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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Stanford coach has all the luck

PULLMAN – Football coaches have been known to gush over a player they admire, saying things like “he’s the kind of player you wouldn’t mind marrying your daughter,” and other over-the-top pronouncements. But Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh took it to a new level Tuesday on the Pac-10 coaches’ conference call when asked about his quarterback Andrew Luck. “I was thinking just the other night about this,” Harbaugh said. “Two people in my life, my wife and our quarterback, Andrew Luck, have a lot in common.” If Harbaugh, the fourth-year Cardinal coach, had stopped there, he might still have been OK. But he didn’t. “They are just both perfect,” he said. “With most people you say, ‘if they only didn’t do that or do this,’ or you wish they could do this or do that. But I don’t do that with my wife Sarah or with Andrew Luck. They are both just absolutely perfect the way they are. “For a football coach that’s pretty great, to have a great wife and a great quarterback.” Allrighty then. Well, there are no stats on Sarah’s ability to pass or run, but Luck has shown both in this his redshirt sophomore season. In leading the 12th-ranked Cardinal to a 5-1 record (2-1 in the Pac-10), Luck has thrown for 1,538 yards and has a four-to-one, touchdown-to-interception ratio, with 16 scores offset by just four picks. He’s also rushed for 242 yards, second on the team, including a 52-yard scramble for a score against Wake Forest. “He’s a great runner and not necessarily by design,” said Washington State coach Paul Wulff, whose team faces the Cardinal this week in Northern California. “If he doesn’t like what he sees, he’s going to run it. I think that’s my biggest concern, more of those situations that happen then him throwing the ball.” Yeah, but is he perfect? Wulff didn’t got that far. But he did gush. “From what I’ve seen, he’s the most complete guy (in the Pac-10) when it comes to throwing the football and running it as well as he does,” Wulff said. Around the conference UCLA faces its toughest task of the season, traveling north to Eugene for a Thursday night game against the now-No. 1 ranked Oregon Ducks. Is coach Rick Neuheisel making his team aware of the Ducks’ ranking? He doesn’t have to. “Whether I talk about it or not, our guys are going to be well aware this is the team that’s risen to the top of the land.” … On the other side of the coin, no one could pin down Chip Kelly about Oregon’s first-ever No. 1 ranking, though’s Ted Miller got the closest. Kelly did say the top ranking now is important because it makes it easier to earn it Dec. 6, when it matters. … There was one subject Kelly enjoyed talking about. He spent time telling stories about watching Pac-10 football when he was a coach in the East. “I used to watch all the Pac-10, especially when I was coaching,” he explained. “When I coached on the East Coast, we kicked off at noon. You get done 3:30, 4 o’clock, by the time you got home, 7 or 8 o’clock at night, it’s 4 o’clock on the West Coast, so you’re catching the afternoon games as there are teeing off. So I was a big fan of the Pac-10 because it was the only games I could ever see. When you’re a coach in college football, you never see games in your own time zone.” … By the way, Neuheisel made his college debut at quarterback against the Ducks in 1979. He was so far down the depth chart, even the UCLA radio announcers didn’t know who he was. It didn’t help he had inherited a number (20) of a player who had transferred. “They were scrambling in the booth trying to figure out who the hell was in the game,” Neuheisel said. … The up-and-down nature of UW’s season is starting to wear on coach Steve Sarkisian. “The biggest thing is to focus on the task at hand,” Sarkisian responded when asked how he could make the Huskies more consistent. “You can’t get caught up worrying about what just happened and not trying to look down the road at the potential ‘what-ifs.’ “ … Arizona will face UW without usual quarterback Nick Foles, out with a knee injury suffered against WSU. Backup Matt Scott, a better runner than Foles but not nearly the passing threat, will be at the Wildcat controls. “He just has to go out and play and play like Matt,” coach Mike Stoops said. “Not try to be Nick. He has to do what he does well. If he has to improvise, then improvise and use his athletic ability.” … When coach Mike Riley decided to go for two at the end of the second overtime in a 35-34 loss to UW, Oregon State had tight end Joe Halahuni slightly open in the end zone. Ryan Katz’s pass barely got by linebacker Cort Dennison and hit Halahuni in the hands. But he couldn’t hold on. “It was tough moment,” said Riley, “and it was actually a tough play. It was one of those bang-bang plays. … When you get to that point of the game, somebody’s going to feel great and somebody’s not.” … If WSU’s Marquess Wilson isn’t the best freshman receiver in the conference, then USC’s Robert Woods is. He’s caught 32 passes this season for 515 yards and is averaging 73.6 yards a game. Plus, he’s shown a maturity beyond his years. “He’s just one of those rare, rare true freshmen that come in and prepare like the seniors do,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said.