Would Santa Clara be 3-2 with a real quarterback?

General manager John Lynch can blow hot air about player development all he wants, but if he had signed even an average quarterback last off-season, his team would have a 2-3 or even 3-2 record right now.

But nooooo, after three more quarters of unwatchable offense, Santa Clara somehow rallied from a 14-point deficit to tie the score, only to have Brian Hoyer pull a 26-23 overcome defeat from the jaws of victory.

After linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong picked off a pass, all Hoyer had to do was drive about 40 yards against the 29th-ranked pass defense in the league for a field goal that would have won the game. Instead, here’s what happened on his next five drop-backs: incompletion, 28-yard pass interference penalty, incompletion, 5-yard completion, incompletion.

Santa Clara was forced to punt the ball, after which the Colts marched 49 yards to set up superfoot Adam Vinatieri for the game-winner.

So, yeah, the younger players continued to develop, all right. They continued to develop a loser’s complex.

HEY, LOOK … The Santa Clara offense scored a touchdown after 22 (twenty-two) consecutive possessions without one!

CARDINAL MAKE A STAND: Stanford didn’t just win a Pac-12 game against No. 20 Utah on Saturday. The Cardinal saved their season.

The 23-20 road victory was more like a David Shaw-coached team. Commitment to the run game. Zero turnovers. The defense was on the field too long, but it made plays when necessary.

Stanford kept pace with unbeaten Washington and Washington State in the North Division. If the Cardinal hold serve against the Oregon schools in their next two games, they should be in a good place for back-to-back showdowns against the Cougars and Huskies that follow.

Maybe the quarterback situation will have been solidified by then.

Keller Chryst ran the ball better than he threw it, while K.J. Costello did enough to warrant more snaps. One has to step up in an offense that depends way too much on scatback Bryce Love (166 total yards), whose 68-yard burst broke the game open in early in the fourth quarter.

(Pssst, kid, don’t let up near the goal line next time.)

THE LONGEST YARD: Washington limited Cal to minus 40 yards in 26 tries on the ground in a 38-7 laugher. Subtract the loss of 41 on their final botched play of the game, and the Bears averaged 1.4 inches per attempt.

“We didn’t do anything on offense to give us a chance,” Bears coach Justin Wilcox said. “We’re going to have to re-evaluate some things.”

After its own evaluation of the schedule, Balls’ Department of Information & Analysis gives the Bears a 16.7 percent chance to finish 0-9 in the conference season.

SHARKS LACK BITE: The Sharks remain winless after a 4-1 clunker against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, but it’s too early to panic.

OK, time’s up.

“We missing something.” captain Joe Pavelski said.

Other than depth, discipline and young legs, Balls can’t think of anything.

“We’re not good enough right now,” coach Peter DeBoer admitted. “Whether its upstairs or downstairs, we have to figure it out as a group.”

So while general manager Doug Wilson thinks of somethin’, his team will have to grind out points to be in the playoff hunt. For that to happen, goalie Martin Jones has to be its most valuable player.

Waiting. Still waiting …

JUST ASKIN’: At 2-0, the Vegas Knights have yet to lose a game in their history. The expansion Vegas Knights.

So who wins a Stanley Cup first — the Knights or the Sharks?

YOUR TURN: “I don’t know what to think about the national anthem boycott, especially after watching Ken Burns’ Viet Nam. I’ve never liked Colin Kaepernick from day one. There is just something about him that doesn’t ring true to me, so his actions seem suspect on all counts. I wish politics didn’t enter the sports world but that’s me being selfish.” — Marianne Smith, San Francisco

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.

Paul Ladewski
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