In the fourth quarter of Stanford's 31-28 victory over Washington, Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov and defensive Ben Gardner went down with injuries. A teammate collided with Skov's knee and Gardner appeared to fall awkwardly on his arm or shoulder.
But Washington coach Steve Sarkisian wasn't convinced that the two star Cardinal defenders were really hurt. In a postgame radio interview, Sarkisian accused Stanford of faking.
"Their defensive-line coach (former UW assistant Randy Hart) was telling them to sit down," Sarkisian said. "I guess that's how we play here at Stanford, so we'll have to prepare for that next time. At some point, we'll get repaid for it. That never serves a purpose for us, and we'll never do that."
Stanford coach David Shaw didn't pull any punches in responding to those claims. The Cardinal coach opened his weekly press conference by delivering a lengthy statement on the matter.
"First and foremost we do not fake injuries," Shaw said. "We never have, we never will. The only time it's ever come up was laughing at other people that we believe have done it because we don't believe in it. It's not right. I don't care what Steve Sarkisian thinks he saw. We didn't do it against Oregon and we're for sure not going to do it against Washington. I have strict instructions from every boss that I have on campus from the president of the university, from the provost, from our athletic director, to run a program that's above reproach, that doesn't do anything questionable. We just don't. We don't allow it. We don't teach it. We don't coach it. Our kids don't. We don't tell our kids what to say. Ask them whatever questions you want, they'll answer you. You guys know that. I've been charged with operating a program with integrity. Without question. There's no doubts in what we're doing, why we're doing it and how we're doing it.
"Secondly, I believe it's unprofessional to call out an assistant coach on another team. It's unprofessional, it's disrespectful. The only d-line coach that I know of that's ever instructed a player to fake injury works at the University of Washington, not at Stanford. That's not calling a person out, that's stating a fact. There was punishment, there's been admittance and we've all moved on from it. That's the only case that I know.
"There's another comment that I have to address (from Steve Sarkisian), which is 'I guess that's how we play here at Stanford.' How we play here at Stanford is averaging 5.5 penalties a game. We're one of the least penalized teams in the nation. How we play here at Stanford has led to three BCS bowl games in a row, a Pac-12, a Rose Bowl an Orange Bowl championship and a 100 percent graduation rate. We're one of the most well respected programs in the nation. I'm not going to put that on the line just to beat Washington. Built into that also is that we've beaten Washington five out of six times. Last year they beat us and it was hard. It was tough to take. But we took it. They beat us. They outplayed us. They made more plays than we did. They won the game. I shook the opposing head coach's hand, congratulated him, told they played a heck of a game. It was tough. Some of you guys were there. That postgame press conference was hard. I didn't blame anybody else. We took it upon ourselves for not making enough plays. I think that's what coaches should do. Handle it with mutual respect and dignity."
Shaw took issue with Sarkisian calling out veteran Cardinal defensive line coach Randy Hart, who coached the position at the University of Washington for 21 seasons.
"We don't coach it, we don't teach it," Shaw said. "Our guys get screamed at for not getting up and going. That's Randy Hart. Randy Hart played for one of the toughest coaches to ever coach, (Woody Hayes) at Ohio State. That's Randy's mentality. He pushes our guys, he drives them nuts. It's never pull off, it's never fake this, fake that. No. It's go-go. That's all Randy ever says. 'Go, go, go, go, go.' Not to mention we don't believe in it and we profess we play as many guys in the country. We played 20 guys just on defense Saturday. Our philosophy is to train them to prepare for teams like this and to rotate guys and play them all. We played 20 guys and that's with not having our other backup linebacker (Blake Martinez) who hopefully will come back in the next couple of weeks and not having (starting defensive end) Henry Anderson. We could have played 22 guys if we could have. It's ridiculous."
Shaw said that Randy Hart was "very upset" to learn of Sarkisian's accusations.
"He's coached in this business longer than some of us have been alive," Shaw said. "And his reputation is impeccable and has been for 40 years. Every place he's been he's recruited with integrity and he's coached with integrity. To have it questioned now after all these years is absolutely disrespectful. I don't know if it's because he used to coach up there. I don't know if it's directed because of that or because he's done a good job recruiting up in Washington. I have no idea why. But to be that specific and to blame Coach Hart who has done nothing but work his tail off here and do things the right way I think is wrong."
Stanford linebacker A.J. Tarpley joked that if Stanford did fake injuries, they didn't do a very good job selecting players to go down.
"Going to Stanford we thought we were pretty bright," Tarpley said. "We should have thrown in Trent Murphy, our third defensive captain in there if we thought we were going to fake an injury. I don't understand where it comes from, but those guys you would think would be the last guys we'd want to take off the field."
Shaw agrees with replay overturn: David Shaw also responded to Steve Sarkisian's criticism of the instant replay booth's decision to overturn the ruling of a completed catch on the Huskies' fourth down play late in the fourth quarter.
