When the Stanford Cardinal take on the Washington State Cougars on Saturday in Century Link Field, they will be without one of their defensive leaders to start the game. Safety Ed Reynolds will sit out the first half of the game after being ejected last week for targeting Arizona State Sun Devils’ quarterback Taylor Kelly last week in the 4th quarter of Stanford’s 42-28 win. With the captain of their secondary riding pine for the first half, will there be opportunities for WSU to burn the Cardinal deep?
Reynolds is a serious playmaker for David Shaw playing center field for the Cardinal. Last season, he snagged six interceptions and returned three of them for touchdowns. This season, he’s already posted 23 tackles and an interception in three games for Stanford playing like the All-American that he is, outside of his unfortunate decision to lower his head against Kelly last week. His presence in the back end of the secondary cannot easily be replaced.
And that opens up opportunities for upset-minded Washington State. Mike Leach has built his career on stretching the field with the passing game and hitting big plays to rack up points. Connor Halliday is willing to take a shot if there is even a hint of an opening and has seemingly found some rhythm throwing nine touchdowns in tune-up games the last two weeks. He’s going to take shots early and often and now he won’t have to worry about Reynolds until the third quarter.
The puts pressure on the rest of the secondary to pick up the slack at kickoff. Halliday is fearless in taking shots down the field, but he’s also reckless. The Cougars will take their opportunities to hit big plays down the field but they’ll give Stanford opportunities for turnovers as well. With their best ball-hawk on the sidelines, can the Cardinal take advantage? Or will Stanford find itself in a shootout this Saturday?