It’s been four years since Arizona last played Stanford, a 10-point road loss that was the third of what would end up being a school-record 20-game skid. A lot has changed for both teams, with new coaches—and, next year, new conferences—making this a matchup full of mystery.
To better understand the Cardinal, we reached out to Kevin Borba of Cardinal Country for some insight. Here are his statuesque answers to our pathetic questions.
AZ Desert Swarm: Stanford is off to a 1-2 start under first-year coach Troy Taylor, winning at Hawaii to open the season and then getting blown out at USC before losing at home to Sacramento State. Which result do you think is most representation of how good (or bad) the Cardinal are?
Kevin Borba: “I would say the win at Hawaii showcased what this team looks like when everything goes right. However, the loss to Sacramento State felt like a bit more of an accurate representation. It truly put into perspective how quickly things can go wrong for a team that is the least experienced in the Power 5. They have so many new faces playing that they are learning on the fly, and that’s also a testament to what state the program was left in by the previous regime.”
Taylor steps into some big shoes by taking over for David Shaw, who ran the program for 12 seasons. Where does the new guy (and his staff) differ most from the old regime?
“The new staff is much younger, age-wise, and has taken a more modern approach to coaching/recruiting. Their systems are as modern as it gets, and most of the coaches are very active on social media and in touch with the younger generation ,which bodes well and is part of why they have a top-25 class already. They also have showed a willingness to use the portal, which many people were convinced was impossible.”
The Cardinal have split reps at quarterback, with Ashton Daniels starting all three games but Justin Lamson getting more snaps the last two contests. What does each bring to the field, and do you anticipate a continued platoon?
“Ashton Daniels won the job out of fall camp and may have benefited from being there in spring, but he has struggled mightily when pressured. If the pocket holds, which it hasn’t in the last two games, Daniels can pick apart a defense. For Lamson, he’s shown an ability to push the ball down the field and is also more willing to run which is needed. Taylor confirmed on Tuesday they will continue to both play.”
Tight end Benjamin Yurosek is the only player with more than eight receptions. Is that by design or have the receivers struggled to get open?
“Troy Taylor’s offenses typically rely on the tight end heavily. At Sac State his leading pass catcher was a tight end, and now that he has one of the best in the country he’s a kid in a candy shop. It is also a testament to the fact that this receiver room lost three guys to the NFL from last year, forcing younger guys to step in and be the guy which no one has been able to do.”
Who are the most notable defensive players Arizona fans should be paying attention to?
“David Bailey is a linebacker who can get to the quarterback at will, and is a rising star for Stanford. In the secondary, Collin Wright has made some huge plays for the Cardinal and is also young. Considering Jaden de Laura’s lack of fear, he and Wright may have some encounters this week.”
Prediction time. Does Stanford win a seventh straight game over Arizona or do the Wildcats win in Palo Alto for the first time since 2006? Give us a score pick.
“I think until Stanford figures out how to protect whoever is at quarterback better this team will struggle to keep up with explosive teams. So, I believe Arizona gets the win here and I think the score is 38-21.”