Kevin Hogan fixed Stanford's sputtering offense with a mixture of heady play, a terrific right arm and quick feet.
The redshirt freshman replaced scuffling senior quarterback Josh Nunes on Saturday and ignited the 15th-ranked Cardinal to a 48-0 rout of Colorado, the Buffaloes' first shutout at home in 26 years.
"We knew we were going to give Josh the first two series and give Kevin the next two series and see where we went from there," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "And Kevin took the ball and ran with it."
Hogan picked apart the nation's worst defense, throwing for 184 yards and running for 48 more in just two quarters of work.
"He's big, strong fast runner," Buffs linebacker Brady Daigh said. "I think he spread out their offense a little more and took them from sideline to sideline. We had game-planned for him all week, but we didn't expect him to take as many snaps as he took. It was just a different look."
The Buffaloes were powerless to respond, gaining 76 yards of offense behind a trio of overwhelmed quarterbacks who led an offense that managed just two snaps on Stanford's side of the field — and was promptly pushed right back with a 24-yard sack.
The Cardinal (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) handed the Buffs (1-8, 1-5) their first shutout at Folsom Field since a 28-0 loss to Oklahoma on Nov. 15, 1986, snapping a streak of 150 straight games in which the Buffs had scored at home.
Nunes has found it difficult to follow in the gargantuan footsteps of Andrew Luck, the top pick in last spring's NFL draft. And after Stanford's first two drives ended in punts, Hogan came in and led the Cardinal on six straight scoring drives before punter Daniel Zychlinski was needed again.
Hogan completed 18 of 23 passes with two touchdowns, no interceptions and two sacks before giving way to Brett Nottingham in the fourth quarter with the Cardinal comfortably ahead 45-0.
"Well, you see the mobility," Shaw said. "It's not just the scrambling for a couple of yards. He's fast, he can run, he's athletic, he can throw on the move, to the left and to the right. We saw him push up in the pocket and find his check-downs. And I can't find a lot of negatives to what he did today. I'm very, very impressed."
Cardinal fans can expect to see a lot more of the 6-foot-4 quarterback from McLean, Va., starting next week when Stanford hosts Oregon State.
"There's a chance to might see more than one quarterback," Shaw said, "but you'll see a whole lot of Kevin Hogan."
He wouldn't commit to naming him the starter, however.
"You'll see a whole lot of Kevin Hogan," Shaw repeated.
Hogan, whom Shaw estimates has about 80 percent of the playbook down, isn't about to lobby for the gig, either.
"Whatever the coaches think," he said. "It was a good team win and whatever they choose, I'm happy with."
Tight end Zach Ertz mixed diplomacy with a subtle pitch: "Whatever the coaches want to do," Ertz echoed. "He played great, obviously. He had five incompletions the whole game, I think that kind of speaks for itself.
Hogan led Stanford — which had lost won in Boulder in 1904 — to touchdowns on his first four drives, putting the Buffaloes in a 35-0 halftime hole, then added two more scoring drives in the third quarter.
The Buffaloes didn't reach Stanford's side of the field until tight end Nick Kasa's 20-yard catch at the Cardinal 33 with 9:16 left in the game. But a sack two plays later cost them 24 yards and pushed them back across midfield, and they never got back.
"On both sides of the ball we came out and did exactly what we wanted to do," said free safety Ed Reynolds, who got the rout started when he intercepted Jordan Webb's pass and returned it for a 52-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Nick Hirschman came in on Colorado's next series but was sacked twice and Webb returned on the next drive. However, Webb's first pass of that series went to Kasa, who was blasted by cornerback Alex Carter, popping the ball into the air, where linebacker A.J. Tarpley grabbed it.
Three plays later, Stepfan Taylor ran untouched for a 26-yard touchdown that made it 14-0.
Hogan then drove the Cardinal on touchdown drives of 70, 65 and 58 yards, but his coach and teammates loved his 20-yard scramble on third-and-9 more than anything else.
"Just to get my legs warm, that run felt real good," Hogan said.
"I think that was great to see for the offense to add that extra dimension," Ertz said.
Taylor added a 2-yard TD run with 8 seconds left in the half after Jamal-Rashad Patterson came down with Hogan's 20-yard pass on third-and-14.
"We just weren't good all the way around," coach Jon Embree said after his Buffs lost their fifth straight game — a skid that's seen them outscored 261-51.
The Buffaloes are the worst team in the nation by several measures, including scoring defense, kickoff coverage, sacks allowed and passing efficiency. So, what can the Cardinal really take from this mismatch?
"A lot," Shaw insisted. "Because it's still about us. It's about execution, it's about guys doing their jobs and doing them well. That's what we always look at regardless of who we play or where we play."
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