Editor’s note: The following is a Q&A between Ryan Sheehan, football beat reporter at The Daily Californian, and Kaushik Sampath, co-sports editor of The Stanford Daily, the independent, student-run newspaper for Stanford University. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Ryan Sheehan: What do you make of Stanford’s season so far?
Kaushik Sampath: It’s been a rocky ride to say the least. Especially with that loss to Sacramento State, that took the air out of the whole program because we didn’t realize how bad it was toward the end of the Shaw era. It was just kind of abysmal, in terms of what we had been left with was the state of the program. We realized that this is gonna be a long rebuild. But then, when they beat Colorado and had that comeback and kept Washington close and beat Washington State, I got a lot of hope that the program can get back on track and that they can be in constant bowl contention relatively soon.
RS: This team has shown flashes of brilliance at times this season, what has been this season’s biggest moment so far?
KS: It has to be the Colorado game. You saw the emergence of a new offensive weapon in Elic Ayomanor who had 294 receiving yards. It was sensational and he’s kept it up, he’s not one game wonder. He’s probably leading all freshmen receivers in the Pac-12 in receiving yards. You also saw that quarterback Ashton Daniels can be a good decision-maker. Considering also the negativity around the program at that time, it was just good to see it didn’t get to them. Seeing them believe that they can mount this comeback and take it one play at a time was the highest point of the year so far.
RS: This will be the last Big Game in the Pac-12. What will you miss, and what do you think the ACC will bring to Stanford athletics?
KS: It’s really sad. The thing that I will always remember is Pac-12 after dark. The unpredictability of the conference in recent years made it a really fun watch, especially for diehard college football fans. That’s going to be missed greatly. You won’t really get to have that camaraderie with fans from other programs in the area anymore because the teams are all playing in different conferences. I think that the move to the ACC will bring an increase in our presence on the East Coast. If both schools were able to establish a recruiting foothold on the East Coast, it would be very positive. As a basketball fan, the move will be something that I’m really looking forward to.
RS: Where’s the ax going to be on Sunday morning and why?
KS: I think it’ll be residing in Palo Alto. You don’t really know what you’re gonna get with this Stanford team. If you look at the floor, you would say this is not a very good team. This team constantly gets beat on the ground, doesn’t have talent that is needed to compete at the upper echelons of college football. But then you also see things like the Colorado game and the Washington game where you see a pretty explosive offense that can create big plays. I think you’re gonna get the latter Stanford on Saturday. I think that they’ll be up for the Big Game, and they’ll certainly be motivated for it. I expect that there’s going to be a lot of big plays especially by Stanford offense, as well as the Cal offense. You’ll see Ott run over the Stanford defense. My head tells me if Cal has that run game they may have an advantage by a touchdown I’d say probably 38-31. But my heart tells me Stanford wins it on a kick by Joshua Karty, 41-38.