Sports

The football Irish has Stanford's full, undivided attention

 

They won't go so far as to wear any combination of purple and yellow under their Cardinal uniforms but Stanford football players are in agreement over which way they'd like to see the Apple Cup play out.

Interestingly enough, the Cardinal will be together for the game, though they might be a little distracted. Stanford's 5 p.m. nonconference game with visiting Notre Dame on Saturday is scheduled to kick off at the same time as the Washington State at Washington contest.

Should the Huskies win that game, Stanford will play USC for the conference title on Friday, Dec. 1 at Levi's Stadium. Of course, Stanford could have taken care of things and simply beaten the Cougars when it had the chance.

"There have been conversations about that," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We don't need to keep secrets from each other; everybody will have their phones and check them. I'm sure there will be an announcement or two during the game. Still, what's important for us is what's happening on our field and hopefully that game goes the way we want it to but that's not going to affect the way we play Notre Dame."

The Irish (9-2) are ranked ninth in the country, providing Stanford (8-3) the opportunity for another signature victory in hopes of attracting a higher profile bowl game should the Cardinal get locked out of the Pac-12 title game appearance.

Besides, playing Notre Dame is still a big deal, part of a tradition that dates to the Jan. 1, 1925 Rose Bowl game. The series was sporadic in the first 63 years, when the teams met four times between 1925-1988, and lop-sided.

The Irish won 17 of the first 23 meetings. Stanford didn't win back-to-back games until 2009-10.

"The last seven have been tight games; hotly-contested," Shaw said. "They have been physical and unbelievably respectful on both sides."

Notre Dames is coming off a 24-17 victory over Navy while Stanford beat California in the Big Game, 17-14. The Irish lost to Miami and Georgia and have beaten Michigan State and USC (49-14).

"Size," Shaw said about what stands out about the Irish. "They're big, physical, strong. It's hard to win the line of scrimmage like we try to do every week. They don't give up too many big plays. Offensively, they can all run, can make big plays, break tackles. They are all dynamic with the ball in their hands."

Ah yes, dynamic running backs, like, say, Bryce Love.

"Love is day-to-day," Shaw said. "It's not as bad as it could be but not as good as we'd like. If it's wise and if he's ready, he'll play."

If he isn't ready, Cameron Scarlett has suddenly become a better alternative. His hard-nosed running, getting the ball 11 straight times in the fourth quarter against Cal, allowed Stanford to run out the final 7:25 of the contest.

"I've grown a lot stronger and grown as a running back," Scarlett said. "I don't think I've ever gotten 11 in a row though."

Scarlett said the Apple Cup might be in the back of everyone's mind but that the team is doing a good job of preparing for the Irish.

"We're hoping Washington pulls it out but we're focused on Notre Dame," he said. "It's a big rivalry game, an end-of-the-year game that we take seriously. It's been intense."

Shaw also addressed safety Justin Reid being left off the list of three finalists for the Joe Thorpe Award. Needless to say, he was not happy about it.

"In bold letters, it's ridiculous, it's disrespectful, it's wrong," he said. "Call it east coast bias, call it Stanford bias, whatever you want to call it; it's ridiculous. He's one of the best players in America. At the very least, one of the best players at his position.

"Guy just played both safety positions, boundary corner, field corner, nickel and dime in one game. It's amazing," Shaw said. "Everything he's done this year has been amazing. Tied for the lead in interceptions middle of the year and the ball has stayed away from him. Quarterbacks are smart. They're going to throw away from him. He's not going to get very many interceptions if he doesn't get  the opportunities. But the level of play is awesome.

"And to not be a finalist ... Minkah Fitzpatrick is phenomenal. He's a great football player," Shaw said. "That being said, Justin belongs in that group. I know he's disappointed. He's fine. He'll go back out and play his heart out like he always does. I had to mention that. It's just wrong. It's just ridiculous."

Reid has another year of eligibility and Shaw knows he ready for the NFL. He even thinks he's a first-round draft pick.

"In my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of people that matter, yes," he said. "He hasn't made a decision. He'll turn in the paperwork and see what the evaluation is and make the right decision for him and his family. But there's not much more on a football field you can do than Justin has done this year."

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by N Odinos
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2017 at 8:06 am

Unbelievable to find out that Justin Reid is not a finalist for the Thorpe award. He will be in the nfl just like his brother and will make all of Stanford proud just like Richard Sherman has.


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