As Hogan has gone the past year, so has Stanford's offense.
The quarterback sparked Stanford's surge late last season when he supplanted Josh Nunes and started this year even stronger, showing off a new deep passing game that led to four blowout victories. But Hogan has been inconsistent the last two weeks in a close win over Washington and the loss at Utah. He's looked more like a player who has been the starter for less than a calendar year than one who last season took Stanford to a place Andrew Luck never could.
Hogan will get the chance to respond from his first setback when No. 13 Stanford (5-1, 3-1) hosts No. 9 UCLA (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday in a rematch of last season's Pac-12 championship game.
"I put as much as I can on myself," Hogan said. "That's my job is to get us in the right play, get us in the right protection, make sure the guys are in the right place, make sure everybody knows what they're doing."
Hogan has thrown for 1,178 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He has completed 61.2 percent of his passes and run for 141 yards and a score.
In the past two games, Hogan's quarterback rating has slid from sixth in the country to 27th. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown with one interception in a 31-28 win over Washington. He finished 15 of 27 for 246 yards and a TD against Utah. He also fumbled once.
"Kevin has not played great the last couple weeks — as a complete game. But in each game he's made some great plays," Stanford coach David Shaw said.
The way Hogan finished against Utah highlighted his inconsistencies.
Hogan completed his first five passes for 73 yards on Stanford's final drive, including a 10-yard strike to Ty Montgomery between three defenders on a third down. But with Stanford facing third-and-2 from Utah's 6-yard line, Hogan threw two incompletions under heavy pressure to hand Utah the win.
"In Game 20, he's going to be a superstar," Shaw said. "He's still building and growing and learning. And he's capable of making unbelievable plays, as he has just about every game — a big play."
The offense's slide is not all on Hogan's shoulders.
In the first four games, Stanford averaged 218 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per carry. In the last two, the Cardinal have averaged 161 and 4.6.
Smaller gains on first and second down have put Stanford in difficult positions to extend drives. Stanford is just 10 of 27 on third downs the last two weeks.
Coaches note that the offense is still in the early stages of a major transition that goes beyond the quarterback.
With All-American tight end Zach Ertz and 6-foot-8 target Levine Toilolo in the NFL now, the Cardinal are no longer relying on short and intermediate passes to tight ends. Instead, Hogan has been asked to throw different route combinations to promising — albeit inexperienced — wide receivers.