One of the cool things about college football is that some schools become synonymous with certain positions. Penn State has long had a reputation for turning out great linebackers. It seems like every time you look up, the Miami Hurricanes are sending out another great safety into the NFL. Punch Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, and others into the calculator and it adds up to "Tailback U."
Of course, as all good Cardinalmaniacs™ know, Stanford is arguably the nation's premier quarterback factory. Throughout the history of West Coast football, the two glamour positions have been U$C's tailback and Stanford's quarterback.
Most of you already know all the names, but since it's such a distinguished list, it's worth going over again. They will never forget the way crafty lefty Frankie Albert thrilled the nation with his "T" formation. John Brodie was probably Stanford's first great true passer. Obviously, everything changed once Jim Plunkett started taking snaps. Steve Stenstrom earned a spot among Stanford's all-time greats with his record-breaking career.
John Elway is so special, he deserves his own paragraph. When I got this month's The Bootleg Magazine in the mail and saw the cover, I immediately bowed to the greatness that is Number Seven. I can only imagine what an exhilarating experience it must have been to watch him play for the Cardinal.
(As for John's pro career, I will go to my grave knowing that no one did it better. Not Montana. Not Marino. Not even Unitas or Starr. I think Vick has a chance, but he also has a long way to go. Nobody did it better. Ever. Back to the column.)
Even some of the lesser-known guys come with some fanfare. Todd Husak wasn't a physical specimen by any stretch, but all he did was lead Stanford to a Rose Bowl. John Paye accomplished plenty on The Farm. Mark Butterfield may be one of the more underappreciated Stanford quarterbacks of our time. Don Bunce, Guy Benjamin, Steve Dils, Turk Schonert, Randy Fasani… I could go on and on. I probably already have!
What's more amazing is that all of these guys played the same position very differently. That's not the case at other schools, where all the quarterbacks tend to be the same. It seems that Washington State QBs have all been big lugs who stand back in the pocket and strong-arm the ball all over the field. Jason Gesser is just about the lone exception to the rule that has brought guys like Bledsoe, Rypien, Rosenbach, and Leaf to the Palouse.
Oregon QBs have tended to be smart, skinny guys who work teams over with screens and short passes. Up until recently, most U$C quarterbacks seemed to be best suited to just handing off and stepping aside. Whenever I think of Arizona quarterbacks, I don't think much. Whenever I think of Washington quarterbacks, for some reason I think of Swahili class.
But there is no stereotypical Stanford quarterback, and maybe that's what makes the Cardinal's quarterback tradition even more amazing. We've seen all types. Gambling scramblers like Sir John and Randy Fasani. Bill Walsh Offense masters like Benjamin and Stenstrom. Pure pocket passers like Husak. Rocket arms like Butterfield.
All of this is background to the central point of this week's Corner: based on what I've seen so far this season, Stanford's quarterback tradition is safe, and I think it will be for a long time to come.
Trent Edwards is growing up right before our very eyes. His decision-making has progressed as the season has rolled along. He has shown the leadership skills. We've all seen his toughness, for better and for worse. He can make just about all the throws. His final throw against the Ducks last week was a 15-yard out, the most famous power throw in football. Even with Robby Valenzuela bearing down on him and winding up for a knockout punch, Trent fired a perfect pass to Alex Smith for the first down. Maybe one of the five best passes he's thrown all year. Too bad I don't think he got to see the other end of it!
But maybe Trent is at his best when he's on the run. Think back to the Washington State game, late first quarter. Trent was flushed to the left, but suddenly uncorked a laser past two Coug defenders and into the hands of a sliding Evan Moore. Perfectly placed throw, twenty yards downfield. Trent won't be confused for Fasani or Scott Frost, but his mobility doesn't come at the expense of his arm strength or his pinpoint accuracy, and that might make him every bit as dangerous outside the pocket.
When it's all over, Trent Edwards could go down as one of Stanford's all-time finest passers. The same could potentially be said for T.C. Ostrander. When he played during the San Jose State game, he seemed to have a command and a sense of the game that's beyond his years. He also seemed to have a knack for finding the open guy and throwing a receiver-friendly ball.
We got a chance to see what T.C. could do for a much longer (and a much more competitive) stretch last week against the Ducks. He wasn't flawless, but he had more than a handful of fine moments. The command was there. The touch, the power, and the accuracy were all there.
Perhaps my favorite Ostrander play from last week was a pass he didn't even complete. In the second quarter, Ostrander scrambled to the left, stopped near the sideline, directed Evan Moore in the end zone, waited, and fired the pass. It was incomplete, and he might have been able to run for the first down. But I appreciate the fact the tried to let Moore make the play. I'm sure that got bonus points with the receivers, too. I liked what I saw from T.C.... hopefully we don't have to see too much more of him this season!
It's early in both of these young men's careers. After all, Chris Lewis looked like he was going to be one of Stanford's all-time greats early in his Cardinal career too. But the way it looks right now, when it comes to keeping Stanford's quarterback tradition alive, both Edwards and Ostrander appear ready to continue to carry the torch.
