| 9-12-2021 09:16 AM PT
Photo by Stanford Athletics
Man, it feels good to win in the Coliseum.
Last week, the Cardinal fell flat against Kansas State in a disappointing 7-24 loss, their only scoring drive due to a late 14 yard pass by sophomore Tanner McKee to senior Brycen Tremayne.
But at long last, the quarterback mystery was over. Coach David Shaw decided to put his trust in the younger talent in Tanner McKee for the start against cross-state rivals, the University of Southern California Trojans. For their 100th all-time matchup, Shaw warned, “[McKee] doesn’t have to take the world on his shoulders.”
But he certainly had Cardinal fans’ early hopes of the season in his quick hands. By the second half of this week’s effort, the Coliseum started to sound more like a mausoleum as the Cardinal beat down the #14 Trojans by a score of 42 - 28.
For the beginning of the first half, the two teams seemed to be better matched foes than the spread would have made you think. Stanford had 97 rushing yards to USC’s 86. Stanford went 1-4 on 3rd downs, USC 2-7. Their first five collective drives evened a score of 7-7 early in the second quarter. The Cardinal’s breakaway came after gaining over 30 yards in Trojan penalties (a common theme here in the Coliseum). Another flag was thrown as Stanford knocked in a field goal attempt in the 2nd. In an un-Stanford-like fashion, Shaw opted to take three points off the board and go for six. McKee connected with junior receiver Elijah Higgins to bring them ahead of the Trojans once again-- this time for good. “The idea for today was to come in and be aggressive,” said Shaw after the game, “that’s where we want to be.”
The Cardinal, with less than two minutes left in the half, put on the afterburner and McKee showed us what Shaw saw in him this summer. Working under the pressure of the clock and the once-formidable USC DL, the sophomore tossed for over 60 yards on a successful four-play drive. Tremayne squeaked his toes down in the red and the Cardinal went up 21-10 at the half. Tanner McKee’s halftime line? 9/11 for 151 yards, 2 TD, and 0 INT.
But if that wasn’t enough, the second half Trojans couldn’t keep a consistent rhythm. Kedon Slovis went 16-25 for 126 yards, while the USC defensive line saw four holding calls against them, allowing the Cardinal to find the holes and score 21 in the half. To top it off, Slovis threw a pick-six to Junior CB Kyu Blu Kelly to bring the Card back to a two possession game, and keep it that way. It was the first Stanford pick-six in the Coliseum since…that’s right, Richard Sherman off of Matt Barkley.
Nevertheless, the Stanford defense showed their ware as they allowed 225 total yards and 18 points in the second half…. Not that many fans were left to see it. By the last few minutes of the game, the once-strong 59,945 at the Coliseum started to look like a matinee crowd at the Farm.
Quarterback Tanner McKee gave Stanford’s fans some much needed confidence in his first start of this season. He went 16-23 for a total of 235 yards. Shaw remarked that McKee needed to win that spot. “Two of the worst things you can do to a young student athlete are not give them something they earned and give them something they haven’t earned,” said Coach Shaw, referencing those who said he should have brought in McKee earlier to the starting spot. “Up until this last game he hadn’t earned it. But he came out today and played extremely well.”
Stanford’s offensive unit shared the spotlight, with some standout performances from Tremayne, Higgins, John Humphreys, and Nathaniel Peat. “I kept looking at our offense, we have something special in this group,” said Shaw. “Peat has an extra gear… he started us rolling.” he remarked of the Junior, who carried the Card’s first scoring drive a breakaway 87 yards down the line to hush the Coliseum faithful. “We needed to get the lid off.”
And that they did, even as the offense was aided by a cumulative 111 penalty yards, mostly on the fault of USC’s defensive line.
“A lot of the guys did their 1/11th in this game,” remarked Stanford’s new permanent starting quarterback. Surely, the echoes of a 2007-like upset rang as loud in Stanford fans' ears as the “Fire Helton” chants rang out from the student section of the stadium.
Next week, the Cardinal will travel to Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at 5:00 pm PST. Be sure to tune in for more McKee, Tremayne, and Peat action as Stanford hopes to continue this momentum on the road. Go Card!
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