Stanford Football: T.J. McDonald

Pac-12 2012 awards announced

November, 26, 2012
The Pac-12 conference has announced its 2012 individual honors and all-conference first and second teams as voted on by the coaches.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, DE, Arizona State.
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon.
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Williams, DE, USC.
Coach of the Year: David Shaw, Stanford.


QB Marcus Mariota, Fr., Oregon
RB Kenjon Barner, Sr., Oregon
RB Ka’Deem Carey, So., Arizona
WR Marqise Lee, So., USC
WR Markus Wheaton, Sr., Oregon State
TE Zach Ertz, Sr., Stanford
OL Hroniss Grasu, So., Oregon
OL Khaled Holmes, Sr., USC
OL Brian Schwenke, Sr., California
OL Xavier Su’a-Filo, So., UCLA
OL David Yankey, Jr., Stanford


QB Matt Scott, Sr., Arizona
RB Johnathan Franklin, Sr., UCLA
RB Stepfan Taylor, Sr., Stanford
WR Austin Hill, So., Arizona
WR Robert Woods, Jr., USC
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, So., Washington
OL Jeff Baca, Sr., UCLA
OL David Bakhtiari, Jr., Colorado
OL Sam Brenner, Sr., Utah
OL Kevin Danser, Sr., Stanford
OL Sam Schwartzstein, Sr., Stanford


DL Scott Crichton, So., Oregon State
DL Dion Jordan, Sr., Oregon
DL Star Lotulelei, Sr., Utah (2)
DL Will Sutton, Jr., Arizona State
LB Anthony Barr, Jr., UCLA
LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford
LB Chase Thomas, Sr., Stanford (2)
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, So., Oregon
DB Jordan Poyer, Sr., Oregon State
DB Ed Reynolds, Jr., Stanford
DB Desmond Trufant, Sr., Washington


DL Henry Anderson, Jr., Stanford
DL Morgan Breslin, Jr., USC
DL Ben Gardner, Sr., Stanford
DL Datone Jones, Sr., UCLA
LB Kiko Alonso, Sr., Oregon
LB Michael Clay, Sr., Oregon
LB Brandon Magee, Sr., Arizona State
DB Deone Bucannon, Jr., Washington State
DB Alden Darby, Jr., Arizona State
DB T.J. McDonald, Sr., USC
DB Nickell Robey, Jr., USC


PK Vince D'Amato, Jr., California
P Jeff Locke, Sr., UCLA
RS Reggie Dunn, Sr., Utah
ST Jordan Jenkins, Sr., Oregon State


PK Andrew Furney, Jr., Washington State
P Josh Hubner, Sr., Arizona State
RS Marqise Lee, So., USC
ST David Allen, Sr., UCLA

  • By School: OREGON and STANFORD placed the most players on the first team with five selections each, followed by OREGON STATE with four.
  • By Class: Of the 26 first-team selections, 14 are seniors, five are juniors, six are sophomores and one freshman.
  • Unanimous: Only one player was named on the first-team ballot of all 12 head coaches--WR Marqise Lee of USC.
  • Two-time selections: Two players are repeat first-team selections from last year--DT Star Lotulelei of Utah, LB Chase Thomas of Stanford.
  • All-Academic: Two players were named to the first team on both the All-Pac-12 Team and the Pac-12 All-Academic Football Team--P Jeff Locke of UCLA, OL Khaled Holmes, USC. In addition, OL Kevin Danser of Stanford, DL Ben Gardner of Stanford and Michael Clay of Oregon were named second-team All-Academic and second-team All-Pac-12.

