Notes and quotes: Arizona State week

INJURY REPORT: After missing last week's game with an undisclosed injury, Johnson Bademosi will be practicing in full this week, confirmed Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh. Michael Thomas and a few reserves filled Bademosi's cornerback spot versus Arizona.

"There were a few drives where they were picking on our left side a little bit," Harbaugh said of the replacements.

Bademosi is listed as the "Probable Starter" at cornerback in this week's edition of the game notes.

Delano Howell continues to wear a cast to protect his right hand/wrist. He said that he isn't completely recovered from the injury but that the cast doesn't limit him in any way. And he isn't ready to fully admit he can club the opposition with it.

"I don't want to say I use it as a weapon because I'm sure the refs will start looking for that, but I do try to use it to my advantage," said Howell.

Third-and-convert

It's a rarity when Stanford fails to move the chains on third down. The Cardinal lead the nation in third-down rate at 58.5 percent, successfully converting 69 of their 118 attempts.

The proficiency in that situation can be attributed to many things. Stanford normally keeps itself out of third-and-longs because the running game rips off 5.4 yards per carry. A competent quarterback that makes heady decisions and an offensive line that does a great job minimizing penalties when the defense pins its ears back also aids the success.

Harbaugh believes that third-down conversion is one of the tell-tale signs of a winning football team.

"Points are the No. 1 statistic in what determines what wins a game," he said. "Second are turnovers and after that, third down and red zone—offensively and defensively—are the key ones."

Doin' it like the Ducks

You might have thought you were watching Darron Thomas run the zone-read in a Cardinal uniform recently, but it was actually Andrew Luck. (Okay, maybe you weren't, but we can dream, hey?)

Luck has dazzled with his speed and shiftiness carrying the ball in 2010. In certain situations this season, Stanford has morphed from a traditional offense into the spread zone-read that many college teams execute today.

Even though they don't practice it much, Harbaugh believes Luck runs the system with precision.

"If he couldn't throw a lick, he'd be great at that," he said. "I think it all goes back to athletic instincts. He's as effective as any spread quarterback I've seen on tape. The speed, mechanics, faking ability…I'd give him a nine out of 10 on running it."

Luck admits that he's comfortable running the scheme because it was a staple of his offense in high school. He has also had some help from his peers.

"When I came here as a true freshman Tavita [Pritchard] and Alex Loukas ran it very well so I've mimicked their style," he said. "Both have given me tips and pointers on how to execute the play."

Coaching Royalty

Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has been dubbed "Lord Fangio" by his players.

Shayne Skov didn't want to take full credit for the nickname, although a member of the staff said he and Thomas Keiser came up with it.

"I'll take some creative rights but I'm not going to say I officially came up with it," Skov said. "I have to be careful what I say because I don't want to get benched this week."

Skov delicately elaborated as to why Fangio earned the distinguished title.

"It's almost like he's an evil genius," he said. "He's got this maniacal voice sometimes so it seemed kind of fitting when we started calling him that in camp."

The Say Hey Kid

Unlike Tyler Gaffney, and Toby Gerhart before him, Chris Owusu has not tested his athletic talent on the baseball diamond. But after an over-the-shoulder catch in last week's game, Stanford baseball head coach Mark Marquess might be eager to have that kind of hand-eye coordination on the roster.

"It was very Willie Mays-like in the World Series. It was one of the best catches I've ever seen from the sidelines," Harbaugh said.

Owusu wouldn't give the grab that much credit. He said that when receivers have to adjust and catch the ball over the opposite shoulder, they lose sight of it and just have to trust their hands to be in the right spot. Owusu said it was a "slow-motion" play for him, and his quarterback was as impressed as the coach.

"He did a heck of a job adjusting to the ball and turning over to his inside shoulder which is very difficult for a receiver to do," Andrew Luck said. "I was very impressed with the catch."

Last of the Mohawk-cans

Speaking of Skov, he is the last member of the Cardinal crew that is sporting a Mohawk. He said that he made the decision to keep it throughout the season during camp. Apparently the length varies from week to week but the style remains unchanged.

Chase Thomas and Alex Debniak had Mohawks at the start of the season but have since dispensed the dos. Skov said that he is the last member of the team with one but that Ben Gardner has a unique hybrid hairdo, otherwise known as a Mullhawk.

"Ben Gardner had a mullet/Mohawk during camp. Now, it has transformed into some wild mullet," he laughed. "The overall beauty and aesthetic isn't as nice as Owen's but the character in his mullet is outstanding."

Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings, a big supporter of the mullet, infamously talked about the hairstyle last season.

"The mullet isn't just a hairdo, it is definitely a lifestyle. You're carrying on a like a legacy, like last name you know? The people that did this in the ‘80s, they weren't doing this because they thought it was a cool hairdo. No, they were doing it because they were badass."

Far from Burfict

Arizona State's top NFL prospect is linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The kid has raw talent and instinct oozing from the ears but his aggressive style hurts the team far too often.

Just YouTube his name and you will find a reel of personal foul highlights. Burfict was benched for a quarter by Dennis Erickson earlier this season and a dumbfounding penalty by him last week helped prolong USC's game-winning drive.

Shayne Skov is a similar high-motor player in the same position. But as a sophomore, it seems he has been able to learn from his mistakes and contain his energy better than Burfict has.

"It's an emotional game and guys at that position set the tempo for the defense at times," Skov said. "There are times to take the shot and times not to; it's just the nature of the beast. You have to play aggressive but you have to know when to pick your shots."

About the Author: Bootleg Senior Writer Scott Cooley has worked in the sports media industry throughout his professional career, including serving as a writer for an ESPN production house and a professional football franchise. His work has been published in multiple print and online platforms including ESPN.com. He currently writes for yours truly, as well as Bookmaker, Covers and Red Hott Locks. Cooley specializes in football, baseball and basketball with an emphasis on sports betting. Cooley and his wife reside in California, contact him at scottwcooley@gmail.com


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