to announce that I have decided to retire from football,” he wrote. “It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. With persistent and intense long-term symptoms resulting from a severe concussion I suffered in training camp, along with other factors mental health, I am convinced that walking away is the best decision for me.”

Says Shaw: “I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s earned so much respect from his teammates, the coaching staff, everyone in our program. He’s smart, he’s got a great personality, he’s is a musician, a renaissance man. Football was just part of that for him. This young man has a bright future outside of football.”


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FORTY YEARS AGO, Stanford beat a Washington team ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll and No. 2 by the Associated Press in perhaps the Cardinal’s biggest victory in a series that began in 1893.

On October 30, 1982, John Elway set up Stanford’s 43-31 upset on a rainy day at Stanford Stadium.

Elway completed 20 of 30 passes for 265 yards and threw two touchdown passes. Tight end Chris Dressel had six catches for 106 yards, with plenty of room in the middle, in part because Elway was so good at watching linebackers.

The Cardinal fought back from an early 17-7 deficit with 30 unanswered points. Vincent White cemented the victory with a 76-yard punt return that left Elway smiling and raising his arms in triumph as the Stanford squad played and played, even as Stanford Stadium had long been empty. The sounds of “White Punks on Dope” echoed off the wooden bleachers.

Stanford discovered that it was not necessary to rely on the superhuman talents of Elway to beat a team like Washington. And playing a part in Stanford’s huge triumph, rather than dominating it, was the perfect send-off for Elway’s Stanford career.

“Today,” coach Paul Wiggin said, “we were a team.”

John Elway, Paul Wiggin

John Elway and Paul Wiggin, after beating Washington in 1982. Photo by David Madison.

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HUSKY STADIUM EAST should be loud, forcing the cardinal to focus on non-verbal communication.

“I said to the whole team, it’s composure and communication,” Shaw said. “We can’t panic. I don’t foresee Tanner having much of a problem with that. He’s really the guys who are able to focus and listen with intent to any verbal communication, and make sure we don’t have a problem. not one signal, but several hands. signals for various things.”

Senior Inside Linebacker Levani Damuni is eager to take up the challenge.

“I’ve always loved road games,” Damuni said. “As Coach Shaw always talks about, when you’re on the road, it’s all about us. It’s really us focusing on ourselves and us against the world. I love that feeling. No matter the ranking of a team, it always feels like a surprise when you win on the road.”


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RECEIVER MICHAEL WILSON describes his state of mind during the week:

“From the end of our last game, my immediate focus is on our next game,” he said. “Every rep in practice has to be the speed of the game. Every decision I make throughout the week is all about, ‘Is this going to help me perform better in the game? What decision will I make? I take to give myself the best opportunity, and put myself in the best circumstances, to succeed.'”

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