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September 8, 2013
Stanford's secondary was solid and several Cardinal receivers made explosive plays, but the team's 34-13 season-opening victory over San Jose State boiled down to the same thing that's driven Stanford's recent BCS run: dominance in the trenches.
On defense, the Cardinal made seven tackles for loss and pressured Spartan quarterback David Fales on numerous occasions. They also limited San Jose State to 35 yards rushing.
"Those guys are big (and) athletic up front," San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said. "The front-seven guys are a really good group. They're athletic, they're rangy guys. So they'll probably have a good season."
Offensively, the Cardinal gained 197 yards on the ground on 41 attempts, an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Kevin Hogan was rarely pressured and never sacked.
"We think our offensive line played extremely well," Stanford coach David Shaw said, "both in pass protection as well as run blocking."
In his first collegiate start, true sophomore Andrus Peat played a big role in Stanford's success up front.
"From the naked eye, not looking at the film, I don't think he missed a block," Shaw said. "It was impressive. Football is intense, and when he's in the right position like he was tonight, (he's) so athletic, so big and so long, he had no issues."
Two other second-year linemen -- Kyle Murphy and Josh Garnett -- also played major roles. Murphy lined up at tight end in select packages, and Josh Garnett played a good chunk of snaps as the 'Ogre' in Stanford's Jumbo set.
The game was also notable for the triumphant return of Tyler Gaffney to the gridiron. Gaffney, who missed the 2012 season while playing minor league baseball, surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time in his career, and scored two of Stanford's four touchdowns.
Gaffney was one of five Cardinal running backs to play - Anthony Wilkerson, Remound Wright, Ricky Seale and Barry Sanders also got carries - but Gaffney was the workhorse on Saturday. He accounted for 20 of Stanford's 41 rush attempts.
"The first drive out there I was light-headed, didn't have my legs under me," Gaffney said. "There were some butterflies, but after that I started picking up things and felt more comfortable. It was like riding a bike."
Aside from Gaffney, perhaps the most encouraging sight of the game for Stanford was the play of its starting receivers Ty Mongomery and Devon Cajuste. The duo combined for 143 of Stanford's 207 receiving yards and both of the Cardinal's receiving touchdowns.
Seven other Cardinal players made catches, but Cajuste and Montgomery carried the aerial attack.
"Kevin (Hogan) played well, especially in the first half," Shaw said. "Devon (Cajuste's) first extensive playing time, first starting game, (he) played great. Ty Montgomery came to play as well. We missed him on a couple of deep balls, but you see Ty and his speed and explosiveness he has a chance to be special."