Making a point on Heisman | December 2, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - December 2, 2011

Making a point on Heisman

Cardinal coach Shaw pitches his reasons why Luck should win the award

by Rick Eymer

Stanford football coach David Shaw took a page out of the lecturers' handbook Tuesday and provided his audience with a power-point explanation of why quarterback Andrew Luck should win the Heisman Trophy.

McKissick Auditorium looks like your typical lecture hall on a major university campus, except you don't feel like you're in the next zip code when sitting in the last row.

A split-screen collage of the Heisman Trophy and Luck in a similar pose, an actual game picture captured during Stanford's 28-14 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday, was hard to miss when entering the auditorium.

Shaw was escorted into the auditorium by Assistant Athletic Director of Media Relations and Communications Jim Young and given a microphone and electronic pointer. He took his spot behind the podium off to one side.

"I told Andrew over the next week I was going to talk about him a lot," Shaw said. "He's going to hate every minute of it and I told him not to pay attention to it and not to make a big deal out of it."

Shaw then proceeded to make a big deal of what Luck means to the team and how he is doing things that no one else on the face of the planet is doing.

His main points? No one else is 3-0 against both USC and Notre Dame. Stanford is in the top five nationally in most major offensive categories. Stanford leads the nation in fewest negative plays. The Cardinal leads the nation in scoring from the red zone: 63 of 64, including 26 touchdown passes.

"I have been avoiding statistics most of the year," Shaw said. "They are part of the story line, but not the whole story."

The meat of his lecture (I hope he grades on a curve or I'm in trouble) focused on Luck's intellectual process.

In the past Luck has said his play-making decision is based on several factors as he approaches the line of scrimmage but he always defers to the coaching staff for getting him prepared.

With a section of the playbook as background, Shaw explained that three plays are called in the huddle and Luck has the option to audible to a fourth play.

"We take up to 300 plays into a game because we can," Shaw said. "Having a quarterback making his own decisions at the line of scrimmage is unheard of. It's more than avoiding putting us in a bad play but also to check to an advantage play. I cannot compare Andrew to anyone else in the nation.

"Typically you feel good if the quarterback has the game plan down by Friday," said Shaw, named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year on Monday. "He's got it all by Wednesday and perfecting it the rest of the week. He'll watch game film on his own and we'll trrade text messages in the middle of the night with a question or comment about a segment of one play. That's how his mind works. He stays on top of it and wants to be perfect.

"Talent-wise, intellectual-wise, he is the standard," Shaw said. "He is the ideal quarterback, the ideal football player you want to have."

No matter what happens in the Heisman Trophy voting, there is general consensus he will be the No. 1 overall draft pick this season. He's been graded out at 99 (out of 100) and that hasn't changed since Luck finished second to Cam Newton in last year's Heisman voting. USC's Matt Barkley has been graded in the low 90s and no on else is close.

"We have been extremely spoiled for three years," Shaw said. "He never falters and it's unbelievable to watch. This is something I wanted to do at the end of the season when there's no game to talk about. Who is doing what other people aren't doing?


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