STANFORD, Calif. – This week has been unlike any other in the 20 years Mike Gleeson has been Stanford football’s video director.
Even though there’s a tight turnaround between the Cardinal’s 35-17 victory last Saturday at UCLA and the Pac-12 championship game rematch tonight, Gleeson’s typical task is simplified. All he has to do is add video from the first game and recalculate statistics to the preparation done last week.
After that, things get complicated.
“The staff, in a way, they have to shuffle the deck as if it didn’t happen. Or did it?” Gleeson said. “How do you want to look at it? Do you want to change things? Do you want to keep things? Now we’ve got the mind games with UCLA. What did they show? What do we think they showed compared to what they’ll do this week?
“Well, we have 11 other games. So we kind of know what they’re about, just like they know what we’re about. But did they show everything that they could against us? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s the mind game.”
Call last week a dress rehearsal, although even that may be in question. Stanford will wear its black uniforms, helmets and shoes for only the fourth time. UCLA is expected to swap out those dark blue “L.A. Night” jerseys for its traditional white tops, gold pants and gold helmets on the road.
With the league title at stake, what else the eighth-ranked Cardinal (10-2, 8-1) and the No. 17 Bruins (9-3, 6-3) bring out of the closet for what could be a rain-soaked sequel at Stanford Stadium might not be so obvious. They will be the first opponents in major college football matched against each other for a regular-season finale and conference title game in consecutive weeks.
After the opener at the Rose Bowl, booking a return trip to Pasadena for “The Granddaddy of Them All” on Jan. 1 could be tricky. Both staffs lost a day of game planning and practice, and the preparation has everybody involved contemplating how to approach Part II.
“I cannot recall ever being in this situation before,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “I don’t know that it benefits either team, or is hard on any team. It just comes down to going out on Friday night and executing. Any familiarity we have with them, they’ll have with us.”
Stanford’s video staff usually compiles highlights of about four games from when its opponent faced a team that mirrored what the Cardinal does, including last season’s meeting if the opponent has the same coaching staff or style. In this case, last week’s game stands for last season’s game. Then producers send the videos and analytical reports to coaches and players through an application on their iPad playbooks.
“Our challenge is to make sure that we don’t outsmart ourselves,” said Stanford coach David Shaw, who won his second straight Pac-12 Coach of the Year award this week. “But at the same time, that we are as diverse as we can be, to make sure that the things that we did positively, we’ve got to know that UCLA is going to come back and have answers for it. The things that they did positively, we’ve got to make sure that we fix those things that hurt us.”
The Cardinal controlled the first matchup in familiar, physical fashion.
Stepfan Taylor rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns and is 35 yards shy of Darrin Nelson’s school rushing record of 4,169 yards.