Stanford Football: Jordan Pratt

1. When USC finished practice Tuesday, center Max Tuerk and quarterback Cody Kessler stayed behind to work on snaps. Tuerk, a junior, has started 14 games at guard and six at tackle. But the Trojans need a center, so he’s learning the position this spring. He learned to tape his fingers -- two rings of tape on two fingers, one ring of tape on the other two -- and to carry a towel, all to keep sweat off the ball. He has learned to stay lower and, as he put it, get his feet in the ground faster. “The more reps you take, you don’t have to think about the snap as much,” Tuerk said. “You can think about the blocks.”

2. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is working more under center this spring. “It’s different,” the redshirt junior said. “Being under center and being in the shotgun are two different views. When you are under center, you are right there. ... You have to take your seven-step drop, push up in the pocket while keeping your shoulders (level).” If Hundley has a peccadillo, it is maintaining the balance of his shoulders. UCLA coach Jim Mora said he wants to work Hundley under center to expand the offense. If it helps Hundley in the 2015 NFL draft, even better.

3. Stanford wide receiver Jordan Pratt will be 29 years old when the football season begins. He enrolled after spending eight seasons pitching in the Dodgers’ minor-league system. “I’ll make a comment, ‘Yeah, I remember, Sept. 11, 2001, I got called out of my high school class,’” Pratt said. His teammates respond, “‘High school? I don’t even remember that. I was in preschool.’ There is this time gap. Sometimes I relate better to the TAs in my class than I do the other students. It’s a lot easier for me to talk to the professors. It’s a little easier for them to relate, too.”
Today the countdown of Stanford's Top 5 position groups with room to improve begins.

One position group will be highlighted each day this week.

[+] EnlargeTy Montgomery
AP Photo/Tony AvelarTy Montgomery was an explosive player for Stanford, but the Cardinal need more production from other wide receivers and tight ends.
No. 5: Wide receiver

Must replace: None.

Returning starters: Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste

Players to watch: Michael Rector, Kodi Whitfield, Jordan Pratt, Francis Owusu, TE Dalton Schultz

Outlook: If Stanford is going to remain atop the Pac-12, its group of receivers will likely need to play a bigger role next season. Outside of Montgomery (61 catches), only Cajuste (28) had more than 16 catches for the Cardinal a year ago. That number figures to rise as the group of pass catchers becomes the most experienced position group on the team. Montgomery has a chance to become of the nation's best receivers and Cajuste, when healthy, proved to be a reliable option in the intermediate passing game. Aside from those two, the Cardinal have several intriguing prospects. Rector proved to be the team's most dangerous deep threat as a redshirt freshman in 2013, catching 14 passes for 431 yards -- an average of 30.8 yards per reception. The offseason will be important for his development as the staff tries to mold him into a more balanced player -- when he was on the field last year, it was pretty much just to run deep routes. Whitfield was used more on underneath routes, but this touchdown catch was easily Stanford's play of the year. Freshman Schultz has a chance to fill the void left by the departure of tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo following the 2012 season. He was the No. 1-ranked tight end in the country this year.

What we learned in the Pac-12: Week 15

December, 8, 2013
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Five things we learned in the Pac-12 this week:

When Stanford is on, it’s on: Home or away, when the Cardinal are at their best, they are tough to stop. And while Tyler Gaffney’s 22 carries for 133 yards and three touchdowns were huge, obviously, it was the fact that the Cardinal could effectively set up play-action off of those runs that was a key to the game. Kevin Hogan was a very efficient 12-of-18 for 277 yards and a touchdown, including an average of 15.4 yards per completion. He was able to find Jordan Pratt, Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste (two catches, 120 yards) on some big plays. That more than anything kept the Sun Devils defense guessing all night.

