Play Small To Lose


My father and I took up watching Stanford football after my mother’s passing in 2007. Stanford has had some pretty good years the past decade with Coach Jim Harbaugh (who went on to coach the San Francisco 49ers and now the University of Michigan) and Coach David Shaw who is in his fifth season coaching at Stanford.

Dad, a 1948 Stanford B.S. Electrical Engineering grad, is ever hopeful that “this is the year.” It only took one game to see that this likely isn’t Stanford’s year. Stanford looked and played flat yesterday in their 16-6 road loss to Northwestern University. This was a very disappointing start to what appeared to be a season filled with hope and great aspirations. What happened?

  • Shaw’s play calling was too conservative. This is a bad habit of his. It’s tough to watch when Stanford has a small lead but when the team is behind, it is maddening. When you need to pile up a lot of yards as time wanes in the game, 5-yard passes won’t get it done. And, it didn’t.
  • While I don’t yet understand the new rules changes about when the clock stops, it is clear that you have to manage the clock differently today than just a few years ago. The clock doesn’t stop much and the available time to run plays is far less than it used to be.
  • Shaw built his offense around a guy who can run and catch the ball. But, when this guy is central in too many plays, the opposing defense rightly concludes if he’s not running the ball, then a pass is headed his way. The team is not effectively using all its offensive weapons.
  • The quarterback, Kevin Hogan, decided to play one more year at Stanford and not enter the National Football League draft after having 3 strong games at the end of the the 2014 season. His inconsistency and ineffectiveness yesterday won’t help him with his NFL aspirations.

Stanford has some really tough PAC-12 games this year: Oregon, UCLA, USC and Cal. They also play Notre Dame.

David Shaw shoulders the blame for yesterday’s loss. Stanford was ranked 21st going into yesterday’s game. They don’t belong in the Top 25. Stanford has the talent but lacked in execution yesterday.

What’s the lesson? When you need big plays and play small, you’re not going to win in football or in business.

Thought for the week:

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.”  Dale Carnegie
What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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