Stanford bringing Love and other weapons to Utah Saturday
SALT LAKE CITY — As good as Stanford running back Bryce Love is — and truth be told, he’s pretty dang good — the Cardinal are hardly a one-man show.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that they have a lot of good players as Saturday’s game at Rice-Eccles Stadium approaches.
“Obviously the standout is the running back and he’s the guy that’s given them the most production,” Whittingham said. “But they’re very sound at receiver, the quarterback (K.J. Costello) is playing well.”
Whittingham then mentioned Stanford’s massive offensive line. The guys up front have a lot to do with Love rushing for 1,088 yards in five games.
“The offensive line is doing a great job of giving him blocked yardage,” Whittingham said. “He’s doing a lot of nice things with yards after contact but the offensive line is opening up some big holes for him.”
The average height and weight of starters Walker Little, David Bright, Jesse Burkett, Nate Herbig and A.T. Hall is 6-foot-5 and 308 pounds.
Love, though, is doing a lot on his own as well. Stanford coach David Shaw said that the junior broke 25 tackles in last week’s school-record 301-yard rushing performance against Arizona State.
Containing Love is an obvious priority for the Utes.
“Oh boy, we’ve got to try to slow him down. I don’t know if anybody is just going to completely stop him,” Whittingham said. “But if he goes off for 300 on us I know that we have about a zero percent chance of winning, I can tell you that.”
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Stanford’s defense is also a concern for the Utes. Whittingham knows defensive coordinator Lance Anderson and said he’s very sound and an excellent teacher.
“They’re a good defense,” Whittingham said. “They’ve got all our respect.”
The Cardinal have three defenders — senior defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (38), junior safety Justin Reid (34) and linebacker Bobby Okereke (32) — are among the top 15 tacklers in the Pac-12. Reid tops the conference in interceptions with four.
Stanford also shines on special teams. Junior Cameron Scarlett is No. 1 in kick returns (26.3 yards) and sophomore Jet Toner ranks alongside Utah’s Matt Gay as the only kickers in the league without a miss, thus far. Toner has made nine field goals and 24 PATs. In addition, the Cardinal are first in kickoff coverage (42.6 yards).
Red-zone offense is another strength. Stanford has scored on all 22 trips, netting 15 touchdowns and seven field goals. The quarterback situation is a bit undecided this week. Costello, a redshirt freshman, has been playing well but junior Keller Chryst is back from injury after beginning the season as the starter. Shaw said both may play against the Utes.
Stanford visits Utah with a two-game winning streak, coming off of victories over UCLA (58-34) and Arizona State (34-24). The Cardinal opened the season with a 62-7 win over Rice in Australia. Then came setbacks at USC (42-24) and San Diego State (20-17).
Stanford (3-2, 2-1) at No. 18/20 UTAH (4-0, 1-0)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m.,
Radio: ESPN 700AM