QB Kevin Hogan Is Cardinal's Most Influential Yet Impotent Player
There's a moment where you realize that some players with never make it to the NFL. They are serviceable, at best, in college football. They're placeholders, awaiting the arrival of their supplanter. Clemson's Cole Stoudt was an exemplary placeholder. He kept the offense warm until freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson took over. Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan is on the cusp of being a placeholder. While starting quarterback of the Cardinal, he hasn't crashed or burned. However, he has been quietly impotent. When he has an extreme game, the Cardinal goes with him -- for better or for worse.
Sometimes, he really shits the bed. So the whole offense shits the bed -- which makes for a messy bed.
His NFL potential is supposedly "undeniable" yet he struggles against above-average college defenses. When the Cardinal offense struggles, his stats look bad. When the offense is churning, his stats look good. This correlation can only go on for so long before it indicates causation.
In the Cardinal's only loss this year to USC, Hogan was held without a touchdown. His longest completion went for a measly 26 yards. And while he managed to complete 73.3 percent of his passes, the offense couldn't get in the end zone. The rushing attack managed 3.4 yards per carry. The Stanford offense looked powerless against their in-state rivals. Two years in a row, the Cardinal's season is thrown for a whirl by USC. In last year's upset, Hogan threw no touchdowns, two interceptions with 56 percent completion rate. They've challenged and stumped him two years in a row. You can only spell ugly one way, and that looks a lot like it.
One loss is sandwiched by the two USC losses -- the Rose Bowl against Michigan State. Hogan threw for 55.6 percent, 143 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He's a big reason why Stanford couldn't get over a scoring hump and fell to Michigan State, 24-20. Hogan's lackluster play allowed MSU to win by that four point difference.
He is a bottleneck for the Stanford offense. He's a can of beer when you need a case.
Ty Montgomery is suffering. Montgomery has the potential to be one of College Football's most electrifying players. He has a Jerry Rice way about him, and he seems to be gunning for the end zone on every touch. With Hogan at the helm, they've been unable to stretch the field. Montgomery works with screens and generates yards after the catch. His production and role in the offense serves as an example of Hogan's limitations.
The Cardinal are a very good team. Being the weakest link on their offense isn't the worst thing in the world. The problem is that Stanford has a very good quarterback sitting behind Hogan in Keller Chryst. Lucky for Hogan, freshman quarterbacks rarely start for the Cardinal unless they are Andrew Luck. And Evan Crower, his current backup, seems to have comparable skills to Hogan -- you know, the bed shitting kind.
Hogan's got a lot going for him, too. He's occasionally mobile, but so is this guy (sorry, even when I'm trying to be nice, I'm unkind). As a passer, he's sort of a poor-man's A.J. McCarron. He wins like McCarron -- Hogan is 18-4 in his career. This year, he has thrown seven touchdowns and only one interception. On paper, he looks very good. His averages are solid. His best performances make him look exceptional. In Stanford's 35-0 win over Army, he completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns. It's just when he faces teams like MSU and USC, he looks like a totally different quarterback. He's skittish and bottled up. He's uncomfortable.
Is Hogan is like Cole Stoudt? Will his role as a placeholder last his entire tenure? Or will he be replaced? It looks like he's safe.
He does a good enough job not sucking. He's so cautious and safe that Stanford will stick with him. He doesn't have a big enough role in the offense to fully collapse.
Most important, head coach David Shaw values experience, so Hogan's hold on his job is fairly safe. It may be ugly, but he is effective. He wins games. He got wins against elite teams like Oregon, UCLA and Washington. As much as he shits the bed, he keeps it perfectly white most Saturdays. With Hogan, the Cardinal are content losing a few games a year. And they want to stick with the known evil rather than the unknown in Crower or Chryst.
It's hard not to wonder if another quarterback wouldn't unlock this rigid offense and push them into the National Championship conversation.
Photo via Getty
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