The feeling of disappointment and despair in the locker room after losing 17-13 at Washington last season is something that Stanford players will never forget.
What happened on the field is even more painful to recall.
The offense has undergone a major makeover under quarterback Kevin Hogan since that setback in Seattle, and players and coaches believe it will make all the difference when the fifth-ranked Cardinal (4-0, 2-0) host the No. 15 Huskies (4-0, 1-0) in a critical Pac-12 Conference North showdown Saturday night.
“Kevin’s mobility changes things,” Stanford coach David Shaw said Tuesday. “He allows us to be a much more diverse offense.”
A year ago, Stanford failed to score an offensive touchdown against Washington. Former quarterback Josh Nunes completed 18 of 37 passes for 170 yards and an interception, often throwing at the feet of receivers or misfiring completely. The Cardinal, who ran for a school-record 446 yards in a 65-21 win over Washington in 2011, were held to 65 yards on the ground.
“Definitely not an experience I want to have again,” left tackle Andrus Peat said.
Hogan saw his first action in that loss, carrying the ball once for 5 yards on a read-option keeper. This time, he won’t be as much of a spectator.
Hogan is 9-0 as a starter since taking over for Nunes. He has completed 63 percent of his passes for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns with three interceptions this season.
Stanford has shifted from an offense that relies on short and intermediate passes to tight ends to one that goes deep to wide receivers who are continually creating separation.
Hogan threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns in a 55-17 victory on the same field in Seattle last week against Washington State, showing just how far the offense has progressed in a year’s time.
“It’s something that you need to be able to prove to a defense before they start to respect that. With the run game that we’ve shown in previous years, we haven’t had that type of passing game,” wide receiver Ty Montgomery said.
NOTES: Shaw said he was “sad” to hear Lane Kiffin was fired by Southern Cal and expected the coach to “land on his feet.” Jokingly told he was reportedly on USC’s “short list” of coaching candidates, Shaw said: “It might be short, but it’s one person too long.” … Starting DE Henry Anderson (knee) is expected to get off crutches this week. Shaw said Anderson is still at least 3-4 weeks from returning.
Stanford vs. Washington
WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Stanford Stadium