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Casey’s Call: Luck Of The Cardinal

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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By Casey Keefe
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Orange Bowl: Stanford 40 Virginia Tech 12

Key Sequence:

Clinging onto a 13-12 lead, Stanford opened the second half forcing a three-and-out. They took over on offense, and it was here that Andrew Luck became – well – Andrew Luck. After a conservative first two quarters Luck began attacking the Hokies defense more aggressively and it was none more apparent than on this particular drive.

Luck was perfect (except for the dropped pick by Jayron Hosley). He marched the Cardinal down on a 9 play, 59 yard drive which resulted with fullback Owen Marecic’s rushing touchdown.

Tyrod Taylor was intercepted by Delano Howell on the Hokies ensuing possession. It only took two plays for Stanford to strike again – Stepfan Taylor’s 56 yard rush up the middle, then Luck’s 41 yard pass down the field to Coby Fleener who crossed the goal line for a touchdown. The “drive” covered 97 yards in 29 seconds, and all of a sudden it was 26-12 Stanford… The game was over.

Who Shined:

- Andrew Luck, QB, Stan:  18/23, 287 yards, 4 TD’s, INT

- Coby Fleener, TE, Stan:  6 receptions, 173 yards, 3 TD’s

- Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stan:  13 carries, 114 yards, 56 long

What It Means:

Well, to sum it up – Stanford has now completed (or is in the process of completing) one of the greatest overhauls in college football history. It’s not too long away that Jim Harbaugh took over a 1-win team which was considered of the biggest laughing stocks in the country.

Andrew Luck solidified himself as the #1 pick in the NFL draft, should he decide to declare (which he will). Luck was phenomenal, bouncing back from a subpar first half to really explode in the second half, striking on big play after big play. It helped that he wasn’t touched all night long thanks to the dominant performance of his offensive line.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh is as good as gone. You could tell by the way he acted in his postgame interviews that he basically has his bags packed up and a plane ticket booked to either Denver or San Francisco. This doesn’t take away from the job he did and has done at Stanford. He’s one of the best and most inspirational coaches in the country, and I have no doubts he’ll succeed at the next level.

Virginia Tech falls to 1-27 all-time against top 5 teams. Their only win came at home against Miami in 2003. This means they have still never beaten a top 5 team on the road – not good.

The Hokies defense was an elite unit over the final 11 games of the season, but they were helpless against Luck and company. Stanford kept Tech on their heels all game long. After a tight first half, Harbaugh made all the proper adjustments and Luck just reared back and let it rip. There was nothing Tech could do.

The Hokies had been somewhat one dimensional on offense all year long. They have a deep running game, but the straw that stirs the drink is quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Stanford’s defensive line won the battle up front and applied constant pressure on Taylor. Equally as impressive was Stanford’s thin and banged-up secondary’s ability to stick with Tech’s receivers. Whether it on the ground or through the air, Taylor had nowhere to go.

Luck and Fleener will get all the credit and acclaim, but perhaps the most impressive performance came by way of linebacker Shayne Skov who created a new definition to the word ‘dominant’. Skov was all over the field, seemingly in on not just every big play, but every play period.

Coming in I felt the Cardinal were the better team and that certainly turned out to be the case. They outplayed Tech man-for-man and exposed some pretty glaring mismatches. It’s likely to be an end of an era for Stanford – losing Luck and Harbaugh – but those two have certainly left their mark on the program, that’s for sure.

Questions? Comments? Email me: ckeefe@wfan.com

Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @CaseyKeefeWFAN

pixy Casey’s Call: Luck Of The Cardinal