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WSU vs. Stanford football: Ty Montgomery and the Cardinal offense

The Cougars face a much less potent offense this week.

Just lookin' for a horse to ride
Just lookin' for a horse to ride
Steve Dykes

The Cougars travel south to take on the Stanford Cardinal Friday night. WSU's defense was picked apart by Cal quarterback Jared Goff last Saturday. This time, the Cougar secondary will contend with Kevin Hogan, who has been less-than-impressive against top-level competition this season.

Stanford and WSU have similar color schemes, and that might be a good sign for the Cougs. Hogan apparently has trouble telling things apart that appear similar on the surface but are actually quite different:

In case you were wondering (like I was), there have been two movies entitled "The Illusionist" that have been released in the last eight years. The first was a major Hollywood production starring Edward Norton, Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti. The second was an animated French film. Here's guessing that Hogan was able to tell the difference quickly.

WSU is hoping Hogan won't be so quick to decipher on Friday. His overall stats point to success - Hogan has completed 65 percent of his passes overall for 7.7 yards per attempt, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Digging deeper shows why Stanford has struggled to score in its "big" games.

All but one of Hogan's touchdown passes have come in two games: Four in the opener against UC Davis and four in a win over Army.

Hogan started fine in "big" games with his performance against USC, completing 22 of 30 for 285 yards and 9.5 YPA. Trips to Washington - 6.8 YPA on 26 attempts - and Notre Dame - 4.4 YPA on 36 attempts - were less fruitful.

Now Hogan is battling a leg injury suffered against the Irish, which can probably explain some of the struggles (as well as Notre Dame's good pass defense). He's been limited during the week, but Jon Wilner of the Mercury News reports that head coach David Shaw "feels good" about Hogan's chances to play against WSU.

If and when Hogan plays, he's likely to target senior wideout Ty Montgomery most often. Montgomery has played well, catching 30 passes 287 yards for three touchdowns despite struggling with an important question:

When I was growing up, my relatives had horses. I rode them when I was really young, I even had a duster and cowboy boots, but haven't had much of a desire to ride horses as an adult. Maybe I was spoiled.

I'm not too worried for Montgomery, though. I'm sure he will find a Stanford grad/football fan with a nice stable of horses that will let him ride (after he graduates of course, eager Stanford alums).

Speaking of "stables", Montgomery and Hogan have typically been able to rely on a dominant Stanford running attack to balance the offense, but that hasn't been the case this season. The Cardinal don't have a feature back, instead going with a "by-committee" approach that has seen Remound Wright garner the most carries.

You go through enough athlete Twitter feeds, or Twitter feeds in general, you will see plenty of self-affirming quotes about how to live life. Wright jumps many spots on my favorite athlete list with this tweet alone.

Whatever Wright is using to define his life, football has been enough of that definition to earn him 37 carries for 180 yards and a score. Two other Cardinal running backs also receive significant carries, with Barry Sanders logging 167 yards on 24 carries and Kelsey Young tallying 162 yards on 33 carries.

The three-headed attack has struggled, leaving Stanford at 101st in rushing S&P. That's while Stanford is running the ball just over half the time.

Overall, Stanford's offense is just 75th in S&P+. There's a good chance that WSU's defense looks better for at least a week (can you really look worse than last week?). The Cougars played well against the other two lowly-ranked offenses they have faced - Nevada ranks 77th by S&P+ and Utah 89th.