Oct. 7, 2010
By Michelle Smith
STANFORD, Calif. -
Andrew Luck is the Stanford starting quarterback
and, frankly, he hopes not that many people
There are academic stars and political powerhouses
and titans of technology every day on the Stanford
campus, being smart, being inventive, being
accomplished. Luck is just happy to blend in.
And does he blend in. Luck is proving to be all of those
things in his second season as the Cardinal quarterback
in a season that's shaping up to be the program's best in
a very long time.
"So far it's been good," Luck said. "We've made some
mistakes and we've made some good plays, and we have
a lot more work to do."
Luck finds himself following in the considerable
footsteps of Stanford quarterbacks such as Jim Plunkett,
John Elway, Steve Stenstrom and Trent Edwards.
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has taken to calling
Luck the "anti-celebrity" quarterback, the "anti-big-manon-
Luck isn't looking for attention, even when the spotlight
shines directly on him.
"The most striking thing about Luck is he's really,
genuinely humble," Harbaugh said. "He has a good mix
of humility and confidence. He's almost embarrassed if
somebody compliments him or wants to talk about him.
He's very quick to deflect to teammates."
Luck said he wants to be "just another Stanford
"There are so many incredible students and people
here, I just feel like I would like to move around pretty
anonymously," Luck said.
He said the attention he is receiving -- stories in the
New York Times and USA Today, features on ESPN
and in the Sporting News -- is just part of being a
quarterback on a team that is ranked nationally.
"My teammates keep me down to earth when I need to
be," Luck said.
When does he need to be?
"All the time, they make fun of me constantly, about everything," Luck chuckles.
Whether he feels that way or not, in his second year as
a starting quarterback, Luck is a star. Like Toby Gerhart
last year, momentum is building for Luck's inclusion in
the Heisman Trophy conversation.
But Luck isn't going to go there. He wants to win this
week's game and then the next.
And he would certainly like a chance to play in the
bowl game that he missed last season after a broken
finger kept him out of the Sun Bowl, the Cardinal's first
bowl appearance since 2001.
It was not a fitting end to what had been a stellar
redshirt freshman season for Luck, who threw for 2,575
yards and 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He
led the Pac-10 in passing efficiency.
Last year, the Stanford offense belonged to Gerhart
and his smash-mouth running style. Gerhart's success --
he finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy --
allowed Luck to come in and play without the pressure
of carrying the offense. Gerhart produced nearly 1,900
yards of offense and set the tone.
But Luck is the focus of the offensive playbook now,
taking snaps behind one of the top offensive lines in the
country and leading a group of young tailbacks and an
experienced wide receivers group.
Harbaugh said he thinks Luck has improved.
"He's decisive and accurate, and he really wants
to understand everything about the scheme and the
opponent," Harbaugh said. "He's not one of those guys
that just goes back and slings it and doesn't understand
the protection and what everybody is doing."
As the story is well known by now, Luck is a
quarterbacking legacy. His father Oliver was an NFL
quarterback for the Houston Oilers and is now the
athletic director at West Virginia. Andrew has said that
he doesn't talk football with his dad, but they talk about
his football experience and how to make the most of it.
"He reminds me to have fun," Luck said.
Oliver Luck said his son is a better player than he was.
"I'll be the first to admit that. He is a pretty good
player," Oliver Luck said. "It's fun to see him: number
one, do well and see him develop this year into a team
leader, as opposed to last year when he was still young
and playing for the first time. I know from talking to
Coach Harbaugh he's gotten very vocal at practices."
Luck finds himself in good company in the Pac-10 this
year, where the conference is full of talented passers
such as USC's Matt Barkley, Washington's Jake Locker,
Arizona's Nick Foles, and Cal's Kevin Riley.
Luck admitted that he is keeping an eye on the other
top quarterbacks in the Pac-10.
Harbaugh said that's only natural.
"Having played the position myself at the college level,
you go into the game, and you want to help your team,
and you want to help your team more than the other guy
helps his team," Harbaugh said.
Luck laughed when asked about how he spends his
"down time" away from football. Between classes and
practice, meetings, homework, and media demands,
down time is in short supply.
But Luck said he finds himself hanging out with friends
and watching soccer highlights on the Internet. Luck
became a huge soccer fan when he lived in Germany
when his father worked as an administrator in the World
League of American Football and then NFL Europe.
Luck said he is feeling much more confident in the
early days of his second season as a starter than he did
in the first. It's all a matter of experience.
"It makes a huge difference," Luck said. "What's
lost in the whole game thing is how many spring ball
practices you go through and how much summer
conditioning, throwing to the wideouts and then another
"There's been a lot of football played by this team and
myself between that year gap. I definitely feel a lot more
comfortable. I think I'm starting to understand things a
little more out on the football field. I guess last year, I still
didn't know what to expect."