David Shaw, Terrence Stephens, Jordan Richards, Ty Montgomery, Stepfan Taylor, Stanford Cardinal, Alex Debniak, Trent Murphy, Chase Thomas, Henry Anderson, Ryan Hewitt, David Yankey, Sam Schwartzstein, Cameron Fleming, Shayne Skov, Oregon Ducks, Levine Toilolo, Ben Gardner, Arizona Wildcats, Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, UCLA Bruins, Kevin Danser, USC Trojans, Drew Terrell, Colorado Buffaloes, Terrence Brown, Usua Amanam, Johnathan Franklin, Joseph Fauria, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, Arizona State Sun Devils, California Bears, Oregon State Beavers, T.J. McDonald, Andre Heidari, Nickell Robey, Jordan Poyer, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas, Keenan Allen, Steve Williams, Marqise Lee, Deone Bucannon, Daniel Zychlinski, Kevin Hogan, Alex Carter, Star Lotulelei, Ed Reynolds, Brandin Cooks, Markus Wheaton, Matt Scott, Bishop Sankey, David Bakhtiari, Ka'Deem Carey, Dan Buckner, Kasen Williams, Shaq Evans, Desmond Trufant, Justin Glenn, Sean Parker, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Silas Redd, Dion Bailey, John White IV, Michael Clay, Dion Jordan, Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota, Taylor Kelly, Xavier Grimble, Datone Jones, Morgan Breslin, Travis Long, Will Sutton, Colt Lyerla, Jake Fischer, Josh Hubner, Scott Crichton, Reggie Dunn, Isaac Remington, Kiko Alonso, Taylor Hart, Eric Kendricks, Andrew Furney, Brandon Magee, Marion Grice, Anthony Barr, Alden Darby, Alex Lewis, Andrew Abbott, Andrew Hudson, Andrew Seumalo, Austin Hill, Avery Sebastian, Brendan Bigelow, Brett Bartolone, Brian Blechen, Brian Schwenke, Carl Bradford, Cassius Marsh, Chris Coyle, Chris McCain, Christian Powell, Cyrus Coen, D.J. Foster, Damien Thigpen, Daniel Munyer, Daniel Simmons, Danny Shelton, Darragh O'Neill, Darryl Monroe, David Allen, Deveron Carr, Drew Schaefer, Elliott Bosch, Evan Finkenberg, George Uko, Grant Enger, Hayes Pullard, Hroniss Grasu, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Isaac Seumalo, Jake Brendel, Jake Fisher, Jake Murphy, Jared Tevis, Jaxon Hood, Jeff Locke, Jeremiah Poutasi, Joe Kruger, John Martinez, Jordan Jenkins, Keelan Johnson, Kenneth Crawley, Kyle Negrete, Kyle Quinn, Leonard Williams, Marques Moseley, Nate Fakahafua, Osahon Irabor, Rashaad Reynolds, Rashad Ross, Sam Brenner, Sean Sellwood, Shaq Thompson, Teondray Caldwell, Terrance Mitchell, Tevita Stevens, Tony Burnett, Travis Feeney, Trevor Reilly, Trevor Romaine, Vince D'Amato, Wade Keliikippi, Wes Horton, Will Perciak, Xavier Cooper, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Yuri Wright

Pac-12 superlative tracker

October, 3, 2012
We're tracking the offensive, defensive and coach-of-the-year races in the Pac-12.

For a more thorough look at offense, re-read our Heisman Trophy update.

Offensive player of the year

1. De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon: Thomas scored a touchdown against Washington State but it was a relatively quiet game for him. For the season, he's rushed for 302 yards (9.7 yards per carry) with five touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 193 yards and three TDs.

2. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: He ranks fourth in the nation and first in the Pac-12 with 139.4 yards rushing per game. He rushed for 111 yards on 15 carries in the blowout victory over Colorado. He also caught three passes for 48 yards.

3. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon: Barner rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Washington State. He averaged 9.8 yards per carry and ran for scores of 22, 10 and 80 yards. He's second in the Pac-12 in rushing with 121 yards per game and his nine rushing touchdowns leads the conference.

4. Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State: Kelly is first in the Pac-12 and 16th in the nation in passing efficiency. The Sun Devils are second in the Pac-12 with 38.4 points per game. Kelly threw three TD passes in the win at California and now has nine for the season.

5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC: Barkley was off last week. His 12 TD passes still leads the conference, but he's fifth in the conference in passing efficiency.

Keep an eye on: UCLA QB Brett Hundley; USC WR Marqise Lee; Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton. Arizona QB Matt Scott; Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor.

