New stadium, 'Killer' Edwards to greet Cougs

SPEND A FEW MINUTES perusing the Stanford website and three things stand out. First, that the winless Card football team is awful, getting outscored by an average of 22 points per week. Second, that their new stadium is a tribute to both generosity and a remarkably accelerated construction schedule. And third, most curiously, that they don't call the head football coach the head football coach.

Walt Harris is in his second year at the helm of Stanford football, yet when you click on the school's list of coaches you find an offensive and defensive coordinator, plus all the usual position coaches. But you don't find a "head coach." Nope, those wacky brainiacs from Palo Alto, apparently as testament to the notion that fundraising knows no bounds, call their head coach the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.

Stanford hasn't even named its stadium in honor of the alum who donated a whopping $25 million to the $90 million project, but they have seen fit to put Bradford M. Freeman's name on Walt Harris' office door. One can only take a wild guess as to how much coin this investment banker (and one-time Stanford player) must have dropped on The Farm in order to make ol' Walt look like a patrician pansy when handing out business cards at the annual coaches' convention.

Cougars vs. Cardinal
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
2 pm

WHERE:
New Stanford Stadium

TELEVISION:
None

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings. In the Bay Area, Stanford broadcasts are heard on KNBR (1050 am).

THE LINE:
Cougars by 10 1/2

LOCAL CONNECTIONS:
Stanford's running backs coach is Buzz Preston, the RB coach at WSU under Mike Price from 1994-97. Stanford also has three players from the state of Washington: Edmonds junior Bobby Dockter, a third-team OL; Tacoma sophomore Tavita Pritchard, the No. 3 QB; and redshirting freshman WR Marcus Rance of Yakima. Pritchard's dad, Dave, played on WSU's 1981 Holiday Bowl team.

THE SERIES:
Stanford leads 32-23-1. The Card have won the last two, but WSU has won the last three at Stanford.

Alas, titles are the furthest thing from Coach Harris' mind right now. His Card are off to an 0-3 start. They were pasted by Oregon in the opener, lost by a point to lowly neighbor San Jose State and then christened their new stadium with a 35-9 flogging at the hands of Navy this past weekend.

They hope to turn things around this week -- and get their first-ever victory in the new building -- against the school that helped the Card turn things around a year ago: Washington State.

The 2-1 Cougars, coming off a dramatic 17-15 win over Baylor in Seattle, have been installed by oddsmakers as 10 ½ point favorites.

WSU was favored by 13 ½ a year ago in Pullman. And then Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards, who will be gunning for his third-straight win over the Cougars this Saturday, ran and passed the Card to a 24-21 victory. Edwards fired three TD passes and accounted for 331 yards in total offense that day.

The year prior, in a game also played in the Pullman, the Cougars were 1 ½-point favorites and lost 23-17 when Edwards opened the second half with a 67-yard bomb to Evan Moore.

The production has been less prolific so far this season. Stanford is being outscored by an average of 40-18. The defense is surrendering an average of 479 yards per week. And about two-thirds of that yardage is coming on the ground –- a direct result of the fact eight of the defensive linemen Stanford has played this season had never taken a snap in a college game until three weeks ago. Moreover, the DLs unrivaled leader, junior Pannel Egboh, is still not 100 percent after suffering a broken leg in last year's game at WSU.

NEW STADIUM IS A SHOWPIECE
Moments after the season finale last November against Notre Dame, the bulldozers were out dismantling Stanford's 84-year-old stadium -- a cavernous edifice of 85,500 seats that Mike Price once said had the power to put fans, coaches and players to sleep.


The new, more intimate Stanford Stadium seats 50,000.

Forty-two weeks after work began, the New Stanford Stadium opened a week ago following a rigorous construction schedule that saw crews work two, eight-hour shifts per day. The new stadium has a capacity of 50,000 with dramatically improved sight lines that bring fans 70-to-100 feet closer to the field, plus new amenities throughout.

The size of the stadium, 50,000 seats, was settled on to create more demand for tickets, and to pump up the home-field advantage that a full house produces. Former athletic director Tom Leland said they were loosely striving for a feel like Oregon's Autzen Stadium.

Funding came via $25 million from billionaire developer John Arrillaga, $30 million from the athletic department's endowment, $30 million from other donors (the bulk from just a handful), and $5 million from athletic department reserves.

NOTABLE NOTES:

WSU junior kicker Loren Langley on Monday was named Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his game-winning field goal in the waning seconds that have the Cougars a 17-15 victory over Baylor.

Trent Edwards isn't just a Cougar killer. The fifth-year senior ranks seventh all-time at Stanford in passing yards (5085), total offense (5339), touchdown passes (35), completions and attempts. He's also 10th in career completion percentage (.563).

Evan Moore, who broke the Cougars' backs in 2004, has a team-high 146 receiving yards on eight catches this season. He played sparingly last week against Navy due to a foot injury. He missed nearly all of 2005 with a dislocated hip.

Six true freshman have made an immediate impact on the Cardinal in 2006, three on offense and three on defense Two of those true freshman were in the starting lineup in last week's game with Navy, linebacker Brian Bulcke and receiver Richard Sherman. In addition, the other four true freshman playing key roles are RB Toby Gerhart, WR Austin Yancy, NT Sione Fua and DE Levirt Griffin. Gerhart, who also plays for Stanford's baseball team, is the team's leading rusher with 177 yards on 38 carrries.

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