STANFORD, Calif. — While most of the rest of the teams in the country are preparing for their season openers, No. 14 Stanford shook off the jet lag and got back on the practice field following a season-opening trip to Australia.
The Cardinal returned home Monday after beating Rice 62-7 in the opener and then worked on getting some rest before returning to practice on Thursday for a light workout.
“Most of our players are over the time difference. Half of our coaches are probably,” coach David Shaw said. “Kids are more resilient of course than we are. But I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. It was outstanding for everybody.”
Shaw was so pleased with the experience that he said he’d be open to playing a nonconference game abroad again if the schedule worked out. The players also loved the experience.
Running back Bryce Love, who is from North Carolina, said it was an experience he will always remember.
“One of the big things for me was realizing how similar we are even though we’re an ocean apart,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place. It was great to get out and see the world, see the different things, seeing the opera house, the zoo, the kangaroos, hearing the different accents. It was amazing to me.”
The Cardinal will hold another light practice Friday and a more rigorous workout Saturday before taking two days off. Then they will get deep into preparations for their showdown next Saturday at No. 4 Southern California.
That game gives Stanford’s stellar secondary the opportunity to match up against Sam Darnold, considered by many to be the best quarterback in the country.
“That’s why you play the game. You play to play against the best and compete against the best,” cornerback Quenton Meeks said. “That’s our measuring stick. We want to play against the best in the country and this is another opportunity to do that.”
Rice didn’t offer much of a test for the more talented Cardinal.
But the game was a good opportunity for the Cardinal to get up to speed for tougher tests like the Trojans. They had to like what they saw in the opener.
Love was outstanding as the replacement for Christian McCaffrey, running 13 times for 180 yards. Backup Cameron Scarlett ran for three scores.
Stanford showed a strong stable of tight ends led by senior Dalton Schultz. Freshman Colby Parkinson had three catches for 40 yards and two TDs, Kaden Smith had four catches for 55 yards and one score and Scooter Harrington also caught a pass.
Perhaps most importantly, quarterback Keller Chryst looked back in form in his return from a torn ACL suffered in the bowl game last season. He went 14 for 24 for 253 yards and two touchdowns and showed good movement in the pocket and on a scramble.
“I think he played really well,” Shaw said. “I think his stats are a little bit misleading. He had three dropped passes also. I thought he played really well. He saw everything the way we wanted to. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch. We’re hoping he plays better this week coming up against USC. But he played the way he’s been practicing. He saw everything well, threw the ball accurately, scrambled, left the pocket a couple of times. I’m really proud of how he played.”
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