Post-USC Interview: Jeremy Stewart

Fifth-year senior Jeremy Stewart has emerged as Stanford's primary short-yardage back, often called upon in third and fourth down situations where the Cardinal has three or fewer yards to gain. Stewart played that role to perfection Saturday against USC, bulldozing through Trojan defenders for critical gains.

Stewart only carried the ball five times for nine yards, but all of those were in important short-yardage situations, including a one-yard touchdown run in the first overtime period. The Bootleg caught up with Stewart after the game to get his thoughts on the victory and on his role in the offense.

The Bootleg: When you get into short yardage situations—near the goal line with one or two yards to go—what's your usual gameplan?

Jeremy Stewart: We go out there and we practice it. I know the line knows what they're doing, and once I get the ball I just let my instincts take over—I don't try to think too much, I just go out there and play.

What does it mean for you to get this win—not just a huge triple-overtime win, but against a team like USC here in LA?

JS: It means a lot, especially coming back from behind. It shows how tough our team is and that we could have a very special team this year.

When you guys were down by 10 points, it was the first time you were trailing all season. Were you aware of that, and how did you guys respond the way you did?

JS: All of our workouts during the offseason, we prepare for situations like this. When the opportunity presented itself—that's what we looked at it as, an opportunity to come back. Everyone believed that we could win. It was fun—it was a great game.

What went through your mind when Andrew threw the pick-six?

JS: I mean, it happens, that's football. We still had however many minutes we had left, so we still had a chance to score and stay in the game.

Do you embrace your role as the "short yardage guy"? Did that emerge before the season or as the season went on?

JS: I think it kind of happened as the season went on. You just want to make the most of your opportunities, so I'm just trying to do that. Every time I touch the ball, I'm trying to make a big play.

Can you talk about the play of your defense, especially towards the end of the game— making that big fumble recovery? Coach Shaw said it was an up and down game for your defense: gave up a lot of points but made that big play at the end.

JS: Yeah, that last play was phenomenal. Everyone on the sideline just went crazy. It kind of reminded us of the '07 game, when Bradford made that catch in the end zone. It was a great feeling.

You guys have won three straight against USC now and they are a big rival for you. Is it special to win three straight over a team like this?

JS: Definitely, definitely, especially considering where we came from a few years back. Now to be beating them three years in a row, it says a lot about our program—where we've been and where we're headed.

Do you think you're the preeminent program in the Pac-12 this year?

JS: I think every program should think that, so yeah, I think so.

Does it feel better to beat USC or to beat Cal?

JS: This win was great, but we'll see. This win is hard to beat, but I'm sure when Cal comes, everyone will get up. That's going to be a big game.

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