Defensive player of the year

1. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: Won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-high eight tackles (six solo), including three sacks, and forced a fumble in a 27-12 victory over California. He's second on the Sun Devils with 34 tackles, including 10 for a loss. Also has 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two pass breakups.

2. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Off last week. Fourth on the Utes with 19 tackles. Also has four tackles for a loss, a sack, two pass defenses and two forced fumbles.

3. Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford: Had a sack and four tackles against Washington. He's third on the Cardinal with 23 tackles. He also has five tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks.

4. Morgan Breslin, DE, USC: Leads the conference with 2.38 tackles for a loss per game and has five sacks.

Keep an eye on: T.J. McDonald, S, USC; Travis Long, OLB, Washington State; Chris Young, LB, Arizona State; Datone Jones, DE, UCLA; Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.

Coach of the year

1. Mike Riley, Oregon State: The Beavers, who went 3-9 last year, are now 3-0 and ranked 14th. 'Nuff said.

2. Chip Kelly, Oregon: Ducks are atop the Pac-12 and ranked No. 2. If they ended up winning a fourth consecutive Pac-12 title and earn another berth in the national title game, Kelly wins.

3. Todd Graham, Arizona State: While the Sun Devils are lacking a marquee win, they've been impressive during a 4-1 start. Of particular note is their discipline and efficiency on both sides of the ball. That wasn't what you said about the Sun Devils in the past, even during the good times.

Keep an eye on: Jim Mora, UCLA; Steve Sarkisian, Washington

Pac-12 superlative tracker

September, 26, 2012
We're tracking the offensive, defensive and coach-of-the-year races in the Pac-12.

For a more thorough look at offense, re-read our Heisman Trophy update.

Offensive player of the year

1. De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon: Thomas is 24th in the nation in all-purpose yards and 13th in the nation in scoring, with 10.5 points per game. He also was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which, yes, counts for something.

2. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: He ranks fourth in the nation with 146.5 yards rushing per game. Only had 45 yards rushing in loss to Oregon State.

3.Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State: Kelly is first in the Pac-12 and ninth in the nation in passing efficiency. The Sun Devils are second in the Pac-12 with 41.3 points per game. Only six touchdown passes hurts.

4. Matt Barkley, QB, USC: His stock took another hit with a middling performance in the victory over California. His 12 TD passes still lead the conference, but he's fifth in the conference in passing efficiency.

Keep an eye on: Arizona QB Matt Scott; Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor; UCLA QB Brett Hundley; USC WR Marqise Lee; Oregon RB Kenjon Barner.

Defensive player of the year

1.Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Fourth on the Utes with 19 tackles. Also has four tackles for a loss, a sack, two pass defenses and two forced fumbles.

2. Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford: He's got 16 tackles, four tackles for a loss and a sack. The leader of what might be the conference's best defense.

3. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: He's second on the Sun Devils with 26 tackles, including six for a loss. Also has 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups.

4. Morgan Breslin, DE, USC: Leads the conference with 9.5 tackles for a loss and is tied for second with five sacks.

5. Chris Young, LB, Arizona State: He's second in the conference with 8.5 tackles for a loss. Tied for third in conference with eight tackles per game. Has two sacks and a forced fumble.

6. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA: He's third in the conference with eight tackles for a loss. He also has two sacks and 13 total tackles with a forced fumble.

Keep an eye on: T.J. McDonald, S, USC; D.J. Welch, Oregon State; Travis Long, OLB, Washington State.

Coach of the year

1. Mike Riley, Oregon State: The Beavers are back in the national rankings. If they finish there, Riley could become the front-runner. Unless Oregon or Stanford goes undefeated.

2. Chip Kelly, Oregon: Ducks are atop the Pac-12 and ranked No. 2. If they ended up winning a fourth consecutive Pac-12 title and earn another berth in the national title game, Kelly wins.

2. David Shaw, Stanford: If the Cardinal eclipses Oregon in the North Division and wins the Pac-12, Shaw would have the inside track.

Keep an eye on: Todd Graham, Arizona State; Jim Mora, UCLA.

Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 6

August, 24, 2012
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

Most of this looks back, but, of course, there also is a good dose of projecting forward. A lot of good players, as it happens every year, won't make the preseason list. It is in their hands to make the postseason list.

