Faulkner loses first San Jose State start 57-3
The best part of Matt Faulkner's first start for San Jose State might be that it's over.
After all, it's unlikely he'll face a tougher opponent all season.
Faulkner threw for 184 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, showing poise in San Jose State's 57-3 loss to seventh-ranked Stanford on Saturday even though the offense couldn't reaching the end zone.
''It was a game where the mistakes we made we can fix,'' said Faulkner, who finished 14 for 26 passing. ''It's tough getting beat like that but you have to go out and fight every play.''
Faulkner transferred from Mount San Antonio College after leading his team to a 13-0 record and the California Community College Athletic Association championship in 2009. While the Spartans struggled against a far more talented Stanford team, for once, it had little to do with quarterback.
That's a small but important step for a program that was 1-12 last season. Of course, against Andrew Luck, it didn't mean much.
Luck threw two touchdowns and ran for another score. The Heisman Trophy runner-up to Auburn's Cam Newton last year completed 17 of 26 passes for 171 yards and looked every bit the player many believe will take home college football's most famous award.
The standout quarterback summed up his performance in one word: average. Considering what he has done in his career, that would be exactly right.
Stanford's right on pace.
''I think a lot of (the scoring) was our defense and special teams putting us in a position where you can't mess up,'' said Luck, who presented Shaw the game ball with his teammates. ''I definitely don't think we're satisfied on offense.''
Stepfan Taylor ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns and Chris Owusu caught seven passes for 76 yards for the Cardinal, who pounced on their South Bay rival from the start. San Jose State last upset Stanford in 2006, and the Silicon Valley series has been all Cardinal since.
Thanks to Luck.
After turning down a chance to be the NFL draft's No. 1 pick, Luck returned to The Farm and has hopes of a Pac-12 title and possible even a national championship. There certainly wasn't any hangover in Stanford's start.
Shaw was calm and cool on the sideline with none of the chest bumping or helmet smacking that personified his predecessor, Jim Harbaugh, now with the San Francisco 49ers. With Luck back and better than ever, there was no reason to get all riled up in this one.
Except for maybe watching Luck run all over the field.
After driving the ball inches short of the goal line in the first quarter, Luck scrambled to his right, paused and sprinted to the corner. He launched his body toward the sideline and reached the ball out to swipe the pylon, giving Stanford a 10-0 lead on his first touchdown of the season.
As if the Cardinal needed any breaks, San Jose State gave them plenty.
The Spartans fumbled six times and lost three of them, including when Brandon Rutley entered at quarterback in a wildcat formation only to drop the ball on the exchange. Ben Gardner recovered, and Stanford took over from 13 yards out.
The short field position was far too easy for Luck and perhaps the biggest reason his statistics were relatively low.
On the first play after the turnover, he sailed a touch pass to tight end Zach Ertz in the corner of the end zone to put the Cardinal ahead 17-0. And the rout was on.
''I'm disappointed in making all the careless mistakes we made,'' San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre said
Not all of Stanford's highlights came on offense.
With the clock dwindling down in the first half, Chase Thomas jarred the ball loose from Faulkner - who was making his first start at quarterback for San Jose State - and Henry Anderson scooped it up and ran 37 yards until he was tackled a yard short of the goal line.
''I'm getting close to the end zone and I'm like, 'Why am I not getting tackled yet?''' Anderson said, chuckling. ''We do a lot of sprints in practice, but I never thought I'd run that far.''
Three plays later, Luck connected on a 1-yard TD pass to fullback Ryan Hewitt to take a 27-0 lead. Taylor also scored on runs of 3 yards and 1 yard in the third quarter to put the Cardinal ahead 43-3.
Luck and the rest of the starters were lifted, and even the backups kept piling up points. Harrison Waid kicked an 18-yard field goal in the second quarter for San Jose State's lone score. He also missed wide right from 23 yards. The Spartans, who went 1-12 last season, have lost 18 straight against ranked teams. The last came in a 27-24 win over No. 9 TCU on Nov. 4, 2000.
Playing against a Stanford team that finished 12-1 last season capped with an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech, they didn't have a chance.
''We had nowhere to go,'' MacIntyre said. ''They're a better team than we are, a much better team, and I think they'll have a great year.''
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP