Stanford Football: K.J. Costello and the Cardinal offense returns

Stanford Football K.J. Costello (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Stanford Football K.J. Costello (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Stanford football program is back in the win column following a thrilling victory over the Arizona Wildcats in quarterback K.J. Costello’s return from injury.

Stanford football is back and so is quarterback K.J. Costello. The Cardinal picked up a crucial Pac-12 victory on Saturday to climb back to .500 on the season and set themselves up well for postseason play.

It was a return for the ages that saw Costello play his first game in five weeks since injuring his thumb in the game against Oregon. The senior quarterback passed got 312 yards and three touchdowns as the Cardinal pulled off the upset 41-31 victory.

All of this despite him being a game-time decision just prior to kickoff.

Costello split first-team reps with third-string sophomore Jack West in practice with Davis Mills out nursing a calf injury. West was forced into action in last week’s game against UCLA and his poor play was a major factor in the team’s disappointing loss.

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But what a difference having a quarterback makes.

Stanford’s offense looked completely revived with Costello under center. The Cardinal came out hot scoring touchdowns on four of their first five possessions. Stanford finished with nearly 500 yards of total offense as Costello’s return helped open up the ground game as well.

With an actually competent passing attack, running back Cameron Scarlett was able to get going on the ground as he finished with 102 yards and two touchdowns while adding an extra two grabs for 12 yards in the air.

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Costello spread the ball around on offense with star tight end Colby Parkinson hauling in five catches for 68 yards, junior wideout Connor Wedington catching seven passes for 61 yards, and sophomore wide receiver Michael Wilson totaling six receptions for 45 yards.

But perhaps the star of the receiving core was the speedy Simi Fehoko who had a true breakout performance finishing with 97 yards courtesy of two touchdowns grabs from 39-yards and 44-yards out.

Credit should also go to the offensive line which was once again starting three freshmen, but looked much better than in previous weeks. After suffering a number of injuries, the unit may finally be starting to gel together.

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Costello’s return lit a flame under the Stanford team as a whole not only from an on-field perspective, but from an emotional one as well. The young quarterback rallied his teammates on the sidelines and breathed new energy into a Cardinal team that looked lifeless after last week’s ugly loss.

From here, a bowl bid seems increasingly more likely. It’s been a wild roller-coaster of a season for Stanford but with four games remaining against Colorado, Washington State, Cal, and Notre Dame, it’s very possible the Cardinal emerge with two more victories.

Both Colorado and Cal have struggled mightily as of late with the latter going through their own quarterback injury woes. What looked like a potentially lost season can still be salvaged if Costello could stay healthy.

This is the K.J. Costello that Stanford fans hoped we would see going into this year. Unfortunately, an injury has prevented him from having what could have been a true standout season.

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But let’s not play the “what if” game and instead enjoy the fact that he is back and so too is the Stanford offense.