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The math on going for it is relatively simple.  If you think you have more than a 3 in 7 chance of converting the touchdown, you should go for it because the value of a touchdown is 7 points and the value of the field goal whose points we took off the board was 3.  There are some additional caveats that go into the calculation (for example, if you don't convert, SC's subsequent possession starts at the 5 yard line or so;if you kick the field goal or score the touchdown, they get it around the 25 yard line), but broadly that is the calculation.  Last little bit if you are on the fence; generally if you are the underdog, you should be bold and take the higher variance outcome; if you are expected to win, you want to minimize the variance and reduce the likelihood that you wind up with some fluke things going against you and costing you the game.

I will note that under very similar circumstances, Helton elected to kick the field goal, and I was happy he did.  Had he elected to go for the touchdown and scored, it would been a 21-17 game instead of a 21-13 game.

BC
(09-12-2021, 10:54 AM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]Yeah, the similarities to the McCaffrey play were noted in the game thread.

BC

I don't think we used the jump ball, fade play at all.  When we had JJAW it was only one guy, now we have 4 guys, including Yurosek, who can simply beat their defender if the QB puts the ball in the right place.  McKee put the ball in the right place time after time and our guys showed great hands and concentration.  There is a job waiting at the next level for big, tall receivers who have at least good speed and great hands.  These guys are going to present problems for every team we play.  They do not have to get "open" in the usual sense of the word.  They just have to have the position that allows McKee to drop the ball over the corner and let his guy go get it.  It is going to cause a lot of pass interference calls as we started to see last night.
(09-12-2021, 11:25 AM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]The math on going for it is relatively simple.  If you think you have more than a 3 in 7 chance of converting the touchdown, you should go for it because the value of a touchdown is 7 points and the value of the field goal whose points we took off the board was 3.  There are some additional caveats that go into the calculation (for example, if you don't convert, SC's subsequent possession starts at the 5 yard line or so;if you kick the field goal or score the touchdown, they get it around the 25 yard line), but broadly that is the calculation.  Last little bit if you are on the fence; generally if you are the underdog, you should be bold and take the higher variance outcome; if you are expected to win, you want to minimize the variance and reduce the likelihood that you wind up with some fluke things going against you and costing you the game.

I will note that under very similar circumstances, Helton elected to kick the field goal, and I was happy he did.  Had he elected to go for the touchdown and scored, it would been a 21-17 game instead of a 21-13 game.

BC

That's how I saw Shaw's choice. Sometimes you have to take risks to give yourself a chance to win.

Of course the way the rest of the game went, this one looked unneeded in hindsight. But obviously Shaw didn't know our passing game would click so well, defense would keep getting stops, etc.
(09-12-2021, 09:59 AM)jonnyss Wrote: [ -> ]to my eyes, the long catch-and-run to austin jones on the last drive of the first half was pretty much the same play hogan threw to christian mccaffrey for a long td on the first play from scrimmage of the rose bowl against iowa. running back out of the backfield curls over the middle, faking a crossing route, jukes back towards the post, leaving the defender flat-footed as you catch the ball in stride.  perfectly placed quick throws both times.


It looked exactly like this play which Stanford ran against the Clay Helton-coached Trojans in the conference championship game in 2015.

https://youtu.be/I5B6bFKFDTk?t=88
I hope Sark didn't hit the Cutty after his Longhorns got gutted by the Razorbacks.
I am struggling with the thought that throughout much of the game, our lead seemed precarious, but that the game was pretty much decided by the middle of the third quarter, and was completely out of reach 5 minutes into the fourth, when we got a 29 point lead.  SC's last two TD's made it look respectable, but we had a pretty big domination score.  But again, the lead felt a bit fragile in the first half.

Some key moments, that, had they turned out differently, might have led to a very different outcome in the game:
Obviously, the big touchdown by Peat, to set the tone.
Going for it, and converting on fourth and goal after the penalty on the field goal.
Slovis missing his wide open tight end underneath on third and goal, and overthrowing his receiver deep in the end zone on third down
Helton electing to kick the field goal down on fourth and goal down 21-10 to keep us in the lead; a touchdown would have tied the game
The McCaffrey pass to Jones with about a minute left in the half, which enabled us to score on the last possession of the first half and take a two touchdown lead into halftime
Holding SC to a field goal on their first possession of the second half
The pick-six by Kyu Kelly (and the play before that, where DWP blew up a running play on second and short for a three yard loss, forcing SC into a passing situation).

