The Stanford Cardinal played the Washington Huskies last year and absolutely flattened them on the ground. Stanford piled up nearly 400 rushing yards on an overmatched UW defense that had trouble stopping them at almost every turn.
Don't expect that strategy for Thursday night's game in Seattle, says David Shaw.
Luck came to the line of scrimmage with several options, and made the calls that could best exploit the defensive scheme.
"We put a lot on him," said David Shaw, Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. "We were changing plays, checking plays, putting three different front plays in the huddle, and he could throw all that out and change to a fourth play."
Judging from the results, Stanford rarely took a snap against a bad look.
"He did not make a single mistake in that game," Shaw said. "That is phenomenal."
While it might seem a little baffling why Stanford wouldn't want to go with the run-heavy strategy that has dominated . Stanford hasn't be quite as strong on the ground this year integrating new offensive linemen, and although they put up a strong performance against USC it was mostly Stepfan Taylor making plays. The running back rotation isn't quite as deep and Washington won't fear the pass game as much with no Luck to change things at the line of scrimmage and put players in the right position. So the Huskies will probably key in on the run, meaning it'll be up to Nunes to make some plays with his arm and make the defense stay honest on him.
Can Nunes play a mistake-free game? Probably not. But he can definitely game-manage Stanford in the right direction.