Jan. 1, 2012
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Andrew Luck has long made it clear that he will not exercise his final season of eligibility and that Monday's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State will be his final game in a Stanford uniform.
But that hasn't stopped coach David Shaw from considering the remote possibility of another year with his star quarterback.
"I rode back from practice yesterday on the bus and the entire time we were talking, I'm thinking `What can I say next to entice him to come back for another year?' said Shaw, Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.
"I couldn't think of anything that would have worked anyway."
Resigned to one final game with Luck, a two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up, Shaw was asked what he will miss most about Luck.
"There's not one thing," Shaw said. "He's a future College Football Hall of Famer. There's nothing that he doesn't do well.
"It's an unbelievable four years with him. His leadership, his ability to be an ultimate competitor, to stay even keel. For that guy to have that drive and fire and still think so clearly in high-pressure situations with all the things we put on his plate ... he's one of a kind."
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The team had an informal team function through midnight on New Year's Eve at the team hotel, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and then were off to their rooms for the 12:30 a.m. bed check.
Shaw didn't make it that long. He said he was in bed long before midnight.
"I was exhausted," he said.
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Linebacker Shayne Skov, one of the most dominant players in Stanford's Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech last year, remains a vocal leader on the team despite his inability to play because of an early-season knee injury.
"I see the pain on Shayne's face sometimes," Shaw said. "I know he wants to be out there. Right now, his role is different. His role is helping guys get ready to play. His secondary role is to get himself healthy."
In an effort to get Skov into the right mind frame, Shaw told him, "You're not getting healthy enough to play, you're getting healthy enough to dominate."
To which Skov replied, "You better believe it, Coach."
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The five or so weeks off since Stanford completed its regular season against Notre Dame on Nov. 27 have enabled the Cardinal to get healthy again.
Stanford was largely hobbled from the USC game on Oct. 29 on, but still went 4-1 over the final stretch.
"We're so much more healthy than we were the last month of the season," Shaw said. "All of our tight ends being healthy, Jordan Williamson, our kicker, being healthy. (Strong safety) Delano Howell finally being healthy. He was never healthy the last month of the season. He's now 100 percent.
"Just to have guys with fresh legs. Ty Montgomery did a great job for us the second half of the year, but you could tell the last couple of games, his legs weren't fresh. They're fresh now.
"Stepfan Taylor had one of his best weeks of practice all year. So, we're excited to be healthy, we're excited to be fresh. We're excited to play this game."
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Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy on Shaw:
"We don't see a lot of teams on the West Coast because of the games and it is really late at night. So, I studied a little bit once I realized that we were going to play Stanford. Getting to visit with David briefly a couple times and knowing a little bit about his background and his father, I have a lot of respect for him."
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Stanford was to stage its final practice with a closed 30-minute walk through at Pinnacle High School on Sunday afternoon.
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Stanford's honorary captains for the Fiesta Bowl are Tiger Woods and Greg Penner.
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Because of the Arizona Cardinals' home game against Seattle on Sunday, the Fiesta Bowl teams were unable to perform a formal walk through at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Though Stanford did not go the stadium, Oklahoma State went on Saturday and took a look around.
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The game kicks off at 5:30 p.m. PT and will be televised on ESPN and broadcast on KNBR 680.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics