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October 4, 2013

Notebook: Slowing the Huskies

Stanford will face its biggest test of the young season on Saturday when they host No. 15 Washington. And while Stanford's offense is more dynamic than it was in last season's 17-13 defeat, the Huskies' offense is also a more efficient unit.

Though the first four games of the 2013 season, Washignton is averaging a shade under 40 points per game. They're also ranked No. 11 in the nation in rushing yards, at nearly 289 per contest.

In contrast, Washington averaged only 24 points per game in 2012.

"I think Keith Price has a better command of that offense," Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov said. "(There's) definitely been a maturation process. I think his relationship with his offensive line has improved. You can look at the sack numbers they've given up so far, I think only kike four sacks. That really helps the cohesiveness of the offense. Between that and Bishop Sankey running the ball well they have great balance."

Washington's offense isn't just more potent than it was last year, it's also operating at a faster pace. The Huskies have adopted a fast-paced offense this season.

"I think it's the norm now," Skov said of facing an up-tempo offense. "It used to be kind of like the off-chance we're playing someone with a hurry-up offense but now we practice for that every single week."

Washington's new offense has drawn comparisons to Oregon's. But the Huskies and the Ducks have largely different offenses beyond tempo of play, Cardinal outside linebackers coach Lance Anderson said.

"I think the biggest thing is the tempo and I think they have incorporated more of the zone read game into their run game, which is similar to Oregon," Anderson said. "But the biggest thing I see is they're still running their offense. It's the West Coast offense, it's a lot of the same pass game concepts. They're doing some similar things in the run other than the read stuff which is what they've done before. I think the biggest thing is they've just sped up their offense. They're running their offense, they're just running it faster."

Stanford moves into new facility: The Cardinal started the process of moving into its new $21 million facility this week. The building contains a bigger, modern locker room, several players' lounges, and spacious meeting facilities.

Beyond assisting the current Cardinal coaches and players in their day-to-day operations, the facility's impact could also be felt on the recruiting trail.

"I think it will help a ton," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "It shows the dedication of the university. A lot of our close alumni and donors helped a ton to get that all organized. Really, it shows how serious we are about football. We needed new facilities, we needed more space. We needed a bigger, nicer locker room, we needed the meeting space and it's exactly what we needed. It's beautiful."

Related: Inside Stanford's new facility

Injury updates: Barry Browning is expected to play on Saturday, as is linebacker Kevin Anderson, who appeared to suffer some sort of arm or wrist injury last week.

Defensive lineman Ikenna Nwafor, on the other hand, will not play against the Huskies. "Ikenna will be out for a few weeks," Shaw said.

Linebacker Blake Martinez could return to practice as soon as next week, though his contact will likely be limited initially.

All Players United response: Two weeks ago, a group of college football players inscribed the slogan "APU," an acronym for , on their wristbands in an act intended to help bring reform to the NCAA.

Stanford's captains ultimately decided against participating in the protest to avoid any possible distraction from their season. But they didn't necessarily think the movement was without merit.

"We're not against it," said Ben Gardner, one of the Cardinal's four captains. "As student-athletes it's something that we all have to talk about and get on the same page about, but we said that it's not something that we want to take away from our team goals on game day. So it wasn't the sort of thing that the captains said we're not going to join this movement, we're not going to be a part of it. It's just not going to be a part of our gameday experience and take away from our team goals."

Still, Gardner does think that players should have a larger voice in the future of the business side of college football.

"Even as older players that won't be around to see maybe a rule change I think that it's something that definitely needs to be brought to the forefront and talked about just because of how lucrative this business is," Gardner said. "Changes down the road could possibly benefit the younger generation. I think it's something that definitely needs to be talked about. Here at Stanford given our platform as a high-academic institution I think that we could potentially be at the forefront of that."

Another one of the Cardinal's captains, Shayne Skov, said that schools should strive to improve their graduation rates before addressing the player compensation issue.

"Before we even look at paying athletes, let's turn an eye to graduation rates and making sure people will end up leaving with a degree," Skov said. "Because whatever the hypothetical $20,000 I'm going to make over the four years of college pales in comparison to the potential impact of leaving somewhere with a degree. I think as you look back at potentially paying athletes, that's not the issue. The issue is making sure people leave with their degrees and I think it's kind of tragic to a certain degree that's not the discussion we're having."

What about the issue of other entities profiting from the use of players' likeness?

"I think at a certain point it's an ethical problem because you're saying that you're generating revenue off people that don't see any of that money," Skov said. "It's a difficult subject. But I think at the same time before we even talk about any sort of compensation we need to look at make sure people graduate and leave with their degrees."

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