And that's where SC gave up and we totally took control.  After our punt on our first drive in the second half, it went: USC: 3 plays, INT return for a TD; USC 3 plays, 0 yards, PUNT; Stanford 5 plays, 55 yards (30 of which were gained on pass interference) TD; USC 3 plays, 0 yards, punt; Stanford 10 plays, 67 yards TD

We broke open what had been a tight, one score game, into a bloodbath.

BC
(09-12-2021, 08:18 AM)teejers1 Wrote: [ -> ]I haven't read or  posted anything on the USC game so will just drop my thoughts here, in your "morning after" post - most of which I agree with (still don't buy the 9:00 a.m. excuse). 
(09-12-2021, 08:36 AM)winflop Wrote: [ -> ]- I'm not ready to bury the KSU game until Shaw can sustain the level of trust in his QB1 and the aggressive gameplanning and playcalling. We've seen this happen before. His needs to more strongly resist the Dark Side that pulls him back to the turtle offense.

I didn't think I had posted anything that either buried the KSU game or that 9:00 am was an excuse in the sense of being okay to lose. I was merely stating the fact that Stanford football has never, in my memory, managed a decent performance in a game with a 9:00 am pacific start time. That doesn't mean it is okay. That doesn't mean it's not a coaching fault. But I am not going to expect a decent performance in such a situation until I see at least one.

[And whatever the solution is, it isn't simply choosing the right time to fly out. Stanford has gone out early and stunk. Stanford has gone out late and stunk. I don't know what it is - but I would think that someone with NFL experience ought to have a handle on the matter.]

For the prospects going forward, I think they depend on both lines developing, finding that the key good performances weren't flukes (particularly McKee), and good health. But it's not news that others think the key is more the football world-view of the coach.

(09-12-2021, 08:36 AM)winflop Wrote: [ -> ]- I'd say 2009 @ U$C was a greater gap between performance and expectation, but this was certainly among the biggest

That's also a good choice. One trick for me is trying to remember just what my expectations were going into the game. The week before they had just managed a decisive win over Oregon, so I knew the team had it in them. On the other hand, they were going on the road and the idea that the team could do that two weeks in a row was still rather novel at the time. I think my expectations were quite a bit lower going into this one, but I don't quite remember.

(09-12-2021, 08:18 AM)teejers1 Wrote: [ -> ]Fourth, McKee was unbelievably good. 

For a while I was trying to figure out if I thought McKee was unbelievably good on an absolute scale or just versus my very diminished expectations. But the more I think about it, the more I think that was true in a very absolute sense. There were a few times he seemed to get stuck trying to make a decision what to do, there were a throw or two he probably shouldn't have made, but that was a very small part of the story. Overall not only were his stats fantastic but a lot of the misses were drops, etc. He kept the offense on time and organized. And the performance was against a team with tons of talent which thought its strength was on defense.

So, now I am trying to figure out if that was the best QB debut performance I have ever seen at Stanford. Comparing to Luck's first start is a little unfair, because the team was still emerging out of stink-dom, but McKee's numbers were better and he faced a better team. I generally remember Stenstrom looking great out of the gate, but I believe his first game was against Cornell which doesn't quite count.
Any other suggestions?

