USC week: Notes and quotes

Can Hall and the O play for a full 60 minutes?

For the third consecutive week, Ryan Whalen was not listed on the "Probable Starters" page in Stanford's official game notes. Head coach Jim Harbaugh gave his proverbial "we'll see," when asked about Whalen's availability. Read on for more detail about the injury report, last week's officiating, this week's USC visit, and a tale of two halves.

Injury Report

Andrew Luck said that Whalen "was running around" at practice Monday but we're not exactly sure how to interpret the verb in that comment. When asked if he will play, Luck said "hopefully."

After missing the first two games of 2010 with a knee injury, Chris Owusu could be sidelined for Saturday's affair. Harbaugh confirmed that Owusu was concussed after the nasty, helmet-to-helmet collision.

"We'll see. It's kind of day-to-day," said Harbaugh. "He was the recipient of several shots to the head. Right now he's been symptom-free since Monday."

Harbaugh said his policy with concussions is to defer to the discretion of the team medical staff.

Tyler Gaffney did not dress for the Oregon contest because of an ankle injury he suffered in Week 4. His status is unknown for Saturday. Shayne Skov had to come out of the game after dinging his knee (this time it wasn't fake) and it's clear he still isn't 100 percent on that leg.

Dirty Laundry

At halftime of last week's contest, Oregon coach Chip Kelly questioned whether or not Harbaugh and the officials were "friends."

First of all, Harbaugh is probably the least-liked head coach in college football and second of all, Kelly must have slipped a check into the ref's pocket at the half because every call from that point forward went the Ducks' way.

The first blown call of the second half, which wasn't discussed at the presser, was offensive pass interference against Doug Baldwin. In real time it looked legit but when the cameras were slowed down, it was painfully obvious the defender was falling backward and Baldwin placed his hand on the defender's shoulder at the wrong time.

The second missed call was also a game-changer. The helmet-to-helmet hit on Chris Owusu was violent and should have been flagged, which would have negated the fumble return.

"You look at the rule book and it says it's targeting the head area—with forearm, shoulder pad or helmet—and it clearly says if it's questionable it should be called," Harbaugh said. "So that's something we need interpretation of."

The Cardinal were penalized for kick-catch interference for the third time in as many games. Harbaugh is displeased with the vagueness of the rule and said that Harold Bernard did exactly what he was coached to do.

"The rule book clearly says a valid fair catch signal is above the head and waving from side to side more than once. So again, interpretation needed," he said.

When the coach was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct earlier in the game, there was no interpretation needed. Harbaugh was looking for a holding penalty and likely uttered some choice words to the official nearby. He was also out of the coach's box which ends at the 20-yard line.

But Harbaugh did question whether or not the box extended horizontally onto the field. Because as most of you witnessed, Kelly was beyond the sideline barking at the refs throughout the game.

The onside kick when Austin Yancy was blocked below the waist was another pivotal no-call. All of these potential mistakes are being processed by the Pac-10 and Stanford is waiting for clarification.

Luck-y Tackle

The athleticism of Andrew Luck was on full display for NFL scouts Saturday night. He made some dazzling throws, had some big runs on the ground and also chased down a defensive back destined for the end zone.

"I think he was running faster than he was capable of going," Harbaugh said with a laugh. "We'd love to get a flying 40 on that."

Luck assessed his tackling performance under a stringent grading system.

"I think it was an ‘F' for form, but I got the job done," he said. "They must have been tired because I know he's a lot faster than I am."

What's Your Deal?

It's in the past, but it was slow day at the presser (nobody was eager to talk…wonder why) so Harbaugh was asked if he regretted going for the two-point conversion with a 27-point lead late in the fourth quarter last year against USC.

If you haven't figured it out yet, Jim Harbaugh is a little crazy. Not all the way cuckoo, but on the level of CIA spies tapping his phone lines, or reporting injuries to the other Pac-10 coaches. And it has always been the Harbaugh-way or the highway, which sums up his response about regret.

"I don't have any regrets. I don't have regret or remorse about anything," he said. "You know me; I don't live in the past."

Tale of Two Halves

Stanford was shut out in the second half of last week's game. This season, the Cardinal are averaging 27.8 points per game in the first half compared to just 16.8 in the final two frames.

Stanford has outscored its opponent 139-47 in the first half of play this season and 76-20 in the first quarter. Are you taking notes first-half football bettors?

About the Author: Bootleg Senior Writer Scott Cooley has worked in the sports media industry throughout his professional career, including serving as a writer for an ESPN production house and a professional football franchise. His work has been published in multiple print and online platforms including ESPN.com. He currently writes for yours truly, as well as Bookmaker, Covers and Red Hott Locks. Cooley specializes in football, baseball and basketball with an emphasis on sports betting. Cooley and his wife reside in California, contact him at scottwcooley@gmail.com


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