Still More Notes & Quotes: Stanford @ OSU

The Bootleg's Scott Cooley provides more discussion-worthy material from Tuesday's weekly press conference. The air of building confidence that comes from winning games is starting to show, although the team remains tightly-focused and humble as they prepare to head up to Corvallis to tangle with the always tough and talented Oregon State Beavers. Dam the Beavers, full speed ahead!

Notes and Quotes: Stanford @ OSU

 

What Are the Odds?

 

After another scintillating performance on Saturday against UCLA, Toby Gerhart has demanded the attention of the Heisman media hounds. He is appearing on nearly every Heisman watch list and even the boys in Vegas have taken notice.

 

Surfacing on the sports book "futures" betting board last week as a +10000 shot at winning the most prestigious award in college football, Gerhart quickly squeezed that number to +2000 after a 134-yard, three touchdown game last week. That's the difference of a $10 wager winning $1,000 last week and now $200 this week.

 

Not that it really matters because the fans get one collective ballot of 924 total, but you can show your allegiance to Gerhart and the Cardinal by casting a vote at ESPN.com. Follow the link here to vote.

 

"I think he is everything that the Heisman stands for," Harbaugh said of Gerhart. "You talk about production, value to a team, character, personality on and off the field, the unique talent and ability that he has – I think all of that definitely qualifies him."

 

Despite his uncertainty to play in this week's SEC showdown versus LSU, Florida QB Tim Tebow, the 2007 winner as a sophomore, remains the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman at +250. Longhorns' signal-caller Colt McCoy is closing the gap at +350, while two lackluster outings by the Cal Bears have RB Jahvid Best losing ground to Gerhart and the gang at +1500.

 

We would also like to point out that Gerhart has better odds than a couple of NCAA national darlings inOhio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor (+4000) and USC tailback Joe McKnight (+3000). The fourth member of the Pac-10 represented in the Heisman odds is Oregon State's elusive running back Jacquizz Rodgers (+7500).

 

Cardinal Injury Report

 

First the bad news…senior defensive tackle Brian Bulcke will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery. Bulcke sustained ligament damage in his wrist at the beginning of the season and had been playing through the pain. He sat out of the contest against UCLA in hopes of attaining medical redshirt status for this year (having played in only four games) in order to come back for a possible fifth season in 2010.

 

Junior running back Jeremy Stewart missed last week's game with a right knee injury. It appeared as though Stewart would be available for the bout against UCLA, and Harbaugh hinted that he would, but freshman Stepfan Taylor served as Gerhart's backup. Stewart was dressed on the sidelines, but did not participate in the game.

 

Defensive end Erik Lorig strained a groin early in practice last week. He appeared early in the game versus the Bruins, but just couldn't go and did not see any second-half action. Coach Harbaugh plays his cards pretty close to the vest and wasn't divulging too much information as far as injury updates and determined Lorig's status as "questionable".

 

Rumors have swirled that sophomore "Sam" linebacker Alex Debniak could possibly return this week. Again, Harbaugh wasn't inclined to discuss his player's status in detail, but when asked directly if Debniak was coming back this week, he replied, "Maybe, we'll see." (Hey, in fairness, there is no injury status requirement in college football!)

 

The same intentionally-vague answer was provided for veteran offensive lineman Matt Kopa who fractured his foot during Stanford's opener against Washington State.

 

Top 25

 

The upsets in Week 5 weren't as rampant as the first four segments of the 2009 college football season, but a Top 10 team still went down as Oklahoma was knocked off by Miami as seven-point favorites. The BCS rankings will be calculated after next week's slate of games.

 

In the AP poll last week, Stanford only received love from two writers and the S.F. Chronicle's Ray Ratto was one of them. The media got their heads straight after a strong win against UCLA and the Card attracted the votes of 50 writers from across the country this week. The only teams ahead of Stanford after the Top-25 were Georgia, Houston (who lost to UTEP!) and Wisconsin.

 

In the Coaches' Poll, the number of ballots cast for Stanford to be in the Top 25 increased from 20 to 43. The same trio of teams from above was ranked ahead of the Card in this poll as were South Carolina and Notre Dame.

 

After the win against the Bruins on Saturday, Coach Harbaugh said, "I think there's kind of been a thing around the country with coaches and players where Stanford is not the preferred BCS-type of football school that they think of."

 

Well, it is now apparent that there is a building buzz surrounding Palo Alto. The reality is that the Cardinal are better than at least 90 of the 120 FBS teams in the country. If Stanford can come away with a victory in Corvallis this Saturday, it will be hard-pressed to keep the team out of the rankings.

