Sept. 18, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Andrew Luck threw for 325 yards and had both of his touchdown passes in the second half, helping No. 6 Stanford pull away for a 37-10 victory over Arizona on Saturday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
Stanford (3-0) struggled to find the end zone in the first half, then wore Arizona down in the second.
Luck picked the Wildcats apart on 20-of-31 passing, throwing touchdown passes to Zach Ertz in the third quarter and Levine Toilolo in the fourth. Stepfan Taylor added a career-high 153 yards rushing and Stanford had a balanced 567 yards to win its 11th straight game, the Cardinal's longest run since taking 13 straight from 1939-41.
Nick Foles threw for 239 yards and a touchdown, but couldn't overcome Arizona's anemic running game by himself. The Wildcats (1-2) had just 51 yards rushing on 23 carries in their sixth straight loss to an FBS team.
Stanford rolled through its first two games, outscoring San Jose State and Duke by a combined score of 101-17. Luck, not surprisingly, was the catalyst, throwing for 461 yards and six touchdowns with one interception.
Playing Arizona in the desert figured to be a stiffer challenge for the Cardinal.
Mike Stoops Video:
The Wildcats have one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Foles, who, like Luck, figures to be a first-round NFL draft pick. The 6-foot-5 senior doesn't have the polish that Luck has, but is prolific, completing 76 percent of his passes for 810 yards and six touchdowns the first two games.
Arizona also sent Stanford home with a disappointing loss in its last trip to Tucson, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 43-38 comeback victory.
That was just two years ago, but it seems like forever with the direction these teams have headed since.
The Cardinal rolled over the Wildcats 42-17 last season behind Luck's 293 yards and two touchdowns. Luck may be even better this season and Arizona struggled against a good passer last week, allowing Oklahoma State's Brandon Weedon to pick it apart for 397 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-point loss.
The Wildcats also have been one-dimensional on offense, relying almost solely on Foles while the running game has averaged just 58 yards per game, 115th in the nation. Stanford was second nationally through the first two games, allowing 28.5 yards per game, so it was weakness against strength.
And, though it wasn't pretty at times, the game turned out about how you might think.
UA QB Nick Foles:
Arizona again had trouble running the ball - minus-6 yards on 10 carries in the first half - but Foles made up for it, completing his first 17 passes while throwing for 198 yards and a touchdown. The score went on a 6-yard pass to Juron Criner, who showed no ill affects from the appendectomy that kept him out of last week's game against Oklahoma State.
The Wildcats kept it close, but could have been closer: Jaime Salazar missed field goals to end the second quarter and start the third, making him 1-for-4 on the season after Arizona was haunted by missed kicks a year ago.
Stanford's kicking game worked just fine - Jordan Williamson hit from 20, 45 and 33 yards - but the Cardinal wanted touchdowns after getting so deep into Arizona's end. The only one Stanford got came late in the first quarter, when Anthony Wilkerson scored on a 24-yard run on a fourth-and-a-foot misdirection play.
Leading 16-10 after one half, Stanford stomped the Wildcats down in the second.
Luck hit tight end Ertz on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, then had two choices to open the fourth quarter on a defensive breakdown by Arizona. He settled on Toilolo (he was deeper), who scored easily on a 34-yard pass to put the Cardinal up 30-10.
That's seven touchdowns to tight ends - out of nine - for Luck this season and 53 TDs overall, moving him one ahead of Jim Plunkett for third all-time in Stanford history.
Stanford closed it out with a drive that took nearly seven minutes, capped by Jeremy Stewart's 2-yard TD run.
Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops Postgame Quotes
"It was just a tough night overall. We were trying to fight back, and it's tough, because Stanford does a lot of good things on offense. Their tight-end formation really got us out of whack in the second half, and at some points we left their guys uncovered. It's obvious that we have some things we need to work on. They manipulated us very well, especially in that second half."
"We had chances to keep the game within striking distance, but the missed field goals at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second really brought us down. It was difficult to get back with all those missed opportunities."
"Stanford is a team that is excellent on offense and defense, and missing opportunities to score really made things difficult for us, and giving them that extra possession was especially disheartening for us. We're a very young team in some areas, and we just have to focus on getting better."
"I think our corners played better tonight, and that's a good sign. They competed and challenged better. Nick (Foles) continues to throw the ball well, but our inability to balance out offense keeps us from keeping up with these very good teams. Ka'Deem Carey and Keola Antolin gave us a good one-two punch tonight, we just have to strengthen our offensive line and give them more chances to get some yards."
"There are a lot of areas where we need to improve, and it's not all going to happen within this week. Our field goal kicking is still an issue, but we just have to get better, whether it's Salazar or Zendejas."
"Our inability to move the ball consistently on first down is something we also need to improve on. There were a lot of third and longs that we didn't do well, and when you have so many, the opposition will really start to expose all the weak spots."
"Juron (Criner) did a nice job tonight. There were a couple plays that I think he would have made had he been a hundred percent, but he reacted and moved well."
"With our team, we have to do things right, and we are doing a lot of good things. We just got exposed because we are young, but when you play against these types of team, you do get better. That is the bright side we have to focus on."
Arizona Players' Postgame Quotes
Quarterback Nick Foles
On the way Stanford played - "They did exactly what I thought they would do. They were very physical on both sides of the ball. We didn't execute very well on third down and that killed us."
On Criner's return - "It was nice to have Juron back out there. He's a big target and it was just really great to have him back."
On his 17-for-17 start - "They brought different blitzes after that and started playing more man coverage. We didn't execute as well as I wanted to after that. We just need to make big plays."
On the offensive line - "We just have to get back to work. They are all young guys and they have to have time to mature. We just need to get back to work and go over the film tomorrow and get ready for next week. We just need to keep those guys confident."
Cornerback Trevin Wade
On the future of the team - "We just need to play football and go out there and do our jobs."
On the youth of the team affecting the game - "It's possible (that it affected us) but the leaders should do more."
What do you tell the young players? - "Just tell them it's OK, everyone makes mistakes, and try to capitalize on the next play."
On the loss - "It's frustrating period, it's still a loss. All we can do is watch film and try to improve."
On Stanford - They are like any other team. We have to see what they are doing and adjust."
Wide Receiver David Roberts
On missed opportunities with field goals and touchdowns - "It's the most important to get these when playing a top-10 team. We can't afford to make all of the mistakes we did. We need field goal kickers but we also need to be scoring touchdowns for more points."
On mistakes made - "We need to stop messing up. We missed a lot of blocks and we have problems we need to fix. We can't win against a good team if we can't score points. Everything works together; it's a team sport."
On Stanford's defense - "It was what we expected. It wasn't complex and Stanford didn't do anything we didn't expect them to do. We didn't get the drive. We moved the ball but weren't able to score points."
What happened during the second half? - "We didn't get the seven points we should have and then missed the field goal. We needed to put more pressure on Stanford. We needed to keep fighting. We have a big game next week and that's what we need to be focusing on now."