Gerhart beaks the chains as Stanford whips UCLA into submission 24-16; Craft’s late rescue attempt is abolished
Is this tragi-dramati-comedy Miniseries — brought to you by Craft — about to be cancelled due to bad ratings?
The Bruins did NOT lose Saturday’s game BECAUSE of Kevin Craft, but it sure would have been nice to see what the real (but injured) Starting Quarterback Kevin Prince could have done with the ball and a chance to tie the game with 3 minutes left. Craft, who DID get that chance, got hit as he threw, and the 4th Down incompletion ended the Bruins’ hopes for a magical season.
Prince’s broken jaw is healing, but he may or may not be back next week when very tough Oregon comes to town. And after Saturday, if the QB ends up being Craft, the Bruins’ Defense will have to do a better job than they did on Saturday. That being said, there’s no shame in giving up yardage to Toby Gerhart. He is one of the toughest and best running backs in the Country, coming off a 200-yard performance. He got 134 on 29 tries against the Bruins.
Gerhart was a juggernaut, too strong for any one guy to tackle by himself. And he has some elusive moves too. Just ask Kyle Bosworth, who had an All-Conference-caliber game, except for one bad miss on a Gerhart, drive-extending run. And it should be noted that Stanford’s Offensive line was creating room to run, as evidenced by the success of Gerhart’s back-up.
Stanford gobbled up time with solid runs, and added to that, repeated connections between QB Andrew Luck and Wide Receiver Ryan Whalen harpooned the Bruins. Whalen caught 6 passes for 118 yards, as Starter Sheldon Price got victimized. Maybe he was missing the help of Rahim Moore, who went out with a concussion early in the 2nd Quarter.
Stanford ended three drives with short Gerhart TD runs, while UCLA ended three drives with Kai Forbath Field Goals, easily accounting for the Cardinal’s margin of victory. It was a one-possession game when the Bruins got the ball with just over 3 minutes to play. But Craft, who’s “strength” is arguably his ability to run a two-minute drill, was unable to guide the hurry-up Offense into the end zone. On the critical 3rd Down, he threw an incomplete pass — to an area with no Receiver — but it could have been one of apparently several mis-run routes on the day. With one last chance to save the day, the pocket collapsed around Craft, and his arm was hit as he threw, and the game was over.
ABC TV Announcer David Norrie is a former Bruin QB who thought that Kevin Craft had a great game last game, against KSU, which implies that he is biased towards UCLA QB’s. Therefore don’t believe him when he tells you that Craft had another great game against Stanford. Although there was a dropped pass and bad route-running, the pass-protection was better, and the running game was productive, with Jonathan Franklin picking up big chunks of yardage on what seemed like every carry. So that, and a conservative, run first, then pass short gameplan allowed Craft to compile some deceptively-good stats. He was 22-34 for 204 yards with no Interceptions, and only one fumble. But no TD’s, and the Bruins were only 2-10 on 3rd Downs. Craft completed one pass for a long gain early in the game, but the rest of his completions ended as short gains.
Yes, he is not making as many costly mistakes as last year, and yes, you could say he is improving, but his rate of improvement is not as dramatic as Prince’s should be, Prince having started just two games. Craft didn’t lose the game (penalties and inability to stop Stanford did), but Prince might have won it.
Once again, blame does not lie squarely on Craft’s shoulders. Stanford deserved to win. They controlled the game, winning the battle of the trenches, and of the Coaches, for instance when Jim Harbaugh called for a Flea Flicker, which set up the ultimately game-deciding Touchdown. And the Bruins committed too many unforced errors and penalties, even getting called for a Personal Foul on the play that knocked out Moore (for his late lick that he laid on the Receiver). They did not resemble a well-coached team, and Coach Rick Neuheisel would be the first person to tell you that. This collective team lack of focus cannot be blamed on Craft, OBVIOUSLY, but that doesn’t mean that Prince’s return couldn’t be the emotional spark that the Bruins need to compete with the pesky Ducks, whose complex Offense and nimble QB bring a daunting challenge to the Bruin D next week.
And if you know anything about this site and about Oregon, the daunting challenge won’t be the only thing that the Ducks will be bringing to Pasadena — Oregon just happens to sport the 2nd-best looking Cheerleading Squad in captivity.