 

If it's any consolation, ESPN.com has Stanford as the No. 25 team in its poll or "Power Rankings".

 

Superstitious Bunch

 

It appears the recent success of the football team has brought out the superstitious nature in some of the Stanford players. Not Voodoo dolls and unwashed underwear (that we know of), but from a hairy standpoint.

 

"Yea, I'm a little superstitious," said safety Bo McNally. "When I had my long hair two years ago I was making a lot of plays and last year I didn't make too many, so I figured I would try to bring mine back. A couple of guys on the team aren't shaving or getting haircuts until we lose."

 

Offensive lineman Chase Beeler is one of those guys avoiding the razor. "I guess it may have become [a superstition]. I started out in camp and at one point I shaved the neck, but [the beard] has taken on a life of its own since then. Seeing that we're doing what we're doing and being that I am a superstitious guy, I probably won't be shaving it until after the season."

 

Linebacker Clinton Snyder was sporting a "Mull-hawk" (hybrid mullet-Mohawk) before the Wake Forest game, but after the loss cut off the mullet part. He informed the media on Tuesday that his hairstyle may change again if the team loses.

 

Quarterback Andrew Luck was a little hesitant to jump on the superstition wagon. "I can't remember the last time I shaved. If my mom calls and tells me to shave, then I probably will shave. Until then, I'm a little too lazy to shave."

 

Playing the Favorite

 

At the Vegas windows, Stanford has been the favorite in every game except for one this season. At Washington State in Week 1 the Card were 17-point favorites, versus San Jose State 18-point favorites, against Washington were nine-point favorites and against UCLA, five-point favorites. Stanford is one of the most profitable teams in the NCAA from a wagering standpoint, going 4-1 ATS so far.*

 

The only ATS loss came against Wake Forest in Week 2. The game opened as a "pick", but closed with the Deacons being labeled as a three-point favorite. This week, despite being on the road, Stanford is favored slightly by two points over the Oregon State Beavers.

 

TWU's Newest Member

 

The Cardinal offensive line has been amazing this season. It has allowed only three sacks in five games and has helped Toby Gerhart become the No. 4 rusher in the country. The "Tunnel Workers Union", as the o-line is known, is just a bunch of regular, hard-working guys that open holes.

 

Gerhart has told the media that he feels like he belongs to that tight-knit group of offensive linemen. Chase Beeler confirmed Gerhart's feelings, but maybe not in the same way Toby envisioned him being a part of the TWU.

 

"He looks it too," Beeler laughed. "As far as running backs go, he is a pretty big guy. I think if we were out to dinner, it wouldn't surprise me if he was mistaken for an offensive lineman. He feels like one of the guys because he takes the hits and takes the lumps just like we do."

 

Coaching Connections

 

Jay Harbaugh is in his second season as a student assistant at Oregon State. The program's media guide states that he performs a variety of duties with the Beavers football team, but his top priority this week must have been to cut off all communication with his father. Coach Harbaugh told the media on Tuesday that he and his son have not spoken "at all this week".

 

The Beavers head coach Mike Riley served as the head man for the San Diego Chargers from 1999-2001. Jim Harbaugh played quarterback for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000. Harbaugh said that he learned much from Riley and the two remain great friends today.

 

"I have great respect for Coach Riley – on all levels – as a coach, person and friend," he said. "Of all the coaches in the Pac-10, he's the one I admire the most. His integrity and approach to the game, he makes it fun."

 

Pop Quizz

 

Whom do you think Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers resembles, in terms of his style? I likened him to Barry Sanders in the game preview, but Coach Harbaugh and McNally compared him on a collegiate level.

 

"He is just a little shorter than Jahvid [Best] which sometimes works to his advantage because you have a hard time finding him," Harbaugh said. "He's so quick at changing his running course or jumping his gap, you've got to have your eyes in the right spot. But they are quick, fast and extremely dangerous runners."

 

"He's a special back," McNally stated. "Normally kids that size can't pack the punch, but he's dynamic in the sense that he can run through you, around you and right next to you and you wouldn't even know he was there. He's so small and compact it's hard to get a good shot at him. I think he is really similar to (former OSU star) Yvenson Bernard. He is very similar – a real small back, shifty and really powerful - so he is going to be a tough test. Just like Bernard was every time we played him."

 

So whom does Jacquizz Rodgers remind you of?



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