Stanford Youth Shines in Loss to Arizona

Platoons aplenty punctuate early season

By Grant Avalon | 9-26-2023 07:43 AM PT

Photo by Bob Siegel

One week ago, on the heels of a home loss to FCS Sacramento State, it seemed the sky was falling for Stanford football. After losing to Arizona 21-20, the Cardinal have something going for them: promise.

Coach Troy Taylor has been platooning just about everyone on the roster, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Much of the attention has been paid to Ashton Daniels and Justin Lamson switching off at the quarterback position. There were instances against Arizona in which one hurler would start the drive, only for his teammate to replace him on the very next snap. 

But this position is not unique. The Cardinal have even switched off between two punters, in junior Connor Weselman and freshman Aidan Flintoft, with each drawing a pair of punts in this one. Taylor gave freshman running back Sedrick Irvin the start over E.J. Smith, Casey Filkins, and others, after only giving him 5 touches in the season’s first three games. Virtually no starting spot on the roster is safe, that much is clear. 

At 1-3 against a soft schedule, Stanford needs guys who will compete. Against Arizona, they got that. The result was not what they wanted, but it is difficult to walk away from this one with a bad aftertaste.

Tiger Bachmeier had a breakout game, with 4 receptions for 93 yards. He missed a touchdown that was very catchable, and had some other targets he couldn’t snag, but Coach Taylor credited his ability to win the tough, 50-50 balls. The freshman wideout has earned respect from his coaches and quarterbacks, and should be a name to watch for years to come. Fellow underclassmen wideouts Mudia Reuben and Elic Ayomanor and sophomore tight end Sam Roush all made key contributions as well. Elic seemingly had a touchdown before the officials marked him inches short.

The defense was also led by a number of underclassmen, chief among them sophomore David Bailey. He continues to be a one man wrecking crew, and as good a player as there is on this roster. Sophomores Ernest Cooper and Scotty Edwards provided key plays as well.

Each quarterback brought something different to the game. Ashton Daniels attempted 26 passes with 7 carries, while Justin Lamson attempted 6 passes against 13 carries. They both made gutsy plays when called upon. Ashton seems trusted to deliver strikes on intermediate routes, while Justin provides good acceleration through holes in the running game. Taylor suggests that he will continue to platoon unless one of them separates himself. 

And one of the biggest shows of promise came in Sedrick Irvin. The distant cousin of NFL legend Michael Irvin, Sedrick put his stamp on the game early with a physical 45 yard run to get things started for the Stanford offense. He finished the day with 71 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, and looked the part of a potential feature back. Stanford has a strong stable of runners moving forward, and the freshman compares favorably. 

Of course, their inability to finish drives came back to haunt them. Josh Karty finally showed he was human, missing a pair of 50+ yard kicks after being perfect since late 2021. Timely penalties and negative plays made those attempts necessary. They also failed to maintain a lead as Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura went out with injury, with backup Noah Fifita providing a late spark and go-ahead touchdown. 

Despite the loss, there was a lot to believe in. Troy Taylor is four games into his tenure on The Farm, with a roster that lacks experience. Against Arizona, we saw more signs that the young talent is there, and guys are competing. This will just take time. 

--Stanford Men's Hoops National Champs '42 '91 '12 '15

TAGS: Sam Roush Mudia Reuben Casey Filkins Aidan Flintoft David Bailey Jayden de Laura NFL Josh Sophomores Ernest Cooper Elic Ayomanor Michael Irvin Stanford Justin Lamson FCS Sacramento State Ashton Noah Fifita Sedrick Troy Taylor Justin Taylor
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