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Thursday, October 13, 2011
Stanford news and notes

By Kevin Gemmell

Despite not having any concern with the outcome -- at least not publicly --  Stanford coach David Shaw said he takes his time when he fills out his weekly ballot for the USA Today/Coaches Poll. He’s one of 59 coaches (out of 120 FBS schools) that has a vote.

And he found this week’s results to be, well, a little peculiar.

“Dropping to a team that didn’t play was very interesting,” Shaw said, maybe joking, maybe not. “That must have been one heck of a bye week.”

He’s of course referring to Wisconsin, which didn’t play last week but managed to leap-frog the Cardinal from No. 5 to No. 4 in the coaches poll.

“I have a list and I rank them from top to bottom,” Shaw said. “I’ve put some good thought into it. I vote my conscious to a certain degree. I don’t necessarily stick to my guns from the week before if I see something that’s a little different. I try to watch whatever games are on during the day ... some of the games if I didn't see much, I try to see the highlights and I’ll read the recap of the game and then put them down.”

Polls have been a hot topic around The Farm of late -- specifically the up-and-down ride Stanford has taken in the AP poll since the season started.

Stanford's Chris Owusu
Last time Stanford played in Pullman, Chris Owusu pulled in this 63-yard touchdown -- the first of his career and the first thrown by Andrew Luck.
ADDITIONAL NOTES

Kick return issues

Following last week's opening kickoff, in which Colorado did a "sky kick" that Jeremy Stewart fumbled, Shaw said he and special teams coach Brian Polian have taken a good, hard look at how the Cardinal field kicks.

"To get a surprise on-sides and two bloop kicks, there is something people see and think they can get us on," Shaw said. "We've addressed those and hopefully we can get those better."

Pullman memories

Quarterback Andrew Luck has fond memories -- at least the ones he can remember -- from his last trip to Pullman, Wash. It was his collegiate debut.

"I remember not sleeping very well the night before," Luck said. "It was sort of a long walk from the locker room to the stadium. I threw my first touchdown to Chris (Owusu). Other than that, I don't remember much."

Speaking of Owusu

The wide receiver is coming off a shaky performance against Colorado where he caught just three balls for 34 yards. And he had the ball bounce off his hands that led to Luck's second interception of the season. It's old news as far as Luck is concerned.

"That's the great thing about football is you get to prove yourself every weekend," Luck said. "No one really cares what you did last weekend. Chris understands that. Everybody understands that."

Shaw said he'd like to see more production out of Owusu.

"I thought that Chris would have more yards and catches by now," Shaw said. "Some of the that is a function of playing two teams that rolled up to him and played a safety over the top and a guy in his face. He's had a couple opportunities and has made some and hasn't made others ... Before it's said and done, we're going to need Chris Owusu to make a lot of plays for us."

Gaffney rising

Running back Tyler Gaffney drew high praise from Shaw this week for his efforts against Colorado.

“It sounds to a certain degree cliché, Tyler has had two of the best weeks of practice since he’s been here," Shaw said. "Our guys know if you practice really well, we’ll reward you with playing time. And when you produce on game day, we’ll reward you with more opportunities. He’s earned those opportunities. He’s been really good.”

The flying helmet

No one averages more yards per carry on the Cardinal than fullback Geoff Meinken. Of course, he only has five carries -- but when he touches the ball, lookout. His stiff arm against Duke was great -- and it went for 40 yards. But he might have topped that when he plowed over Colorado's Douglas Rippy, forcing Rippy's helmet to fly off in the process. Defensive end Ben Gardner, who has had to try to tackle Meinken a few times, said it was a favorite during the film session.

"I've tried to tackle him and I do not envy the guys that have to do it on Saturdays," Gardner said of the 6-foot-4 fullback. "... If you're meeting Meinken in the A-gap, you're getting a mouthful. He brings 265 pounds to the party and he brings it low and hard."