Kevin Hogan’s performance against Colorado was impressive and encouraging, but what he does in Saturday’s game against Oregon State at Stanford Stadium will be far more indicative of his current capabilities and much more significant for No. 13 Stanford.
It’s one thing to lead scoring drives on your first six possessions (including five for touchdowns) while going 18-for-23 against a Colorado team that is 1-8.
In that game, there was very little pressure on Hogan, who entered the game on the third series with very little expected of him.
But it’s another thing for a redshirt freshman like Hogan to have similar success against a team like No. 16 Oregon State.
This time he will be making his first collegiate start against an Oregon State team that is 7-1, is No. 11 in this week’s BCS standings (three spots ahead of Stanford), and ranks No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, yielding just 18.1 points a game.
And Hogan may not have a running game to help either, because the Beavers rank fifth in the country in run defense, not far behind Stanford.
The Colorado game gave hints that Hogan can provide the type of productive offense that had been lacking all season under Josh Nunes. Hogan’s decisiveness, strength, mobility, versatility and passing accuracy all seemed to give Stanford a better offensive rhythm.
But what happens when he faces a defense like Oregon State’s, which has game-planned specifically for Hogan? What happens if he has to play from behind?
This is a critical spot for an inexperienced quarterback given the Cardinal’s situation.
Stanford faces three ranked teams — Oregon State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 17 UCLA, the latter two on the road — to end the regular season, and the Cardinal needs to win all three to get to where it wants to go, which is the Pac-12 title game and a chance to get to the Rose Bowl.