(09-12-2021, 08:36 AM)winflop Wrote: [ -> ]- Vandy just lost to East Tennesse St, but see #1 and #2 above. I'm not taking any game for granted, and I sure as hell hope the coaching staff & team aren't either or we could see another KSU-like performance

Well, Vandy just beat Colorado State 24-21, which is a better result. Last week lost to ETS apparently largely on the basis of losing on TOs 0-3.
But my concern for the game doesn't rest all that much on how bad Vandy is, but how the team reacts to traveling. That's largely the prospect for another KSU-like performance, though also a little concerned about lingering effects the next week.
(09-12-2021, 02:27 PM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]Helton electing to kick the field goal down on fourth and goal down 21-10 to keep us in the lead; a touchdown would have tied the game

Say what? I do agree 21-13 was a more comfortable lead than 21-17 would have been.
(09-12-2021, 02:34 PM)CTcard Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-12-2021, 08:36 AM)winflop Wrote: [ -> ]- Vandy just lost to East Tennesse St, but see #1 and #2 above. I'm not taking any game for granted, and I sure as hell hope the coaching staff & team aren't either or we could see another KSU-like performance

Well, Vandy just beat Colorado State 24-21, which is a better result. Last week lost to ETS apparently largely on the basis of losing on TOs 0-3.
But my concern for the game doesn't rest all that much on how bad Vandy is, but how the team reacts to traveling. That's largely the prospect for another KSU-like performance, though also a little concerned about lingering effects the next week.

Colorado State is horrible. They lost to FCS South Dakota State, at home, by 19.
(09-12-2021, 11:35 AM)GK3 Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-12-2021, 10:54 AM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]Yeah, the similarities to the McCaffrey play were noted in the game thread.

BC

I don't think we used the jump ball, fade play at all.  When we had JJAW it was only one guy, now we have 4 guys, including Yurosek, who can simply beat their defender if the QB puts the ball in the right place.  McKee put the ball in the right place time after time and our guys showed great hands and concentration.  There is a job waiting at the next level for big, tall receivers who have at least good speed and great hands.  These guys are going to present problems for every team we play.  They do not have to get "open" in the usual sense of the word.  They just have to have the position that allows McKee to drop the ball over the corner and let his guy go get it.  It is going to cause a lot of pass interference calls as we started to see last night.
You and I saw different games. While there were some notable instances of our receivers getting separation, most of the passes were similar to the outside shoulder throws to Tremayne. Those are basically "jump balls", at which he excels. If he gets lined up man to man against a shorter defender, we throw to him every time, because it works. If he is doubled over under, we will have trouble doing that. See KJ vs Utah. We got lots of patterns last night where the receiver got open by bending in/stopping. USC was playing man a whole lot with no help, and they weren't going to get beat deep. That left them soft underneath. Against a zone, those patterns don't work as well. As you say, McKee did a great job of putting the ball right where it had to be. Near the end of the game we got that isolation and Tremayne dropped it. I am pretty sure that is one of the "one or two" Shaw referenced in his after game press conference.
(09-12-2021, 02:39 PM)CompSci87 Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-12-2021, 02:27 PM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]Helton electing to kick the field goal down on fourth and goal down 21-10 to keep us in the lead; a touchdown would have tied the game

Say what? I do agree 21-13 was a more comfortable lead than 21-17 would have been.

Sorry, I confused the two FG scenarios.  I think it was the first one (up 14-7) when Helton decided to kick the fourth and short field goal to make it 14-10 instead of 14-14.  The second field goal, which made it 21-13 when we were up 21-10 was on 4th and 9 from the Stanford 16, where a choice to kick a field goal was unremarkable.

BC
(09-12-2021, 02:27 PM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]The McCaffrey pass to Jones with about a minute left in the half,

That guy is having a busy weekend. :)
Whoever's selling those school colors Game Bibs overalls is making bank.
(09-12-2021, 03:30 PM)CowboyIndian Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-12-2021, 02:27 PM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]The McCaffrey pass to Jones with about a minute left in the half,

That guy is having a busy weekend. :)

What I meant was the McKee pass to Jones that was a similar play to the Hogan to McCaffrey play in the Rose Bowl or PAC-12 championship, but that’s a mouthful, so I used “McCaffrey pass” as shorthand.

BC
(09-12-2021, 02:47 PM)Goose Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-12-2021, 11:35 AM)GK3 Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-12-2021, 10:54 AM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]Yeah, the similarities to the McCaffrey play were noted in the game thread.