[+] EnlargeDavid Shaw
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsDavid Shaw and Stanford celebrated another Pac-12 championship after running over Arizona State.
Line play was key: You need only see the final stat sheet of rushing yards to know which team won the battle at the line of scrimmage. The Cardinal pounded out 240 yards on 33 carries (5.5 yards per) with four touchdowns on the ground. Arizona State had just 138 yards on 43 carries with one touchdown for an average of 3.2 yards per carry. Part of that was Marion Grice not being available and D.J. Foster getting hurt. Part of it is Stanford’s run defense is really good. See the goal-line stand in the third quarter.

Not so special: It was a rough night for Arizona State from a special teams perspective. Punter Alex Garoutte averaged just 33 yards per punt, Zane Gonzalez missed his only field goal attempt (31 yards) and Stanford’s Ty Montgomery enjoyed an average of nearly 30 yards per kick return. Said Arizona State coach Todd Graham of his special teams: “It’s absolutely sad.”

Fun facts (via ESPN Stats & Information): With the loss, ASU falls to 7-1 at home this season and end an eight-game home winning streak. … Stanford is going to the Rose Bowl in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1970-1971. … The Cardinal outscored ASU 80-42 in two games this season. … In its past 10 meetings with teams ranked in the AP Top 25, Stanford is 10-0, including 6-0 this season.

Oregon to the BCS? Probably not. But it doesn’t hurt to hope. With NIU losing Friday night, it opened up the possibility of a second Pac-12 team, namely Oregon, going to a BCS bowl game since there are no non-AQ teams going to BCS bowl games this year. Michigan State’s win over Ohio State throws an additional wrench. Various projections are floating for Oregon. But the most likely scenario is still the non-BCS Alamo Bowl. Orange is all but a lock to be Ohio State-Clemson. Best bet for a BCS bowl is probably the Sugar against Alabama -- and of course the BCS ranking will play a role whether Oklahoma (currently No. 17) gets into the top 14. Texas beating Baylor and Oklahoma State taking care of business certainly would have helped. Neither happened.

Stanford lunchtime links

December, 21, 2011
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Catching up on the day's news.

Awards season underway

December, 5, 2011
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Awards season is here. First, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was named the recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the nation’s top quarterback who best exemplifies outstanding character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities and athletic accomplishments.

“Andrew personifies everything that my father stood for. He is an outstanding quarterback and an outstanding individual, a leader both on and off the field,” John C. Unitas, Jr., President of The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, said in a released statement.

Luck passed for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns for a 167.5 passer rating in leading fourth ranked Stanford to an 11-1 record. He quarterbacked the Cardinal to back-to-back seasons of at least 11 wins for the first time ever, and now ranks first on Stanford’s all-time career list for touchdown passes (80), total offense (10,043 yards), and completion percentage (.664).

Beyond his numbers on the field, Luck carries a 3.48 cumulative grade point average and was selected to the Pac-12 Conference’s All-Academic First Team.

The Cardinal also dished out some team awards -- the majority of which are voted on by the players.

The recipients:
  • Kevin Anderson, Jordan Pratt, Andrew Stutz: Greg Piers Team Award (top scout team player).
  • Max Bergen, Alex Debniak: Phil Moffat Team Award (top special teams player).
  • David DeCastro: Frank Rehm Team Award (top lineman in the Big Game).
  • Ben Gardner: Deswarte-Ellar Team Award (top sophomore).
  • Ryan Hewitt: Frank Rehm Team Award (top back in the Big Game).
  • Delano Howell: Jack Huston Team Award (unheralded efforts).
  • Andrew Luck: Tommy Vardell Team Award (top senior/junior); Irving S. Zeimer Team Award (team MVP).
  • Ty Montgomery: Menlo-Atherton Team Trophy (top freshman).
  • Chris Owusu: Jim Reynolds Team Award (senior with courage).
  • Stepfan Taylor: Gundelach Team Award (top junior).
  • Michael Thomas: Al Master Team Award (leadership/respect).
  • Griff Whalen: Team Technician Award (strength and conditioning).

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