Shaw reflected on the Washington contest while looking ahead to a 3 p.m. (PT) matchup this Saturday against Utah in Salt Lake City.
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On facing Washington’s hurry-up offense, Shaw had this to say: “This was the most physical game we’ve played this year. Both teams felt it. That’s what happens in football. But, because of the hurry-up offense, as soon as a guy lies down on the field, everybody boos and everybody goes crazy. It’s one of the myths of the hurry-up offense that you have to do that to slow it down. And it’s wrong.
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Stanford’s special teams units may have been the difference in the victory, not because of Montgomery’s kickoff returns, but with the team’s strong kick coverage. Stanford also uses many of its top-line players on special teams, rather than simply preserving them for plays from scrimmage.
“Special teams, especially about coverage units, are about running and hitting,” Shaw said. “You take your best guys who run and hit and put them out there.
“At the same time, we don’t worry about whether a guy gets hurt – the guy plays football. Find me a better guy on a punt coverage team than Shayne Skov. He’s phenomenal.
“It’s the biggest yardage switch in the game. Why wouldn’t you your best players out there?”
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As for Utah, the Utes have “multiple guys up front that are physical, hard to move, and hard to block. That’s something we have to take into account,” Shaw said.
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The season has progressed long enough so that decisions have been made on whether Stanford’s true freshmen will play or redshirt.
One who is playing is receiver Francis Owusu, the speedy brother to former Cardinal receiver Chris Owusu.
“He’s still learning, still growing,” Shaw said. “He hasn’t caught a ball yet, but we’ve put him on one or two plays a game. We’ll continue to increase that.”
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Shaw calls his senior inside linebacker A.J. Tarpley, “an NFL linebacker.”
Continued Shaw: “He gets overshadowed by Shayne, but A.J. Tarpley is always in the right place. Doesn’t miss tackles. The guy that you trust to do anything. He’s going to play on the next level.”
Tarpley’s fourth-quarter interception at the 5-yard line, off a pass tipped by Trent Murphy, turned out to be big for Stanford. However, he first expected Skov to intercept the ball.
“I saw the ball go up, and I saw a black jersey underneath it. It happened to be him,” Tarpley said. “I was running up to go find a block at first. Not until the last second did I realize he had his back to the ball. That’s when I put my hands out here and it fell right in.”
Tarpley was thinking touchdown, but made it only about 15 yards.
“One of my roommates, Devon Carrington, he cut in front of me and let the receiver go outside. He said, I should have made him miss.”
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Tarpley went to Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minn., one of the state’s large-school athletic powers. One of the school’s most famous football alums is James Laurinaitis, an All-America linebacker at Ohio State now with the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.
“He’s been a real role model for me,” Tarpley said. “I’ve been in contact with him. In the off-season, if I see him and if he has time, I ask if he can give me some tips.”
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Being from Minnesota, Tarpley experienced some chilly games, but never one colder than a game in the northern part of the state when it was, he said, 30 degrees below zero with the wind chill factor.
“In our high school, we weren’t allowed to wear sleeves,” Tarpley said. “They let us wear them for that game, but I didn’t. And I haven’t worn sleeves since then in a game.”
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Montgomery said his 39-yard touchdown catch right before halftime was all about quarterback Kevin Hogan.
“That was a great throw,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think he could have thrown it any better than he did.
“It was press coverage. He got to the audible that he needed to go to. I just released and tried to beat my man down the sideline. That was a perfect ball. If it wasn’t for the ball, I don’t think that play would happen the way it did.”
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Sophomore Dallas Lloyd is being used in much the same way as Hogan was last year, to run specific play packages that are geared to his strengths, largely as a mobile quarterback.
He described his routine on the sidelines: “I stay loose and stay focused. I read the plays to the other players that are around me so everyone can be watching and take mental reps. They call my number. I’m in and I’m out. It all happens really fast.”
Lloyd, of Pleasant Grove, Utah, feels comfortable in breaking down a defense, even if called upon for only a play or two.
“I have the mental part down already,” Lloyd said. “If we’re going to check out of a play, I know what to look for in the defense, who to read, and what to do.
“I have 25 seconds on the play clock. I can get out there, call the play, get up to the line of scrimmage, gain some yards and score touchdowns without thinking twice.”
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Lloyd and senior running back Ricky Seale have become paired in many play packages.
“I love Ricky,” Lloyd said. “He said, ‘Man, I’ve got to stay by you on the sidelines.’ And I told him, ‘Hey, your new name is Dallas. When they say ‘Dallas,’ that means you go into the game too.’
“I really trust him. We work together with our footwork and reads after practice every single day with coach (Tavita) Pritchard. We rep the plays that we’re expecting to get in the game. That’s definitely one of the reasons it’s going well so far, because we’ve put in a lot of work together after practice.”
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