Wide receiver Ty Montgomery saw his first action following an apparent knee injury suffered October 6 against Arizona, but Jamal-Rashad Patterson is expected to start ahead of him again this week. Shaw hinted that Montgomery, whose injury has not been disclosed, may not be back to 100 percent health until Stanford's bowl game. He is not expected to return kicks until then.
Patterson made a handful of nice plays to fill Montgomery's void at receiver, including a perfectly executed 52-yard reverse that showcased his 300-yard hurdle Georgia State high school record speed. He joked that he "wasted a couple of Kleenexes" after officials ruled him out-of-bounds at the one-yard line, but that he was happy Remound Wright scored his first career touchdown as a result. Patterson also made a beautiful leaping catch to convert a third down near the goal line at the end of the first half.
Meanwhile, left tackle Andrus Peat is "feeling better," according to Shaw. He has been able to practice this week with a cast on his left hand and forearm. He injured himself in practice last Monday and has fought through severe pain since then, but apparently was feeling better enough to smile after this Monday's practice. Peat was available in emergency duty against Colorado, but was not needed to play. He remains questionable for this Saturday's game against Oregon State.
A.J. Tarpley was not credited with an interception after he caught the carom produced by Alex Carter's ball-dislodging hit on Colorado tight end Nick Casa. Instead, he was given a fumble recovery on the play, meaning that Stanford's only interception of the afternoon was Ed Reynolds' 52-yard pick six. Carter was credited with his third forced fumble in four games.
That was the free safety's third return for a touchdown this season, leaving him one shy of Cal's Deltha O'Neal, who set the NCAA record with four back in 1999. His coach noted that he had already taken three steps in the ball's eventual direction before Colorado quarterback Jordan Webb had even released his throw.
"You can't teach instincts. You can't teach anticipation," Shaw said. "Ed does a great job reading the quarterback's eyes and understanding route concepts."
Reynolds' 221 interception return yards lead the nation and outpace Montgomery's 173 receiving yards on the season.
Taylor's Record Chase
Stepfan Taylor's 206 carries make him the Pac-12's most heavily used running back, so Shaw made it a point to give his workhorse a breather against Colorado. Taylor carried only 10 times for 44 yards, leaving him with 947 gained on the season. A 1000-yard campaign, certainly within striking distance this weekend, would be No. 33's third straight such season.
Taylor now sits at 3717 career rushing yards, 316 short of Darrin Nelson's all-time Stanford record of 4033 with four games (including the bowl) to play. That means the senior must average 79 yards per game the rest of the way to match Nelson's mark.
Stanford's weakened passing threat, by the way, has left a dent in Taylor's stat line: after averaging well over five yards per carry in each of his first three seasons on the Farm, he's down to 4.6 yards per rush in 2012.
Elite Front Seven
Stanford leads the nation in rushing defense (57.8 yards/game), sacks (4.33/game), and tackles for loss (9.22/game), but the front seven's focus now shifts to the first truly competent offense that it's faced in over a month -- the last being Arizona, which came to town on October 6 and hung 48 points on the Stanford Stadium scoreboard.
"We brush [all the high rankings] under a rug," said Stanford linebacker Jarek Lancaster, who recorded a career-high two sacks against Colorado. "At the end of the year, we'll look at accolades."
Lancaster credited his unit's stockpile of talent for its energy.
"All the depth with have is a blessing and a curse," he said. "There's never a fatigue factor, but we're extremely competitive guys and we want to play as much as we can."
Stanford further limited individual playing time by platooning its defense starting with Colorado's third possession to combat Boulder's oxygen-thin altitude. This, combined with the resounding blowout, gave younger linebackers Blake Martinez, Joe Hemschoot, and Kevin Anderson significant time. Anderson recorded his first career sack, a 29-yarder in the fourth quarter, while Hemschoot recovered a punt return fumble caused by Ronnie Harris.
A Powerful Leg
Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson benefited from Boulder's mile-high elevation, combining the thin air with his already-strong leg to boot a career-high seven touchbacks at Colorado. Of course, the Cardinal's offensive proficiency also helped this stat. Lancaster, a stalwart on the squad's special teams coverage, joked that he and his teammates encouraged Williamson to take some leg out of his kickoffs so that they could actually play some coverage against the Buffaloes.
"Only when [special teams coach Pete] Alamar wasn't around," he laughed.
Stanford punter Daniel Zychlinksi, who will be honored with the Cardinal's other seniors before kickoff Saturday, has no problem when he gets more individual special team action.
"I have this weird, twisted pleasure on third down that if we don't get it, I'm ready to go in," he laughed.
Zychlinksi, who's been lauded as an excellent holder for Williamson on field goal tries, said that he's done his best to provide the sophomore kicker support through his struggles. He said that Williamson's leg strength and leg speed is "phenomenal," and that he always gets great immediate height on his kicks.
"Going through [struggles] hardened him mentally. It's a very lonely spot to be in. Consistency is an every minute thing," Zychlinski said. "From the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep, you have to ingrain consistency in your life."
A Big Challenge Ahead
Speaking of consistency, Stanford has done an excellent job taking care of (and stealing) the football this season. The Cardinal have posted a +11 turnover ratio, which is best in the Pac-12. The Farm Boys' next three opponents, though, occupy the next three spots on the list: Oregon (+8), Oregon State (+7), and UCLA (+4).
David Lombardi covers Stanford sports for The Bootleg and FOX Sports NEXT. He can also be heard on San Francisco's 95.7 The Game. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @davidmlombardi.
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