Stanford football faces a tough task this week in heading to Corvallis – a place which has historically caused the Cardinal some trouble – to face Oregon State while also dealing with the first week of school, having a shorter week of practice, and trying to move past an emotional win.
To top it off, Stanford could be without starting quarterback and reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Kevin Hogan, who may be a game-time decision with a sprained ankle.
Hogan has started in 35 straight games for Stanford and thrown 886 passes in his career. The two men vying to replace him in case of an injury, sophomore Keller Chryst and junior Ryan Burns, have a combined total of two attempted passes.
However, head coach David Shaw and Stanford are fully confident in the team no matter who plays under center against the Beavers.
“They’re young quarterbacks,” Shaw said. “They get you really excited about their potential. You try and push them towards that potential every day. Both guys have a chance to be very good. Both guys are on the verge of being ready. We’ll see if we have to see how ready this Friday.”
“It doesn’t matter who we have out there, everyone has their job and the assignments stay the same,” said senior offensive tackle Kyle Murphy about potential adjustments the line would need to make if Hogan can’t play. “I’m fully confident in everyone on our team to do the job. Whoever has to be called up will be ready at any position.”
Additionally, Stanford will most likely be without another one of its team captains in fifth-year senior outside linebacker Kevin Anderson, who has been bothered by an undisclosed injury. Anderson leads the team with 2.5 tackles for loss and is second with 20 tackles.
The Cardinal will be boosted by the return of senior defensive end Nate Lohn and sophomore inside linebacker Bobby Okereke. Lohn was held out of Saturday’s game against USC due to injury while Okereke was cleared to play towards the end of last week but still sat out the USC game. Both should see the field against the Beavers.
Though a victory over a top-10 foe is special to all participants, Saturday’s win over USC felt especially sweet to a few members of the Cardinal who grew up in Southern California.
Junior guard David Bright, who saw extensive action as an extra lineman in the win, attended Mater Dei High School in Orange County, one of the hotbeds of talent that feeds the USC pipeline.
“It was a great experience, probably honestly one of the best days of my life so far,” Bright said. “I just loved it and enjoyed it, and to be able to do that in front of my friends and my family down there and carry that win with me until next year is awesome.”
Kyle Murphy, who went to San Clemente High School in Orange County, faced three former classmates on USC’s roster. Like nearly every Southern California football player, he also grew up following USC football.
“Obviously that’s a huge game every year, especially going down to the Coliseum,” Murphy added. “They’re always a great team – year in and year out one of the most talented teams in the country.
“Particularly being from SoCal I kind of grew up a USC fan – most people down there do especially because there’s no pro team down in Los Angeles. That was a huge win in front of tons of family and friends and just in front of the whole scene of the Coliseum with the people and the torch.”
Senior safety Kodi Whitfield not only faced three former teammates from Loyola High School, but he also directly matched up with several friends who lined up at receiver. Of the 18 receivers on USC’s roster, 14 went to high school in Southern California.
“It’s huge. It’s always huge to play down in LA specifically,” Whitfield said. “It’s funny because the Coliseum is probably ten minutes tops from my high school, because you can just go straight down Venice. But knowing all those guys too, sure there’s some innocent trash talk going back and forth, but to come out on top against the hometown team just feels great.”
“I knew a couple of the receivers too so even getting those 1-on-1 matchups was stressful cause I was like, ‘This is all my trash talk on the line.’”
Of course, the danger of an emotional win lies in focusing on it for too long. Whitfield acknowledged the need to move past the win and focus on the next opponent.
“The biggest thing is we can’t let that win be too big in our mind,” he said. “You have to attack each week with the same focus. You don’t want to win games that people say you’re not going to win and think it’s your Super Bowl.
“This week we came out focusing on Oregon State, but really the biggest thing is to play our best football each week no matter who’s in front of us.”
Stanford faces Oregon State at 7:30 p.m. this Friday on Fox Sports 1.