You can review our 2011 postseason top 25 here.

6. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford

2011 numbers: Posted 52 tackles (33 solo) including a conference best 17.5 tackles for a loss. He also had 8.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and was second in the conference in forced fumbles.

2011 postseason ranking: No. 5

Making the case for Thomas: It's time to break the stranglehold wide receivers have had on this list for the past three days and look to defense. Thomas is the best outside linebacker in the conference and many would argue in the country. He opted to return for another season to improve his consistency and up his draft status. And both should see significant improvement. Last year Stanford's run defense was tops in the conference, allowing less than 85 yards per game and it was the only team to hold opponents to an average of less than 100 yards per contest. Thomas was a big reason for that number. Expect him to be even better this year with the return of Shayne Skov at inside linebacker. When Skov went down, defenses were keying in on Thomas, which makes his production last year that much more impressive. With six of last year's front seven returning -- plus the return of Skov and young playmakers like James Vaughters and Noor Davis -- Thomas headlines a run-stopping unit that should once again challenge for best in the conference.

No. 7: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
No. 8: Keenan Allen, WR, California
No. 9: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
No. 10: T.J. McDonald, S, USC
No. 11: Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
No. 12: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
No. 13: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
No. 13: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
No 14: Nickell Robey, CB, USC
No. 15: John White IV, RB, Utah
No. 16: John Boyett, S, Oregon
No. 17: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
No. 18: Khaled Holmes, C, USC
No. 19: Cameron Marshall, RB, Arizona State
No. 20: Dion Bailey, LB, USC
No. 21: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
No. 22: Curtis McNeal, RB, USC
No. 23: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
No. 24: Isi Sofele, RB, California
No. 25: Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State

Pac-12 teams getting defensive

August, 22, 2012
T.J. McDonald, Star Lotulelei, Shayne SkovUS PresswireThe Pac-12 boasts some of the best defensive talent in the country: USC safety T.J. McDonald, Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov.
In the depths of their offices, some of the best offensive minds in college football are grinding.

Chip Kelly is pondering how to get 10 more plays per game out of his offense.

Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach are re-re-revolutionizing their attacks.

David Shaw is trying to figure out how to get nine offensive linemen, five tight ends and three fullbacks on the field at once.

Lane Kiffin has more offensive toys than an FAO Schwarz display.

"Option, option spread, I, heavy-I, pistol, triple-backs, full house, triple tights; it's something new every week," said Oregon linebacker Michael Clay. "It makes every week pretty interesting."

The Pac-12 is widely regarded as the conference of offenses. And they are only getting better. Prior to 1990, only twice has a team led the conference with a scoring average of more than 40 points. Since 1990, it's happened nine times -- including USC's conference best of 49.1 points per game in 2005.

That means being a defensive player in the Pac-12 is awfully difficult.

[+] EnlargeKyle Whittingham
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillKyle Whittingham says his defense must be able to adapt to the different offenses in the Pac-12.
"You get Andrew Luck one week and then Matt Barkley the next," said USC safety T.J. McDonald. "The preparation is on a whole other level compared to other conferences. There are great quarterbacks and great receivers and running backs. But the culture of this conference has changed. They've forced defenses to get better."

As the spread offense became chic and more teams were stretching defenses, they were forced to respond in kind. Gone are the days of everyone lining up in a base 4-3 and slugging it out. Now defenses are evolving into multiple fronts, exotic and disguised coverages and zone blitzes.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham should know. He and UCLA coach Jim Mora are the only head coaches in the conference with a defensive background.

"We're definitely the minority," Whittingham said with a laugh. "It's a broad spectrum. Defensively, in this day and age, you have to be able to defend it all anyways. When the spread became en vogue 10-12 years ago it caught on like wildfire. Now almost everyone has a version of it. You have to be equipped to deal with whatever you come across week in and week out and have a scheme that is flexible enough and adaptable enough that you can cover all of your bases.

"Things go in cycles. The spread becomes en vogue and takes a while for the defense to catch up. Then the zone blitz was giving offenses fits and the offenses had to catch up to that. I think everything in football is cyclical and if offense has the upper hand right now, it won't be too further down the road where that role is reversed."

