Don't expect Stanford to ease Henry Anderson back into the lineup when he returns from a knee injury that has sidelined him for nearly eight weeks.
According to Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason, Anderson will play in the vicinity of 40-50 snaps against Oregon on Thursday.
"Henry right now I think has done a great job of really getting himself ready to go," Mason said. "He's one of our dominant big men. He's back. We need him. It's time to go."
Stanford hopes that Anderson and the rest of its defense will find a way to make an Oregon offense that has rarely been challenged this year uncomfortable.
"We have to make sure that we try to move these guys around a little bit, try to get them out of their comfort zone, which is staying on schedule," Mason said. "They do as good a job as anyone in the country in terms of staying on schedule. It's 3rd and 4. It's 3rd and 1. It's 2nd and 3. We have to do a great job of being able to get them off schedule and then just draw them close and get them into our type of football game."
"These guys do a great job of speeding up the tempo and blowing teams out in the third quarter. What we have to do is we have to get them into deep water. Sharks take their pray into deep water. That's exactly what we plan on doing. We're going to get ourselves into deep water and see exactly what happens. Let's get to the fourth quarter, let's see what this game looks like and let's go."
Along with Henry Anderson, wide receiver Devon Cajuste and kicker Jordan Williamson are expected to play, though Williamson will "probably not kickoff," David Shaw said. Cajuste will be outfitted with a knee brace and is now only dealing with "minimal pain," per Shaw.
It was on a similar stage last season that Williamson, of course, made the biggest kick of his Stanford career. The Texas native booted a 37-yard field goal in overtime to hand Oregon its first defeat of the 2012 season.
Stanford special teams coach Pete Alamar was confident Williamson would come through in the clutch.
"What I was thinking (before he attempted the kick in overtime) was he was going to put it through the pipes," Alamar said. "We had talked earlier in the game when he had the one miss and I told him two things. I said one is I know that this opportunity is going to come again. (Also), I (told him) I had a dream that you kicked and won this game the night before. More than anything it's just having confidence and belief in your guy. But I felt like he was going to go out and do his job and he was going to put it through the pipes."
Williamson's game-winning kick was just one part of a superb special teams game played by the Cardinal. Daniel Zychlinski pinned Oregon inside of its own 20-yard-line on five of his six punts, and Jordan Williamson's kickoffs achieved similarly effective results.
"We got great kickoffs from Jordan and we got some really timely punting from Daniel and the coverage units did their thing," Alamar said. "It's us doing our job, our part of the job, which is to create field position for the offense and for the defense. Put the defense on a long field, put the offense on a short field. You go back and you look and Zychlinski had a good sting punt in, we had some where we backed them up. There were some really timely hits on his part. So yeah, as far as jumping in and being one of the three phases and doing our job, our part? I thought those guys did a great job."
Barry Sanders and Kodi Whitfield have been in a platoon of sorts at the punt returner spot in recent weeks. What determines when Stanford decides to use each player?
"With Kodi and Barry you have two guys that are both viable returners that do a nice job," Alamar said. "Field position in some respects (determines which player returns a particular punt). Kodi is a little bit more experienced than Barry and so sometimes if we're backed up maybe we're more inclined to use Kodi. (We) feel very good about both of those guys though with the ball in their hands and doing some things. Obviously Barry is pretty dynamic with the ball in his hands. And he's new. He didn't start working on really returning punts at this level until about last year at this time. So it's a very new thing for him. He's done a great job. You see both of those guys with every ball that they catch in a college game becoming more and more comfortable and they play off of each other really well."