NFL Draft News & Analysis

Stanford-Kansas State grades: Wildcats can only corral McCaffrey for so long

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal runs with the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats at Stanford Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Stanford Cardinal 26, Kansas State Wildcats 13

Here are the biggest takeaways from the Stanford Cardinal’s 26-13 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats.

Stanford Cardinal

Quarterback grade: Ryan Burns, 64.6

Any plans of a fairly even split at the quarterback position got shelved quickly when Ryan Burns came out dealing in the first quarter. The senior was on point all day, with the only thing holding him back being the lack of pass calls signaled into the huddle. Burns was accurate on three of four targets beyond 10 yards downfield.

Top offensive grades

TE Greg Taboada, 78.7

TE Dalton Schultz, 74.4

FB Daniel Marx, 74.1

WR Michael Rector, 73.7

G Brandon Fanaika, 64.8

Can’t keep Christian McCaffrey bottled up forever

It’s difficult to fault McCaffrey too much for being shut down a majority of the game. Kansas State’s game plan was obviously to stop the Heisman contender before he could even get started. Stanford had multiple runs blocked extremely well, only to be undone by the Wildcat’s overloading the box and greeting the running back with an unblocked defender. But that strategy only works for so long against the nation’s most dynamic offensive weapon. Once that unblocked man misses, it’s a house call, and we saw it happen twice on Friday.

Top defensive grades

CB Quenton Meeks, 80.7

DI Harrison Phillips, 76.7

LB Kevin Palma, 76.2

ED Mike Tyler, 76.1

LB Noor Davis, 75.2

Front-seven schemes their way to victory

The pass-rushing statistics for the Stanford front-seven look ludicrous from Friday night’s win. They combined for eight sacks, four hits and 19 hurries. Combing through the pass-rushing grades though, nobody stands out. The reason? Stanford stunted the K-State offensive line to death. They were able to get free rusher after free rusher solely because the inexperienced Wildcat offensive line had no sort of communication whatsoever against stunts. Seven of their eight sacks came in either pursuit or of the cleanup variety with the safety being the lone exception.

Kansas State Wildcats

Quarterback grade: Jesse Ertz, 64.5

A couple of tremendous throws on the Wildcats’ final scoring drive and a handful of first-down conversions with his feet save Ertz’ grade from reflecting the general ineffectiveness we saw from him for much of the game. The sophomore quarterback simply didn’t want to throw the ball for much of the game. He was charged with five sacks and had an average time before throwing of 3.56 seconds – a number that would have led the NCAA by 0.47 seconds a year ago.

Top offensive grades

T Dalton Risner, 80.2

G Terrale Johnson, 75.9

TE Dayton Valentine, 73.5

FB Winston Dimel, 71.2

HB Charles Jones, 70.2

This isn’t the 2015 offensive line

Scott Frantz won’t be confused for Cody Whitehair anytime soon in Manhattan. The freshman left tackle was responsible for six hurries Friday night. In 2015 Whitehair allowed 14 the whole season. Center Reid Najvar matched Frantz’ six pressures and was the main culprit behind their botched stunt pickups. For an offense that has thrived on their dominant offensive line for a couple years now, 2016 could be a struggle.

Top defensive grades

DI Will Geary, 83.3

ED Jordan Willis, 81.1

LB Elijah Lee, 79.6

S Dante Barnett, 78.7

LB Charmeachealle Moore, 77.1

Big plays ruin solid overall performance

Duke Shelley biting up on play action. Kendall Adams missing a tackle. And Will Davis getting sealed out of his gap. Those three singular mishaps resulted in 21 points for the Stanford offense and spoiled an otherwise tremendous effort from the Kansas State defense. It’s unfortunate that it ended in a loss, but the grades from the defensive line are encouraging moving forward, especially considering it came against a traditional power-house offensive line.

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