And that time might be coming sooner than later. Utah, California, USC, Oregon and Stanford all have defenses that are very good and bordering on elite. But the numbers don't always add up because in this conference, you are going to give up yards and you are going to give up points.

"Part of it is innovation," Shaw said. "Part of it is Chip Kelly and Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez. The thing is, you can use the word 'spread' offense for half the teams in our conference, but they are all different. You can say 'pro-style' offense, which is what you would say about us and USC, but they are so different. The hard part of playing defense in our conference is every single week, you are playing against something you didn't see the week before.

"Cal has a pro-style offense. But their passing is different than our pass game and their running is different than our running game. And theirs is different from USC's. You are going to play a nine-game conference schedule and every single offense you play is going to be completely different. Defensive coordinators -- and we've got a really good group in this conference -- defensive coordinators and players have to flush a lot of what you watched the week before and study film hard the next week because you're going to see a different animal."

The conference also has the players to back up the defensive hype. Stanford linebackers Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov are projected as two of the best at their positions. Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is regarded as the best defensive tackle in the nation and McDonald is a returning All-American.

And while perception might never really change nationally since the conference keeps chugging out A-list offensive players, Washington quarterback Keith Price says he's seen the difference.

"The difference between us and some of those other conferences is the defensive linemen," Price said. "We've always had good skill players. They say the trenches is what separates the SEC from the other conferences. But you can see now that our conference is starting to get there. When you look at teams like Cal and Utah, their defensive lines are really tough."

Shaw, players react to Owusu injury

November, 5, 2011
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Jonathan Martin and Chase Thomas are a couple of cats you probably don’t want to tick off. But that’s what the Oregon State fans did in the second quarter of Stanford's 38-13 win Saturday afternoon.

When wide receiver Chris Owusu was laying on the ground after suffering a concussion, Thomas and Martin said the Oregon State crowd was taunting Owusu -- who was put on a stretcher and in a neck brace before being transported off the field in an ambulance. Neither player disclosed what the fans were specifically saying.

“The fans were kind of rude about it and making fun of him,” Thomas said. “That lit a fire. They were yelling things that shouldn’t be said when someone is hurt on the ground like that. We took it personally.”

It hit a little too close to home for Martin, who said he did his best to brush it off.

[+] EnlargeChris Owusu
Jim Z. Rider/US PRESSWIRE.Saturday's concussion was the second one Chris Owusu has had in the past four games.
“That’s my roommate,” Martin said. “One of my best friends. It gets to you a little bit.”

Conversely, the Oregon State player who put the hit on Owusu, Jordan Poyer, apologized to head coach David Shaw when he came on to the field to check on his wide receiver.

“He came up to me and apologized and I put my arm around him and said ‘Hey, don’t worry about, just play. Play hard, man,’” Shaw said. “It happens in this game. It’s hard. It’s a split-second decision between ducking your head and just barely missing his head or getting helmet-to-helmet. I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s hard. But when it’s close, the officials have told us they have to call it.”

Stanford has been at the center of the illegal hit firestorm this season -- and unfortunately -- several of those plays have involved Owusu. The receiver was released from the hospital and rejoined the team after the game for the trip back to Palo Alto. But this is the third time in the last four games that Owusu has left the game and not returned after taking a vicious hit.

Four times this season a Stanford receiver has gone out for the game because of a hard hit -- three of those times it’s been Owusu and only twice was an illegal hit called despite contact above the shoulder pads. The fourth involved tight end Coby Fleener, who took a helmet-to-helmet hit against Arizona.

“It’s scary,” said Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. “It’s scary when that happens. Especially when it happens to a guy that has had it happen before. As far as the mood, it’s a tough thing. When something like that happens in the middle of a game, you just have to flush it and forget about it, as harsh as that may sound. For me, it was a little contemplative. You start thinking a little bit. First thoughts are ‘Please be OK, Chris, please be OK.’ It’s a tough thing, but you have to sort of forget about those things in a game as harsh as that may sound.”