"It was an incomplete pass," Shaw said. "I keep seeing and hearing the word controversial. It's not controversial if the ball hits the ground. It hit the ground. The replays showed it. Did I see it from the front? Absolutely, and I thought it was a catch. I said that after the game and I said it now. What I saw I thought was a catch. You watch the replay, the TV angle, with the guy up in the box where he's supposed to be and he's supposed to be dispassionate and he's supposed to be removed from the situation so he can make a judgment, the ball hit the ground. You can see from behind. It went into the player's chest and it bounced on the ground and then he cradled it. Incomplete pass. Now, all this talk is ridiculous and it's pulling away from what we should be talking about, in particular, which is two really good teams going at it and two unbelievable performances, one by Ty Montgomery and one by Keith Price. That's what we should all be talking about. Those two guys should have been vaulted towards the top of their positions in college football. But instead we're talking about a bunch of other stuff that amounts to nothing. I think it's disrespectful to the two teams, I think it's disrespectful to those two guys because they played their hearts out. I gave Keith Price a hug after the game. The kid played his heart out and should be mentioned like all these other guys as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation but instead we're talking about what somebody thought he saw and an obvious incomplete pass."
Assessing Hogan: Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan had arguably his worst performance as Stanford's starting quarterback on Saturday. Though he did make a few key plays, including a 39-yard pass to Ty Montgomery at the end of the first half, Hogan completed only 12 of 20 passes for 100 yards.
While admitting that Hogan missed a few throws, Shaw credited the Huskies' defense with putting the Cardinal in tough positions.
"First of all, Justin Wilcox is probably the most underrated defensive coordinator in the nation," Shaw said. "Nobody ever talks about him. His name never comes up when they talk about the best. He's one of the best... They're extremely sound. They're very good. They didn't blitz a lot but they do a great job in pass coverage. They get into throwing lanes. Every throw was contested. That being said, Kevin missed four throws. He missed them. He had a 4th down with Kodi Whitfield open and he missed the throw. We had Ty Montgomery open on a curl route and he threw the ball too high. And in a tight game, a close game, a game that we didn't plan on throwing 40 times, we missed four opportunities there."
"(Hogan still) hasn't started (a full seasson's worth of) games. His ceiling is extremely high. We're going to go through a couple more growing pains here and there. He's going to have a couple more unbelievable games and a couple more rough games. He's not a finished product. What I love about him, he had a pit in his stomach all day yesterday. (He was) happy we got the win but he wants to come back. He can't wait to play the next game. That's why you love a guy like that. He knows he's not perfect but he's pushing himself to be as good as he can be."
Hogan's misfire to Whitfield on a first quarter fourth down play was the result of an aggressive call by Shaw. Stanford had advanced the ball to Washington's 30-yard-line, well within Jordan Williamson's field goal range, but Stanford liked its matchup with the Huskies' coverage, and decided to attempt the fourth down conversion.
"It had nothing to do with Jordan," Shaw said. "It was an opportunity where we had an idea what the coverage was going to be. We got the coverage that we wanted. We just didn't make the play."
Injury updates: Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov, one of the accused injury fakers, underwent an MRI and was held out of practice on Monday. Skov's scan came back clean, however, and "he should play" on Saturday, Shaw said.
Stanford's linebacker corps could receive another boost with the return of Blake Martinez, who has missed the last four games with a knee injury.
"(I'm) thankful that Blake Martinez was able to come up and take some reps, which was great to see," Shaw said. "He feels great. If he comes through today well he'll be up for the game, which is probably a week earlier than I thought. (It's) coming at a great time."
The injury news along the defensive line is less encouraging for the Cardinal. Ben Gardner is expected to play despite being limited in practice on Tuesday, but starting nose tackle David Parry's status is uncertain.
"He's still working through some stuff now," Shaw said. "He didn't finish practice today. So we'll see how he is tomorrow."
"(It's a) lower abdominal issue right now. I don't think it's going to be long-term. It's not huge... We'll see how he feels tomorrow. Hopefully it's better tomorrow."
Stanford defensive lineman Ikenna Nwafor "is not close yet" to a return (Shaw said Nwafor will return in "weeks"), and Henry Anderson isn't expected back until the end of October at the earliest.
Homecoming for Lloyd: Though he'll be joined by Brandon Fanaika and Sean Barton (and possibly Dalton Schultz) in future seasons, Stanford quarterback Dallas Lloyd is currently the only Utah native on the Cardinal roster. Lloyd has already secured 15 tickets for friends and family for Saturday's contest at Rice Eccles Stadium, which is approximately 40 miles from where Lloyd attended high school.
"I'm trying to get as many tickets as I can," Lloyd said.
