STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan is a graduate of Gonzaga College High School, six blocks from the U.S. Capitol, and is the son of a D.C. lobbyist. So he knows a thing or two about telling people what they want to hear.
But when Hogan told reporters he wouldn’t be nervous before his first start last week against then-No. 13 Oregon State, he meant it.
Despite the weight of the Stanford quarterbacking tradition built by the likes of Jim Plunkett, John Elway and Andrew Luck, Hogan showed no signs of intimidation in his first game as the starter. He coolly orchestrated two touchdown drives in the first quarter and his demeanor didn’t change when, two quarters later and his team trailing by two scores, Hogan was tripped by an Oregon State defender. As he fell, Hogan checked through his options, spotted open tailback Stepfan Taylor and short-armed him the ball to avoid a drive-killing sack.
Taylor broke a 40-yard touchdown play to bring the Cardinal within two points, setting up what coaches called a perfect touchdown pass from Hogan to tight end Zack Ertz in the fourth quarter to cap a 27-23 comeback win.
Now, Coach David Shaw will entrust his offense to Hogan for No. 14 Stanford’s (8-2) most crucial stretch of the season: matchups at top-ranked Oregon on Saturday and at No. 17 UCLA the following week.
The touchdown play Taylor salvaged against Oregon State exemplifies the athleticism that led Stanford coaches to give Hogan a midgame chance against Colorado on Nov. 3.
Hogan rewarded the trust by leading five touchdown drives with 184 yards passing and 48 yards rushing in a 48-0 victory. That performance led Shaw to promote Hogan to starter Nov. 6.
“It’s vital to have a quarterback that can break contain, find his fullback, and throw those awkward-body throws,” Shaw said. “Those are just athletic plays that guys can make or they can’t make.”
Shaw said that when Stanford’s coaches recruited Hogan at Gonzaga, they nearly always saw him playing on fields made perilously muddy by unpredictable D.C. weather. Hogan scrambled and created anyway. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, a 2010 first-team All-Met selection, was quick enough to do double-duty in Gonzaga’s defensive backfield and agile enough to play basketball as well.
Gonzaga Coach Aaron Brady became convinced Hogan had something special as he watched the McLean native play his senior year.
The son of Donna and Jerry Hogan, a government relations attorney for AT&T, Kevin Hogan was cool under pressure as he carved up defenses in the talent-laden Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
Brady recalled a 2010 game against DeMatha, a team Gonzaga hadn’t beaten in a decade. Hogan helped the Eagles build a late lead, but needed to convert on third and 12 to run out the clock.
Brady might have called for a run and hoped for the best, but chose a riskier deep comeback route, a play heavily reliant on the quarterback’s timing and accuracy. Hogan calmly stepped up, hit his receiver “in the numbers” and sealed the historic win.
Hogan said he’s always been comfortable in important situations yet despite his calm, unassuming swagger, he does “get excited” for big moments.
“I guess I don’t show it as much as others,” Hogan said.
Some speculate Hogan may be the long-term replacement for Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, whom Hogan called a “good friend.”
“To be able to learn from a great player like Andrew, it really made my acclimation to college football that much easier,” he said.
His Stanford teammates believe he learned well. Senior defensive tackle Terrence Stephens, a product of Gaithersburg, said the way Hogan has taken over the starter’s role at a young age is “admirable.”
“Kevin is just very poised. He does his job and does it crisply. He’s not a kid that talks too much, and that’s kind of the [D.C.] metropolitan area, raising players like that,” Stephens said.
Saturday, Hogan will find himself on the national stage with a chance to do two things Luck never could: win at Autzen Stadium and beat a No. 1 team.