Shaw did not rule Owusu out for Saturday’s big showdown against Oregon -- though it seems unlikely that after sustaining his second concussion in 21 days he’d be back on the field. This is at least the third concussion for Owusu in the last 13 months.

“There are a lot of checks he’s got to pass in order to get back on the field and we’re going to make sure he passes all of those before he plays,” Shaw said. “With concussions, they’re fickle. They change. He had one a couple of weeks ago and gosh, by Monday he was great. He still hadn’t passed all the tests yet but he felt great. So we will be overly cautions. I’ll tell you that. We’ll be overly cautious with Chris Owusu.”

The hit by Poyer came at a critical juncture of the game. Owusu fumbled after the reception and it was returned for a touchdown -- but Poyer was flagged for an illegal hit which negated the play. Rather than the score being tied 14-14 in the second quarter, the Cardinal added a field goal to go up 17-7 at the break.

Owusu was involved in an illegal hit last week against USC that drew a flag on a critical third down late in the game that kept Stanford’s drive alive. USC safety T.J. McDonald was penalized and then suspended half a game by the Pac-12 conference. According to Shaw, Owusu did not have a concussion as a result of that hit.

“We’ve heard from all of the officials and the NCAA and our conference -- if it’s close, they are going to call it,” Shaw said. “And I don’t think that one was close. They have to call it. In order for us to make this game as safe as we can be, when it’s going to be close, we have to call that so we can teach our guys how to make tackles. Not so high, not close to the head, so this game can be as safe as it can be so they have to make that call.”

Stanford lunchtime links

November, 1, 2011
The Tuesday talk about No. 4 Stanford.

No news on Stanford injuries

October, 30, 2011
According to a Stanford spokesman, there will not be any injury updates today.

The Cardinal took plenty of bumps and bruises in Saturday night's thrilling 56-48 win over USC in triple overtime. But no loss was more significant than tight end Zach Ertz, who went down with what appeared to be a knee injury on the opening kickoff.

Ertz, one of Stanford's "Big Three" tight ends, was helped off the field, and by the end of the first quarter he was on crutches with a brace on his right leg.

He sat on the bench, looking despondent most of the first half with players and coaches parading by to offer encouragement.

After the game, head coach David Shaw said he did not have an update on Ertz's condition.

"We're not sure," Shaw said. "We're going to get him checked out. Gosh, we have so much three-tight end offense, to lose a guy on the first play of the game was tough. Ryan Hewitt had to step up and play a bigger role. Lee Ward had to step up and play a bigger role. As did Geoff Meinken. We're one of the few teams that has three fullbacks and all three came in and played some great plays."

With Ertz going down, the Cardinal not only lose a valued playmaker, blocker and favorite red zone/third-down option for quarterback Andrew Luck, but they also lose a big portion of their playbook. Or as Shaw described it, a "healthy chunk." Stanford's three-tight end formations have given opposing teams fits all season, and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said they had to adjust how they were going to attack USC in Ertz's absence.

Heading into Saturday night's game, Luck had looked to Ertz significantly more than any other tight end. Of the trio, Luck had targeted Ertz 31 times in the first seven games, while looking to Coby Fleener 21 times and Levine Toilolo 12 times.

"I think we have a lot of great guys on the field," Luck said. "When someone goes out, it's the philosophy that the next guy has got to step up. Obviously, Zach is a great player. It's hard to replace him in a game like this. We hope he's playing next week. But I don't think the playbook changes too much."

The playbook might not, but the options in the passing game do. The Cardinal were still able to run some of their jumbo packages with additional offensive linemen and fullbacks -- which is fine for the running game. But they lose the mid-range passing option off of those sets with Ertz out of the game.

"One of the things that we benefit from playing multiple linemen sets is we can always plug in a lineman at one of those tight end spots," Hamilton said. "Of course, we're limited in the passing game. But at the same time, it's our job to come out and control the line of scrimmage all the time."

Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin also missed some time after appearing to roll his ankle. He too was assisted off the field, but was able to return for Stanford's late-game heroics. He was in a boot after the game.

Wide receiver Chris Owusu also took a big a hit on Stanford's final offensive drive in regulation and he did not return to the game. It's the second big hit Owusu has taken in three weeks after a concussion knocked him out of the game against Washington State.