Though Lloyd has not played in Rice Eccles, he has been to the stadium before. In addition to attending games in in his youth, Lloyd was in the stands when his younger brother, Jake, played in the high school state title game in 2012.
"I'm from Provo," Lloyd said. "I live about 5-10 minutes away from BYU. BYU and Utah football and Utah State were everything to us. We'd go to Utah games all the time, go to BYU games. My little brother, I was able to watch the end of his season last year. They won the state championship in Rice Eccles."
"Going back there now playing for Stanford… I always dreamed about playing at Rice Eccles in front of all those fans and the crazy atmosphere, but growing up I didn't think I'd be playing for Stanford. I thought I'd be somewhere else. This has been a fun week so far. There's a little extra passion in my heart as we prepare."
Though he has yet to throw a pass for Stanford, Lloyd has contributed to Stanford's offense in a package designed to take advantage of his athleticism, similar to the one given to Kevin Hogan early last season. Lloyd has gained 15 yards on four carries so far this season.
"He's building trust," Shaw said. "We're giving him a few things every week. He has to know all the audibles and know what to do. His teammates trust him. He's great in the huddle. He comes in the huddle and (he says), 'Hey, here we go.' He has that energy. So yeah, we're going to continue to use him regardless of what Kevin does because Dallas can do some things to help us play."
Last season, Lloyd helped Stanford's defense prepare for opposing quarterbacks by playing on the scout team. Unlike the other quarterbacks on the Cardinal's roster, Lloyd was at times deemed a live ball career during practice, meaning defensive players were allowed to make contact with him. Lloyd showed his elusiveness during those scrimmages, and impressed the Cardinal defensive players in the process.
"He was tough," A.J. Tarpley said. "You'd hear guys saying he looks like Johnny Manziel. Not to the extent of a Heisman winner, but the fact that he's a mobile quarterback that can stay alive whether it's in the pocket or out of the pocket just moving and throwing the ball downfield. But also the read options, ability to run the ball, run by you, run through you."
Redshirt Update: Stanford has only played one true freshman, receiver Francis Owusu, through the first five games of the 2013 campaign. It's unlikely the Cardinal will use another first-year player this season.
"That's safe to say, yes," Shaw said. "Francis has been the one guy. Some of those guys have come in ready to play but their positions are kind of stacked. If we can keep them for another year that just helps the football team."
Though he was targeted on one pass against Washington State, Owusu's primary role this season has been on special teams. He made two tackles on punt coverage against Washington.
"(He's) still learning, still growing," Shaw said. "(It's) very similar to Barry (Sanders), and Francis has played on offense. He hasn't gotten the ball yet but we've put him in the last couple of games one or two plays a game. We'll continue to increase that, get him used to being out there, hopefully one of these days get a ball in his hands. He has a lot of ability and he wants to do well and he's learning. He doesn't know it all yet but he has a chance to help us hopefully before the year is out."
First look: Utah: Stanford's visit to Utah will mark the first game the Cardinal will play at altitude this season. But Stanford doesn't plan on making any significant adjustments to its game week routine.
"We don't do a lot different," Shaw said. "Hydration is huge and this is one of those games where playing a lot of guys helps. You don't have a lot of guys playing 60-plus snaps a game, you get a bunch of guys playing 40. So being able to rotate players (will help). Usually with the altitude games it's the first quarter-and-a-half. The first time you get a little winded trying to suck the air in but your body adjusts. We haven't had an issue in the second half of any game. Same thing when I was with the Oakland Raiders and we went to Denver once a year. It's that first quarter and a half. (In the) second half guys are accustomed to it but early on you'll see us rotate a lot of guys."
Utah (2-3) is led by its sophomore quarterback (and former high school teammate of Stanford offensive lineman Kyle Murphy and long snapper Austin Tubbs), Travis Wilson, who is completing better than 60 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,406 yards and 11 touchdowns against nine interceptions through five games. Wilson's top target is receiver Dres Anderson, who has four touchdowns and is averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game this year.
"They have a very elite wide receiver," A.J. Tarpley said. "We haven't played them in a while, going to their place, it's a tough place to play. Their quarterback is a very big guy. (They have a) big o-line. They're going to be a challenge. Their quarterback isn't afraid to throw the ball. He tries to squeeze it in places. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't, but they have talented guys. They're not a team we can take lightly. We're expecting a hard challenge out of their receivers and their quarterback."
Wilson can hurt teams with his arm and his legs. He's averaging 6.2 yards per carry, and exploded for 142 yards on the ground in an overtime loss to Oregon State last month.
"He's a better athlete than a tall guy should be," Shaw said. "You see these tall guys that are kind of lumbering runners. You think you have a beat on him and he'll push up in the pocket and take off on you. It's about containing and making sure that we keep guys on all sides of him and squeeze him because you can't let him scramble for first downs. It's hard on you."