Is that a surprise to anyone? Andrew Luck was operating at peak efficiency on Saturday night, but he also found time for some brilliance. He was 23 of 27 for 227 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran the ball three times for eleven yards. Oh, and he caught a thirteen-yard pass from Drew Terrell. He caught the ball one-handed while dragging his foot as he fell out of bounds. At this point I don't think I'd be surprised if Coach Shaw announced that he'd decided to use Luck to fill in for injured linebacker Shayne Skov the rest of the way. But perhaps more impressive than all that, Luck was actually calling plays for significant stretches of the game. You've got eight more chances to watch Andrew Luck play in a Stanford uniform; don't miss a single second.
Running Backs: A
Stepfan Taylor led the way again with 114 yards (and two touchdowns) on just 17 carries for an impressive 6.6 yards per carry, and Anthony Wilkerson returned to the rotation to rush seven times for 26 yards. The most interesting part of the running game, however, was the emergence of Tyler Gaffney as the feature back in several different wildcat formations. Gaffney was productive, responding with six carries for thirty yards and a touchdown. I've never been a fan of the wildcat, but it'll be interesting to watch how Shaw and the Cardinal utilize this formation the rest of the way.
Wide Receivers: B-
We saw a few signs of life. Chris Owusu topped all receivers with six catches, but his forty-eight total yards weren't too impressive. He did, however, score a late touchdown. Griff Whalen had three receptions for twenty-nine yards, and Terrell had two for seventeen. Only Terrell's pass to Luck keeps this unit above C level. I'm sure Coach Shaw is reading this, so I'll use this space again to make a plea: Please give Ty Montgomery some more playing time. Just a little.
Tight Ends: A
It's becoming more and more clear that the biggest problem facing the wide receivers is the weekly success and big play capability of the tight ends. Levine Toilolo didn't make a catch, and Zach Ertz was kept out of the end zone for the first time since last November, but Coby Fleener had two spectacular touchdowns, the first a one-handed grab in the middle of the end zone, the second a fifty-one-yard breakaway. These guys are unstoppable.
Offensive Line: B+
I'm really tempted to give them an A-, but I still don't think they're nearly as good as they'll be by the end of the season, and I need to give their grade some room to grow. Luck was rarely pressured all night, and he was never sacked. The unit paved the way for 202 yards rushing and had completely whipped UCLA's front seven by the end of the game. But like I said, I expect their improvement to continue.
[Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma/Associated Press]