Shaw has been critical -- without being critical -- of Pac-12 officials for not calling personal-foul penalties on questionable hits. He's previously cited the helmet-to-helmet hit on Fleener that knocked him out of the Arizona game and the Owusu hit against Washington State as plays that should have drawn flags, but did not. Saturday night, however, USC safety T.J. McDonald was flagged for the hit on third-and-6 that kept Stanford's drive alive in the closing minutes of regulation. Six plays later, Stepfan Taylor scored on a 2-yard run that tied the game at 34-34 to force overtime.

Take 2: USC vs. Stanford

October, 27, 2011
Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller looks at two steps USC needs to take to upset the Cardinal. Stanford blogger Kevin Gemmell counters with two steps Stanford must take to avoid the upset on the road.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireThe Trojans need a big game for Matt Barkley if they hope to upset Stanford.
Ted Miller: There are two steps that USC needs to take to upset Stanford. The first is to at least approach a stalemate at the line of scrimmage. That's easier said than done. Seven previous opponents have tried, and all seven badly failed. The next step is for Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley to attack a Cardinal secondary that has shown some vulnerability at times and will be missing its leader, safety Delano Howell. Start with the line of scrimmage. Stanford faces another highly rated run defense in the Coliseum after it utterly trenched one a week ago. Before Washington gave up 446 rushing yards to the Cardinal, it ranked 17th in the nation in run defense, yielding less than 100 yards per game. Now it gives up an average of 147 yards per game. USC boasts the nation's No. 11 run defense, surrendering just 91 yards per game. How might that number look on Sunday? Forget shutting down the Stanford ground attack. But what about holding it to, say, 150 yards? Same thing on the other side of the ball. Stanford ranks third in the nation in run defense (75.6 yards per game). What if the Trojans, who showcased a suddenly potent running game at Notre Dame, can get at least, say, 125? That seems like it would be enough to slow down the Pac-12's best pass rush, which should give Barkley time to connect with Robert Woods and company. In last season's 37-35 loss at Stanford, Barkley outplayed Andrew Luck, throwing for 390 yards and three touchdowns. If he can be as efficient again Saturday, and the Trojans' lines hold their ground, USC has a chance to end the Cardinal's 15-game winning streak and national title hopes.

Kevin Gemmell: There are two steps that Stanford has to take to avoid the upset. And the first starts on offense. Trees Company, Tree Amigos, whatever you want to call them, the tight ends are the difference-makers in this game, as they have been all season for the Cardinal offense. USC has an athletic secondary, and maybe outstanding safety T.J. McDonald (6-foot-3, 34 tackles, two interceptions) can take one of the three tight ends out of a play. But what do you do when the other two are on the field at the same time? It's the formations with Coby Fleener (6-foot-6), Zach Ertz (6-6) and Levine Toilolo (6-8) that make the Cardinal so difficult to defend. And then when they motion fullback Ryan Hewitt (15 catches, 143 yards, three touchdowns) out of the backfield, the 6-4, former tight end gives Luck a fourth receiving option that towers above the rest of the USC secondary. Plus, USC has been susceptible to big games by other tight ends this season. That's a mismatch the Cardinal will likely exploit every chance they get. The second step should be fairly obvious to anyone who has watched a Stanford game this season. Defensively, it all comes down to tackling. Stanford head coach David Shaw said after Week 1 that missed tackles in the secondary is what loses games. His players haven't proven him right yet -- specifically because they have been able to make the proper adjustments mid-game. But USC is faster than any team the Cardinal have faced this season, so one or two missed tackles could quickly turn into seven or 14 points. Last week we saw the Cardinal miss several one-on-one tackles that led to big plays for Washington early in the game. The emphasis this week has been on gang tackling, wrapping up and not simply dropping the shoulder. USC's offensive skill players will just bounce right off of that. Wrap up on defense, wrap up the win.


False Start For College Football Season?
Danny Kanell and Adam Rittenberg look back on Texas A&M and South Carolina from week 1. Did the first big game of the season point us in the wrong direction?


Friday, 10/24
Saturday, 10/25