BC

I don't think we used the jump ball, fade play at all.  When we had JJAW it was only one guy, now we have 4 guys, including Yurosek, who can simply beat their defender if the QB puts the ball in the right place.  McKee put the ball in the right place time after time and our guys showed great hands and concentration.  There is a job waiting at the next level for big, tall receivers who have at least good speed and great hands.  These guys are going to present problems for every team we play.  They do not have to get "open" in the usual sense of the word.  They just have to have the position that allows McKee to drop the ball over the corner and let his guy go get it.  It is going to cause a lot of pass interference calls as we started to see last night.
You and I saw different games. While there were some notable instances of our receivers getting separation, most of the passes were similar to the outside shoulder throws to Tremayne. Those are basically "jump balls", at which he excels. If he gets lined up man to man against a shorter defender, we throw to him every time, because it works. If he is doubled over under, we will have trouble doing that. See KJ vs Utah. We got lots of patterns last night where the receiver got open by bending in/stopping. USC was playing man a whole lot with no help, and they weren't going to get beat deep. That left them soft underneath. Against a zone, those patterns don't work as well. As you say, McKee did a great job of putting the ball right where it had to be. Near the end of the game we got that isolation and Tremayne dropped it. I am pretty sure that is one of the "one or two" Shaw referenced in his after game press conference.

I think you’re both right. Our big WRs are tough and they used their bodies well against the $C smurf DBs. 

Tremaine’s last drop was unfortunate because that kept us from a what’s your deal score. But remember London had a drop in the end zone and also a muff that went right to Kelly for the pick 6. 

McKee’s arm strength was remarkable, especially considering he was under a big rush a lot. I was trying to remember other QBs who had such a quick release. LOL, Namath?

Hinton and Bragg really ploughed the road on McKee’s QB sneak. I have some concerns about Rouse but he plays arguably the toughest position on offense.
(09-12-2021, 11:25 AM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]"I will note that under very similar circumstances, Helton elected to kick the field goal, and I was happy he did.  Had he elected to go for the touchdown and scored, it would been a 21-17 game instead of a 21-13 game.

BC

Yeah, I remember at the time I was worried that the earlier disqualification of their kicker would bite us in the ass in the form of USC going for the touchdown there instead of accepting 3 points.
(09-12-2021, 07:30 AM)CTcard Wrote: [ -> ]Still processing what we've seen so far this season, but in-progress thoughts ...

- Last night was as wide a gap between performance and expectation as I can remember for Stanford football.
In some ways more than the 2007 SC upset. In that game, while Stanford was big on pluckiness and grit, they were still clearly an inferior team overall but won on some key plays and a 5-1 TO advantage. This game, Stanford stomped SC. The late give-away scores will make it less impressive for those who didn't watch, but that was thorough.

- It seems we can put the KSU game into the category of a terrible performance rather than the performance of a terrible team. At this point, I simply expect a rotten egg for any game scheduled for 9:00 am pacific, with a sliding scale of terribleness up until about 1:00 pm pacific.
Yes, from time to time you see other teams manage the issue, but I don't recall ever seeing Stanford manage. In fact, in the post-KSU news conference where Shaw went into coach-speak about how the start time wasn't an issue, the example he chose to prove Stanford could handle such a start time was 2009 vs Wake Forest - a game we lost to an inferior team.

- I am still convinced SC is a much better team than KSU. That will be even more true with the KSU QB now out indefinitely with a knee injury. Fortunately for frustration if not overall, quality wins/bad losses is unlikely to be an issue this year.

- Biggest concerns after two games:
On offense the OL not consistently getting a push in the run game.
On defense, often no QB pressure at all without a blitz to the point where it occasionally seems the opposing QB could simply never throw the ball and would never get pressed (I am imagining something like the old, pre-shot clock basketball stall strategy).

- Still worried about Vanderbilt game, almost solely because of travel. Fortunately, it is a Tennessee night game.

- The toughest stretch of the season seems to be after the Vandy game, where we play UCLA, Oregon, ASU in a row. Fortunately, the first two are at home. Unfortunately, it comes after a tiring trip.

- Still worried about surviving the season. Between injuries and exhaustion I can imagine that over the final several games the team is held together by spit and baling wire.

