It's not easy making sense of an 0-5 team that ranks among the nation's worst in many statistical categories, but there are copious storylines that help explain what's happening, or not happening, in Palo Alto. Irish Illustrated spoke with Darren Sabedra of the San Jose Mercury News to get an inside look at the Cardinal.
Pete Sampson: Charlie Weis is selling the motivation for this game based on last year when Stanford almost beat Notre Dame in Palo Alto. But that team was playing for a bowl bid and had the extra motivation of closing down a stadium. Do you see any similarities to last year?
Darren Sabedra: The biggest difference going into this year was that you had a 5-5 team going into the last game of the season, albeit coming off a loss to Cal. That kind of knocked a little luster off the Notre Dame game, but it was still the final game in Stanford Stadium. Trent Edwards got hurt in the Cal game and it did look a little bleak from that standpoint because his status was in question. But that being said it's night and day comparing where Stanford was last year to where it is right now.
PS: So what happened?
DS: The big question is what hasn't happened. Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. Going into the season the big key was staying healthy at wide receiver and quarterback. Well, Stanford has lost its top two receivers in Mark Bradford and Evan Moore and starting fullback Nick Frank had to retire. He was a guy that everyone respected and a guy who works extremely hard. His retirement was announced a day before the grand opening of the new Stanford Stadium and it just leveled the team.
At Stanford, you just can't afford injuries. If you're an elite program you can put somebody else in and the ship moves forward. But because of admissions, Stanford just doesn't have the depth to lose a front line guy.