No. 5 Stanford rounding into form 

click to enlarge Stanford
  • AP Photo/Mike Groll
  • Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery (7) runs the ball against Army linebacker Julian Holloway (42) during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, in West Point, N.Y. Stanford won, 34-20.
Before the season, Stanford coach David Shaw's biggest concerns were on offense. There doesn't seem to be much to worry about now.

Kevin Hogan continues to shine at quarterback, Tyler Gaffney is a bruising force in the backfield, and Ty Montgomery is repeatedly finding wide-open spaces in the secondary. All three played major roles in No. 5 Stanford's 34-20 victory over Army on Saturday.

Hogan, who took over as the starter last season after nine games and led the Cardinal (2-0) to five straight wins, including at Oregon and in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, was 11 of 18 for 188 yards and three touchdowns with one interception as the Cardinal overcame a spirited effort by the Black Knights (1-2).

A week after rushing for 104 yards and scoring twice in a season-opening win over San Jose State, Gaffney ran for 132 yards on 20 carries against Army and scored twice in the decisive second half — on a 23-yard pass from Hogan and 1-yard run.

"We as coaches continually remind ourselves that this is game seven (for Hogan). He hasn't truly even broached his sophomore year yet," Shaw said. "There's so much growth that has happened. He's so mature that you forget how young he still is.

"As far as the overall offense and what we want to do, we're more diverse than we've been in years," Shaw said. "We want to be a team that can put out eight linemen on a play and bring in three receivers on the next play. We want to be able to change personnel groupings and have the diversity to be good in everything that we do. So far, so good. We left some points out there, but the emphasis is there because we've got the guys to do it."

Gaffney is another story. He returned for his senior season after a year playing baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system. He missed the first half of spring workouts, which he sat out in previous years playing baseball anyway, and has had two stellar games, ably helping fill the big hole left by the graduation of Stepfan Taylor, the school's record-setting running back.

A week after rushing for 104 yards and scoring twice in a season-opening win over San Jose State, Gaffney ran for 132 yards on 20 carries against Army and scored twice in the decisive second half — on a 23-yard pass from Hogan and 1-yard run.

"It's been awesome," Gaffney said. "It is a surreal experience to be out there with the guys. I am blessed to be a part of it. The guys around me have made it pretty easy. We have a pretty good team."

Shaw said he isn't surprised by Gaffney's performance.

"No, not since I saw him when he came back last year when preseason was over," Shaw said. "It was obvious he had been lifting like a football player, not a baseball player. He's extremely strong right now and can take the pounding."

Montgomery, hampered most of his sophomore year with a partially torn knee ligament, caught six passes for 130 yards against Army, scoring on a 46-yard catch in the second quarter, and also rushed twice for 30 yards. And his 27-yard catch on a third-and-7 play set up Gaffney's critical touchdown catch late in the third quarter. The previous week against San Jose State, Montgomery had four catches for 81 yards and a physical touchdown, popping off cornerback Jimmy Pruitt's helmet in a collision at the end of a 17-yard score in the third quarter for his first since TD since the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.

For Montgomery, the process is so very simple.

"I feel like our offense is well-balanced," Montgomery said. "With the guys outside doing their job in the run game, it helps with our passing game. We run our routes and get open. We look for the ball and we catch it."

The defending Pac-12 Conference and Rose Bowl champions returned most of a stout defense, and it did its job in the second half against Army's powerful and tricky triple option, though injuries to the Black Knights' top two rushers certainly helped. Tailback Raymond Maples and fullback Larry Dixon didn't play in the fourth quarter.

Dixon scored on a strong 15-yard touchdown run up the middle in the second quarter, but he wasn't around when Army gambled on a fourth-and-1 inside its own 30 in the fourth quarter and failed.

"They did a really good job. They played their butts off and we had to as well," said defensive end Josh Mauro, who led the Cardinal with seven tackles. "It took guys having the will to do their jobs."

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