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
Having said all that, Stanford's quarterback tradition might not matter much if they're getting sacked ten times in one game!
How bad is UCLA's rush defense? I'll put it this way: Arizona State's running back rotation included a former receiver, a walk-on, a former starting quarterback, a linebacker, and a tight end. That patchwork running back corps accounted for 116 yards! J.R. Lemon, Kenny Tolon, and the offensive line have to be licking their chops for this weekend…
Hey Huskies fans… just 23 days until hoops season starts!
Quote of the Week runner-up, from Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, who is finding out the hard way what West Coast football fans have been trying to tell the rest of the country for years: "I probably never gave the Pac-10 the respect it deserves."
Quote of the Week, from Pete Arbogast of the U$C radio network as Pete Carroll had gone deep into the bench during the final moments of their wipeout win over Washington: "John Griffin is now U$C's tailback… and I've never heard of him!"
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… anyone else see that Iowa-Penn State score last weekend and mistake it for a baseball final? Hawkeyes 6, Nittany Lions 4? Man, Big-10 football is fantastic!
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… why is everyone tripping over this Peyton Manning-Reggie Wayne thing? In case you missed it, just before the Colts' last-gasp drive in their loss to the Jaguars, Manning and Wayne exchanged some words in a huddle, and Wayne shoved Manning away. Of course, the media jumped all over it and blew it all out of proportion. Folks, it's a football sideline, not a library…
TV programming note: the Farm Report comes your way Friday evening at 7:00 PM and Saturday morning at 8:00 AM on FOX Sports Net Bay Area!
Lots of e-mails this past week…many of them on my sandwich endorsement! Here are a couple…
Matt from parts unknown writes: "Great report as always, excellent observations on the Cardinal and PAC-10, but please don't become a food critic. If you think a soggy sub from Quizno's is the best thing since sliced bread then you have been spending way too may meal-hours in fast food joints. You have obviously never dined at one of N'awlins finest sandwich shops. More specifically, you have never experienced a hot poboy at Mother's restaurant. Com'n down to for some Southern hospitality, charm and the finest lunchtime feast money can buy. You'll never eat a 'sub' again."
It's long been my dream to see Stanford at the Superdome in the Sugar Bowl just once before I die. How awesome would that be? If that happens (or if I end up in the N.O. anytime soon), I'll be more than happy to judge for myself!
Noah from parts unknown writes: "I live 3,000 miles away from The Farm, but had after reading your opinion regarding Quizno's Steakhouse Beef Dip sandwich, I had to run out and try one. Good call! Oh the scrumptiousness. Many thanks for the tip, and the immortal words of J.J. Lasley…"
OK, I can't print the immortal words of J.J. Lasley here, but I think most of you know what his thoughts were on cal. I will say that he's a wise, wise man…
It all boils down to this: right now there is no cheaper, tastier sandwich out there. I might go out and get another one right now! And to be honest, I've never really been a big Quizno's fan. But as long as the Steakhouse Dip is on the menu, I'm there.
Before last week's game I got a note from Danno, an Oregon fan: "Nice of you to mention Long and Valenzuela on the UO defensive line, but did you see what Haloti Ngata did to the Arizona line in the 3rd quarter? This performance was his breakout game and against the young Card OL, he may force the Card O into a permanent shotgun formation. Your receivers look intimidating height-wise--just a matter of can the QB throw the lob while on his backside."
Wow. How prophetic was that?
Remember folks… I don't pick Pac-10 games involving Stanford!
Oregon State @ Arizona. There isn't much question that Oregon State is a better team than the Wildcats… but doesn't this just seem like an ambush game to you? With the Beavers' struggles on the road, I hesitate to do this, but I like Oregon State by 13.
Arizona State @ cal. Great quarterback matchup, with Andrew Walter squaring off against Aaron Rodgers. But A-State's defense has totally collapsed the past two weeks. If they had problems against U$C and UCLA, how in the world are they going to stop cal? I like cal by 17.
Washington @ Oregon. The Huskies were shut out last week for the first time since November 7, 1981. I'd like to say that Washington will at least be able to get on the board against the Ducks, but after what I saw from Oregon's front seven last week, I'm not so sure. I like Oregon by 27.
U$C @ Washington State. Unless the Trojans don't know how to play in freezing rain, this shouldn't take too long. I like U$C by 24.
Last week: 3-1 (straight up), 1-3 (ATS). U$C just had to cover in the
final minutes, didn't they?
This year: 12-4 (straight up), 8-8 (ATS).
-- Got a thought on this column or on Stanford sports? E-mail me at email@example.com! The ones I like best will end up in next week's E-Mailbag.
Troy Clardy is a reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, which airs Saturday mornings on Fox Sports Net Bay Area. Clardy hosts "Stanford Sports Weekly", which airs Wednesday evenings at 8:00 pm on KNTS (1220 AM) in San Francisco. He also hosts Cardinal men's basketball pregame shows on Stanford radio network flagship station KNEW in San Francisco, and "College Football Today" on KNBR 1050 in San Francisco.
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