Seven games into the season, it's fair to start raising expectations for quarterback Josh Nunes, who has been up-and-down while guiding the Cardinal to a 5-2 record and a No. 17 ranking in the BCS standings.
Following his 16-of-31 performance for 214 yards, a touchdown and an interception, Stanford coach David Shaw said he'd give Nunes a "B-minus."
It's good Shaw said, "but he can do so much better."
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The evidence is the box score against Arizona when Nunes completed 21-of-34 passes for 360 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He can also do worse (see at Washington, at Notre Dame).
His performance against Cal lies somewhere in the middle.
"We did some good things on offense, but definitely we have to cut out those negative plays those are driver killers," Nunes said. "Turnovers, we can't have those, especially in the red zone and those fall on me, but I definitely think they are correctable."
Nunes' interception came in the red zone and contributed to Cal's shutout of the Stanford offense in the second half.
"Yeah, I saw him," Nunes said. "I left it a little behind him, he made a good play on the ball."
If there's a recipe to correct those errors and build confidence its back-to-back games against Washington State and Colorado, which is what Stanford has in front of it the next two weeks.
WSU ranks 10th in the conference in pass defense and 111th in the nation. Colorado is even worst - last in the conference and 117th in the country (out of 120 teams).
Montgomery update: The health of sophomore WR Ty Montgomery still is in question. He practiced Monday night, but Shaw wouldn't commit one way or the other in terms of his status for Saturday.
"The next two days will be big for him," Shaw said. "Can he come in and play a lot? Can he come in and play a little? Do we need to put him back on the shelf?"
Shaw said when Montgomery was healthy, his season has been a series of highs and lows. His ability is apparent, but he hasn't put it all together since the Fiesta Bowl
Henry Anderson draws praise: First-year starting defensive end Henry Anderson has been on the receiving end from Shaw in each of the past two weeks.
"Henry Anderson was our player of the game two weeks ago and I think he played better this week than he played in that game," Shaw said.
Anderson is in a tie for second on the team (Trent Murphy) with 15 assisted tackles.
McFadden jumps in: Thanks to a new NCAA rule which requires a player to sit out for a play if their helmet comes off, redshirt sophomore Conor McFadden made an early appearance in the Big Game.
The backup center saw Sam Schwartzstein's helmet pop off and sprinted on the field.
By happenstance, he was in for a play call that required a shotgun snap.
"He snapped it back there a little bit harder than Sam does, Nunes said. "He rifled that one back there. He did good and I get reps with him during the week, so it's a good thing."
Nunes also tried to imitate McFadden, a native Minnesotan, who said, "Heyyyy boys" when he arrived to the huddle.
Shaw said TE Zach Ertz played "just about his best game" against Cal. Ertz had a career-high 134 yards receiving in the game. … Nunes said he heard about the streaker in the Big Game, but did not see him because they were still in the locker room when he was apprehended. … WR Jordan Pratt made his first appearance; "did well" per Shaw. … Hewitt said RB Stepfan Taylor "had the power" to throw during a play against Cal. Taylor didn't make the right call at the line, the team thought it was running one play, he thought they were running something else. Shaw called it a miscommunication and pointed out there were no receivers and Cal was credited with a sack on the play.