I wouldn’t say that Stanford football coach David Shaw was necessarily stumping for his team here, but he certainly got in a bit of a dig on some of the other teams around the Cardinal in the national rankings. Asked about how Heisman Trophy front-runner Andrew Luck has been playing, Shaw says he’s played great and that Luck’s numbers are particularly good because Stanford’s offense strives for balance, unlike other teams who seem to be out to break passing records.
Stanford’s resume would get a big boost this weekend when it hosts Oregon in a battle of top-10 teams. Win this one and the Cardinal have just Cal and Notre Dame standing in the way of an undefeated season.
David Shaw joined KNBR in San Francisco with Murph and Mac to discuss the emotions heading into the big game, Oregon’s athleticism, Andrew Luck’s play this season, those who have criticized Luck, if there was a shift in the locker room after beating USC, the balance between passing and running and concerns over Oregon’s speed.
What are the emotions like going into this game?:
“I think it’s great. We’ve been talking all year with the players about, if you play well early in the season, you earn big games late in the season. This is one of those games that both Stanford and Oregon have earned. We’ve earned the right to play in a big game in November and that’s awesome. I told them to relish it, enjoy it, but, the team that prepares the best is going to win. … If you win this one, the games only get bigger.”
Are the Ducks more athletically gifted than USC?:
“I think it’s just different. I think Robert Woods played against us at about 80 percent and was still phenomenal. He’s a special, special receiver. I think LaMichael James is just a different guy. He’s got another gear. And he also runs tough. And then De’Anthony just gives them that other guy. Oh yeah, there’s another guy.”
How do you feel Andrew Luck has played this season?:
“I think he’s having a great year. We don’t play the stat game, as I always say, but his statistics are great for a team that strives for balance. That’s what we do, we strive for balance. We’re not going out trying to break all kinds of passing records like other teams are trying to do and trying to throw the ball three out of every four plays. That’s not how we win football games. At the same time, you watch the guy play … and five times a game, you say, ‘Wow, did he just do that?'”
What’s your reaction when folks say Andrew Luck may be overhyped or not the best athlete?:
“Here’s the problem, and I’m not taking a personal shot at anybody. But two things, number one, when you’ve got former quarterbacks, former quarterbacks hate giving other quarterbacks a lot of credit. That’s the bottom line. It’s been true since they starting playing football. … The second thing, both of those guys [Phil Simms and Shaun King] honestly do a great job on TV … but there are guys who are paid to evaluate players and talent. Those are the guys that you should be seeking. … Andrew Luck, last week in practice, throwing off his back foot, threw a ball to the post 53 yards in the air. That’s just stuff that you can’t make up and you can’t fake it.”
Did you notice any change in the guys or in the locker room after coming away with a victory against USC?:
“I think the big thing is, when it was tight, when it was close, when we were down by 10, the guys never blinked. They know that we’re always in the game, we always have a chance.”
Do you have a breakdown of how much you run versus how much you pass?:
“I don’t know the percentage, honestly. I do know that we’re averaging a little over 200 yards a game rushing and 280 passing, or whatever it is. The fact that we can do both, that we can operate in any kind of a game — whether it becomes a passing shootout or a defensive struggle game — that we can survive.”
Is there any concern that your defense won’t be able to keep up speed-wise?:
“Their speed is a major concern. It’s the tempo of their offense and the speed of the guys running the offense. … We’d love to control the clock, but at the same time, you’ve got to control the clock and score touchdowns. It’s not just keeping the ball away from them, because they can score in a minute and a half.”