Keys to Stanford Cardinal bouncing back from Sacramento State loss, beating Arizona

“They’re so inspirational to me in how hard they fight. They will bounce back and they’ll be ready to roll,” said Cardinal head coach Troy Taylor

Stanford looks to rebound against Arizona in its Pac-12 home opener Saturday after becoming the only Power 5 team to lose to an FCS opponent this season.

“We can’t dwell on the past,” Gaethan Bernadel, a linebacker, said. “We have to look ahead and see how we can learn from our mistakes because everyone on this team knew we weren’t going to lose that game.” We must move on and concentrate on the next opponent.”

Expectations are low for the Cardinal to rebound from last week’s 30-23 loss to Sacramento State, the program’s second-ever loss to an FCS team. Stanford (1-2) is a double-digit underdog against Arizona (2-1), one of the Cardinal’s only two remaining unranked opponents.

Despite the loss to his former school, first-year coach Troy Taylor remained upbeat.

“Our guys are so mentally tough, and they’re so resilient,” Taylor said this week as the Cardinal prepared for Saturday’s 4 p.m. game at Stanford Stadium. “Their determination to succeed inspires me.” They will recover and be ready to go again.

“Winning can energize you, and losing can deflate you in some ways.” But if you’re really mentally tough, you’ll respond and realize that it’s your character that will define you and our team. I know we’re a young and inexperienced team, but I have high hopes for our team’s character and resiliency.”

Taylor stated that quarterbacks Ashton Daniels and Justin Lamson will both play, as they did last week against the Hornets, when Daniels played the first half and Lamson played the second half.

Despite the upset loss, Stanford does not appear to be changing much.

“I don’t think any of us believe we’re that far off,” sophomore receiver Elic Ayomanor said. “I believe we just need to be more consistent.” And it’s not a significant change. I believe we are all aware of this. We simply need to make incremental improvements to our assignments and focus on the fundamentals. And that is what will propel us forward.”

Here are some additional keys for Stanford to get back on track:


Against Sacramento State, the all-conference tight end had more carries (one) than receptions (zero) and was only targeted twice. He began the season with nine catches for 138 yards against Hawai’i, but has only four catches for 54 yards in the last two games.

“We need to get him involved, and when we’re moving the ball well, he’s usually a big part of it,” Taylor explained. “That will undoubtedly be emphasized this week.”

Yurosek’s performance is critical because top wide receiver John Humphreys is out with an undisclosed injury.


The Cardinal have had difficulty dealing with dual-threat quarterbacks. Caleb Williams of USC was 19 of 21 passing for 281 yards and a 21-yard touchdown, while Kaiden Bennett of Sacramento State ran for 100 yards and broke containment to throw the game-winning 49-yard touchdown with 1:32 remaining last week.

“All of the key plays were undersigned quarterback scrambles and runs (last week),” Taylor explained. “It’s definitely challenging because you have coverage, run responsibilities, and run fits.” You’re attempting to apply pressure to the quarterback while maintaining your levels in the pass rush lanes. So it’s not one of those situations where you just say, ‘Hey, we’re going to stop a quarterback scrambling.’ It’s definitely difficult on all levels, but it’s something we need to work on.”


Stanford did not record a single sack against USC or Sacramento State after recording six against Hawaii. It must put pressure on Arizona’s Jayden de Laura or it will be picked apart as it has been the last two weeks.

Last season, de Laura led the nation’s sixth-best passing offense (318.4 yards per game). So far this season, he is averaging 304 yards per game, which ranks eighth in the country.


Stanford stole a possession by perfectly executing an onside kick against Sacramento State. Its first touchdown against Hawaii came on a flea-flicker.

Because it lacks a talent advantage, it will require more deception to gain an advantage over its remaining opponents.

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