- There is some subtlety here, but Shaw has now cemented his place in being bad at initially figuring out who is the best QB on his team. On the other hand, on the scale of football coaches overall, he seems fairly good at correcting the bad initial choice. So we had:
2012  Nunes --> Hogan
2016  Burns --> Chryst
2017  Chryst --> Costello
2019  Costello --> Mills*
2021  West --> McKee

*2019 may not really belong here. There was no question that Costello should have been the starter at first. Mills only took over because of injury. While at the end of 2019 he was better than injured Costello, it's not clear that during that year he was as good as 2018 Costello.

On the other site there were some interviews with Shaw where he strongly implied that they knew McKee was the guy, but they wanted him to "win" the job, not just be given it based on talent.  Shaw seemed to feel that his performance against KSU did the trick.  He was clear that he did not think McKee won the job by his Spring practice performance or his performance during the practices leading up to KSU.  There is certainly no doubt who the man is at this point.
(09-12-2021, 12:48 PM)CompSci87 Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-12-2021, 11:25 AM)BostonCard Wrote: [ -> ]The math on going for it is relatively simple.  If you think you have more than a 3 in 7 chance of converting the touchdown, you should go for it because the value of a touchdown is 7 points and the value of the field goal whose points we took off the board was 3.  There are some additional caveats that go into the calculation (for example, if you don't convert, SC's subsequent possession starts at the 5 yard line or so;if you kick the field goal or score the touchdown, they get it around the 25 yard line), but broadly that is the calculation.  Last little bit if you are on the fence; generally if you are the underdog, you should be bold and take the higher variance outcome; if you are expected to win, you want to minimize the variance and reduce the likelihood that you wind up with some fluke things going against you and costing you the game.

I will note that under very similar circumstances, Helton elected to kick the field goal, and I was happy he did.  Had he elected to go for the touchdown and scored, it would been a 21-17 game instead of a 21-13 game.

BC

That's how I saw Shaw's choice. Sometimes you have to take risks to give yourself a chance to win.

Of course the way the rest of the game went, this one looked unneeded in hindsight. But obviously Shaw didn't know our passing game would click so well, defense would keep getting stops, etc.

Somebody posted the chart below last week, in the spirit of decrying Shaw's punts from inside the opponent's 40.  To me, the less obvious but perhaps equally important observation is that field goals generally are overvalued. Most of us don't assume Shaw is following a chart like this - he openly admits that he goes based on feel and whether he has a play in which he's very confident.

The ball was just inside the 4 yard-line in this case.  The chart says "go."  All the usual caveats apply; this is not a game of Blackjack where the right move is always the right move. I have not vetted the statistics behind this chart, nor would I be qualified to do so.  I also acknowledge that the field goal had already been made, which might alter the odds a tiny bit, but not very much because it was a chip-shot.  

My point is this - when Shaw's decision aligns with the math on 4th down, regardless of whether it works, it is cause for celebration in my opinion. He's a great coach in so many ways, but I think following the math on 4th down has been a bit of a blind spot for him. 

In addition to the quantitative aspect of this decision, the qualitative vote of confidence that it sent to the team - both to the offense and to the defense - was considerable and meaningful.  


(09-12-2021, 11:35 AM)GK3 Wrote: [ -> ]When we had JJAW it was only one guy, now we have 4 guys, including Yurosek, who can simply beat their defender if the QB puts the ball in the right place. . . . It is going to cause a lot of pass interference calls as we started to see last night.

Exactly right. We have four tall, athletic receivers with good hands. That's a great asset. 

Those interference calls came because our receivers were in position to make plays.

(09-12-2021, 10:51 AM)fullmetal Wrote: [ -> ]McKee was being chased down by a defender, and he had to throw off his back foot while running backward.  That TD pass was scooped off the ground by Higgins (good hands, thankfully), and between the lame duck throw and the uncertainty of a receiver bending over for a low reception...yeah, we got kind of lucky.  Experience will help in the future.

McKee and Higgins did exactly what they were trying to do, under considerable pressure. That's not luck. That's skill.
Not sure whether it’s been noted here, but U$C ended up gaining more yards than Stanford in the game. Anyone who watched would know that Stanford kicked butt and U$C padded stats at the end. But my eye test still may have exaggerated just how dominant Stanford was in the game.
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