On the Stanford offense's first play in the opening seconds of the second quarter, Trent Edwards trotted out onto the field excited for his best field position of the day. The Cardinal defense had just stopped Oregon and forced a punt from their own 15-yard line which traveled (like a wounded duck) just 19 yards to the 34. Edwards and Stanford were already in striking distance to get their first score, after being unable to cross midfield on their previous two drives. The redshirt sophomore quarterback found tight end Alex Smith for a 14-yard strike that moved Stanford to the 20-yard line. That critical completion sparked the mini-drive that would give the Card their first points of the day with a field goal, but the trade-off for that success was costly. Edwards was planted hard into the ground after he made the throw, with 300-pound Oregon defensive tackle Robby Valenzuela on top of him.
The starting Stanford quarterback laid on the field for a few minutes afterward, while a team of doctors and trainers attended to him. Cardinal fans held their breath until the Los Gatos (Calif.) native eventually was helped to his feet and walked off the field under his own power. He was officially reported with a bruised left shoulder injury, and possible for a return later in the game. But Edwards never took the field the remaining three quarters.
It was a physically brutal game for Stanford's quarterbacks, with Edwards suffering three sacks and replacement T.C. Ostrander taking seven more. Before the knockout play, Edwards had already quietly suffered an injury to his left (non-throwing) hand, which looked bruised and swollen afterward. In anticipation that he could possibly return later in the game, trainers taped up his left hand, but that proved unnecessary.
The most relevant injury that Edwards suffered on the hit from Valenzuela was probably not his left shoulder, but instead his head. When he was hit by the senior Oregon defensive tackle, Edwards was planted into the ground head-first. His shoulder was also driven into the ground, and he specified after the game that his AC (acromioclavicular) joint was sore. Ironically, it was an injury to his AC joint almost a year ago to the day in Stanford Stadium against Washington State that sidelined Edwards the next few weeks. But on Saturday, the shoulder was not the reason Edwards stayed on the sideline the rest of the tightly contested game. X-rays on the shoulder were negative, and that body part was cleared to return.
Upstairs, however, the Cardinal quarterback was seeing stars. That head-plant into the turf left him reeling.
"I had a headache afterwards," Edwards describes. "I was coming in and out of it - a little dazed. I had hot and cold flashes."
Head Coach Buddy Teevens says that his starting signal caller did not suffer a concussion, but confirmed that Edwards was unable to safely and productively continue in the game.
With the left hand taped and his left shoulder cleared, Edwards was potentially in a position to take the field in the second half. But as he waited for the clouds in his head to dissipate, the game moved on and Ostrander continued to play.
"I got better as the third and fourth quarter went on," Edwards offers. "But I still wasn't well enough to go back in. Mentally, I wasn't really there. At the quarterback position, if you aren't mentally there, you can't put your team in that position."
Edwards threw 5-of-8 passing for 33 yards in his one quarter of action, with the 14-yard completion to Smith his best and final throw. Ostrander had a rollercoaster experience in his first extended an intense college action, but he stood tall when he was not sacked. The local redshirt freshman from Atherton threw for 236 yards on 18-of-29 passing, including his first touchdown in a Stanford uniform. If he could remember to throw away the ball to avoid some of the sacks, Ostrander has a bright and productive future ahead. The poise and decision-making of Edwards, though, is more game-ready today. So the question on the minds of all Cardinalmaniacs™ is whether the redshirt sophomore slinger will be healthy and ready to go in next week's critical clash for Stanford (4-3) at UCLA (4-3).
Assuming the bruise on his non-throwing left shoulder is as much a non-factor as we believe today, I expect Edwards to practice this week and start in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. His head injury was short of a concussion and he should have the cobwebs cleared away within 24 hours. We will of course report to you on his status during the week as we are able. Stanford's first full practice of the week will come on Tuesday, though the team typically conducts a light workout on Sundays as well.
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