When Arizona hosts Stanford this Saturday at Arizona Stadium, there will be a new head coach on the Cardinal sidelines.
David Shaw has taken for the departed Jim Harbaugh – who decided to take a stab at the NFL – and has seemingly picked up where Harbaugh left off. Of course Shaw has the luxury of Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck leading the offense on the field. The Stanford head coach has noticed that Luck has become more of a leader with his words instead of a player that just leads by example with his play.
"He's just more vocal with everything," Shaw said. "He has really taken this offense on his shoulders. He's really mastering not just his job, but everybody else's job."
Luck attributes his advancements as a leader to understanding everything a little bit more and having a better grasp of the offensive gameplan.
"I feel I'm understanding our game plan more, why it's built to attack this defense, and why it changes for this opponent," Luck said. "Instead of going into the huddle and calling a play and thinking, What am I doing here? It's much more fluid now. I know what I'm doing now and know how the defense will adjust to this play."
Like many casual observers, Shaw has been impressed by Luck in various ways. Luck threw an interception this past weekend to a lowly Duke squad that went back for six points, but what impressed the Stanford head coach was how he responded to the mistake on the ensuing possession.
"I loved the way Andrew responded to his interception, positively and negatively," Shaw said. "He doesn't make the big plays make him relax and he doesn't get down on the negative plays. He came out for that two-minute drive, took the bull by the horns and was outstanding the rest of the game."
The Wildcats have a pretty good quarterback on the sidelines themselves in Nick Foles. Shaw, who has experience on the sidelines of the NFL as a quarterbacks coach, recognizes what Arizona has in its signal-caller and believes he is a bit short-changed in terms of recognition.
"The thing with all my years evaluating quarterbacks, the best ones make quick decisions, have a quick release and throw the ball with accuracy," said Shaw, a quarterbacks coach with two NFL teams. "He does all those, and he does all those repeatedly and has for years. Hopefully, he'll start getting the credit he deserves, because he's a heck of a football player."
Shaw thinks that Foles is one of the best in the business and is exactly what a coach looks for in his quarterback.
"He's extremely underrated," Shaw said. "You look at his efficiency and the numbers he has put up in the past few years. His name never gets brought up when they talk about some of the best quarterbacks in the nation, but his numbers are up there. He is a dangerous guy who reads coverages well. He throws the ball accurately and he has a quick release. I don't know what else you can be looking for from a quarterback."
Even Luck wants great things for Foles, but just not this weekend.
"Nick's a great guy," Luck said. "I wish him the best in everything, except on Saturday."
While many fans still recall last year's contest in Palo Alto, UA made a very impressive comeback to defeat Stanford at Arizona Stadium the last time the Cardinal came to Tucson. Stanford's players remember it in a not-so-fond fashion.
"That was a tough one," Luck said. "I try to put it out of my memory."
Wide receiver Chris Owusu remembers it and wants to avenge the last time his squad came to Tucson.
"It was one of the toughest losses I've ever had," Owusu said.
Stanford remembers last trip to Arizona
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